Vallon des Auffes is a small fishing inlet underneath the Corniche President J F Kennedy in Marseille. It is totally missable by car and home to one of best, if also shabbiest, restaurants we have been to so far. I should point out that on this particular visit I had left my camera in the car, parked at Le Corbuiser’s Unite de Habitation miles away. Dan and I had been walking for about two hours (both in flip flops, in the baking heat) in search of somewhere reasonable with a sea view to have lunch. I was bloody fed up. We had just pasted through what was supposed to be Marseille’s premier postcode to no avail when we stopped at a bus stop – I was fully prepared to admit defeat and get a ride to the Vieux Port. Looking across the road Dan spotted a steep staircase with VALLON DES AUFFES in kitsch metal work above it. Crossing over the road and looking down we saw a jumbly mix of houses, all piled one on top of another … and one very busy restaurant. The view from our table was awesome even if we were right by the loos and my plastic chair was cracked. The food however was TO DIE FOR. Dan had a Calzone, so far so normal, with spicey sausage and FIG. The tomato and garlic filling was full of slithers of celery and onion, laced with chilli and herbs de Provence. The huge fat moon of a Cornish pasty had a beautiful scalloped shell edge. I had a fillet of St. Pierre – a white fish that had been lightly grilled. Underneath my fish were approximately 12 large beef tomatoes that had been slow cooked with whole cloves of garlic and bay. Pudding was the classic Molleux au Chocolat with two spoons.
Strawberries in Provence are so unlike the ones in British supermarkets its laughable. I found these plump little delights while pruning some Roses. Next on the list of things to learn how to make is Tarte au Fraise.
Bonnieux has some very nice places to eat. I mis-read the Rough Guide once and we ended up at an incredibly swanky restaurant set into a cliff face! I love nice eateries but I tend to prefer dives. And if I’m about to devour a pricer than average meal I like to be hungry and dressed-up. Last Sunday Dan and I headed to Bonnieux for a Brocante – a kind of antique/bric-a-brac sale in the rain. Needless to say I was not dressed up but after an hours wandering and couple of purchases I was hungry. We headed to Le Terrail, a wonderful wonky bistro where the best thing is always the plat du jour. On Sunday it was Tian de Agneau; extremely slow cooked Lamb, so tender it was indistinguishable from the layers of Aubergines and Courgettes it had been cooked with. All of which had been baked in tomato, onion, herb sauce that was sticky and sweet. Served with a mountain of rice and salad it was the perfect cold-in-June treat.