Saturday, April 30, 2011

La Farigoule, Sainte Cécile les Vignes

As I mentioned in my previous post, we knew Sainte Cécile les Vignes for two of the restaurants in the village. As you know by now, good food is one of my passions in life so we are always looking for good places to eat.

We had tried many times to go eat at La Farigoule, a restaurant located on the main street of Sainte Cécile les Vignes but never succeeded because it was either closed for fermeture annuelle - annual closing, fermeture hebdomadaire - weekly closing or complet - fully reserved.

So after tasting wine at several domaines in Rasteau one morning, it was getting close to noon and time for déjeuner - lunch, I decided I would try again to eat at La Farigoule. This time I was successful; they were open and they were not full.

As I said, La Farigoule is located on the main street of Sainte Cécile les Vignes and there is small terrace for outdoor dining along the street. La Farigoule is a hotel and restaurant.

The day was very gray and cool and it was way too early in the season for outdoor dining so I entered the front door into the pretty dining room with adjoining bar.

I was seated at a linen covered table along the wall with a view of the entire dining room. In addition to the printed menu, there was a menu ardoise - blackboard menu, with the chef's lunch menu for that day.

I chose the four course Sélection du Terroir from the printed menu for 29,00 Euros and a glass of local rosé wine. Very unusual from our experience in the South of France, there was no amuse bouche brought to the table to nibble on while I waited for my entrée - starter.

For my entrée - starter, I chose gratinéed moules with velouté de légumes -gratinéed mussels with vegetable soup.

For my plat - main course, I chose braised chicken with a herb flan and balsamic braised fennel and mashed potatoes.

After my plat, I was brought a plate with greens dressed with vinaigrette and a round of fresh goat cheese.

For dessert, I decided on molten chocolate cake with a little pot of crème anglaise accompanied by a scoop of honey milk ice cream.

The food was simply prepared but very tasty and service was warm and attentive. I will definitely return with Shirley on one of our future visits to Sablet.

Bon appétit et à bientôt. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sainte Cécile les Vignes

Sainte Cécile les Vignes is a small village located 15 kms northwest of Sablet on the border of the Vaucluse and the Department of the Drôme. As the name suggests (les "vignes" means the vines), Sainte Cécile les Vignes is an agricultural village devoted to making wine.

Sainte Cécile les Vignes is one of 95 communes in the Côtes du Rhône Villages area making red, white and rosé wine. Red and rosé wines must be at least 50% Grenache along with at least 20% Syrah and/or Mourvèdre with a minimum 12% alcohol. White wines must be made of 80% Grenache, Clairette, Marsanne, Roussanne, Bourboulenc or Viognier with a minimum of 12% alcohol.

We knew Sainte Cécile les Vignes as a village with two very good restaurants (more about the restaurants in future posts), but didn't know anything else as we had never explored the village. So one day after lunch at one of the aforementioned restaurants, I decided to take a walk around the village.

As you wander the streets around the village, you will find the clock tower topped by its wrought iron campanile with a small bell.

The Mairie festooned with flags.

In olden times (from 1370 onwards) the village was surrounded by ramparts, traces of which can be seen to this day. There are pretty old mansions throughout Sainte Cécile les Vignes.

The Sainte Cécile church.

Memorial in front of the Sainte Cécile church honoring the Ceciliens who have died for France in wars.

The Sainte Cécile chapel which was built in the 12th century and restored in the 17th century.

On the road at the entrance to Sainte Cécile les Vignes sits this pretty, old church, surrounded by the vineyards for which the village is known.

Enjoy your visit to Sainte Cécile les Vignes. Bonne journée et à bientot.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Le Tourne au Verre, Cairanne

If you are a regular reader of Our House in Provence blog, you know that wife Shirley and I eat in restaurants often when we are in Provence. Some of that is because we don't get to eat out in restaurants in California much because I am usually at Bistro Des Copains, the French country bistro that I co-own in Occidental California.

We usually go to restaurants that have been recommended to us, I have read about on one of the blogs I follow or the restaurant is in a restaurant guide such as Bonnes Petites Tables du guide MICHELIN, a guide to 600 restaurants throughout France that offer a great three-course meal for less than €29 Euros.

