May 17, 2013

The Taste of Provence

Each one of us, at some point, dreams of escaping from the routine of daily life into a more serene and generous place where beauty, life's little pleasures and captivating sceneries can be found in abundance. Even though, everyone dreams of a different destination, the idea of experiencing the idyllic Provençal way of life that has inspired some of the greatest painters, Van Gogh, Renoir, Matisse, Picasso, Cezanne appeals to an almost basic need in everyone of us. And it doesn't take a lot to understand why there are so many people who have succumbed to the charm of the huge purple rolling hills of lavender, the glorious fields covered with fluorescent red-orange poppies, the endless stony green vineyards, the gnarled olive trees and twisted cypresses, the smiling faces of the yellow sunflowers following the warm southern sun ...
Who doesn't want to stroll through ancient villages with cobblestone streets, old-stone houses with wooden shutters, terracotta pots of rosemary and air that is scented with aromatic herbs.. No one minds feeling lost in the freshness of fruits and sun-kissed vegetables or in the enchantment of the antiques and vintage fabrics at the local vibrant market on a bright sunny morning... 
Perhaps, the most treasured encounter is the one with the artisan food and the excellent wines of the Provençal cuisine. With centuries of tradition and intimacy with the land, the farmers, the butchers, the cheese-makers and the winemakers of the region embrace what nature bestows and translate it into something beautiful, elegant and simple... And as many authors suggest, it all starts with the land and is rooted in "terroir", a French expression that can be defined as combination of soil, climate, culture and relationship of food and people who take care of the land.
"Terroir are vibrant and innovative spaces that define the people who live there and reflect a marriage between traditions, culture, and natural environment."(international definition at UNESCO meeting, 2005)
As cliche as it might sound, Provence is not simply a geographical area, but a state of mind, a gift for the senses, a place of love for the land, love for the food, of home and life..."joie de vivre"... And once you have tasted the spirit of Provence, you want to bottle it, take it with you... and keep returning to it...

If you are thinking on how to "bottle" the taste of your Provençal escape, I would suggest this traditional drink that is made in Provençal homes using a handwritten recipe passed down from generations to generations.  

Vin d'Orange is the taste of Provence and like many describe it "it is truly, sunshine in a glass."
It is an infusion of bitter Seville or blood oranges, white wine, fruit brandy, sugar and vanilla, which is left to macerate at least 40 days. Traditionally, the French make vin d'orange in the month of March when Sevilla oranges are at their peek. It has always been best brewed at home and given to friends and relatives as a gift. They sip it as an aperitif or an after-dinner liquor, usually in the summer, when the sun is setting and one wants to stretch the beautiful time and savour it longer.

My husband and I bottled orange wine last week after almost a month of maturing. We used blood oranges and pink rosé. Yesterday, we had the first taste of Province. I don't drink alcohol at all, except a glass of wine on special occasions, but sitting on a table with dishes of white earthenware, sunflowers in a terracotta pottery, French blue cheese, olives and peppercorn pâté, and a baguette with Seville oranges marmelade, I can have a glass of vin d'orange even if only to admire the color...    

Would you like to join me?

Vin d'Orange 


3 Seville oranges or blood oranges (unpeeled) 
1 bottle rose wine 
1/4 vodka
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean 


Slice each clean orange into circles. Combine all ingredients in a large glass jar and stir. Seal the top and set aside in a cool, dark place for up to a month. (Some recipes call for three to nine months.) Stir occasionally. To bottle, strain through cheesecloth or coffee filter and funnel into clean glass bottle. Cork the bottle so it can be stored at room temperature. If it is in an unsealed bottle, then keep it in the fridge for up to a year. 
In summer, serve it chilled, or over ice with a twist of orange, or “tall” with soda.

  * * *

This post was created especially for the party, Simple Irresistible, a celebration of friendship and love for all things French, hosted by my cherished blogging friend and artist Anita. 

Those of you who value the best of French countryside, please, visit Anita's site Castles Crowns and Cottages and take delight in more stories of Provençal escapes!

 Thank you!


