Jun 23, 2014

This Little Piggy Went to Market: Rove des Garrigues


This little piggy went to market and cried "oui, oui, oui" all the way home. Since this A Year in Fromage, and I am in Provence, how could I not pay fromage homage to A Year in Provence? The town of Lourmarin, the village where Peter Mayle, author of A Year in Provence, reportedly now lives, is yet another Provenceneyland™ spot.

The castle is lovely. Of course. The mostly 15th century castle was built atop 12th century ruins. Then, in the 16th century, the owners added a Renaissance-style wing, which allows this to be considered the first Renaissance castle (or structure of any kind) in all of Provence.

But, frankly, it's hard to make out much of the town itself since it is so overrun with market day and, well, with whatever this is that you would not expect to find in rural, southern France.
Here is just a small, partial list of things you can find at the markets: produce, brightly colored Provencal pottery and fabrics, seafood, meat, cheese (of course), wine, jewelry, shoes, summer hats, underwear, basket-weaving, wind chimes, artisanal jams, spices, dried lavender, aromatic oils, hand-dipped beeswax candles, art work, and ceramic chickens.

And here's an even smaller, less complete list of markets in the Luberon section of Provence:

Monday: Cadenet, Cavaillon, Lauris
Tuesday: Gordes, Apt, Lacoste, Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt
Wednesday: St. Remy de Provence, Mérindole-en-Luberon, Pertuis
Thursday: Roussillon, Caumion, Robion
Friday: Lourmarin
Saturday: Apt, Oppede-le-Vieux, Pertuis
Sunday: Coustellet 

As you can see, it seems harder to avoid the markets than to find them. Not that it's exactly torture at the markets. Here's Anthony, testing yet another rosé. It'll do.

And if you're not about to shop and cook yourself a grand meal, then just eat at the market itself.  And this little piggy can have something way more delicious -- and French -- than roast beef. Oui, oui, oui!


THE CHEESE: Rove des Garrigues

The Roves des Garrigues is a pasteurized goat's milk soft cheese that is named for the pasturelands of the Garrigues. Like the area where the goats graze for Rouleau de Provence, these lands are covered with flowers and herbs, such as thyme, lavender, and rosemary.

There is also an ash-coated version of this cheese, which frankly seems like it would be a whole lot easier to transport. Yet what I find here in Paris is the soft, young, fresh version of the cheese. I can't compare it cream cheese, because it's lighter, fluffier, and moussier than that. It's closer to a whipped spread. But all natural. Yum. And with its taste -- equally light and fresh, with hints of lemony acid and herbs -- it's fine spread on bread  but even better (in my opinion) spread on bread, with something else spread on it: honey, jams, fruit toppings, herbs.


Well, I have to be completely honest and tell you that I do not actually buy my Rove des Garrigues at the market, nor even in Provence. However, it is an authentic Provencal cheese that you certainly can buy at a local market there.



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