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This day was our very favorite. We traveled to Avignon, an ancient walled in city that was bustling with activity. We started out in the beautiful lobby of Le Mirande Hotel where we met Jean Claude Altmayer, a world renowned chef bursting with personality. We were all given baskets and our group of amateur chefs walked through the ancient streets of Avignon following the chef to the market, Les Halles, which from the outside had a wall covered in herbs. We watched the chef shop and joke with the various proprieters and stroll along from stall to stall purchasing duck, calamari, and produce for our four course lunch. Minutes later we were back in his beautiful country kitchen in the cellar of Le Mirande piling ingredients on to a massive table while Chef Altmayer threw wood into the ancient range and his beautiful sous chef, Séverine Sagnet, assigned tasks. Suddenly things are happening at once, half of our group went to the wine cellar with Séverine for a wine tasting while the other half cut the heads off the ducks. I am glad we were the first wine tasting group. When it was our turn in the kitchen we cleaned and cut the calamari for the soup and cut the puff pastry into circles for our delicious strawberry tarts. Chef Altmayer along with Séverine beautifully plated each dish and we ate family style on a simply gorgeous country french dining room table. We had asparagus soup, calamari soup, duck with glazed carrots and artichokes and a strawberry puff pastry tart. After dinner we were entertained by the chef with a rap/dance version of Sur le pont d’Avignon. I only wished I had my cell phone to shoot a video it was priceless.

Steve and the Chef on the way to the market.

Steve and the Chef on the way to the market.

This is the outside of the market... those are all herbs climbing the walls.

This is the outside of the market… those are all herbs climbing the walls.

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The sous chef giving instructions when we returned to the kitchen.

The sous chef giving instructions when we returned to the kitchen.

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so simple yet so delectable.

so simple yet so delectable.

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