Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Mighty Mushroom Traybake

I love the heaps of different types of mushrooms on the Aix markets; here’s a very easy recipe to make the most of them.  Traybakes are a super-easy way to cook a family meal or casual lunch for friends (when we can do that again….)  I like the fact that it can all be prepared in advance and popped into the oven where the various ingredients mingle together into a delicious tasty dish.

This is a Jamie Oliver recipe which is for 4.  More like 6 I would have thought esp at lunchtime. I didn’t have any cannellini beans in the kitchen so used mixed beans in tomato sauce which turned out well.  The great thing about traybakes is that you can incorporate varied ingredients………..warms the kitchen too.


  • 800g potatoes

  • 4 garlic cloves

  • 2 red onions

  • ½ a bunch of fresh rosemary (15g)

  • 1 fresh red chilli (optional)

  • olive oil

  • 500g mixed mushrooms

  • 2 x 400g tins cannellini beans

  • red wine vinegar

  • 4 heaped tbsp soured cream

  1. Preheat the oven to gas 6, 200 ̊C, fan 180¡C. Scrub the potatoes, peel the garlic and onions, then slice everything 0.5cm thick, chucking it in a large, shallow roasting tray (30 x 40cm) as you go. Strip in most of the rosemary leaves, then finely slice and add most of the chilli, if using. Add a pinch of sea salt and black pepper and 1 tbsp oil, toss well, arrange in a fairly even layer and roast for 40 mins. Halfway through cooking, roughly tear and toss in the mushrooms, leaving any smaller ones whole.

  2. Pull the tray out of the oven, drain the beans and stir them in, along with 1 tbsp vinegar. Sprinkle over the remaining rosemary leaves and chilli, then return to the oven for a further 20 mins, or until everything is golden and delicious.

  3. Divide the traybake between plates, with a dollop of soured cream on top. Lovely served with some steamed greens or dressed baby spinach.

Read Full Post »

‘Catastrophe’ is the word used by the traders’ association president to describe the ‘Les Docks’ office, shopping and dining development opposite Les Terrasses du Port.  Housed in beautifully renovated warehouses, the ground-floor thoroughfare was designed to take 80 shops and restaurants.  It opened in October 2015 and my view when I visited was basically that there were several new developments happening across Marseille, especially around the docks, and there’s a limit to what would be commercially viable.  And that was before Covid!  Click here for background: https://aixcentric.com/2016/10/11/marseille-latest-docksshopping-news/ (more…)

Read Full Post »

Susan Gish writes: This article is a bit about us and wine, and a bit about three women who manage or own wine shops in Aix.  (We’ve also included some other wine shops in Aix).

