For the past 18 years, Kermit Lynch, the world-renowned wine dealer, has been bringing a touch of the south of France to his store on San Pablo Avenue.
Each fall, Kermit Lynch teams up with his next door neighbor, Café Fanny, to put on Provence in Berkeley, a day that celebrates everything French.
That means dozens of bottles of refreshing rose, white, and red wine, Christopher Lee’s hearty French bouillabaisse, local musicians, and more. The only thing missing from this Saturday’s event may be fields of fragrant lavender.
“Except for the actual Mediterranean Sea, we have almost everything we need to live it up à la provençale right here on San Pablo Avenue: olive trees, sunshine, delicious dry rosés, and Gail Skoff’s original hand-painted photograph of Lulu Peyraud’s simmering pot of bouillabaisse, and not far away is our own blue Pacific Ocean—what’s wrong with that?” Lynch wrote in his September newsletter.
Provence in Berkeley takes place in the Kermit Lynch parking lot, which is transformed by white tents, bubbling vats of soup, and the smell of wood smoke and crushed garlic. Anywhere from 400 to 700 people come to the 11 am to 4 pm event, and the food often sells out. This year, Kermit Lynch will also set up extra picnic tables and chairs in back parking lot.
No tickets are required, and wines will be sold $6 to $10 a glass. The bouillabaisse (get the recipe here) will probably cost around $15, although as of Thursday the price had not yet been set.
Lynch has invited his friend, Peter Lewis, co-founder of Seattle’s Campagne Restaurant and Café Campagne, to sign copies of his book Dead in the Dregs. It’s a crime novel centered around the brutal murder of a prominent wine critic. Ex-sommelier, Babe Stern, returns to the wine world to solve the case.
Provence in Berkeley is one of three community events that Kermit Lynch does each year. In April, the store puts on Oyster Bliss, featuring all things oyster. In November, the store does an event celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau, which is released the third Thursday in November. This year the celebration will be Saturday Nov. 20 September 18.
Photos courtesy of Clark Terry and Inspiring Thirst, the Kermit Lynch blog.