2019 Class dates announced

Patricia and students in Provence PW.JPG

With pleasure and anticipation I announce our cooking class dates for 2019. The season will begin in January at our home in Provence with our spectacular Black Truffle Extravaganza, which includes a special truffle hunt, hands-on cooking classes with fresh black truffles at every meal, paired with an extraordinary selection of rare, white Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines. In April, our popular five-day Cooking in Paris class will include plenty of seasonal full-participation cooking in our new Left Bank garden atelier, a market visit, cheese, wine, and oil tastings, as well as an extraordinary Michelin three-star meal. In June and September, we continue our week-long, hands-on classes of Cooking in Provence at our home, Chanteduc, gathering herbs, fruits, and vegetables from the garden, sipping wine from the vineyard, cooking with honey from our hives, visiting the renowned weekly market in Vaison-la-Romaine, meeting with sommeliers and cheese merchants, and enjoying the local cuisine. 


 January  21 to 25, 2019

MONDAY EVENING: Welcome truffle dinner – Patricia cooks for you!
TUESDAY MORNING:  A Vaison-la-Romaine market visit, followed by hands-on cooking class and truffle lunch
TUESDAY EVENING: Hands-on cooking class followed by truffle dinner
WEDNESDAY MORNING: An authentic truffle hunt with dogs, followed by a sumptuous lunch in a regional restaurant famous both for its truffle dishes and its extraordinary cellar of Rhône Valley wines
THURSDAY MORNING: A visit to the truffle supplier to the stars, a wine tasting, and another unforgettable restaurant lunch, truffles of course
FRIDAY MORNING: New-season olive oil tasting; the final cooking class, and our farewell truffle lunch
The fee for each student is $6,000. We can accommodate two companions (a spouse, a significant other, a friend, or a relative who is traveling with the student), who are invited to attend the Wednesday program: the truffle hunt and the restaurant lunch (see above.)  This is a first-come, first-served option and the fee for each companion is $500.


April 1 to 5,  2019
April 15 to 19, 2019
April 29 to May 3, 2019

As well as the hands-on cooking classes and lunch, students participate in an olive oil tasting, a bakery visit, a private wine tasting, a market tour, and a Michelin three-star lunch.The sessions include:

MONDAY MORNING: Hands-on cooking class, followed by lunch
TUESDAY MORNING: Hands-on cooking class, followed by lunch
WEDNESDAY MORNING: Tour of the famed President Wilson market, followed by a sumptuous lunch at a Michelin three-star restaurant
THURSDAY MORNING: Visit to the extraordinary Poilâne bakery and its ancient wood-fired oven; an extensive tasting with wine expert Juan Sanchez of La Dernière Goutte wine shop, followed by lunch in our garden (weather permitting!)
FRIDAY MORNING: An olive oil tasting, followed by hands-on cooking class and lunch

The fee for each student is $6,000. We can accommodate two companions (a spouse, a significant other, a friend, or a relative who is traveling with the student), who are invited to attend the Wednesday market tour followed by a Michelin three-star lunch. This is a first-come, first-served option and the fee for each companion is $500.


June 9 to 14, 2019
June 23 to 28,  2019
Sept 8 to 13, 2019
Sept 22 to 27, 2019

Sessions begin with Sunday dinner and end after lunch on Friday. The sessions include:

SUNDAY EVENING:  Welcome dinner – Patricia cooks for you!
MONDAY MORNING: Hands-on cooking class, followed by lunch
TUESDAY MORNING:  Tour of Vaison’s famous weekly market, followed by hands-on cooking class and lunch WEDNESDAY MORNING: A private tasting of a selection of Rhône Valley wines followed by lunch at the best restaurant in the neighborhood
THURSDAY MORNING: Hands-on cooking class, followed by lunch
FRIDAY MORNING: An olive oil tasting, followed by hands-on cooking class and lunch

The fee for each student is $6,000. We can accommodate two companions (a spouse, a significant other, a friend, or a relative who is traveling with the student), who are invited to attend the Sunday dinner at Chanteduc, Wednesday wine tasting and restaurant lunch, and the Friday lunch at Chanteduc. This is a first-come, first-served option and the fee for each companion is $750.

