Saignon; a picturesque medieval village perched high on top of a hill in the South of France; my home for three weeks from October through to November of this year. Picture a house in Provence and this one will be the mirror image with its light blue shutters adorning all windows, rows of lavender as you navigate up the driveway, rustic wrought iron furniture where I took a glass of wine to read a book and sweeping views over an autumnal landscape fit for a painting. Framing the house there was a collection of rosemary bushes. And as I came and went from the house each day; the wind was always filled with a strong tinge of rosemary.
Every day there was a market on in some quaint village around the local area. Needing no excuse to go and explore, each one had a different feel to it and its wares were always slightly different. Yes, there were the endless tablecloths, ruffled scarves, bouquets of dried lavender but unlike back home where it’s same old same old, I had this constant buzz and desire to be in the thick of it. The wow factor however lay in their displays of fresh produce. Never before had I seen mushrooms so yellow or artichokes so green. Strawberries were plump red bursting with sweetness and if that didn’t take your fancy there were also gooseberries, currants and loganberries to be savoured. The fresh food before me had me in a trance and I craved to cook up a storm.
Dinner on the first night was mine to cook. Armed with some bunches of baby orange carrots and some just cut rosemary, I cooked a roast beef that didn’t last too long once out of the oven. The baby carrots were roasted with maple syrup to enhance their sweet flavour and the baby potatoes were crunchy with the right amount of fluff inside. Just how I love them.
I think back now to those three weeks and it all seems like a beautiful dream but if there was one thing that I came home with was the re-ignited passion to cook. To cook seasonally, to eat fresh and to do it all from the heart.