Canal du Midi food adventures in Herault
We're spending some time around the Herault area of the Canal du Midi, absorbing too much sunshine and apero (if there is such a thing). So far, here's a run-down of the local bites we've been lucky enough to try.
Tried both boulangeries close to the centre du ville--preferred both the bread and croissant at the one directly on the square (as opposed to the one just off the square). At Le Provencal, we enjoyed the gambas in persillade, though I wasn't wild about the pizza that everyone else seemed to adore--I didn't like the flat-ness of the crust's taste or texture, though it might just be a preference against Provence-style pizza. We enjoyed a visit at the Terrasse du Gabrielle, a family winery right off of the Canal du Midi's main bridge. It was the day they were transferring wine from steel containers out in the vineyards to barriques on site in town, and the patroness allowed us to walk through the storage facility and ask questions of her and her husband, the co-patron. She is from St Chinian and knew lots about that AOC and their schiste; he is a Capestang native whose family has owned their property for generations. I preferred their St Chinian to the Capestang wines.
L'Octopus, Michelin 1*, for a set price lunch. We had an entree and plat each for 22 euros. This was a fantastic deal for such thoughtful and well-prepared food (plus a verre du vin, plus coffee, plus an amuse bouche, plus a cinnamon pastry stick that came with the dessert) in a lovely shaded terrasse. Add 8 Euros for dessert if you'd like--dessert (ice cream or some type of custard-y cake) looked great, but we were too hot to consider it. There were two choices for entrees and plats, so we were able to try everything, and everything was great. I particularly loved the entree of a carroty soup with a delicate shrimp croquette. Bouillion marin was another high point--I think the chef has a particularly deft touch with preparing delicate seafood.
The town seems to have two main restaurants off the canal, one of which was crowded. We went with the other because I was the only one hungry enough to really eat, so the auberge with tapas made more sense than formal dining. Despite it seeming like the town's "other choice," the food was great. We had a tortilla, razor clams, young vegetables with tapenade, and several glasses of local wine.
We intended to eat out more, but ended up making friends during a completely not-casual "casual" game of petanque, so have been enjoying the fruits of that friendship through picnicking. Hopefully more to come!
Great report on a lovely area that does not get many reports here.
Come back to France soon and "do" another area, please !
"completely not-casual "casual" game of petanque"
Please explain. Is it like Place des Lices in St Tropez, where the stacelebs (that would be you) come to play common folk and play pétanque with local geezers, I think for money, and the locals beat their .calçons off, and it's all a great show and everyone is happy?
I adore Cathar country and wish I could visit all the time, so your wish is my command. We have much more eating to do (though some in Aude) so I hope to add more soon.
Regarding the game: while at a degustation in Capestang (Gimie, also very genial), we met a French group on vacation from northern Rhone for the jour ferie who invited us to a "casual" petanque game, but the moment we said yes, things got serious. It was as if they were just posing as friends but actually were a touring petanque league. It was the most fun I've ever had while desperately losing, and the AOC St Joseph they brought with them certainly helped.