Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Pelardon AOP or Pelardon des Cévennes AOP Goat Cheese

Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Pelardon des Cévennes AOP cheese
Photograph courtesy of pdoin.
The  Pelardon AOP or Pelardon des Cévennes AOP
This is a 50% fat, goat’s milk cheese, made with unpasteurized milk.  These are tiny cheeses rarely weighing over 60 grams (2 ounces) each.  When this cheese is sold after 10 or 12 days of aging, it is a very mild cheese, and then it will often be served warm with a salad. More mature cheeses have a bite, and they will be on the cheese trolley. This little cheese is a very special cheese. From France's over 400 registered cheeses less than fifty hold a French AOC/AOP.  When you have tasted this cheese you will justify it being in the top 10%.

Pelardon des Cévennes AOP cheese
Photograph courtesy of may116.
Where the Pelardon des Cévennes AOP cheese is made

The cheese is made in and around  some 200 plus small villages in  the department of Lozère in Languedoc-Roussillon and in the neighboring departments. Many of the villages where this cheese is made have populations of less than 200.

Taking a rest from cheese making.
Photograph courtesy of Sudarshan V 

The cheese’s history.
The cheese has a possible two-thousand-year-old history.  That history begins with writings showing a cheese from the area much in demand in Rome. It is not certain that the local cheese the Roman loved was the same as that sold today; however, today's Roman tourists visiting France will find this cheese in most of the better fromageries, cheese shops all over France.  For pairing this cheese, if you are in the area, consider  trying their local red, rose and white wines. Their Vin de Cévennes IGP.
Visiting the department of Lozere
Lozère is beautiful and a place for the tourist who wants France without hordes of tourists. Lozere has less than 80,000 inhabitants; it is the least inhabited department in France. The department covers over 5,000 square kilometers, (2,000 square miles).

Aligot in Lozere.
Photograph courtesy of  Christian MANGE
Buying the cheese
The cheese is available in all the better fromageries, cheese shops, throughout France.  In the restaurants of Lozere the Pelardons de Cevennes AOP  will be on nearly every cheese plate. Elsewhere in France the cheese may be on the menu or the cheese trolley as it is a cheese with many aficionados among French chefs. For information on buying cheeses in France and taking them home click here:
Pelardons de Cevennes on  French Menus:
Pélardon des Cévennes Grillé sur Lit de Roquette et Sorbet Yaourt au Lait de Brebis  - Pélardon des Cévennes cheese, grilled and served on a bed of rocket salad greens with a sorbet made of sheep’s milk yoghurt.
Ravioles au Pélardon des Cévennes sur un Crémeux de Champignons au Bouillon de Poule – Ravioli filled with Pélardon des Cévennes cheese and served with a creamy mushroom sauce in a light chicken broth.
Salade Verte, Pélardon des Cévennes Chaud sur Pain de Campagne  - A green salad served with hot Pélardon des Cévennes cheese on country bread.
Tatin d'Oignon Doux des Cévennes Confit Gratiné au Pélardon – An onion pie made with the unique AOP sweet onions from the Cévennes prepared as a thick sweet jam, a vegetable confit, topped with the Pélardon des Cévennes cheese and browned under the grill.  The sweet onions used here come from the department of Gard that borders Lozere. The Oignon Doux des Cévennes AOP, are practically hand raised.
Travelling in Lozere.
Farming and tourism are the main occupations in Lozere. In the winter, there is skiing and in the summer kayaking, hiking and fishing. The rivers Lot, Tarn, Truyere, Allier Altier, Gardons, and Cevennes run through the department and have made Lozere an important center for fishing enthusiasts from all over France and beyond. These rivers have many different fish, but the most important are the brown trout.  In French that is the truite fario, truite commune, or truite de rivière.

Brown trout 2,5 kg.(lbs),
Photograph courtesy of   Michael Meiters
Brown trout in the languages of France neighbors:
(Catalan - truita de mar), (Dutch - zeeforel), (German – meerforelle), (Italian  - trota fario), (Spanish - trucha común, trucha marrón, trucha reo).
Learning about Lozere
If want to know more about the department of Lozere's history, visit their small museum:  Le Musée des Vallées Cévenoles, the museum of the Cévenole valleys. The Museum is in the village of Saint Jean du Gard.  Saint Jean-du-Garde is 89 km  (56 miles) from Mende, the prefecture.

For more about the Cevennes look at their English language website:
A special part of the history of Lozere.
The department is internationally recognized for the small town of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. Through its Protestant Pastor, this whole town worked together and saved thousands of Jews in WWII. Many were smuggled into neutral Switzerland, and many others were hidden throughout the whole war in private homes and the nearby forests. The whole village was recognized as among the Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in Israel and in 2004 by the French President Jacques Chirac. The town is 130 km (81 mile) from Mende the Prefecture, the regional capital. The French language website of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon can be well understood using Google or Bing translate:

The church in Chambon-sur-Lignon
Photograph courtesy of sweetpeasue.
Where is Lozere

Lozère is the least populated a department in France.  It is in Languedoc - Roussillon bordering the department of Gard also in Languedoc - Roussillon.   Lozere also borders Ardeche in the Rhone Alps, Aveyron in the Midi-Pyrénées and Cantal and Haute-Loire in the Auvergne.

