Sun, sea and a little snow

Cycle path

At first sight of the cycle path today, you would never even know what season it is… it looks sunny and warm, right?

Ha, wrong! Don’t let that sunshine fool you, the temperature was somewhere between 0C and 2C (thats 32F and 35F for Americans!) not counting the wind chill factor, and yesterday’s weather was still on the ground. Yes, an extremely unusual sight for two Aussies still fascinated by this lovely white stuff – snow on the beach. The beach!! I’ve spent half my life on beaches but have never seen one looking like this.

Here are our views from today’s ride along the voie vert between Sete and Marseillan Ville & back, past the (now closed for winter) Castella’s campsite right on the beach…


Castellas Camping in winter Snow on the sandhills Sun, Sea, sand and snow snow at the beach 9 Our of the snow, into the sea Bridge over the Canal du Midi Still cold at the port

and finally, I need a balaclava like TCs – my face was frozen!

snow at the beach 10

Winter Warmers

Its been colder this week and TC wasn’t well, so I cooked up a batch of hearty, chunky chicken soup.    Chicken Soup

and then went into raptures over a certain Monsieur Maury’s raspberry, pistachio tart. Raspberry pistachio tarte

Ooh lah lah, I think that one is the most delicious he’s made for me yet. Yes, I’m sure he makes them just for me! But anyone going to Marseillan could be lucky enough to find them in his little store.

Pâtisserie: Maury Eric

Adresse : 9 rue Emile Zola, 34340 MARSEILLAN – France
Telephone : 0467772539

Chicken Soup

2 onions (small)

3-5 cloves garlic

1 leek

8-9 small potatoes

3 medium carots

1/2 sweet potato

1 red capsicum

4-6 dates

6 chicken  pieces

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 small tin sweet corn

2 tbsp parsley (dried)

1 tbsp thyme leaves

1 tsp sage leaves (dried)

1/2 tbsp coriander seeds

1/2 tsp curry powder

1 capsule chicken stock concentrate

Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Heat a glug of olive oil in a large, heavy-based pot over medium-high heat. Add diced onion and garlic, peeled & diced carrots, diced capsicum, sliced leek, scrubbed & diced potato, diced sweet potato & stir to soften. Add the herbs, stock concentrate and about 3-4 cups of water.  Bring to the boil, add the chicken pieces, chopped dates and spices, reduce heat slightly, cover & boil gently for 30min.  Remove chicken pieces, break up & remove bones, returning the meat to the pot, cover & continue boiling for another 30min. During the last 10min, add the frozen peas and sweet corn, season to taste with salt & pepper. Serve with fresh baguette or other crusty bread.

Confessions: the quantities of herbs & spices are really a guess – I tried my best to remember how much I actually threw in at the time. Also the curry powder was a mistake – I love coriander seeds and was looking for the jar of those, I saw a jar of powder with a “C” on the label. Assuming it was ground coriander I sprinkled… and realised it was curry powder, so stopped at just a little (thank goodness – I thought I’d ruined the soup!).


Delicious? Delicatessen!!

Is this French love affair of mine ever going to end?

The short answer is: I don’t think so!

Delicatessen - looking in

Delicatessen – looking in

Tonight TC and I decided to dine in Delicatessen, an extremely unobtrusive little restaurant in Marseillan – one of my favourite villages of all time in France. Why? The village has everything one’s heart could desire. It is situated on a lake, which means fresh coquillage every day, yes every SINGLE day, of the year. Oysters, mussels and all the rest, from the lake direct from the fishing families to your shopping bag daily, say no more.

But there is a lot more to say. Next to the lake – or “a cote d’etang” there are vineyards. Quality vineyards and lots of them. Chateau Bauvignac is a personal favourite but there are more, so many more.

So lets summarise so far… we have a quaint old village that dates to pre-roman times with its own port, fresh daily seafood from the lake, close to the beach (Mediterranean) with the climate you would expect, lots of vineyards close by. Hmm.. have I missed anything essential? Well yes… the restaurants! This town is like a little oasis of good restaurants. To the point where I almost don’t want to tell you about them because I want to keep it all to myself!

Les Toilettes

Le décore dans les toilettes

But, I can’t resist, it has to come out, so here it is. There is a good diversity of restaurants here, and Delicatessen is probably the most modern of them all. There is a delicious blend of current and past, current being the menu, fresh dishes made with pride from local produce, and past being the vintage decor and quirky items used throughout. Hey, I couldn’t even resist taking a picture in the toilets!

Tonight we wandered in just after 8pm to find we were one of the first tables in to dine. Just a small word of warning for those not used to the French way – 8pm is considered early. We might have thought the restaurant was not going to open as it appeared to be empty, but no, we were the first in to dine and by the time we left there were several other tables occupied – this is just the way it is. First time travellers be warned – don’t expect to eat early in Europe!

TC decided on the dish that is the specialite of the house, the “deliburger” while I went for “gambas sauteed avec Noilly Prat”. Translation: prawns sauteed with Noilly Prat, which is the vermouth made locally and made famous by James Bond (go on, google it, you won’t be sorry!).

He was tres impressed with his burger – it comes served (cooked to order) complete with greens, tomato, camembert, egg and cornichons all between slices of freshly toasted baguette, with a small glass of aoili and a side order of duck-fat fried chips. OK frites. He declared it to be top notch.

My gambas were sweet, juicy and tasty, grilled with garlic and herbs and served with a mashed-potato-to-die-for. When the chef came by and asked how we liked everything, I just had to ask how he cooked those potatoes… apparently with garlic oil and aioli  – carefully mixing to taste – and I have to say they tasted very VERY good. Another thing I’ll be trying in my kitchen.


Delicatessen – de la table

The wine list allows for all tastes and budgets. Enough choice, not too confusing, just right. We managed to choose a very nice red from a region that is very reliable – Faugeres. Delicious.  


