A Meal (with Wine) from Provence

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.

an appetizer of bacon & mussel on skewers with basil cream

a white wine from Provence, to go with pour mussel and bacon appetizer

a white wine from Provence, to go with our mussel and bacon appetizer

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.
chopped onions, celery, carrots, garlic and fennel are added to a small amount of olive oil

chopped onions, celery, carrots, garlic and fennel are added to a small amount of olive oil

  •  the second step is to add orange zest and pulp, tomatoes, several small crabs broken up, fish heads and bones plus water.
soup stock with vegetables, crab and oranges

soup stock with vegetables, crab and oranges

  • 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!
fish head in the base stock

fish head in the base stock

  • once it has reduced, the fish stock is ground through a moulin to remove the fish bones and crab shells
stock goes into a moulille

stock goes into a moulin (mill)

  • fish & prawns waiting to go into the elaborate fish soup base that makes up a true bouillabaise; later clams, mussels and scallops are added…
fish on vegetable marinade

fish and prawns ‘resting’ on vegetable marinade

  •  a rouille: potato, garlic, chile, saffron and olive oil swirled in a food processor, and used as a garnish on the bouillabaisse.
a rouille of potato, garlic, chile, saffron and olive oil

a rouille of potato, garlic, chile, saffron and olive oil

  • Bouillabaisse of Marseille served up with grated Gruyere cheese and the rouille on top.
Boullabaise

Bouillabaisse

the rosé wine from Provence that Chef Eric chose to go with the Boullabaise

The rosé wine from Provence that Chef Eric chose to go with the Bouillabaisse.

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.

  • the ‘fariguole’ cake with grapes, here just about to be popped into the oven.11maGateau40649w
  • the finished gateau had a delicate citrus flavour and was not too sweet.Gateau
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2 responses to “A Meal (with Wine) from Provence

    • Definitely a pound of butter, although perhaps more in the north of France! Or maybe only half a pound.

      In fact, I’ve noticed that the further north you go in Europe the more butter they use. My mother-in-law was French-Belgian and most of her recipes have LOTS of butter. But then, my dad was Danish and put at least 1/4 inch of butter on his 1/8 inch slice of rye bread…

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