Nutmeg is a bit embarrassed to admit that after many months in France, they have barely explored all of Provence. The departments within Provence are all beautiful and vastly different. The departments include Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhone, Var and Vaucluse. So much to visit! Clearly a break from their holiday was in order!! Nutmeg booked two nights in a lovely chambre d’hotes (B&B) called Les Quatre Saisons near the village of le Castellet, in the Var. Le Castellet is a medieval village dating from 1153. It is a fairly well preserved town on a hill, so there are magnificent views from the top. The town buildings are highly picturesque. Les Quatre Saisons is easily accessible from the major regional centres, and it is a true oasis.
The weather was smoking-hot, reaching 32C under cloudless skies. Patrice cool, calm and well practised in the kitchen. He and his partner Didier ran a small Parisian bistro for nine years and then a restaurant on the coast for a few more. The twosome are both originally from northern France, they are now fully integrated southerners. They embrace the use of local, seasonal ingredients and where practical focus on organic (bio) products. When Ginger and Nutmeg arrived peaches, apricots and lavender were all in season. After a delicious breakfast with homemade jams, seasonal fruit compotes, fresh bread and hot coffee, they were ready for a cooking lesson.
Patrice and Didier have created a delightful home and a welcoming resort for guests. This pair has it figured out, each one plays their preferred role in the “ballet” of running a successful chambre d’hotes. Didier takes care of the rooms, his attention to detail shows in the heavenly bed linens, private balconies, discrete breakfast tables and tasteful decor. Patrice’s domain is la cuisine. The cooking lesson involved preparing all the courses for that night’s dinner.
Following the cooking class, Nutmeg suggested it might be a marvellous idea to visit the beach and attempt to cool down a bit. The coast is beautiful and not yet too crowded in June.
The evening meal was excellent from start to finish. There is no way to choose a favourite dish but given the fact that peaches were in season Nutmeg would like to share this remarkably easy recipe for Tiramisu aux Peches.
- 12 Ripe Peaches, washed, pitted and cut in quarters
- 3 Large Eggs
- ¾ Cup White Sugar
- 1 Container (500ml) = 2 Cups Mascarpone
- 8 Large Lady Finger Biscuits, or equivalent
- 2 cups Mixed juice of peach, orange and a bit of thyme liqueur
- 1 Cup Honey
- In a heavy sauce pan cook the peaches and honey on the stove top
- Once the peaches start to ooze liquid, cover and lower the heat
- In total, cook for about 15 minutes until the peaches are soft and the skin can be easily removed
- Prepare the topping by separating the egg yolks from the whites
- With a mixed blend the whites until firm
- By hand in a separate bowl mix the egg yolks, sugar and mascarpone together until well blended
- Gently fold the egg whites into the above mixture
- In a bowl soak the biscuits in the juice and liqueur blend for 2-3 minutes
- Place the biscuits in the serving dishes (drain the juice)
- Top with the cooked peaches
- Finally the mascarpone egg mixture on the top
- Place in the fridge until ready to serve
Ginger and Nutmeg had a lovely time exploring the Var. The beaches, the hilltop towns, beautiful vineyards and most of all Patrice’s cooking!