  1. Umm the answer to your question is yes please! I lived for two years in the south of France and this post makes me so want to return there. In the mean time I will have to find a way (and the space) to make this special drink. Thanks so for the images and the recipe! Lovely-ness abounds! xo

  2. Simply lovely. I learned a few new things, too!

  3. Yes, this really captures the essence of the good life here in Provence--and your photographs are beautiful!!

  4. Bonjour mon amie!

    Sylvia, I am having so much fun here as I have started my voyage early this morning, from Europe, now through Canada, to watch the fun. YOUR OWN PHOTOS, recipe and love for the Provençal countryside are just special to me today. The intense colors of this delicious treat are making my mouth water....literally! WHAT A JOY and you really know how to celebrate life through the simple pleasures that truly satisfy my desire to taste and experience the art of living. MERCI! Enjoy the links at your leisure, as I hope everyone will keep their links up all week. I WILL BE BACK! Anita

  5. This all sounds wonderful...I would love to escape there. Your description of it all is beautiful, especially about it being a state of mind and gift for the senses.

    I'm having a small party next weekend and would love to capture this feeling, from the table setting to the drinks.

    Thanks for always showing us how to enjoy the simple pleasures of life and beautiful photos as always.

  6. Oh my...what wonderful photos. And I can't wait to try this recipe for Vin d'Orange. One question: Is that with the rind on the orange? Or just the fruit? Sounds like a silly question but never having done it...Don't want to do it wrong! Enjoy the party!
    Bisous, Kirsten

  7. Oh wow...this sounds and looks delightful. And, your photos are stunning! Thanks for sharing! And, thanks to Anita's link party, I am now a new follower...have a lovely weekend!

  8. Impresionante!!
    me encantan las fotos , gracias a Anita la he descubierto.

    Stunning photos and a delight recipe, from now follow your blog, I loved it!
       Luisa Maria

  9. I just had to come by to take another "sip" of your gorgeous vin, scented with VANILLA! Oh dear, that has got to be delicious! Have a lovely day my friend. Anita

  10. A lovely blog,and thank you for letting me escape a little into another world.
    It has been a pleasure,
    Marie Antionette

  11. Beautiful photos and post Sylvia. Merci beaucoup! Pamela

  12. I feel as if I've just had a vacation reading your post! thank you:)
    Mary x

  13. your photos always soothe me... you shoot like i want to life. i made this once too, after reading carol drinkwaters olive season series, was a wonderful summer taste, i added lavender to mine. gorgeous gorgeous photos, love peeking in~

  14. Sylvia,
    Oh how delightful, your post is the first one that has yummy foods. I love olives, as I am part Greek. The sunflowers are just beautiful. What a wonderful post this is.

    ~Sheri at Red Rose Alley

  15. Oh, you have outdone yourself, dear one...once again! :))))) YES! I am in Provence with YOU, dear Anita...and all of our blog sisters...sipping Vin d' exquisite post, dear are such a gifted artist, my friend.
    Merci pour la beaute et l'amitie!!!
    Je t'embrasse fort,
    - Irina

  16. Oh how delicious, Sylvia. I must make this Vin d'Orange!
    I love your gorgeous images throughout the post.
    I hope you will join my adventures in France!

    Art by Karena

  17. Sweet Sylvia! Ahhhh...what a literally feels so good to sit back and take in MORE of the loveliness that is floating about in Blogland today and all week! Thank you for coming by to say, BONJOUR, and for taking a skip about the other blogs. It has been so special to see ALL of your talents and view points. I'm going to sleep well tonight for I feel I've been around the globe today!!! HAVE FUN! Anita

  18. Oh my goodness Sylvia, thank you for the lovely recipe and santé to you too. I think I might try this and save it for a special occasion. :)

  19. This is divine as usual, Sylvia. So much beauty. I must try making some of this most appealing sunshine in a bottle. The pictures and your description are so tempting.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Stopping by via Anita's party.
    Much love.

  20. Merci for the journey you took me through Provence today. And merci for the recipe, I am so tempted to try it right now!

  21. Hi Sylvia,
    Beautiful post!!! I have been away so I am catching up here....congrats on being published,well deserved for sure.

    Happy weekend,

  22. Oh how lovely! Isn't this a fun party?!?

    ~ Violet

  23. Welcome in France...nice to see you to do this together...Anita is such a good friend to all of us...enjoy the weekend love

  24. Gorgeous images and this recipe looks like a sweet sip of Provence in a glass~a must try.
    Lovely to find your blog on the France Link party and I look forward to following.
    Cheers, Heather @stylemindchic

  25. Your writing is beautiful. Your pictures are enchanting. I know I won't go to the trouble of making vin d'Orange but I would love to taste it one day. I was memorized by your post. We visited Provence in 2011 and it was glorious.

  26. Loved your vin d'Orange tablescape...perfect for Anita's FRANCE Simply Irresistible.

    Loved finding a new blogging friend, and I am now following via GFC and bloglovin'.


