This week we have been musing, collectively, on the food that either transports us to a better place, or brings back memories of a past escape. I have so many foods that stimulate memory, and even more foods that help me relax and bring a little escape into everyday life. But after some reflection, I had to settle on the one thing that really does both: rosé wine from Provence.
Last November my husband and I took a belated honeymoon to Nice, France. It was a sweet, quiet week. We explored the old quarter of Nice, with warm sun by day and crisp breezes at night. We climbed the hill and looked out over the town, and we ate plenty of gelato. I explored the markets and took a cooking class, and we cooked, ambitiously, for a group of (French!) work colleagues. Persimmon tart, marvelous olive oil, rabbit served with fresh vegetables, a perfect dish of pasta, duck breast cooked with buckwheat honey, and above all, marvelous bread — these are some of the tastes I remember.
But the thing that tied them all together in the mellow, breezy sunlight was the wine.
Rosé wine in Provence is a far cry from the white Zinfandels that usually dominate pink wine in the United States. In Provence, chilled rosé is the house wine of choice at nearly every little restaurant. You drink it ice cold at outdoor cafés with plates of piping hot socca or salty olives. The wine is crisp, not so sweet, and utterly suited to the flavors of the region. In fact, the wine apart from the food doesn't seem quite right. It's comes from the soil of Provence, and it is meant to go with those Provençal flavors.
But I did bring back a bottle or two of my favorite rosé, and sipping it takes me back to those flavors and the memory of sunshine in a sweet time. I'm looking for a good replacement here, since I do love rosé and like to drink it all summer long, but that particular wine will always take me back to that week in Provence, and that particular time in my life, even as it helps me relax and enjoy the sunshine wherever I am.
Related: Panisse, Pumpkin, and Duck Magret: French Cooking with Rosa Jackson and Les Petits Farcis
(Images: Faith Durand)