Grisette de Montpellier : This little dark-coloured sweet which has been made for centuries is the speciality of Montpellier. Its origins go back to the Middle Ages, when pilgrims went in droves to the sanctuary of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Made from honey, liquorice and aromatic herbs from the nearby garrigue, it is thought to have been designed to bring a little comfort to the Compostela pilgrims when they came through Montpellier.
Petit pâté de Pézenas : This variation on the mince pie in the shape of a cotton reel is said to have been introduced in the 18th century by Clive of India and spread into the region. Sold in all the pastry shops in Pézenas, it is easy to carry and keeps well in the fridge. It should be warmed through and eaten at the start of a meal with a glass of dry white wine such as Picpoul de Pinet or a sweet wine such as Muscat.
Specialities of Sète : You will find many fish and seafood specialities based on the Neapolitan origins of the people of Sète and the produce of the sea and lagoons (Bourride de Baudroie (monkfish in aioli sauce), Stuffed Mussels and Squid, etc.), not forgetting the Tielle Sétoise (seafood pastry). And for your sweet tooth, try the Zézettes de Sète, crisp little biscuits made with rosé wine.
Apart from all the fish and seafood dishes, especially the famous Bouzigues Oysters, you will find many locally-grown fruit and vegetables along the coast. Here are some of them:
Melon : the perfect summer fruit. 90% water, the melon is particularly refreshing. Like the apricot and the mango, it is one of the fruit with the highest provitamin A (carotene) content. Excellent for a starter or a dessert!
Gariguette : this variety of strawberry grown in the region (in Mauguio in the Hérault) is the undoubted favourite with lovers of the summer fruit. Its slightly tart flavour, elongated shape, firmness and bright colour set it apart from other French strawberries. It ripens around mid-March, making it one of the earliest strawberries of the season.
Asparagus : this is grown throughout the Hérault. The Languedoc-Roussillon is the leading producer of purple asparagus, but what the department specialises in is the "Aspergus of the Sands", so-called because it is grown in the light sandy soil of the Petite Camargue.
The iconic product of the Cévennes, the Pélardon is a cheese with an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée label. This goat’s cheese defined as a quality product is sold and reputed throughout the country. It can be eaten when fresh, ripened to softness or completely dry. Its maturing process ranges from one to two weeks.
The chestnut is very representative of the Haut-Languedoc. In the autumn, there are many festivals in its honour when it is prepared in different ways including roasting, as an ingredient in dishes, in bread or pastries.
Pardhaillan turnip : a local curiosity. This has been grown for centuries, exclusively on the clayey limestone plateau of Pardailhan, in the north-west of the Hérault in the heart of the regional natural park of the Haut-Languedoc. The black turnip of Pardailhan has a unique sweetness and unmistakable aromas. With its black hairy skin covered in tiny roots, this turnip can be identified from its light coating of red earth from the Pardailhan plateau. From mid-autumn and all through the winter, you can buy it raw, but also steamed and vacuum-packed or canned.
Bougnette : product of farms in the Hérault uplands, in the heart of the regional natural park of the Haut Languedoc, the bougnette can now be found on the stalls of many charcutiers in the department. It is a ball of pork meat, breadcrumbs, egg and a number of spices. It can be eaten cold as a starter, sliced and fried or grilled or else dried.
In addition to red, white and rosé wines, you will also find sweet wines (Muscat) and liqueur wines (Cartagène).
Comité Interconsulaire Départemental de l'Hérault Maison des Agriculteurs A Mas Saporta CS 10010 34875 Lattes Cedex - tel : 04 67 20 88 46