L’Isle Sur la Sorgue

June 20th, 2012

The village of L’Isle Sur la Sorgue in Provence has been called The Little Venice.  It is surrounded by the waters of the Sorgue river and its many canals flow through the town carrying the crystal clear water downstream.  Because of the strength of the current it became a center for many industries as early as the 11th century.

At one time the village had 77 water wheels which enabled weavers of silk and wool to produce woven goods that were known all over Europe for their fine quality.  Fisherman also thrived and supplied fish to the legates of Avignon and elsewhere.  The fishing history is reflected in some of the street names; L’Anguille (Eel street) and Ecrevisses (Crayfish street).

We rented a car in Avignon after a 3 hour trip on the TVG fast train from Paris and arrived in L’Isle Sur la Sorgue in front of this charming shop.  The windows on the second floor contain our apartment.

Our living room is behind the windows with the herb boxes.  This apartment had all of the charm of the village itself.

I loved the well equipped kitchen.

The leather chairs face the window and are a good place to sit and watch the busy street action below.

Next to the living area is a TV and computer room.

Behind the kitchen is a sunny patio with many herb pots, a grill and a place to lounge and eat.  We have already spent a lot of quality time out here.

The bedroom is comfortable with a wide window that can be shuttered to keep the light out.

Sunday is market day in L’Isle Sur la Sorgue.  The whole town is full of vendors for fruits, vegetables, clothing and antiques.

I should have bought this dress.  What fun.

We did buy the ingredients for dinner.  We bought two fish kabobs with salmon, swordfish, and cod.  David separated the fish from the vegetables and cooked them on the grill.

I got some zucchini and shallots, shredded the zucchini and sauteed them together with herbs from the patio garden.  

Along with some rice from a food vendor, a fresh baguette and our grilled fish and vegetables, we had a very nice dinner.

Our travels have taken us to several nearby villages so far.  We have visited, Gordes, Roussillon and St. Remy.  Further afield was Bandol for a winery tour and Cassis to bask in the view of the Mediterranean Sea.   Provence is everything I hoped it would be.

Snapshots From Paris

June 17th, 2012
Lunch at Cafe Flores like Ina and Jeffery

The week in Paris flew by.  I got to do most of the things that were on my list.  But not completing everything just makes it necessary to come back again.  We are in Provence as of last night and I am over the moon with our apartment and our village of L’Isle Sur la Sorgue.  But more of that later.  Here is a brief overview of our time in Paris.

Creative view of the Eiffel Tower


The Louvre was overwhelming.
The view of Paris from Sacre Coure was breathtaking 

Every serious cook should visit Dehillerin.  I bought a financier pan.
Versailles Hall of Mirrors
Steak Frites at Cafe Rousillion

David eating snails at our favorite corner bistro near our apartment
Isabelle, the owner, and her son making fun of me because I would not try them

David pondering the menu at Au bon Accueil near the Eiffel Tower.  Great dinner!
Our apartment kitchen was small but well equipped.  We ate most breakfasts here and one dinner of rotesserie chicken after a long day.

Another view of kitchen

Living area.  A good place to work on the computer
On the Seine near the Pont Neuf.  Notice the jackets.

Our week in Paris was one of the coldest for June in 10 years.  It got up to the low 60’s most days but the mornings were very cool and it rained or drizzled almost every day for a period of time.

Needless to say, the warm Provencal sun was a welcome change.  I am loving it.

Cooking Class At Reed in Paris

June 13th, 2012

When it is raining in Paris there is no better way to spend the day than taking a cooking class from a trained professional chef and restaurant owner.   Catherine Reed, owner of Reed (a small bistro near Rue Cler), has been delighting patrons for over a year now with her classically inspired menu.  She recently began offering cooking classes two mornings a week.


Seven of us joined her in her kitchen to cook a menu of White Asparagus with Mousseline Sauce, Roasted Chicken with Morel Mushrooms and Potatoes, and Profiteroles.  

