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02 May 2010

Béziers: Knight in shining armour @ the refinery

Béziers might still have a slight reputation as the rough-diamond of the Languedoc, but there's certainly more and more happening here on the food and drink front. The smart and curiously named wine bar Le Chameau Ivre ("the steaming camel," in the Irish sense that is), found smack in the city centre on Place Jean Jaures, appears to be getting a bit of a following for its lively Languedoc and Roussillon wine selection and colourful lunchtime tasting menu.
And the other night, I had a good meal at La Raffinerie restaurant, on the edge of town not far from the station alongside the Midi canal (Avenue Joseph Lazare: www.la-raffinerie.com), which used to be a sulphur refinery and retains some of its chunky industrial paraphernalia (huge grindstones and metal cogs). My succulent duck "tournedos" was very nicely accompanied by 1998 Croix la Chevaliere, the first vintage of nearby Mas de la Chevaliere's top red blend which is owned by Laroche / Jeanjean / Advini (thanks again Renaud Laroche, son of Michel of Chablis, for digging that out of the cupboard). At first, we thought lovely and complex although should be drunk now; but after a bit of airing actually got more delicious with its intense tasty savoury palate. The restaurant does two courses for €22 or three for €28, so pretty good value I guess.

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