Cuisine

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 At the crossroads of cooking influences from the Mediterranean (fish and shellfish), the Massif Central (cured meats, venison, trout) and the opulent Gascogne (foie gras, preserved meats), our region offers an incredible variety of dishes. Whether you choose to eat at a table d'hôtes, or sitting outside a small restaurant, or even in a restaurant that has stars in the Michelin guide or simply within the country atmosphere of a farmhouse inn, you'll enjoy deliciously local culinary specialities in which the local produce and the natural warmth of the Languedoc find their expression.

 

The French have raised the preparation and serving of food to an art form and whether in a restaurant, the market or the local store you will really get the maximum benefit by having a good knowledge of the language of French cuisine, Click here for a helpful guide. It would not be possible to cover the endless variety of form and protocol surrounding gourmand practices, but there are three occasions during le repas which deserve particular attention.

 

Cheese
Making up a cheese board is not so easy because you need to find a balance. Ideally, you need to have all the main sorts of different "cheeses" (French are proud to say that we have a different cheese for each day of the year). Cheese is usually presented on a wooden board with special service settings accompanied with a good bottle of Burgundy or Bordeaux red wine (although the excellent local Cabardès reds will do just as well at a fraction of the price); cheese and red wine are famous for highly valueing each others' flavor. It is always appreciated if you serve a lettuce with your cheeses, or better still a salad  with a French vinaigrette. Obviously you must not forget French bread.

Below is a suggested mix of cheeses which, although not comprehensive, will never fail:

Camembert This is the French national cheese (if there is one) It is simply made of cow milk, and tastes far better when creamy, so let it outside of the fridge for a few hours before serving so that you make it softer.
Brie Similar to camembert  but without the characteristic "smelly feet" bouquet which can put some people off - comments on serving the same.
Goats' Milk Cheese This is excellent and will be the allied of most good red wines because it brings out their flavor. Goat's milk
cheese can be very dry, fresh or creamy - best to go for a medium dry one. A local speciality
Ewes' Milk Cheese Roquefort is the most famous, but there are many others which can be hard or soft.The flavor is very authentic but sometimes too powerful for "non-initiated" people. Best accompanied by a desert wine, eg a muscat.
Cooked Cheese It is not the most tasty, but you always need one on your board for those who like it.

 

Coffee

As apéritif time, this is another special convivial moment with your guests. Choose the right time to have them go to the living room and preferably make a real strong coffee in a coffee maker rather than using instant (which we never do !). Ideally, make an expresso for a strong coffee helps you digest.

Serving Coffee the French way
In France, the big fashion is to serve a square of dark chocolate with your coffee. The reason is that dark chocolate is said to highlight the flavor and aroma of a good coffee. You can offer Truffes/ Chocolate Truffles, that you would have prepared previously and which will make of your coffee a delightful time; you can present them in miniature dishes.
To people who would not wish to drink coffee, you can offer some infusion or tea.

Formal uses after Coffee

To men, you must offer different kinds of "digestif" alcohols, cognac or armagnac type ; remember the quantity is always very small and preferably served in cognac special glasses.
Again to men, you can offer a good cigar and this might be much appreciated by them, if all your guests are OK with its smell (which is rarely the case nowadays!).