Nostradamus did not only predict the end of the world. No, he also had a pif or a sixth sense for all things delectable and that certainly included using a touch of alchemy to create fruit confit, candied fruit.
That same technique, one perfected by Olivier de Serres 400 years ago, has been used by five generations of the Lilamand family at their workshops in charming Saint Rémy de Provence since 1866.
It involves simmering a peeled piece of fruit in a bain or bath of sugar syrup repeatedly over a period of three to four weeks until that mixture has replaced the water in the fruit. Then it is left to rest for at least two months to complete the candying process. The result is truly spectacular. Miraculously, with each yielding bite, one tastes only the pure essence of the fruit itself - and this comes from someone who can't stand sugary sweets!
But fruit confit? Most certainly - especially after it has been taken through the final step of glaçage - a skillful icing that almost makes the fruit look as if it has just been picked. Yes, your fingers will be just ever so slightly sticky afterwards, but it will be worth it. And I especially love that all of the fruit used is local and some - such as the tangy cédrat - are exemplary of the unique offerings in Provence.
These photos were admittedly taken in haste and don't begin to show the beauty of what Lilamand Confiseur does - think edible jewels. In their elegant boutique, they offer quite a range of products (that also make perfect gifts) from exotic platters costing several hundred Euros (such craftsmanship does not come cheap nor should it), to tasting boxes starting at 15 Euros and a selection of "seconds" that are perfect for baking. In the past few years, the company has also started baking their own calissons (and they are delicious, take that Aix-en-Provence), jams and fruit syrups.
While there is an excellent on-line boutique, I specifically wanted to mention this company for those of you who will be visiting Provence this summer so that you can go and visit for yourselves. Annabelle welcomed us warmly (yes, she speaks English) and was patient in explaining the process involved, making this exquisite delicacy quite approachable. While I tend to associate Nostradamus with doom and gloom, I certainly am sending a merci back through the centuries for his forecasting the success of fruit confit...quite a discovery.
5 avenue Albert Schweitzer
13210 - Saint Rémy de Provence
Tel.: +33 (0)4 90 92 11 08
And for my many antiques loving friends,
13 Rue de la République
84800 - L'Isle sur la Sorgue
Tel. +33 (0)4 90 92 13 45
Both boutiques are closed on Monday.
For more information, click here.
And to visit their online shop, click here.