Tour de France 2010 – Sisteron July 14, 2010

It's been a very long time since I've taken part in a blog event. However, I will whole-heartedly participate in anything that Barbara from Winos and Foodies puts in front of me. She's been one of my longest blog buddies and her struggles with cancer & the inspiring way she puts her battles to good use are something we should all emulate. Her Tour de France blog project – where each stage is represented by a different blogger – was a way for me to learn something new about a cuisine that I adore…and a great excuse to cook dinner for friends.

Sisteron3Chris from Mele Cotte talked about Stage 10 and the section of the Tour before me – her post about Gap & the accompanying duck recipe look fabulous! My region is Sisteron, which is part of Stage 11, which spans 119.3 miles to Bourg Les Valence. Sisteron is known as "The Gate to Provence". With a population of around 8,000 residents, its
located 135 km from Marseille and Grenoble &
180 km from Nice. From all accounts, they have around 300 sunny days per year. Who's moving with me?

Sisteron6 The cuisine of Sisteron follows much of the same flavor profiles as the other regions of Provence. Sisteron is most well known for their lamb. Lamb stews, garlicky lamb shanks and roasted chops rubbed simply with Herbes de Provence. There are plentiful amounts of wild herbs as well as grains, goat milk and cheeses. Bread rubbed with garlic and tomatoes. For that matter, tomatoes in many forms. Briny olives and capers tempered by mild citrus and starches. 

Our Sisteron meal started with icy cold Rosé and homemade black olive tapenade. I just lightly toasted the bread after I rubbed the slices with garlic cloves. The quick, almost fridge-cleaner recipe I used made plenty & enough to throw into pasta the next day.

Black Olive Tapenade – serves 4 as an appetizer

  • 30 pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp rinsed, drained, and chopped capers
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice and zest of one lemon
  • 2
    tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp anchovy paste
  • Fresh cracked black pepper

Sisteron2 At dinner, the lamb chops were rubbed with a bit of Dijon mustard and Herbes de Provence then roasted in the oven for about 25 minutes at 350. While I don't eat much lamb, this was proclaimed by our guests to be their favorite preparation of lamb they've ever had. The real star of the main course – for which I also made a Tian de Courgettes that was too dense to recommend here – was the Tomatoes Provencal. I used Laurent Tourondel's recipe and they were divine – garlicky, flavorful, herby and a great source of texture on the plate. I'd make this over and over again. 

Tomatoes Provencal – serves 6 as a side dish

  • 6 tomatoes, halved lengthwise and cored
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season tomato halves with salt and pepper, and set
them on
a baking sheet. Mix together the bread crumbs,
parsley, and
garlic in a bowl, and season to taste with salt and
Cover tomatoes with the mixture, and drizzle with
oil. Bake
for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

My dear friend Helen, who considers Sisteron her backyard in her native France, consulted with me on my menu. When I asked what I should serve to finish the meal, she gave me a wonderful recounting of desserts in Provence: roasted fruit, a little honey, some ice cream or sorbet – maybe a drizzle of port on sliced fruit.

Roasted Apricots with Goat Milk Ice Cream – serves 4

  • 4 just-ripe apricots, sliced in half vertically & pitted
  • 1 tablespoon fruity extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pint good quality goat's milk vanilla ice cream or your favorite good quality ice cream
  • 2 tablespoons best quality local honey
  • 1 tsp. dried lavender flowers

– Preheat oven to 325 F. In a shallow roasting pan, place apricots cut sides up and drizzle them all with the olive oil. Roast until just tender – this was about 15 minutes for me. Once the fruit is roasted, set aside to cool slightly while assembling the rest of the dessert. Scoop 2 small scoops of ice cream into serving bowls, Top with roasted fruit, a drizzle of honey & a sprinkle of lavender flowers. Serve immediately.

Thanks again to Barbara for organizing this event and coordinating it so well – it's been so much fun. Keep following the Tour via food bloggers – there are still lots of stages left. Next up, Stage 12: Borg de Peage – Mende, brought to you by Tammi of Tammi Tasting Terroir


Chris Jul 14, 2010 10:07 pm

Fantastic! Glad I don’t have to follow this post. ;) Not sure which recipe I like better…but the Tomatoes Provencal seems to have my name all over it. I am sure Helen is even more excited she’s heading home soon after this post.

Happy Cook Jul 15, 2010 12:07 am

The whole bunch of dishes just looks so so good, i am for sure gonna try that filled tomatoes.

Barbara Harris Jul 15, 2010 10:07 am

Thank you Tami for this fabulous post.I wish I’d been there to enjoy it with you. The tomato dish is a favourite of mine, but in our family we refer to it as Cezanne’s Tomatoes. Years ago I came across it in a book about Renoir. On the day her second son was born she requested the cook make this for her, from a recipe given to her by Cezanne.

Amanda Jul 15, 2010 09:07 pm

Well done Tami – gorgeous photo’s of lovely food!

Lynn Jul 16, 2010 02:07 am

I am blessed with tomatoes from a friend’s garden this summer and think your tomato dish is just the ticket for my next thing to make. It looks yummy. :)

gilli Jul 16, 2010 05:07 pm

Very summery meal, of course we are winter in this part of the world and the Tomatoes are tres ordinaire.. Enjoyed your post

marla {family fresh cooking} Jul 18, 2010 01:07 pm

This sounds like a super fun blogging event. Your menu creations sound fresh and delicious. Everything is perfect for Summer entertaining.

The Teacher Cooks Jul 20, 2010 12:07 pm

I was wondering while on vacation what you were twittering about. What a great idea and a perfect meal you served. I want the dessert right now!

Erin Jul 20, 2010 01:07 pm

What gorgeous recipes. These are exactly the types of thing I love to eat this time of year. I think I’ll be making those tomatoes for dinner tonight!

hooking Jul 21, 2010 01:07 am

oh this foods makes me feel so hungry right now. YUM YUM

working online Jul 23, 2010 01:07 am

Great post!these foods really looks so yummy…i would love to try it sometime…thanks for sharing the recipes.

Jessica Jul 24, 2010 08:07 am

Beautiful and delicious meal. Love the beautiful colors and taste combinations. I’ll have to try the tomatoes…they look so good!

tamih Jul 29, 2010 06:07 am

Your post for TDF was great, Chris. Do make the tomato recipe – I was just thinking that I have tomatoes to use & leftover baguette for breadcrumbs. Might be my dinner tonight!
– t*

tamih Jul 29, 2010 06:07 am

Thank you for hosting such a wonderful event. It was a nice change of pace and a little challenge for me. TDF turned out great, as usual – glad I was a part of it.
– t*

tamih Jul 29, 2010 06:07 am

Thanks, Amanda :)

tamih Jul 29, 2010 06:07 am

one of the good parts about that tomato recipe is because you’re stuffing the tomatoes and baking them, they don’t have to be perfect. an average tomato-on-the-vine will still taste delicious :)
– t*

tamih Jul 29, 2010 06:07 am

thanks for stopping by the blog! just checked yours out – it’s awesome! i’ve added you to my RSS feed :)
– t*

Lonny - Poacher Aug 5, 2010 01:08 am

Looks wonderful. Great reading your post as well.Thanks.

Tiuscha Aug 9, 2010 11:08 pm

Using Kalamata olives for tapenade is too shade, you should try Nyons olives called “tanche”, see here :
Sorry for my poor english