Saturday, July 26th, 2014
Avignon Gourmet Tour
AVIGNON CITY CENTRE
06 35 32 08 96
Hopping in and out of Avignon regularly every year for the past ten, I thought I knew pretty much everything there is to know about the papal cityâ€™s food scene. Up to last week, that is, when a tour with Avignon native and dedicated gourmet AurÃ©lie Gilabert (on my right above, discussing olives) opened new doors, introduced new flavours and made three hours fly by at TGV speed.
Launched this spring, Avignon Gourmet Tour combines long-established food landmarks with some much more recent addresses. On our walk we stopped, for example, at Trouillas, a bakery in the same family since 1931 which makes what prominent Avignon chef Christian Ã‰tienne considers the best savoury fougasse in Provence. (Taste the well-filled olive version and youâ€™ll see why.) We also dropped into CafÃ©s au BrÃ©sil, now in the hands of the third generation and voted best coffee roasting company in France in 2012. (Their 300+ teas are equally superb: I won’t easily forget captivating Coquelicot Gourmand.)
On the other hand, La Fine Bouche (in the photo) run by Paul Chatrouillaux is a brand new Ã©picerie fine. (Donâ€™t leave it without sampling the peppery olive oil from Moulin de la Chartreuse, one of Provenceâ€™s oldest mills, in nearby Villeneuve-les-Avignon). And AngÃ©la de BeauprÃ©au has only been treating Avignon residents to her fine hand-made chocolates since last Christmas.
These are just some of the highlights of a tour which also included good artisan ice cream, award-winning sweet fougasse, a tasting of white ChÃ¢teauneuf-du-Pape with local goatâ€™s and sheepâ€™s cheeses (at the wine bar Le 46) – and, unexpectedly, a feast of historical and architectural tidbits. While the itinerary may vary (morning tours take in the brilliant market Les Halles, closed in the afternoon), itâ€™s invariably as well stuffed as you will feel by its end.
Besides speaking flawless English (perfected during four years in Dublin, Iâ€™m happy to report), AurÃ©lie is also fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.