Cuisine and Culture of Provence
About the location: Enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime cooking holiday in southeastern France! Provence has a history and culture as rich as its gastronomy, and they are all waiting to be discovered on this 6-night cooking vacation. Not only is Provencal cuisine distinct (and delicious!), it includes many of the most popular, flavorful, and healthy aspects of the Mediterranean diet: fresh produce, lots of seafood, olive oil, and wine! Provence is a foodie's delight, full of open-air markets and artisan food producers, all of which you will explore on your culinary vacation. Each day your host will lead you in choosing a menu based on the delectable foods you discover on your journeys—a true gourmet delight!
Your cooking holiday accommodations will be at a small, beautifully restored, 5-bedroom country inn nestled in the heart of Provence on a quiet country road between the old Templar villages of Buisson and Villedieu. Each comfortably designed and spacious room is unique, and all exude the charm of this large farm estate. There are several common areas indoors as well as in the gardens, including an outdoor dining terrace and kitchen, pool, and boule court. The courtyard has an aviary with singing canaries and a fountain filled with lilies and fish, all contributing to the magic of this lovely estate. Breakfast at the idyllic inn includes fresh baguettes and homemade butter, jams, compotes, cheeses, eggs, fruit, and of course croissants! From the many antiques to the stunning views of the Aigue River Valley, from the scenic gardens and fountains to the nearby villages, your home away from home will surround you with the incomparable beauty Provence offers.
About the cooking lessons: Your lessons will be led by chef Mark Haskell and a fellow chef. Mark is founder of Friends & Food International in Washington, DC, a food consulting company specializing in institutional and community nutrition programs, edible gardens, culinary education and travel tours. His culinary philosophy is to promote cultural heritage, food diversity, and sustainable practices. In addition to being a certified Master Gardener, he was knighted a Chevalier by the Confrerie de Saint Vincent, in Cotes du Rhone, France, for his work promoting organic and biodynamic food production. His glowing credentials are merely the tip of the iceberg, however, as his true talent lies in his passion for introducing travelers to all the wonders of French and Provencal cuisine. Because Provence cuisine is the epitome of seasonally inspired food, the excursions and cooking lessons will vary from month to month, always dependent on what is harvested in the fields, caught in the sea, or hunted in the forest. But each week, regardless of season, you will be introduced to a variety of regional dishes, including aperitifs, amuse bouches, planchas (a type of grilled dish), rice dishes, Provencal sauces, cheeses, and desserts. You education in Provencal cuisine will include both the techniques as well as the finesse of choosing the right ingredients.