Sign up here to secure a place in your class of choice. . Please note that classes fill up fast and places are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Cooking Classes 2018: Dates Announced

Cooking in Provence class, June 2016

With pleasure and anticipation I am announcing the At Home with Patricia Wells cooking class dates for 2018 (all of our 2017 classes are now full).

The 2018 season begins with our spectacular Black Truffle Extravaganza in January, including a special truffle hunt, black truffles with every meal and an extraordinary selection of rare, white Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines. In April we hold three Cooking in Paris classes, followed by my ever-popular Cooking in Provence sessions in my farmhouse in Provence in June and September. All classes involve plenty of hands-on, seasonal cooking, sourcing the best produce France has to offer from local markets and growers and, in Provence, my own organic vegetable garden. Classes are augmented with market visits, cheese, oil and wine tastings, and restaurant visits (in Paris an unforgettable three-star meal; in Provence, the very best of the local cuisine).

Classes are now open to the public via my website. Sign up here to reserve a place in your class of choice. Note that classes do fill up fast and all requests are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.



 January 22 to 26, 2018
The session includes the Monday welcome dinner, a Tuesday market visit followed by class and lunch, Tuesday evening class and dinner, Wednesday truffle hunt and restaurant lunch, Thursday visit to our truffle supplier, a wine tasting and a restaurant lunch, Friday class and lunch.


April 2 to 5, 2018
April 16 to 20, 2018
April 30 to May 4, 2018
Each session includes class and lunch, Monday through Friday, as well as a private wine tasting, a market tour, a bakery visit, an olive oil and nut oil tasting, and a memorable Michelin three-star lunch.


June 10 to 15, 2018
June 24 to 29,  2018
Sept 2 to 7, 2018
Sept 16 to 21, 2018
Sessions begin with the Sunday welcome dinner and end after lunch on Friday. Each course includes Sunday dinner, Monday class and lunch, Tuesday market tour, class and lunch, Tuesday restaurant dinner, Wednesday private wine tasting and restaurant lunch, Thursday class and lunch, Friday olive oil and nut oil tastings, class and lunch.


Giving thanks to olives

The events of Friday November 13th in Paris left us stunned and horrified. It is the city that I have come to call home and not uncommonly for a Friday night, I was out dining with friends at a small bistro on the left bank when the news of the attacks broke. We decided that the most positive action we could take was to continue with our plans to harvest our olive grove in Provence, both to celebrate the longevity, strength, beauty, and bounty associated with the revered olive and to soothe our saddened souls.
I had anticipated this day all year, not only because in 2014 there had been no harvest due to an infestation of the olive fly that had affected olives groves almost worldwide, but also because I had never seen our 30 or so olive trees thrive as they did this year.

Somehow, I have always been in the U.S. during harvest time – usually taking place between November and January – but this year I was determined to pick those olives myself! So on Sunday morning together with three of my French neighbors Colette, Jeannette, and Jean-Claude, I initiated the harvest. We decided to pick each olive by hand rather than, as is common practice in the region, raking them from the branches and letting them fall onto nets set beneath the tree. We began plucking them one by one from low-hanging branches, then later trapping upper branches with an antique wooden olive rake, pulling the supple branches down to within reach of our eager grasp, all the while collecting our bounty in wicker baskets hung in the trees from metal hooks.

I used to think that all olives were perfectly calibrated like the ones in the pots in an olive bar or in jars on market shelves. I could not have been more wrong! Olives are fruit, and at least on our trees, they can range from little green specimens the size of a pea, to plump, moist, black ones the size of a walnut.