The Lozere French language website can be easily understood with the Google or Bing translating apps:
Avignon is less than 50 km (31 miles). under one hour by car.
Montpellier is 65 km (41 miles),  one and a quarter hours by car.
The Camargue and the city of Arles are 80 km (50 miles), one hour by car.
Connected Posts:

Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French menu
Copyright 2010, 2015.
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Dining on Anchovies in France. Visiting the Fishing Village of Collioure. Enjoying Anchoyade and Tapenade, France’s great anchovy spreads.

Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu

Anchovies going to school.
Photograph courtesy of Erik Sorenson

Collioure the town
Collioure is a small and attractive town on France’s Mediterranean coast just a few miles from the Spanish border. It earns its living from fishing, wine, and tourism and the local cuisine is much influenced by the area’s Catalan past. The most famous fish from Collioure are its fresh anchovies, they will be on local menus from April through September and are a treat that should not be missed.

Photograph courtesy of thiery llansades.
Art in Collioure
While you are looking for the right restaurant to taste your fresh anchovies, remember that both Henri Matisse and Andre Derain, amongst other artists, loved the town of Collioure. Here they found the colors and light dazzlingly beautiful. Collioure became the perfect setting for their short-lived venture into Fauvist art. Today, all along the town’s " Fauvism footpath, " you will find reproductions displayed on the spots where the original works were painted. The local Tourist Information Office will provide a map. Many living artists love the town and many painters, writers, and sculptors, have made Collioure their home.
The English language website of the Tourist Information Office in Collioure is
Fauvism, the name of this short-lived school of painting came from an insult, meaning wild beasts. It was aimed at the founders and their use of raw colors; the most well-known members of this group were the then unappreciated Henri Matisse, Albert Marquet, Vlaminck and Andre Derain.

Henri Matisse: Landscape at Collioure
The original picture  is part of the collection at Moma, NY.
Photograph courtesy of wallyg.
Collioure and its surroundings.
Collioure is in the department of  Pyrénées-Orientales in Languedoc-Roussillon. It is on the Mediterranean coast and just a few  kilometers from Spain.   If you are in Collioure try to take a day and visit Banyuls sur Mer, a little further down the coastal  road to Spain.  This is the town that gave its name to the Banyuls AOP, which are fortified wines made in a similar manner to Sherry, Port, and Madeira.. A fortified wine is made by ending the fermentation that takes place in the barrels by adding an eau-de-vie, a grape alcohol, to the wine.  Ending the fermentation before it is naturally completed controls the amount of alcohol in the wine and the level of sweetness.
 If you have an extra half day available, then do not ignore Céret 15 km  (9 miles) inland. Ceret is another small town loved by many artists, especially the cubists, including Picasso. Ceret is also the self-proclaimed Cherry Capital of France.
All of this area is part of Northern Catalonia. The area was ceded by Spain to France in 1659. A large number of the locals still speak Catalan at home or among friends and Catalan cuisine will be on French menus throughout the area.
Collioure is the place to try fresh anchovies.
Anchois, Amplova and Anchoio in the Provencal language. – The European anchovy. There are over one hundred members of the anchovy family; however, most of us only see anchovies when they are already fileted, boned, salted and canned or bottled. In France, you may enjoy freshly marinated or grilled anchovies as well as fresh anchovy pastes and spreads. These taste very different to preserved anchovies. When fresh anchovies are on the menu don't think twice.
Fresh Anchovies on  French menus:
Anchois Frais Avec Aubergines et Poivrons Grillés – Fresh anchovies served with grilled aubergines, eggplants, and sweet bell peppers. Fresh anchovies have lots of omega-3 and the marinating or grilling removes any fatty taste. Fresh anchovies have white to ivory colored flesh. The dark colors of bottled or canned anchovies come from the pickling process.
Anchois Frais Grillés – Grilled fresh anchovies.

Grilling fresh anchovies.
Anchois Frais Grillés, Sauce Basilic Grilled fresh anchovies served with a Basil sauce. A basil sauce may be a French pistou, similar to the Italian pesto sauce or something very different. Ask for more information on how your sauce will be made,
Anchois Frais Grillés Avec Oignons – Fresh anchovies grilled with onions.

Grilled anchovies, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, grilled eggplants, aubergines, and zucchini courgettes, and onions.
Photograph courtesy of   John Ong
Anchois Frais Marinés au Vinaigre de Xérès - Fresh anchovies marinated in sherry vinegar.  

