French Travel Tales: Full of Bull

French Travel Tales: Full of Bull

French Travel Tales: Full of Bull
May 24, 2013
if you leave can still make it. 

in time for saturday's fete in the little village of st marie de la mer. take a plane to paris and then the train from charles de galle to arles. from there its best to rent a car (or a horse?) and go south along the petit rhone river. st marie de la mer sits on the southern coast of france, south of arles, in what is called the camargue.

the camargue is not anything like the riviera which lies further east and is sprinkled with luxury, high prices and well, a bit of good healthy french sun-bathing tradition. the camargue much better. it is wild and resplendent with long stretches of sand, alive with flamingoes and the home of - who would have guessed - sea salt. 

on may 25 the little village , whose thriving business has become tourism, swells to a few thousand visitors and welcomes them to the gypsy pelegrinage, or pilgrimage. 

this fantastic celebration explores the legend of sara and the tales (not tails) of the white horses of the region.  in french , cheval blanc.

greek mythology plays a role too. apparently neptune is the dude who lent some of his white horses to calm the black bulls, so much a part of the area's rich folklore. 

"Remember, he comes from the sea and was led from a god, anytime he wants to run back to the sea, leave him." 

yes, folks bull is many things in this region - a game and an entree - the camargue bull is raised on farms for that purpose. it is different in spain, where the bull fights lead to a slaughtered bull. in arles and the camargue, bull games are played in the arena. 

so this saturday, after the fete in St. Marie de la Mer, try a little bull. you'll find it on the menus as taureau - and below is a recipe we make with erick vedel in the cooking school in arles, association et cuisine provencale with the teen-chefs in provencetrips.

taureau sauvage a la gardiane (bull or beef braised with olives, tomatoes and orange) from the kitchen of erick vedel in arles, provence finally. if someone asks you if this is a bunch of bull, you can say, yes.
of course here in America we have to use beef unless you’re in the west where you can find a lot of bull. this dish is made in a similar fashion as a classic beef bourguignon, but with very different flavors.

1 chuck roast, about 3 pounds
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

2 tablespoons flour 

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 ounces salt pork or salt belly of pork

30 or so black crinkly nicoise olives, pitted

1 cup roughly diced carrots

2-3 garlic cloves, smashed salted and chopped

2-3 shallots, chopped fine

1 cup roughly diced onions

1 sprig fresh thyme

1 stem fresh sage leaves

1 bunch fresh chopped parsley

½ bottle languedoc wine, your favorite
1 quart beef or veal stock, maybe more

juice and zest of 2 oranges

1-2 t. tomato paste

2 small bay leaves

first get your mise en place together. 

that means first season the roast with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, then set this aside on a large baking sheet, chop your veggies adding them to the sheet too. gather all remaining ingredients. approach the stove, and heat a large, wide pan (2 qt.) that you can later cover, over medium heat. add the olive oil and salt pork when the pan is hot. when the salt pork has rendered out its fat, add the roast, and sear each side very well. this is key to giving great deep rich color and flavor to the finished dish. if i see you haven’t seared the meat well, you’ll have to stand in the corner with no wine for 15 minutes.

all right, maybe just ten.

remove the seared roast to the large baking sheet and add in the vegetables. sauté till slightly brown, but not burnt terribly. add the flour to make a roux with the sautéed veggies, stirring well and frequently over low heat until an even light brown color is obtained. the roux (and the vegetables, bien sur!) should have an even light brown color and give off the scent of roasted nuts. deglaze the pan with the wine. stirring up any browned bits. add the stock, continuing to stir well as the sauce thickens. add the orange stuff, the tomato, and the bay leaves. add the roast and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow it to gently simmer for about two hours.

serve with a wonderful rustic bread. and invite your dearest and hungriest acquaintances.