Brocante is best described as a flea market, with folks selling everything from fabrics to furniture, silverware to bric-a-brac, paintings…you get the drift. David characterizes it as a market where you take your junk and sell it to other people who are selling their junk.
Today there was a Brocante in St. Remy. Normally we don’t go to markets and fairs in St. Remy because there is no parking and the streets are jammed, but as it is now off season, we decided to give it a whirl. Parking turned out to be a problem, as usual, because the Brocante stalls were set up in the main parking lot, but David dropped me off next to the Biologique market to get some lemons and sped off to search for parking. He found a spot not too far off, and soon we were reunited and headed into the Brocante in search of the unusual. The first stall was selling potted olive trees, most bearing fruit, for 25 Euros each. We toyed with the idea of getting one to bring home, but would never be able to get it through Customs, so moved on.
As always, about half of the stuff was junk, but there was some nice crystal and glassware, and some Persian rugs that looked interesting. Of course, your risk at a Brocante is you have no idea if what you’re buying is genuine. I spent a lot of time at a large table selling silver and silverplate, some marked “Christolfe.” It was in pretty good shape, maybe too good, and who knows if it’s really Christolfe, so I fought the urge to enter my haggling mode to see what kind of deal I could strike.
We spent a half hour or so in the Brocante, then headed into the center of St. Remy, a maze of tiny winding streets jammed with shops of every description. I would love to get another small wallet/bag made from Provençal fabric, but the store where I got the bag I have is no longer there. We took a look at the paintings displayed in the central square, mostly pretty mediocre stuff whose price is inflated because it’s being sold to tourists in St. Remy. I joked to David that on some of the paintings you could almost see the “paint by the numbers” markings under the paints…
As it was now 1 pm, we decided to grab a bite and went to Olivades, one of our favorite dining spots set in a small courtyard just off one of the winding streets. While the tables were all empty, we were asked if we had a booking, apparently because the place was soon to fill up, which it did. We got a nice table for two, ordered our kirs, and perused the menu. Once again, we saw that one of the specials was “hamburger ma facon.” However, we both passed on it, David going with escalope du Saumon, and me with the entrecote Charolais. As with most Americans, I was asked it I wanted my steak “medium,” and made points when I responded “bleu.” There was a choice of sauce, Roquefort or Morilles, and I went with the latter which brought a smile and “bien sur (of course)” from the server. David ordered kirs and a bottle of Valdition rosé and we were all set.
As usual, the food was excellent, and the warm sun relaxing. We also enjoyed waving at the little doggie who was at the next table. He was sitting on the chair next to his human dad, and every now and then would stretch into his lap asking to be included in the conversation. Just like Lucy. The woman at the table smiled at us and David said something in French that was either “we have a small dog at home that we miss,” or “we have come here to burn the village and carry off all the people as slaves.”
The restaurant quickly filled up with reservations and had to turn several people away, so we were glad we had come in relatively early. We finished our lunch with espressos, then headed past the doggie to the streets and our car. In Eygalieres the cafés were full, with music coming out of one of them, so we grabbed a table at Café du Centre and chatted with Crystelle for a bit. We mentioned that we hadn’t seen the owner since arriving, and she told us that he had been in the hospital being treated for PAD, caused by smoking four packs of cigarettes a day for 30 years. Smoking is down from what it had been in France, but is still popular among the older and the young.
Arriving at the mas, David laid a fire and got it going while I went to work on dinner, chicken picata. The chicken here is excellent, so I had great expectations. Lemon, capers, a little flour, a little butter, a little wine, and we were set. The dish was wonderful. The chicken was moist, tender, and flavorful. My guess at the ingredient proportions turned out to be on target — it was not too lemony, nor too bland. We had purchased a bit over 300 grams of chicken (about 10 ounces) and it all went. It was nice to make a meal at home that turned out so well.
We relaxed in front of the fire, talked about what a nice weekend it had been, and lamented that Crystelle (who is never wrong) told us that the next two days would be rainy and cold. Maybe, just once, she’ll be wrong. If not, we’ll catch up on chores.