Tour of Provence – June 11-21, 2017
Day 2 – June 12 – Hilltop villages tour, lunch in Gigondas, wine tasting and cooking class at L’Aube Safran
I woke with a cold 😦 As it was going to be a hot day on a group consensus it was decided to not do the walking tour of the hilltop villages.
We drove along a scenic route to the hilltop village of Gigondas – passing through several others on the way.
When we got there, the others went into a pottery store and an hour later they emerged having bought lots of pottery and having it all beautifully wrapped up.
I didn’t want to buy anything so I went next door to this fantastic shop – Atelier ‘Art contemporain’ which had wonderful things I would have loved to have bought but I couldn’t and didn’t.
I asked the owner (in very simple English) if I could take photographs instead and he agreed. I was not sure if Pierre (who was in the shop) owned the shop, worked in the shop or was one of the artists. Not speaking French and him not speaking English meant that there was a large gap in my knowledge. However, the shop is easy to find if you are in Gigondas – there aren’t that many shops and it is beside the pottery shop! I did see some of the little ‘birds’ in a shop in Nice. The address is Rue Eugene Raspail, 84190, Gigondas.
I wandered around the village – it was very small. I saw the pastel blue that is so predominant in Provence – on shutters and doors.
Once the others had finished we walked a little way up the hill to the restaurant where we had a booking for lunch – it was called ‘Nez’. We sat at the table under the umbrella.
This was the first of many delicious meals we had together. We shared a tapas plate first. Most of us chose the risotto with asparagus and summer truffles, which I ate before remembering I was supposed to take a photo of it! However, summer truffles are very mild and I couldn’t really taste them, especially with my cold.
The desert was a strawberry mousse with a lime sorbet – the sorbet came on top of the lid!
After lunch we continued driving around the mountain, seeing at a distance, the villages hanging onto the hillside.
We then visited two wineries for wine tasting – the first vineyard – Domaine de Solence, an organic winery, had wines that were a bit dry for me, but the second organic winery – Vignoble – owned by Alain Ignace – made lovely muscat wines.
I bought one bottle of white muscat which I took to dinner in Paris (see a later post) and one red muscat – called Muscat Beaumes de Venise. It is delicious and I am taking it home with me – the white was a 750 ml bottle but this one is a 500 ml bottle so I should be able to pack it safely in the middle of my suitcase.
Evidently Alain has developed his own red muscat grapevines and no one else makes this red muscat. His red muscat is becoming very popular and it is hard to find. He doesn’t have a very big area of these grapevines yet.
This is his Vignoble website – which is in French, and he doesn’t speak English! Corinne knows him very well and she had brought nibbles to have at the wine tasting as wine always tastes different with food. An American couple also turned up to buy wines so they joined us in the wine tasting.
After the wine tasting we headed back to L’Aube Safran for our cooking lesson with Marie and Corinne. We had time for a swim beforehand which was great as even with the air conditioning in the van, we were all feeling tired and hot.
We made Melon and saffron soup, Baked red mullet with saffron and lemon flavoured onions and fennel, and Spicy strawberries with saffron for dessert.
I had never eaten fennel before because I don’t like aniseed but now I like fennel – the aniseed flavour seems to disappear when cooked. Or maybe these were young bulbs – as I have since also had it raw and it was delicious. It was too dark by the time we came to eat the meal to take good photographs.
The orange soup is the melon soup on the way to the fridge and the reddish stuff in the jar is saffron!
Clockwise from the top left – the Melon soup, the wonderful Magimix that made it, and a lot of saffron in the jar!
It was a late night but the meal was delicious as was the wine we had with it.