An aristocratic man at the Lourmarin market

It would be great to call this the first post of Summer 2012. However, the weather is playing up – rain, wind, cold and a few patchy days. Hopefully, we’ll get there at last and stop scooping up all the fruit and flower blossoms off the bottom of the pool.

In a blur of excitement, consecutive trips to Marigane airport  both Erica and an unscheduled Penny had arrived. Mad cleaning up and everything was ship shape for the arrival of Mariana, Peter and Cobus from Stanford in South Africa. Mariana is the premier country chef in South Africa and, with her husband, Peter, run the acclaimed Marianas in Stanford.

Five years ago, M&P were with us when we bought  Bastide les Amis. They had come to see how far we’ve come and were accompanied by another foodie and antique guru Cobus. Not only to look and see, to gather inspiration, but to cook for 40 locals in our first Chef’s Soiree – An evening with Mariana, Peter and Cobus.

But first the preparation –

Sunday was the mandatory Isle sur l’Sorgue market and then on to Auberge de Lagnes for a fine meal. Our visitors pronounced that it was a good choice – delicate flavours, hearty portions all the time not breaking the bank.

Peter - slightly disorientated after battling with Paris customs : he thought he was in Robertson!

 

 

Deep fried Goats cheese with a tangy mayonnaise, dressed with celeric and rocket

 

Slow cooked Veal with tempura aubergine and garnished with coriander

 

Erica in pensive mood at the lunch

 

Chocolate surprise - decadent chocolate with creme anglaise

 

Back home for the preparation and decor. The weather was patchy, Mariana wanted a ‘sit down’ dinner – so that’s what she got. Maison Blanc was turned upside down and Cobus weaved his magic on the tables. Mariana is writing her first cookery book, so we will respect her privacy and not publish any photographs or secrets in the creation of her famous atchar, honey and mustard chicken. Trade secrets remain trade secrets – even in the age of social media!

Mariana and Cobus in full operational mode in Maison Olive's kitchen

 

A close up of the table decorations - Cobus has raided the garden of all moveable statues

 

Table napkins were 'just thrown down' - quite a stunning result

 

Mariana weaving her magic - Erica taking tips for the next Chatham dinner party

Maison Blanc's lounge - transformed into a restaurant!

 

Cobus - 'rus net 'n bietjie'

 

Oh! And in the midst of all this it was time for jazz in the Maison de la Truffe et de Vin in Menerbes. We gathered.. and enjoyed the fine jazz.

Some of the audience - that's Regine and Duncan on the right

Au bientot : Lovonne and Simon xx

 

 

 

 

 

This little chap 'performs' at Isle sur L'Sorgue market on a barrel organ

Simply the best strawberries come from Carpentras. They're out now - ripe, succulent, delicious and on most dessert tables in Provence.

Spotted at Lourmarin

Stunning poppy field on the D900 between Coustellet and Apt, Vaucluse region of Provence

Baguettes - fresh from the bakery. All the local bakers transport their bulk supply to various restaurants etc in these brown packets. So French!

I’m not ure what the real word os for a kugel dog, but their one sure is. Spotted at Builders’ Warehouse, Cape Town.

Weekly commentary is a bit behind – no, make that way behind! A variety of factors have contributed to this, but let’s now dwell on them. Here’s the story so far..

Erica arrived in the prelude period before the big soiree (more about that soon!) and we decided to have a bit of a warmup before the event. In addition, we have met a most delightful Pastor, Father Harvey Davis and his lovely wife, Sally. They were invited with some other stalwarts for the traditional butterfly BBQ lamb. Well, you’ve heard about FLFL (f-king long French lunch)? This one beat them all – kicking off at 12h00 and at 20h00, Scott was heard to say “I’m hungry”. Cheese was then served – again, and guests left at 22h00. Not bad for lunch!

The table is laid for the grand repast

 

Pastor Harvey

 

Regine and Erica in deep discussion

 

Lilacs everywhere

 

No visit would be complete without a picture - Erica and Madame

 

A great new addition to the Coustellet scene has opened – La Vie en Rose, a patisserie and tea shop right out of fantasyland and splashed with a bit of Paris.

Coustellet is a funny little village but since being designated an ‘expansion zone’, it has exploded with all manner of shops, themes and innovation. Not much to look at, Coustelet is a great place to scratch under the surface and you’ll be really surprised with what you find. Even a sushi bar and a Chinese restaurant!

 

A little delicacy served up at La Vie en Rose - it tastes as good as it looks!

We had ‘tea’ at La Vie en Rose. Quite a fun way to spend an hour after doing battle at Super U supermarket (it’s across the road, you can;t miss it and its pink facade).

 

Here’s two more pics from the ‘classic garden’ we showed you earlier to-day

 

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