Try Boles de Picolat, a traditional local dish of lamb, beef or pork, cooked in a sauce of tomato and green olives. Typical dishes include Cassoulet and mussels baked in garlic butter or stuffed.
There is no shortage of picturesque fishing villages for delicious seafood fresh from the nets. The ports of Collioure, Palavas and Sète provide some of the region’s finest cuisine. Try the regional speciality, Bouillebaisse (fish soup).
A favourite destination of ours is the attractive port of Marseillan, about an hour and a half’s drive from Ventenac, where there are several restaurants alongside the water. There is the bonus of Noilly Prat’s premises opposite – we can recommend their tour, which is very interesting and naturally concludes with a tasting of their range of aperitifs.
If, on the other hand, you’ve come to savour the local wines, the area is full of pleasant surprises. The vast tracts of vineyards a few miles inland from the coast produce an abundance of excellent, if under-rated wines, such as Corbières, Minervois and Côtes du Roussillon. A self-conducted tour of the area’s wineries (‘caves’) is an enjoyable way to see the area and, with bottles priced as low as a Euro a litre, could almost pay for your trip in savings alone!
Sample the Corbières, Saint Chinian and Faugères red wines, which are rich, spicy and full-bodied. Other famous wines include Fitou, Côtes-du-Roussillon, Minervois and Corbières. Listel is a light, fruity and fresh ‘Vin de Table’.
Blanquette de Limoux, reputedly the oldest sparkling wine in the world, has a delicate fruity flavour and is ideal as a dessert wine or when mixed with Crème de Cassis (blackcurrant liqueur).
The area boasts some very fine fortified sweet wines, which are ideal ice cold as aperitifs or dessert wines. We are particularly fond of Cartagène from the cave next to Château Ventenac.