  27. Blood oranges are my husband's favorites so we need to make your recipe.

    We have not visited Provence, yet. I retire in 19 days and travel is high on our list. We hope to visit France for at least a month so my artist husband can set up his easel and capture the beauty of France in oils.

    Lovely post!

  28. Such a lovely post. just found your blog through Anita's party. Your photos are so inspiring and I do appreciate you sharing the recipe. When I feel better, I hope to try it. Linda

  29. Thank you, dear one! Perhaps someday we will have a chance to sit together in a lovely cafe...I hope so! :) Those crepes are so easy...and filled with sauteed dilled mushrooms and grated Madrigal...very yummy.
    I am in a state of bliss looking at the photos here...Provence has never looked so good! :))
    Hope you are having a relaxing weekend, dear Sylvia...
    - Irina

  30. Sylvia,
    I will be right over....
    This looks exquisite and right up my alley...
    A beautiful post for a fabulous party!


  31. I must try the orange wine and whilst sipping imagine I am in that beautiful garden setting you display. Looks sublime! Thank you :-)

  32. What a beautiful garden to sit and sip Vin d’ Orange. I need to capture sunshine in a bottle, anything to remind me of my time in Provence. Beautiful post. I’m visiting you from Anita’s party, France Irresistible.
    Have a lovely week.

    The French Hutch

  33. Hi Sylvia, I'll take a glass of your delicious looking Vin d’ Orange please:) Anita sent me over to say hello and I see you've laid on a beautiful spread just for little old me:)
    I am enjoying your beautifully styled images and poetic words immensely and am now following along.

  34. Bonjour Sylvia,

    So lovely to come and meet you and discover your beautiful blog, via Anita's party.
    Thank you for sharing the Vin d'orange in your wonderful garden and I love the sunflowers.

    Happy week

  35. Syliva, so very nice to meet you and discover your beautiful photos and blog. I am not following along so that I do not miss another beautiful post!

  36. What a lovely post, Sylvia! Your photos are exquisite, bright and summery, and I've never made Vin d'Orange...something I will correct ASAP. Anita's parties are great fun and they always give us the opportunity to meet talented bloggers we might not have known about. You are a perfect example...I am now following you!
    Thanks for visiting

  37. Thank you for visiting me, Sylvia. The vin d'orange sounds delightful, as are your beautiful photos!

  38. Absolutely beautiful photography! What a wonderful recipe for summer. So easy.

  39. I see so many of my friends left comments for you today. I am so delighted to meet you, and you can bet I will try this recipe for the Vin d'Orange, it is beautiful & elegant all at the same time and I LOVE your photos!!

  40. Gorgeous photos!!!

    Heidi @ hi-d's place

  41. Oh my goodness, what glorious looking stuff! If I can ever get my hands on Seville oranges out here in Arkansas, I'll have to try this.

  42. So nice meeting you in Paris.Thank you for visiting Me and leaving your nice comment.What a pleasure it was visiting you :)

  43. Bonjour, chere amie!!
    Sylvia, I just had to tell you that I saw (and read) your exquisite feature in was thrilling to see! Congratulations again, my friend....
    Have a beautiful weekend...
    Love and hugs,
    - Irina

  44. Bonjour Sylvia. I am a little late in joining the party, but... "Mieux vaut tard que jamains," as the French say (Better late than never.) Your post is the perfect way of wrapping up our friend Anita's France party this week. What a wonderful experience! Not only have I been taken back to my homeland, la Belle France, by all of you wonderful and creative ladies, but I have also discovered so many talented new bloggers. Merci beaucoup! Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  45. I am making absinthe next week... you are inspiring me with your result. I love doing things like this and wish I'd do it more often using things from my garden. A beautiful drink. Thanks to Anita for introducing all of us. It's a pleasure to visit.

  46. My dear and wonderful friend,

    Your words on my comments page....oh about emotions! This was a touching experience to witness collaboration, JOY, creativity and constant connecting. I could not get enough of your photos, and I came by often to just gawk and imagine what your recipes taste like. It is a sweet thing, this life we have, because no matter what, goodness and love win over. Friends and the capacity to share what is important to us makes the human experience a once in a lifetime gift to cherish. And I cherish YOU.

    MERCI MERCI MERCI BEAUCOUP! (I will still be around to visit blogs, but I just won't be posting for about a month, but maybe various photos of my home.....)

  47. Hi I thought I would stop back in and look at the gorgeous red orange looks sooooo Good.Yummy.
    XXOO Marie Antoinette


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