Foraging and Cooking
Les Aventurières du Goût
The drive was long and hot, but as we travelled higher up the mountain road with steep gullies and ravines to one side, the light sharpened and the colours diffused into a myriad of blues, purples, greys and greens; it was our second day in Provence, and we were now in the mountainous region of Vaucluse, with the watchful Mont Ventoux shadowing over us – the local name of “The Giant of Provence” is not given lightly, and it loomed high on the horizon with its bald peaks sparkling in the strong sunlight, as if covered in snow. This was the day I had been particularly looking forward to on my recent press trip to the South of France, to experience the Terroir & Wine in Provence, Gard, Rhone Valley and Ardeche. Today I was going to be foraging and cooking with Les Aventurières du Goût, and as we approached the hilltop village of Brantes, it was obvious that our day of foraging would be in one of the most spectacular parts of the Vaucluse region.
The pretty Medieval village of Brantes is almost suspended on the side of the mountain, overlooking the Toulourenc Valley, the village is a pedestrian only village with a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets and alleys. Having parked the car, we all made our way up the steep incline and crooked steps into the heart of the village; at every bend there appeared a promontory where the breathtaking views opened into a magnificent panoramic vista…..it was however, still very hot and the heat seemed to steal my breath at every step, so compulsory stops at every steep corner were needed. Finally, we reached Les Aventurières du Goût, which is situated in a pretty stone house with a raised terrace. Waiting for us there were Odile and Jaqueline; Odile is the owner of Les Aventurières du Goût, and cookery school teacher, whilst Jacqueline is the herb and plant expert. Armed with small baskets, we accompanied Jacqueline around the village to collect edible flowers, herbs and plants, which we took back to Odile’s kitchen, before enjoying lunch with what we had prepared.
On our way around the village, Jacqueline would stop to explain what we were foraging for and picking, the harvest was considerable with flowers such as nasturtiums, hollyhocks, mallow and marigolds being gathered. At the village well and fountain, she demonstrated a rather unique flower which is used as a natural soap – the pink petals are rubbed between your hands under water, et voila, a soapy lather is produced! Herbs that were plentiful were comfrey, dill, purslane, sarriette (savory), thyme, chenopod and lavender, whilst nettles and wild spinach were also gathered. The walk took over an hour and we were more than ready for a glass of chilled elderflower cordial when we returned to Odile’s comfy kitchen. Odile had quite a schedule planned for us, and we all donned colourful aprons and set about cooking our lunch with local seasonal ingredients as well as our foraged booty.
On the menu for the day was:
Menu et recettes de l’atelier sauvage et gourmand
(Réalisé avec « les Aventurières du Goût » à Brantes)
Limonade de fleurs de sureau – Eldeflower Lemonade
Trempettes de petits légumes crus de printemps au sésame grillé – Crudities of spring vegetables with a sesame dip
Graines de courges grillées salées – Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
– Tapenade aux olives de Nyons, amandes et tomates confites – Tapenade of olives, almonds and sun-dried tomatoes
– Bruschetta de tomates, olives noires, basilic – Vegetable bruschetta with black olives and basil
– Polenta à la mauve – Polenta cakes with mallow flowers
– Délice de fromage de chèvre aux poivrons rouges et à la menthe – Stuffed apricots with cream cheese, nettles, red peppers and Picodon goat’s cheese with mint
– Salade de pommes de terre aux chénopodes – Potato salad with chenopod, radishes and boiled eggs
Clafouti aux cerises et au lait d’amande – Gluten free cherry clafouti with almond milk
There was also a melon and honey fruit salad with purslane, a melange of tomatoes and a mesclun salad.
The kitchen was large and airy, with plenty of room for the six of us to prepare our respective dishes around a large square kitchen table. (The kitchen was charming, attractively decorated with quirky ornaments, art and bunting adoring the walls) I was in charge of the “Délice de fromage de chèvre aux poivrons rouges et à la menthe”, which was fresh local apricots stuffed with cream cheese, garlic, Picodon goat’s cheese, cooked nettles, toasted almonds, sultanas and red peppers – it was then garnished with mallow flowers. Most of the edible flowers were used as garnishes, with the foraged herbs and vegetables being used IN the dishes. Having finished our cookery school morning, we then enjoyed lunch on the sunny, raised terrace, where the views were simply breathtaking and where the resident cats sunned themselves on the old stone walls that surrounded the terrace. The meal was vegetarian and gluten-free (although there was bread on offer for those who wanted it) and was extremely filling, in a healthy kind of way.
The Les Aventurières du Goût foraging trip and cookery class was pure magic – and if any of my readers are keen to participate in one of their courses, I’ve shared the details below. Do pop back for the next instalment of my trip around Provence, Gard, Rhone Valley and Ardeche……I’ve also created some recipes in homage to this fascinating day in Brantes, including a salad based in the stuffed apricots – my recipe for Provençal Stuffed Apricot & Goat’s Cheese Salad with Edible Flowers will be shared soon. In the meantime, sit back, pour a glass of rosé wine and enjoy my day with the lady adventuresses of taste! Karen
With thanks to:
Disclaimer: I was a guest of the above tourist boards and I was not asked to write a post; all views and opinions are my own and are not representative of any of the aforementioned tourist boards
Les Aventurières du Goût
Le Village, Brantes, 84390, France
Tel: 06.61.71.46.66 OR 04.75.28.86.77
Les Aventurières du Goût run wild food and foraging classes every Thursday from 16:00 and every Saturday from 10:00. The cost is €35 per person for the foraging walk, cookery class and meal, which takes about 3 hours. They can cater for groups between 5 and 10 people and English and German is spoken, as well as French of course.
More information about this area of France can be found here:
Read all about my FULL itinerary and schedule here: