While the riders in the Tour de France have been whirring around the countryside and up and over the mountains, I have focused my attention on Provence—particularly its warmer parts. Indeed I have immersed myself in all things Provence this month. I have read numerous books on Provence cuisine, executed many recipes (most successfully), and consumed copious bottles of delectable Provençal wines in a rainbow of colors. I even watched A Year in Provence television series and the movie A Good Year for inspiration (although the movie’s canine star caused Rafa a great deal of noisy fretfulness, much to my annoyance). I am saddened that this month’s focus on Provence is coming to an end since I love that its food is a little lighter in style, the wines are delicate and well balanced and refreshing to quaff in the heat of summer, and it stimulates my dreams of living à la Peter Mayle in a sun-drenched village along the coast.
How about some Provençal food and wine pairings to excite your palate, slake your thirst, and maybe even create a Peter Mayle fantasy of your own? The first is Tuna in Rosé Wine over Tagliatelle. This is an essential summer pasta dish that is fresh tasting and the light Rosé wine and tomato sauce add a beautiful dimension of flavor. I paired this dish a 2014 Commanderie de la Bargemone which retails for $17.95 a bottle at Whole Foods. It is light, crisp, and bone dry on the palate. The color is pale baby blush– classic for a Provence Rosé. On the nose you might find a hint of strawberry and current. All in all, a wonderful summer wine.
The second is a Fig, Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad that I paired with a 2012 Domaine Du Bagnol Cassis. This wine is a blend of Marsanne, Clairette, and Ugni Blanc. It is dry and has hints of apple and melon and a soupçon of fresh sea air about it. At only 13% ABV, it will pair beautifully with seafood (in fact we tried it with a seafood pizza that had a catastrophic crust failure). The wine buoyed the flavors in the salad by helping offset some of the bitter bite of the arugula and bringing out the sweetness of the figs. This wine is a winner in my book and I can’t wait to try a bottle with a properly executed seafood dish. You can find this wine for $23.99 at KL Wine Merchants.
The final pairing is a classic Pan-Seared Veal Chop with Tarragon and Crème Fraiche (aka Cotes de veau à l’estragon) with a 2012 Domaine Bandol Tempier. Winner, winner Poulet dinner! This is my favorite pairing of the month so far. The veal chop is prepared very simply by browning it in a pan on both sides, then adding wine and tarragon and simmering for 10 minutes. An effortless sauce is created by adding crème fraiche and tarragon leaves. Simple, elegant, and totally luscious in flavor, this is a dish just screaming for a suitable wine pairing. And in this I succeeded beyond my expectations.
The 2012 Domaine Bandol Tempier is smooth with soft tannins, a hint of spice, and an earthy-fruit balance that embraced but did not overpower the subtle flavor of the veal chop. This wine can pair with bold fish, white meats, and lighter red meats. I found it interesting that the ABV on the label was stated as a range between 11-14% –not sure I’ve seen it stated that way before. But maybe it is just an attempt to be more transparent about an important—I would say, crucial—element of a wine. In the U.S., the ABV is stated as a specific amount, but in reality the true ABV can be +/- 1-1.5%. For example, a 15% fruit bomb Pinot Noir can actually have an ABV of up to 16%. That’s port territory to me. And don’t get me started on high alcohol wines! Putting aside the ABV issue, let me conclude by stating this wine retails at Total Wine for $38.99 and is money well spent.
Make sure to visit The French Winophiles Group to see what pairings they came up with this month:
Martin from Enofylz Wine Blog shares “A Tipple and Taste of Provence”
Jeff from foodwineclick indulges in “Filet de Porc au Geniévre avec Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge”
Sarah from Curious Cuisiniere has created a gorgeous pairing from Provence
Wendy from A Day in the Life on a Farm brings us “A Taste of Provence inspired by A Pig in Provence”
David from Cooking Chat shares “Bacon Pineapple Orzo with a Rosé from Provence”
Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla inspires us with “Spiced Orange Salad + Cave de Saint-Roch-les-Vignes Cotes de Provence Rosé”
Michelle from Rockin Red Blog brings us “A Meal in Provence”
Tammy from Telling from Chez Nous brings us “Rose from Provence with Pan Fried Trout with Butter Lettuce and Spicy Dressing”
Join us Saturday, July 18th at 11 am EST/8 am PCT for a live Twitter Chat sharing wine, food and travel stories from Provence. Find us at #winophiles.
If you like our approach to regional French wine pairings, join us next month when we visit Southwest France on Saturday, August 15th.
- 8 figs, stems removed and halved
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
- ⅛ teaspoon anise extract
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 3 stalks fresh thyme leaves
- 4 cups arugula leaves
- 2 ounces fresh goat cheese with honey, room temperature
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Arrange the figs in a baking or gratin dish. Whisk together the honey, sherry vinegar, and anise extract and spoon over each half. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Removed from oven and cool to room temperature.
- Add the extra virgin olive oil, sherry vinegar and fresh thyme leaves to a mason jar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Shake vigorously to combine all ingredients.
- Toss the arugula with the dressing and arrange the fig halves and goat cheese on top of arugula. Drizzle with honey mixture from figs.
- 4 veal chops or cutlets
- salt and pepper
- all-purpose flour for dusting
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 6 tablespoons dry white wine
- 1 large tarragon sprig, leaves removed finely chopped, stem reserved
- ¼ cup crème fraiche
- Season the veal with salt and pepper and dust lightly with flour, patting off the excess.
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the veal and cook, turning once, until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add the wine and tarragon stem, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness. Transfer the veal to a warmed platter.
- Remove the tarragon stem. Simmer the pan juices for 1 to 2 minutes, scraping up any brown bits stuck to the bottom. Add the crème fraiche and tarragon leaves and simmer for 1 minute. Taste the sauce for seasoning. Pour over the veal and serve.
- *This dish can only be made with fresh tarragon.
- *To lessen the risk of seeing your sauce curdle, be careful to avoid bringing the sauce to a full boil after adding the crème fraiche.