Bonjour, mes amis! We got back from our vacation a few days ago and I’m still glowing from the Provence sun and scratching my mosquito bites. It was a bright and busy two weeks, filled with lovely friends, delicious food (including homemade melon ice cream — yum!), and a couple of road trips in our rented Smart car. I’m so excited to share these photos from the first part of our summer holiday in Provence and the Basses-Alpes.
I sank my teeth in a fluffy mushroom omelette and herb-flecked frites at one of my favorite restaurants, Etape du Promeneur in Buoux.
One morning, I rose before the sun to help prepare soupe au pistou for 200 people. I’m saving the full report on my cooking adventures for my new book, but I will say that peeling and chopping over 50 kg of vegetables at the crack of dawn with a group of formidable Provençale women was an unforgettable, wonderful, and only marginally terrifying, experience.
We bought rosé at Château de Canorgue, and drank it chilled with olive tapenade.
Leaving the Luberon, we drove northeast to the Basses-Alpes, or the Alpes de Haute Provence.
It’s a mountainous region that’s ruggedly beautiful, sparsely populated and almost half wild.
I loved the herbs that grow here in rocky crevices, including thyme, sarriette (used by shepherds to perfume goat cheese), and, most precious of all, génépi, or mountain wormwood, which is used to make a liqueur similar to absinthe.
We left Provence and her Alps clutching crumbling bouquets of lavender, thyme, sarriette, génépi — and a recipe for the liqueur, which I’m delighted to share with you below.
It was a beautiful, sunny trip — sauvage in the best sense of the word. Thank you for letting me share my vacation photos with you, mes amis. What have you been up to this month? Summer holidays? Preparing for Irene? I’d love to hear — and I hope you’re all safe and warm as a buttermilk biscuit.
P.S. Coming soon: Part two of my vacation photos — Annecy, the French Alps, and cheese fondue in a heat wave!
P.P.S. My génépi is brewing!
20 sprigs (approx) génépi
1 liter grain alcohol, 90º proof
Simple sugar syrup (made by heating 35-40 sugar cubes with 1 liter of water)
Soak the branches of génépi in the alcohol for at least 40 days. Filter the herbs from the alcohol and mix with the sugar syrup.