What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than combining good food and wine with a leisurely walk? During La Fête de la Gastronomie, held throughout the whole of France, local restaurateurs, cultivators and grape growers will culinarily spoil you. I joined the Cuisine Bizonnière in Bize-Minervois: a gastronomical, oenological and musical walk in three parts.
The 5-kilometre walk started at 11h30 just outside the centre of Bize-Minervois. After paying my fee (55 euros per adult and 11 euros per child), I collected my straw hat, wine tasting glass and a bottle of water. The weather was absolutely great, so we definitely needed these well-thought-out accessories. The first stop was at the medieval tower of Boussecos, in the middle of the typical Mediterranean scrubland called “garrigue”.
The tables were beautifully set, the view was magical and while enjoying the sounds of Occitan music, we had a lovely plate of tapas. Five chefs from five local restaurants prepared five little dishes with flavours that included fresh goat cheese, local olives called Lucques, pumpkin gazpacho and a clafoutis of sunkissed tomatoes. We savoured it all with the best local wines, and it tasted like an angel had cried on your tongue.
After a short walk, the entr’act followed with a view over the River Cesse. A small cup of vanilla ice cream drizzled with champagne kept us going until the third stop. A complete change of scenery, as the chefs seated us under a three-hundred-year-old olive grove.
The tables were set right under the trees; you couldn’t be closer to the Lucque olives! Here also, the food and wine that they served tasted great. A big piece of pork had been roasted on a spit for hours. This very tender meat married perfectly with a fresh salad and mashed potatoes, seasoned with local saffron and goat’s cheese from Combebelle. Divine!
I was very happy that La Fête de la Gastronomie was a walking dinner, as the exercise saved me some room for the last course. To get our sweet treats, we walked a bit further until we reached the banks of the River Cesse. In the grassland of the old Royal Factory, we listened to some more music. A very romantic setting.
The dessert also consisted of five creations, from goat’s cheese with saffron to a tiramisu made with grapes. All five desserts were very different, and they all tasted delicious. It was a lovely afternoon spent in good company with good food, wine and music, whilst strolling in the beautiful Southern French countryside.