Saturday, April 19, 2014


This is a contemporary Easter egg as seen at Peyrerol, our wonderful and far too tempting Patissier in Vaison la Romaine. I am not so sure where dolphins fit in at Easter but I guess the little bunny might just be too traditional for some....

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Another Berlin Foodie Hotspot: Markthalle IX

Every time I go to Berlin to visit my sister she shows me the newest gastronomic hotspot - last time it was the very best Chinese hotpot restaurant, this time Markthalle IX. Situated in Kreuzberg, the formerly poorest Berlin district that is fast evolving into hipster paradise, Markthalle IX is one of 13 market halls that were built in 1886 of which  four halls miraculously survived two world wars and efforts to gentrify Berlins most colorful and multi cultural district. And right now Markthalle IX (market hall number nine) is "the place to be on Thursday evenings". That is when "Street Food Thursday" takes place and the hall, on other days a regular market hall, is heaving with food stalls and visitors.

Here you can have a taste of street food from all over the world. The evening we were there American style BBQ was on offer (great brisket - yum!) and New York Reuben Sandwiches, British Pies, Spanish Empanadas, Russian Borscht and Swabian "Spätzle" noodles.

 These guys sold Fish 'n Chips

 People share tables and sometimes even their food

 Traditional Berlin Meatballs came not all that traditional

 in 4 different styles and with exotic ingredients

cooked and served by this cute young man

 Bernadette had wonderful Styrian pumkin seed oil and pesto on offer

 Great marketing and a fun location

 for the "washrooms"

 Wines from all over the world

 were sold for "beautiful drinking" by a wine shop called "Boozing"

and they also had one of those old fashioned photo booths in Markthalle IX - the very best souvenir of all!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Chinese for Beginners - a cooking class in Berlin

Somehow this blog has been digressing somewhat from Cuisine de Provence to more international fare which I promise will be rectified soon but not before I share two wonderful and absolutely to be recommended adresses and events with you. I do not quite remember how I happened to stumble upon Goldhahn & Sampson but when I read Deli plus Cookbook Shop plus Cooking Classes I knew this was an adress to investigate. 

Almost disappointingly normal from the outside, once you enter G&S you are in for a delightful experience. This Berlin deli stocks not only the "world's best liverwurst" (which my husband, the liverwurst expert wholeheartedly confirms) but teas, spices, chocolates, cheeses and wines from pretty much all over the world plus wonderful specialities you won't easily find in just any old cornershop.
And their cookbook shop! OMG! As a self confessed cookbook junky I really, really had to restrain myself. I don't think I have ever seen such a fabulous selection of cookbooks - many titles in English and most I'd never seen before. You could spend hours there browsing.

 The deli
 The bookshop

But as wonderful as all this is what we had come to Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg for was the cooking class. G&S offers different cooking classes and my sister and I had chosen "Chinese for Beginners". What can I say? This was one of the best and most generous cooking classes I have ever attended.  Lijuan Chen our delightful teacher and Giulia, her lovely assistent made sure we all learned how to prepare six authentic Chinese recipes while nibbling on Soya beans and drinking fabulous German Riesling. This was hands on cooking and we all learned a lot and had a lot of fun. If you go to Berlin and want to take a cooking class - check out Goldhahn und Sampson's Website and, if you are lucky you might just be able to catch one of Lijuan's classes. I do urge you to go!

 Mise en Place
 Our delightful teacher Lijuan Chen
 We learned how to prepare Jiaozi - dumplings filled with a fragrant beef and spice mixture

not all that easy to prepare them....

Steamed seabream with ginger and spring onions

A feast not only for the eyes - the class ended with a delicious dinner

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Jamie goes Moroccan

Just back from Morocco I stumbled about a Moroccan inspired Jamie Oliver recipe that ticked all my boxes - I adore cooking with lamb and I had all the necessary vegetables and spices. I didn't have sweet potatoes so used butternut squash instead. And I didn't used lamb fillets but a shoulder of lamb, so no pleating, just rubbing the spice mix into the meat, chopping up the veg and letting the oven do it's magic. The smell that drifted out of the kitchen was heavenly and very authentic Moroccan. Served on a bed of couscous and with a glass of red wine it was a dish worth serving even the most discerning dinner party guests. Très bon!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A stroll through the Souk in Agadir

Did you see the British newspaper discussion about butcher's displaying their meats in their shop windows?  I thought those protests rather silly when I read about them a few weeks ago and remembered them when strolling through a souk on our trip to Morocco last week. Now there between all the beautifully displayed produce you truly see sights that are not for the squeamish and which remind you how sanitized our eating habits have become.
Aside from that I once again felt a little sorry for myself that I couldn't just take all those wonderful fruit,  vegetable and herbs home with me - but just look for yourself - and don't scroll all the way down if you are of a delicate disposition.....

