Andernos to Toulon is a seven hour drive. As I can’t drive a standard transmission to save my life, the husband did, not most, but all of the driving. I slept in the passenger seat. We stopped off at Nîmes for a break. Why someone thought putting the front piece of an ancient Roman theater at a rest stop is and will always be beyond me. But there it was.
The last leg of the trip took me to Aix-en-Provence for dinner Monday evening. Aix is one of my favorite cities in France, because it’s a university town and I will always be a university student at heart. It’s not by the sea, but on the edge of the Luberon mountains with lovely streets, good shopping and most of all a wide variety of restaurants.
After finding that the restaurant we originally wanted to go to was closed, we settled for L’Antioche, a Lebanese restaurant that we had been to last year and enjoyed.
Dinner was simple. Any Lebanese restaurant should do a good mezze and this one is no exception. Hummus, smoked caviar d’aubergine with sesame, crème fraiche with scallions, fried cheese things with spices, pita bread, taboulé, hand rolled grape leaves with meat and rice, a pita sliced open and baked with lamb and spices, rolled beef “samosas” and falafel. I love Lebanese food because there’s not a crustacean to be found.
I wanted to take a close up photo of the man rolling the grape leaves but I was too embarrassed to ask.
It’s simple, it’s delicious and even though it’s kind of meant as an appetizer, as we learned the first time around – a mezze for two is definitely not an appetizer. Antioche, though not a fancy establishment, nor a big one. Most of the restaurant spills out onto the street.
It is excellent food for a good price. The waitstaff is very friendly and tried not to look when they saw me taking photos of everything, including the low-lit dining room and each plate individually.
That is until I got annoyed with having to stand up and just made a sample plate to photograph.
My favorite was the taboulé, which is fresh and light and full of yummy green things and onion and tomato that my body craved after my spitted pork. The second favorite is the caviar d’aubergine which is, as I said smoked so that it has a wonderful wooded flavor that is captured and absorbed into the taste of the eggplant adding deeper flavor to the complex vegetable.
For dessert? Well, if you’ve never had Arabian pastries you really should. But I couldn’t resist the husband’s offer of more ice cream and so we set off to find a place.
On Cours Mirabeau, the main street of Aix, we found heaven. Organic, homemade ice cream. What could be better? (Salted caramel on top.)
I had coconut and pana cotta-caramel. The husband had banana and speculoos.
The night and my vacation was over by 9pm when we got into the car and drove the 45 minutes back to our apartment. There we were greeted by a very angry and distressed cat. It’s fresh vegetable soups for the rest of the week for me while I digest all the food from this past weekend.