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Languedoc Roussillon


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This thread may be of some help, though the information we've gleaned is a little up the road from Montpellier. On the other hand, if you get a day off and want to know a swell spot to dring pink wine on the riverbank and jump of cliffs into the Ardeche, we can tuen you on to a spot, and you can go to one of the places in the thread afterwards for dinner. :laugh:

If you find any good holes-in-the-wall between the Rhone and the Pyrenees please post.

And, while you're on the coast, find a shellfish joint and tell them that you want to eat "violettes."

Here's another thread that may have daytrip sugestions to Gard and Alpes-Maritime, and which is definitley a place to post any discoveries you make.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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This thread may be of some help, though the information we've gleaned is a little up the road from Montpellier.  On the other hand, if you get a day off and want to know a swell spot to dring pink wine on the riverbank and jump of cliffs into the Ardeche, we can tuen you on to a spot, and you can go to one of the places in the thread afterwards for dinner. :laugh:

If you find any good holes-in-the-wall between the Rhone and the Pyrenees please post.

And, while you're on the coast, find a shellfish joint and tell them that you want to eat "violettes."

Here's another thread that may have daytrip sugestions to Gard and Alpes-Maritime, and which is definitley a place to post any discoveries you make.

Thanks Charles, your links prompted me to put up a compendium of other existing threads.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Those octopus pies called "tielle" in Sète: go to Cianni (in the covered market), and nowhere else. If you're staying some time in Sète, go to The Marcel, and order the "piste d'encornets' (let's call that a squid marinade) or the "moules farcies" (do I have to translate?). They also have a very nice wine list: go for the whites!

"Mais moi non plus, j'ai pas faim! En v'là, une excuse!..."

(Jean-Pierre Marielle)

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  • 8 months later...

December 26-31st, 2006

Sete-Narbonne-Carcassone-Marseillan-Montpellier.

(If you'd like details on the beaches, towns and sites we visited, please email us!)

We took lots of food pictures, hoping that Mr. Tarte Tatin will provide some soon.

12/26:

The Grand Hotel in Sete, half hour south of Montpellier, an island reached from a causeway. Our room faced the canal, gorgeous. We were exhausted. We decided to eat in the hotel restaurant, which I think used to be good according to Graham Tigg, but that was many years ago, and it has a new name now. Quai 17 ... We had Muscat from the region, for an aperitif, then a rosé from the region , a Coteaux du Languedoc - Chateau de l’Engarran - very KoolAid-y pink, but a tasty wine nonetheless. Amuse bouche of cauliflower cream with gelée pain grillée (kind of strange), then entrée’s of oysters of Thau - very tasty and lots of sea taste - Chincoteague salts times 4. Served with mignonette and salted butter and brown bread, on a bed of uncooked lentils which were very messy - better to have served them on rock salt. Also a risotto with local mussels and chorizo with a cheese crisp. For main courses we both ordered the bourride. A different take on the usual preparation. This was less of the fish soup and more of a white fish, parsley, garlic preparation supplemented with cream. On reflection this was not a very good dish. Very strange. One dessert - a pear marmalade with ice cream and a burnt reglisse (regrisse?) (licorice) garnish. Very cool decor in what was obviously at one time a grand restaurant in the old tradition. The decor is now supplemented by LED lights, white paint, hardwood floors and interesting tables - pedestals, no legs. Nice heavy silverware, table ware laid diagonally, and Schott glasses. Service was pretty good and probably better than most of the other service we experienced down here in the Languedoc.

12/27, Lunch:

Narbonne. We had read that Brasserie Co. was okay. Just a simple town brasserie, but modern ... there was an upside down Christmas tree hanging from the ceiling. We ordered a 50 cl bottle of local wine, a place we had passed on the way from the Narbonne plage. Chateau Ricardelle, -La Clape, 2005 rose. Good rose. Dry. 11.50 euros. I had “Vice Versa de canard”. This was canard done two ways. A couple of nice sized pieces of sautéed foie gras, and a large piece of duck breast on a skewer, served very rare. Really pretty presentation. Lots of cooked sliced apples, all over a demi-glace, topped with lots of sautéed parsley and fresh chives, tasty chives for a change ... the foie gras was tasty. The duck breast was chewy and a bit tough, but still good! It was rolled in a few white sesame seeds and black pepper, but both were underplayed and not overwhelming. All this was topped with three large vertical pieces of fried spaghetti! Also a smudge of squid ink? over the side of the plate. 17.50 euros. Sam had “Tagine agneau”. It was a very gamey tasting lamb shank over couscous with raisins, served in a modern white tagine plate, they removed the top when serving it. It was okay, I like when lamb has taste, can’t stand most American lamb that hasn’t the taste of the animal at all. However, this was a bit too much for me. I don’t think it was old, mutton? 13 euros. He had a “Tarte citron vert”, which was basically lime mousse served in a glass, covered with groseilles and a “L’amour en cage” piece of fruit ... gooseberry? There were choc crumble leaves, a raspberry and strawberry … underneath was a shortbread or similar. The glass was served on a plate with pieces of white chocolate and raspberry sauce. We had two cafe’s which came with their own small pots of chocolate creme. Delicious, and the coffee was a large (for France) size, and delicious.Total: 51.30 euros

Wine shop and Dinner:

Found this great wine shop in Frontignan on the way back to Sete. Chateau de la Peyrade. Bought a Marc de muscat, a cremant de muscat, some sec and doux muscat and a couple of glasses.

