Monday, July 30, 2012

Farmers' Market at Place Richelme, Aix

Sunday 8 July
We are staying near Aix-en-Provence, at a winery named Domaine Richeaume.

It is not only staggeringly beautiful, set in the red land topped by the ridge that ends in Cezanne's Mont Sant-Victoire, it has actual Roman remains on the property. 
After our late and fraught arrival last night, we took today easily.  We set the Garmin to find the place again (very important!) and drove into Aix for the Sunday farmers' market at Place Richelme, which our friend Ann had recommended to us. 

We loved the vivid colors and smells, and bought a nice range of local specialties: heirloom tomatoes ("variétés anciennes"), olive bread, three kinds of goat cheese, anchovy fillets "nature," black olives, and a savory sun-dried tomato spread.

Early that evening we went to the first of our operas at the Festival of Aix: Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges at the Theatre de Jeu de Paume.  It was appropriately magical, but a lot sexier than anything they'd come up with in the States.  For example, check out that teapot.

As we'd lunched late, we only needed snacks for dinner when we got back.  We and the kind housesitter Franzi drank a slightly sweet Château les Tonnelles Bordeaux, and ate crusty olive bread spread with goat cheese and that delicious tomato spread, which we'd love to make ourselves. 
The closest equivalent I've been able to find so far is this, from Kathleen Finn's The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry.
Diffusion de Tomate Provençal
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 red medium bell pepper, peeled, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped (1 ½ cups)
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped (1 cup)
6 to 8 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (¾ cup)
12 Niçoise olives, chopped
3/4 tablespoon capers
2 cups chopped fresh basil
In a small sauté pan, warm the oil over medium heat.  Add bell pepper, onions, and garlic and cook until soft.  Add the chopped tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and capers and cook gently.  Remove from heat.  When cool, add the basil.  Add coarse salt and pepper to taste.

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