TOP 5 CHRISTMAS GOODIES
If you find the traditional 'pompe à huile' a little too... estouffe gari (meaning stuffy) but you'd like to revisit our Made in Provence sweet treats for your Christmas dinner, we've hunted down a selection of local producers and artisans committed to reinventing Provence's ancient know-how! A top five you can take your pick from for both culinary and gift ideas.
The shop of Monsieur Chou à Aix-en-Provence
Set in the heart of Aix-en-Provence's historic quarter, this little boutique resembles a candy jar - all powdery, romantic and with an almost old-fashioned charm. Loïc Derbay, alias Monsieur Chou, regales hungry punters with his sugar puffs, profiteroles and cream puffs, all made with natural ingredients and free of artificial flavourings and powdered products.
And the savoury goodies are even more astonishing. If you want to impress your guests on Christmas Day we recommend the smoked salmon cream puffs for your aperitif: tested and approved by my MyProvence, they are a killer!
And if you want to offer a gourmet gift that's a little bit more original than chocolate, why not arrange some pastry puffs in a pretty white dish decorated with gold - very Christmassy!
Not to be missed during the Christmas celebrations: Monsieur Chou's Christmas Log. Our favourite is the star-rated log for 8 guests made with a light almond and hazelnut praline cream and tender praline filling.
CHOCOLATERIE SYLVAIN DEPUICHAFFRAY - MARSEILLE
Opened in autumn 2017, Marseille's famous pastry maker's chocolate workshop (he is a former student of Pierre Hermé!) has plenty of surprises in store if you're looking to dust off your old Christmas chocolate tray.
Located 16 Rue de Breteuil, amid ganaches, bites and pralines in every shape and form, don't miss the Réglisse Verveine liquorice and verbena milk chocolate, Pamplemousse Timut dark chocolate (dark chocolate ganache with grapefruit juice and Timut Pepper) or Ail Noir, made with French organic black garlic infused with Ghana dark chocolate – quite incredible.
Sylvain Depuichaffray has also given his Marseille classic - the Navette - a facelift. His 'Navettes du Palais' consist of a chocolate shell with a colour similar to that of a biscuit, filled with almond praline spiked with aniseed seeds and orange flower water!
'TOMETTE' TILE-SHAPED CHOCOLATES - ORIGINAL AND DEFINITELY LOCAL - MARTIGUES
Master artisan pastry maker, chocolate maker and confectioner Jean-Bernard Poitevin invites you to discover his gourmet 'Tomette' creation at Aux Perles de l’Etang. Inspired by the flavours of Provence, the 'Tomette' is made with chocolate, anise seeds, sesame seeds, hazelnut crunch, chopped almonds and a soupçon of Camargue Fleur de Sel...
As you'll find out from our 'Ma Cigale est Fantastique' blogger, this is one of Martigues' top addresses and part of the Martigues & Marignane tour she has concocted for you.
GREEN TOMATO JAM INSTEAD OF FIG CHUTNEY - FONTVIELLE
We have found even better! Located 25 minutes from the town of Fontvieille, between veteran plane trees and olive, the fruit trees of Mas de l’Ange deliver up delicious jams. We highly recommend the green tomato jam to accompany your Christmas Foie Gras! The tomatoes used to make the jam are unripe, lending it a very particular tangy flavour that awakens the palate and brings out the generous flavour of the foie gras. And if you want to pair it with something else, how about a mini fresh goat's cheese from Fromagerie Chiari?
Mas de l’Ange hosts guided tours for groups of 10 people or more subject to prior booking - a great opportunity to discover the farm and taste its jams, olive oils, olives and various olive-based products, without forgetting their confit olive speciality Redonnale®.
CALISSON CANDY-SHAPED BRIOCHE AT MAISON CANGINA – AIX-EN-PROVENCE
Nestling at the top of Cours Mirabeau, Maison Cangina has now opened its doors in place of the Boutique du Glacier ice cream parlour - an Aix institution for many generations. The shop has been remodelled into a very modern tea room, but the window is as tempting as ever, with its rows of muffins, pastries and biscuits lined up in a mouth-watering array. Not forgetting the house speciality: eclairs!
Celebrating Christmas in style, Maison Cangina has concocted a 'Brioche Calissone' which offers a great festive alternative to the traditional Advent sweet brioche, locally known as the 'pompe à huile' or 'gibassier'.
AND A BONUS TO ACCOMPANY YOUR GOURMET TREATS
MyProvence has come up with an alternative for mulled wine!
During a trip to Martinique, two friends, fans of rum and islands, decided to try their hand at concocting a range of special rums. Using AOC agricultural rum from Martinique, spices, fruit and sugar, the duo elaborated a series of ancient recipes, macerated and bottled in Carry-le-Rouet. La Kaz a Rhum offers a great choice of flavours, plus special editions for Christmas, such as the 40% rum raised in oak-casks, lemon and caviar rum, or chocolate flavoured with rum made in Puyricard. You can enjoy a tasting session at 'La Cave du Lampourdier' every Tuesday evening.
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Time to row
Fancy grabbing your paddle and swishing off to the translucent waters of En-Vau fjord? Test your biceps with a kayak tour of the myriad of fjords dotted along the coast between Cassis and Marseille.