 Our Wine Wall: Sam and I moved into our Center City Philadelphia 1853 townhouse in the late 90’s. The amount of renovation it needed was overwhelming A week later, as we were having a glass of wine in the backyard at sunset, looking at a large blank concrete wall, I looked at Sam and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could commission the artist Isaiah Zagar* to create a wine wall for us’. Isaiah came over, I explained about our trips to France, love of wine and asked him to create a Wine Wall…he looked at the blank wall with the excitement of a child. Sam asked for the phrase, ‘Gout de Terroir’ and the agriculture of wine to be included in the art installation.
Isaiah left and came back a few days later. He’d done some research and was inspired by the idea of mythology and wine. He wanted to create a Bacchus, the God of Wine, agriculture and ecstasy, as well as Pan with his foot stomping on grapes. They would be surrounding a female in the center, his own ‘Lady in the Hat’. She would be his Goddess of Wine. Grapes, apples, corn, birds in the field, the sun, flowers, it was a fantastical vision of agriculture and terroir! Mosaics and three dimensional wine urns and bottles…For 20 years, every time I looked at it with the sun shining into the glass from different angles, I always saw something new. Isaiah is a good soul, known for being a bit eccentric.
The day he completed the wall, Sam came home unexpectedly and walked in to find Isaiah in his birthday suit. 
He was standing on one leg and the other was crossed in front, posing at the wine wall with a bottle of wine in his hand.  His assistant was taking his photograph. ‘Sam’, he cried, ‘it’s, a, uh, uh …it’s all part of the process!!’. 
Sam just turned around and walked out of the house, quite bemused. Needless to say there were numerous apologetic messages on our answering machine for a few days. Later on we found out that this wasn’t the first time that he did this when completing a piece!
Our honeymoon was in Champagne in 1987: All of our vacations were to wine regions, mainly in France.
I got to choose where to go one vacation, Sam chose the next.
After our honeymoon in Champagne, our next vacation was in Alsace.
Then Burgundy. 
The Rhone. 
The Loire. 
Champagne again. Burgundy again along with Beaujolais.
Napa and Sonoma.
Cassis. Bandol. Languedoc.
And finally, Bordeaux.
We travelled for a week or two at a time, touring each region on the Route des Vin, stopping for dégustations (tastings), and oh, so many tours. Of course after you’ve seen one pressoir, cellar with oak barrels, and bottling line, you’ve seen them all. ‘Very interesting! That’s great, the cépage, the blend of this grape and that grape you use and, Now. Can. We. Taste. The. Wine? Please!?
Gout de Terroir – taste of the soil, taste of the earth: We visited each wine region to learn about ‘terroir’, the earth, the agriculture of the land. We wanted to know where the grapes were grown, to see the soil, feel the climate. This was part of our work. I was a Wine steward, Bartender and Bar Manager (while supporting my acting career). Sam worked as a Sommelier, Maitre’d and Head Waiter (though he never tested for the certificate for Master Sommelier). He also worked for a wine importer. It helped us to actually be in each region, to see each appellation and to understand which grapes were allowed to be used.
Plus we had a really good time at numerous Fete des VendangesThere’s a great story when we were in Alsace, in Mulhouse, and stumbled upon the Fete – the crowning of the Queen of the Vendanges (who was the Mayor’s daughter, of course), the parade, the really smarmy DJ on the little stage that all the young women were vying for the attention of…and the new wine and flammekueche that we drank and ate and drank and ate again. 
Never have I had such a bad hangover since. Never. Beware of new wine. By the pichet. In that beautiful blue ceramic vase. Oh, my gosh, I got off track, so many stories to be told!
Maintenant: My palate is better than his; his memory is better than mine. I do think women are better at tasting.
I read that women are better than men when it comes to smell and taste. One article said that women have almost 50% more olfactory cells in their brains than men.
I was good at tasting a long time ago and still am, but you have to keep up with wine. Maintenant (now), I am just a consumer and perhaps an anti-snob, especially with roséAt one time I knew a lot about wine and only drank the best. 
The past few years I have discovered there is really good boxed rosé wine that one can get in Provence. I would have never, ever, drunk boxed wine in the US! Here we even put ice cubes in the rosé we drink in the summer but not all of them. There are some rosé’s that are definitely not ‘une piscine pour les glacons’.
With white wine, red, and champagne, I’m a bit more discerning. How I love a good white Burgundy or a white Rhone. Or a viognier from Chateau Grillet, one of the smallest appellations in France..Come to think of it, I’d say my favorite reds are also from Burgundy and the Rhone.  Lately, Sam and I are learning about (and loving), the white wines of Provence, Luberon, Var & the Gard
St Victoire, Cassis, Bandol, Bonnieux, Uzes…
So good and they range from fruity to mineralistic. So much wine to try, so little time.
But wait!
Instead of talking more about the wine, the regions, the terroir, more fun stories, or the hundredsthousandsmillions of specific wineries we love – all of which would be a book – and so finally, to the point of this article:
Cavistes à Aix-en-Provence (Wine shops in Aix)

