Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ou Ravi Prouvençau, Mausanne les Alpilles

I don't believe there is better olive oil produced in France than the wonderful oil from the Vallée des Baux de Provence. As I said in my previous post, we make regular trips to this area to buy olive oil, wine and riz de Camargue - red rice produced in the Camargue region.

In addition to olive oil, there are two other olive-based products that are entitled to the same Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (A.O.C.) Vallée des Baux de Provence label: cracked green olives and black olives. The A.O.C. area covers 1,700 hectares (about 4,250 acres) in the north-east portion of the Bouches du Rhône department, in the heart of Les Alpilles.

According to the decree that recognized the A.O.C., olive oil in this area must be produced from certain varieties of olives; the principal ones are Salonenque, Beruguette, Grossane and Verdale des Bouches-du-Rhône, and the secondary ones of Picholine and others.

Our favorite olive oil is produced at Moulin Jean Marie Cornille in the village of Mausanne les Alpilles about five minutes south of Les Baux de Provence. Maussane and its neighbour Mouriès, are two of the most significant olive oil producing areas in France.

By the time I finished buying olive oil and meandering through the fortress town of Les Baux de Provence, I was getting hungry and as it was close to dinner time, I drove back to Mausanne les Alpilles to eat at a restaurant I had driven by multiple times but never tried.

Mausanne sits at the foot of the Alpilles mountain range surrounded by vast olive groves. Restaurant Ou Ravi Prouvençau is located on Avenue de la Vallée des Baux near the center of Mausanne les Alpilles. The restaurant has been operated by three generations of the Daura family since 1964.

I walked into a cozy, but empty dining room, I was the first diner for the evening. The small room was inviting, warmed by a flickering fire in the fire place, walls were covered with pictures, tables of various sizes and shapes filled the small room. There was a crèche - nativity scene set up in the front window.

I was greeted by daughter Nathalie and seated at a small table where I could observe what was taking place in the open kitchen.

Another view of the dining room.

I sat and observed the activity in the kitchen while I read over the menu and nibbled on the almonds and local black olives that were set on the table for a simple amuse bouche. I chose the three-course menu for 35 Euros and a small pitcher of a locally produced rosé.

For entrée - starter for my meal, I chose Velouté de Potiron - pumpkin soup with toasted pumpkin seeds. It was very good after the addition of salt which was lacking.

From my vantage point, I could see the chef cutting the rabbit and hear the sizzle and smell of thyme as the pieces were placed in a saute pan for the Lapin sauté au Thym, à l'aïl et aux petits lardons, petit jus au vin blanc - rabbit cooked with thyme and garlic and little bacon lardons with white wine that I ordered for my plat - main course.

The rabbit was accompanied by gratin crèmeux de macaronis - macaroni and cheese. Both dishes were perfectly cooked and delicious, especially on a cold evening where you crave something comforting and familiar.

To finish off my meal, I chose Le brisé chocolat-café et sa crème anglaise - a chocolate-coffee cake sitting on a rich crème anglaise sauce. There was nothing wrong with the cake, but I can't say I was wild about it.

While I probably wouldn't make a special trip to Mausanne les Alpilles to dine at Ou Ravi Prouvençau, I would certainly eat there again when we are in the area as it is by far the best of the three restaurants I have tried there.

Bon appétit et à bientôt mes amis.

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