Pairings | France

Sud de France: Caroline Conran's love letter to Languedoc

Sud de France: Caroline Conran's love letter to Languedoc

It’s a sign of just how good Sud de France is that it managed to pick up two major prizes last year (an Andre Simon and Fortnum & Mason award) without a single colour photo* or its author, well known and respected though she is in foodie circles, currently being on TV.

6 places to stop overnight on your way through France

6 places to stop overnight on your way through France

Every summer we used to drive down to our house in Languedoc in the south of France stopping off a couple of nights on the way. This post on our favourite hotels and chambres d’hotes was written back in 2014 but I've updated it with a new discovery, L'Hibernie.

Matching wine and charcuterie - an experiment

Matching wine and charcuterie - an experiment

About the most daunting audience that anyone could face is a group of wine writers, especially if a number of those happen to specialise in food and wine matching so it was with some trepidation that I agreed to lead a tasting on wine and charcuterie in London on Monday night on the eve of the London International Wine Fair.

Magnum and Le Tire Bouchon: two wine bars to discover in Toulouse

Magnum and Le Tire Bouchon: two wine bars to discover in Toulouse

When I knew I was going to spend 24 hours in Toulouse recently I asked my followers on Twitter - as you do - what restaurants and wine bars they would recommend. Unusually they all suggested different places which didn’t help that much so I ended up trawling around online.

Chez Miton and Au Fil de L’Aigronne: two Loire bargains

Chez Miton and Au Fil de L’Aigronne: two Loire bargains

Instead of hurtling down south on the motorway as we used to do with the kids to minimise family squabbling, we’ve taken to a stately three day progression with frequent stop-offs to visit winemakers, eat or simply drive through France’s beautiful unspoilt countryside and blissfully traffic-free back roads.

Six of the best wine pairings with cassoulet

Six of the best wine pairings with cassoulet

Anyone who has a passing knowledge of cassoulet will know that there are hotly disputed arguments about what constitutes the authentic version. But whichever way you make it it’s a substantial dish.

How to plan a food trip to Paris in 2014

How to plan a food trip to Paris in 2014

We’re off to Paris next week (hooray!) and as usual my husband has been doing his meticulous research on where we should eat and drink. These days you’re more likely to find out the best places online than through guide books so who are our trusted sources?

The 10 best wines for spring and early summer drinking

The 10 best wines for spring and early summer drinking

The last two days have been quite, quite beautiful, starting mistily, basking midday in an unseasonally warm sun and finishing with an extended dusk that announces that spring is finally here. I immediately want to eat lighter meals: the new season’s vegetables are not quite in yet but I can at least plan for summer and that means a spring clean of the cellar, pushing the full bodied reds to the back and assessing what whites, lighter reds and rosés I still have lurking in the racks.

Dry or fruity? Which style of white wine pairs best with simply grilled fish?

Dry or fruity? Which style of white wine pairs best with simply grilled fish?

About the last place I’d have expected to have an enlightening discussion about food and wine matching is in a fisherman’s shack called Chez Loulou down on the Languedoc coast. Actually I do it an injustice. It’s a restaurant - just - but one that relies for its appeal on fabulously fresh fish rather than fantastically skilled cooking.

Pithivier of pigeon with Hermitage jus and 2011 Château Plaisance, Fronton

Pithivier of pigeon with Hermitage jus and 2011 Château Plaisance, Fronton

Matching a rich dish like pigeon with wine is quite challenging, especially if you serve it with an intense jus like this one so should you go for something equally rich or a refreshing contrast?

Pear frangipane tart with Pacherenc du Vic Bilh

Pear frangipane tart with Pacherenc du Vic Bilh

If you want to show off a fine dessert wine the ideal match is a simple French apple or pear tart, so there should be no surprise then at this pairing of a pear frangipane tart (pears with a spongey almond base) and a Pacherenc de Vic Bilh cuvée 'Octobre'.

Duck confit and Madiran

Duck confit and Madiran

The two days I spent in the Gers region of the south-west of France last week (members can see a full report here) reminded me just what a strong terroir-based match the local Tannat-based wines are with duck confit. I tried it both with a Madiran and a humbler Côtes de St-Mont which uses the same grape varieties.

Calves' liver and Marcillac

Calves' liver and Marcillac

One of the pleasures of the huge clearing and putting away operation at our new French home is the discovery of forgotten bottles. The other day it was a Marcillac from Domaine Laurens which went incredibly well with that night’s supper of seared calves’ liver.

What French hostesses will be serving this Christmas

What French hostesses will be serving this Christmas

Open any French food magazine and you’ll find pages devoted to them. There are whole books on the subject. And no surprise, really - they’re easy, they’re pretty and they make you look like a great cook!

Wine of the week: Domaine d’Escausses, cuvée des Drilles

Wine of the week: Domaine d’Escausses, cuvée des Drilles

Although I’m supposed to be the wine expert in the family my husband has an uncanny knack of alighting on exactly the right bottle when we go out to eat, unfailingly plucking the bargain from any wine list.

What to drink with Turkish food

Turkish food is not traditionally accompanied by wine. And although the Turks do have a wine industry not much of it makes its way over here. But here are some thoughts on possible pairings for Mark Hix's Turkish inspired recipes in the Independent this weekend"

An insider's guide to the fish restaurants of Marseille and Cassis

An insider's guide to the fish restaurants of Marseille and Cassis

Travel writer Philip Sweeney hobnobs with the locals, checks out the best places to eat and discovers why fishing for bouillabaisse isn't as easy as it once was . . .

Bistro d'Alex, Florensac - a real find in an unlikely location

Bistro d'Alex, Florensac - a real find in an unlikely location

On a return visit this week to Bistro d'Alex in Florensac I found it just as good as it was when the review below was written five years ago - and the set menu, now 18€ (£15.50) for two courses, only 3€ more expensive.

Five great cheese and wine pairings

Five great cheese and wine pairings

You know how difficult it is to find a good wine and cheese match? Well here are five I’ve recently tasted that hit the spot perfectly. Four were at a tasting at the recent Bristol Wine Fair that was conducted by the food and wine writer Andrea Leeman. The other was a serendipitous one I came across the other night when we were eating with friends.

Les-Baux-de-Provence and civet de sanglier (wild boar stew)

Les-Baux-de-Provence and civet de sanglier (wild boar stew)

I went to a great little bistro the other day in St-Rémy-de-Provence called - appropriately enough - Bistro Découverte. It’s run by a very talented young sommelier I used to know in London called Claude Douard who worked for Marco Pierre White and Joel Rebuchon.

Gooseberry and saffron crème brûlée with a southern French Muscat

Gooseberry and saffron crème brûlée with a southern French Muscat

Once you get a feel for food and wine matching you don’t always need to taste a wine with a dish to know what will work. So it was with a simple, seasonal dessert I had last week at my favourite local, Culinaria.

Cheese and Château Bouscassé Vieilles Vignes 2000

Cheese and Château Bouscassé Vieilles Vignes 2000

As those of you who are familiar with this site will know I’ve got issues about drinking red wine with cheese. It may seem an obvious partnership but all too often it seems a warring one.

Cecina, potato and kale soup and Chateau Montus Madiran

Cecina, potato and kale soup and Chateau Montus Madiran

The idea of matching a soup with a full-bodied south-western French red wine might seem bizarre but it proved a surprisingly good pairing.

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