Gourmet Food & Provençal Cuisine
Provençal cooking is often called "la cuisine du soleil" cooking of the sun. Why? The quintessential Provençal ingredients - olives, tomatoes, garlic and herbs need lots of sun to ripen. Their intense, sun- ripened flavours are found in all the famous dishes of this region ratatouille, daube, soupe au pistou and many more.
This is a richly agricultural region, and the fields and orchards of Provence provide fresh fruits and vegetables for dinner tables all over Europe. Melons and apples, artichokes, figs, peaches, cherries, tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines and, of course, grapes are all grown locally.
Other typical local products include truffles, goats cheese, honey and of course all the fish of the Mediterranean used for bouillabaisse and bourride, the two great Provençal fish stews. All of this fresh produce is to be found in the local markets in the villages and towns. Near Lourmarin the main ones are Cadenet on Monday, Cucuron & La Tour d'Aigues on Tuesday, Robion on Thursday, Lourmarin on Friday, Apt on Saturday and Isle sur la Sorgue on Sunday
Of course, the younger and most imaginative chefs of the area like Edouard Loubet at the Bastide de Capelongue, and Reine Sammut at La Feniere are constantly experimenting with new interpretations of the classic recipes. But you can be sure that whatever they are creating, it is based on the incredible quality of the basic Provençal ingredients.
Vineyards & Wineries in the Luberon
The villages of the Luberon, including Lourmarin, are surrounded by vines. Driving through this magnificent countryside one gets the impression there are vines literally everywhere. Of course, there are plenty of other agricultural products in this completely non-industrialized area, but the lion's share of the land is, indeed, devoted to wine production.
There are, in fact well over forty vineyards in the "Côtes du Luberon" area. One of the better known estates, Château Constantin-Chevalier, owned and operated by a charming Swiss gentleman, is, in fact, our next-door neighbor. His vines start right in front of Les Olivettes, just beyond the olive trees and next to the cherry orchard.
For on overview in English of Luberon Wines see : www.foodtourist.com/FTGuide/content/I1974.htm
Within easy, safe walking distance of our apartments at Les Olivettes there are at least 17 restaurants. There are also a couple of sandwich bars, a take-out pizza place, and some ice-cream parlours. The choice is amazing for a village with a year-round population of 1100 - traditional Provencal cuisine at La Recreation, gourmet cuisine at Le Moulin de Lourmarin and Numéro 9, tasty salads and bruschetta at La Réserve, even Thai food in a magical setting at Bamboo Thai. There’s no need to worry about drinking a little too much of our local and delicious wines, because you just walk home afterwards under the starry sky.And if you don’t mind getting into your car (or we can arrange a taxi for you) there are, remarkably, four Michelin-starred restaurants within 15 minutes of your apartment. Nearest is the Auberge La Fenière, just up the road. La Fenière, with Reine and Nadia Sammut, a mother-daughter team, in the kitchen, and father Guy Sammut front of house, has 1 Michelin star (out of 3 possible stars - the Michelin Guide is notoriously strict and incorruptible, the restaurant bible of France). They offer, fresh, light Mediterranean cuisine, and unusually for France, everything is gluten-free. You can see them at www.aubergelafeniere.com. A little further away is the Petite Maison de Cucuron (www.lapetitemaisondecucuron.com) where genial chef Eric Sapet produces sturdy, ingredients-based dishes in an elegant setting. And near there is La Closerie in Ansouis (www.lacloserieansouis.com), a tiny restaurant with a lovely terrace and emphasis on local, seasonal ingredients. Both have one star in the Michelin guide. And in the heart of the Luberon, spectacularly overlooking Bonnieux and its valley, is the Bastide de Capelongue (www.capelongue.com/en/), where chef Edouard Loubet (2 Michelin stars) works magic with locally sourced goodies - truffles, herbs, aromatic plants and wild salads which he and his team pick on the hillsides around or from his vegetable garden. His cooking is extraordinary - true to the ingredients, imaginative, and somehow comforting, too. And the restaurant is spectacular.
Delicious local wines include, from Lourmarin, Chateau Fontvert, Chateau Constantin, and the Maison Tardieu-Lauren. Elsewhere in the Luberon you can find Chateau La Canorgue, Domaine de la Citadelle and Chateau de Fontenille; these are all well-structured, reasonably priced Rhone valley wines.
A little further afield, you can visit, taste and buy in Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Beaumes-de-Venise and the mighty Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Or shoot down to the coast and try the white wines of cassis, and the complex, beautiful reds, white and rosés from Bandol.
A personal favourite is the Domaine de Trevallon in St Etienne du Gres. Quite expensive, and sublime.