A Summer in Saint Rémy-de-Provence

A Summer in Saint Rémy-de-Provence

As if there are no other holiday destinations – but really – we have been to France, in particular, southern France so many times that we could memorize some places along the road and highway quite well. Although we do not tend to visit the same place twice, we seemed to be re-visiting Saint Rémy-de-Provence quite often, at least four times since 2006!

We enjoyed the lovely Mediterranean temperatures that were not overly hot (August), the colours, the smell, la cuisine provençale (the Provencal dishes) and the many walking trails.

Last summer, I spiced up our Provencal holiday with this simple dish, which was… erm… planned at the eleventh hour

Baba's chicken curry with chickpeas served with stir fried chinese cabbage and steamed basmati rice

Baba’s chicken curry with chickpeas served with stir fried chinese cabbage and steamed basmati rice

The spice that bites the dust?

Well, almost 🙂

Actually, I got 4 packets of Baba ’s curry powder (2 meat curry powder and 2 fish curry powder) from a girlfriend who was going back to Kuching for her holiday and at the same time planning to replenish her kitchen pantry with new inventories. Lucky girl (if you are reading this post, kam sia, my dear):-D

Well, a month more to shelf life was not that bad. We left for Saint Rémy-de-Provence in the 2nd week of August and the curry powder expired in September. Perfect timing so to speak!

The White House

For the subsequent 2 weeks, we stayed in a lovely holiday cottage, owned by an English couple – La Maison Blanche (The White House). By the way, there were and are many English speaking ‘locals’ in Saint Rémy-de-Provence 😀

3. Baba's curry_La Maison Blanche

This was the kitchen that became my Provencal domain last summer *wink*

4. Baba's curry_French kitchen

While the guys were watching the 2012 Summer Olympics on the telly, the lady of the house (ahem!) slogged away in the kitchen with her creative throw-in-the-pot chicken curry soup dish. LOL!

WYSIWYG

That’s right, what you see is what you get!

These were the main ingredients I used to cook my curry dish.

5a. Baba's curry_ingredients15b. Baba's curry_ingredients2

You need the following –

(Serves 4-6)

4 chicken breasts (ca 695 gm)

2 small packets Baba’s meat curry powder

8 potatoes, halved

1 onion, chopped

Garlic – I used 4 cloves, minced with coarse sea salt

4 cm piece ginger, grated

1 cinnamon stick

1 star anise

3 cloves

6 dried chillies

2 green cardamoms, crushed

1 tsp fennel seeds

Curry leaves (I used the dried ones)

1 tomato (chopped)

Salt, to taste ( I also added 2 chicken stock cubes)

Black pepper, to taste (not in the picture)

1 can chickpeas

Cooking oil (I used olive oil)

2 x 125 gm tub plain yoghurt (not in the picture) – I did not use coconut milk

Water

If you are wondering – yes – the spices ‘followed’ us all the way on the road for some 975 km! As I said earlier, it was a “planned but last minute packing” 😉

Method –

Very simple. Sauté the chopped onion, minced garlic and grated ginger until fragrant; add in the cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, cardamoms and fennel seeds, stir frying for one minute before adding the chicken slices, yoghurt and chopped tomatoes. Add water, chickpeas, potatoes, dried chillies, salt and pepper to taste and finally the curry powder.

6. Baba's curry_curry mix

Mix well to combine the curried mixture. Simmer until the chicken pieces and potatoes are cooked and season to taste before serving. As you can see, my Provencal curry was not made the traditional way as far as sight (visual) is concerned, but the taste was 100% curry. My guys like their curries a bit soupy. I served the curry with steamed basmati rice and stir fried Chinese cabbage with green chillies and sun-dried tomatoes.

7a Baba's curry_curry chix soup7b. Baba's curry_closed-up

7c. Baba's curry_chix curry + basmati rice + chinese cabbage

By the way, curry has never tasted so good. I daresay, it was YUMMY 😉

Market Day

I love Wednesdays at Saint Rémy-de-Provence because it’s market day!!