Catherine demonstrated her techniques for making cream puff pastry.  She did this for all of the dishes that we prepared.  But it was a “hands on” kind of class.  Everyone participated.

Everyone took a turn with the pastry bag.

She kept us busy chopping and dicing.  One of the best things I learned was how to bone a chicken leg and thigh for stuffing.  To roast a whole chicken Catherine removes the thigh and leg sections of a chicken, bones and stuffs them, and then roasts them with the whole breast portion.  This ensures that the white and dark meat cook properly at the same time.  It also makes a nice presentation when plated.

The beautiful free range chickens ready for roasting. 

She had a unique way of making hollandaise sauce.  I ruined one batch by letting the eggs scramble; not one of my better moments.  But we ended up with two big beautiful bowls of lemony sauce.  Whipped cream was added to make it a mousseline sauce.

The meal was completed a few hours after we arrived and everyone had fun in the process.  Here are the results.

White Asparagus with Mousseline Sauce


Roast chicken 2 ways with potatoes and Morel Sauce
Profiteroles with ice cream and chocolate sauce

It was a wonderful meal and a worthwhile experience.  I would rank it up at the top of things that should not be missed in Paris.  Catherine Reed is indeed a hidden gem.

Dining at Reed

June 11th, 2012

After getting settled in the apartment, buying supplies from the local grocery store, and resting, we were ready for our night out on the town.  Our reservation at Reed was a good idea.  It was an easy walk, just a block away.

With an open kitchen and just 20 seats,  it was an inviting space.  Catherine Reed’s Laconche stove with its copper pots of simmering sauces made us feel like we had been invited into her personal kitchen.

Because of a staffing issue, this particular Saturday night, found Catherine the only person available to greet guests, serve and cook.  She jokingly said that it would be a “slow” food night; not necessarily in the timing, but in the dishes that were on the menu.  They were slow comfort foods that were simmering away on their own.  The smells of heady wine braised meats and poultry greeted us at the door.

The menu was short, offering a first course, entree and dessert.  The strawberry compote and carrot cake were displayed under glass on the buffet table near our table.
We started our meal with a Sicillian tomato tart with a crust that was thin and crisp.  The tomatoes were dressed with olive oil and shavings of Parmesan.
Choosing an entree was a difficult decision.  I had the Osso Buco which was tender veal shanks with a tomato sauce and a gremolata of orange, garlic and parsley.  It was served with tender egg noodles.
David had the Cornish game hen with spring vegetables and gratineed potatoes.
Catherine Reed was gracious and her restaurant is a special oasis of calm in this vibrant city.  I look forward to my cooking class with her on Tuesday.
We ended our first evening in Paris with a walk to the Eiffel Tower.  We have left all of the chaos of our initial journey behind us.

Paris, The Reality So Far

June 9th, 2012

You are looking at one tired and bedraggled gal right now.  Our trip did not get off to a good start.  After boarding our direct flight to Paris in Charlotte we sat on the plane for awhile after our planned departure time.  The captain came on the PA system and said there was a problem with a smoke sensor in the cargo hold and we could not take off until it was fixed or replaced.  We sat on the ground with updates for three hours.  The problem was never resolved and the entire group of passengers had to disembark and walk to another terminal on the other side of the airport and wait 30 minutes to board a substitute plane.  We spent over 4 hours on the ground and another 8 hours in flight.

But we are here and I am in love with the city of light.  Because of the delay in arriving, the person who was supposed to meet us and let us into the apartment could not do so for two hours.  That is why I am sitting at a sidewalk cafe sipping wine with all of our luggage.  The cafe owner was kind enough to store our luggage for us so that we could do a little exploring on rue Cler.  Who says the French are unfriendly?

Before we browsed the shops on the street we fortified ourselves with omelets and salad.  The omelets were absolutely delicious.

The market street has everything from flowers to cheese.  We bought two individual quiches, croissants and fresh strawberries.

In spite of the rocky start, everything is beautiful.  We are resting before our dinner tonight at Reed.  Will continue with my postcard from Paris soon.

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.