Spanish boquerones en vinagre.
Anchovies in cans are preserved in salt and that provides them with a significant part of their strong taste.  Anchovies marinated in vinegar, as with Spanish boquerones en vinagre, are milder, and the anchovy retains its white color.
                                                      Photograph courtesy of  JaulaDeArdilla

Anchois de Collioure ou Petite Salade de Chèvre Chaud  Fresh anchovies from the Mediterranean fishing village of Collioure served with a small salad with warm goat’s cheese.
Anchois salés – Salted anchovies.
Anchois Fumée – Smoked anchovies,

Assiette d'Anchois Marinés, Pan Tomate – A plate of marinated anchovies served with bread and tomatoes.
Anchois Frais et Persil en Friture - Deep fried fresh anchovies with parsley

Anchois de Norvège–These are not anchovies; they will be other small fish, whitebait, or similar.
Anchovy spreads and pastes..
Anchoïade, Anchoyade, Anchoiade or Anchouiado - An anchovy spread created in Provence. If you like anchovies, olives, garlic and olive oil, this is for you. Spread your anchoyade thickly on French country bread, a sliced baguette or toast. Then order a glass of a cold, dry, white wine. Finally sit back and close your eyes and take a bite; you may find yourself in anchovy, olive, and garlic heaven. The Anchoïade is crushed anchovies, mixed with crushed garlic in olive oil; the puree may also be mixed with a dash of vinegar.
Anchoïades may also be used in sauces that accompany other dishes including steaks, fish, and poultry.

Photograph courtesy of Elodie Expert
There are variations on the way Anchoïade is made and many have local followings along the Mediterranean coast. The variation that stands out in the popularity stakes is tapenade.
Tapenade -  An anchoïade made with added crushed capers. Capers add spice to the spread. Tapenade’s name comes from the Provençal word for capers, tapenas.  In the South of France, a tapenade may be an hors d'œuvre or it may be spread on salmon or meat and cooked. Anchovies are used in many, many French dishes and whether fresh or canned are absolutely essential in some Provencal recipes.

Fresh black olive tapenade on toast with mixed fresh berries on the side.
Photograph courtesy of Christa.
Sauce à l'Anchois
Sauce à l'Anchois -  Fresh Anchovy  Sauce. The recipe will vary with the chef; however the ingredients are anchovy filets ground to a paste with garlic and capers. All will then be blended with fresh mayonnaise.   The preserved anchovy pastes sold in tubes are very different. They have a much stronger taste that comes from added salt. The tastes of preserved pastes are much stronger than canned or bottled anchovies and should be used with care.
Anchovies outside Coulioure.

Apart for fresh anchovies the greatest use of anchovies is the canned  and bottled anchovies.  The preserved anchovies decorate and flavor our pizzas anchovies  and are essential for many Provencal dishes.

The expected pizza with black olives and anchovies.
Photograph courtesy of Allen Wong
Back in the oceans anchovies are an important part of the seas' ecosystem. The vast numbers of anchovies around the world provide food for hundreds of other fish along with the birds that clean up any that are missed. Look at the pelicans below.

A humpback whale scooping up hundred of anchovies at a time.
To make the schools of anchovies easier to round up whales work together. They create a ball of swimming anchovies. Then they scoop them up. Here we may see the pelicans picking up any anchovies that the whale misses.
Anchovies in History.
Long before bottling and canning anchovies were being preserved by fermentation. The Romans'  favorite sauce was an anchovy based sauce called garum and they could take this with them. In Rome the manufacture of garum was an important industry both for local consumption and for export.
Anchovies naturally have a pleasant flavor and in French cuisine, there are anchovy butters, and anchovy sauces are served with steaks and more.  Anchovies are also an indispensable element in the British creation of Worcestershire sauce. 

A can of rolled anchovies with capers and olive oil.
Photograph courtesy of justmakeit.

The anchovies we see in bottles owe their existence to Nicolas Appert (1749 -1841).
Fifty years before Pasteur and pasteurization Appert spent fifteen years inventing an airtight container that cooked the food inside it and preserved it.. Albert received from Napoleon I, in 1810,  a prize of  12,000 Francs for his innovation. It preserved much more than anchovies and allowed the French navy to take on board food that remained edible for long voyages.
However, Apperty was not alone. Just two years later an English inventor Peter Durand patented canning, as opposed to Appert’s bottling.  Fresh, canned or bottled, anchovies play an important part in many French and other Mediterranean kitchens, and anchovies are essential for some Provencal recipes.
Anchovies in the languages of France’s neighbors:
 (Catalan – anxoves), (Dutch- ansjovissen),(German- anchovis, sardelle ). (Italy – acciuga, alice), (Spanish- anchoa, boquerón).

How to get to Collioure:
From Paris by TGV with one connection, five hours, fifty minutes. By car  881 km (550 miles), eight hours. From Paris to Perpignan International airport by plane, one hour and twenty minutes, plus forty minutes from Perpignan to Collioure by car or bus.
From  Marseilles via regular train, nearly five hours, 351 km (220 miles). Approximately three and one quarter hours by road

From Perpignan International airport. 35km (22 miles) 40 minutes by car or bus. From Perpignan train station 20 minutes with trains every one or two hours.

From Barcelona via TGV, one hour and 20mm.  Trains run every four hours. Distance is 196 km (122 miles). Two and a half hours by road.

From London by train eleven hours, with two connections. From London to Perpignan by plane is two hours and five minutes plus forty minutes from Perpignan to Collioure by car or bus.
Connected Posts:
Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2015.

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

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