The 3 Women of Wine Shops in Aix 
Vive les femmes du vin! 
A younger generation of women, c’est génial! 
— La Route des Vins -La Pioline:
Stéphanie the manager rocks! Here’s a favorite wine quote of hers:
“I only drink Champagne when I’m happy, and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.” Lily Bollinger
Stéphanie is full of enthusiasm and knows so much about wine. She worked in wine in the US and speaks English very well. We turned the AAGP (Anglo American Group of Provence) onto her, and she hosted a wine tasting in English at the shop for us in 2019. It was a proper tasting: she is really ‘bubbly’ (haha), but Stephanie also has a serious side. 
She loves to talk with and educate people about wine. The two of us have a good connection; I enjoy shopping there.
La Route des Vins has a wide selection of wines and Stéphanie is more than willing to guide you whatever your budget. We’ve been for tastings there from local winemakers. 
Hurry, just a short time left in October for the wine fair. 20- 30% off on a great selection. Check it out online : www.laroutedesvins.com
La Cave des Ours -near the Cathedral: 
Owned by a young couple: Maria and Romain. Maria likes this wine quote: 
My only regret in life is that I didn’t drink more wine.” Ernest Hemingway 
 I’ll let her speak for herself:  “I find it important to let people know they can trust that all of our products are respectful of the environment and the health of both consumer and producer. We work very hard to verify the work done in the vines and during wine making to be sure that we are offering products with no chemicals, additives and other “winemaking” products. We believe wine should be made of grapes grown with love and nothing more. So all of our products are grown without herbicides, pesticides or fungicides, hand harvested, fermented with indigenous yeast, have little to no SO2 or other “winemaking” additives, and are often unfiltered and un-fined…we are lovers of natural wine and craft beer! We are fervent defenders of organic and biodynamic agriculture, respectful of the environment…We defend authentic products of small artisan winemakers and growers as well as independent artisan brewers against the impersonal products dominating our food and beverage industry.” 
They have both worked in the hospitality industry. Maria in the US, Australia and New Zealand. Romain is French. He has been very passionate about wine from an early age, drinking with his family on holidays from his grandfather’s cellar. He enjoys blind tasting with his friends and is level 3 WSET certified (an international wine certification).
Their wine shop & wine bar serves wines by the glass or bottle. A different selection changes weekly. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights you can get charcuterie, fromage and vegetable/vegan platters. Bread is from Farinoman Fou the best I think in Aix! They also do a pop-up brunch du marché every month, sometimes with a vegan chef. 
Brunch update! – This Saturday, 17 October there will be one of the brunch du marché with PopUp Culinaire- Vegan/Végétal cuisine par Ariane Roques – 11-14h – reservations recommended.
I often go to Cave des Ours during the day for a café: they serve Mana coffee! www.lacavedesours.fr 
Mademoiselle Wine – off of Place Richelme:
 Another woman that knows a lot about wine is Aurélia Gauthier. She has a great selection of fine wine, as well as around 100 different champagne vignerons in stock. This is my go-to place for good champagne in Aix. I always buy Pierre Peters champagne from her as it’s one of my favorite champagnes ever. Aurélia likes to share the emotion of wine, offering wines for tasting during the day. I’ve been a few times when there are winemakers in for tastings. 
She’s obviously a lover of good food as well from the pictures on her Instagram: 
Mademoisellewineaixenprovence – ‘Cave à Vins et Champagnes de terroir / Peaceful place for wine & champagne lovers’. A new shop is under construction which is only a few doors down on the same street. Opening in November.
More wine shops we have been to (perhaps some have women owner/managers):
—La Cave du Cours Mirabeau- Have been to a gin tasting there. The shop is downstairs in a cool old building.
—La Cave Mazarin – Great selection on Rue d’Italie.
—Simplement Vin – I like that they have their wines arranged by price: 8euros, 8-15euros, 15-30euros, 30+ and Les Bulles. Aix (not centre ville) and Eguilles.
—Cave du Félibrige – convenient on rue Cordelier
—Cave Conseil Aix- on the Peripherique – close to us.
—Oenodepot -in Les Milles by the party shop – a wide selection of wines and spirits.
—Nicholas – There are three in Aix: Rue d’Italie, Les Allées Provencales and the Mairie. 
—La Cave de Virgile – Le Tholonet near the new Lidl. 
Of course, there are many more places in Aix to buy wine: gourmet shops, little  corner shops…You can also buy at the supermarché. Wait! Why not go to the wineries themselves? Taste and buy: well, that’s another article to write!
Just for fun, quelques citations de vin et champagne from women:
“I can no more think of my own life without thinking of wine and wines and where they grew for me and why I drank them when I did and why I picked the grapes and where I opened the bottles, and all that, than I can remember living before I breathed.” 
“There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk.” 
-both above from M.F.K. Fisher
“I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food.”
“Wine is meant to be with food—that’s the point of it.”
 “As you get older, you shouldn’t waste time drinking bad wine.” 
“An old wine is like an old lady, and travelling can disturb her.”
“Wine is a living liquid containing no preservatives. Its life cycle comprises youth, maturity, old age and death. When not treated with reasonable respect, it will sicken and die.”
“The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded, and whack the hell out of a chicken. Bon appétit.”
-all above from Julia Child
“Pass the Bolly, sweetie darling!” 
Absolutely Fabulous
“Whenever I drink champagne I either laugh or cry…I get so emotional! I love champagne.” 
Tina Turner
“Three be the things I shall never attain: Envy, Content and sufficient Champagne.” 
Dorothy Parker
“Never, never trust anyone who asks for white wine. It means they’re phonies.” 
Bette Davis
…and a few favorites from men too!
“Why do I drink Champagne for breakfast? Doesn’t everyone?” 
Noel Coward
“Who knows how to taste wine never drinks wine again, but tastes secrets instead.” 
Salvador Dali
“Burgundy makes you think of silly things, Bordeaux makes you talk of them, and Champagne makes you do them.” 
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Addresses – all are on Facebook 
Please check hours/days due to COVID closings.
-La Route des Vins-La Pioline – in the strip of shops before Carrefour
 04 42 20 46 44 – 540 Avenue Guillaume du Vair, 13290
-Mademoiselle Wine – Aix centre just off Place Richelme
09 51 25 17 20 – 10 rue des Marseillais (moving to 14 rue des Marseillais in November) 
-La Cave des Ours – Aix centre just up from the Cathedral
 09 54 48 76 34  – 20 rue Jacques de la Roque
La Cave du Cours Mirabeau -19 Cours Mirabeau
La Cave Mazarin -18 rue d’Italie
Simplement Vin – 31 avenue Robert Schuman in Aix or 7 rue Agathe, Eguilles
Cave du Félibrige – 8 Rue des Cordeliers
Cave Conseil Aix – 3 rue de la Molle
Oenodepot – 30 Rue Frédéric Joliot, 13290
Nicolas – 3 shops in Aix – rue d’Italie, Sextius, Mairie
La Cave de Virgil – 1652 Avenue Paul Jullien, Le Tholonet
Artist Links:
*Dave Blazek cartoonist – www.loosepartscomic.com 
Susan Gish – with some help from ‘Chef’ Sam




