On the Hunt for Julia Child’s Provence
Provence, Southeastern France’s famed golden child, was popularized by Julia Child – and justifiably so. As the decades have worn on, its rolling hills and cote d’azur shores have seduced scores of tourists, each in the search of the elusive “true” Provence. Journeying to the land of lavender poses the curious question about how to find hidden gems while having iconic experiences. But the world is big, and there are always discovery opportunities for explorers with good local connections.
One of them is the Provencal village of Seguret, which boasts a population of just over a thousand, nestled in the foothill shadow of a chateau. The town is full of medieval relics of Roman influence. Provence was the first Roman conquest west of the Alps, and bricked fountains and arches abound. The cobblestone streets here are quiet; the late afternoon sunlight tame.
Meander down one such alleyway, Rue des Poternes, and you’ll find yourself in front of LeMesclun, a surprisingly acclaimed restaurant in this sleepy town. It’s the labor of love of Christophe Bonzi, a forty one year old chef inducted into the Académie Nationale de Cuisine, an organization which promotes traditional French cuisine and authenticity to terroir (“the land”).
Back of house, Bonzi cures his own saucisson, smokes his own salmon, and, as of this year, has started experimenting with gluten-free bread (in addition to the traditional baguettes he bakes in-house). The menu boasts rustic fare like pigeon, plated in minimalist style. And, for a lucky few, Bonzi opens up his kitchen for a memorable cooking lesson.
Within the vermillion-painted walls, Bonzi instructs upon the fundamentals of prepping coquilles St. Jacques (scallops, usually still nestled in-shell) and constructing chocolate orbs. Every course is Instagram-able. At the end of the story, a feast awaits – on most days, these can be enjoyed on the stone patio, overlooking the valley below. A breeze blowsand wine is poured.
From soup to nuts, this is just one story that Provence has to offer. And it’s one, we wager, that Julia Child would savor. Chef Christophe Bonzi welcomes Classic Journeys guests into his kitchen for an instruction and meal on every one of the company’s Bon Appétit, Provence Culinary Tours. Read more here.