La Rochelle: "The true spirit of France". Founded in the X century on a rocky platform in the middle of marshlands, La Rochelle, a fishing village, became a major port as early as the XII century. In 1199, Alienor d'Aquitaine granted a town charter to La Rochelle, which was thus free of feudal domination. The mayor, the aldermen and the shipowners cleverly benefitted from the quarrel between the kingdoms of France and England to increase their privilege and wealth. The power of La Rochelle was based on the salt and wine trade. La Rochelle, a walled town of artistic and historic interest has its roots firmly anchored in the sea and seafaring as it is evident in its culture and architecture. Among the sights are the towers at the entrance of the old harbour, the Great clock in a gateway leading from harbour to town, the town houses dating from the Middle Ages, Renaissance and XVIII century built for shipowners and traders, arcaded streets and museums. The Port des Minimes, accessible by "water bus" from the Vieux Port, has become the largest yatching marina on the Atlantic coast. Refined gastronomy: La Rochelle is rich in products which are second to none in flavour. For instance, the mussels: raised near Fouras, Brouage or Charron, on the islands of Ré and Oléron or in the Baie de l'Aiguillon. As you can see, sea is particularly generous.
MOULES À LA ROCHELAISE
Mussels à la Rochelaise
Ingredients for 4 runners: 1,5 kilograms mussels; 2 cloves of garlic; parsley; 1 lemon (for garnishing); 150 grams butter; virgin olive oil; salt.
Peel the garlic, wash a large bunch of parsley, and chop together finely (use the food processor if you like) and blend in a softened butter and two pinches of salt.
Scrape the mussels, tear off the "threads" and wash them under cold running water.
Put the mussels into a pan with a little virgin olive oil and cook quickly over a high flame until they open. Discard any that remain closed.
Put some of the garlic and parsley flavoured butter onto the half shells containing the mussels.
Arrange in an owen dish, put them in the oven and brown under the grill for 2 to 3 minutes.
Bon appétit! Enjoy the meal!
Suggested wine - The wines of the Poitou-Charentes région will be perfect. A dry white wine from Haut-Poitou will do the trick (comparable to Chardonnay of Anjou wine).