Read Full Post »

Can re-open….


Read Full Post »


Here’s an offer from the departmental tourist organisation, My Provence:

called Pass Tables, it gives 6000 lucky people 50 euros to spend in a selection of restaurants in Bouches-du-Rhone – once they re-open obvs!

They have been selected for their cuisine ‘Provence authentique et savoureuse… une cuisine faite maison’ with local products which are fresh and seasonal.


Read Full Post »

Why not try one of the cafes by the canals in Martigues?

Now we know that it’s just Aix and Marseille eateries that must close for at least 7 days from tonight, where should we be heading for a meal?  Here’s the list of communities in the Metropole that are exempted and can serve meals until 22:00hrs. (more…)

Read Full Post »

It’s 9 months since the November morning when fire ripped through Aix’s most famous cafe, Les Deux Garcons.  At last I have some news to report… (more…)

Read Full Post »

‘Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal.’ -Voltaire*
I still scream for ice cream!
There’s something about childhood memories of eating ice cream that makes people smile!
Susan Gish writes: Sam and I had a really tough assignment over the summer doing the research for this article (she said sarcastically). But someone has to do it, so instead of worrying about getting rid of those post confinement calories, we only ate salad the days we indulged in double scoops of ice cream. (Ha – don’t you believe that!)
Sam is more of a purist than me, as you can well imagine. His test is to always try the vanilla first. If that is good, he’ll go back for other classics like pistachio or rum raisin.  He eats his ice cream in a cup with a spoon. Classy, that.
I always eat mine in a cone. Nice and messy. Generally, I think, kids eat ice cream in cones and adults eat from cups.
(or ‘pots’ as they say here in France). I guess I’m still a kid then!
I’m far from a purist myself – I tend to like more interesting flavors and creative combinations of tastes together. 
For example, my childhood memories are of eating watermelon and chocolate ice cream. Together. Double scoop on a sugar cone. At Michael’s Dairy in New London, Connecticut where I grew up. If they were out of watermelon it would be strawberry with big chunks of real strawberries in it. Or sometimes banana. Or black raspberry! My grandmother liked coffee best which was really good too. Then there was the chocolate threaded with peanut butter. Gulp.
Oh, wait! I just remembered the malted milkshakes with chocolate ice cream and a whole banana! 
So thick, you couldn’t drink it with the straw. The straw would act as a spoon to scoop it into your mouth.
Waiting in line outside for a half hour and watching each milkshake being made through the glass windows, step by step. It wasn’t torture at all to wait. It was anticipation. To the 10 year old me, this was the bee’s knees.
Now I know what you are thinking. Eww, watermelon and chocolate? Together? Well that’s why there are different strokes for different folks. To each their own, as they say. I imagine this was the reason it was called Baskin Robbins 31 flavors. Everyone has their favorite flavor. It’s all about your own favorite taste combination.
When you see our list below of places that we went to, you’ll probably say: ‘She doesn’t talk about Amorino. She never went to Emki Pop. I can’t believe she never went to that place on Espariat/rue d’Italie/fill in place here! Oh, my gosh, how could she possibly miss that place, it’s the absolute BEST!’

 …And that’s where I say, it’s all about taste and what you like! For example, we brought friends to our favorite ice cream shop in Aix and her response was: ‘I didn’t love it but I wouldn’t throw it off the plate. By the way, have you been to that ice cream place in Nice? It’s the best!’