Some time back Julie Mautner at The Provence Post wrote "Where Would Patrica Wells Eat." Patricia is a cookbook author and cooking teacher who lives near Sablet in Vaison la Romaine. For 25 years, Patricia was the restaurant critic for the International Herald Tribune. I have a very large collection of cookbooks and among my favorites are seven of Patricia Wells books.

So when I saw that one of the restaurants on Patricia Well's list was in nearby Cairanne, we decided to go try it out. Cairanne sits on a hill with a view east towards Sablet and the vineyards between the village and the Dentelles de Montmirail. Wines produced in the commune are designated Côtes du Rhône-Villages.

We found restaurant Le Tourne au Verre in the center of Cairanne on Route de Sainte Cécile.

Le Tourne au Verre is a restaurant wine bar with a terrace for dining outdoors in nice weather and a large bar and adjoining dining room. We went in the evening and it was sort of cool outside so we chose to sit in the dining room.

Now when we got to the restaurant we discovered that the Le Tourne au Verre offers a four-course menu with amuse-bouche, entrée, plat, and dessert for 25,00 Euros. A great value, only trouble is you have to be an adventuresome diner with no dietary restrictions to fully enjoy it as they only list one choice for each part of the menu.

The wine list is large with 580 selections; we chose a bottle of 2006 Domaine de Mourchon Séguret Grande Réserve. Made from grapes of 60 year old vines, the wine is a blend of Grenache (65%) and Syrah (35%).

For entrée - starter, that night, the restaurant was serving encornets farcis a la brandade haddock, sauce aux poivrons - squid stuffed with haddock brandade sitting on a red pepper sauce.

As I said, Le Tourne au Verre is best suited for adventuresome diners and those with no dietary restrictions. Shirley eats fish but not seafood so the chef prepared her a simple green salad.

For plat - main course, the chef was serving foie de veau, sauce aux raisins, purée de rutabaga et brocolis - braised calf liver with raisin sauce, mashed rutabagas and broccoli.

Again, the chef came through for Shirley with roast salmon with the same raisin sauce and mashed rutabagas and broccoli.

For dessert,we were served cappuccino maison - coffee gelatin pudding, milk chocolate pudding topped with whipped cream.

All the dishes were very well prepared. However, I am not a lover myself of squid or calf liver so I can't say it was a memorable meal. However, I am sure I will return again. The menu changes daily and they have a large well priced wine list.

Bon appétit et a bientôt.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Car for Sablet

As gasoline prices in the US race up towards the prices we pay in the South of France, I think there will be greater interest for small fuel efficient cars like we see all the time in France. This really came home to me a few weeks ago, when I rented a car in Los Angeles and I was given a silver hatchback to drive just like I rent at the Marseille Provence Airport. I thought its happening.

As we have traveled around the Vaucluse, I have snapped a few pictures of cars and trucks which caught my eye. I won't venture to tell you what kind of car or truck they all are since I don't know. I took auto mechanics in high school but it was my least favorite subject. Wife Shirley will tell you that while I am very good in the kitchen I am useless when it comes to mechanical things. Thankfully, we have a very good mechanic to take care of our cars. But I digress.

Anyway, this "truck" in Sablet caught my eye since it was three-wheeled and I love the collection of colors.

I spotted this Citroën 2CV “deux chevaux" literally two horses in Eygalières, an economy car produced by the French automaker Citroën between 1948 and 1990. It was technologically advanced and innovative, but with uncompromisingly utilitarian unconventional looks, and deceptively simple bodywork, that belied the sheer quality of its underlying engineering. It was designed to move the French peasantry on from horses and carts.

Another Citroën 2CV, this one in Bonnieux.

This truck in Ménerbes caught my eye.

One more Citroën 2CV spotted in Ménerbes.

I saw this cute, tiny, fuel efficient car on the street in Sablet. Who knows, maybe that will be the kind of car I get to drive someday. I think that car will fit into our garage in Sablet, perfect for squeezing into one of those tiny parking spots you find when you are circling around looking for a place to park on market day or to make your way down one of those super narrow streets all over the South of France.

Happy travels. Bonne journée et à bientot.