Saturday, May 28, 2016

Denté, Denti or Denté Commun - The Dentex or Common Dentex, a Mild but Tasty Fish.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman


Dentex from the sea.
When caught in the wild the dentex will have come to your menu via the Mediterranean or the Atlantic. Nevertheless, fish under 600 grams will have come from fish-farms.  In the wild, dentex can reach 15 kilos or more, but they are rarely seen over six kilos.

Dentex in the Mediterranean I.

Dentex on French Menus:

Pavé de Denti Sauce Vierge –- A thick cut of this fish served with sauce vierge. (See the appendix Sauces: Sauce Vierge).
Denti de la Pêche Corse Rôti –- Wild dentex from the Corsican coasts, served grilled.

Carpaccio de Denti – Dentex Carpaccio.

Pave de Denti aux Girolles – A large cut of dentex prepared with girolle chanterelle mushrooms.

Denti au Four. (Minimum 4 pers) – Roasted dentex, for a minimum of four persons. This will be a single fish weighing over one kilo; probably one and a half kilos. Deboned that will be close to 250 grams of fish per diner.

Dentex in the Mediterranean II.
Photograph courtesy of Christophe Quintin

Denti de Méditerranée Rôti, Fricassée de Girolles aux Abricots et Salicornes – Dentex, from the Mediterranean, roasted and served with a fricassee, a stew, of girolle chanterelle mushrooms, apricots, and salicornes.  Salicornia or samphire is often, mistakenly, called an edible seaweed; it is not.  Salicorne, of which there are many family members, grows in salt marshes and along the coast, not in the sea.  The young salicorne plants are collected between April through July and then will be used in salads, sauces, soups.
Dentex with cuttlefish ink.

There are quite a number of close dentex family members, and they will all find their way to the menu under the one name, dentex.
Dentex in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(Catalan - dentó), (Dutch - tandbrasem), (German – zahnbrasse), (Italian- dental, dendichi, dentice), (Spanish - dentón, déntol).

Connected Posts:


Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2016

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

The Figues de Sollies, the Best Figs in France.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

Figues de Sollies
Figue/s – Figs; the fruit. Figs reached France through those first seafaring wholesalers, the Phoenicians and now grow all around the Mediterranean. Figs are another of the fruits that first grew in the Middle East or Asia and spread with traders who followed or established trade routes.   The first findings of domesticated plantings of the fig come from a 10,000-year-old Neolithic village discovered in The Jordan Valley, north of Jericho in the Middle East.  That timing even pre-dates the domestication of wheat.
      The Greeks and Romans loved figs and when the Romans occupied France in 121 BCE there were not enough fig trees for their needs, so they brought more. The Greeks had previously brought new vines, and then the Romans brought figs, peaches, cherries, apricot trees and more. The Romans were the first to use figs to fatten pigs and geese and create the fatty animal livers they loved, and so it was the Romans who taught the French how to prepare foie gras. Then again, there are many who still ask “what did the Romans ever do for us”?  Well. the Romans also taught the French to set up and run snail farms and even created a system for imitation rain to make the snails grow faster
Figs on French Menus:

Carpaccio de Veau au Fromage de Chèvre et aux Figues-  A veal Carpaccio served with goats' cheese with figs.
Le Trio de Fromages Corses et sa Confiture de Figues – A trip of three kinds of Corsican cheese served with a fig jam.
Figs du Sollies

Magret de Canard aux Figues Duck breast prepared with figs

Pageot aux Figues Fraîches à la Sarriette - Sea bream prepared with fresh figs flavored with summer savory.

Pavé d'Espadon aux Figues Fraiche accompagné d'une Purée – A thick cut of swordfish prepared with fresh figs and served with potato puree.

Wild figs, also tasty.
Sorbet Citron Avec Alcool De Figues – A lemon sorbet with fig alcohol.
Suprême de Pintade aux Figues et Pruneaux Marinés au Porto. Breast of Guinea Fowl with figs and prunes marinated in port.
Tarte aux Figues Tiède et Boule De Glace Vanille – A warm fig tart served with a ball of vanilla ice-cream.
The very best of France’s figs:

The very best figs in France come from in and around the village of Solliès – Le - Pont in the department of Var in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. The Figues de Sollies AOP are also called the Figues Violettes de Sollies. These particular violet colored fresh figs are practically hand reared and hold an AOP  for their unique quality. They are sold fresh from the 1st of September through the 30th of October. The small town itself should also be awarded an AOP for its beauty.
A superb fig tart.

     The French Government Tourist Information Office that includes 5 communities around Sollies and has a French language website. Google and Bing translate apps present the sites in English.

      When you visit the village of Solliès-Le-Pont, you may well assume that the village may have been part of the Garden of Eden. Water channels run everywhere, taking water throughout the village to all the trees and gardens, which are filled with many different fruits. Close by are the villages of Sollies-Toucas and Sollies-Ville.  Sollies means the sun in the Provencal dialect. The village of Solliès-Pont is just 45 km (28 miles) from St Tropez.

