Tag Archives: Arles

Camargue Red Rice with Fennel Tomato Confit and Grilled Dorade Royale

Camargue France Flaminigos Bull White Horses Salt

Photos: Flamingos by Enric Perich, Black Bull by Michael Osmenda, Horses in the Wild by efilpera, Salins du Midi by Giovanni Tabbò

A protected region since 1927, the Camargue, in Southern France, is known for pink flamingos, black bulls, wild white horses, along with fleur de sel and many varieties of rice, including white, black, red, round, long and short.

In celebration of the start of the rice harvest, marked by a Rice Feria in Arles this weekend, I put together a Camargue inspired harvest main course for you. On the menu is Red Rice with a Fennel and Tomato Confit and Grilled Dorade Royale.

I tracked Camargue wild red rice down locally in Switzerland at Globus.  You can also order it online through a number of sellers. Or, substitute black wild rice, just adjust the rice to stock ratio and cooking time according to the rice producer’s directions.

Dorade Royale is a flavourful, meaty-white fish found primarily found in the Mediterranean Sea. Perfect for cooking whole (watch for bones when eating). If you want to know more about this, and other varieties of fish, perhaps check out this great blog that I came across, Better Know a Fish. It’s written by Ben Young Landis, who notes he “is a science communicator by day, amateur cook by night, and fish geek 24/7.”

Camargue Red Rice with Fennel Tomato Confit and Grilled Dorade Royale

Camargue Red Rice with Fennel Tomato Confit and Grilled Dorade Royale

Red Rice with Fennel Tomato Confit

Adapted from a this recipe on the Riz de Camargue website. Camargue red rice should be cooked just until done, the rice grains will be slightly chewy and not fully split open. The rice has a pleasant nutty flavour.

100 g  ( 1 cup) Camargue red rice
150 g ( 1 1/4 cup) fennel (about 1 small bulb), cut in small dice
1 shallot, finely diced
65 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
50 cl (2 cups) vegetable stock
1 bouquet garni (thyme, parsley, bay leaf and basil)
150 g ( 1 1/2 cups)
tomato (about 2 medium-sized), cut in small dice
25 g (a bit less than 1/4 cup) pine nuts, lightly toasted
10 black Nyons olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
10 ml (2 teaspoons) fennel seed
leur de sel and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced

In a heavy-bottomed medium sauce pan, sauté the diced shallot in 15 ml (1 tablespoon) olive oil until translucent; add red rice and sauté for 1 minute, then add the bouquet garni, pour in the hot vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 50 minutes; don’t stir the rice, do check it occasionally near the end of the cooking time.  There should be no liquid left after cooking. Remove and discard the bouquet garni.

About 25 minutes before the rice has finished cooking, heat the remaining 50 ml (3 tablespoons) of olive oil in a frying pan, add the diced fennel and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, chopped black olives, pine nuts and fennel seeds, heat until just warmed through.

To serve, place rice is a serving dish or on individual plates, top with fennel and tomato mixture, season with fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper. Garnish with minced fresh parsley.

Serves 2   Preparation time:  15 minutes   Total time:  1 hour 10 minutes

Dorade Royale (aka Daurade, Sea Bream and Sea Bass, plus a lot more)

I’m a fan of keeping it simple when it comes to fresh fish, allowing its flavour to take the stage.

2 each 250 gm (1/2 lb) whole fresh sea bream, scaled and gutted
Fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper, to taste
15 ml (1 tablespoon) olive oil
Slices of fresh lemon, to garnish and season

Sprigs of fresh rosemary

Heat up your grill or barbecue to medium-high (I check the temperature by holding my hand, palm down about 2 inches above the grate, if I can hold it there for 3 seconds before it gets too hot, then the grill is ready). Season the inside and outside of the fish with the fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle on the olive oil. Grill the fish for about 3 – 4 minutes per side until the flesh is opaque.

Serve the cooked fish whole with slices of lemon and a sprig of fresh rosemary.

Note: I used a lightly-oiled stainless perforated grill sheet when cooking the fish. If you place your fish directly on the grate, lightly brush some oil on the grate first.

Serves 2   Preparation time:  15 minutes Total time:  25 minutes

Holding on to Summer with Les Toiles du Soleil

I’ve had this magazine page in my “inspiration” file for years. The sunset, ocean, colours and stripes are quite appealing to me. Even on the cloudiest of winter days, I can feel the sun when I look at the picture (very happy it’s still summer though).

Tear SheetSo, when I passed by Carnet de Voyage, a shop in Arles, I almost jumped for joy. Their window displays were full of totes, beach chairs, kitchen towels and rolls of fabric similar to the striped fabrics on my tear sheet.

Colourful Stripes

The fabric that I had for so long admired, but never found anywhere until that day, is made by a company called Les Toiles du Soleil. In English, the company name translates to Canvases of the Sun. Quite fitting I think.


The colourways make me think of summer and southern France.

Organic Fruits and Vegetables, Avignon Photo: val'sphotos

Organic Fruits and Vegetables, Avignon Photo: val’sphotos


Nice’s Lamp Photo: Natalia Romay

The heavy 100% cotton canvas is available in a number of widths, making it suitable for many decor applications.


Fabrics Swatches Photos: Knoxville Museum of Art


La Fenêtre Provençale (Roussillon) Photo: Vincent Brassinne


Photo: Pinterest


Photo: via Pinterest

Ideal for using in a child’s room.

Or, for lampshades.


Purple Fields, St-Julien Photo: marcovdz


Cassis Winter Photo: marcovdz

And when your memories of summer have faded in January, then perhaps a trip to the Carribean will be in order. At Hotel d’Toiny, a Chateux and Relais hotel located in Saint Barthélemy, you can enjoy the sun and a suite decorated with Les Toiles du Soleil fabrics.

And if not…

Maria-Christine Vargas: Atelier Galerie in Arles

One of my great pleasures when travelling is checking out the local art scene. When visiting Arles, my girlfriend and I stopped in at the trés petit atelier et galerie of artist Maria-Christine Vargas.

2013-09-03 14.43.31

The whimsical painting in the shown in the photo above was the first to catch my eye as we walked into the gallery. We spent quite a bit of time speaking with Ms. Vargas, admiring her work and watching her create a new piece.

“I work in a playful way, pasting paper and materials of different colours and textures; this approach facilitates the creation because it allows me to compose, scratch, to flatten and leave fingerprints or not.” -Marie-Christine Vargas

She studied art in Aix, Marseille, and Sète, France. Her background includes theater set design. In 2006, she opened the gallery and studio in Arles at 22 rue Porte de Laure, a few minutes walk from the Ampitheatre. From March through October, you’ll find her there, creating contemporary works on canvas, paper and art board. She also carries a limited selection of prints. For contact information and to see additional photos of her artwork, visit her website.

Just when I thought I had narrowed down my intended purchase, I changed my mind once more, and left with the painting that first attracted my attention. It’s full of life and movement, with a dash of cheekiness.