The Winemaker’s Lunch


“Sometimes to have a little good luck is the most brilliant planning”. Woody Allen, Crimes & Misdemeanors.

And sometimes good luck comes in the form of little yellow flowers. A few weeks ago we were “trespassing” (my husband’s specialty) in a vineyard, mesmerized by a yellow carpet of flowers on a little hill. We were caught in the act by the owner, Fabien Courrian, and instead of taking it badly he took it so well that he sent us home with six bottles of his wine. On top of if all he turned out to be the nicest guy. Last monday he called us again and told us they were bottling the 2011 vintage that’s been biding its time in barrels. At château Tour Haut-Caussan, they tend to make a meal of such events and he invited us to join him for a ‘simple’ lunch with the team.  A quick affair as they had work to do and bottles to fill.




Quick it was, just under four hours. We started nibbling on fresh, raw fava beans from their garden, saucissons secs, quiches and ham. Then came sizzling cuttlefish fillets, fried on the highest heat on coarse sea-salt, served with succulent confit red peppers. His sister Véronique mastered the tastiest chicken fresh from the nearby farm, beautifully flavoured with cognac, shallots and a very generous amount of garlic en chemise (with the skin on). She surprised us with the most irresistible lemon tart served with strawberries on the side. I felt so pampered, enjoying watching the sister/brother team preparing the food and entertaining us with enchanting stories.





Fabien was generous enough to let us pick any vintage we wanted of his delicious wine and he had even taken the trouble to find out my favorite Bordeaux white called ‘Elise ‘(which is by another happy coincidence made by his good friend). On top of all these goodies we sampled some of his father’s olive oil, which is made in the south of France and is as good as any I’ve tasted. But Fabien’s hospitality didn’t end there. After dinner he challenged my husband to a game of pétanque and then graciously lost 13 – 11. Since Fabien’s been playing the game since childhood and my husband has never played it before, it felt a generous gesture indeed – but don’t tell that to my husband.

Perhaps it was just beginner’s luck.


Squid with red peppers (serves 4)

8 slices fresh cuttlefish fillets (each fillet palm-sized)
2 red peppers, sliced into small squares
Coarse sea-salt
Olive oil
Black pepper, for seasoning

Heat olive oil in a frying pan and sauté peppers for 20-25 minutes on a medium heat. Season with salt and black pepper. Set aside.
Using a sharp knife, lightly score to mark parallel lines 1/2 cm wide on the cuttlefish fillets. Heat a large pan and sprinkle coarse sea-salt all over (approx 3-4 tbsp). When the pan is sizzling hot, place cuttlefish fillets on top of salt and fry just under a minute on each side. Shake off excess salt and place on a serving dish. Sprinkle with olive oil, peppers and season with ground black pepper.


Roast chicken with shallots, garlic and onions with cognac

1 free-range farm chicken, 1.5 kg/ 3.3 pounds approx
2 heads of garlic (one head of unpeeled cloves, one head of cloves peeled and sliced)
4 shallots, sliced finely
1 large yellow onion, sliced finely
40 ml/ 1/8 cup cognac
Coarse sea-salt and black pepper
Olive oil

Pre-heat oven 180°C/ 350 F
Drizzle chicken with olive oil, sprinkle with coarse sea-salt. Insert garlic cloves (from 1 head of garlic, unpeeled) in cavity.
Place into pre-heated oven and cook for 1 hour approx, until chicken is golden.
In a medium-sized saucepan, heat olive oil. Combine sliced garlic (from the other garlic head), shallots and onions. Sauté for 10-12 minutes, then add the cognac. Reduce for a minute and continue to cook on a low heat for another 10-12 minutes, until soft, golden and glossy.  Add mixture to the chicken pan 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time.

Lemon tart

Preheat oven 190°C/ 375 F
Juice of 1 and a half lemons
1 good-quality egg
150 g/ ¾ cup granulated sugar
50 g/ 3 ½ tbsp butter, melted
1 sheet ready-made shortcrust pastry roll

Line tart pan with pastry – spike base all over with a fork. Whisk egg and sugar until light and fluffy. Combine, butter and juice of lemons, whisk until blended. Pour mixture into tart. Place tart in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until tart is golden. Leave to cool before serving.


