My reasons for being in Provence in the first place were, of course, business related. The opportunity to work abroad comes up occasionally and the beginning of July is no bad time to be asked to go to Provence.
Oddly, it was very different to cooking in Scotland. BBQ’s outside, croissants, and cheese lose yourself in, a far cry from what has become almost ‘normal’. Of all the holidays I have had a taster of I think this is the one that I would most like to replicate with friends of my own. There’s something about being in France, the sunshine, the herbs, the bright yellow butterflies.
I think the dinner of the week was the lamb, I had mildly planned to make a sort of herb crust on a rack of lamb, bit of brandy sauce, new potatoes, something green, lovely, simply, the kind of recipe, in fact, that we had been prompted towards at cooking school. Yet in Provence it takes on a whole new persona. The garden of the fabulous villa was full of herbs, aside from the obvious lavender there was an abundance of rosemary, sage, thyme and oregano. (incidentally adding a few sprigs of rosemary to the coals of your bbq gives a brilliant aromatic scent to your meats.) As a result of this home-grown abundance new life was breathed into the lamb. It turned out very differently, firstly the French butcher their meat in a French way, and you cannot (not with my level of French anyway) get hold of a
rack of lamb that has not already been separated. The end result was a roasting tin filled with lamb pieces, breadcrumbs, herbs, red onion and seasoning. Not what I had intended but in some ways much better, in some ways exceptionally French.
I couldn’t help but relish in the outdoor eating, the buzz of bees on the lavender at breakfast and the sun disappearing behind the far hills over supper.
Ah the difficult life of a lodge cook…