Since pre-Roman times, the Cote du Rhone region of Provence has produced wines that were favored by kinds and popes. Today the area, which slopes up the Dentelles-de-Montmirail, a small chain of mountains in the northern area of Provence, is dotted with family-owned vineyards that make some of the most delightful Rhone wines, including the famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape and the less-expensive Gigondas. A day exploring and tasting some of these wines is included in our Provence Escapes itinerary. Take a peek at the Gigondas area in this Rick Steeves video.
Aix-en-Provence, or simply called Aix (pronounced “Ex”), is often referred to as the city of a thousand fountains. But it also was home to artist Paul Cezanne. During our Provence tour this year, we follow in the footsteps of Cezanne, visiting his home, his studio and the quarries where he painted. Learn more about this famous city from Rick Steve’s video below.
Whenever I buy some particularly appealing fresh produce or cheese at a local market in Provence, my go-to cookbook for a recipe to use is Patricia Wells’ “At Home in Provence” cookbook. This quick and easy appetizer recipe is from her book and gets rave reviews from our Provence Escapes guests.
Equipment: Six shallow 6-inch (15 cm) round gratin dishes or one 10 1/2-inch (27 cm) round baking dish
About 10 ounces (300 g) soft goat cheese in a log
2 teaspoons herbs de Provence
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves or a pinch of dried leaf oregano, crushed
1 1/2 to 2 cups (33 to 50 cl) homemade Tomato Sauce, at room temperature
About 24 best-quality black olives (such as French Nyons), pitted
Preheat the broiler.
Slice the goat cheese log into 1/2″ pieces using a piece of floss.
Spoon a small amount of tomato sauce on the bottom of each gratin dish. Cover with a layer of goat cheese slices. Sprinkle with half of the herbs. Spoon on just enough tomato sauce to evenly coat the cheese. Sprinkle with olives and the remaining herbs.
Place the baking dish or dishes under the broiler about 3 inches (8 cm) from the heat. Broil until the cheese is melted and fragrant, and the tomato sauce is sizzling, 2 to 3 minutes.
I like to serve a bright Provencal rose or a light red from the charming village of Roussillon.