Subject: South of France 7
Friday- It's market day in Bonnieux. What a difference from busy and crowded San Remy! Only a few booths here - some lovely pottery, more of the beautiful fabrics, and of course the requisite olive/tapenade tables, cheese trucks, and honey. A relaxed, low-key atmosphere. We choose some green olive tapenade, cheese, Cavillon melon - so fragrant that we KNOW it'll be delicious,white nectarines, and a rosé offered by a local vineyard. When the vendor understands it's for today's pique-nique, he pulls a chilled bottle out of a cooler. We walk to friendly Henri Thomas' bakery once again for our bread. Today we'll hike up to the Fort de Buoux. Before the actual entrance to the climb to the Fort, we walk up a dirt road and under a massive overhanging rock that sheltered prehistoric residents of the area. A little further on is a charming hillside house with a lovingly nurtured garden up against the cliff. Madame has a fun collection of watering cans of all shapes and sizes in addition to many lovely flowers. We pay our entrance fee and begin the climb up, up, and up to the ancient ruins of the fort - portions of it predating Roman times. This pinnacle is fascinating - the layers of history so impressive, the views awesome. We descend via the secret escape stairway carved into the solid rock face of the cliff - spectacular! After relaxing at La Bouquiere for a bit, we head out to explore the nearby villages of Lacoste and Menerbes. We'd asked Françoise for a restaurant recommendation for La Coste, but we'd gone to Menerbes first and were now too hungry to wait. Wandering down Rue Marcellin Poncet, we began to inspect the posted menus outside the few restaurants. Le Galoubet, offering traditional provençal specialties, was our find of the week. The 16h century vaulted stone dining room was lovely, but we opted to stay outside, and were seated under an old olive tree on the stone terrace across the lane. What followed was the best 98-Franc (only $14!) dinner I've ever tasted. One delectable course after another, each artistically arranged plate worth a picture, was brought to our table. Denis La Coq, the young chef, has only been at Le Galoubet a few months. The owners have truly found a treasure in him. An artist of both flavor and design.

Standouts of the evening were a creamy brandade of cod and a marvelously flavorful soupe au pistou, followed by seared cabillaud (a succulent white fish) topped with a grilled confit of onions and wild mushrooms. Even the desserts, not a strong point in Provençe, were delicious - especially a dense coconut tart served with the ubiquitous créme anglaise.

Le Galoubet,104 rue Marcellin Poncet, 04 90 72 36 08, 98 FF 3 course Menu. Open for lunch and dinner