The starting town of Montélimar sits on the banks of the River Rhône between Valence and Orange in the Drôme department of the Rhône Alps region. The Chateau des Adhémar was built in the 11th century by the Count of Toulouse, Duke of Narbonne. By the 12th century it had been turned over to the Adhémar family, shortly thereafter it was destroyed. Nothing remains of the original structure today but the Adhémar family had a new chateau built and still stands today on a hill overlooking the city. An addition of the Narbonne tower was added in the 14th century when it was taken by the papacy and joined the Pope’s castles until 1447 when it was returned to the Kingdom of France. During the French Revolution part of the Chateau was destroyed, it was rebuilt and then used as a prison from 1791 to 1926.
Today over 6 million pounds are made and exported around Europe each year and made in factories that date back to the 19th century. There is even a museum “Monde du Nougat” at the Arnaud Soubeyran factory where the family has been making nougat since 1837. Visit the Musee international des Sucreries du Palais des bonbons et du nougat is located in the nearby village of Au fil du temps where you can see the world’s largest nougat that includes more than 400kg of Almonds and more than 2,000 eggs. After finding a recipe that was as authentic as I could get without being there I made my own nougat and it was very good. It is very easy to make but it is one of the things you need to be paying attention 100%, it is crucial that you cook the sugar syrup to the correct temperature, not a degree more or less. After whipping the egg whites and combining all that is left is to add the nuts and pour into the pan. The hard part is waiting the 5 days before you can touch it. But if you make this in the hottest days of summer I found that it is better left in the fridge to really set. The toasted almonds and the creamy nougat were very tasty and friends and family loved it.
Two 9-inch by 13-inch sheets rice or wafer paper (pain azyme)
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups honey
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups water
6 egg whites, room temperature
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon brandy
2 1/2 cups whole blanched almonds, toasted
1/3 cup chopped pistachios
1/2 teaspoon salt
Line a 9-inch by 13-inch by 1-inch pan with the wafer paper and set it aside.
In a large saucepan, dissolve the sugar, honey, corn syrup, and water, and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Begin to beat the egg whites while the sugar mixture continues cooking, untouched. Beat the egg whites on high until stiff, wet peaks form.
Once the sugar syrup reaches 300F on a candy thermometer, pour it very slowly and steadily into the egg whites, whisking them the entire time. Add the lemon zest and continue whisking the hot nougat mixture for 8 to 12 minutes, until it cools slightly and thickens.
Stir the vanilla, brandy, almonds, pistachios, and salt into the nougat and quickly spread it onto the prepared pan. Gently place the second piece of wafer paper on top of the nougat and evenly press it into the nougat so that no air bubbles remain.
Cover the nougat in an airtight container or plastic wrap and allow it to set for 3 to 5 days before cutting and wrapping individual pieces.
This nougat blanc recipe makes approximately 10 dozen 1-inch candies.
The small village of Rousset-les-Vignes is just outside of Montélimar is home to the vines of Cotes du Rhone-Village area making reds, whites and roses. Rousset-les-Vignes has the coolest climate in the Rhone which gives a lightness to the wine not found in some other Cotes de Rhone-Village wines. Grown on the upper hillside with mostly sandstone and stony soil that clings to the side of Lance Mountain. Given its Cotes du Rhone Villages Rousset-les-Vignes appellation in 1969 the area produces mostly Grenache, Syrah, Marsanne, Roussane and Viognier, just to name a few. Chateau Suzeau and their spicy reds the Cave de Saint Pantaleon les Vignes are some wines that are tops in the area. The village itself is made up of medieval houses with a maze of streets that lead to the 12th century chateau and church. Located in the center of the medieval town, the church is built from yellow ochre stone and is topped with a round tower with three bells.
Back into the Provence region and into the city of Nyons that dates back to the 6th century BC. Sitting on the banks of the River Eygues and at the gate of the Tricastin plain which gives it a pleasant mild climate and the basis of its nickname “little Nice”. In the southern heart of the Provencal Drôme region it is the mix of agriculture, wines of the Hermitage and Clairette de Die and the Nyons oil and truffles that give the area its distinction above many others. In the town of Nyons the Romanesque bridge that crosses over the River Eygues was built in 1409. The humpback style bridge with its 131 foot arch is one of the most amazing in the south of France.
Nyons is known for one thing, olives. Because of its location at Les Baronnies, which is the region East and North of Mont Ventoux and just under 775 square miles in size it is protected from the Provence Mistral winds and makes a perfect place for growing olives. There are more than 250,000 olive trees in the area and will produce over 420 tons of olives for eating and 200 tons of olive oil per year. Nyons received its AOC distinction in 1994 for the Tanche olive, which is a sturdy olive with a large pit and a sweet meaty flavor. The appearance of the Tanche olive is black and somewhat wrinkled due to the fact that they are harvested in December and they have fully ripened and began to shrivel in the cold weather.
Buis-les-Baronnies found great importance in the 14th century when it was one of the few election towns of the Dauphins du Viennois. Later destroyed by the plague it was repopulated by Louis XI with settlers from Germany. In the beginning of the 19th century lime trees were planted in the area. Buis-les-Baronnies is now known for its medicinal plants and herbs such as sage and lavender as well as olives and apricots. But we can’t forget some of the vines of the area. The Vin de Pays des Coteaux des Baronnies is set in the town and produces Syrah, Merlot, Viognier and Rose des Gamay among other Rhone varietals in the town.
