A (Short) Year in Provence: Tapenade in Minutes - Plus a French take on the Fourth of July


Photo by Giff Constable — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

July 7th will mark the opening of the 63rd Festival d’Avignon in the south of France. Live theatre, thought-provoking art performances and creative happenings will line the streets of Avignon for a full three weeks. Aside from a healthy dose of culture, festival-goers will have numerous opportunities to enjoy a gourmet condiment served during l’apéro since time forgotten.

Like Gauloises and Gainsbourg, tapenade makes music out of any type of cocktail, but it lends itself particularly well to the peppery rosé wines you can find throughout Provence. A savory mixture of olives, capers, anchovies and olive oil, tapenade is typically eaten on toasted bread, although it can be topped with goat cheese, walnuts, figs or shrimp, if you’re feeling fancy.

Each bite is a sensual voyage for your taste buds. After three or four helpings, you can almost feel the mistral wind rustling through the olive branches. (More like “tearing” through the olive branches — the infamous mistral blows up to 62 miles an hour for days at a time…) Ah, France — so close, but yet so far, so pretty, and so cher. For those of us who can’t afford to take an airplane to Avignon, here’s a quick way to get there in a blender. This tapenade recipe by Food Network’s Alton Brown yields 1 1/2 cups and it only takes ten minutes. Quick! You still have time to make some before cocktail hour hits!

Looking for an alternative to hot dogs and burgers for the 4th of July? Try making a platter of provencal sandwiches. If you can’t get your hot little hands on a French baguette, multi grain bread or a bagel will do. Roast or grill a platter of veggies for the filling, along with roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, fresh arugula and pine nuts. Spread one side of your carbohydrate of choice with tapenade and the other side with goat cheese, layer up the veggies and get ready to sigh. (By the way, this is a super meal to make if you’re expecting vegetarians. Not in your belly, in your house…)

Want to make happy hour even more heureuse? Culture your mind (and your taste buds) with other events in France.

- Courtney Maum

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One Response to “A (Short) Year in Provence: Tapenade in Minutes - Plus a French take on the Fourth of July”

  1. Tina
    June 30th, 2009 19:35

    Great ideas, Courtney! Thank you!

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