Cooking Classes at Cuisine de Provence
Barbara Schuerenberg says, “I always joke that I learned to cook out of self-defense as our mother was a terrible cook.” Clearly, she was successful in that pursuit as she enters into her sixth year of running her cooking school Cuisine de Provence in Vaison la Romaine.
German-born Barbara’s journey to Provence a decade ago was far from a straight shot. She studied art history (in the US) and worked as a contemporary art critic (in the UK). Ten years ago, this international, multilingual couple (Barbara and her husband) felt it was time to leave behind the big city hassles. However, the relocation question was where?
They chose Provence for its climate, food and slower pace of life. One might wonder what the transition was like moving from fast-paced London to tiny Vaison la Romaine. Barbara tells me the village suits them just fine,
“Vaison la Romaine is alive and active all year round and has a good mix of Provençal, foreign and other French inhabitants. The medieval part of town is beautiful and picturesque, and we have summer dance and music festivals in our amphitheater.”
Based out of Barbara’s comfortable kitchen, Cuisine de Provence courses typically run from mid-March to the end of October. The number of participants is limited; with only 4-5 people everyone gets involved in the preparation of the regional dishes. The format for her classes is to cook several traditional Provençal recipes with seasonal ingredients. This is how Barbara describes her classes,
“We prepare 5 to 6 different recipes, typically an elegant little starter and a tapenade followed by Provençal specialties like a pissaladière, a fougasse or a vegetable tart, a main dish like Provençal chicken, aioli, petits farcis or seiches à la Niçoise. Also, of course, desserts – a clafoutis, a lemon or a fig tart – all depending on the season and on market availability.”
The best part?
The relaxed meal at the end of class when students can savour the dishes that they prepared. Barbara sends her clients away with a printed, illustrated recipe folder and a Cuisine de Provence apron.
We could not let Barbara go without asking her “where the locals go” in and around Vaison la Romaine.
On a clear day driving – or if you dare biking – up Mont Ventoux is a must. An almost extraterrestrial experience with incredible views!
Explore Vaison’s important Roman ruins and don’t miss the cobble-stoned streets of the old town there are plenty of beautiful photo opportunities.
The cheese from Madame Déal’s Lou Canesteou she is one of the highly respected meilleur ouvriers de France, and her cheese selection is second to none.
The ice cream at Vaison’s Patisserie Peyrerol – pricey but oh so good! Caramel crème brûlée is my favourite.
Should you be here during truffle season, buy one, get some fresh pasta from the Italian shop in Cours Taulignan, cook the pasta al dente, mix with a bit of butter and shave the truffle on top. One of the simplest yet most luxurious culinary joys in Provence.
Pick your accommodation wisely so that you can sit in a garden and listen to the chant of the cigales – the sound of summer in Provence – preferably with a glass of rosé by your side.
Image credits: All photos were provided by and published with the permission of Barbara Schuerenberg