I’ve found that one of the nicest things about blogging is the chance to connect with people from around the world. Well, there’s that and the opportunity to sample, taste, and purchase a sizable amount of foodstuffs all in the name of “investigative research”.
So given my affinity for the 3 F’s : Friends, Food, & France, it was a bit like Christmas in October when we were fortunate enough to host Kathy Ayer for a few days this past week.
Now, if you’re not familiar with the wonderfulness that is Kathy’s website, you might want to grab a quick bite before you click-over to Food Lover’s Odyssey.
Le Clos du Père Louis; just outside the village of Collobrieres.
Deep in the heart of the Var, off autoroute A57 (way off), lies the colorful village of Collobrieres. Known in the summer for its growing Fête Taurine (bull festival), Collobrieres real claim-to-fame is its annual Fête de le Chataigne (chestnut festival) – 29 years and counting.
Soupe au Pistou, "maison".
While we set out on Saturday to take advantage of one fall favorite, le chataigne, I had a last-minute memory of chestnut-festivals past. Namely, a very rainy afternoon we spent in front of the cozy fireplace at Le Clos du Père Louis restaurant.
Le Clos diners spread around the fireplace.
Now Le Clos serves up some real Provençal delights – including Soupe au Pistou & Daube de Boeuf, but the fall comfort-food “gold star” has to go to the Daube de Sanglier et Polenta aux Marrons (wild-boar stew with polenta & chestnuts). Oh yum.
Well, there’s not too much to say about the incredible-ness that was Sunday’s chocolate festival. I think the photos speak volumes… and calories.
There were a few surprises from last year though. Namely, Champagne-tasting. As if you needed another reason to make the trip? Then again, only to make sure we hadn’t “overlooked” anything, we put our brut, sec, and demi-sec tastebuds to the challenge. When in Rome and all.
Another great addition to this year’s fête was Provençal chocolatier Puyricard. Just taking a gander at their elegantly wrapped boxes brings a few words to mind; mainly luxurious & decadent. Although we could probably add in another, less glamorous word… expensive. Those dark gems cost more than a euro or two. And, if you ask me, they’re worth every gold & silver cent.
Known as the capital of Provence Verte (Green Provence), the sizable town of Brignoles makes an excellent starting point for day trips around the interior of the Var region.
We were lucky enough to stumble-upon Brignoles’ large (biggest I’ve experienced) Provençal market one sunny Saturday in July. And talk about a lively place. If you don’t get drawn-in by the chatty salami-sellers, you just might fancy sampling a few of the local products on sale along the sprawling marche.
There’s also a covered area with food stalls where you can pick-up roasted chickens or plates of paella for a quick lunch-on-the-go. Although we found the pretty town square a better choice for a lazy, afternoon nosh.
The market boasts an interesting selection of Provençal products; including some potent liqueurs and some “brews” that seemed downright particular to Provence Verte (ie. beware of locals baring gifts…or vats of fig wine). Bon shopping!
Town-center of Brignoles, Place Caramy 83170 (on the map).
Wednesday and Saturday from 08:00 to 12:00.
Foodstuffs from Provence (olive oil, honey, cured meats, liqueurs), fruits & vegetables, Italian products, & clothing. Also a sizable flower market on Saturday mornings.
Villages to visit near Brignoles: Correns (1st organic village in France), Barjols (the “Tivoli” of Provence), or tour the famous Abbey at nearby Thoronet. Don’t forget to check-out a few wine estates in the area – including Domaine des Annibals , bronze & gold award recipients for their rosé & white wines at Concours Général Agricole de Paris 2011 and Concours des Grands Vins de Macon 2010.