It has been pretty damn hot here in Maussane (consistently in the mid-90’s), and Saturday was the worst. The kitchen has one window and is poorly ventilated, so it reached well in to the 100’s. It just so happens that it was a little too hot for our 56 year-old dishwasher Maria. She bailed before dinner service even started. You know what that meant.
As an apprentice in a small kitchen, I knew to expect to wash a few dishes. But It’s humbling to see a chef of 24 years wash his own dishes. Ahh, the trials and tribulations of a small restaurant owner.
Last Sunday was another festival in Maussane, this one dedicated to celebrating the old times. People were dressed in traditional French outfits, and along with various street performers and vendors, there were horse-drawn carriages and vintage cars parading up Av. de la Vallee des Baux (the main street). It was pretty cool.
For the festival we created a special three-course pre-fix menu that ran all day: Entree: Gazpacho Plat: Braised Duck Leg Dessert: Fig Tart
Gazpacho was my suggestion, so the chef allowed me creative reign to make it how I chose. It was my recipe, and it proved to be such a hit that it is now a permanent fixture on the menu!
Here are some of the dishes that have were featured on our opening week menu. Revisions will come tomorrow. We are currently one of the lower priced restaurants in Maussane, however we offer better dishes with fresher ingredients and more intricate recipes. We will soon be charging more!
Appetizers, Salads and Main Course::
With only one day off, the opportunity to cook with local ingredients and produce outside of the restaurant is limited. I decided to go with one of my favorite things to make: Risotto.
Leek Risotto with local Chevre , Merguez Sausage and Hericot Vert. Garnished with Rosemary picked from the surrounding hills near Tours de Castillon. Accompanied by dry Provencal Rose of course.
Hidden among the limestone hills just a mile or two (or kilometers I guess I should say) outside of Maussane, lie the remains of a medieval castle: ‘Le Tours de Castillon’ (http://maps.google.com/maps?q=tours+de+castillon,+paradou&hl=en&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=44.25371,105.117187&vpsrc=0&radius=15000&z=14&iwloc=A & http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tours_de_Castillon). Apparently the settlement had been consistently inhabited since second century AD, but later abandoned in the 15th century when the residents moved to nearby Paradou. Considering the structure is at least 600 years old, it remains fairly well intact. The whole area is incensed with wild rosemary, which flourishes among the hills.
On Monday, Aug. 15 was the ‘Fête Votive,’ a local holiday and festival that celebrates the traditions of the Bouche-de-Rhone and the town of Maussane (http://www.maussanelesalpilles.fr/spip.php?rubrique8). Included were a large feast (called ‘Aioli’), and La Course de Taureaux (‘Running of the Bulls’), where bulls were chased up and down the street by men and women on horseback. It took place right outside the restaurant and was quite a busy day. Pretty cool.
Here is chef Emmanuel, our dishwasher Maria, and the kitchen.