Every village in Provence has a weekly market day (marché.) In ours, it is on Friday.
After taking care of a few chores around the mas ((a load of wash, getting a sac of pubelle (garbage) ready to toss in the town dumpster)) we headed into the village. Finding a parking place was easier than expected, so we only had to take a short walk to make it into the hubbub of the market.
We had a pretty short list of things we needed, so we figured maybe a half hour of shopping, a café at the Café du Centre, and then lunch somewhere. However, as always is the case, we found one thing after another to stow in our shopping basket.
David got his beloved jambon cuit from the butcher who comes from nearby St. Andiol to sell his top-rate meats. I fell prey to saucisson with Roquefort, and mini saucisson with parmesan while he was waiting to get his jambon stash. I was tempted by the taste of St. Nectaire cheese that I was offered, but – good as it was – we have enough cheeses in the fridge now to handle us for the balance of the year.
A rosy-cheeked man who is always at the marché selling his wonderful pastries caught my eye. I went over and chatted, then bought two sacristain – sort of like a small baguette of puff pastry with almond paste. Always good in the morning. It is strawberry season, and those from nearby Carpentras are considered the best in the region. I tasted some, and agreed – the strawberries of my youth, juicy and loaded with flavor. I was going to buy a half-kilo (pound), but the gentleman selling them cautioned that they needed to be eaten quickly, as they were at their peak, so we cut it back to a basket.
We were tempted by a few other things, especially the fresh produce, but recognized that – with our schedule – much of it would go uneaten, so did not buy. Exhausted from our shopping, we grabbed a table at the Café du Centre for a café noir. After some people watching, we strolled over to Bistro l’Auberine to see our friend Alex and have lunch.
Alex was in a great mood and greeted me with hugs and kisses. Feeling David should not be left out, he did the same for him. Two kirs arrived, and we perused the menu. With the closing of the Michelin-starred Maison Bru, and the continuing implosion of la Petite Table, Alex has decided there is an opportunity for a menu based on haute cuisine, as Eygalieres has an upscale clientele who are used to coming here for good dining. Although we have already dined with him once this trip, I was not feeling well, so had little of the wonderful tagliolini with crevette that I ordered, and David spent most of his time worrying about me rather than focusing on his dish. This time was different.
Alex’s boundless energy, and incredible talent have translated into dishes that would do many Michelin-starred establishments proud. Exquisite presentations, innovative combinations of flavors, and perfect preparation. He obviously – and deservedly – is proud of what he is putting out, and we let him know that we thought it was tops.
David started with a poached farm egg on a bed of greens. The presentation was beautiful, the egg perfectly done, and the garnish of tiny shards of ham a visual and taste winner. I decided to have the filet, and was rewarded with an incredible dish – a meticulous presentation, cooked bleu (rare), with a wonderful sauce and shaved local truffles on top. Instead of the normal frites on the side, Alex had prepared a small tower of wispy mini-shoestring potatoes, which – despite their miniscule size – were crispy on the outside and tender inside. This was undoubtedly the best beef dish I have had in France.
David ordered thon (tuna,) which came perfectly prepared with a red center. The presentation was so beautiful he almost hated to disturb it to eat it. The sauce was exquisite, and the fresh garden vegetables bursting with flavor.
A bottle of Dalmeran rosé went perfectly with both plats, making for one of the best meals we have had this trip.
We bade farewell to Alex and Christina, promising to come back again before leaving, and headed down the road to Domaine Valdition to replenish our stock of Vallon des Anges rosé that had been depleted by evening sessions with Guy and Patrick.
Heading to the mas, we stowed our food and wine, then hooked up the Jambox (remote Bluetooth speaker) and enjoyed some wine, cheese, and fresh strawberries outside before turning in early.