Category Archives: Food & Wine

Provence villa rental review

8413France Bound client villa rental review: On behalf of my family, I want to express my deepest appreciation for organizing such a spectacular trip for is to Provence. I would highly recommend France Bound to any of our friends planning a trip to France.

Everything was seamless, and we thoroughly enjoyed Villa Goult, We found the central location ideal for what we wanted to see and to do.
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The recommended restaurants were spectacular, and one of the best meals we had was prepared at the villa by a local recommended chef. It was a great way to celebrate my wife’s birthday.

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We also appreciated your day trip recommendations, including a day at Cassis. Although we were unable to charter a boat with a skipper, we took the 65 minute tour boat along the shore and inlets and found it perfectly enjoyable. We also took you up on your suggestion to visit Sault to discover the wonder of the lavender fields.

Thank you for making our trip so special.
With best regards,
Dan
July 2015

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Cèpes mushrooms

cepes4Cèpes mushrooms, also known as porcini, grow wild in France and Italy, In the autumn, these prized mushrooms are fresh and widely available in markets and restaurants. Cèpes are one of the tastiest wild mushrooms, and are popular on many menus in the fall season.

Cèpes are low in fat and digestible carbohydrates and high in protein, vitamins, minerals and dietery fiber.  Although they are sold commercially,  cèpes are difficult to cultivate. However, they are found wild in autumn and are often dried, packaged and distributed worldwide. Fortunately, cèpes keep their flavor after drying, and are then reconstituted and used in many recipes.

Sautéed fresh cèpes and wild mushrooms with herbs and cream IMG_8056

Serves 4 as a side dish. Excellent with roast chicken and potatoes.

500g (2 cups)  of fresh cèpes and wild mushrooms (chanterelles, trumpet, brown button)
2 shallots
1 clove garlic
salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of fresh flat leaf parsley, thyme, and any other fresh herbs
cream or sour cream to taste

cepes2Clean and prepare the mushrooms (see below). Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms in a single layer and sprinkle with salt. Don’t overcrowd the mushrooms, cook in batches, and don’t over salt the mushrooms (see tips below). Sauté the mushrooms until golden brown on one side. When the first side of the mushrooms are cooked, add the shallots, garlic, and sauté the mushrooms on the other side. Make sure the mushrooms are cooked through. Add 1 tablespoon of butter per batch. When all the mushrooms are cooked, deglaze the pan with white wine, then add the velouté and cream (see below).

Tips:

  • Cook mushrooms on a high heat so the moisture will evaporate quickly
  • Cook mushrooms in a large pan in a single layer and in batches so that moisture will evaporate.
  • Don’t overcrowd the mushrooms or too much water is released at once, and the mushrooms will be soggy and won’t brown
  • Don’t disturb the mushrooms until they have stopped “singing” in the pan. Do not stir the mushrooms or swirl the pan until the mushrooms are golden brown on one side.
  • Cook different types of mushrooms separately, as some will require more or less cooking than others.
  • Season cèpes with salt as soon as you start to cook them, but don’t add too much salt when cooking because the mushrooms will shrink. More salt can be added later if required.
  • If using dried herbs, add the herbs to the mushrooms with the garlic and shallots. Fresh herbs will lose their flavour when cooked, so should only be added at the last minute to preserve their flavour.

cepes3Cleaning cèpes is simple: use a knife, a soft brush, a damp cloth or a potato peeler, but do not wash them in water, because they are like sponges.  Cut off the tip of the mushroom’s stalk, scrape off as much earth as possible, peel a single layer of the stalk. You can wipe them with a damp cloth for a proper final cleaning. If you want to store cèpes, wrap them in a cloth and store in the refrigerator. Never put them in a plastic bag.

Velouté:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup chicken stockIMG_8057

In a separate saucepan, whisk the butter and the flour together over medium heat. Cook the roux without stirring until it smells like hazelnuts and is golden brown. Add the chicken stock and salt and stir over low heat until the sauce thickens.

Add the velouté and cream to the mushrooms and simmer until heated through. Add fresh herbs and serve hot. If preparing in advance, turn the heat off, then reheat and add fresh herbs before serving.

