Wednesday, October 28, 2015

It's time for a Decadent Winter Tour!

Winter is on the horizon. Though I'm currently spending most of my time in the potentially very cold north lands of Upper Lower Michigan, land of two Polar Vortexes in a row...  I'm choosing to not dwell on these details (though yes, I'll get those snow tires on my car!) and contemplate the virtues of this season.

- a break from making cheese &

- a trip back to Avignon.

While there, I'll be offering a course on Truffle hunting, Preparing Duck Confit and Foie Gras, Exploring the decadent joys of Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines and Savoring great Chocolates in my former (and on-going) role as a cooking teacher and culinary tour guide in Provence.

With chef Erick Vedel at my side to guide us through the varied preparations - think foie gras mi-cuit, smoked magret de canard, duck-fat fried potatoes, truffle risotto, truffle omelettes, and truffled home-made pasta.....,

One week of glorious winter foodie decadence in Provence,

January 24-January 31

Early morning truffle markets, Provençal (yes, it is a language all its own) murmurring softly as the transactions flow from seller to buyer. Anywhere from 250Euros a kilo up to 800Euros a kilo depending on demand, quality and quantity. What will this season bring? Luckily for those who accompany me late winter is the best time for black truffles.

Little known is that Christmas and New Year's are times when truffle prices are pushed way up for the festive holiday diners, but in fact, the truffles are rarely at their best. The knowledgeable gourmet awaits late winter, when the air is still chilly, but the sun is out, the ground a tad firm, mostly dry, not yet soaked with early spring rains. It is the moment the truffles come into their peak flavor, and often, the prices have lowered due to less demand.


I can still take a few more people with me. Our favorite local B&B in Avignon, run by lovely Béatrice still has room as does my touring vehicle and kitchen. The Euro to US Dollar rate has been favorable to the Dollar this year, so I've been able to lower the price per person to: $2975 all inclusive, or a special 10% discount for 2 who travel together: $5355.


So, come farce your fresh fowl with truffles. Take the grater, and the chunky truffle and shave as much as you like over your lightly poached eggs with still warm brioche on your plate. This is your time to indulge!


We'll join our master truffler (or rabbassao) as he heads through a grove of twisted black oak trees, over short stone walls, following an eager and excited dog seeking out that elusive yet potent scent. A happy yelp, quick digging with his strong front paws, and out comes a black nugget of flavor. The potent aroma of the truffle invades the dirt surrounding it, and wafts up to you standing close by.

To accompany our feasts and travails we'll taste some of the great wines of the Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vacquéyras... We'll spend a morning at multiple wineries savoring a vertical tasting of these grenache heavy blends. Strawberry jam? Russian leather? smooth and fruity? spicy and dense? chewy tannins? a touch of barnyard? herby Garrigue notes? These and more may come to you as we swirl, sniff, and swoosh in our mouths. And as I'm driving, just enjoy. No need to spit.


To enliven conversation and share our feasts I'll invite some of my favorite artisans to join us at the table.

Oh it's going to be a wonderful and special week. And likely the last time for a good long while that I'll be able to offer these tours. Once I start my next creamery, I'll not be able to get back to Provence for more than a couple weeks here and there. So, if you're tempted (and I hope you are!) this is the time to book your tickets (during the least expensive period of the year) and come !!! Looking forward to hearing from you: Winter Truffle Tour 2016