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This month La Gourmet Box brings you a little slice of Provence, a region beloved by tourists and gourmands alike. From Marseille to the Camargue, passing through Aix-en-Provence and Arles, Bouches-du-Rhône is a land of rolling fields and sunshine watered by the mighty Rhone River whose ideal conditions have yielded a rich variety of tasty premium gourmet products. As summer is just round the corner, we've packed this box with everything you need for a sun-kissed hors-d'oeuvres spread, a generous selection of sweet and savoury flavours that will let you experience all the richness of Provençal cuisine. Welcome to the south of France, and bon appétit!
Using sustainable agriculture, the vineyards of Château Ferry Lacombe bear luscious grapes that are transformed into delectable wines at the foot of Cézanne's lofty muse: Mont Sainte-Victoire. Provence's famous rosé wines underscore the unique properties of its terroir, and Ferry Lacombe has mastered the art of making this particular wine.
The pale pink Cuvée Haedus we've chosen has an intense bouquet of red berries and white-fleshed fruit. Round and full-bodied, this wine has an unctuous mouthfeel and is very fruity, with hints of white fruit (pear and peach) that give way to a long citrus aftertaste.
Pairing suggestions: serve as an aperitif with the delicacies in this gourmet box or with a light summer meal. Best served chilled between 10 and 12º C.
Organic Camargue red rice (500 g)
Artisan: Domaine de Beaujeu.
Beaujeu is the only farm in the Camargue that still uses traditional local agricultural methods. The estate is a combination of grain fields, vineyards, meadows and protected nature areas. It was also one of the first farming operations in France to receive organic agriculture certification in 1974, proof of this artisan's strong commitment to protecting and nurturing the land.
Rice fields are everywhere in the Camargue, but one variety stands out above the rest: Camargue red rice, harvested when fully ripe to preserve its subtle flavour and unique texture. The grains are laid out to dry in the Mediterranean sun and the region's famous mistral winds.
Like all whole-grain rice, it requires a longer cooking time (approximately 35 minutes) and makes the perfect side for any meat, fish or veggie dish.
Homemade aubergine "caviar" (180 g)
Artisan: Les Jardins de Cidamos.
Near the Roman aqueduct of Fontvieille, our artisans cultivate around 60 different types of vegetables using organic methods. In 2015 they began to process part of their produce on the farm.
This aubergine "caviar", rather like a smooth, savoury purée, is a speciality of Provençal cuisine. Just spread it on a piece of toast and dig in!
The perfect appetizer for a gourmet feast.
Fresh beetroot hummus (140 g)
Artisan: La Compagnie des bocaux.
Here's another spreadable treat: classic Mediterranean hummus made from Provençal chickpeas with beetroot, cilantro, lemon juice, tahini (sesame seed paste), garlic, AOP Baux de Provence olive oil, Camargue salt and cumin.
This all-natural product, with no artificial colouring, aromas or preservatives, is a morsel of Provence that's sure to delight and amaze your guests at any summer hors-d'oeuvres party.
Photo credits: Martial Thiebaut.
"Olivange verte", green olive tapenade (90 g)
Artisan: Mas de l'Ange.
Don't miss out on this "olivange", a delicious blend of olive oil, capers, garlic, basil and minced olives. Grown in the Vallée des Baux de Provence AOP (protected designation of origin), these olives are harvested by hand at the perfect stage of ripeness and processed in situ.
Round out your Provençal spread with a bit of "olivange" on toast or try it with fish, crudités or a cheese platter.
Famous traditional French calissons (8 pieces)
Artisan: Christophe et Eric, Calissoun.
This gourmet gift box would not be complete without the Calisson d'Aix, an icon of Provençal confectionery. Finely ground almonds, Provence's famous melon and candied orange peel are blended, spread on a wafer and topped with a crunchy layer of royal icing.
Christophe and Eric, the founders of Maison Calissoun, have invented a delicious new version of this time-honoured recipe with a fruity flavour unlike any calisson we've ever tried before. Sweet-toothed epicures, this is your moment!
Artisanal Provençal black nougat en papillote
Artisan: Au Moulin Bleu.
In Provence, nougat is the king of Christmas sweets, a crunchy honey and almond brittle that's too tempting to pass up. The "black" nougat is darker than the white variety because it doesn't contain egg yolks.
Au Moulin Bleu has preserved this tradition for generations in Allauch, using the same old-fashioned recipes and copper pots, and they've got it down to an art: their nougat is a perfect balance of crunchy, lightly candied almonds and deliciously gooey honey. But be warned, this nougat is addictive: once you start, you won't be able to stop!
Bon Voyage in Provence with your gourmet gift box!