Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Arles on my mind

I assigned my 8th grade students a Yabla video to watch this week about Arles.  Can you imagine how thrilled I was when I looked at the new videos for this school year and there was one featuring Catherine giving a tour of La Roquette, one of the neighborhoods in Arles?  I probably shrieked.  (They probably shrieked inside when I passed out the quiz this morning...) Yabla crews have filmed several short videos in Arles... one about the market and one about breakfast (at a bed and breakfast in La Roquette).  These students of mine are very lucky.  I hope they realize it.  At least to some extent.  As much as 8th graders can, anyway.
I also watched the slide show that my students and I put together after our March trip.  Paris and Provence, Arles featured prominently.  And I have photos from my friends' trip to Arles this summer on my desktop.
They cooked with Chef Érick in my his kitchen this summer, preparing a dinner of millefeuilles de légumes, poulet apicius, and chocolate hazelnut tartes.  To their credit, I did receive a text message from Érick while they were sitting at the table partaking of the fruits of their labors.  When they returned, they invited me to dinner at their house.  I wrote about the dinner for the Durham Herald-Sun for my August article.  It was such a pleasure to hear about their adventures and look at all of their pictures.  I taught Young Man and Young Lady when they were in the middle school so I was thrilled to know that they practiced their French while in the kitchen and at the table with Érick!  (They went to France with me when they were in 8th grade, but we didn't go to Arles back in those days so it was a first for them.)  The day of the cooking lesson was Mom and Dad's 21st wedding anniversary.  A lovely way to celebrate, n'est-ce pas?  They told me how much they loved Arles, wandering around through town, getting lost and stopping at a café for a drink, renting bikes and riding out to Van Gogh's bridge on the outskirts of town, finding themselves face-to-face with field of sunflowers. 
Dinner was so very good.  Even Young Man stayed at the table all evening telling me all about his trip.
I think I will let the pictures finish the story--
What's a Provence-themed dinner with sunflowers?  Vincent would be so proud.

Rosé and olives comme apératif (I nibbled and sipped while they cooked)
Preparing the sauce for the green beans-
And for the lamb-
Drizzling l'huile d'olive-
Green beans with ratatouille vegetables and a vinaigrette sauce-
Grilled lamb chops with rosemary and mustard sauce-
À table!

Jeanne's Steamed Green Beans with Ratatouille Vegetables

Steam enough fresh, trimmed green beans for your guests.  Sauté diced onion, minced garlic, and sliced mushrooms in olive oil.  Whisk together pureed garlic (Chef Érick's method:  Peel garlic clove.  Squeeze juice of half a lemon onto a saucer.  Rub the garlic against the ends of a fork's tines held flat on the saucer.  You should get a nice puree this way.  The lemon juice makes the raw garlic more digestible.), lemon juice, Dijon mustard, cumin, honey, salt and pepper.  Add the sautéd mixture to the green beans.  Toss lightly with the dressing.

Brian's Grilled Lamb Chops with Provence Seasoning

Prepare the rack of lamb by smothering it in sea salt or kosher salt and pepper.  Put on grill and sear on each side for a couple of minutes.  Lower heat or move to a cooler side of grill to allow the meat to cook more slowly.  After about 25 minutes, take the lamb off the grill and smother with Dijon mustard and rosemary.  Put back on grill and cook for another five minutes or so for medium rare, longer for medium or medium well.  Slice into chops and serve.

Bon appétit, mes amis et merci pour un excellent dîner!


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