The colours, the smell and the sights were just amazing….

8a. Wednesday  Market St Remy de Provence_Lavender8b. Wednesday Market St Remy de Provence_Straw bags8c. Wednesday Market St Remy de Provence_Garlics8d. Wednesday Market St Remy de Provence_Confituur8e. Wednesday Market St Remy de Provence_Fruits8f. Wednesday Market St Remy de Provence_Spices8g. Wednesday Market St Remy de Provence_Wines8h. Wednesday Market St Remy de Provence_Cheeses8i. Wednesday Market St Remy de Provence_Savon de Marseille8j. Wednesday Market St Remy de Provence_Canned drinks craftworkPicture 339 (Large)Wed mkt at St Remy de Provence_porky

Oh by the way, did you know that Saint-Rémy-de-Provence was the birthplace of Michel de Nostredame, better known as Nostradamus, the 16th century author of prophecies? We visited his birthplace which was not far from the Market square.

9a. St Remy de Provence_Nostradamus19b. St Remy de Provence_Nostradamus2

The Dutch painter, Vincent Van Gogh was voluntarily confined and treated in the Asylum of Saint-Paul de Mausole, near Saint-Rémy. It was here that he painted the two most remarkable works: Starry Night and Self Portrait.

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Vincent Van Gogh's Starry nights

During our many visits to the Provence, we have followed the trails of Vincent Van Gogh (including Arles). It was a real eye opener for us. We started to appreciate the man and his works even more.

Mossy Fountain with a spicy end

After spending the entire morning until slightly after noon at the Wednesday Market, we were famished. We drove to Salon-de-Provence, about 32km from Saint Rémy. The most striking landmark – which cannot be missed – in Salon-de-Provence is the Fontaine Moussue (Mossy Fountain), which is the real mascot of the town. Tourists and locals, especially children would throng around the fountain, which looked like a giant moss-covered mushroom 😀

11. Salon-de-Provence_Mossy Fountain

We did not walk very far and sat ourselves at a table for four on the terrace of a nearby restaurant. Strangely, we did not realize that the restaurant was not French. I guess we were too hungry to gallivant any further. The resto– can you believe this – was Indian?! I was over the moon 😀

For a price tag of Eur 20 per person, our meal included a starter, main course and dessert.

12a. Salon-de-Provence_Starter_Veg Pakora, lamb & chix samosas12b. Salon-de-Provence_Main_Lamb tikka12c. Salon-de-Provence_Lamb tikka on the plateLicking our platters cleaned

Conclusion: We licked our platters clean. A bargain meal, worth every penny 😛

A spicy Hat trick

Oh no, not again!

But, oh YES – this post would not be captioned “spicy” summer for nothing. Our curry treats for three consecutive days!

I bought some baguettes, sliced and served them with the leftover curry.

My husband and I had these –

Freshly baked baguettes

Freshly baked baguettes

Sliced baguette - soft and fresh

Sliced baguette – soft and fresh

Leftover curry with sliced baguette - a marriage made in heaven :-P

Leftover curry with sliced baguette – a marriage made in heaven 😛

My sons had equally delicious leftover curry meals, which I added  cooked instant noodles, hard boiled eggs, stir-fried french beans, chopped tomatoes and roasted chicken slices.

My younger son's plate

My younger son’s plate

My older son loves a soupy noodle :-D

My older son loves a soupy noodle 😀

This was one “spicy” summer adventure that will not be easily forgotten 😀

I am submitting this entry to Little Thumbs Up event with the theme “CURRY”, hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats well in Flanders, organized by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of my little favourite D.I.Y.

Photobucket

By the way, I DID have some free moments.  While the boys patronised the swimming pool almost every day, I read Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s, fantastically intelligent literary thriller, The Angel’s Game. The year before, I read his mind-boggling, complex and absorbing novel, The Shadow of the Wind.  A talented writer.  I was totally gripped and could not put down reading his novels. If you like Dan Brown’s novels, you will like Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s 😉

A Summer in Saint Rémy-de-Provence. The boys enjoying a dip in the pool - EVERYDAY!