 I more than welcome your recommendations of the best ice cream you’ve ever had: feel free to write away in the comments so we can all agree to disagree and put a smile on our own faces thinking about it! For the record, besides Michael’s Dairy, I love any of the Gelato places we’ve been to in Italy. Or maybe my favorite is Bassett’s Butterscotch vanilla in Philadelphia. Berthillon in Paris? Hmm…
Since there’s nothing like a child’s love of ice cream, I asked 10 year old Elisa Le Borgne who lives in Aix, to give me her opinion of a few places:
Her verdict:
Amorino – nice but a bit too sugary
i’Pinguini – delicious – mango tastes like real fruit
Giovanni- lots of ice cream flavour choices and I like how you can also order a crepe or gaufre that they make fresh in front of you.
Weibel- you can only choose one flavour in a pot.
How did we choose which places to go to?
I can answer that by saying that if we saw colors that are not found in nature we would pass by that particular ice cream store. So. Here is our list of where we went to in the Aix area: (in no particular order except starting with our favorite)

Ice cream at i’ Pinguini

i’Pinguini – Hands down, our favorite in Aix. Their pistache and café are creamy & unbelievable. Love their chocolat noir, fraise, melon, cookies and cream with lovely cream, vanilla speculoos, caramel au beurre salé. Actually we have loved everything we’ve tasted! They have nice sized scoops as well as good cones.
The ice cream is made with local fruits from the region. They use as many local ingredients as possible and have Ecocert certification for the sorbets. The caramel au beurre salé is made with the PDO of Issigny cream (Protected Denomination of Origin). The flagship product is the 70% cocoa dark chocolate sorbet.
La Provence wrote an article about them on 16 September describing how the two friends from Eguilles, Enzo and Alex, trained with a master ice cream maker in Italy. They have been making ice cream in Eguilles for 7 years now, but just opened their first store in the center of Aix. We’ve probably been a half dozen times in the past month. Also last week they opened a larger laboratory in Eguilles where you can sit outside on a terrace and relax and eat your ice cream. You might have seen their cute 3-wheeled ice cream truck at the Journées des Plantes d’Albertas. Shoot. We have yet to try the soft serve ice cream they make. We’ll probably get that tomorrow after this article is posted.
Leonard Parli – Although known for their calissons, they have a little cart outside of their shop on rue Gaston Saporta. They win for their unique flavors of ice cream used with ingredients from their confectioner:  calisson d’Aix, chocolate with clementine confit, kirsch with fruit confit, biscotin d’Aix, nougat blanc, nougat noir, ispahan which is framboise sorbet with litchi. Scoops are small, cone was big and tasty, prices high.
Philippe Faur – Stracchiatella and chocolate noir were very good. He is a Maître Artisan Glacière.
—Segond – They offer pre filled cups only – We had vanilla, chocolate and miel pignon. The vanilla with vanilla beans was very good, the milk chocolate was kind of old fashioned and I liked it. Perhaps they were not as fresh tasting from being pre-filled.
Wiebel -From the cart outside the shop, they also offer cups only, but not pre-filled. Last year we liked their flavors but didn’t try them this year. I am dying to try their ice cream cakes, but not sure how to get one home! I suppose they offer dry ice or similar.
—Bechard – Didn’t get to them this year either, usually a line at the cart outside when we went by.
Giovanni – A lot of tourists but decent ice cream. It’s nice to sit there on the Cours and watch the world go by.
Outside Aix:

Le Quillé Glacier -We have been to both of them, the one at the top of the hill in Miramas with the lovely view,

Temptation at Le Quillé

and in La Roque d’Anthéron. La Roque is the one we went to with a friend recently. Sam and I split 6 boules: banane, rhum raisin, grand marnier, caramel beurre sale, pistache, chocolate noir, ouganda carmelized almonds. Guess who chose the flavors, ha! No vanilla for me! Our friend had 3 boules: vanilla, caramel au beurre sale and mint chocolate chip. They also have a huge menu of themed sundaes with chantilly and all sorts of things to go on top, or with alcohol in them. Nice outdoor seating with lots of space at both locations.

