A weather worn basket stuffed with olives, cheese, sun-warmed tomatoes, a bottle of cold wine and a baguette is the stuff of holiday dreams. Every year hoards of us rush over to France to grab our two weeks of the French dream – shopping for food in the fragrant bustle of a French town on market day. Sipping ice-cold wine at a time of day we’d usually be on the school run and eating haphazard picnics, improvising when we’ve forgotten a knife then realising that a torn tomato squished into a fresh chunk of bread with a smear of local goats’ cheese eaten in the sunshine is a meal that memories are made of.
Earlier this month I spent two days working in the type of place I’d usually rush to on holiday. I was invited to Cotignac in Provence, the home of Mirabeau wines, to create an Easter feast, using ingredients from the town’s Tuesday market to go alongside the wines that Mirabeau produce there. I’m such a planner usually but the chance to think on my feet, making the most of what was good at the market that day was a joy.
Mirabeau and a day at the market
I was invited by Jeany and Stephen, the family who started Mirabeau, who left their home in London in 2010, moving their three small children to Provence to start making wine as well as making a home for themselves. Their boutique and tasting room in Cotignac opens out into a market that dreams are made of. The air smells of honey, olives and lavender. I had no idea what I’d make but the visit to the fruit and veg stall alone gave me ideas for about six dishes which I tapped away into my phone so I wouldn’t forget. The olive stall added another layer to the ideas and by the time we’d visited the bakery and fish monger the menu planning was complete.
After we returned home, our baskets bursting, I spent the next two days cooking in the family’s kitchen. On the final day, Jeany worked her magic on the flowers and table and we served everything alongside glasses of chilled wines from the Mirabeau range.
Create your own taste of Provence at home
I wish I could take you all to visit the corner of heaven that is Mirabeau but for now, here are the recipes I created so that you can make them at home. Invite your friends over, buy a few bottles of Mirabeau and a bunch of lavender and you’ll be able to transport yourself to Provence for one meal at least.
I was invited to cook in Provence by Mirabeau, who paid for my travel costs and hosted me during my visit. I’d never share details of a company I didn’t wholeheartedly love.