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02 April 2010

Perpignan: "stuff your face (in style) @ Palais Gourmand..."

This extraordinary gastronomic event took place last Sunday in fact (28 March) in Perpignan, capital of "French Catalonia" or the "Mediterranean Pyrenees," as the tourist office calls it. So, more a case of "I stuffed my face" (in style though), as obviously it's already happened. Nevertheless, it's worth sharing as it really was an unusual one-off food and wine festival on a grand scale, which takes place every two years; so think about it for 2012. Populated by easily one thousand+ food and wine lovers, most of the region's top chefs, known as the “Toques Blanches du Roussillon,” were there cooking up creative nibbles in a frenzy, each joined by one of many winegrowers who poured a sample of their wine picked by the chef to match that particular dish. So: one stand, one chef (with plenty of hands on deck), one dish (starter, fish, meat or dessert) and one wine (tasting measures of both of course!). And lots of stands, hence a marathon tasting and eating session over several hours although, not surprisingly, impossible to try everything (I bet some people managed though). And that wasn't all: there were also several local butchers/charcutiers, cheese and honey producers, independent wine shops etc. there offering their wares. Overall, a great quality showcase for the region's talented restaurateurs, farmers, wine producers et al. Here's just a taster of some of my favourite combos:
Starter - medley of lobster, fennel and creamed sea urchin (by Philippe Bessieres, La Cote Vermeille in Port-vendres) with 2008 white Collioure "Trémadoc" from Domaine Madeloc.
Fish - Mediterranean fish fillet, caramalised potato, roquette and anchovy pesto and fried quinoa (by Bart Thoelen, Les Palmiers in Laroque-des-Alberes) with 2008 white from Mas de la Deveze.
Meat - Catalan veal sweetbread in a "meurette" sauce (rich reduced red winey: by Jean-Luc Planes, Hotel-Restaurant Planes et Planotel) with 2006 L'Ego red Cotes du Roussillon Villages from Domaine Cazes.
Dessert (two as difficult to choose) - sweet potato "tatin" with lime mousse (by David Carcaiso, La Casa Dalie in Thuir) with Rivesaltes ambré from the Trouillas co-op; and Montner "schist", choco-caramel praline and Rivesaltes "reduction" with 2003 L'Oursoulette Rivesaltes grenat (red) from Domaine Comelade (delicious fortified wine by the way).
Consult the 'Roussillon winery A to Z' for more on these wines and producers. And in the meantime, more info on the "Palais Gourmand" experience @ toques-blanches-du-roussillon.com and cdt-66.com (tourist office) to whet your appetite...

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.