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Autumn in the Languedoc-Roussillon

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Autumn is a fabulous time to visit the Languedoc-Roussillon.


In the Languedoc-Roussillon, the weather is still warm and the region is full of life as harvest is under way.

The area is buzzing with activity and colour, as this is not only one of the largest wine regions in the world but it is also one of the most diverse in terms of grape varieties available. Each vine variety has leaves that, once the fruit is harvested, turn a different colour so the rolling fields are awash with a stunning combination of reds, oranges, russets, browns and golds.

This is also the time of a bounty of fruits and vegetables. Figs, grapes, nectarines and plums abound, and the walnut, hazelnut and almonds trees creak under the weight of their fruit. Autumn is the season for mushrooms; up in the hills of the Black Mountains and the Pyrenees, those that are in the know gather wild ceps, girolles and bolets. Then as the tomato season draws to an end now is the time to start making chutney with the mix of red and green tomatoes and the last of the seasons peaches.

In autumn we celebrate the ‘Navet de Pardailhan’ from Saint Chinian. A black skinned, white fleshed turnip that is in season from October to January. This much fêted vegetable has it’s own AOP, appellation d’origine protégée’. Eaten either raw, and finely sliced in a vinaigrette, or cooked in a rich sauce with meats. This tender, sweet fleshed vegetable is permitted to be grown by just 20 producers and is so much revered that they host an annual Fête de la Navet de Pardailhan each year!

It does not end there of course as there are also celebrations for apples, onions, figs, chestnuts, chocolate and foie gras. Not forgetting those for the wine harvest! Each village will have their own party and many offer wine walks and festivals during this time. There are tastings for the ‘vins primeurs’, wines fresh off of the press.Light and fruity, low in alcohol that give a nod to the vintage to come.

In the Corbières there is even a 50 - 70km “Vin Primeur Randonnée”, a bike ride visiting five wine caves to taste their new wines and enjoy a ‘casse-croûte’ (snack). The year that I took part we were 350 cyclists and finished up in Lezignan-Corbières town hall to sit down for a well earned four course meal with the largest paella I have ever seen!!! An absolute must for the cyclists amongst you, pre-booking is necessary see below for details.

The months of September, October and November can be a truly splendid time to enjoy the beauty and produce of this stunning region without the crowds and sometimes stifling heat of the summer.

Some dates for your diary:

Toques de Cèpes - Mendes - October 2018

Fete de la Figue
- Vézénobres, Gard - October 2018

Fete de la Vendange
- Banyuls-Sur-Mer - 10 - 14 October 2018

Festivale de la Soupe
- Florac, Cevennes - 26 - 27 October2018

Foires au Gras
- all over the region From October through to January

Fêtes de la Châtaigne
- en Haut Languedoc - 26 October - 4 November2018

Foire de la pomme et de l'oignon - Vigan, Cevennes -b28 October 2018

Randonnée des Vins Primeurs - Lezignan-Corbières -b28 October 2018

Fetes des Vignes
- Montpellier - 23 - 25 November 2018

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Recipes:

Navets de Pardailhan au Caramel

Ingredients:

1kg navet (turnips) de Pardailhan 1 tbsp duck fat.
2 tsp honey.
Sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Method:

1. Peel the turnips and cut down their length into ‘frites’.
2. In a heavy bottomed frying pan heat the duck fat until just before smoking and add the turnips.
3. Toss from time to time, coating in the duck fat, it should take about 15 minutes in total.
4. Season with salt and pepper and coat in honey.
5. Fry for a further 2 - 3 minutes to caramelise and serve with a confit de canard or roast pork.

Grape Jelly

As harvest looms I am often in the fortunate position of being inundated with grapes! A happy position to be in, however there are only so many we can eat. This jelly can be enjoyed at breakfast time on a tartine or with some plain yoghurt; or it can be added to stocks and sauces and served with duck magret or lamb. I have given measurements for a one kilo of grapes however I usually do much more at a time, just multiple the sugar and lemon juice accordingly.

Ingredients:

1kg grapes, washed thoroughly and stripped from their stalks 450g jam sugar (I tend to use the ones with added pectin here).
Juice of 1 lemon.
Rosemary or lavender sprigs to taste.

Method:

1. In a heavy bottomed pan put all of the de-stalked and washed grapes, heat gently.
2. As the grapes start to heat they will begin to release their juices, take a potato masher and start to press down on the grapes to release more juices but taking care not to crush the pips as they will release bitter oils due to the tannin content.
3. After about ten minutes the grapes should have released most of their juices. Turn off the heat and place a muslin lined sieve over a large bowl or jug and tip the grapes and their juices in.
4. This is best done the night before you make the actual jelly. Leave it in a cool, fly-free zone to drip through over night just giving it the occasional press-down when you can.
5. The following day measure out the juice, this will depend on the vintage and the grapes used, count roughly 600ml for 1 kg of grapes.
6. Put a saucer or small plate into the freezer and sterilise your jars ready to fill. The easiest way to sterilise is to wash jars in warm soapy water, rinse thoroughly and then dry in an oven set at 100C until needed. I always do more than I need as you never know for sure how much jam you are going to get! Divide 600ml by the size of your jars to get a rough estimate of the number of jars needed.
7. Take a clean jam pan pour in the juice the sugar and the lemon juice, bring to the boil.
8. Skim any scum as you go, be careful not to burn yourself as jam spits and burns skin easily.
9. When the jam starts to thicken you can test it, if you have a reliable thermometer it should read 105C when ready. I have never found a thermometer that works for me so I use the old fashioned method of pouring a teaspoons worth of jam onto a frozen plate and if it forms a skin and wrinkles it is ready! If not continue boiling and stirring until it does.
10. Carefully pour the hot jam into the warm, sterilised jars. If you want it can be nice to add a sprig of either rosemary or lavender to the jar before sealing, it gives a gentle aromatic flavour to the jam.
11. Seal, leave to cool and label.
12. I find that these will last several years in a cool, dark cupboard. Once opened keep in the fridge.

Note: This article may contain or reflect personal opinions and cannot be considered contractual.
Full property details and booking terms and conditions are available on the relevant property page(s).
Entry fees, opening hours and other information is correct as of publishing, November 2018.


   

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