A Great New Find in Paris

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We love to find small intimate chef-run restaurants with great food and ambiance. During our stay in Paris, we discovered REED restaurant: a small charming restaurant tucked away on a small street in the 7th arrondissement.

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The restaurant is owned and operated by Catherine Reed, a Canadian from Quebec City, who was a private chef for 17 years in Switzerland and France. Catherine is a talented chef, and a warm host, and will ensure you are well taken care of.

Her small cozy restaurant accommodates about 16 diners, and offers traditional French food in a friendly and leisurely atmosphere.  All the dishes on the menu are home made using the freshest ingredients personally selected from the neighbourhood markets, and the French wines are carefully selected to add another dimension to your Parisian dining experience.

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The restaurant has an open kitchen concept, which is perfect for the cooking classes that the chef offers on Wednesdays.
The cooking classes are taught in English and feature seasonal ingredients and techniques cooks can use at home. Classes are limited in size to provide participants with an intimate experience.

IMG_8046No matter how experienced a cook you are, this class encourages beginners and the more skilled alike to experience a new twist on cooking. You will learn useful tips, basic techniques and classic French cooking principles.  The class menu (starter, main course and dessert ) is set according to fresh seasonal products and technical interest.

IMG_8052We thoroughly enjoyed the morning preparing an outstanding menu, beginning with a three cheese soufflé served with a side salad of mâche lettuce with sundried tomato and balsamic vinaigrette. The main course was an outstanding combination of herb stuffed free range chicken roasted in a salt crust served on a bed of crushed herbed potatoes with a medley of sautéed fresh mushrooms and a wedge of baby romaine lettuce. For dessert we created a divine fresh strawberry shortcake. IMG_8043

After the hands on class, we sat down to enjoy our delicious dishes with a glass of wine or two! The class was a highlight of our stay in Paris, and highly recommended.

Reservations are required for the class and friends can join later for the lunch.IMG_8050

Cooking classes are €135 per person from 9:30 am – 3:00 pm on Wednesdays.

Reed restaurant is open for dinner Tues-Friday (closed Sun & Mon). Dinner reservations are recommended.

 

Reed
11 bis rue Amélie
75007 Paris
01 45 55 88 40

Rue Cler market street

IMG_7915In the morning, we walked from our apartment to nearby Rue Cler, a famous market street in the 7th arrondissement with a wonderful selection of specialty food stores, patisseries, butchers, delicatessens, cheese specialists, fishmongers, greengrocers, chocolate shops and cafés.  Most of the street is a pedestrian area and still has its original cobblestones.  This authentic market street is where the locals go to buy their favorite foods or to meet friends and enjoy sitting on the terrace at one of the many cafés, while they watch the world go by.

Some of our favourite places on Rue Cler:

davoliDavoli – La Maison du Jambon: The lines leading onto the street indicate that this is one of the best and most popular shops in the neighbourhood. This Italian delicatessen sells homemade specialties from Italian sausages and meats to pasta, Italian cheeses, side dishes such as roasted peppers, desserts and the best sauerkraut choucroute in Paris. This is an excellent dish for a cold day. Tell the salesman how many you’ll be feeding they’ll suggest the delicious sausages, ham, meats and side dishes. All you have to do is heat and serve for an easy and fabulous dinner at home !

Darius Rotisserie – Chickens! The smells from this shop will make your mouth water and you may not get any further. This is a chicken brasserie; they cook flame roasted chickens, sold in bags which remain hot for an hour. You can buy whole chickens, breasts or legs so everyone can have their favorite meat. Another convenient take away option for dinner at home in your Paris rental apartment.

fromage4Fromagerie – this is an excellent cheese shop and very popular. This is a real dairy store where you can find a delicious selection of butters from Normandy , yogurts and fresh eggs. Excellent goats cheeses…everything is good! When you want a soft cheese, such as Camembert, Brie, Epoisse, St. Marcelin (the same as St. Felicien) or Neuchatel  — tell the salesperson when you plan to eat it.  “Ce soir” or “Demain”, etc. Your specialist will squeeze the packages until they find the cheese that will be perfect (or ‘fait’) at the moment you want to savor it. It’s really a treat! If you haven’t had St. Felicien or Marcelin (same cheese), try it and make sure it’s fait (ready to eat). It’s so creamy you almost need a spoon and you will be back the next day for more.

