Provence At Night!
There is nothing better in the world than saying goodnight in a magical place…especially when you are there to celebrate – like we did!
Welcome to Vaison la Romaine, France…
Welcome back to the beautiful south of France for more adventures in cooking, roman ruins, beautiful french landscapes and of course, food! Alex and I were celebrating our anniversary by going on a new adventure….
Patricia Wells Brought Us Here!
I posted before about the cooking class that Alex and I took at the home of iconic food writer and cookbook Author Patricia Wells – we were celebrating our wedding anniversary, and we were inspired by Patricia’s longtime marriage to husband Walter, and the terrific memoir they wrote together:
“We’ve Always Had Paris…And Provence” by Patricia and Walter Wells.
Here is the Amazon writeup of Patricia Wells and her memoir:
“Patricia Wells, long recognized as the leading American authority on French food, and her husband, Walter, live the life in France that many of us have often fantasized about. After more than a quarter century, they are as close to being accepted as “French” as any non-natives can be. In this delightful memoir they share in two voices their experiences—the good, the bad, and the funny—offering a charming and evocative account of their beloved home and some of the wonderful people they have met along the way.”
Patricia Wells has published a number of food guides and cookbooks, and they are all terrific. Here is just one of my favorites:
Patricia and Walter own a home in Provence, which they open up several weeks a year for cooking classes – one that Alex and I were able to attend in 2009. Here is a look at this classic french home…
We spent 5 days with Patricia, Walter and ten other participants, a terrific group of women who shared our passion for food and adventure. Every day involved cooking, exploring, and sharing our dishes with each other…
Here we are with Patricia, posing in front of the Julia Child’s stove – a gift from Julia:
I posted separately about Julia Child, and it’s interesting to hear Patricia’s stories about her friendship with the legendary Chef and Author – and it’s pretty cool to actually COOK on Julia’s provencal stove…here is a closer look at it:
What is so much fun about the cooking class is that it takes place at their home – which they call Chanteduc – located in the shadow of the french village Vaison la Romaine, near Avignon – here is what Vaison looks like from Chanteduc:
More on Vaison in a moment. Patricia and Walter’s memoir is full of stories of the life they have built together in Provence, and when you spend a week cooking with them, you see what a terrifically happy couple they are. Here is Alex getting some instruction from Walter:
And I got instruction from Patricia – she exhibited a TREMENDOUS amount of patience working with me!
Another great aspect of the class involves harvesting. Patricia has an amazing garden that provides much of what you will cook with – as Alex found out when she was sent out to harvest eggplants:
Alex needed to pick enough for all of us, which meant she had to really get in there…and I was happy to document the process:
After cooking together, you eat the food in a group setting – a wonderful way to savor the work that went into the meal. Here we all are on the Chanteduc terrace – what a great way to enjoy our food!
Here is a look at the fresh eggplant dish Alex prepared, along with several others in the group, using a variety of fresh vegetables and olive oil…yes, there was enough for everyone!
Another dish we prepared was Langoustines over Quinoa…
What makes the experience so memorable is that Patricia and Walter are fully engaged and enthusiastic about the week – a real celebration of food, wine, travel and cooking…
It was one of our favorite vacations ever, and we learned things that influence our cooking to this day. Check out Patricia’s website for a bunch of great stuff, including information on her classes:
And of course, while you are there you have so much fun exploring the provencal countryside!
Welcome To Vaison la Romaine!
When you attend the cooking class, you will want to stay in Vaison la Romaine, which is located less than a half hour from Avignon, the main city in this area of Provence…and you can take the bullet train from Paris to Avignon in under three hours…here is Alex frolicking on the Vaison streets…
Here is how the village describes itself: “Located in the Haut-Vaucluse region, near the main motorway running through the Rhône area and the cities it serves, Vaison-la-Romaine is lucky enough to be situated between the Alps and the Mediterranean.”
“The town lies nestling in lush, fertile countryside and invites you to share in its heritage, celebrations and commercial activities, along with its well-preserved authenticity and lifestyle.”
And boy, that is all true – it is a beautiful, medieval town that we are about to explore together…
This is the view from our hotel room window. There are several small inns located within the old section of town, and outside our back window, you see the ruins of the fortress that once protected this town from outsiders….
The town itself has a more modern section, seen here from our front window – just after an afternoon rain left us a perfect rainbow…
The old town, where we stayed, is a series of classic cobblestone pathways that lead to shops, restaurants, fountains and more….
You can wander for hours – up and down the hillside streets that open up to any number of surprises…
You are always in the shadow of the fortress ruins…
And you can hike up to the fortress walls…but it is steep, as the signs remind you:
And as you explore, you are surrounded by crumbling walls everywhere you turn…
You will end up doing what we did, and that is climbing up to the fortress itself…you can go to the base of it, although they don’t allow you inside…but it allows beautiful views of the remains as well as the entire countryside surrounding you…
Across from the old town is a more modern village, with lots of shopping and restaurants…and also some leftover Roman ruins…
And of course, all that walking makes you hungry, so we had a homemade pizza…
Well, that’s what Alex had…I enjoyed pasta made inside a parmesan wheel…
Of course, part of the fun is watching the process of making the pasta inside a carved out pamesan wheel…
The best part is when they use cognac to “flame” it up a bit…
It was a great way to end the night…as the soon gave us a nice light back home…
Vaison la Romaine is a charming little village, and fun to explore between classes and dinners…and a great place to stay as well…if you enjoyed this, go to the main web page: Johnrieber.com – search Patricia Wells and you will find all of my posts about this great adventure, including our day trip to Chateauneuf du Pape, and our drive up France’s Space Mountain!
Categories: Books / Media, cookbooks, Exotic Travel, Food, Food Review, Memoirs, Recipes, Restaurants, Talent/Celebrities, Travel, Travel Adventures, Travel Memoir, Uncategorized, wine
What a fantastic experience … one that I am delighted you shared and one which will surely stay in your memories your whole lives through!
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Yes indeed – you are expert at this kind of life! Thanks for the comment!
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Although I don’t care for aubergines, I would love that delicious pizza! A lovely spot indeed, John, and a wonderful memory to treasure.
(By the way, I forgot to mention that losing the moustache makes you look much younger!)
Best wishes, Pete.
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Pete, I had to renew my passport, so any picture I submitted was my face for the next ten years…time to lose it!
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A magical place, John. The pizza photo had me wanting a slice. Thanks for sharing your cooking adventure.
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A blast from our past