Match of the week | Cracked olives with fennel and Noilly Prat

Match of the week

Cracked olives with fennel and Noilly Prat

At this time of year in the Languedoc the markets are full of bowls of every conceivable type of marinated olives - so hard to resist with an ‘aperitif’.

Yesterday at Saint Chinian the queues were so dense we could hardly get near them then spotted a gap in the crowds and took our turn. We went for some cracked olives with fennel, fierce and bitter yet strangely good with local wines such as Picpoul, dry rosé and aperitifs like the famous Noilly Prat which is made just down on the coast at Marseillan.

We had the slightly sweeter ambré in the fridge which was delicious (over ice, with a dash of Fernet Branca, in my husband's case!) but I think the original drier, herbier version would have been even better. Or even a martini had we been so minded.

We'd also bought some msemen, a wonderful flaky bread that a Moroccan woman was making by hand in the market to tear and wrap each olive in which seemed to add to the experience.

I suppose it’s the hot sunny weather but vermouth seems such a good drink at this time of year. And now we’re off back to cool, cloudy England :(

See also how pastis and olives make an excellent pairing.

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