Fall in Provence Dinner Party Menu to Try with Friends
Writer, entrepreneur and small group tour director Annette Charlton says, “I was a Francophile long before I visited France.” She agreed to curate our 2022 dinner party menu inspired by the change of seasons in Provence. Autumn is harvest time, so with the abundance of delicious seasonal produce available in markets, it is easy to satisfy even the most demanding taste buds in fall. With the cooler evenings in the fall, it’s the perfect excuse for cooking those favourite dishes with a heavier texture, especially after the lighter salads and meals of summer. Annette’s fall weather menu includes four delicious courses and a special cocktail for an easy-going dinner party with friends.
Even before her first trip to France from Australia, Annette searched the internet for a second home in the French countryside despite her husband’s preference for the English coast. They purchased a stone cottage in rural Brittany in 2009, and the fun began. Annette documents their adventures and mishaps in her blog – A French Collection.
It’s a long way from Australia to France, but since Annette Charlton and her family bought the property, they return annually (or more often) for holidays. Living part-time in France has given the family an appreciation for French cultural nuances and a taste for exploration. Annette shares her passion with other ladies on small group tours in Paris, Normandy and Brittany. In 2019, Annette launched My Beautiful French Collection Box, a subscription gift service – read more here.
Annette’s Provence Dinner Party Menu
Fall is also the time our family enjoys pulling out board games and reconnecting after the busy summer weeks of socialising and late evenings. For me, cooking over a stove is always more pleasurable in the cooler months, so it is with gusto that I head back into the kitchen at the beginning of fall to prepare my favourites and try new recipes I’ve discovered over the previous spring and summer months.
I hope you enjoy my fall menu, a feast and a half with a starter of marrow on toast, hot broth, Pot-au-Feu, a cheese plate and Fig Tart with Marzipan. Join me in cooking this delicious fall menu accompanied by a fun Martini cocktail to start things off.
Be transported to the South of France in the fall with these dishes.
To get into the party mood and maybe sip while playing a board game before the main dinner event, try these fun Pink Elephant Martini Cocktails.
Pink Elephant Martini Cocktail
- 4 shots of Vodka
- 4 squeezes of Lime to taste
- Fentimans Rose Lemonade
- 4 slices of Lime
- Pink Cotton Candy
- In a Martini glass (or cocktail glass of your choice) add a shot of vodka and the lime juice.
- Top up with the pink lemonade and serve with a slice of lime and a tuff of pink cotton candy
- Sip and celebrate!
The Main Event
A pot-au-feu is a classic stewed dish with meats and vegetables and is a great intro back into warmer dishes. Originally cooked in the fireplace and more suited to winter, this dish can now easily be cooked in Autumn, even in the warmer regions of Provence, on your cooker or stove.
With the marrow spread on toast as a starter, the broth served as one course and then the stew as the main meal, it certainly earns its keep. I love the versatility this brings and that this one-pot dish can cook away (and it will take the better part of an afternoon) while you enjoy the last rays of sunshine that autumn brings.
Pot au Feu
- 1 Dutch Oven (cast iron) Le Creuset or similar
- 2 Pieces Oxtail or sliced bacon
- 3 Pounds Rump Roast or small Pork Roast
- 1 Whole Large Onion peeled and sliced
- 3 Medium Leeks cleaned and sliced
- 3 Medium Carrots peeled and cut in large pieces
- 6 Small Turnips peeled and chopped
- 2 Whole Celery stalks cleaned and sliced
- 2 Garlic Cloves crushed
- 1 Bouquet Garni
- 1 tbsp Ground Black Pepper
- 2 tbsp Herbes de Provence
- 2-3 Cups Water
- 2-3 Cups White Wine
- 6 Small Potatoes cleaned
- 2 Fresh Baguettes
- In a large stockpot on high heat cook the oxtail or bacon slightly
- Add the meat (beef or pork) and brown on all sides
- Add the onion and cook until translucent
- Add the leeks, carrots, turnips, celery, garlic, bouquet garni, black pepper, herbes de Provence
- Add enough water and white wine to cover the ingredients and bring to a boil
- Reduce the heat to simmer and cook partially covered for about 3 hours, until the meat is tender
- Skim foam off the surface occasionally
- Strain the vegetables from the meat and broth and set-aside for later
- Return the meat and broth to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cook partially covered for another hour, add the potatoes after 30 minutes
- Remove the meat from the broth, discard the trussing strings and carve
- While carving warm the vegetables in the broth for a few minutes until warm
- Serve the meat and vegetables along with some crusty bread
Figs are one of the stars of the fall season thriving in the Mediterranean region of France during the months of August, September and October and are a great pairing with cheese.
I recommend adding grapes and thin pear slices, which are also in season at this time, just in case you think your guests will be all ‘figged’ out if you only offer figs on your cheese plate, knowing your Fig Tart is to follow.
Cheese plate with Seasonal Figs
- 1 Mild Cheese Such as brie, fresh chevre, Camenbert
- 1 Medium Cheese Comté, Cantal, Tomme, Mimolette
- 1 Cheese with a stronger flavour Reblochon, Epoisses, SaintNectaire
- 1 Blue Cheese Such as Roquefort
- Walnuts or other nuts allow 3-4 person
- Fresh Figs allow 1-2 person
- Dried Fruit dried figs, prunes, apricots
- 1 Baguette sliced
- Prepare your cheese tray, placing the cheese in order of mild to strongest.
- Wash the figs. Cut off the tops and slice in half or quarters.
- Decorate the cheese plate as you wish and serve with fresh sliced baguette.
The Sweet Finish
What is better than baked fig? Baked fig with marzipan! This wonderful recipe by Nito Carpita is easy, delicious and a tribute to the Provençal almond. Did you know almonds are one of Provence’s three flagship products along with olives and figs.
Using figs when in season, this recipe also gives options for using other stone fruits throughout the other seasons.
Fig Tart with Marzipan
- 1 Food Processor or hand-held beater
- 1 roll Pâte sablée tart shell blind bake for 10 minutes
- 1/2 cup Almond powder
- 1/2 cup Castor Sugar
- 1 tbsp Corn Flour
- 1/2 cup Butter unsalted and softened
- 1 large Egg
- 1 Egg white
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- 10 Fresh Figs not too ripe, cut in halves
- 1 tbsp Powdered Sugar
- Mix with a hand-held beater or food processor: almond powder, sugar, flour, butter, egg, egg white and vanilla extract. Mix until the batter becomes creamy.
- Pour batter into the baked tart shell and level with a spatula.
- Place figs cut side up in the creamy mixture, pressing them gently in two or three circles, leaving a small space between them.
- Dust the figs with powdered sugar.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F (180°C) degrees - until the surface of the figs caramelizes and the batter puffs up. About 35-40 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, let the tart cool slightly in the pan before placing it on a rack to cool completely. Cut and serve.
For more seasonal recipes, explore our Tastes of Provence section, and put together your own menu.
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