The Feast of Figs

Summer fruits
     The last Friday, Saturday and Sunday in August are the dates for the Fête de la Figue de Solliès-le-Pont, the Feast of the Figs in Sollies. The fete’s organizers have a French language website.  Using the Google or Bing translate apps all will become clear:
      The fete begins on the Friday night when meals with figs as their centerpiece are prepared in the village square.  Saturday and Sunday include hikes, visits to fig orchards and market stalls selling a wide variety of artisanal products; these and many more events are followed by fig parades with decorated carts, Provencal dances and more.  Of no less importance is the election of a baby as the year’s “baby fig” and fig cooking competitions.

Fig and spice jam

      Around the village of Sollies are other communities whose residents make a great deal of their income from growing these same unique figs. So do not be surprised if there are many places in the area you pass offering figs.

       If you are looking for the world production of figs the very best are the Sollies who produce less than 20,000 tons a year. However, around the world over 1,000,000  tons of figs are produced annually.  The world’s largest producer, Turkey, alone accounts for over one-quarter of the world’s needs.

Connected Posts:

Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2016
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

Ossau-Iraty AOP one of France’s two AOP sheep’s cheeses.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

Ossau-Iraty AOP Cheese.

Ossau-Iraty AOP – A 50 % fat, non-pasteurized, smooth, creamy and firm.  sheep’s milk cheese. This is a semi-hard cheese with a white to ivory color and a subtle, slightly nutty, taste; the  rind is yellow–orange to reddish gray. The cheese is aged for a minimum of two to three months before being sold. The aging of this cheese is very important and is done in damp, temperature, controlled cellars; the cheese is turned and brushed every few days to ensure that each cheese matures evenly.
Ossau-Iraty AOP is one of only two sheep's milk cheeses granted AOP status in France. (The other is Roquefort AOP). Whole cheeses weigh 4 -5 kilos ( 9 – 11 lbs) each. Ossau-Iraty will not only be on the cheese trolley it will be on many menus:

A wrapped Ossau-Iraty Cheese.
Ossau-Iraty on French Menus:
Ossau-Iraty et sa Confiture de Cerises Noires – Ossau-Iraty served together with black cherries.  This is a popular dessert
Figues Fraîches au Jambon Sec de Montagne et Ossau Iraty – Fresh figs served wuth cured mountain ham and Ossau-Iraty.

Omelet melon and Ossau-Iraty cheese.
Photograph courtesy of Guillaume Simon
Jambon Cru, AOC Ossau-Iraty, Piment d'Espelette, Pommes de Terre Risolées, Sorbet Griotte.-  Cured Ham, Ossau-Iraty AOP Cheese, Espelette pepper, deep fried rissole potatoes and a sorbet of sour cherries.
Le Merlu Étuvé Lentement, Poutargue et Ossau-Iraty, Slowly steamed whiting, the fish. Here it is served with portargue, the salted and dried roe of the gray mullet and Ossau – Iraty.
Aging Ossau Iraty Cheese
Demi Magret de Canard, Cuit au Sel de Guerande, Céleri au Miel et Galette de Pomme de Terre a  l'Ossau Iraty. Half a duck’s breast cooked on the salt from Guerand along with celery with honey, a potato pancake, and Ossau Iraty.
Brochettes aux Figues Fraîches, Ossau Iraty et Jambon Sec de Modena. - Skewers of fresh figs, served with Ossau Iraty cheese and cured ham, from Modena, Italy.
Salade Tiède de Poires Comice, Ossau Iraty et Noisettes Torréfiées – A warm salad with comice pears, Ossau-Iraty Cheese, and roasted hazelnuts.

The cheese’s most important producer.

There is an age-old dispute over who first created this cheese; the dispute is between the historic regions of Béarn and the Pays Basque, the Basque Country.  Until the 1970’s the same cheese was called Ossau in Béarn and Iraty in the Pays Basque. Then someone said let us work together to market this cheese properly; that may mean increased incomes, maybe a new television, maybe a new car, maybe Common Market subsidies?. Then voila after hundreds of years of disagreement a compromise was reached and since the 1970’s the cheese is called Ossau-Iraty AOC/AOP. Economics won out; the cheese itself has not changed.
Ossau-Iraty AOC will be on many local menus and may be offered with a salad, or used as a gratin on the main dish. The longer the cheese is matured the stronger tasting it becomes; matured Ossau-Iraty cheeses will be on the cheese trolley and in the supermarkets and fromageries, cheese shops, all over France.
Ossau-Iraty AOC is an important part of the local economy and you may obtain a map for their Route du Fromage AOC Ossau-Iraty, the Ossau-Iraty cheese road. This special road is prepared for just the one cheese and it does direct you to many farms that produce it and you may aste it at different stages of maturity. Nevertheless, many of these farms make other local cheeses, and that will make your tasting more enjoyable. Wine cellars, shops and other farms along the route may also offer, for a small additional charge, local wines that include Irouleguy and Madiran.  Those farms that make other local, though less well-known cheeses include other sheep’s cheeses as well as cow and goat's milk cheeses. Tasting requires a small contribution to the local economy. (see AOC and Basque).

Ossau-Iraty has a French language website. Using the Google and Bing translation apps make their information very clear.

On the same website you may download a PDF with their Route du Fromage:

Connected Posts:


Bryan G. Newman
Copyright 2016
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

Angelica Designs. Shop Now!!

Angelica Designs. Shop Now!!