My dream of moving to France was shattered after a House Hunters International episode where $4,000/month basically got you a 400 sf studio with half a bath in a tony Paris neighborhood. After touring the Languedoc-Roussillon Region of France this month for The French Winophiles, the dream is alive again! Turns out not only is this region known for medieval towns an castles, museums, festivals, concerts, beaches, olive groves and vineyards but is a quite cost effective region to retire to according to AARP. Oh, and it is only a three hour trip to Paris via high speed trains.
This is also a region that Sous Chef gets quite excited about each year when the Tour de France when the riders go through the Midi-Pyrenees, which in 2016 will be officially known as part of this region due to some territorial reform in process. The region borders the French regions of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, Rhone-Alpes, Auvergne, Midi-Pyrenees on one side, Spain, and the Mediterranean Sea on the other side.
The Languedoc-Roussillon region has 740,300 acres of vineyards (three times the combined area of vineyards in Bordeaux), and that 1 in 10 bottles of wine in the 20th Century were produced here. The area also happens to be the largest contributor to the European Union’s glut of wine known as wine lake. (Apparently too much wine can be a bad thing – and this excess of wine is annually turned into ethanol or bio-fuel.)
With so many wine choices available, we turned to K & L Wine Merchants for our wine this month. They recommended a 2013 Clot de l’Origine “L’ P’tit Barriot” Cotes du Roussillon which retails for $18.99 a bottle. The wine is 100% Syrah and ABV 13.5%. On the nose were hints of gravel, earth, and graphite. The palate had pepper, dark cherry notes and a nice minerality with hints of earth. Perfectly balanced austere wine that cut through the fatty, richness of our ribs we paired with it. It is a delightful wine worth keeping on stock.
We paired this wine with Barbecued Spare Ribs, Languedoc Style from Paula Wolfert’s “The Cooking of Southwest France”. The ribs are not like the typical American Style BBQ Ribs slathered (drowned) in a BBQ Sauce, these are the ribs that will convince non-rib lovers that they love ribs. The ribs are prepared simply with salt and pepper, and then slow roasted in an oven for two hours. An herb flavored oil is prepared to brush on the ribs at the end of the two hours. That is the simple part of the recipe. It gets a little more labor intensive when you start the magic sauce aka “Sweet and Sour Onion and Raisin Relish”. The end result is a melt in your mouth rib, with hints of herb and a tang from the relish that leaves your mouth wanting more.
Make sure to check out all the great pairings this month:
Join us for a live Twitter Chat on Saturday 8am PCT/11 am EST hashtag #winophiles. October 17th we tour Cote du Rhone, we’d love to have you join us!
October 17 – Cote du Rhone November 21 – Bordeaux December 19 – Champagne January 16 – Burgundy February20 – Alsace
- 3 pounds pork loin rib ends for barbecue, or 2 sides meaty country style spareribs (about 4 lbs), divided into 8 serving pieces (do not substitute ordinary spareribs), trimmed of fat
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- ½ cup finely diced ham fat, or substitute 3 ounce finely diced pancetta and 2 ounces dried country ham cubed medium
- Herb Flavored Oil
- 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
- 2 springs fresh mint
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Heat oven to 350 degrees
- Combine all ingredients to make herb flavored oil and set aside to allow flavor to mellow.
- Rub the pork with salt and pepper. Place overlapping in a large roasting pan, cover with foil, and bake for 2 hours. While pork is baking, slowly simmer the ham cubes or pancetta mixture in 1½ cups water until there are only cubes of meat and rendered fat in the pan; set aside.
- Uncover the ribs, brush with the flavored oil; change to broiler heating. Brush the ribs with the seasoned oil and broil for 10 minutes. Turn ribs over, brush with more oil and broil for 5 minutes. Spread the ham/juices over the spare ribs and broil for a couple more minutes.
- Serve with Sweet and Sour Onion Garnish
- 1 red bell pepper
- finely slivered zest of two oranges
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 package (1 pound) frozen tine white pearl onions, thawed
- 2½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup canned chopped tomatoes
- ⅓ golden raisins
- ¼ cup currants
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- Preheat broiler. Roast red pepper close to the heat as possible, turning frequently, until the skin is charred and blistered all over, about 10 minutes. (You can also do this on a gas burner.) Place in a paper bag to cool approximately 20 minutes. Peel off and discard the skin. Remove stem, seeds, veins and cut into ½ inch strips.
- Blanch orange zest in small pan of boiling water 2 minutes. Drain; rinse under cold running water and drain on paper towels.
- Melt the sugar in a small non-reactive saucepan over very low heat until light brown, about 5 minutes, immediately remove from the heat. Carefully stir in the vinegar. Return to low heat and stir until the caramel is dissolved.
- Dry onions in papers towels. Heat 1½ tablespoons of the oil in large saucepan. Add the onions and sauté over moderate heat, shaking the pan frequently, until the onions are glazed about 3-5 minutes. Add the roasted pepper, tomatoes, caramelized vinegar mixture, orange zest, raisins, currants, tomato paste, cayenne and salt to taste. Pour in the wine and enough water to cover. Slowly bring the mixture to a boil; cover pan and cook about 5 minutes.
- Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Cool before serving.