France is home to the concept of terroir – the taste of a specific place – the combination of geography and season, history and culture, tradition and food that give each region its unique specialties. Chef Chantal Véchambre combines her study of the history of French cuisine with decades of experience in the kitchen to offer us a glimpse into the diverse flavours of France.
The Roussillon is a part of the large Languedoc region in south of France, touching the Mediterranean Sea and bordering Spain. Roussillon shares much history with Catalonia, the unique and independent Spanish province, with common roots in the millennia of Greeks, Romans, Moors and others who have left their influence there. Their culinary tradition is indeed an ancient one, with one of the oldest European cookbook, the Book of Sent Sovi from 1324, being written here, a precious trove of medieval recipes.
The Roussillon was a longstanding Catalan kingdom centered in Perpignan until the Louis XIV annexed it in 1659, but the culture, language, culinary traditions and ingredients remained largely Catalan for centuries. Red bell peppers, tomatoes, olives, artichokes, chorizo, anchovies, cod, and garlic, are essential foundations of this colorful and flavorful cuisine.
Now part of the present-day département of Pyrénées-Orientales (Eastern Pyrenees), within the larger Languedoc-Roussillon region, it boasts a reputation for many classic white and red wines, as well as some more unique Vins Doux Naturels (VDN) like the famous Muscat de Rivesaltes
Bon profit! (*«Bon appetit » in Catalan)
Selection of Tapas
Melon, spiced with sesame and thyme
Classic Spanish omelet with potatoes, onions and chorizo
Delicate blend of Bechamel and chicken, rolled in bread crumbs and fried
Vol au Vent Catalane
Mini puff pastries filled with anchovies and tomatoes
Mushrooms marinated in Muscat de Rivesaltes, with carrots julienne, artichokes, onions, and spiced with cumin
Morue à la Catalane
From Portugal to Provence, through Spain and all Languedoc, cod is a staple in the South of Europe, each region adding their local ingredients, spices and vegetables. “A la Catalane” refers to cod roasted in a crust of flour, then simmered a rich sauce of tomatoes, red peppers, onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, black pepper and olive oil. Served with Camargue rice from the salt marshes of Southern France, and some toasted bread rubbed with garlic.
The most famous of Catalunya’s desserts is a cousin to French creme brûlée — one of Chef Chantal’s specialities — but typically cooked on the stove instead of the oven. Crema catalana uses citrus peel and sometimes cinnamon to flavour the custard, and the crisp sugar crust is traditionally caramelized using a special small round hot iron made for this purpose.
Chantal Véchambre, originally from Paris, is a chef certified in both French cuisine and Pastry-chocolate. In 2005 she moved to New Brunswick where research in culinary history led her to the Fortress of Louisbourg, where she developed recipes and culinary workshops inspired by the site’s 18th century recipes, culminating in an award-winning book: French Taste in Atlantic Canada, 1604-1758. Now established in Toronto, Chantal pursues food writing and culinary adventures, and professional catering through her company My Creme Caramel.
Every weekend The Depanneur invites a guest chef to host a fun, family-style dinner party.