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Published: September 20th 2011
Peta and the gang
We had such a wild time with her! Too many laughs....
It is amazing how infectious someone who loves life can be. The colourful and eccentric Peta made us all laugh a little harder and let go of some of our inhibitions for a while. For someone who had sounded a bit frightened about planning a market tour which included four adults and five children, she soon settled into her new role as Mother Hen, and our tour became something the children rated as one of their "Top Ten" holiday things to do. We had been keen to visit the market after talking to Brad and Jane, and my correspondence with Peta over the months before our trip resulted in us settling on a market tour so that we could buy what we needed for a picnic at Carcassonne Castle. "You'll have to go very early", Peta had said when we were setting things up. I imagined setting the alarm for a dawn start, a la our 5.30am Saturday trips to the Victoria Market. Little did she realise that early for us was the middle of the night for her! "Oh God no," Peta gasped, horrified, when I enquired whether 'early' meant around 6.30am. Our tour subsequently began at the very civilised
Breakfast in the garden
Wonderful croissants, juice, hot chocolate for the children and home-made preserves.
hour of 9 O'Clock! That meant that we could have a lovely breakfast in the garden beforehand.
The market was already a hive of activity when we arrived, and I spent heaps of time craning my neck to look back at beautiful fabrics, huge square blocks of olive oil soap, embroidered towels, monogrammed lavender bags, and baskets. Our mission however, was food. I knew we had picked up that esky in Alassio for a reason other than cold champagne!
Peta had a list at the ready, and we started with baguettes. The array of food was just too hard to resist, and we soon had baskets full of all sorts of vegetables, fruit, cheese, oil, wine, preserves and meat. Oh, and a fantastic almond tart which was a specialty of the area, and which Peta insisted we take for dessert on our picnic. The huge tomatoes were a revelation. So was the incredible chicken terrine, and with Peta's help choosing particular vendors, we were really efficient! Everyone was so proud of what they sold, but my favourite stall was Annie's organic goat's cheese. She set up the cheese in order of maturity - from the freshest, mildest goat's
The Legendary Annie and her cheese
Check out the little black pellets down the end of the cheese line. They ended up being spectacular grated on salad.
curd laid on vine leaves and decorated with wildflowers, to the wizened pellets which she suggested we grate over salad or pasta. That one actually ended up being my favourite, despite Peta being sure we would hate it!
Once shopping was done, we wandered down one of the little laneways to a gorgeous house with the kitchen facing the street and great big windows which ensured you were part of the world going by as you cooked. I could just imagine myself handing afternoon tea out to the children through the arched windows every day after school as they played on the cobbled street.....
Anyway, it was Peta's cooking class venue - and the older children got right on with chopping and slicing. The adults actually did very little, which was nice for a change! We were hooked by this fantastic venue, which had an amazing curved stone ceiling in the living room. And where else but France would an elaborate chandelier look just right in the kitchen!
The younger children wandered in and out but mostly played happily in a little courtyard at the back of the house. We heard snippets of the game "You be
the baddie and I'll get you with my special watch etc. etc.". When they were tired of that, Frank fed them leftover chopped tomato, olives, capsicum and other goodies from the kitchen. They looked like little pharoahs lazing back on deck chairs as he dangled tasty tidbits over their mouths!
Too soon it was time to leave, and there were lots of kisses as we said goodbye and made our way back to the car with our loot. Onward to Carcassonne!!
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