The appetizer conjures up a small café in St. Tropez with gentle Mediterranean breezes, the entrée transports one to the bustling port of Marseille and the dessert takes one to the lavender-scented interior of Provence…
This menu from Provence was dreamed up by Chef Eric, the instructor/chef for many different food & wine pairing courses at UBC. It’s perfect for June, with a selection of seafood and light summer wines.
To start, an appetizer of grilled mussel & bacon kebabs on a basil cream sauce, with a white wine, Terre de Neptune, Picoul de Pinet.
The entrée was an incredibly fragrant Bouillabaisse of Marseille, served up with grated Gruyere cheese and the rouille on top. Domaine Houchart, a Côtes de Provence Rosé, was chosen to go with the bouillabaisse.
- to start making a bouillabaise, chopped onions, celery, carrots, garlic and fennel are added to a small amount of olive oil in a BIG soup pot, and sweated for a few minutes.
- the second step is to add orange zest and pulp, tomatoes, several small crabs broken up, fish heads and bones plus water.
- the fish head minus eyes in the fish stock which now has wine, pernod and spices, and is normally simmered for several hours until it has reduced by a third. At this point the fragrance of the soup stock is to die for!
- once it has reduced, the fish stock is ground through a moulin to remove the fish bones and crab shells
- fish & prawns waiting to go into the elaborate fish soup base that makes up a true bouillabaise; later clams, mussels and scallops are added…
- a rouille: potato, garlic, chile, saffron and olive oil swirled in a food processor, and used as a garnish on the bouillabaisse.
- Bouillabaisse of Marseille served up with grated Gruyere cheese and the rouille on top.
Chef Eric chose a rosé to go with the bouillabaisse, although noted that a dry white Sauvignon Blanc would also pair well. However, since 85% of Provence’s wine production is devoted to rosés, we really couldn’t have a meal from Provence without a rosé.
Rosés from France, and Provence in particular, are very different from the sweet ‘White Zinfandels’ and other American-style rosés. The first word that came to mind when I tasted a series of Côtes de Provence Rosés was ‘sour’. I was soon corrected; they are ‘full of acid’ which makes them ‘palate-cleansing’, a perfect match for seafood and summer soups, or both, as in the case of bouillabaisse.
To finish our meal from Provence was ‘fariguole’ cake with grapes, with a delicate citrus flavour and not too sweet.