Skies were clear and pristine blue, temperatures were in the 70s – not rare for mid-November in Provence – and local birds sang to us as we labored. The trauma of Paris slipped out of our minds as we chatted about the bounty of the harvest, how fortunate we were to be here at this moment, and how much oil we might see as the result of our efforts. It turns out that it takes about 9 lbs / 4 kg (enough to fill a very, very large champagne bucket!) of olives to press a quart or litre of oil. Except for one exceptional tree that yielded a record (for us) 132 pounds/60 kg of olives, most of the trees gave about 6 1/2 pounds / 3 kgs.  We figured that between the four of us we put in some 70 hours for a total of521 lb / 237 kg, giving us 60 quarts or liters of oil.

I set aside the plumpest and most beautiful olives from a single tree that grows near our dining area on the sunset terrace and immersed them in an inky black salt brine I have used for decades, to cure them for eating out of hand at aperitif time or for making our favorite tapenade. The rest were destined for the oil press. I had to return to Paris before the last olive was harvested, so my neighbor delivered our harvest to the local mill in nearby Puyméras. The mill workers immediately noticed they had been picked my hand, announcing loudly that these perfect specimens had clearly been picked “à l’ancienne!”. In fact, our olives were so beautiful that a local television crew there to film the seasonal event chose to focus on our very crop!
Olive harvesting, at least by hand, is slow going and hard work (our shoulder and arms muscles sure were sore the next day!) but it’s rewarding, restorative and certainly this year, for me, a sort of welcome, zen undertaking at a time when France has been shaken to it's core.

So I give thanks for the olives and all they bring. I can’t wait to open the first bottle, drizzle the oil onto some homemade sourdough toast, inhale, bite down, and appreciate the goodness in simple things.

Wishing you all a happy, safe and delicious Thanksgiving.

Announcing 2017 cooking class dates

With pleasure and anticipation I am announcing our At Home with Patricia Wells cooking class dates for 2017 (all our 2016 classes are now full).

The season will begin, as ever, with our spectacular Truffle Extravaganza in January. In March and April, our popular week-long class Cooking in Paris will include plenty of seasonal hands-on cooking, a market visit, cheese, wine and oil tastings, as well as an unforgettable three-star meal. Our June and September, week-long classes Cooking in Provence, cooking with herbs, fruits and vegetables straight from the garden, sipping wine from the vineyard, visiting the vibrant market in Vaison-la-Romaine, meeting with winemakers and cheese merchants, and enjoying the cuisine of our local chefs.

Advance notice of these dates were offered to our newsletter subscribers and those on the 2016 waiting list. The response has been overwhelming, and some classes are now full.



January 23 to 27, 2017


March 27 to 31, 2017
April 10 to 14,  2017
April 24 to 28, 2017


June 11 to 16, 2017 (full)
June 25 to 30,  2017
Sept 10 to 15, 2017 (full)
Sept 24 to 29, 2017 (full)



If your preferred class is already full, email us to be put on the waiting list, as cancellations do happen. Classes are filling up fast, so don't miss out!


L’Oustalet: another Perrin family success

Strawberries, raspberry macaroon and mint sorbet

The Perrin family of the winery Château de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape – led by brothers Jean-Pierre and François and their seven offspring  – has over the past 30 years created a very specific and appealing, contemporary style that has become an environmental model in organic wine making, and a leading global brand.  Their portfolio is impressive, whether it be an august old-vine red, such as their rare Hommage à Jacques Perrin, their more simple daily-drinking red Côtes-du-Rhône, or their spectacular wine boutique in the Provençal village of Gigondas (population 585). Included in this incredible package is their welcoming restaurant L’Oustalet in the center of town, where an interior decor seamlessly blends ancient and modern. The outdoor tables spread out onto a stone terrace overlooking the renovated square, which is peppered with ancient sycamore trees – a spot that was once a parking lot and is now a sybaritic space filled with picnic tables and a spot for sitting, strolling, reflecting.

