Never fear dear readers, I am back. I nearly stayed in Provence but I was dragged cruelly from my pool side lounger when the wine was dried up, the cheese finished and all the fruit and veg eaten.
Eating has been the theme of my fortnight- it’s so easy to eat constantly when all the food is so absolutely beautiful. Even the most simple dish of pasta becomes a gastronomic delight when you add freshly made sauce, herbs straight from the garden, locally produced cheese and a carafe or two of wine from the vineyard down the road. I was in food heaven.
One particularly beautiful restaurant, where we sat nestled amongst lavender flowers and surrounded by butterflies and hummingbird moths and later bats sticks in my mind as some of the most beautiful food I have ever eaten. Most small French restaurants don’t do so well with the old vegetarian option, the veggie main option on a very limited menu, explained at great length by the owner was- “tomato”- I wasn’t expecting great things. How wrong I was. The starter of summer salad was bejewelled with stunning edible flowers, miniature mushrooms and interesting leaves. Even The Boyf, the ultimate salad dodger was impressed. The “tomato” main blew me away as I was presented with a platter of more types of tomato than I could count, in every colour from black to green to yellow, interlaced with a mixture of fresh and smoked mozzarella. I ate so much I had to be carried back to the house.
The town we stayed in had some stunning markets -it was easy to see where the restaurant got their produce from. Tuesday morning is the big one, the whole of the town is taken over by stall after stall of homemade bread and crafts and home grown fruit and veg. For next to no money you could fill bags full and spend the next few days eating nothing but fruit, veg, bread and cheese. Returning to the tomatoes, I was completely baffled. How can one farm produce so many different types of tomato every week when Sainsbos and Waitrose can only deliver watery red tomatoes whose variety extends to small , medium, large? I think we’re being diddled! (I am, needless to say, already drawing up plans for a greenhouse where I can gow my own!)
There was also a small, more local market on a Saturday morning. Here old farmers from the small holdings and farms around the town bought their weekly wares to sell. There was everything from cut flowers to olive tree saplings- including one very elderly man selling tiny little bunches of Parsley and nothing else. They won’t let you buy anything until you have had a taste so you come away feeling as if you’d eaten dinner. It was absolutely stunning.
I am still in my sunny foody day dream, despite arriving at St Pancras international in the rain last night and being plunged right back into the madness that is London on a Saturday night. To go to work tomorrow seems like a complete travesty! Tomorrow it is back to reality, the post holiday diet must begin and I must venture to the allotment. But for now, I lie back, eat a tomato and dream of Provence.