by Sybil PrattJuly, 2004
Twenty years in Provence
Wake up and smell the lavender, bite into a Savory Rosemary-Parmesan Madeleine, some SautÅ½ed Almond-Stuffed Dates or sweet, salty Black Olive and Dried Fig Spread. You're in Provence and in the hands of Patricia Wells, food critic for the International Herald Tribune, author of seven cookbooks and the best culinary guide you could have. In The Paris Cookbook, Wells took us through Paris to her favorite culinary haunts, introducing us to restaurateurs, market vendors and shop owners who offered up their special, authentic recipes. Now, with equal passion, perception and practical know-how, she does the same for her beloved part of northern Provence in The Provence Cookbook. You'll go to the market in Vaison-la-Romaine and come away with the fishmongers' family recipes for Saffron-laced Mussel Soup and an outstanding Tuna Daube with Green Olives and Red Wine, the vegetable man's delicate Asparagus Flan and the butcher's Thyme-Marinated Leg of Lamb. Then you'll stop at the bustling Bistrot du Paradou for a perfect ProvenÂal salad made with olives and anchovies or Restaurant Chez Serge for a slice of warm Cinnamon-Apple Tart. You'll find the local potter's pungent, garlicky, basil-sauced spaghetti, the winemaker's wife's taffy-like almond cookies and much more in the over 200 recipes. But that's not all Wells includes names and addresses (websites, too) of the restaurants, shops, artisans and vineyards, info on the marvelous outdoor markets, ProvenÂal customs and lore, and her personal tips on cheese, wine and kitchen prep. It's the next best thing to being there.