Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lunch at La Maison Jaune, St Remy de Provence

Lunch at La Maison Jaune, St Remy de Provence 29 June 2011
11.5 x 16.5", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
One of the things I really enjoy about France is that you can go into a restaurant - on your own - for a four course meal like the one that you can see above - and nobody thinks you are the slightest bit odd.

However they might look twice when you pull out a sketchbook and proceed to sketch every course before you eat it - but that's what I like to do!

I particularly like going to restaurants with Michelin stars and it's an absolute rule of mine that I'm not allowed to visit France without eating in a restaurant with at least one Michelin star.

Which is how I come to have this post about Lunch at La Maison Jaune, a restaurant in St Remy de Provence which got its one Michelin star in 2008.  (This is the link to the Menus)

This is out of sequence re France but as I said this week I'm trying to get all my sketching of meals posted before I do my review of the year!

Back to 29th June - Sarah and I got up early so we could leave the house at 7am and get Sarah to Marseilles Airport by 9am for her flight home.

And then there was one!

Those who know me well will know that one of my perennial preoccupations while travelling and sketching is with visiting the places where people draw or painted.  That was the grand plan for this Wednesday.  I was to have a Vincent Van Gogh in Provence day with a nice lunch in the middle.

I'd already decided that it was stretching it to try and do both Arles and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in one day so I opted for Saint-Rémy this visit as I'd been to Arles on a previous visit.

Hence the plan was to drive north from the airport, across the Crau Plain and the Alpilles to the town of St Remy de Provence where Van Gogh was committed to an asylum in the Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole in 1889.  He  painted frequently in the vicinity of the hospital in the year or so he was in the hospital.

I wanted to drive across the Crau Plain because this was the place where Van Gogh did so many of his reed pen drawings of the farming of the countryside which I so admire.  I wanted to see if it was as I remembered it and whether one could see its potential for drawings.  Here's an example - Harvest - The Plain of La Crau, 1888 reed pen drawing by Vincent Van Gogh - done while living in the Yellow House at Arles.

Then I crossed the Alpilles - the white mountains which so often feature in Van Gogh's paintings while he stayed in this area eg in the background of his painting of cypresses ( see below ) which he painted while in the hospital

Wheatfield with cypress tree by Vincent Van Gogh
- the Alpilles Mountains form the pale blue background to this painting
View from Van Gogh's bedroom window in the Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole
No sketches or photographs en route from either of these places as the road was not conducive to stopping - however as you can see I could take photos of the Alpilles from the Monastery.

One of the reasons I chose St Remy was because it was market day (closing at lunchtime).

I visited the Market, took lots of photos of yet more provencal food and flowers, had a lovely lunch (see sketch at top of post), visited the Van Gogh Museum in town and then visited the monastery hospital, St Paul de Mausole where Van Gogh lived for a year after becoming ill in Arles.

I'm going to deal with the visit to the Monastery in another post - so this is all about markets and food!

Here are some of the sights of the market.  Then I'm going to give you the menu for lunch.

La Maison Jaune, 15 Rue Carnot, 13210 Saint Remy de Provence 
Table setting on the Terrace
and so to the tasting extravaganza I had planned for the middle of the day.

I got to sit on a shady terrace with a tiled roof slight breeze in the hottest part of the day as I worked my way through five courses and listened to the market packing up - and then music being played down in the square.  It was very peaceful.

Lunch was extremely leisurely as I sketched, ate and coloured my sketches of the different courses - which were all stunningly good.  These were:
  • Mise en Bouche - an appetiser (top left) gaspacho with mint, goats cheese and ham and an egg.  This set the tone for the whole meal given the level of attention given to each item
  • Braised artichokes with Lomo Iberico and  air dried tomatoes - a wonderful combination and a chance for me to taste the wondrous loin of the Iberian Pig
  • Roast Pigeon with Apricot Chutney Marmalade with a side dish of Fennel and Fresh Almonds - this was beautifully cooked and a wonderful balance of flavours,  Plus since I watched Masterchef recently I now know how fresh almonds are prepared!
  • a selection of fresh and aged goats cheeses and ewe cheeses and rhubarb marmalade - I like goats cheese but there wasn't quite enough of a variation for me to make this the same standard as the rest of the courses.  Subtle rather than wow!
  • Roasted Pineapple with ginger and vanilla, an amaretto granite and nougatine  This was wow! the variation in the tastes and textures was amazing and provided a deeply satisfying note on which to finish.
I was also rather pleased with the fact that I'd left enough room to get the whole meal on one double page spread.  No mean feat when you don't know what's coming or what it will look like!

You can see the menu proper (below) better on Flickr.  I found the restaurant and service to be excellent.  It was quiet at lunchtime but they apparently get very busy in the evenings.  I think I probably went at the perfect time for me. :)

La Maison Jaune - Menu

Note:  Parking is in designated areas and the town is very busy on market day and it can be difficult to find a place to park.  The restaurant is right in the centre of the old town.  Hence if visiting one needs to park up and then walk to the old town - it's not far.


    1. This is how I arrived at your post. I was reviewing a journal and photo album of a 1996 watercolor trip to Collioure and St.Remy with artist Alan Flattman from New Orleans. I was checking for websites of various restaurants we visited and saw link to your post when I searched for La Maison Jaune. My husband, two daughters and I had a delightful dinner there. I lost my husband 4 yrs. ago. Today, Dec. 21, would have been our 50th wedding anniversary. What a coincidence that I would return to the photo album and journal today and that you would write this post today! I'm sending link to your blog to my daughter who is an artist.

    2. Lorre - that comment is quite unlike any other I've ever received.

      I'm so glad I was able to bring you a memory on your golden wedding day.

      If you'd like to send me photographs of the restaurant do let me know. You can find my contact details in the side column


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