L’art Glacier– Ansouis – Didn’t get to them this summer, but really liked it a few other times. Gorgeous view, outdoor seating, large menu with sundaes and chantilly, etc. like at Le Quillé.
Note: L’art Glacier and Le Quillé Glacier are both places where a family can go to celebrate birthdays, sit outside and can easily pay 100 euros for the ‘experience’. 
Maison Casalini – We love the one in Cassis and go every time we are there. Try the pistache from Sicily (which might be even better than iPinguini’s) or amarena. Their chocolate noir rocks. Sam had a different pistachiosso, which was vanilla with pistachio candy-ish crust on top. He also had stracchiatella and a cremino: a hazelnuty/chocolaty combination. There’s another Casalini in Fuveau (thanks, Dana from Tita for that tip!).
-Susan & Chef Sam
*Wikiquote says: “I have seen this quote attributed to Voltaire on several websites: the sentence does not exist in French (no reported written sources). It seems to be a English pseudo-quote, spreading from a fake/joke into the internet”
Addresses can be found on Facebook for all these shops. If you aren’t on Facebook, they’re all in the center of Aix, except for Casalini, Quillé and Art d’Glacier.
i’Pinguini -Place St. Honoré & Eguilles
Leonard Parli -rue Gaston Saporta
Philippe Faur -Cours Mirabeau -Note: they close at the end of October for the season.
Segond -top of Cours Mirabeau
Wiebel -Place Richelme
Bechard -Cours Mirabeau
Amorino -a few locations in Aix
Giovanni -Cours Mirabeau
Art d’ Glacier -Ansouis
Casalini -Cassis & Fuveau
Quillé – Miramas top of the hill & La Roque d’Antheron


Read Full Post »

Here are 5 amazing places for food to carry you through the summer until Aixcentric returns, Susan Gish says: 
  • Fanny’s 
  • Aux Pates Fraiches 
  • Au Pave du Roy 
and a reminder about Tita & Meow Cat’s Café – both of which have been written about before.
Fanny’s ‘Come on-A My House’ comfort food home cooking. (Come on-A My House:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mriXncI96lw  )  Bienvenue! Welcome to my house/my bistrot- Fanny seems to be saying with her smiling eyes! I know Fanny’s family. I’ve never met them, but I know them. She shares her family with us at her bistrot, and oh, this is a good family! Her grand-mother was also named Fanny: ‘I spent a lot of time watching her cooking and helping her when I was growing up. The memory of the smell of her chocolate fondant coming out of her oven. It was the best! That’s why I chose it for my signature dessert. Soon I will use the chocolate Jika from my brother’s factory in Jakarta.’ 
There’s an excellent playlist of music, not too loud, just perfect. Pink Martini, Ella Fitzgerald…’Music has always orchestrated my life…my Mum owned a piano bar where I worked. My sister Aurélie who also owned a restaurant in Bretagne, shares with me her favourite pieces of Jazz.’ Her sister made the tablecloths for the bistro. Her brother the furniture. A true coming together of family. 
Sam and I ate there often before confinement. We love the home cooked meals and warm atmosphere. Fanny’s smile lights up the room when we arrive. In fact, she knows almost everyone that comes in and we all get equal, warm smiles and welcomes. If she knows you love a specific dish she makes, she might text you to let you know she is making it that day. 
L’assiette du marché (15.90) has a meat, a fish and a vegetarian option that change according to the season. In early March before confinement I had a tasty chicken curry (from Fanny’s Indonesian sister-in-law) with lemongrass, ginger, garlic, turmeric, birds eye pepper, coconut milk, and curry spice. It came with a side of green beans with radish, red onion, beets and a really good dressing. A second side dish of her luscious lentils were served slightly warm with carrots and onions. Sam had beef with carrots – similar to a beef bourgignon. Underneath were little teeny tiny elbow macaroni with the same green bean salad and lentils. We always have the warm chocolate fondant for dessert and the fruit crumble, which her son Charles used to make every week.  Or there is a delicious café gourmand which sometimes might come with a coulis de fruits rouge avec fromage blanc or a little piece of lemon cake which her husband Philippe makes…all in the family! 
