Imagine living where Julia Child lived,That is any chef's and foodie's dream come true and it did for New York Times Food contributor, Julia Moskin. She spent time at La Pitchoune, Child's home in the south of France. What a great holiday, first with fabulous inspiration and second with a breathtaking countryside.,bursting with some of the best foods in the world.
How did Ms. Moskin score such a fantastic vacation? It happened through airbnb. The current owners put the Provencale farmhouse on the popular site.It was well worth it, especially to those who love and worship the famed chef. Many original artifacts are still there. There is still the plastic bin labelled "ail echlotes"for garlic and shallots.There are her cooking knives, sharp carbon steeled ones still in the wooden block that her husband Paul carved.Outside the house , though, very few traces of her remain. For all her celebrity , Chef Child was not a big thing in France, Her great nephew Alex Prud'homme confirmed this, with saying that southern France is notoriously laid back, not caring who she was. .Some locals do remember her, such as one of the elder butchers in a local butchery, even doing an imitation of her along with the chef , Mimi Brothier at Les Arcades in Biot, France. Les Arcades was her favorite eatery, starting out as a canteen for local artists.Ms. Moskin ate here too, in following the chef's trail, enjoying pan crisped sardines,roasted peppers and a bowl of soupe au pistou,Provencale vegetable soup.
Of course, being in Julia Child's kitchen means cooking in it too. Ms. Moskind did just that , along with picking basil and thyme from the garden and buying from hat's left of small family owned shops (the area has been inundated with the big box national markets) The dishes she made were a Provencale white wine beef daube and Provencale potato gratin.The first will make a wonderful fall dinner. It's boneless stewing beef marinated in olive oil and Cognac. A melange of vegetables are cooked separately. The veggies used are onions carrots and mushrooms, Later , they and the meat are combined along with tomatoes, white wine, bouquet garni and whole peppercorns. The entire dish is cooked for three to four hours until the meat is ultra tender. Orange zest is added at the end and then the daube can be poured over pasta or rice. The other is a gratin but made with a true Provencale ingredient, anchovies. Tomatoes and onions, again the pillars of southern French cooking, are also used, being cooked together in a kind of marmalade to spread on one layer of tomatoes. The next layer is spread with the fish, pounded with olive oil to form a loose paste. Grated Gruyere or Parmesan - Reggiano is sprinkled on the last layer to give it a nice, crispy finish.
Living in Julia Child's Provence house is a chef's and foodie's dream come true. It was an inspiration to Ms. Moskin as she created the chef's famed dishes. It was the ideal vacation, definitely full of flavor and memories.