The Mancunion

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Christmas markets: La Cuisine Provençale

“If you ever feel like the German part of the Markets has got a little bit too much, get yourself to the calmer part on King Street”

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If your cheeks are stinging from the cold, what would you choose to eat in order to get you warm and full — a German Bratwurst? Not likely.

Seen as perhaps the more grown-up part of the markets, the King Street section, with its vaguely French theme, has always been one of my favourites. To make it better, it’s also ever-so-slightly less popular: a blessing you’ll understand if you’ve ever been caught up in the hordes of increasingly desperate shoppers at the markets on a Saturday afternoon nearing Christmas.

Halfway down, in pride of place among King Street’s classy outlets, is my favourite food stall at the Christmas Markets — La Cuisine Provençale. Serving traditional food of Provence, France this is the kind of food that hits the spot for me in the midst of the chaos of the markets.

The servers are friendly and generous, each plate handed over the counter of steaming hotplates full of meat, mushrooms and potatoes with a polite “Merci”. It is their food, however, that puts any other lunchtime-offering the Christmas Markets have to shame.

I choose their Mustard Chicken every time I go. Cooked in cream and dijon mustard, the perfectly-cooked chicken is bursting with herby, French umami flavour, and at £6 for a regular, you get your carton piled high with meat for the money you spend. Each dish also comes with a free choice of garlic potatoes or fluffy spiced rice. The potatoes — piping hot and powerfully flavoured with garlic, French herbs, and spices — are in my opinion the better accompaniment to their meat dishes.

They also cater to most, if not all, dietary habits and choices. Their vegetarian main is garlic mushrooms, cooked slowly in a smooth garlic and parsley sauce which is fragrant and satisfying on a cold winter’s day, and all at £5 per regular serving. If gluten’s your problem, they also have many options for that — the mushrooms, Provençal chicken, and garlic potatoes are all gluten free.

If you ever feel like the German part of the Markets has got a little bit too much, get yourself to the calmer part on King Street. But, you’ll have to be quite quick, even when I visited early on a weekday afternoon they had run out of the tartiflette that they had on offer. Perhaps while you’re visiting, you could also treat yourself to a “special” mulled wine, made extra-specially  French with a shot of brandy, from the outlet just down the street.