It is Sunday, and to the markets I go... First, I heard that the antique market in Carpentras is one of the best around because it is more for locals and there are the best quality antiques, deals, etc. I have never been to the town, so it seemed a great idea. Plus, I had attended the market in Villeneuve on Saturday morning, and I felt a bit defeated. I did snag some cool cheese knives, but walked away from some cool stuff...It is hard for me to speak simple French, so negotiating with an antique dealer over a cork screw is a daunting idea, so all too often I walk sheepishly away without even trying...I hate to admit it.
Last night, I shared dinner with Amaury, the owner of the apartment that I am renting in Avignon. (If you are traveling to Avignon, you absolutely must rent this studio apartment.) Okay, I digress for a moment, but seriously, I have to tell you about this place. Occasionally, when you travel, you come across a magical connection, and I had the good fortune of having that in Avignon. Amaury and Gilles bought the property two years ago and renovated beautifully. They are both gifted artists, interior designers, and they are two of the most gracious and generous people I have met. I feel as if I am visiting friends, though I have all the privacy of my own apartment.
Okay, so the boys told me what I should pay for the items that I wanted, and I went this morning, well educated and confident...and I scored!
I got each of the items hat I hoped to return home with: an interesting image of Avignon, a special cork screw, and a super cool salt container for my kitchen counter- it is my only spice;) None of these are expensive or super unique, though there were not a lot of any of these in the market. Each dealer was willing to negotiate a little, so I payed less for each than I had been instructed to pay, which left me a few dollars for lunch, thankfully:)
All that intense shopping left me a little hungry, but Carpentras is completely closed on Sunday, so I headed to Ilse sur la Sorgue, another fabulous antique town that has a fantastic market on the weekends.
I love this little village and have stayed here before, so its familiarity was comforting. I walked through the market, with its mix of food, produce, clothes, wine, antiques, and complete junk, and had a blast watching people shop. I was not tempted, had already done my damage, but was seeking the perfect lunch, and I found it.
Salade de gourmand at Le Balade de Sauveurs was just what this exhausted shopper needed. This is a salad served beautifully on a slate square, so it is visually attractive, but everything also tastes fantastic.
First, a puree de chevre, fresh, light, and creamy, with a drizzle of tomato reduction, fresh tomato slices with mozzarella ( the cheese is nice, though the only thing on the plate that is not exciting), a pile of fresh mixed greens with jambon be bayone, with a sweet white vinegar dressing, so the salty quality of the ham and sweetness of the vinegar are in oerfect dialogue together. Then there is a large round cracker with a salmon tartar, that is incredible. It is again, that balance of sweet and salty, perfect, with carmelized onions and a spoonful of a whipped pistou...creme de pistou? I have to figure out what this is, beacause it tastes amazing.
The salad combines the flavors of fresh vegetables with sweet caramelized onions, salty jambon be bayon, and a light fresh vinaigrette with just a touch of honey--all the flavors of the market. I had a glass of rosé from Beaumes de Venise with it, and it was perfect, matching the freshness, touch of sweet, and adding a bit of citrus pith on the finish that cleanses the palate so you are ready for that next bite of yumminess.