For my last night in Montpellier I headed once again to the Old Town, this time to Rue du Pila St Gély – the home of wine-loving eatery Glouglou. The following morning I went hunting for a special type of goat cheese at a market near Comedy Place.
Glouglou sits on a fairly bustling street, just away from a tram track and main road. The inside of the restaurant is very fitting for a bar à vin, it’s curved stone ceiling giving the venue an intimate, cellar-esque feel. It was too nice an evening to sit inside, so out I went to enjoy the ambiance and do a spot of people watching on one of the several tables outside.
As a result of disproportionately stuffing my face all week I wasn’t really that hungry and decided a main course and a glass of wine would be enough for me. Glouglou has a really innovative and fun system for their wine – instead of receiving a menu, you are given a card (about the size of a bank card). Then the waiter explains you go inside the restaurant to what can only be described as a wine vending machine and insert your card, then make your selection. Helpfully there are 3 sizes to choose from, starting with a ‘taster’ option (about 5 sips of wine). So in the space of one night you could potentially try several different types plus no need to attract a member of staff’s attention if you want a refill, just help yourself!
When it came to the food I felt like trying something new and noticed that sweetbreads where on the menu. I, unlike many, really like offal so I thought there was no better time to give them a go. The term ‘sweetbreads’ usually refers to the thymus or the pancreas of an animal, mostly calves or (as in my case) lamb. A lot of people are icked out by this, but really in 2016 Britain we’ve forgotten what a luxury prime cuts of meat were not so long ago – these days we can pick and choose whatever part of whatever species at our convenience. This, however, has made us really wasteful, unadventurous and fussy, and my feeling is that we owe it to the animal whose life has been sacrificed for our dinner to eat (or at least try) everything that comes from it . Anyway, rant over. But, seriously, we should all be eating more offal. Because it’s banging. And cheap.
Back to my Glouglou sweetbreads. They came in a cassoulet containing mushrooms, carrots etc with the obligatory basket of bread. The gravy of the casserole was deep, rich and flavoursome – you can see just by looking at the picture below what a nice shine it had too. The sweetbreads themselves were not as strong in taste as I was expecting – more similar to kidneys rather than liver and would probably be a great introduction to offal for someone who is not used to it. All in all I was pleased with my dinner and used the lovely spongy-textured bread to wipe the dish clean.
Glouglou is a great little bistro and is an excellent place to go with a few friends, whether it’s to eat or exploit their very clever self-service wine system!
Les Halles Castellane
My final morning in Montpellier consisted of me waking up extremely early to go on the hunt for a particular type of goat cheese at one of Montpellier’s main markets. I got my first taste for cheese produced in this way in the beautiful rural region of Dordogne, which is located between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenees. Ash was originally used to protect the surface of young cheeses, but since it’s been discovered that it also improves surface moulds and how they grow. Spread thickly on a water cracker with a little spoonful of chutney or cherry jam, it’s quite literally the dream so I was keen to find it whilst I was in France.
Les Halles Castellane is Montpellier’s main covered market and is fairly large in size. Unfortunately as I went so early a lot of the stalls were still closed but I did get to have a nose around – producers there included greengrocers, winemakers, butchers, bakeries and, of course, cheese mongers.
On approaching the cheese counter, I saw what I wanted straight away and the kind lady at the stall was able to confirm it was goats cheese. It came in a small but perfectly formed portion – which was great as it meant it would keep for that little bit longer. A portion like this cost me just under 6 euros – in the picture on the right-hand side below is the oval-shaped cheese in the bottom centre.
In typical, dozy Greedy B fashion, I left the cheese in the fridge at a friend’s London-based flat before I even got a chance to taste it! Quelle tragique! So I’ll have to come back and edit this post once I’ve reclaimed it, if it hasn’t been snuffled already.
Montpellier was an absolutely wonderful experience and I was so lucky to enjoy this historic and culturally rich part of France as part of a work trip. I tried to make the most of the gorgeous food whilst I was there, and even got to do some sight-seeing! Here’s to more French adventures – hopefully very, very soon!
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