I am back in Paris and I’m loving all of the amazing food and wine that I can find here! Just going to the grocery store or the farmer’s market is an amazing experience – I can find so many products that are not available (or cost an arm and a leg) in Abu Dhabi.
When I was going through the aisles of La Grande Épicerie, I came across some bottarga (or poutargue as it’s known in French). I’ve never actually tasted this before but I’ve been seeing this all over Instagram lately, especially grated over pasta. So I decided to try it. Bottarga is salted grey mullet roe that is preserved in wax.
It can be served by simply slicing it. Just add a squeeze of lemon and it’s perfection, especially for apéritif hour. Bottarga is salty but not overwhelmingly so – a crisp white wine high in acidity will work wonderfully here.
A variety of crisp whites will pair well with bottarga but since I’m in France, I’m gonna go with a French wine. I could’ve chosen a Côtes du Provence, a Cassis, a sparkling wine from Alsace or Saumur, or even Champagne. You want a wine that’s high in acidity to work with the saltiness of the bottarga but you want to opt for light flavors so as to not overwhelm bottarga’s delicate flavor. I actually fell in love with a white from the Bouche-du-Rhône region of France (you can currently find it at la Dernière Goutte and Juveniles in Paris). Even though it has the word “Rhône” in the appellation, this is a wine from Provence. It specially comes from a department in Provence where Marseille is the capital. The name Bouche-du-Rhône simply translates to the mouth of the Rhône river, which is by the Mediterrenean Sea.
The wine is produced by Château de Roquefort and the wine is called Petit Salé, made mostly from the clairette grape (with a bit of vermentino). The taste is light and crisp. It’s mineral and floral on the nose with some citrus. Just lovely! And it paired beautifully with the bottarga. I always love pairing wines with citrus aromas with seafood.
The next day, I wanted to finish the bottle while trying some different food pairings. After a bit of experimenting, I found that cockles and white asparagus are fantastic with this wine.
For the appetizer, I peeled and steamed some white asparagus and served with with some crème fraiche and fresh thyme (and thyme is a flavor that’s predominant in Provence, mirroring the provenance of the wine). Super simple appetizer!
I love that the bunch of thyme that I find in Paris (which I get from the organic farmer’s market in Bd Raspail) has flowers, which not only add beauty to a dish but are also delicious!
It was surprising how well the asparagus worked with the wine (normally, asparagus is one of those foods that are considered to be wine’s natural enemy). So I decided to also add it to my main course: cockles or coques as they’re called in France. I cooked the cockles just like I would cook clams for a spaghetti alla vongole dish – just add garlic, lemon, parsley as well as bit of Le Petit Sale to the pan before throwing in the cockles and finish it off with some butter. Instead of the typical pasta however, I served the cockles on a bed of steamed white asparagus ribbons as well as the tips.
This dish was just outstanding with Petit Salé! I will definitely be making it again and I already saved a few bottles of this wine to take back to Abu Dhabi with me 🙂
For lots more pictures of food and wine, check out my Instagram account:@thatperfectbottle