When @benton8tor and I were planning our most recent trip to Provence, I was so excited about all the tastes and smells of Provence. Sure of course I mainly meant wine, but also lavender, rosemary, olives, and tomatoes. But mostly wine. “Are you excited to eat Provencal food again?” I asked Benton8tor. ” I don’t know” he replies ” What is Provencal food?” Naturally I was offended we’d been to Provence half a dozen times, how could he not know what Provencal food is? But the more I thought about it, all I could think of is tapenade and aioli. I knew there was more, and every meal I have had in Provence, I have enjoyed, pastas, salad, fish. But was it traditional Provencal? Obviously I could just google search, but I wanted to taste authentic Provencal food,
so I took to the internet in search of the best food tour I could find. Hello Avignon Gourmet tours! http://www.avignongourmetours.com/
Fast forward a few weeks and we are at our Gite in Roquemare, just 10 minutes north of Avignon, and I ask everyone “Aren’t you excited about the food tour?” ” Maybe” says @benton8tor ugh, when will he learn the only acceptable answer is yes. ” Your mom will probably throw out her wine again” pipes up my dad helpfully. In return he gets death glare from my mom and she gets a 20 minute lecture from me that if she doesn’t like the wine to give it me or my dad, obviously not @benton8tor since he isn’t excited enough.
However the next day, the tour proved me right. @benton8tor decided he loved Provencal food and my mother did not spit out or throw out any liquor (though I suspected she wanted to). We met our fabulous guide at the tourist office along with our tour mates. A couple from Ohio ( the fellow was writing a book on pesto) and a family from Mexico City. We started off with the oh so French favourite the croissant from what our guide assured us was the best bakery in Avignon. The croissants were ridiculously light and fluffy and we were off! Our first stop was the chocolate store, the Aline Gehant store to be exact. All chocolate is made on premises and she specializes in unique flavours including a caramelized white chocolate or chocolate with herbs. All of it was delicious. http://www.aline-gehant-chocolatier.com/ From there we proceeded to the Eglise St Didier a beautiful Gothic church were we were given the traditional Provencal cookie the Navette to try. A Navette is boat shaped and named for the boat that Mary Magdalene is rumored to have taken to Southern France. Followed by @benton8tor’s favourite the papilliete. A chocolate covered candy filled with a surprise. The surprise was a Avignon herb flavoured liqueur. I loved it. My mother? not so much. From there we proceed to Place Saint Didier for sweet wine paired with the traditional star shaped pastry dusted with sugar. After enjoying that on a beautiful sun filled patio, we headed to Liquid, the wine store for some fabulous Chateauneuf du pape wine. It was 10:30 in the morning. This time my mom manged to drink rather than chuck her wine, and good thing to as the wine was silky, earthy, with berry flavours and delicious.
From there we proceeded to the famous Les Halles market for lunch. and what a lunch!http://www.avignon-leshalles.com/ Tapenades, pickled garlic aioli, sausages, cheeses, half dried tomatoes in oil! A fabulous sardine spread, mussels, Provencal. It was all amazing and paired with local wine. After this tour, @benton8tor finally got excited about Provencal food. So much so that he and my cousin Christopher hit up the Les Halles market, and other local markets to cook Provencal food for a few nights.http://www.avignon-et-provence.com/en/way-life/provencal-gastronomy/agenda-markets-provence
So if you haven’t tried Provencal food, dive in, There is simply no way you will be disappointed. But don’t forget the wine!