Top Halles – A large greengrocer with good quality produce and competitive prices.  They will help you to select the best products for ripeness and flavour, and they have great specials that are beautifully displayed outside. deli3

Deli Zius Gastonomia Italiana – Excellent Italian Specialties: you recognize it by the Olive trees outside. Delicious olives, pastas and other Italian specialties.

Oliviers and Co (O&CO) – This high quality group of stores is becoming known in the US, as their products are now distributed by Williams Sonoma.  Their prices are significantly lower than in the US, so it is worth stopping in and sampling their oils and specialties. We love their lemon flavored olive oil especially on salads, and their basil flavored olive oil on grilled fish.

Bacchus – This wine shop is a good one and they do a good job recommending wine for a particular meal. We also recommend the wine shop at 145 rue St. Dominique where they do an excellent job of recommending wines and offer good value for money. 

Charcuterie Jeusselin – Increasingly popular, this Charcuterie sells all French specialties and is located across the street from Davoli.  Their growing popularity and prepared casseroles and dishes make them a popular stop for locals.  Specialties are displayed in the glass cases in front of the shop and they have won several awards for their sausages.

Leonidas Chocolatier – Belgian chocolates which are excellent and reasonably priced.pastries

Boulangerie Patisserie – This boulangere is kitty corner from the Cafe du Marche. They have good pastries and breads, including the flute and grain breads. Note the beautiful windows and original features. We like their pain au raisin – our favourite morning pastry.

 

Cafe du Marche – The Cafe du Marche’ is one of the most popular cafe’s in the neighborhood, with a covered area outside where you can eat winter and summer. It’s a fun place to sit and people watch. Its also a great place for lunch with a number of daily specials on blackboards at reasonable prices.rue-cler

After we browsed the fabulous and tempting selection of products and made our purchases, we stopped at the Café Marché for a coffee and a pain au raisin from the boulangerie and sat on the terrace under the heat lamps to watch the morning activity unfold.

These experiences are part of the joy of renting an apartment in Paris, where you can live life like a local Parisian.

Apt market

371The weekly Saturday morning market in Apt has taken place since the Middle Ages, and is considered an outstanding market and one of the best in the region. The atmosphere, quality and range of the products are superb.

A kaleidoscope of colours and fragrances tempt shoppers and passers-by as they wander through the streets of the historical centre of Apt.

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At the market stands, you will find local produce and products, food, flowers, herbs, soaps, clothes, fabrics, table cloths, baskets, musicians, and more. Many shops along the market also stay open or have stalls on the pavement, adding to the selection of goods.

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We love to discover local artisans and specialty producers at the markets. At the Apt market, we we found a fabulous selection of fresh wild Cèpes mushrooms that are in season in the fall. Their French name cep comes from the Gascon word for ‘trunk’, referring to the mushrooms’ thick, creamy stem. Their Italian name porcini however translates as ‘piglet’ and refers to the little, plump, spongy cup which has mild, nutty notes.

030Cèpes mushrooms are quite large and one of the most flavourful mushrooms making them a sought after delicacy and a favourite of French chefs. They have a delicious hearty rich flavour with the perfect combination of earthy and sweet taste. Cèpes also retain nearly all of their taste when dried, making them one of the most versatile varieties found in many French and Italian dishes. Watch for an upcoming post about how to prepare cèpes mushrooms & some recipes.

Also at the Apt market, we sampled foie gras produced by a charming gentleman from Gers in the Midi Pyrenees region of SW France, who has a farm and has been raising ducks and producing excellent foie gras for decades.

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The market sprawls and swirls through several alleys and squares in the heart of old Apt, which is centered around the 11th-century Cathedral, on what was once an island between two branches of the river Calavon. Two ancient towers, the 18th-century Bouquerie tower and the 16th- century Tour de l’Horloge both have beautiful campaniles. In some of the narrow, paved streets you’ll see vaulted passages and some very lovely fountains.