I often see Fanny on her bike shopping at the marché for fresh seasonal ingredients for her menu that day. There’s that great warm smile: ‘Bonjour, Susan!’ ‘Bonjour, Fanny! What are you making today?’ ‘Hachis parmentier.’ ‘Oh, wow, can I reserve for 2?’ ‘Bien sur! A bientot!’
Fanny spent a year in the US when she was 13 with her sister who had married an American. So she speaks English if you like. But she’s happy to speak in French to me to help me learn…(will I ever learn?!). Besides cooking and family, she loves sports and is in great shape. ‘I grew up with sports and tennis was my favourite, so when I moved from Paris to Lourmarin in 1999 with my husband and two children, I decided to involve myself in the tennis club of Lourmarin.’
I love this article about Fanny’s in The Huffington Post from March 2014:
All of it is true to this day. Nothing has changed. We are all still part of her family!
11, rue Chastel – a small street just behind the Place des Precheurs.
There is outdoor seating as well as indoor. 06 08 60 33 95 
Open Tuesday-Saturday – 9am -3pm for lunch-or stop in for a coffee and a piece of cake in the morning
*New info…….Open for dinner in July & August – 7pm to 9pm
fannys_bistrot on Instagram
 Aux Pâtes Fraîches –  Young and dynamic, Pierre-Antoine and Charles were looking for a place to open a food shop here in Aix-en-Provence. They saw Aux Pâtes Fraîches, which some of you might have been to as the shop goes back to 1878. It’s on the street behind the Fontaine au Sanglier off of Place Richelme and the fish market. Charles and Pierre-Antoine thought it immediately felt like home and bought the shop. This all happened just before confinement… They both speak English fluently after living awhile in London. Pierre-Antoine is an architect. He worked on museums projects in London. He is passionate about his work but wanted to fulfill his dream: to open a business related to food. Charles was working in marketing for a French cheese company. ‘We miss speaking English so if you want to come by just to have a chat, please do!’
They make their own pasta in the back, fresh every day. Spaghetti, tagliatelle, ravioli with petit-pois/menthe, spinach/ricotta, gorgonzola/nuts, lemon. Fresh products depending on the season
I bought their tagliatelle which my husband, ‘Chef’ Sam made for dinner. He minced garlic and sautéed it with those local little green slightly spicy Marseille peppers, and then added chopped cherry tomatoes, some cream and white vermouth. Garnished it with parsley leaves, and topped with some grated grana padano.
The next night we had friends over for apéro a la Aux Pâtes Fraîches: truffle cashews (my tongue had a party in my mouth!), tapenade with figs (delightful), creamy brandade (YUM), small round saucisson piment (available with parmesan or herbes de Provence too).
The Epicerie (the guys call it a Deli) has Italian and French products such as Maison Marc for cornichons (pickles in Deli talk!).  I can’t wait to try the Maison Marc velouté d’asperges. ‘We are working with Nadia Sammut (Auberge La Feniere outside of Lourmarin). She is very well known for gluten free products. There’s a full range of Maison Dubernet products who make amazing patés. The products we select don’t use any additives. We prepare charcuterie cold cuts for your aperos and we make our own tapenades, sometimes with figs but always without anchovy.’
As you can hear, the guys are very energetic and passionate about what they do. I watched them with customers and really appreciate their kindness to everyone. The shop is very clean and they wear masks. Oh, they sell beautiful flowers as well!
Go by and say hello. They’re hard working and I wish them success. 
Aux Pâtes Fraîches 
12 rue Laurent Fauchier 04 42 26 23 74 Tuesday-Saturday 9am-7pm.
Instagram and FB: auxpatesfraiches.aix
Au Pavé du Roy’s card says it all: Artisan Patissier Chocolatier Boulanger Glacier Traiteur.  Since discovering this outrageous place, I’ve been twice a week. Have. Got. To. Stop. J’adore everything from this place! It’s our new favorite PCBGT (see above).
Everything is made right there in the back atelier: Chocolat. Pain. Viennoiseries. Salés. Glaces. Pistachio croissant with pistachio creme inside, topped with slivered almonds.
Need I say more? Have you ever had a pistachio almond croissant? I hadn’t.
I get one every time I go in; they’re just amazing.
I don’t like most almond croissants as there is too much sweet frangipane inside. Not with Au Pavé du Roy’s pistachio frangipane. It’s just perfect.