I wouldn’t even want to try to guess the number of meals I have savored in this setting over the past 35 years, the best of which were relished at the hands of the Perrin family and their slim, self-effacing, and super-talented chef Laurent Deconinck. Here, like most everything the Perrins do, nothing is overwrought, or laid on with a heavy hand. There is thought to the balance, energy, look and feel of both the interior design and the food itself.

Laurent’s summer bouillabaisse, which I wholly appreciated this week, is like a modern love poem to this Provençal fish soup classic, a dish that is often too hackneyed, boring, overcooked, even in the most famous establishments. Laurent’s soup –  a mix of fish and shellfish that includes lobster tail from Corsica, and a medley of rockfish stars of the sea: monkfish, John Dory, and rascasse or scorpion fish – is a modern masterpiece. The fish all look and taste as though they just leapt from the sea, bathed in a thick broth, enlivened by dollops of velvety, spicy aioli or garlic mayonnaise. Thick strips of crouton-like toast come along, for dipping in the bright-flavored broth or for slathering with the aioli.

The genius in Laurent’s food is in its balance and freshness so that, despite having had a multi-course, two-hour feast, you walk away with a forceful pep in your step. His recent dessert creation is a case in point: strawberries at their peak of ripeness are topped with a single half of a raspberry macaroon, teamed up with a brilliant green mint sorbet, flanked by cubes of fresh berries and paper-thin strips of mint (photo).

The all-male staff at L’Oustalet is at once forwardly familiar and professional to a fault. You feel they are having a great time at work, and why shouldn’t they, with all the great seasonal ingredients of Provence, the sun shining, and a wine cellar that would make almost anyone weep? I won’t even begin to tick off the great wines one finds here, but suffice it to say that if you have a favored wine from the northern or southern Rhône, you’ll find it here, at such great value prices you’ll squint and look twice. My latest discovery is the Châteauneuf Clos St Pierre, an ancient Châteauneuf-du-Pape vineyard taken over in 2009 by Carole and Pierre Perveyrie. Their tannic cuvé Urbi, with 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 20% Mourvèdre, is truly appealing and pleasing, especially for those who love a bit of leathery, animal sensation that so many southern Rhône wines can produce.

Wine lovers should not miss a visit to their wine shop just up the street from the restaurant. There are also three modern hotel rooms above the shop, if you’d rather not walk too far “home” after lunch or dinner.

L’Oustalet   |   Place du Village   |   84190 Gigondas   |   Tel: +33 4 90 65 85 30   |   Closed Sunday and Monday   |   Menus from 35 to 56€   |   Wine tasting menus from 89 to 136€   | www.loustalet-gigondas.com   |   contact@loustalet-gigondas.com


Double yolk madness!

Braised Asparagus, A Double Yolk Egg, Truffles, Coppa

We just finished two incredible all-truffle days in Provence. Today we visited the Richerenches truffle market (and tasted novel and delectable fast food -- baby pancakes prepared on the spot, filled with fresh black truffles, then topped with a pat of butter). Back at home for lunch I prepared one of my favorite dishes. The first-of-season Provençal  green asparagus is in the market, and the season for fresh black truffles is nearing an end. I love braising the aspargus in olive oil, flavored with rosemary and bay leaves, then topping the asparagus with a poached egg, truffles, and a slice of coppa. As it turns out, the poached egg in the photograph was the EIGHTH double-yolk egg in a row that I had cracked, from our incredible cheese supplier Josiane Déal, a Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) in Vaison-la-Romaine.  I don't know about you, but I always consider double-yolk eggs a sign of good luck, so hopefully I'll have eight full days of good fortune.     

Memories are made of this

Pre du Moulin 12 2 10

Anticipation is one of life's great pleasures. I love looking forward to returning to a favorite restaurant, hoping all along that my memory has not embellished the experience. So what a thrill it was to return to Le Pré du Moulin the other night, only to find it even better than we remembered. In the small Provençal village of Serignan-du-Comtat, Pascal Alonso seems to wave a magic whisk, turning out fare that is engaging, original as well a delicious. Much of the pleasure of food is its familiarity, and today all too often chefs forget that, offering us dish after dish or strange combinations we don't recognize and don't care to remember.  Alonso seems to understand this, though his unexpected food pairings force us to sit up, take notice, and enjoy.

