Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jon and Kelly's Excellent Wine & Truffle Adventure

When I have Provençale food or restaurant questions, I go to Jon Chiri, an American chef (from New Orleans) who has lived and worked in Provence for years. When I first met Jon he was the director of the Petit Marmiton cooking school at Hotel La Mirande in Avignon…and if you’ve been there you know that that’s kind of a big deal. These days, Jon is sort of a free-range chef, teaching cooking, leading gourmet cycling tours and heading up the kitchen at the luxurious Domaine de La Verrierea vineyard and hotel in an ancient priory, not far from Avignon.  Lucky for me, he’s my gracious go-to guy for anything French-food related.

Similarly, when I have a question about the wines of the region—actually any wine question at all—I ring up Kelly McAuliffe. Born and raised in Nevada, Kelly worked as a sommelier for chef Alain Ducasse for many years, in Monaco, Paris and, most recently, in Las Vegas. Kelly’s wife Fabienne is from Avignon and the couple now lives there, with their three adorable girls. Kelly consults, leads wine tours and represents the wines of the Côtes du RhoneHe’s super knowledgeable and serious about wine but loves to make it approachable and fun.

Now Jon and Kelly—great old friends—have teamed up to celebrate local truffles and wine with a one-day extravaganza open to the public. It will be offered on two Saturdays in December, the 4th and the 11th. Sign up and I guarantee that you’ll eat well, drink well, learn a ton and have tons of fun. Or, consider giving this special day as a gift to a favorite foodie. The famous black truffles of Provence are at their very best from late November through January and Jon has access to la crème de la crème.

The day will begin with a visit to Richerenches, considered the most important truffle market in Europe. Then it’s off to La Verriere  for a Provençale Christmas cooking class. There will also be a truffle tasting and, finally, a seven-course truffle dinner. In between, Kelly will lead a tasting in the cave, taking you through the wines of La Verriere and Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Dinner will be served in La Verriere’s 14th century vaulted dining room.

The cost of the day is 250€ per person, which includes transportation to and from Avignon.  Wines with dinner are not included.  For those who would like to stay over, La Verriere is offering a special rate of 250€ for a standard room (normally 300€) and 300€ for superior (down from 350€).

Vive les truffes et les vins de Provence!

For more info or to reserve, call or email Jon: US # (504) 931-2197, France # +33 (0)6-46-89-85-33, jon@gourmetcyclingtravel.com

Photos: Jon (top) and Kelly

1 comment:

  1. If you're in France, let's go together! This sounds like a blast.