Monday, January 28, 2013

Mini-Miettes, Jan '13

There have been a couple of changes to the list of blogs over there on the right, with some very cool stuff being added. Raymond Sokolov is a name some will recognize as one of America's preeminent food writers, and although his blog is in its infancy, this could be a very good thing once he gets it rolling. He was also one of the best editors I've ever had, so expect quaity writing, no matter the subject. A number of food blogs have been added, starting with The Skint Foodie, a British guy who's amusing and who occasionally posts something Americans can use. Britain's Guardian has a daily food blog (well, weekdays) that's all over the map from dull to essential. Their How to Cook a Perfect... series is downright brilliant. And one of the most brilliant new blogs on the scene is Sorrywatch, which, given that to err is human, but to apologize for it with any finesse seems to be damn near impossible, means that  when something like Lance Armstrong comes along you'll be seeing some very sprightly writing indeed. Update your daily blog-slog accordingly.

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Health Watch: I'm still waiting for my coagulation number to stabilize, but meanwhile, I've gone to my trusty nose doc for treatment of this polyp that killed my taste buds around Christmas Eve. The good news is that within two hours of my starting the treatment things got back to almost normal, and the bad news is that the treatment starts with prednisone, a drug that makes me nutzo, since I'm buzzing all the time like I'm stoned on coffee 24 hours a day. Everything you read by me until about the 6th of February is going to be influenced by that, so please be gentle with me, and I'll try to do the same. Sure is good to have the old buds back, though, as you will soon see. 

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Ever since it was announced that a film was being shot here about the rebel winemakers in Languedoc, I've been anxious to see it. Loosely organized around the group who call themselves The Outsiders, it sounded like a good excuse to learn more about these spirited winemakers, some of whose goods I sampled a year ago at Vinisud. The film got a title, Les Terroiristes de Languedoc, and the premiere was last night, free to those who knew about it, followed by a wine-tasting by some of the wine-makers. I offered my help for the event -- which occurred a few meters from my front door -- and was assured that it wasn't needed. Okay, I thought, so I invited E&J to come with me to the premiere. We packed into the lobby of the theater with tons of other people, and at one point the organizer came by and asked if I were there by myself. No, I told her, I'm here with two friends. "Oh, well, let me take care of the winemakers and I'll come back." The lobby grew more and more overcrowded. we were getting shoved around, and our hostess never reappeared. So I still haven't seen the film, and, thus can't report on it. Here's a trailer, though. 

I'll admit to being annoyed. From the time I moved here, I've been looking for ways to help publicize the food, wine, and history of this region to Americans. Not to the British, who, some of them, know it well enough to feel like they own it. No, to Americans, every single one of whom who's visited has loved the joint. I've gotten nowhere, and, except for this blog, I've given up. I welcome visitors and try my best to show them the cool stuff here in town, and, if there's interest and a car handy, give them my famous Languedoc's Greatest Hits tour, which has all of it packed into one day's drive. But I've discovered that tourism promotion here is ramshackle, the product of various bureaucracies more interested in grabbing a larger subsidy than the other guy, and it's never going to reach anyone in the States with its chaotic approach. Just another of the many disappointments here, I'm afraid, which may well see me moving on in the future. 

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So what do you do on a rainy Sunday night when you've been frozen out of a screening? Go somewhere and have a good time. E&J and I were walking over to Le Chat Perché when I wondered aloud if La Morue was open on Sundays. As it happens, it was. 

E had been here a couple of months ago, and one of this blog's big fans is a guy in the U.S. who knows the place, loves it, and is apparently designing a new logo for them. It was also featured in the New York Times' eccentric article on Montpellier last year, and I was afraid that might have caused it to get too famous, but there was an open table (although I strongly recommend reservations, even for a Sunday night) and we sat right down. There was some late-period Bee Gees' disco on the sound system, which was annoying, but as the place filled up it receded into background noise. And there you have my sole (no pun intended) complaint about the evening. 

La Morue means cod, as in the famous brandade de morue, a potato purée made with reconstituted salt cod that's a local favorite. There was no brandade on the menu last night, but there was morue, a nice block of it served with a tomato puree and vegetables that E got. I'm not sure what kind if fish starred in J's tagine, but it was also served atop a collection of vegetables including potatoes and olives, in a broth very definitely featuring saffron and other Northern African delicacies. It was the best call of the evening, and reminded me that I'm still looking for a first-rate Moroccan joint around here. My own choice was a half an Atlantic lobster served atop penne sauced with a lobster-based tomato sauce that also featured zucchini and carrots. We split a bottle of rosé, which seemed appropriate, a 2011 Puech Haut cuvée Prestige, with a nice mineraly nose giving way to flavors of pear, peach, and apricot, a masterful wine as one would expect from those folks -- and affordable, since they put their marketing muscle into their stratospherically-priced reds. 

A really wonderful meal, and I'll be back soon. 

La Morue, 23, rue du Palais des Guilhelm, 34000 Montpellier. Tel: 04 67 52 82 02. Open for lunch Tue-Fri, dinner Tue-Sun. Reservations strongly recommended. 


  1. I love a good food blog, that's for posting about some new ones.

  2. well, thank you, Ed, for the list of new blogs.....and thanks also for jolting me into the realization that, in fact, I HAVEN'T done that logo for for Muriel and Patrick (the couple who own both La Morue and Chez Toto, which face each other across that 12 foot-wide street).

    I bought a 220 year old house in late June and have been completely caught up in all the predictable hububb and flurry of moving for the first time in 20 years (rather obviously, I'ma much more sedentary and less adventurous fellow than you are).

    In any case, thanks for the reminder; I'll write to them today.....and thanks as ever for your own, refreshingly-realistic blog.

    Level Best as Ever,
    David Terry


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