Oyster Gratinée

Oyster Gratinée

During a recent visit to the Etang De Thau, in Languedoc-Roussillon, I discovered this recipe.Oysters are farmed extensively on the Etang, and are very popular, available in all markets and in most restaurants in some form or another.

Simple and delicious, the taste of the sea, combined with the combination of cream and cheese is irresistible. This dish is perfect as an aperitif, and when combined with a crisp white wine – Picquepoul de Pinet, is the local tipple, but a crisp Chardonnay -Unoaked, or a good Sauvignon will also do the trick. See Domaine Balliccioni Leon Blanc for a review.



Serves 2

12 x Oysters

Double Cream

Gruyere Cheese (Cave aged if possible) grated



Open the Oysters carefully, remove any fragments of shell and loosen the oyster from its shell.

Empty the juice and replace back in shell.

Add 1 Teaspoon of cream to each Oyster. Then top with a generous amount of cheese.

Season with a twist of black pepper.

Place under a preheated grill until cheese is melted and beginning to brown. (Approx. 2-3 mins)



Bouef Bourguignon

This is a perfect dish for this time of year, a typical dish of Lyonnaise and Burgundy, this is Raymond Blanc’s version, it’s the best version, even if there is a little bit of faffing involved.

I like to serve this with Gratin Dauphinois – There are lots of recipes for this available and almost every frenchman has his own version. You can find mine on this site as well.

Pair this dish with a heavy full bodied wine and you can’t go wrong, my ideal match is something retaining a little fruit bite to cut through the richness – Domaine Balliccioni – Tradition is perfect.



1 Bottle of red wine
(boiled down to 1/3 of its volume)
1 kg Feather steak cut into 5 cm cubes
250 gm Onion cut into 2 cm dices
80 gm Carrots peeled and cut into 2 cm dices
80 gm Celery cut into 2 cm dices
250 gm Flat mushrooms cut into 2 cm dices
1  Bay leaf
2 sprigs Thyme
2 stalks Parsley
30 gm Strong white flour
20 gm Unsalted butter
60 ml Vegetable oil
60 ml Chicken stock
20 gm Chopped garlic


  1. Mix meat, herbs, carrot, celery, onion and wine in bowl
    2. Marinate in fridge for 24 hours (don’t cheat)
    3. Place in colander over a bowl and drain meat for 2 hours
    4. Place ingredients on a plate
    5. Melt all the butter and half the oil
    6. Brown the steak, in batches over medium heat, removing each batch once brown
    7. Place browned meat in colander to drain
    off any oil
    8. Colour marinade vegetables for 5-10 minutes
    9. Drain in colander
    10. Return meat and vegetables to casserole
    11. Add browned flour
    12. Cook and stir for 1 minute on low heat
    13. Add stock, garlic and wine
    14. Bring to the boil and cover
    15. Place casserole in oven and cook for 3- 31/2 hours at150C/300F/Gas2.
    16. Add mushrooms halfway through cooking
    17. Serve

a) Browning the flour in will give the dish a deeper colour and a slight nutty taste.
Spread it on a baking tray. Bake at 220c for 8-12 minutes. You want a rich gold colour.

b) You can tie up the herbs with string to make a bouquet garni, this makes it easier to fish them out before serving.

c) Pinot Noir is best, the better the wine the better the dish.
d) The wine is reduced to intensify the taste. e) If at the end of the cooking you think the sauce is too thin, remove meat and keep warm, reduce sauce over a high heat.


Gratin Dauphinois – The Only Way!

This dish is legendary, it’s perfect for a cold day, and warms the soul like nothing else. This version is my own version, developed after many conversations with various French men and women. It seems that this dish divides the French like no other. Some prefer to use cheese on the top others not. This version takes the traditional approach and blends a touch of the new. After a morning spent in the Vineyards of Pic St Loup and a wonderful Plat du Jour, a conversation was initiated that would reveal the secret, and the ONLY way to make this dish!  Merci JB!



  • Waxy potatoes – 1 Per Person (large Potato)
  • Double Cream 150ml
  • 2 cloves of Garlic
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Milk 150ml



Set the oven to 160C –

Use a Mandolin to slice the peeled potatoes into 1mm slices

Peel a clove of garlic and cut in half, rub this around the base of a medium non-stick oven proof dish. Approx. 8cm deep

Rub the dish with some of the butter. Season with Salt and Pepper

In a saucepan place the sliced potatoes, then mix the milk and cream in a jug to combine. Season generously.