Decor du velo et du vin

This is the kind of restaurant you can go to with a group of friends, as a couple,  or just on your own, and you will always be assured of finding an understated chic atmosphere that you won’t want to leave. It isn’t dolled-up formal, it is a more casual setting, but the food is quality.

Was it purely the decor, was it the music – at times laid back soul, at other times slightly hard rock – or was it just the simple understanding that this waiter, this chef, want you to enjoy what they do best? Whatever the reason, there is much to  enjoy. This was my third visit, it will not be my last!


reluctantly leaving

Delicatessen, un très bon repas

Delicatessen,  4 Place Gén Guillaut  34340 Marseillan, France

Anniversary dining with le chat du port

Marseillan Port2

Yesterday was our wedding anniversary so after I arrived home from my weekend in Paris, we had time to relax with a chilled glass of champagne, have a nice catch-up with our weekend news over some brie and baguette, and then head out for dinner to celebrate.

We had originally planned to go to a restaurant we’ve tried once and I’ve been waiting for an excuse to return to ever since, it was that good. Unfortunately they were closed being a winter Monday night, so instead we went down to the little port in Marseillan (pictured above) and dined in the Brasserie du Soleil.

It wasn’t our first visit, we have been to this restaurant a couple of times before, both on our own and with family and friends that were visiting and we haven’t been disappointed yet. It is a reliable restaurant offering decent food at good prices. We got a warm welcome and a lovely meal, drank more champagne and when we told them it was our anniversary, the staff gave us another glass each to help celebrate.

TC started with moules and oysters gratineed while I went for the foie gras with a fig conserve, salad and very tasty little bread triangles. Mmm, delicious.


We then both followed with a crispy skinned cabillaud with a fresh, lemony sauce served on a bed of rough mashed potatoes.  TC even managed to finish off with dessert, a large profiterole, icecream and cream concoction topped with warm chocolate sauce. It looked delicious, but there was no way I could squeeze one in. Maybe next time.

At least while TC was polishing off the profiterole, I got to play with the local port cat who is fond of visiting patrons in the restaurants. He helps me get my pussy cat “fix” while I am 17,000km away from my own little kitty cat. It looks like he’s already won the hearts of the staff around here too –  for a homeless moggie he looks very well cared for!


Overall this is a nice little restaurant so definitely worth a try if you are in the area. And if you do, keep en eye out for our little ginger friend!

Brasserie du Soleil, 34 Quai Antonin Gros  34340 Marseillan, France

Is it winter yet?

YES! The frozen water says so!

I have tried to find information on any ‘official’ start date to winter but haven’t had much luck. So, taking matters into my own hands, I have decided that the line is drawn loosely by the temperature, and more specifically by when I see random frozen water on my travels.

Well that is today!

Went for a 40km ride, again enjoying the environs of the Etang de Thau and our path took us across the first bridge of the Canal du Midi. The first if you count the canal as starting at this end and ending at the other end. Anyway, as the path takes us under the bridge before going up & over, there is a puddle of water that has been there in the shadow of the bridge since the last rain a few day ago. Today it was covered with a thin layer of ice. I even got off my bike & poked it with a stick to check that my eyes weren’t deceiving me. Yep, ice on the surface. Despite the sunshine. I thought it felt cold in the house last night.

Welcome to winter!


Etang de Thau with a chilly breeze


View of the entrance to the Canal du Midi from the first bridge – Marseillan Plage

Ps, I will return to some cooking posts soon, I have decided in the meantime that I have enough winter ‘padding’ for now so am laying off the sweet things. More to come though.

A Sete for all seasons

One of the joys of the south of France is the access to the Mediterranean and somewhere very special is the region between Sète and Marseillan Plage. Here there is a very narrow strip of land that runs between the lake (Etang de Thau) and the sea. This fragile strip was in danger of destruction from erosion, so for the past 6 years or so, a major restoration project has been underway.

Completed and opened in June this year… dah DAHHH!! We now have the absolutely fabulous “Lido de Sète à Marseillan” which has restored beaches, a new road and a fabulous new 12km pathway for pedestrians and cyclists. The area is already popular with campers and on any fine day you will see all sorts of people out enjoying the area, whether on foot, two wheels (bikes), 4 wheels (wheelchairs) or 8 wheels(rollerbladers), enjoying lunch or café, or playing in the water.

In summer the beach was dotted with a number of gorgeous pop-up restaurants right on the sand. I say pop-up because, come the first week of October, the trucks and cranes came in, and the restaurants all disappeared! I’m sure they’ll be back for next summer and I for one will be trying out as many as I can. Mmmmm, just imagine lounging back on comfy chairs or loungers, enjoying the sun, fresh seafood and lovely local chilled vin rosé. I’ll be there!

And in the meantime I know we’ll be out enjoying this wonderful facility as long as we can brave the cold (and sometimes rain). Today’s weather wasn’t so bad…on a fine day you will be dazzled by the amount of blue just everywhere. Just beautiful.

CLICK here to find the restaurants of the Sete beaches:   You can also see the film about the restoration here: Thau Agglo – Lido de Sète à Marseillan : découvrez le film !…. and some lovely aerial shots taken from the film

How far do you go for sweet things?

Right now I am enjoying the fruits of the labour of one Monsieur Eric Maury, talented chocolatier and pâtissier with a little shop tucked away in the lakeside village of Marseillan, France. So far I have tasted his to-die-for tarte tartin, grand marnier chou, pistache macaron and his delicious and oh so chocolatey “tarte tentation” – yes, the temptation tart.

If you find yourself in the region, I highly recommend collecting a sample for yourself!

La Bonbonnière,  9 rue Emile Zola 34340 MarseillanImageImage