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In the village, we discovered a fascinating shop & atelier where beautiful handmade marbled faience pottery is made in the traditional methods established in Apt in the 18th century. The elderly gentlemen explained the ancient technique passed down from generation to generation, and took us through the atelier to show us samples of  pottery pieces in progress. The mixing of coloured faience with yellow and red ochre and other natural pigmentations (manganese and cobalt) is covered by a light film of transparent glaze to bring out the veins and the enhance the marbling to create depth and movement.378

We really enjoyed our visit to the Apt market. It is one of the biggest weekly markets in Provence, and has been going on for some 900 years.  The market is definitely worth a visit, and takes place on Saturday mornings until about noon, year round.

 

 

Roussillon

326Roussillon is an incredibly picturesque Luberon village and classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France.

As you walk through the village you will see the clock tower and its campanile, the vestiges of the ramparts, the remains of the 10th century castle, narrow cobblestone streets, squares and vaulted passageways, and lovely 17th & 18th century homes with ochre washed facades & tiled roofs.

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333Roussillon was long specialised in the mining of the natural pigments contained in the ochre lands – and only stopped in 1945 with the advent of synthetic products.

Next to the village there is an ochre path through the heart of the old ochre quarries, where you can appreciate the great beauty and many shades of the ochre colours contrasted against the green pine trees and intense blue skies.

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You can also explore the history of the ochre mines by visiting the “Conservatoire des Ocres et des Couleurs” set up in a former ochre factory just outside the village, where you can learn all about the use of ochres, and take part in classes.

 

Roussillon has many restaurants from simple cafes to high end fine dining with views of the ochre cliffs. Most restaurants are clustered around the square near the top of the village and the picturesque mairie and clock tower. There is also a great ice cream and sandwich shop “Côté Sucré Salé”, just as you start walking up the hill towards the ochre quarry and cemetery. You can sit on the wall overlooking the ochre cliffs with your ice cream, or take your sandwich into the quarry, where there are a few small picnic areas.

8465-terraceWhere to stay in Roussillon:  In the heart of the village, Maison Jolie is an exceptional and very well appointed vacation rental house with 3 bedrooms & bathrooms, wonderful views, a heated pool, surrounded by terraces, luxury amenities, and lots of charm. The house is characterized by large rooms with typical, warm Provencal decoration, including a vaulted ceiling kitchen with an antique oak table. The house is elevated and the terrace is up one floor from the street level, so it is a private and calm space with magnificent views of the Mont Ventoux, the vineyards of the Luberon valley, and the ochre cliffs of Roussillon.

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Contact http://www.francebound.net for reservations.

Lourmarin

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The village of Lourmarin lies in the southern Luberon valley, at the base of the Luberon range and sheltered from the Mistral winds. Lourmarin is one of the loveliest villages: it has a special art de vivre, charming boutiques, art galleries, cultural sites and a beautiful Provençal market, which are all reasons why Lourmarin is so popular for visiting and living.

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This perfect Provencal village is one of our favourites. The village is filled with outdoor cafes and restaurants spilling out onto the cobblestone streets throughout the village – a fabulous place to spend a morning or an afternoon enjoying the sunshine and the Provencal lifestyle.

The beautiful Renaissance castle is worth a visit and is surrounded by beautiful green fields, The impressive belfry Castelas stands at the highest point of the village, and is built on the remains of the medieval moated castle that once dominated Lourmarin.

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Many artists lived and worked In Lourmarin, including the Nobel prize-winning French author Albert Camus, whose L’Etranger is one of the great novels of the 20th century. Albert Camus is buried in Lourmarin cemetery and has a street in Lourmarin named after him.

There are lots of pretty cobblestone streets and walking paths winding into the village, where you will find lots of charming boutiques. Lourmarin has a market every Friday morning, which fills the main street leading into the village. It is a good sized market and one of our favourite in the area.

397During our week in the Luberon, we had coffee or lunch several times in Lourmarin at the outdoor cafes in the beautiful late October sunshine. We had great salads at L’Insolite and Chez Gaby on the Place de la Fontaine.

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The Michelin starred chef Reine Sammut has her famous gastronomic restaurant  and hotel – the Auberge la Fenière, in Lourmarin. And we enjoyed a lovely Sunday afternoon lunch with friends at the newer Bistrot, which was excellent. Highlights were the peach and grapefruit cocktail, and the seabass served with a caper, olive and tomato sauce – delicious.