A Summer in Saint Rémy-de-Provence. The boys enjoying a dip in the pool – EVERYDAY!

By the way, I finished reading this book in one week ;-)

By the way, I finished reading this book in one week 😉

Have a great weekend.

Cheers!

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Comments
  1. jeanne says:

    Its indeed a lovely region. So many places to visit like Aix en Provence, Arles, Avignon and Nimes (though I don’t like their bull fighting). I tend to go to the other side of the coast where my in-laws have a place near Villefranche-sur-mer. And the French southerners have such sunny & musical accents.
    Gulp at the prices of the chicken breasts in pics. Just 4 for nearly €10! One can tell its summer when the prices almost double. Anyway whatever the season I’d never say no to a good curry. With some rice or pratha for me please 🙂
    When on summer holiday I always bring along 1 or 2 ‘must read’ books but alas end up buying & reading trash gossip magazines. Their cheery & colourful covers are often irresistable.
    Btw the weather here in France is still kinda dowdy and unpredictable. One day a bit chilly and the next day its warm. We don’t know how to dress appropriately anymore. Hello to sore throats and colds.

  2. Nasifriet says:

    Agreed!. That’s why we’ve been back there almost every summer. Indeed we’ve been to Aix en Provence, Avignon (” City of Popes” ), Arles, but not Nimes yet.. We had wanted to watch a bullfight in Arles, but did not manage to get any tickets, hence, I don’t think we missed anything 🙂
    There’s an Old City we love to go to as well, Les Baux de Provence. We’ve been to Orange which reminds me of Rome (Colosseum), and Paris (the triumphal arch), drove to the summit of Mont Ventoux (1,912m), Le Puy-en-Velay, the nice market at Carpentra etc. So many nice places to see. I think we have covered quite a lot of South Central, South-east and a bit of South West France. We’ve done Cluny, Taize as well…. Villefranche-sur-mer looks great! We’ll go there one summer 😉
    Yeah, not cheap isn’t it? Guess the supermarkets marked up their prices at Summer time knowing the presence of tourists around 😦
    Looks like we’re going to have a great sunny week, today at 25C and I heard that the temp will soar to 33C on Wed!! Summer is definitely back 😀

  3. jeanne says:

    Wow I’d love to go up to the Mont Ventoux one day though my husband has been there as a spectator during Le Tour de France. It looks like another planet.
    You’ve seen a lot of the region and I don’t blame you. The south of France is very charming. The coulours, smells, the sky and food are unique. Its a bit far down but give pretty medeviel town Carcassone a visit one day. In the summer they have their fireworks display that highlights the medeviel castles. Drop dead gorgeous 🙂
    Yes I saw on the telly the temperatures will soar to 30°+ but after the freak floods yesterday night we’re expecting more freak storms in the coming days for certain regions 😦
    Groetjes! 🙂

  4. OMG! You actually cooked curry during your vacation in France? Your guys are truly very lucky to enjoy such wonderful homecooked meals far away from home! I am usually tired flat out, and can’t think of what to cook after a full day of sightseeing, what’s more I have to mind the 2 kids during vacation too. 🙂

    Hey, dun forget to recommend some places to visit in Provence, we are heading there too!

  5. Nasifriet says:

    I can tell you this, the view from Mt Ventoux looking down was just breathtaking. I agree, it looks like a diff planet 😀 We did stop by at the gravestone of Tommy Simpson, the Brit cyclist who collapsed/ died just 1km from the Summit. That spot has become a shrine to cyclists and fans during the Tour de France.

    Hey, you are not the first one telling me about Carcassone. Friends who have visited this medieval fortress have no regrets. I have bookmarked Carcassone and will definitely make a trip there when we visit South of France again 😉 Thanks for the reminder..

    Groetjes 🙂

  6. Nasifriet says:

    Yup, but not everyday lah. Ha ha ha! I needed my free moments as well… that’s why I could finish reading a 672-page novel in one week! If not for the holiday, I think it would take me 365 days or more to finish reading a novel like that. LOL!

