I've been feeling very French lately. Perhaps it's because I've just discovered the lovely blog Paris and Beyond and it's brought back wonderful memories for me of our trip to Provence. This lovely watercolor is from the cover of a menu of a French bistro in Maussane-les Alphiles in Provence. Maussane is a charming village in the south of France near Saint-Remy-De-Provence with a lovely square where several bistros serve meals al fresco around the village’s fountain. As you can see, each bistro is distinguished by a difference set of tables and chairs.
Just a few kilometers down the road from Maussane is the tiny village of Paradou. Paradou is the home of Patricia Well’s favorite bistro – Le Bistrot de Paradou. Perhaps you may remember our lunch when we were there.
Because of Patricia Well’s stamp of approval and the fact that the food is outstanding, Le Bistrot du Paradou is a very busy restaurant. The owner, Jean-Louis Pons, carefully protects his bistro’s reputation by never allowing more people in than he can comfortably seat, so reservations are highly recommended. How I wish more restaurants in the US would follow Jean-Louis’ lead and not jam so many people in as they seem to do too often here at home.
On another day we enjoyed déjeuner under the umbrellas at La Petite France, also in Paradou.
Outside Le Petite France was proudly displayed Maîtres Cuisiners de France, meaning their chef was a member of the prestigious Master Chefs of France.
Seeing that sign about the chef and remembering these bistros and the fabulous meals we enjoyed there made me think that sometimes I wish I had gone to culinary school. Do you ever wish you had gone to culinary school? I’m retired now, so it’s far too late for me to pursue a culinary career, but I do enjoy reading about those who have - which brings me to the giveaway.
I’m giving away to one of you a copy of Under the Table, Saucy Tales from Culinary School by Katherine Darling. The book is a memoir of Katherine’s adventures in the student kitchens of the legendary French Culinary Institute in New York City, flavored with celebrity chefs, eccentric characters, and mouthwatering recipes. To quote part of a review from the Wall Street Journal, “Ever since Anthony Bourdain's best-selling "Kitchen Confidential," celebrity chefs and wannabees have flooded the market with boastfully naughty -- and often downright raunchy -- cook-and-tell confessions. No doubt that explains the publisher's title for "Under the Table: Saucy Tales From Culinary School." But it turns out that author Katherine Darling is a happy exception to the trend.”
I’ll be taking a brief intermission to move into our condo and will return next week, when I’ll announce the winner of the book giveaway.
À bientôt mon amis – see you soon my friends. In the meantime, this is a photo of the most outstanding dessert of our trip to Provence, created by the Master Chef presiding over Le Petite France in Paradou.