Last night we invited our Occitan friends in the village to a meal to celebrate (a few days late) St David’s day, as we usually do around 1st March.
We served toast with laver bread and bacon with apéritifs (laver bread is seaweed boiled for hours into a sort of purée, a south Wales delicacy which you either love or you hate – fortunately our friends here love it). For the first course we had leeks (from our garden) with salmon baked in the oven with white sauce and grated cheese. The main course was a lamb stew (which I couldn’t resist putting some very Mediterranean thyme into) with stiwnts (mashed carrots and parsnips). Parsnips have only recently appeared in the shops here and it was the first time our friends had tasted them. We grew a few tiny ones last year, but it wasn’t a success as it’s too dry for them. For dessert we had apple tart and cream. And then a wonderful Italian cake which one of our friends had brought as a contribution to the meal. So it was a variation on a Welsh meal and we left Wales altogether with the coffee (Italian) and digestifs from Catalunya (Ratafia, a wonderful liqueur made with herbs from the garrigue) and Navarra (Pacharan, sloe liqueur, also wonderful). Everyone enjoyed it all very much.
Today, though, I had a strong craving for our more usual Mediterranean style of food, so for lunch we had mussels with aioli (garlic mayonnaise –my recipe is here). The mussels in the Bassin de Thau aren’t at their best at this time of the year – after the winter (when we usually have very little rain and this year have had even less than usual) they need the spring rains to dilute the salinity of the lagoon so they can fatten up a bit. So we bought some of the larger size (sold for cooking moules farcies). While I made the aioli Lo Jardinièr cooked the mussels in a little white wine then removed the mussels from their shells, dipped them in beaten egg white and then in breadcrumbs and fried them in olive oil. They were really good with a squeeze of lemon and the aioli.
We’ve had some more cold nights, although not freezing, but the days are sunny and warm. Walking around the village this afternoon we spotted this beautiful mimosa still in flower.