    However, when my Mum and sis came to visit us in 2010, we went to the Midi-Pyrénées (visiting Lourdes, etc), I cooked almost everyday, but with help from Mum and sis, that was easier… and also because the region in the Midi-Pyrénées is so vast, and quite isolated, hence we stayed at the holiday cottage most of the time. We visited a nearby farm producing foie gras and could buy the prducts after the tour! Honestly speaking the tour was great with very clear explanation from the owner…. that’s if you’re OK with foie gras. We did not buy the foie gras, but bought some goose and duck rillettes, which were actually top notch. Very nice as a spread on the bread or toast. 😛

    Ah yes, of course you’re heading for Provence. You will not regret. Provence is huge, not sure where you’re heading, but don’t forget Aix-en-Provence (traces of Rome, the markets, souvenirs, restaurants), Arles and Nimes (Bullfights), St Remy-de-Provence (for the ambiance, art, souvenir, market, history, food, etc), Avignon (if you have time, visit the Palace of the Popes – one day may not be enough, picturesque view, souvenirs, restos), Mt Ventoux(well known for the annual Le Tour de France, breathtaking view), Les Baux-de-Provence (very nice medievel old city, but very very hilly with cobbled stones, cheap nice food), Orange (traces of Rome), Carpentras (famous for her “black truffles” market ), Eygalieres (if you want to dine or visit the famous Belgian chef’s resto/hotel ” Maison Bru” – btw, we ate at the resto next to his first resto, Chez Bru 🙂 Can’t afford Michelin Stars’ restos. LOL!. Le Puy-en-Velay was nice too and bought the real McCoy Puy lentils !! Marseilles (we went to L’Estaque – great fish and seafood dishes) . There’s one place I know and have heard it’s beautiful is Carcassone. We’ve not been there, but if you’re going there this summer, let me know the outcome..

    There are many museums to visit as well. We did the chocolate/ praline factory and had free choc tastings, that was fantastic! Your kids will love it (unfortunately, can’t remember the name of the place anymore, but there are lots!!).
    We did a lot of walks as well as there are many long walking trails in the neighbourhood. The flora and fauna are gorgeous. The cows, horses, donkeys, and all kinds of floras, especially the lavenders and sunflowers are in abundance!!!
    We followed the trails of Vincent Van Gogh (St Remy-de-Provence and Arles) and Nostradamus
    Don’t forget to buy plenty of Savon-de-Marseilles and Savon-de-Provence (the soaps of Marseilles and the Provence). There are so many different aromas, from Lavender to Chocolate. They smell divine. We will always buy quite a lot (not very cheap though…)

    Have a stress-free summer hols in the Provence. You will love it..

  7. […] A ‘spicy’ summer in Saint Rémy-de-Provence […]

  8. Zoe says:

    I love all the WYSIWYG in your post! You got everything!!! The sun, the market, the views and the delicious curry! Your holiday looks fun and relaxing too 😀

  9. Nasifriet says:

    I’m sure I must have forgotten something, but then again I was in my holiday mode and grabbed WYSIWYG from my fridge and kitchen pantry 😀
    Honestly speaking, my packing that day was so chaotic, and of course the reward came after that, as you mentioned – the sun, the market, the views and scrumptous foods and most importantly, sheer relaxation 😉

  10. Nasifriet says:

    I’m sure I must have forgotten something, but then again I was in my holiday mode and grabbed WYSIWYG from my fridge and kitchen pantry 😀
    Honestly speaking, my packing that day was so chaotic, and of course the reward came after that, as you mentioned – the sun, the market, the views and scrumptous foods and most importantly, sheer relaxation 😉

  11. […] Dried Persillade (which I bought at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence) […]

  12. […] years ago, we were at Saint Rémy-de-Provence. We were back there again the year after.  We loved the location and the holiday home and had […]

  13. […] Back To Sunny Proven… on A ‘spicy’ summer in Saint Rémy… […]

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