 A typical Moroccan welcome - Mint Tea

 The Souk in Agadir
 the first strawberries of the season

all the spices you could want for

oranges from the horn of plenty

fragrant herbs

 beautifully displayed vegetables

 and no shortage of eggs


 and more olives


 nuts and fruits

 And now the butcher's

 Sheep's heads
 Tripe and sheep's feet - as the sign says: Taste Nature!

Friday, March 7, 2014

The ugliest Fish makes the best Stew

Remember the ugliest ever fish I found at Marseille's fish market? Just as one should not judge a book by its cover, monkfish probably looks so scary to hide the fact that it is one of the finest, tastiest fishes. In Provence it is called "the poor man's lobster" although I think that this refers more to the shape of the monkfish's tail.
So when I had to decide what to cook for my fellow blogger Michel and his wife Shirley who are staying at their lovely house in Sablet and came for dinner last night, I thought fish, thought Provençal and born was my version of "Queue de Lotte à la Provençale".
For 6 servings you need:
2 monkfish, cleaned, skinned and filleted (ask nicely and let your fishmonger do the work, if he refuses, go elsewhere or have a look at this video - it shows what a pain it is to do it yourself.
1/2 cup white wine
2 medium cans chopped tomatoes
2 medium sized mild white onions, halved and very finely sliced 
2 or 3 cloves garlic, very finely sliced
1 pound of cherry tomatoes
a handful of capers
olive oil, pepper and salt, red pepper flakes

Cut the cleaned monkfish fillets into generous, chunky medaillons and keep in the fridge until needed. Add a splash of olive oil to a pan, add the cherry tomatoes and sauté over moderate heat until they begin to soften. Let cool.
Add a splash of olive oil to a second, ovenproof pan that is large enough to hold all ingredients. Add the onions and garlic and let sweat over moderate heat until translucent. Add the canned tomatoes, the white wine and let bubble away for a few minutes until the sauce thickens. Season to taste. Skin the cooled down cherry tomatoes, taking care not to lose any of their juice, then add to the sauce. Stir in the capers.
You can prepare the recipe up to this point so that just 20 minutes before you are ready to eat you add the fish medaillons to the sauce (take care to cover the fish with sauce) then bake the stew for 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 180C/350F.
I served this with baguette last night but we discussed that rice would probably be nice, too. And no, to accompany this fragrant stew we did not drink white wine but a light, nicely chilled red from the Loire Valley - Aristide Luneau St. Nicolas de Bourgueil 2011. A good match, merci Robert!
But best was all the laughter around the table, the great company of Shirley, Michel and their friend Kerry. Proof? We never got around or even thought about taking photos, so this one is of the left overs Robert and I will share tonight. Hope there is some of that nice wine left, too!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Jamie Oliver - A Valentine's with Benefits...

I have to admit that I find Valentine's Day one of the most superfluous "holidays" ever. Love on command, all those totally overpriced roses, chocolates and bottles of bubbly - not for me, thank you very much. And what is more depessing than a whole restaurant of tables of two drinking their pink champagne, eating a pink starter, pink main course and pink dessert? Been there, done that, exactly once and we still laugh about it. But somehow my darling husband saw all those guys queuing at the florist's and probably felt kind of funny being seen without anything (Valentine's is huge here in Provence!) . And so what did I get? A beautiful rose and this:

The French version of Jamie Oliver's magazine. Monsieur just knows that I love cooking mags and used to buy far too many of them and recently put myself on a strict magazine detox.
Guess who was first to look through it and decorate it with more than half a dozen page markers? Let me just say that so far these are the only recipes I had time to look at and today we had Jamie's very simple but delicious "Tarte de Printemps" for lunch. The ingredients are easlily found this time of the year, leeks and spinach are about all the fresh produce you find besides various cabbages and squashes in our markets now. So I guess my husband got himself a Valentine's with benefits...

Jamie Oliver's Tarte de Printemps (Spring Tart)
270 g filo pasty
200 g baby spinach leaves
6 slices bacon
6 eggs
200 ml milk
3 medium sized leeks
pepper and salt
Preheat the oven to 180 C, oil a 20 x 30 cm tart tin.
Distribute the filo leaves one by one slightly overlapping the tin and oiling between layering the next filo leaf. Put the spinach in a colander and pour boiling water over the spinach so it wilts. Leave to cool. Finely chop the well rinsed leeks (white parts only). Grill the bacon until crisp, degrease on some papertowels. When the spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much of the water as you can, then roughly chop the spinach and mix with the chopped up leeks. Crumble the crisp bacon and mix with the spinach and leeks.
Distribute this mixture on the filo pastry. In a bowl mix the eggs and the milk with freshly ground pepper and salt and pour over the tart. Bake for 30 minutes.
PS: The only thing I would probably add next time is a handful of grated cheese into the egg mixture.
Jamie's Tarte de Printemps