Monsieur gave us a recommendation in Sete for dinner, turning up his nose at Quai 17.

Paris-Mediterraneae-menu 21 or 26 euros/2 or 3 courses.

Olives with fennel seed and lemon peel, delicious for our muscat aperitifs.

Tarama amuse foam creme-very light, a bit of espelette or harissa and parsley.

Mini ravioli with moules with sun dried tomatoes in a mussel bouillon and foam with chives.

Croustillant chevre frais avec pamplemousse and salad. Huge pave saumon wrapped in lardon with mash/chervil, topped with 3 large rosemary sprigs and roasted garlic in a demi glace.

Local Squid with squid ink targliatelle - topped with harissa? & creme, basil leaves.

They comped us Marc de languedoc, since we mentioned the recommendation.

Tarte au Coing with puffed pastry, pretty good, soft, not caramelized enough, with clotted cream that had tangerine? and bits of nuts in it, topped with groseilles (what is it that everything is topped with this?) and 2 raspberries and mint. More rose with dinner (L’esprit du Silene-’05, dry and honey) Total 73 euros.

12/28 Lunch:

Carcassonne to find Cassoulet better than Mr. Tarte Tatin's. Walked around and chose Brasserie le Donjon. They were so in the weeds...

Salad of Mache, endive, walnuts, bleu cheese with a light walnut oil, tomato concasse? around plate. Both had cassoulet. Bit of duck confit with bone, bit of sausage with filler?, bit of ham. No thyme, no nothing, very thin and too soupy ... there was a bit of crust which was good though there was a distinct lack of garlic. Corbieres red wine. Chateau Censier St. Louis, ‘04, 14 euros.

Gourmand coffee avec mini square creme brulée (excellent), tiny raspberry tarte, tiny apricot one, chocolate bon bons, Valronha choccie and good coffee. bread not as good here...57 euros total.-15 each for cassoulet and salad.

(Maybe the best things about this sojourn in the south so far, has been the fantastic local oysters and the wine. Most of the food has not reached an imaginative standard or a true respect for the ingredients. The cooking has an international sameness to it and one could as easily be in Philadelphia, Barcelona, Rome or Stockholm with some of the places we’ve dined in. The servers all speak English of a sort, everyone takes Visa, you can definitely get things you’d recognize, and the vegetable garnish is the same. Someone has managed to convey the concept of plate decoration and not just with parsley or chervil. There’s streaks of balsamic, dustings of espelette, sprinklings of sesame seeds).

Dinner:

Sete plage at La Corniche plage- La Table de Jean at the Hotel Conga - Yet another bizarre eating experience. Rosé Faugéres Abbaye Sylva Plana ‘05, Both had a panache de coquillages, 4 shrimp, 6 huitres de Bouzigues, 6 raw mussels(which everybody serves) , tiny palourdes (clams) barely enough to taste. Fish soup, huge tureen enough for a family of six, croutons, cheese, aioli -nice taste, and graininess. Not too spicy or rich. Moules farci á la setois - big mussels, split, stuffed with sausage and covered with a tomato sauce and an aioli accompanied with a basic mound of rice. Skipped dessert and coffee and tried to get the bill - it took 30 minutes. We think the service is so bad everywhere, because it's the week between Christmas and New Year's and it's the "B" team.

12/29 Lunch:

Marseillan for lunch. The Pourcel brothers restaurant was closed and the windows soaped over - Couldn’t figure out if they just closed for the holidays or if it was permanent. On the other side of the little harbor were four restaurants - The only one that was busy was Tavern du Port. This was one of those restaurants that you want to find and never can. A warm welcome, close tables and a menu with things you want to eat. Aperitifs of Amber Noilly Prat (it's made right there, but the museum was closed). Had moules marinere - big local mussels cooked with onions and Noilly Prat. Served with excellent bread. A feuillete of seafood, puff pastry filled with seafood in a cream sause with a tiny bit of curry. There were squid, scallops and fish. Then there was ‘seche’ which appeared to be sauteed squid strips with a lemon sauce. Very tasty.

