Madame rather fancied this – gambas over champagne risotto

Consistently good food, superb service, a calm ambience ensures that La Veranda Restaurant in Ménerbes is full the year round. Again, Michelin recommended, we sampled their early Spring menu last week and, as usual, were not disappointed.

Gambas perched on top of scallops in a most divine sauce.

If you’re in the Luberon, don’t deprive yourselves of a treat – lunch or dinner at La Veranda!

To reserve, click here.

A few weeks ago, we discussed the ancient walls and the spicatum method of walls and roads. Here’s another example of an ancient skill made modern – plastering the outside of stone walls with a modern plaster substance to replace the ancient mud used.

The chap on the right sprays the plaster on to the walls with a high pressure hose, and his mate smoothes it out giving a beautiful sheen. Ageing comes naturally – good for another few hundred years.

 

At this time of the year. the Luberon Valley (the world’s ‘glacé fruit capital), is ablaze with cherry blossoms which erupt for a precious week after the almond blossoms have disappeared.

Lone splendour near Ménerbes.

An ornamental cherry in the Bastide les Amis garden

Looking down from the hill top village of Ménerbes onto cherry orchards

Another view.

We spotted the spicatum walls outside the Chateau high up near Saint Saturnin-les-Apt.

 

L’opus spicatum – is an ancient method of paving or bulding using stones and interleaving them in a zig-zag fashion. The joints go both horizontal and vertical.

The technique was developed during Roman times as a means of paving roads, but then in the Middle Ages, artisans tried the technique on walls with great success – particularly retaining walls as the interleaving of the stone created a strong structure.

Then, in Medieval times, the French artisans used to clad the outside of noble city houses with spicatum laid bricks and encased them in wooden frames – designs houses made famous in cities such as Carcassonne. Way down in the south-west in the Dordogne, there are many versions of spicatum clad homes.

Carcassonne.

 

An ancient art – sadly practiced no longer.

 

Launching to-day 13th March 2017, Footsteps. Provençal Paradise. is launching on world-wide Amazon sites. This is the Second Edition of the popular Luberon, Provence guide. Now updated; further tours included and many other features. It’s available in print or on e-book via the Kindle store.

To purchase, lend or browse, click here.

Start the fire!

 

The best way to describe the Braserade is that it is a mini-BBQ which you light outside with charcoal and when the doals are glowing and just about white-hot, you bring inside (or to a terrace table) and start the fun.

An Alsace tradition, the Braserade is great for cooking strip of steak or sliced duck breast. A multitude of dipping sauces accompany the meats – we had a special BBQ sauce, horse radish (a nod to the British for the beef), bernaise, mustard, tomato sauce and a buttery lemon sauce. Our plates were garnishedwith a perfectly baked potato and then you cook your own. An Alsatian fondue without the boiling oil! A side salad rounded off the feast.

It’s delicious!

 

An annual highlight !

Menerbes is having a Carnaval with a street procession – Saturday 18 March. Procession starts at 11h00. In the evening there is a ‘Ball’ at 21h00 – entrance free, with a DJ and snacks and drinks available.

 

The Clubhouse and restaurant.

 

Provence is blessed with many fine golf courses, and some not so fine! However, one course which has recently undergone a revival is the old Chateaublanc course near Avignon, bordering on the Avignon airport. Now renamed Garden Golf and falling underthe national Garden Golf umbrella, and endorsed by the FFG Federation, is comprises a 9-hole ‘compact’ course and a challenging 18-hole Championship course.

The course is in fine condition and boasts plenty of water hazards. Visitors are most welcome and the restaurant L’Approach serves very acceptable food in a pleasant atmosphere. There is a driving range and numerous pitch and putt practice areas.

Looking down the 9th hole on the ‘compact’ course – Le Ventoux.

For more info on green fees, click here.

New season Asparagus at  the Apt Market. At 6€ a bunch, you’re paying a premium – it’ll be 4€ or even 2€, in 30 days time!

Les Primeurs – literally meaning, ‘freshness’, are the early season vegetables much sought after by the French. Crowds mass around the market stalls and the supermarkets promote their arrival.

Tradtionally, les primeurs are cooked gently and lightly – no heavily boiled brussel sprouts here. The French want to savour the newness of Spring, the crunch and the flavour.

Pourquoi pas? Why not?

The famous ‘Fraise de Carpentras’ – strawberries from nearby Carpentras.

 

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