A Taste of Provence

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French cuisine always had a special place in my heart. No, it’s not all about baguettes – it’s much, much more. Ingredients are mostly local: fish from the Mediterranean Sea; tomatoes, squash and salad from local farms; olive oil from centuries old mills; local wine and cheese; high quality meat etc. I love the fact that they don’t seem to save the good stuff in restaurants – whenever you get a salad, even just a couple of leaves next to the main course, it’s always sprinkled with a homemade vinaigrette. France is actually quite paleo friendly as long as you refrain from eating all the bread they keep throwing at you during restaurant visits. And the croissants. And the pain-au-chocolats. And the crêpes. But yes yes; very paleo friendly.

Here are some of the highlights from my very recent (in fact I am still there) gastronomic tour of southern France. Bon appétit!

Roasted, locally farmed chicken w/ratatouille:

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Selection of grilled mediterranean seafood w/salad and mashed potatoes w/olive oil:

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Salad of tuna and celery sprinkled w/olive oil and balsamic vinegar:
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Salad w/grilled squid:

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Omelet w/bacon and emmetal cheese, salad and a beautifully viscous vinaigrette of lemon juice and olive oil:

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Salmon mousse w/cream:

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Lamb w/herbs, mushrooms, vegetables and carrot purée:

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Chicken w/vegetables and a chive cream sauce:

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Salad of cured duck, fried duck, foie gras and roasted potatoes:

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… and the obligatory glass of rosé wine.

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I use Trip Advisor and instantly find the best restaurants nearby. I have been in the area before: see this delicious recipe for quail in raspberry vinegar that I made as a participant of a five day cooking school the last time I was in France.

Not paleo, but just I want to show you our breakfast table at the guest house. Isn’t it cozy?

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Edible Wild Plants: Sautéed Fireweed Mixture

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I’m continuing my experimenting with edible wild plants. This is a side dish of stinging nettle, dandelion leaves, goutweed and fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) fried up with some butter, onions and scallions. Towards the end I tossed in some parmesan cheese and seasoned with salt and pepper. I served it with grassfed beef and some leftover ratatouille, but it goes with anything.

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Fireweed (American) or rosebay willowherb (British) is a nitrogen-loving herb thriving on burn sites – hence the name. Stems, roots and flowers are all edible. It’s rich in vitamins A and C and iron. The plant’s been called “the asparagus of the forrest” and I simply love the crunchiness of the stems, lightly boiled or in a stir fry. The have a slight bitterness which can be dimmed with seasoning or marinade. Fireweed has also been used medicinally for its astringent effect, so I suppose it should be consumed in moderation.