Chef, poet, and Aix native, Stanislas (or Stan, as we call him), a dear familiar friend of Bastide, shares his local insight on the coveted easygoing lifestyle Provence has to offer. This enlightened connoisseur sheds light on his favorite qualities of Bastide's hometown.
Accommodating guests for Stan comes as second nature. As the head of his family business - a luxurious bed and breakfast in the south of France - hosting special events that are intimate, yet sophisticated, is a breeze for this epicurean. When invited to join him at his family's estate that boasts utter relaxation and Provencal charm, we knew we had to sit down with him and pick his brain while he tells us his favorite Bastide products.
How would you explain your occupation to a five year old?
To a five year old, I would tell him that I am a treasure hunter.
What aspect of your work brings you the most joy?
The aspect that brings me the most joy has to be the balance between passion, humanity, tradition, and that transmission of knowledge and expertise from one generation to the next.
What is your favorite fragrance from Provence?
Sometimes I'll walk in the heath under the pine trees after the rain. I'll always vividly remember that every time I take a step, I'll hear the earth crunching underneath my boots and the scents of pine and moss would release up into the air.
Which ingredient of Provence do you prefer?
I guess if I had to pick one, the perfect ingredient would be garlic, but it's too common. It's used in everything. I believe ingredients can be subjective. At home, I enjoy cooking and gardening. In the garden, there is a whole evolution in which you seek to subdue the savage, without controlling it too much, by finding this balance within nature. I love the authentic ingredients that distinguish the soul of Provence. The ones that are close to this land and its tradition without falling too much into a cliché. By exploring Provence, one comes across exceptional products. For example, here we find Bottarga everywhere. This type of fish, will undoubtedly be better. It will have a charm that you will not find elsewhere.
What is your favorite Provençal dish?
My favorite recipe has to be ratatouille. We eat it a lot at home and we make it all the time, but I would also have to say that in the winter, I love a good stew.
In your opinion, is there a secret to health and happiness in Provence?
When we talk about Provence, we talk about several terroirs. I think that in our traditions, there are transmissions from generation to generation of savoir-faire. The transmission of this terroir is that we are what we eat, so there is this sort of appeasement and satisfaction through the sense of taste. Brillat-Savarin once said,
"the destiny of nations depends on the manner in which they are fed."
Once a week my grandmother makes this soup called Aïgo Boulido. It's basically boiled garlic, and in the evening, they will drink it. We consider it as a Provencal detox soup. In our culture, we pays attention to what we eat; we like to eat well. The 92-year old man here, takes his spoonful of olive oil and drinks it every morning. I think this relationship between mind, body and balance pairs nicely with health and well-being and contributes to the people's happiness.
Do you have a favorite beauty ritual, or maybe your mother or grandmother has one that she does every day?
When it comes to health, I think the soup is a good example, but in terms of beauty, I think we tend to use a lot of olive oil for everything. We even put it in the hair. Olive oil is really the base for everything. I like the Bastide hand wash and body wash - they all have olive oil as the base. It's simple yet powerful.
Why do you love Aix?
There is this symbolism of the majestic Saint Victoire here. The mountain captivates us and creates this hardened atmosphere, but at the same time, we see flowers and there are these sources of water, peaceful and quiet rivers that flow throughout the city. Here in Aix, there is more of an aesthetic study that radiates richness and nurtures one's willingness to explore nature.
Stan shared with us his own family's Provençal Ratatouille recipe, and take it from us - it’s delicious and easy! Try it out for a casual dinner party with friends and family. It’s healthy, easy to make, and perfect for leftovers. Eat it hot, or save it for later as a cold main-course. Pair it with couscous, meat, fish or make a pizza using the ratatouille as an appetizing vegetarian sauce.
2-3 bell peppers of different colors
4 onions, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves
6 ripe tomatoes
4 long zucchinis (green and/or yellow)
2 eggplants, cubed
Salt and pepper
1. Wash all the vegetables without peeling
2. In a cast iron casserole, sauté the onions with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until lightly browned
3. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes, include the seeds, then add to sauté
4. Cut the zucchinis lengthwise into 2 or 4 depending on their size, then dice into cubes
5. Mix well as the vegetable juices begin to simmer
6. Chop the eggplants into cubes and add in
7. Chop the bell peppers into thin strips and add in
8. Mix delicately without crushing the vegetables
9. Add bay leaves, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste
10. While covered, let the sauce simmer and stir occasionally for approximately 30 minutes
11. Add black olives and cook for 10 more minutes, covered, until the vegetables become soft
12. Serve with olive oil and enjoy!
#LaVieBastide is our interview series with creators and innovators who take a holistic approach to living the good life. Through our conversations, we spotlight the various ways they make time for joyful pursuits and thoughtful introspection amidst the busy, buzzing world, in the hopes that you will be inspired to hit “pause” every now and again to indulge in the simple pleasures that stir your passions, ensuring that yours is a life well lived.