On Thursday (July 30th), we stopped in the village of Céreste on our way to Gordes. We have been particularly looking forward to visiting Céreste because of a book that I bought Jelynne for Mother’s Day this year: Picnic in Provence, by Elizabeth Bard. I read this book to her in the evenings and we reflected about our upcoming trip to France.
Ten years ago, New Yorker Elizabeth Bard followed a handsome Frenchman up a spiral staircase to a love nest in the heart of Paris. Now, with a baby on the way and the world’s flakiest croissant around the corner, Elizabeth is sure she’s found her “forever place.” But life has other plans.
On a last romantic jaunt before the baby arrives, the couple take a trip to the tiny Provencal village of Céreste. A chance encounter leads them to the wartime home of a famous poet, a tale of a buried manuscript and a garden full of heirloom roses. Under the spell of the house and its unique history, in less time than it takes to flip a crepe, Elizabeth and Gwendal decide to move-lock, stock and Le Creuset-to the French countryside.
When the couple and their newborn son arrive in Provence, they discover a land of blue skies, lavender fields and peaches that taste like sunshine. Seduced by the local ingredients, they begin a new adventure as culinary entrepreneurs, starting their own artisanal ice cream shop and experimenting with flavors like saffron, sheep’s milk yogurt and fruity olive oil.
Filled with enticing recipes for stuffed zucchini flowers, fig tart and honey & thyme ice cream, Picnic in Provence is the story of everything that happens after the happily ever after: an American learning the tricks of French motherhood, a family finding a new professional passion, and a cook’s initiation into classic Provencal cuisine. With wit, humor and scoop of wild strawberry sorbet, Bard reminds us that life-in and out of the kitchen-is a rendez-vous with the unexpected.
We were amazed at the unique ice cream flavours at her artisanal ice cream shop, named Scaramouche. As the website describes, the menu changes according to the seasons. Their flavours are available by the scoop (in a crisp cornet or a small bowl), to take away in a half-litre container or in sundaes and cakes.
Between the three of us, we enjoyed a combination (sharing each other’s treasures!) of these flavours:
Miel & Thym
Organic lavender honey from Jean-Luc Payan of Reillanne is gently counterbalanced by the slightly stringent taste of wild thyme grown by Maryon Peyric of Céreste. Beware – this ice cream is highly addictive.
Safran de Provence
The pale yellow of this ice cream is redolent of the red and gold colours of Provence, thanks to the saffron from organic growers Didier and Martine Caron from Sigonce.
A subtle and creamy helping made from milk infused with fresh lavender. A white ice cream (no artificial colouring) which is surprisingly delicate yet the flavour lingers in the mouth.
Fraise Cléry à la crème
Cléry strawberries from Thibault Grégoire at Saint- Saturnin-lès-Apt, gathered and ripened to maturity to make a deliciously creamy ice cream. It feels as if you are eating fresh ripe strawberries soaked in fresh cream.
(See other flavours here.)
Cereste by night… http://t.co/eQSNwSmn7N
— Elizabeth Bard (@ElizabethBard) July 13, 2015
Sadly, Ms. Bard wasn’t available on the day we visited Scaramouche. We would have liked to have spoken with her and thanked her for so much enjoyment and education that her book has given us since last April. Perhaps there will be another time on a future visit.
Following the delicious treat at Scaramouche, we explored the central part of Céreste and wandered the medieval streets.