The best places to try the authentically rustic food of the region are at the Fermes Auberges or farm inns like the Auberge du St Julien at Buis Les Baronnies, the Auberge du Domaine Guilon at Chamaret with its own winery and Moulin de Chateau near Villeperdrix with its 12th century buildings and 16th century mill- sadly no longer operational. To earn the title of Ferme Auberge their proprietors are required to grow or gather locally 60-70% of the ingredients in the menu.
The highlight of one of my dinners at just such an establishment was an enormous truffle omelette that was almost grey in colour from the generosity of the main ingredient! This was followed by a large earthenware dish of pot-roasted quails in an olive and juniper sauce. Local goat’s cheese Picodon completed the meal.
Here are some recipes for this excellent meal. They all use the Tanche olive, either in its cured form or as extra virgin olive oil.
This is a classic recipe, extremely simple and perfect for supper on any day. Truffles have a pungent aroma that permeates the eggs beautifully, even through the shells. Therefore, if you plan to make an omelette, store your truffle with your eggs. Even a few hours of this treatment will make a difference to the flavour of the finished dish. Make sure your eggs are fresh and treat them lightly, don’t beat them into submission, just a gentle whisk with a fork will do.
- 4 Large Fresh Eggs
- 1 Tablespoon Double Cream
- 1 Small Fresh Truffle – about 25g
- A Knob of Butter
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- Make sure your truffle is thoroughly clean, slice it thinly and poach it in a little water with your seasonings, for just four or five minutes. Reduce the water to a dessertspoonful, allow it cool and add it to the cream.
- Heat your pan gently. Meanwhile whisk your eggs, add the poaching water and cream to them and whisk again.
- Add the butter and olive oil to an omelette pan, allow it become very hot, but not discoloured, then tip the eggs in. Move them around a little then add the sliced truffles. Allow the top to almost set – baveuse – fold and serve immediately.
- Serve with a fresh green salad, some warm crusty bread and a good bottle of Cote du Rhone wine.
With thanks to Amanda Lawrence from the property website www.frenchentree.com
Roast Quail in the Nice Style
Small birds are as popular in Provence as they are in Italy and if you are there it is perhaps better not to ask exactly which kind of birds are being used! Farmed quail is available in an increasing number of butchers and supermarkets and is quite delicious cooked in this way.
- 8 quail, cleaned and wiped over
- 40 black olives
- 20 juniper berries
- 8 sprigs of fresh thyme
- Extra Virgin olive oil from Provence
- Place 3 olives, and 2 juniper berries and sprig of thyme inside each quail and truss.
- Heat plenty of oil in a large pot roasting casserole and fry the birds over a high heat until golden.
- Add the remaining olives and juniper berries to the pan. Reduce the heat and cover with a lid.
- Pot roast on top of the stove or in the oven 190C/375F/Gas 5 for 40-45 minutes until the qual are cooked through.
- Serve with the pan juices spooned over the top
Roast Picodon with Olives
This delicious recipe is based on a dish created by the young chef at the Chateau de Rochegude hotel near Valreas. The balsamic vinegar may not be local but the Picodon is. However, you could substitute a good red wine vinegar from the region without too much loss of flavour.
- 4 Picodon cheeses or any small round goat’s cheese with a rind
- 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine kernels
- 2 tablespoons raisins soaked in balsamic vinegar
- handful of lamb’s lettuce
- sprigs of basil, parsley and chervil
- Set the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
- Cut the mould off the crusts of the cheese and place on a baking tray.
- Brush with olive oil and cook the cheese for 3 minutes. Baste with more oil and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until it begins to bubble.
- Meanwhile heat the rest of the oil and raisins in a pan with the balsamic vinegar.
- Arrange the corn lettuce with the sprigs of herbs on four plates.
- Place the cooked cheese in the centre and sprinkle with pine nuts. Spoon on the hot oil mixture and serve at once.