More cheese Gromit?

To celebrate Peters' 50th Birthday in Provence it couldn't have been better served than being invited to our good friends' Micheline and Jacques' cheese and Champagne soiree. It was also their daughters' birthday and we were made welcome by their friends and as many choices of cheese as years old!

The night began with Champagne, followed by a selection of 26 cheeses numbered in tasting order. Varieties such as goats cheese with fruit, Brie de meaux, Compte Vielle, tournesol, Epoisses, Roquefort, Salers and the list continues......all accompanied with a selection of choice charcuterie.

With lots of laughter and tales from Jack, we enjoyed the 'smorgasbord' of cheeses with some very good local wines from Vacqueyras, Cairanne and Vinsobres. Including a vary special Vacqueyras produced by Jack's brother and blended by Jack himself in the year that his daughter was born, 1991!

And it was amazing........
The evening was rounded off with a tempting selection of french pastries....of course!

Feelling Mediterranean

Tonight, we wanted to go to the Mas de Table, at the Mas de Bouvau, for our wedding anniversary, unfortunately the restaurant is closed, so we booked for another night.
So instead I am cooking my Mediterranean vegetable pie. (see previous blog) !
This enables plenty of drinking time :)

Vacqueyras Wine Fete

We do enjoy this event and this year was no different. 
After the official opening, and the purchasing of the wine glasses, the wine tasting commenced. It is now that you must choose wisely as there are so many to choose from. After a long morning, we decided to go for lunch and a cooling swim, it is advisable to pace oneself as the wine fete goes on for two days.

The evening kicked off with the World Cup final on a big screen right in the heart of the village under the beautiful trees, 'le cours Stassart', the village was packed ! We were also able to enjoy the live band known as 'No Name'.

After a good evening and a good nights sleep, the Monday was started with a mass in the church followed by a ceremonial burning of ' Les Souches' in front of 'des Confreries des Maisteres Vignerons de Vacqueyras'. With our wine tasting glasses in hand we were ready to sample just a few more of the wines available. It is on the second day that you can take part in a midday meal 'Repas Champetre' a seven course meal.

The fete continues into the evening with a 'Grand Bal Populaire' accompanied by an orchestra.

Another wine fete comes to a close....maybe we'll see you there next year?


It's time to pack the corkscrew again and venture down to the where the sun is shining. We have a booking on the 10th and we need to arrive the weekend before to prepare....

This was to be our first trip in our newly acquired Tiguan, but we got off to a rocky start, as when we were waiting for our early Saturday morning crossing from Dover, our battery ran flat from leaving the lights and radio on, which we only realised when we were about to board! DFDS were extremely helpful, and jump started us from one of their trucks and managed to just get on...last!

Wondering if the car would start the other end, we cautiously started her up, and were relieved to hear the engine fire! We were off! An early crossing meant that we could get some distance south with little or no traffic, and aim to get a rest at Reims around 4am.

We arrived at our destination apartment at 6.30pm, after taking a detour around Valence due to traffic and compulsory Auchan stop for food. We were welcomed into the Autoroute du Soleil with temperatures of 35 deg Celsius...ah lovely! Just right for an evening meal of spicy sausage pasta and chilled Rose.


After a good nights' sleep and  a full continental breakfast at our lodgings, Maison Plantevin, set in among the vineyards, we set off to establish contact with our chosen wine tasting caves. We met with the wonderful Regis father of Bruno to confirm our visit at Domaine Boisson. We returned to our accommodation and we were able to take a very rewarding dip in the pool. In the evening we ventured to Vaison La Romaine for dinner, after which we were able to take advantage of a local fair. We then took a moonlit walk from the old roman bridge up to the castle. (Admittedly we did not make it to the top as it was starting to get a little dark, but we did manage an encounter with a friendly lizard!) 


From time to time we also need to replenish our daily imbibe, so we visited Costebelle to stock up. It was then necessary to prepare a lunch for our invitation to Domaine des Favards for their Pique-nique avec le Vigneron independant. We had a wonderful time and a lovely day was spent with some of our friends in Violes on this warm, sunny Provencal day. We enjoyed the company of some English campers who were staying on the campsite. It was also a pleasant surprise for us to meet Maryline Barbaud who married us in 2006!

To continue our trip back in time; in the evening, we dined at La Table du Mas, the restaurant found at the Mas de Bouvau which is now run by their son, Benoit Hertzog, where he pays homage to his fathers' menu's.


