|Closed Tuesdays and Rainy Days|
Since the day we arrived in Provence I have been trying to figure out when places are open and when they are closed. There are no consistent rules, nor, seemingly, any rhyme or reason for opening and closing on a particular day or a particular time. Many places still close for lunch, which I am accustomed to, sometimes opening as late as 4 pm, but then staying open until 7 or 7:30, presumably to accomodate the after-work customers. Some places are open on a Sunday morning, but almost everything is closed on Monday. Some places close for the winter. Our favourite butcher in Aix, Boucherie du Palais, is open Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from 7 am to 1pm; Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 7 to 1, then 4 pm to 7:30 and they are closed all day Sunday. Try remembering that. And don’t forget those hard-working souls who toil outdoors in the heat. When I phoned our winemaking friend, Vincent de Dianous, one afternoon at 2:30, I felt very badly when I heard his groggy voice, realizing I had disturbed his afternoon siesta. I made a mental note for the future. And I got into the habit of asking hours of business in shops on my way out.
Here are some typical exchanges:
“What are your hours?” “We’re open all day.” “Even during lunch?” “No, we’re closed at lunch.
“Which days are you open during the week?” “Every day.” “Even Sunday?” “No, not on Sunday.
At a bakery in St. Antoine: “Are you always open on Sundays?” “Yes, every Sunday.” The following Sunday afternoon I arrived to find the shop shut up tight as a drum. So apparently they are only open Sunday mornings.
At a hotel in Corsica: “Are you open all year?” “Yes, all year.” “Even during the winter?” “No, we’re closed during the winter.” “What about at Easter?” “We might be open at Easter.”
|Our narrow road in La Roque sur Pernes|
|Watch out for wild boars|
|Strike notice written on a sheet at the hospital|
|No dog doo-doo, please|
|The Truffle Brotherhood|
|No digging for truffles here|
|Olive oil mill, Nyons|
|Vinegar shop, Nyons|
|The origins of the name of the region Vaucluse|
|Bakery, Fontaine de Vaucluse|
|The connection between Aix-en-Provence and Canada|
|Our classy planter|
RECIPE OF THE WEEK: CHERRY CLAFOUTIS
This is the perfect solution for those who, like me, wish to serve a pretty dessert but are afraid of making a pastry dough. It comes together very quickly and you can even make it a day in advance. Jacques prepared this for us for lunch one day at La Roque sur Pernes with the ripest local cherries imaginable (this area of the Vaucluse is celebrated for its cherries). You can change the fruit through the season, but you may need to adjust the amount of sugar according to the type and the ripeness of the fruit. My own variation is to add a couple of crushed lavender blossoms for a certain floral je-ne-sais-quoi.
In a medium bowl mix 100 grams of flour with 80 grams of sugar and a pinch of salt. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon just until you obtain a smooth dough. Add 200 ml of milk, 80 ml of heavy cream, and a couple of tablespoons of kirsch or whatever other fruity alcohol you like. Crush a couple of fresh or dried lavender blossoms, if available in your back yard, and stir them in. Mix well, then place in the fridge for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 200°C or 400°F. Generously butter a gratin dish or other pretty tart pan. Fill the pan with around 750 grams of cherries, stemmed but left whole with the pits, in one level. Fit them in very tightly (the amount of cherries will depend on the size of pan you use.) Pour on the prepared mixture to just cover the cherries.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Sprinkle on more sugar and continue baking in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. (If your cherries are super-ripe, you can eliminate the extra addition of sugar and bake the clafoutis for 35 – 40 minutes.) Do warn your guests that the cherries contain pits.
If you use other fruit, again choose very ripe ones. Apricots can be pitted and sliced in half, peaches and plums can be pitted and sliced into four or eight pieces. Bon appétit!