November 10, 2014

What is Cooking in Palm Springs at Le Vallauris

What is Cooking in Palm Springs at Le Vallauris

Without water, movie stars and artists Palm Springs, California would not exist. In many ways neither would the Cote d’Azur town of Vallauris in France. Le Vallauris owner Paul Bruggemans was born in Belgium where he studied culinary arts at the Ecole d’Hôtellerie et de Tourisme in Liege. Sunny California lured him away from overcast Northern European skies. In 1970, he and his partner opened Le St. Germain on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. Just two years, later they decided to open a second restaurant, but they could not agree on the location between Palm Springs and Newport Beach. The answer was decided by the flip of a coin – lucky for Palm Springs. (more…)

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October 25, 2012

Cooking Class at La Petite Maison Cucuron in Provence

Cooking Class at La Petite Maison Cucuron in Provence

It is Saturday morning in the Luberon village of Cucuron, Eric Sapet the chef and owner of la Petite Maison is enjoying a few minutes of social time over a pause-café with friends. He has a busy day ahead there is a 25-person cooking class focused on girolles (chanterelle mushrooms). And the restaurant is fully booked for both lunch and dinner. G&N love these theme based cooking classes at la Petite Maison. Clearly, based on the number of attendees for the courses they are not alone. After five years of programming Eric Sapet has developed a loyal following. Arriving in Cucuron, a small medieval town dating from the 11th century was a combination of hard work and chance for M. Sapet. He was classically trained in his field in Paris at l’Ecole Hôtelière. Once the scholastic course load was finished, the long kitchen hours began in earnest. He spent 11 years working his way through the ranks in some of the Grands Restaurants Parisiens including the Michelin 3-star la Tour d’Argent. The path of his cooking career wandered from famous Parisian kitchens to a Relais et Châteaux in the Ardèche before he was attracted to the popular village of Lourmarin in the Luberon, in 2005. Tarte fine aux girolles, oeufs de caille pochés, échalotes confites La Petite Maison was once just that – a private residence. The charming building dates from the 19th century. The restaurant is situated, in the heart of this working village, right next to an enormous rectangular etang (pond) shaded by plane trees. In 2007, the house was converted into a restaurant. An old structure in a medieval village translates into a tiny kitchen and equally small prep area. Wood paneled walls and period photos surround the dining tables adorned with crisp, white table linens and china place settings, a classic backdrop for Eric Sapet’s inventive cuisine. The morning’s cooking class is followed by the opportunity to sample the creative menu over a long, lazy lunch – accompanied by excellent wine pairings. Nutmeg was able to borrow a few minutes of M. Sapet’s precious time to ask some questions. Provence is a rich canvas for local products – do you have a preferred season for ingredients and produce? No, every season is intriguing with powerful, rich flavours. In your opinion what is the most versatile ingredient? The black truffle. What is the most critical piece of equipment in your kitchen? The high quality oven. If you had the chance what would you change at La Petite Maison? It would be fantastic to have more prep area and a larger kitchen. The existing space is remarkably tight for a total staff of 10 people; in the kitchen and waiting on tables. Aside from your own restaurant do you have any regional favourites that you would recommend? Yes, two particularly enjoyable places to eat are La Bamboo Thai in Lourmarin and la Bastide de Moustier in Moustier. G&N left Cucuron after an exquisite lunch, with a few new recipes and cooking tips. The only thing missing was a hammock for an afternoon siesta.  Are you going to book a cooking class or a table at La Petite Maison? ______ References: 1. La Petite Maison ______ Image Credits:  1. Ginger and Nutmeg 2. Ginger and Nutmeg 3 & 4 Courtesy La Petite Maison [tfb username=’GingerandNutmeg’ count=’true’ lang=’en’ theme=’light’]

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September 24, 2012

Professional Cooking with Provencal Style

Professional Cooking with Provencal Style

How does the unlikely combination of an Egyptian born chef and a Montana banker end up in St Remy de Provence? In David’s own words, had they read Peter Mayle’s book before they bought the property and decrepit 200-year-old farmhouse, they probably would not have gone ahead with the transaction. The year was 1985. (more…)

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June 18, 2012

Paintbox Lodge Canmore Things are Cooking

Paintbox Lodge Canmore Things are Cooking

Does Paintbox inspire your creative juices? A bit of childhood whimsy with paint by numbers? Or the lyrics to the 1967 Pink Floyd song? (more…)

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March 12, 2012

A Cooking Lesson in Canmore

A Cooking Lesson in Canmore

Ginger’s whole family was in Canmore to celebrate belated birthdays and the New Year ahead. The house was full and there was lots of buzz around the first day of kiddie ski lessons. Just try to imagine 500 kids starting ski lessons on the same day. Nutmeg awoke that morning with a minor version of the modern day plague – a head cold. She chose not to battle the kids and parents at the hill, but rather to stay home quietly with Jade and wait for the chef to arrive. (more…)

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October 3, 2011

Tomatoes at La Petite Maison de Cucuron in Provence

Tomatoes at La Petite Maison de Cucuron in Provence

Due to a wedding cancellation only few days before the event, a lucky group of foodies received an email invitation, to participate in a rare Saturday morning cooking class. La Petite Maison de Cucuron is the successful restaurant run by chef Eric Sapet and his lovely wife. They offer a top quality seasonal menu and limited cooking classes. The restaurant has been open since 2007 in the charming medieval village of Cucuron, in the Luberon. The Luberon is filled with one delightful village after another so it is difficult to choose a favourite. Cucuron although small, it is unique among the hamlets, as it has a truly distinctive shaded main square with a large water feature l’etang or pond. (more…)

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