Sitting on a large plateau is the village of Sault, surrounded by lavender and looking down on the Gorges de la Nesque from 776 meters high. The area around Sault is listed and protected under the UNESCO world heritage and has been given a Ministry of the Environment s well. Home to Lavande Vraie or true lavender which is the largest in all of Europe. In Sault you can take one of seven guided tours and include the Jardin des Lavandes. The Association des Routes de la Lavande has many scenic drives through local lavender fields in and around Sault. The many small distilleries that produce Lavender oil are in Sault as well. The process is done in a steam alembic, when the dry lavender is steamed in a double boiler. The essential oils are extracted by water vapor and then passed through cooling coils. You can even learn to make your own lavender perfume and take some home at the La Ferme-aux-Lavandes. A hardy, wild wheat that has come into a renaissance of its own is also grown here, epeautre is used by chefs in the region and also to make biere blanche, or white beer.
Aside from the forest and the vineyards the large church Saint-Antonin stands out with its Spanish style built by the Jesuits in 1702 and restored in the 19th century. Its impressive size and campanile belfry can be seen from around the area.
The wine growing region around Mont Ventoux is known as Cotes du Ventoux AOC. The Ventoux AOC is in the southeastern corner of the Rhone region taking up three times the surface of the Northern Rhone. The border is from the north at Beaumont-du-Ventoux and Malaucene and in the south past Carpentras and Pernes-les-Fontaines and down to Apt stretching over fifty two communes. Most of the wine comes from comes from the area south of Mont Ventoux or north of the Plateau du Ventoux. The terroir of the region is mostly sand, clay, gravel, limestone and chalk and the vines are planted on the slopes of the Ventoux. In Bedoin the vines are planted as high as 500 meters. The Syrah grape loves the cooler climate and the region has come to produce some of the most interesting wine in the Rhone region. Aside from Syrah the other reds made are Cinsault, Mourvedre, Carignan and Grenache and the whites include Clairette, Bourboulenc and Roussane. Most of the Cotes du Ventoux wines are to be drunk when the grape is very young. Some of the producers of the Cotes du Ventoux to look for are Paul Jaboulet Aine, Domaine le Van and Domaine de Font-Sans.
He almost reached the summit, but with just a half mile to go, he collapsed dead in the same spot that the memorial is today. Today the memorial is a spot for all cycling fans to visit and to leave a small memento.
Sitting atop Mont Ventoux at 6263 feet is the meteorological station built in 1882. It was used until 1968 when it was closed but the building still stands to great visitors at the summit. In 1960 a television transmitter was built and the tall red needle can be seen from all over Provence. Mont Ventoux has been part of the Tour de France 14 times since 1951, and because of the slow steep climb and stories like Tom Simpson it makes it an epic part of cycling and the Tour de France.
The term Daube is normally means a cut of beef braised in stock or red wine stock enriched with herbs and vegetables. In older French cookbooks the term Daube would mean that the meat was to be eaten cold. In a 1969 copy of the Escoffier Cookbook, the only Daube recipe is for Daube Froide or Cold Mutton Stew meant to be served cold and put onto a plate with all its light aspic-jelly surrounding it. Originally a Daube was cooked in a Daubiere, the type of casserole and made of stoneware, earthenware or tinned copper. Just about every region in France has its own version of a Daube much like the Cassoulet of South West France.
For this Daube I stuck with Julia Child from her Mastering the Art of French Cooking, it was fantastic. I didn’t have a Daubiere to cook it in but I did use my French Le Cruset, close enough.
3 pounds rump pot roast or chuck pot roast, cut into 2 1/2-inch squares, 1 inch thick
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1/4 cup brandy
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
1 bay leaf, crumbled
2 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
2 cups thinly sliced onions
2 cups thinly sliced carrots
1/2 pound lean bacon, cut into strips
1/4 inch thick and 2 inches long, simmered in water for 10 minutes, drained and dried
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 1/4 cups canned whole, peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped coarsely
1 cup sifted flour, on a plate
1 to 2 cups beef stock.
1. In a large nonreactive bowl, combine the beef, wine, brandy, olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, onions and carrots. Cover and marinate at least 3 hours, stirring up frequently.
2. Remove beef from marinade and drain in a sieve. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
3. Line the bottom of a deep 6-quart casserole with 3 or 4 strips of bacon. Strew a handful of the marinade vegetables, mushrooms and tomatoes over them. Piece by piece, roll the beef in the flour and shake off excess. Place closely together in a layer over the vegetables. Cover with a few strips of bacon and continue with the layers of vegetables, beef and bacon. End with a layer of vegetables and 2 or 3 strips of bacon.
4. Pour in the wine from the marinade and enough stock almost to cover the contents of the casserole. Bring to simmer on top of the stove, cover tightly and set in lower third of the oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
5. Before serving, skim off excess fat. Correct seasoning. (Can be served with boiled baby white potatoes, lightly crushed and seasoned with melted butter, coarse salt and chopped parsley.)
For the a la Provencal
2 Tablespoons capers
3 Tablespoons wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves mashed garlic
¼ cup minced parsley
Using a fork mash the anchovies and capers to a paste in a bowl. Beat in the other ingredients. After the Daube has cooked for 2 ½ hours remove it from the oven and skim off the fat. Pour on the anchovy mixture and baste the beef with the cooking juices in the casserole. Cover and return to the oven until the meat is tender.