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Monday, January 10, 2011

Mushroom-stuffed Artichokes & 4 Other Reasons to Love Winter in Provence

Having made our way past dreary skies, wet sidewalks, & all-around icky weather, I've decided that winter in Provence isn't half bad at all. If you can dodge the nasty Mistral (the howling bugger of a wind which blows South from the Rhone Valley), gather up your French recipes that have been collecting dust in your cuisine (not naming names here), and hunker-down with the locals cooking, eating, & hot toddy-ing your way into Spring, I could think of far worse places to pass l'hiver then our dear little corner of the world.


Which got me thinking about what really is cool (literally) about being in Provence in the winter. Turns out, there's quite a bit to amour about this place when the temps also go south. 

1. Hearty plates
Well, if we didn't include food somewhere on the list, surely we'd (...meaning chubsy me) be remiss.  And after an amazing lunch yesterday at Sanary-sur-Mer (my hands-down no bones-about-it favorite place from Hyeres to Marseille...and surprisingly, that actually does cover a lot of ground) I felt happy, satisfied, and ready to see if I could replicate the scrumptious mushroom-stuffed artichokes we feasted on from La Churinga. They've also got a fixed-price menu for 18 euro, and I made my second attempt at finishing their caramelized pork with guacamole.  All I can say is, fait accompli - mission (wonderfully) accomplished.


2. The sunshine
It doesn't happen everyday, & I wouldn't exactly call this the gold coast of the winter (O' California), but we do get enough sun here to have us all keeping a diligent eye on those ever-careful weather ladies. And boy when it does arrive, like today, it feels like quite a gift & indeed something to write home about. Or maybe just add to your blog.  


3. The markets
You may get wet, there could be sprinkles or an outright shower, but they're one of the best things about living in Provence, and...thanks be to lavender, the markets are still open during the winter months.  It's a great way to pop out of the house, socialize, and even hone a bit of your French. Did I mention endives are in season? I've got an excellent excuse to combine reasons 1 & 2:   dusty recipe card #37...Endives wrapped in Ham. 'Nuff said.


4. Cheese parties
Sure, it's stating the obvious, but why not remind ourselves of one of the great joys that is living in France: big chucks of cheese to be savored with equally large glasses of wine. On Saturday night we attended an impromptu fondue party, and there huddled above the gurgling pot (ok, that wasn't so pretty but can bubbling cheese ever be elegant), I thought about how cozy & intimate winter can be with a few friends & a few blocks of gruyere.  


5. Winter festivals
Just because the temps dip, doesn't mean the folks in Provence slow down in their jovial-love of a good fete. Consulting our go-to festival site, VisitVar, it appears there are no fewer than 105 shows, expositions, and traditional festivals taking place this weekend alone.  I get chills (in a good way) at the idea of taking a spin along the Route de Mimosas or attending the Soiree Crepes (crepe night!) in Cavalaire-sur-Mer.

It may be chilly, but we're still rockin' in Provence...and by the looks of those young lads above, we'll be partying our way long into Springtime.

8 comments:

  1. I'll be right there! Any and all sound wonderful....thanks for tempting us!

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  2. tempting and torturing us sounds like what you do here with us :) but oh my, we must try those mushroom-stuffed artichokes ...can't get enough of them. Did I mention artichokes are good for my blood-type diet?
    :)

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  3. This is such a nice post. I couldn't agree more!

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  4. Thanks so much ladies! We had plenty of sun today so felt even better about out winters here :) Here's hoping it lasts...or just might find myself eating more & more cheese!

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  5. Very nice post Tuula. I would add to the other great reasons you listed for why it is "cool" to be in Provence in winter is no or at least far fewer parking hassles and the wineries are happy to spend time with you when you come to visit.

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  6. You had me at 'Cheese Parties'. xo

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  7. You are so right Michel - those are definitely 2 of the top perks!

    Always the right time for a cheese party, Sara :) & the more the merrier!

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  8. What wonderful things to make your winter beautiful! :-) I LOVE stuffed artichokes and haven't had them since I was in Rome. Sigh. I miss them. :-)

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