Provençal cuisine is known for its use of herbs, olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, onions, artichokes, olives and sweet and hot peppers. Dishes prepared à la provençale
are made with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, onions, herbs and sometimes aubergine, while dishes made à la niçoise
are similar but also include olives, capers, anchovies and tarragon. Vegetables are often baked or fried in oil for dishes such as ratatouille
, or used in salads. Fish and shellfish – sardines, red mullet, tuna, monkfish, sea bass, and anchovies – are commonly found on menus, even inland, and are often accompanied by raïto
(red wine, tomato, garlic and ground walnut sauce). Other fish dishes include bouillabaisse (stew-like soup with conger eel, scorpion fish, gurnet and other fish, saffron, fennel, garlic and bitter orange peel, served with garlic mayonnaise) and soupe aux poissons
(smooth soup made from white fish and chilli and garlic mayonnaise). Slowly-cooked stews such as estouffade
are based on beef or mutton. On the Côte d'Azur, Italian influences are noticeable, with wide use of pasta, especially ravioli and cannelloni, gnocchi, and pistou
(similar to pesto).
Banon is a supple cheese made from either goat's, sheep's or cow's milk and wrapped in chestnut leaves. Picodon de Valréas is a goat's cheese with a delicate nutty taste.
Wines: There are two broad types of wines found in Provence – those of the southern Côtes du Rhône and Provençal wines. The vast majority of the Côtes du Rhône wines are red. The next category up is the Côtes du Rhône-Villages appellation, of which the best reds are Vinsobres, Chusclan, Cairanne and Vacqueyras, and the best white is probably Laudun. The Côtes du Ventoux produce some very good reds and rosés. The Côtes de Provence are best known for their dry, fruity rosés, while the reds of the Côtes du Lubéron have improved in recent years.
Hotel Villa Augusta, which features on our Secret Provence walking holiday