I would never have thought to slice baby squid into spaghetti-like strands, matching them with wintry wild mushrooms, but the combination is a warming, satisfying hit,with soft textures and a bit of froth. (Photo above.). Likewise his matching of giant shrimp roasted with unctuous and crunchy pig's feet, an unlikely pairing but one that works on the plate and the palate. His more traditional dishes, such as seabass with artichokes, rouget with olives, scallops with sunchokes, and filet mignon of veal with chanterellemushrooms are no less appealing.

The Michelin-starred restaurant has been transformed from an elegant village schoolhouse, and the addition of an alluring new bistro,  Les Tables de Campagne, gives us even more choice. On the menu there you'll find guinea fowl with local white beans, or cocos blancs; warm foie gras with fresh white onions, or cebettes; and filet of beef with mustard. The wine list at both offers the best the region can offer, with a wide choice from both the northern and southern Rhone.

The black truffle season has begun, so I'll be back for his unforgetable ravioli with fresh black truffles and artichokes. Just hope it's better than I remembered.

Le Pré du Moulin and Les Tables de Campagne, 84830 Serignan-du-Comtat, France. Telephone 04 90 70 14 55. www.predumoulin.com. Closed Sunday evening, all day Monday, and Tuesday lunch. Menus from 50 euros at Le Pré du Moulin, about 30 euros at Les Tables de Campagne.

A sweet, red-letter day!

Today at the Vaison weekly market, our beekeeper Christine Tracol cermoniously presented me with four 1-kilo jars of golden nectar. Last November she placed 10 busy beehives behind the little stone cabanon in our vineyard, and left them there until sometime this summer, when it came time for them to feast in the lavender fields near Mont Ventoux. But as our honey shows, as the bees feasted at Chanteduc  on the nectar of various rosemary, thyme, and zucchini blossoms, they must have spent a lot of time in the two giant linden flower -- or tilleul trees -- on the property. The honey is payment as "rent" for the use of the property. Nice exchange! Our honey is a golden amber, with an intense, floral flavor. I confess that it is not as extraordinary as her mountain lavender honey, but nothing is!   I'd like to share a favorite melon and honey sorbet recipe:

Cavaillon Melon Sorbet

A ripe, juicy melon emits the most intoxicating perfume. Even before the fruit is sliced open, it offers up its rich, pleasantly musky aromas. Choose a melon that feels heavy for its size, a sign that the fruit is dense and ripe. In Provence, the fashion is to offer melons that have exploded at the bottom – like a little volcanic eruption – a sign that the fruits were ripened in the fields and not waterlogged in a greenhouse to give better weight.  I like to sweeten this sorbet with a mild yet fragrant and distinctive honey. For a truly creamy, almost fluffy sorbet, whip the mixture in a blender at highest speed for a full minute.

One 2-pound (1 kg) ripe cantaloupe (to yield about 1 pound, 500 g fruit)

1/2 cup (125 ml)  honey

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons vodka

Equipment: A serrated grapefruit spoon; a blender; an ice-cream maker.

Halve the melon. With the grapefruit spoon, remove and discard any fibrous pulp and seeds. Slice the halves into 4 wedges. With a sharp knife, run the knife between the rind and the pulp, being careful not to include any green bits of pulp. Chop the pulp coarsely. Transfer to the blender. Add the honey, lemon juice, and vodka and blend for a full minute, until creamy and  smooth. Chill thoroughly. At serving time, transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For best results, serve the sorbet as soon as it is made.  Do not re-freeze.

3 cups (750 ml)

WHY VODKA? Without the added alcohol, this all-fruit sorbet would have a tendency to become gritty. The alcohol does not freeze, resulting in a smooth and creamy dessert.