A letter from Provence

 

I have just been staying near Apt in the hills of Provence, looking out towards the Luberon mountains. The steep landscape is covered by oak and chestnut trees and wild herbs grow out of the rocky, dry earth. Cliffs of ochre, once quarried for the colour used to paint the local houses, cut through parts of the forest. These same hills are where the Maquis once hid and where wild boar are hunted.

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The places and ingredients Elizabeth David talks about in her seminal book, French Provincial cooking, came alive as I discovered them first hand. Things that speak of the region and its history of food: artichokes Barigoule; apricots grown near Apt; soft goat’s cheeses from Banon and sweet Beaumes de Venise wines; Calissons – the small almond cakes from Aix and the intense melons of Cavaillon. As you wander through the markets, the air smells sweet with ripe fruit and in other parts, savoury with the meaty fragrance of salamis, olives and cheeses.

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Paris, my latest edit

A recent trip to Paris was full of discoveries. It’s amazing how many new (and ancient) places I find, even after years of visiting.  We flew around the city on bicycles, trying restaurants, finding galleries and shopping (food related of course!). A whirl around Paris that was exhausting but exhilarating, and here is my pick of the best:

This time I stayed with a friend in the 11th Arrondisement, which offered a view of the city I hadn’t seen before. Among the other great attributes of this trendy district, it is the location of some of the best ‘nouveau bistro’ restaurants, including Septime and Chateaubriand (see my previous post) and the most stylish ‘gluten free’ bakery, Chambelland, which sold loaves of bread that were so good, I had to haul some back to London.

Chambelland, 14 Rue Ternaux, 75011 Paris

 

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