Add the garlic and cream milk mix to the saucepan, warm gently until you see the first small bubbles.

Take off the heat and tip into the dish, season the top again and dot with butter.

Place in the oven on the middle shelf for 45-1hr or until the liquid has all but disappeared and the potatoes are cooked.


Rules Are Made To Be Broken!

Mas Sibert – Fosenot 2014 – Grape Opportunities

Syrah, Sangiovese, Merlot, Petit Verdot

In the small village of Fos, 15 miles from Beziers, in the commune of Faugères there is something special going on, Something that may well change the face of Languedocian wine making forever.

You’ve heard of the Super Tuscan? Well here the super Faugères is being created.

Simon and Sara owners of Mas Sibert are part of a group of trailblazing wine makers, “The Outsiders”, who are re-writing the rule book required for making wines in Faugères and other areas in the Languedoc.

Simon is very passionate about his wines and wanted to create something different using varieties of grape not common to this area. I’m pleased to report that he has succeeded in this.

I first visited Simon and Sara in the Summer of 2015. I was treated to a full tour of the converted house that also serves as his tasting room, cellar, blending and fermentation area. It’s quite something. Simon produces a number of wines,all are excellent.

Fosénot is quite unlike anything I have tried before, a beautiful ruby colour is the first thing I notice, there is almost an ethereal glow emanating from my glass, possibly a reflection of the passion Simon has for his wines.  On the nose there is dark fruit, hints of cherry and the merest whiff of tobacco. A taste reveals a light wine, with a short to medium finish, hints of thyme, vanilla, and red fruits, blending gently with a smokey edge. Truly interesting and unique and at 13.5% it’s up there with the big hitters but remains composed and well balanced. Pairing well with tomato based dishes, pasta and pizza, although it could be enjoyed as an aperitif.

Watch out for Mas Sibert and the other Outsiders – rocking the Languedoc wine scene on the 24th January 2016 at the Panacée (Montpellier).



Jocunditas !

Gigondas 2014 Domaine Carobelle – Majestic


Gigondas is an appellation situated in the Southern Rhone, it’s the petit frère of the famous Chateau Neuf Du Pape. Gigondas is of Roman origin. Jocunditas meaning great pleasure and enjoyment in Latin

It’s therefore no surprise that this wine delivers exactly that. The producer, Domaine Carobelle uses vines which are 50 years old and grow at an altitude of between 300 and 500 metres.

This results in a wine that is wonderfully rich yet fresh. on the nose the almost sharp twang of blackberry is evident, as is the gentle spicy warmth created by the Syrah. On the palette, there is plum notes and spice but still the refreshing blackberry. The Grenache mellows this to allow for a wine that is both rounded and supple.

This is a wonderful example of a wine that can be stored and will get better with age, yet is quite excellent and drinkable now. Paired wonderfully with Casseroles and big flavours.

The wines of Gigondas are excellent value for money and are a great alternative to the CNP’s next door.

New Years Resolution 2016

Domaine Balliccioni – Orchis 2013 – Clifton Cellars Bristol

Grenache, Mourvedre 

If the thought of dry January moves you to tears, dry your eyes, there is an alternative.

Leave the supermarket shelves to the seekers of bland everyday wine and bring a little sunshine in to your January. Orchis is a Faugeres from the Commune of the same name nestled in the shade of the cervenne in the South West of France. Produced in limited quantities by Domain Balliccioni, who expertly blends Grenache and Mourvedre to give a new dimension to these popular staples from the Languedoc.

Faugeres have a tendency to be overcooked and heavy, this glitters with the red fruit lick of the Grenache and the slightly spicy earthiness of the Mourvedre. In the mouth it’s fruity, with hints of dark fruits and delicate spice, full-bodied  whilst retaining the freshness often lacking in other wines of this style.  A lingering finish gives rise to potential ageing, if you have the patience.

Perfect remedy for January blues, an ideal partner for good old comfort foods such as Sausage and Mash. Equally matched with roasted meats and Lamb.


Veronique et Andre Balliccioni, Domaine Balliccioni, Autignac. AOC Faugeres. Languedoc Roussillon, France