We met our clients, Lorraine and Noel, early at their accommodation in Le Barroux. First stop Camille Cayran where we visited their senses tour before our first wine tasting. The next stop, also in Cairanne, was Domaine Boisson. Bruno was able to present his wines to us as we tasted them much to the approval of our clients.
Domaine Boisson
Chez Claudette
It was now lunch time, so we headed off through the hillside to Chez Claudette at St Roman de Malegarde. Feeling refreshed after some satisfying home-made cuisine, we set off to our nest
vineyard, Domaine Charavin in Rasteau.

We had enough time to offer a mystery vineyard and were lucky to find the family in at Domaine la Damase in Violes. We were greeted with the usual friendly smile and welcomed in to their cave.
This visit was particularly favoured by Lorraine and Noel as it is a beautiful and rustic setting.
It was a fitting end to another tour before returning our clients to their gite.

Meal out or dinner in?

That is a very good question, there are so many great places to eat, Restaurant, Pizzeria, Cafe, then further choices, modern, traditional, local, specialties. Then on top of all this you could get carried away at the local market or even the supermarkets with their amazing selections.

I love eating out, but I also love cooking the important thing is that it is not complicated and you can drink a glass of wine whilst cooking just like Keith Floyd (well he did indeed have his own restaurant locally in Isle sur la Sorgue.) 

I like to buy fresh ingredients, but also what is good value.

Someone also said that you should have a repertoire of meals that you can cook every day, therefore, for me this is also important if you are on holiday. These are a few of the recipes that I find are easy to adapt to the ingredients that you have available.

Fish - Salmon Feta Pie
Salmon steaks, Leeks or onions, Feta cheese, eggs,filo pastry. We enjoyed this with chilled bottle of Petite Perle from Domaine de la Damase

Sausages - Merguez Pasta
Sausages (Merguez is my favourite), Onions, Garlic, Herbes de Provence, Tinned tomatoes, dried or fresh chillies
Chop the onions and garlic, fry the onions until soft with olive oil, remove the skins from the sausages and add to the pan in small chunks, fry with the garlic and chilli. When the sausages are nicely browned, add the tin of chopped tomatoes and herbes de provence. Serve with your preferred pasta. I also enjoy this recipe with mashed potatoes but this will take a little longer. Lovely with a glass of red!! If I make it really spicy, I like to have a nice smooth red from Costebelle.

Chicken - Chorizo Chicken
Chicken pieces, Olives, Tin of Tomatoes, Chorizo, 
Chop up the chorizo into chunks and fry off with a little olive oil. Fry off chicken pieces for about 3 minutes on each side just to brown and then leave to one side whilst you fry off chunks of the chorizo in 3 tbsp of red wine vinegar and 1 tsp of sugar and caramelise. Now add capers, olives, provence herbs, tin of chopped tomatoes and a little chicken stock. Put everything in the same pan and cover and cook for approx 1 hour. Oh, and guess what.........this goes really well with a glass of red. If I remember we had this with Domaine Boisson Cairanne Cotes du Rhone villages.

Vegetables - Mediteranean Vegetable Pie
Pesto, Chilli (optional), Mozzarella, Puff Pastry, 
Any vegetables, I like Courgette,
Peppers,Tomatoes, Onions, Whole Garlic, chop all the vegetables in good size chunks, and roast in a tin with olive oil.One cooked mix in pesto and chilli and leave to cool.
Meantime take the pastry and roll out into a circle, put the vegetables over one half, and slice the mozzarella and place on top. Wet the edges of the pastry
and fold over like a Calzone. Score the pastry and then glaze with egg. Bake in the oven for 35 mins approximately ( This very much depends on the oven that you are using!!)


Minced lamb or beef, jar of bolognese sauce (cheating I know), plenty of mint, sliced potatoes and aubergine, bechamel sauce, grated cheese.

I do cheat with this one, and it makes it quite simple, even better if you have a food processor to hand to finely slice the aubergines and potatoes. Once you have done this boil the potatoes in hot water until al dente. The rest .....put the meat, bolognese sauce, mint into a pan and heat through until the meat is cooked. Then layer your sauces and vegetables, top with cheese and bake in the oven.  We also enjoyed a lovely bottle of Caromb Grand Reserve , with this ( I do believe it was just the one!)

I haven't divulged all the wines, after all that is a question of personal taste :)