Friday, October 31, 2008
This is a good idea. Whenever there is a scenic lookout that draws crowds, the French put up on of these circular maps. You stand on any side of it and every town, mountain, river or valley is lined up so you can place it. Very easy and very helpful. In one town they let the local school kids draw the map, then set it in ceramic.
Saignon, as I understand it, derives it's name from the Latin for signal. Because it occupies high ground and has a commanding view in three directions, it was a good place to look for invaders or just local enemies. At one end of the town is a huge rock outcropping called Le Rocher. There is a climb up the side of it and from the top you can see the whole valley. This is one of the views.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
If you want to cook in the Provencal style, you could start with all four of these ingredients. The tomatoes are obviously locally grown and the shallots are huge, yet tender and sweet. The garlic and onions are also top-notch. Add any meat or fish to these in a saute and you'll be in heaven.
Every year we run across this man or someone just like him. It seems that, in Provence, if it grows and you can eat it, you should make a tapenade out of it. This man had what seemed like 30 varieties of the traditional Provencal staples, whole or in combination, for sale. He had little bits of bread and he would give you a taste of each variety. They all taste so good that you want to buy a jar. Carol and I were in front of his table for about 10 minutes while our spouses stood at a safe distance and watched us taste,buy,taste,buy. No one complained later when we broke out a baguette and some wine and did a tasting at home.
Just like here, this is pumpkin season in the Luberon. The French grow two types of them. The one pictured is very hard to cut through and, as you can see, full of meat. The flesh is very good and the restaurants all have something on the menu with this squash in it. I had a tarte in Apt that was just perfect Fall fare. The Provencals also have taken to the spirit of Halloween and there are skeletons and witches all about in late October. So there are also traditional pumpkins, suitable for carving, for sale.
Now these are melons to die for. I have eaten Cantaloupes all of my life, and the best varieties were the famous Hand melon from the Saratoga Springs N.Y. area, juicy and full of flavor. Well therse melons are from the Cavaillon area of Provence and taste like a Hand melon squared. When you buy them they always ask you "Aujourd-hui ou demain?" We always get two, one for today and the next for tomorrow and they're always perfectly ripe. I miss them.
Our first day we went to the large market in Apt, the town just down the hill. The produce is second only to the farmer's market in Coustellet (more later). These melons were lovely to look at but, as I remember from last year, they were a bit of a disappointment to eat.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
This is Saignon, a town of 1045 people in Provence, located 2 miles up a hill from the medium sized town (25,000) of Apt. I took this on our first day in town. We went for a short walk and ended going up a trail for horses that led to this view. We passed 2 horses going up and on our way down we met a group of men on off-road motorcycles tearing along. They warned us that there was one more guy coming and indicated that he might not be paying attention. Sure enough he came roaring up on us at great speed. But, forewarned is forearmed and we has scurried up the hill.
Every year we discover new little byways and areas in this one little town, which will keep us coming back while we can.
Well, we're back from Provence and the unpacking and jet-lag recovery is complete. Now I will try to add a picture or 2 a day.
This house was at the bottom of the street that our house was on. Every day I'd go out the front door and look left, and every day the light would be different. It's for rent on a weekly basis.