Pain au chocolat with Valrhona chocolate. Uh-huh. (swoon). We’ve fallen in love with the nicely crusty (but not too hard) baguette with the little knob on the end to eat on the way home. It’s called ‘La Parisse’.  A sourdough baguette made from very high-quality flour whose recipe was developed by Gaëtan, Paris, Meilleur Ouvrier de France 1997.

If you’re craving dark chocolate chip cookies they have the best I’ve had in France. Some with almonds, some with pecans, there’s even a milk chocolate with noisettes. Sablés Framboises to die for. Gorgeous pastries and citron or pistachio cakes. Whole cakes too that look outrageous. Chocolate cats. Chocolate sheep. This one: ‘Chocolat pâte pistache et pâte fruits griottes, enrobé chocolat noir Valrhona’. Watching some of the chocolate videos on their Instagram is downright decadent…look at their cakes & pastries there as well. Incroyable! @aupaveduroy
  • They take the time to produce an old style quiche. This is difficult to find. Their tarte is twice as high with that creamy, almost but not quite undercooked custard. 
  • Tartelette fleur. I can’t even begin to describe this. It’s sort of like an everything bagel but stuffed with saucisse or jambon and grilled sésame, a mousse of sundried tomatoes, some with feta, cucumber, basil or mushrooms and fromage blanc. 
  • Sam loves their Croque Monsieur, and we had a Salmon Croque Monsieur just yesterday.
  • They also have gorgeous creative salads with lots of different ingredients rather than just a boring salad. Even their sandwiches and wraps are good.
Au Pavé du Roy is 3rd generation owned by Laurence Campanella. After WWII, Laurence’s grandfather left Italy and opened a bakery in Marseille, then her father took over. In 1974 they moved to Aix and in 1998 Laurence & her husband Eric took over.
Guess what? Laurence invited me to take a tour of l’atelier de fabrication: Can’t wait!
Au Pavé du Roy 
04 42 26 22 81 – 9 Cours d’Orbitelle -just next to Hotel Roi René
Open Tues-Sun 7:00am-8:00pm – aupaveduroy on Instagram
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =============
Another shout-out to two places that have been talked about previously on Aixcentric:
Tita  This Méditerranean street food café started off as a food truck at the market.  We had friends visiting from the US that ate there 3 times in the one week they were visiting. It’s that good. Trip Advisor has it listed as one of the best restaurants in Aix. They moved to their new location which is down the street from Place des Augustins, a few months before confinement. We would get take-out and go to O’Sullivan’s to eat lunch there with a glass of rosé. (How many bars could you bring your own food to in the US?)  It’s now more amazingly fresh tasting than ever before. I don’t know how that can be but it is.
I can’t get enough of their falafel. It comes with the absolute BEST grilled aubergine and coleslaw and green sauce and creamy hummus and tomato/red onion salad and rice I’ve ever had. Anywhere. Sam loves their kefta. We both crave their chicken shawarma. The pita bread is shipped in from Israel. Sometimes I want a nice juicy, messy sandwich with falafel spread evenly throughout the sandwich at the bottom too, so every bite has a bit of it in your mouthful. They don’t skimp on the number of falafels they give you, it’s a big sandwich. Then there’s times I’d rather have l’assiette. Sweet Dana and Gael and their other wonderful team members welcome you with open arms! 6 rue des bernardines 04 42 38 93 54 Tuesday-Saturday 11h30-15h & Friday and Saturday also for dinner 18h-21h . Tita on Facebook & tita_aixenprovence on Instagram. 
*(Whew! Beware, long run on sentences above!)
Meow Cats Café just celebrated their 1 year anniversary before confinement. Morgane’s cat café is a perfect place to relax and hang-out with the 4 house cats and have lunch or a drink. I have to admit that Dexter, the ginger cat with his big expressive eyes, is my favorite to play with. Opium and Olympe are brother and sister and there’s long haired Fripouille who rolls onto his back to show off his belly. Morgane is connected with shelters in the region to try to find families and give love for abandoned cats. They have a really great success rate in getting adoptions for the cats they bring in. Thank you for all you do to get the cats fur-ever homes! 
Morgane is also a really good cook. Everything is homemade with love.  At the moment, there is a re-invention of the virgin mojito as well as milkshakes and chai latte frappés on the drinks menu. The salads are uniquely layered in ball jars and the wraps are good too. Desserts, though, are really where her passion is. Speculos muffins, cake a l’orange, chocolate pecan cake, cookies…Vegan friendly items as well.
This is a purr-fect place to chill when you are stressed out. Just sit for awhile, have something to eat and/or drink and talk to the cats. You’ll feel better in just a short time! Meow Cat’s Café is always extremely clean and takes all health precautions.
10 rue de la Fonderie – on a back side street close to the Peripherique and Arts & Metiers 
09 83 81 18 24 Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-6pm – meowcatscafe on Facebook & Instagram 
Have a great summer!
Susan & Chef Sam



Read Full Post »

As we all come out blinking in the sunshine, there is a new programme to welcome us all to café terraces, enlarged and some offering tastings of local rosés to celebrate.

It is being held all across la Region Sud: https://www.maregionsud.fr/la-fete-des-terrasses

In Aix, where the size and opening hours of cafés are usually very carefully controlled, the mayor has authorised these unusual measures:

  • Cafés can extend their terraces sideways when adjoining businesses are closed (evenings, Sundays for instance)
  • They can extend outwards if there is space, after 11am or 14:30 on market days
  • They can stay open until 2am, instead of closing at 1am.

I read that these measures are authorised until the end of the year and will hopefully accelerate business for cafés and restaurants which have been so badly hit by weeks of closure.

Read more here:  (https://madeinmarseille.net/68934-a-aix-en-provence-les-terrasses-sagrandissent-et-les-horaires-sallongent-au-1er-juillet)

As the poster says, ‘Fetons le Retour a la Vie!’


Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »