Thursday, November 12, 2009

Eating Well for Less!

Far from it that our meals in France were all multi-course, fancy-dining, hoity-toity Michelin affairs. Since France is rather pricey to tour, we saved money by having lunch as our main meal (which is when restaurants, even the starred ones, offer great deals), and having simple dinners. One of our most memorable and amazing meals was a gourmet picnic on the grounds of the Versailles Palace. That morning, we had made a quick detour to Rue d’Aligre, near the Bastille area, where there is a lively and bustling street market selling fresh produce, and bought ingredients for assembling our own gourmet baguette sandwiches – tranches of pungently savoury 12 month aged Jambon Bayonne wrapped in crusty french baguette chunks, tantalisingly sweet yet salty vine-ripened cherry tomatoes from Sicily, and Muscat Blanc grapes, all for under 6 Euros. Eaten watching the fountains in the broad green expanse of the Versailles Chateau gardens. Ahhh......

When we were in Avignon, Provence, we had the greatest luck to be staying in a wonderfully charming self-catering studio at Hotel Autour Du Petit Paradis. This was beautifully decorated in Provencal style with iron-wrought furnishings, white washed and sanded cabinets, wooden floor paneling, dreamy transparent lace curtains. Our studio had a small cooking area with microwave cum convection oven, cooking hob, and refrigerator, and was very well equipped with cooking and preparatory utensils – knifes, pots and pans, colander – and cutlery, even a bottle opener!

So we cooked a simple dinner that night of cheese ravioli (bought at nearby supermarket) with a simple brown butter sauce (or beurre noisette, which is super easy to make: see instructions here), accompanied by a side of boiled Brussels sprouts tossed with some butter. We made ourselves an equally luxe breakfast of creamy scrambled eggs the next morning.

Wine for me and only me, not E the teetotaller
Eating well does not always mean spending more, and it can be so much fun “hunting and gathering” your food. Finally, to end off this post, here are a couple of photos of the beautiful scenery and light in Avignon.

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