Indifferent chocolate mousse - grainy, aerosol whipped cream. Drank a Faugeres Rose 05 - local to the area - tasty and ideal with lunch. We could have ended up staying all afternoon as the guy next to us introduced himself, and his friends and then took our picture.

The owners of the Tavern not only run the restaurant, but have a wine shop attached. Talked to the son while I was paying. A very serious, but pleasant guy who enjoys what he does.

After lunch we found an artisinal chocolate maker that who was recommended to us by the guy at Chateau Peyrade. Bought some truffle dark chocolates-made with real truffle, not candy truffle, the mushroom stuff! Also some prune-armagnac with bits of prune in it and a tomato basil chocolate.

Dinner:

Sete waterfront tourist trap. Didn't even take notes, there was a guy outside opening fresh seafood and it looked okay. Oursins (sea urchins), panache of four oysters, shrimp, raw mussels again.. Who knows what else...

12/30:

Had a private degustation in St. Christol, north of Montpellier at Chateau Hospitaliers. Madame and Monsieur kindly invited us into their home for a lunch of duck confit, boiled potatoes, salad and cheese. Also apples that they grow themselves. Bought some cremant for New Year's...we've had their wine before in Philly. Good, basic Languedoc.

Dinner in Montpellier: Stayed at Hotel Arceaux, near the aqueduct. We really should have reserved our meal in advance. This was the Saturday night before New Year's, and we had thought many times about reserving Jardins Des Sens and other's on Graham Tigg's list. But we didn't, and, lo and behold, every place was booked up. Ended up at Le Petit Jardin, near the Botanical Gardens. Not great at all...Head Cheese for Mr. and I had Linguine with salmon to start, Sea Bass over rice with indifferent vegetables, Magret with same vegetables, Pear with chocolate for dessert, another amour en cage...Good Viognier Serre de Guery, '05.

Overall, this is a SUPER region for fresh, local Bouzigues oysters, and we ate a lot of them, and saw lots of oyster farming areas on the bay off of the Med. Sea. The oysters have taste, they taste of the sea. The oysters I have in the States don't seem to have much taste at all on their own...The local mussels are great too, although I prefer them cooked to raw...

And, yes, this was a bad week for good places being closed, between Xmas and New Year's...but we had a super time, ran on some beaches in 50 degree weather to work off all the food and protein...

Now, we have to push Mr. Tarte Tatin into getting the food pictures posted!

Philly Francophiles

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  • 6 months later...

I just returned from a month in France on a business trip and wanted to let everyone know about a fantastic new restaurant in Magalas, in the Languedoc, O Bontemps. I ate there one night and have to say that, after 30 days of very good meals, this was absolutely outstanding. We were a large group of wine buyers who took over the place and so we had a set menu, but wow what a show!

The decor is modern rustic (ie exposed brick with small, pinpoint halogen lights) and colorful wall decorations. Service was good to very good, we rarely had to ask for water or anything else.

But the food...!

I took the liberty of uploading a picture of the menu with Chef Bontemps' (his real name!) beautiful cursive script writing to my website here. But I'll describe (and translate) everything we ate here as well.

We started with a round of small tapas, including a shot of Gazpacho, some cured-ham wrapped Melon, mussels with lard (OH MY GOD!), fresh olives, and small cherry tomatoes (so succulent that I ended up fighting with a neighbor for the last one) with a house vinaigrette.

First course was a porc terrine and a mousse of game birds with mustard flower and a capuccino of mushrooms (this last was just fantastic).

Second and main course was a delicious standing rib roast that was quickly smoked (to great fanfare and with great showmanship in front of us) with the local guarrigue herbs and a gratin of potatoes and mushrooms, all with a truffle-based sauce (I dare not call it a gravy). The meat was some of the best I've had in Europe, and if it was a mad cow, then frankly I don't mind going nuts. I am usually not a fan of European beef, but wow was this tasty, and cooked to perfection (bloody rare).

Next came a pungent cheese course, and dessert consisted of an apricot and peach jubilee dish and a chocolate cake that I just can't translate but was astonishingly good.

Add to this the wines and we were one happy crowd. :biggrin:

Cheers! :cool:

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Wow, thanks for that, Vinotas. We'll be passing near there on our way to Espelette from Uzès, and if they're open for lunch it will make a perfect stop.

Do you think the menu for a group such as yours was reflective of what the rest of us could expect to get?

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Wow, thanks for that, Vinotas.  We'll be passing near there on our way to Espelette from Uzès, and if they're open for lunch it will make a perfect stop.

Do you think the menu for a group such as yours was reflective of what the rest of us could expect to get?

Hi Abra,

From what I've heard from others, the food at O Bontemps is definitely top-notch. I don't know if we got special treatment (except for the smoking of the meat which was done in front of us), but we were a large group taking the place over for the night.

