Since March 2016 Emma (chef) and John (sommelier) Gilchrist have been living in Lot et Garonne running their gite and cookery school, Les Caulins. Passionate about food and drink, here is their take on summer BBQ ideas and the perfect wines to match.
The quality of the produce in SW France is outstanding: truffles, strawberries, plums, prunes, melons, figs, pork, beef, duck, foie gras, chicken, lamb, fish, the list goes on and the markets are inspiring. Anticipated warm evenings, alfresco dining and something on the BBQ with a glass of wine in hand is foodie heaven. Toulouse sausages, assorted brochets, burgers, fish, simple salads and a customary baguette are the easy norm but can get a bit repetitive.
Emma and John Gilchrist
Here is something a little different to try.
Lemon Marinated Grilled Chicken with Nectarine, Romaine, Red Onion, Basil and Brebis
Marinade & Dressing: 6 tbsp yogurt. 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 4 tbsp oil, 1 chilli (optional), 3 minced garlic cloves, salt and pepper, soft herbs (I used mint, chives, coriander), 4 chicken breasts, 2 nectarines, 1 head of Romaine lettuce, basil, 1 red onion, 1 Brebis (French style feta)
Combine all the marinade ingredients. It is not necessary but I flattened the chicken breasts so they cooked quicker and did not dry out on the BBQ. In a bowl or sealable bag place the chicken and half the marinade and refrigerate for 4 hours. Set aside the remaining marinade for a tomato dish. Cut the nectarines into 8 wedges, slice the onion, separate and wash the romaine and dice the cheese. Cook the chicken on the BBQ and arrange with the rest of the ingredients on a platter. Decorate with torn basil, salt and pepper.
Garlicky BBQ Potatoes Salardaise and Pancetta
750g new potatoes, 4 tbsp duck fat, 100g Pancetta or smoked bacon lardons, 3 sliced cloves of garlic, salt and pepper
Put the potatoes in a large saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, cook until slightly tender. Drain and leave to steam-dry for 5 mins. Cut into 1cm thick slices and transfer to a large sheet of foil. Slice the pancetta into thick pieces and, in a separate pan, sauté in a little oil until crispy. Coat the potatoes in the duck fat, sliced garlic and crispy pancetta and season well. Make sure the potatoes are sitting flat against the foil so each one gets charred when grilled. Wrap in the foil like a parcel, and wrap again to ensure the potatoes are completely covered. Cook on the barbecue for 10 mins.
Prawn chorizo brochets
500g peeled king prawns, 1 chorizo sausage, wooden skewers (soaked in water)
Slice the chorizo into 1 cm slices. Thread the prawns and sliced chorizo alternately on a skewer. Cook on the BBQ 2-3 mins on each side.
Tomato Salad, Mint, Radish, Chives and Chilli Yogurt
1 kg mixed tomatoes, the remaining yogurt from the chicken recipe, 2 spring onions, 1 or 2 hot chillies, bunch of radishes with leaves removed and halved, olive oil, chopped mint and chives, salt and pepper
Finely chop the chilli and spring onion and combine with the yogurt and spread on a plate. Slice the tomatoes and arrange on the yogurt. Sprinkle with the mint, radishes and chopped chives. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Big reds and sparkling wine are great matches for BBQ food and crisp, juicy whites and pale rosés feel just right when eating outside. If, like me, you are looking for that something a little quirky, utterly beautiful and a magical match with BBQ food then here are my tips.
For fresh, crisp and ripe, grape skin flavoured white wines, head to the Northern Gers region and the fresh wines of Gascony. In the modern winery at Domaine Chiroulet the family produce great Armagnac and an equally well made range of wines and, in particular, their dry whites; Terres Blanches, La Côte d’Heux and Soleil d’Automne 7.00€-10.00€. Made predominantly with Gros and Petit Mensang, the wines are lively, full and complex with floral and stone fruit flavours, especially nectarine, making them the perfect match with Emma’s BBQ chicken dish.
If bold & fruity red is your BBQ heaven then one appellation to hunt down is AOC Fronton, just north of Toulouse, in the Northern Haute Garonne. Famous since the Middle Ages as the home of the historic red grape Ne?grette, originally bought to France by the Knights Templar from Cyprus. The wines are dark and purplish in colour with those big flavours of cassis, blackberry, raspberry, violet and pepper. Yet on the palette they are juicy and crunchy. Look out for Domaine Roumagnac, Domaine le Roc & Chateau Laurou.
North West of Montauban in the Tarn-et-Garonne region there is the impressive Domaine de Montels Estate. The flagship of the Coteaux and Terrasses de Montauban appellation and owners of The Serre de Bovila estate in Fargues, a superb vineyard in the Cahors appellation, in the Lot department. Here you can sample top notch wines from 13 different grape varieties. Highlights are a superb Champagne style Blanc de Blanc 10.40€, 100% chardonnay that is as good as any I have tasted and the Pale pink topaz coloured Mas des Anges rosé 7.90€. Made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and combines the richness of wild strawberry and a pronounced citrus zests that give perfect balance. A real treat on a hot day.
Details of all these wine estates can be found in the website at www.thelocalbuzzmag.com
John & Emma, www.lescaulins.com
You will find a comprehensive list of online and international, regional and organic suppliers of food and drink throughout Gironde, Dordogne, Lot et Garonne, Lot, Gers, Tarn et Garonne and north Haute Garonne in our business directory pages under Food and Drink.
Images: Shutterstock or Emma and John Gilchrist
First published in July/August 2018 issue of The Local Buzz