Monday, June 21, 2010
Where should we eat in Provence? As a food writer living in the South of France, it's the one question I'm asked more than any other. So this week I turned to none other than Patricia Wells for help.
Patricia is a journalist, author and cooking teacher, an American who has lived in Paris since 1980. Her groundbreaking "Food Lover’s Guide to Paris," which debuted in 1984, was hailed as “the book that broke the secret code to Paris.” For 25 years Patricia was the restaurant critic for The International Herald Tribune and is the only woman--and only foreigner--to serve as restaurant critic for a French publication, the newsweekly L’Express. Patricia is the author of 11 books including the memoir "We’ve Always Had Paris…and Provence," which she wrote with her husband Walter, the former executive editor of the Herald Tribune. In 2011, Patricia will publish two books: "Salad as a Meal" and "Simply Truffles."
For several weeks each year, Patricia and Walter open their 18th-century Provençal home (in Vaison la Romaine) to a small number of participants hungry to soak up the food, wine, and culture of the region. The five-day program includes hands-on cooking classes (using as much home-grown produce as possible), plus guided visits to markets, vineyards, shops, and local restaurants. Patricia also offers a truffle class in January and classes in Paris as well.
Here Patricia shares some of her current favorite restaurants, none of them more than 30 minutes from her village of Vaison. Bon App!
BRIN D’OLIVIER. A lovely spot in the center of town, warming décor and fireplace in winter, beautiful terrace in summer. Excellent modern food and a truffle menu in winter. 4, rue de Ventoux, Vaison. Restaurant-Lebrindolivier.com or 04 90 28 74 79. Closed Wednesday.
GAJUELA. New, with a simple good menu, great lamb and veggies, nice wine list and terrace. In Le Barroux (past Entrechaux and Malaucene). 04 90 62 36 94. Dinner only. Closed Sunday and Monday.
LE GRAND PRE and bistro PRÈFACE. A favorite. Great ambiance, terrace, delightful with a great wine list. On the Route de Vaison in Roaix. legrandpre.com, 04 90 46 18 12. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
LES ABEILLES. Great terrace, wonderful food, good wine list. The owners are Marlies and Johannes Sailer. It's at #4, Route de Vaison in Sablet. abeilles-sablet.com or 04 90 12 38 96.
LE PONT DE L’ORME. A nice inexpensive restaurant in a restored 200-year-old farmhouse in Malaucene. (Drive towards Malaucene and just after a row of trees, before the roundabout, turn right when you see the sign to Suzette.) Lepontdelorme.com or 04 90 46 17 50.
L’OUSTALET in center of Gigondas. New owners and a great terrace view. restaurant-oustalet.fr or 04 90 12 30 03.
LE TOURNE AU VERRE. A nice wine bar...simple but good. On the Route de Sainte Cécile in Cairanne, about a 15-minute drive from Vaison. letourneauverre.com or 04 90 30 72 18.
LA BAGUETTE (VIETNAMESE). A huge menu, inexpensive but good. In Vaison la Romaine on the Cours Taulignan, the main street perpendicular to the Post Office. 04 90 36 15 04.
LE PRE DU MOULIN. Owners Caroline and Pascal Alonso have one Michelin star. Good food, pleasant setting. Route de Saint Cecile les Vignes in Sérignan du Comtat. predumoulin.com or 04 90 70 14 55. Closed Monday lunch.
LE SAINT HUBERT. A very old-fashioned family bistro with great truffle omelets and a good wine list. In Entrechaux. restaurantsthubert.free.fr or 04 90 46 00 05.
LE TEMPS DE VIVRE. New, with wonderful food, bargain menus and a good wine list. In Le Farjons, on the outskirts of Uchaux. For the website, click here or call 04 90 40 66 00. Closed Wednesday.
VINOE & CO. A wonderful wine bar in the center of Avignon, at 31, rue Saint Jean le Vieux. vinoe-co.com [Editors note: Michel Granier has closed Vinoe and will announce his new plans soon.]
For more info on Patricia Wells, her books and her classes, click here.
Photos: Patricia and Walter Wells; the memoir they co-wrote; Le Saint Hubert, one of Patricia's favorite nearby spots.