BTW, if you stop in St Jean Pied de Port on your way to Espelette, drop by La Cave des Vins des Pays de Nanterre, a small wine bar in the center of town. The owner, Patrice, was exceptionally helpful with wine advice, and his cured meats and chorizos were fantastic (and cheap!). I'll be writing a piece on the Basque Country in an upcoming blog posting.

Cheers! :cool:

Edited by Vinotas (log)
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Thanks for posting this - this part of France is producing some great wines but the list of really good local restaurants is short (details elsewhere on this site). Even though Magalas has a slight "middle of nowhere" air, O Bontemps looks like a real find.

Website is still under construction so its a bit hard to work out the essential details (opening times, directions etc), especially as no phone number is given - but your enthusiastic comments encourage me to keep trying.

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Thanks for posting this - this part of France is producing some great wines but the list of really good local restaurants is short (details elsewhere on this site). Even though Magalas has a slight "middle of nowhere" air, O Bontemps looks like a real find.

Website is still under construction so its a bit hard to work out the essential details (opening times, directions etc), especially as no phone number is given - but your enthusiastic comments encourage me to keep trying.

I just noticed the website is under construction but I do have his business card with the info:

O Bontemps

Place de l'Eglise

Magalas

Phone= (0)4.67.36.20.82

Tell him one of the guys from the Languedoc wine group sent you, he's just started (7 weeks in!) and while quite talented, he's a bit nervous. He'll appreciate knowing he's getting good press on the Web.

Cheers! :cool:

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We had lunch at O Bontemps on the second day of opening back in June. There's no doubt Olivier can cook - the Galette de pieds en mousse de volaille (literally pigs trotters cake with chicken mousse) was one of the star dishes, as vas a faux-fillet of veau. The wine list had some serious bargains. Service was slowed by the unreasonable number of walk-ins – eventually they needed to turn people away. Why can’t people make reservations? The only other gripe is the large portion sizes; I mentioned this and it sounds like it's been fixed. Will definitely go back when we’re down in September.

<p>

There are four other recent openings in the area I’d recommend. Use the links to find co-ordinates.

<p>

L'Entre Pots, Pézenas, similar style to O Bontemps. Seriously popular and that can put a strain on the service.

<p>

La Terrace du Mimosa, Montpeyroux, the Pugh’s of the nearby Le Mimosa have taken over what was the ailing Les Vins de l’Horloge.

<p>

L'Adonis Rouge, Nr.Olargues, a seriously remote location in the chestnut forests of the Haut-Languedoc. Sublime imaginative dishes from locally sourced ingredients.

<p>

L'Ocre Rouge, Hérépian, has actually been open a year or so. Young couple from Paris put on a fine solo show with cooking that keeps it refreshingly simple.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Popping down to an area of France I've never visited before......does anybody have any hidden gems to recommend?

If you're keen to get away from the coast into the wonderful Cevennes National Park, in the foothills of the Massifs Central, we had a wonderful dinner and spent a delightful two evenings at La Lozerette, in the hamlet of Cocures, just outside of Florac. Florac is only about two hours from the heat and bustle of Nimes (up past Ales), but it might as well be a million miles away, and if you've any inclination to hike, bike or simply drift through the gorges that rise above the River Tarn, it is well worth the trip. The restaurant at La Lozerette is a Michelin Bib Gourmand -- very good food at a reasonable price, my dinner was 30 euros, I believe - - and it is a "Bib Hotel" and "hotel du charme." Mornings you can see the commis cutting herbs from the garden for the night's meal.

We stayed in Uzes for a week, didn't come away with any great finds but if you have any access to cooking equipment, the Wednesday market there, which focuses on local growers and organic produce has the highest ratio of good food to crowd hassles of any market I've been to. They also have a Saturday market, which is more raucous and offers a variety of stuff beyond just the food. Couple of good wine and pastry shops, too, though most of the many bakeries were mediocre.

If you're going to the Pont du Gard (just outside of Uzes), by the way, there's a good chance that an early arrival will pay immense dividends. We arrived at about 9AM and felt we had the place almost to ourselves until the buses started rolling in an hour later.

I have more details if you've any interest, just PM.

Have fun!

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Try the map.  Click Click!

Its a big area so you need to look more specifically.

Thanks Dave.....great idea.

Thanks.

Try here

Not a million miles away from Castres. You won't be sorry. On the map as well!!

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Wow, what a coincidence.

Martin, I've just heard from Alex Charles who is involved in a website that serves the Languedoc community and has a restaurant section.

He is interested in having more folk participate, so I thought if any of our members who live there want to help out, so long as it doesn't detract from their loyalty to the eGullet France Forum, it could benefit us all.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Bastide Cabezac was written up in the Wine Spectator Aug 31 , 2006 issue Im heading there in Oct. also.

That makes sense because the article's title translates to "A restaurant where wine is king" and says that owner Francois Surget was previously a oenologue.

www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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