Le bonheur est une petite chose que l’on grignote assis par terre au soleil.
Happiness is a little thing we nibble, sitting on the ground in the sun.
– Jean Giraudoux, French writer and diplomate
Languedoc Summer Nibbles Menu
It’s summertime in Languedoc-Roussillon. The cicadas are chirping to keep cool and we’re nibbling happiness in the form of seasonal produce. One of the fantastic advantages we have, living in such a warm climate and rural landscape, is being able to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables grown locally year-round and summer is the pinnacle.
If you have the privilege of living near an outdoor market or farm stand here, you know what it’s like to enjoy freshly-picked, vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes on a daily basis. Especially if inspiration has led you to add some fresh basil, chèvre, olive oil and fleur de sel – all local ingredients you can also find in neighboring market stalls. We’ve also been inspired by what the market has to offer and would like to share a few other suggestions for your next estival feast, all Languedoc – all delicious. Bon appétit !
Apéro – Toasts à la brandade et à la tapenade (Nîmes)
Simply take some great bread, either fresh from the boulangerie or sliced and toasted, and top it with cold brandade de morue or some black and green tapenade. The Nîmoise specialty of Brandade de morue is an emulsion of salted cod and olive oil, which goes very well with a dollop of black tapenade.
Just add chilled rosé and the apéro is ready.
Entrée – Tielles (Sète)
You can buy t-shirts that say “God created Sète, the Sétois people, then the rest of the world. Then the Sétois created the tielle for God”. I’d have to agree. This very tasty savory pie is made with squid, tomato, garlic, onion, olive oil, spices and a few secret ingredients. Tielles make a great starter, served with baby greens or some quick crudités.
Hint: Pay a visit to one of the original tielle bakers on the port in Sète or head to the local fête de la tielle held every year in early September.
Plat – La Gardiane de Taureau (Camargues)
Calling all carnivores! The Camargue, of which a portion is located in the Gard (la petite Camargue) is famous for several culinary delights including bull meat and rice. Taureau de camargue was the first meat to be certified under the French system of controlled designation of origin or AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée) and is known to be very lean and flavorful. You may not be an aficionado of the local bull-fights and Féria, but all meat-eaters love this slow-cooked daube (stew) and its wine sauce, served with Camarguais long grain or red rice.
Note: bulls who have gone through the corrida circuit are decked out in the label “combat bull” and are not labeled AOC.
Plat – Légumes du soleil farcis
For the rest of the crowd, dish up stuffed summer veggies – tomates, poivrons (bell peppers), courgettes (zucchini) et aubergine (eggplant), prepared either with a meat stuffing (veal, pork, beef), rice and cheese or even brandade de morue, which is also delicious hot.
Or if turning on the oven is out of the question – throw the produce on the BBQ, generously add olive oil, salt and pepper, grill and serve with fresh mint taboulé.
Summer eating in the Languedoc also means sun-drenched fruit – starting with apricots in June, followed by an exceptional melon period and finishing up the season with succulent figs in August.
Three of my favorite fruity desserts feature the region’s finest:
Abricots rotis au romarin for the early days of summer: simply marinate apricot quarters with olive oil and honey and skewer them on rosemary sprigs before grilling to perfection. Serve with ice cream or frozen yogurt.
Mid-summer Soupe de melon: this cold cantaloupe melon soup is the best remedy for steamy weather and can be served either as a starter accompanied by serrano type ham and basil cream or as a dessert with mint or berries.
Bye bye summer Tarte aux figues: this is one of my go-to desserts. It’s so easy and delicious it should be forbidden. Popular French pastry chef Cyril Lignac is behind this recipe that marries fresh figs, almonds, nougat and balsamic vinegar reduction and delicately placed in a pie crust and baked to perfection.
On that final note sucrée, Renestance wishes you an absolutely perfect summer. May you nibble on happiness sitting on the ground in the sun.