87 thoughts on “The Winemaker’s Lunch

  1. Mimi hello. I stumbled on your site last week. You have a beautiful photographic eye – love the light in this post – and simply want to dive head first into that lemon tart. I mean look at it haha! Well done you. Look forward to more exploring. x

    1. Bonjour Margaret! Thank you for dropping by! My husband is the photographer – he is the ‘eye’ and the ‘mouth’ (and cook!) 🙂 Véronique’s tart was amazing – the best tart I ever had – so thin, so perfectly rustic and ‘imperfect’ – exactly how I like desserts! She told me to get the freshest farm egg for this recipe ! By the way, I had 3 slices that day. Looking forward to hearing from you! Merci for your kind words. Bonne journée, Mimix

  2. Living in this little 1920’s Craftsman cottage, I don’t have a wine cellar. (Oh well, next life) But I did fit an old wardrobe with shelves and it functions very well my “wine cellar”. The other day I looked for a bottle of stout to make an Irish stew with and found an unopened ceramic Pastis bottle I brought back from my last trip to France! Hmm, wonder if I have any lovely cognac because now I feel like making a roasted garlicky chicken. 🙂 By the way Mimi, the slow cooked lamb was delicious. Thank you for the inspiration.

    1. Bonjour Veronica! Thank you so much for dropping by – I always enjoy your anecdotes 🙂 I love the idea of an old wardrobe as a wine cellar – how romantic. Hopefully you found tha bottle of Cognac somewhere in the back! Véronique’s chicken was so delicious – she says she loves the combination of a cognac sauce and red wine to accompany the meal. So glad you liked the slow-cooked lamb recipe – another inspired château dish! Bonne journée, Mimix

  3. Could there be a better friend to have!!What a sumptuous lunch and that lemon tart, oh my! Great images!

    Come with me on my adventure in France.
    life, possibilities, grace
    a beautiful dream…

    Art by Karena

    1. Bonjour Karena! Oh yes – that tart… to be quite honest, it’s the best tart I ever had. I loved simple desserts, no frills, just a pure singular flavour to savour. Véronique calls this tart ‘La tarte du château’ – because she makes it everytime – it’s her signature dish. Bonne journée, Mimix

  4. Mimi your blog is my favourite foodie blog. On Saturday I wowed my dinner guests with the slow cooked lamb and the story of how it came all the way from a village in France to my dinner table in Australia. And now the Garlicky chicken will certainly be next. Thank you for your beautifully put together words and photographs.

    1. Bonjour Maggie! Oh dear – you are making my heart sing! Thank you SO much for your encouraging words. It’s such a pleasure to share these lovely stories. Kindness, generosity, hospitality, sharing – that’s what I love about life. Enjoy Véronique’s chicken recipe (and that tart, mmmmmmm)! Warm greeting from Médoc! Mimix

  5. This post couldn’t have come at a better time! I plan to do an alfresco wine tasting dinner on 6/15 and was searching for menu ideas, thank you so much!

    1. Bonjour Barbara! Oh so glad to hear this – it’s all about good timing, right? 🙂 Enjoy the recipes, and most of all, wishing you a wonderful wine tasting dinner on 6/15! Mimix

  6. I just found your blog and it is absolutely lovely! I started from the beginning and love everything from your stories and photos to how you made your dreams come true.

    I am a very happy new follower. 🙂

    1. Bonjour Sarah! Thank you for saying hi and dropping by! It is a little dream to be here, and it’s even more of a dream to meet such wonderful people. So happy to hear from you! Mimix

  7. Ooh, garlicky roast chicken. I never thought to make a COGNAC sauce, thanks for the recipe, Mimi. I love that about the French, their hospitality and pride in their food and wine.

    1. Bonjour Zelda! Same here – I have never thought of a cognac sauce – it was so good, so rustic – exactly what one would expect at Fabien and Véronique’s château! Sharing, conviviality, generosity – it’s a good life! Bonne journée, Mimix

  8. Mimi, it has been quite a while since I have left a response because I tend to think, “Oh dear, she must be absolutely inundated with comments” but I realize that is…not terribly polite!! So, on behalf of all of my fellow lurkers at Manger, thank you for all that you both do to push the rest of us to dream a bit more. 🙂
    Will be making that poulet au cognac pronto, merci!

    1. Bonjour Heather! What a beautiful photo of you I see! It’s always a pleasure to hear from you 🙂 Hopefully youare getting better weather than us and enjoy the chicken au cognac under the sun! Bisous, Mimix

  9. “Quelques grammes de finesse dans un monde de brutes.”

    I very much appreciate your blog, it’s truly inspirational to me. You show the “taste” of France in a way I rarely see and miss so much. Thank you for that.


  10. Bonjour Mimi,
    The way you write and the amazing pictures, manage to transpose me in seconds to a different time and different place… what you are doing here is simply called ART… Thank you so much!
    Today I was so happy to discover a small French shop in my town. Ohh, how happy I was!! The first thing I bought was “Graisse de Canard” and run home to make the potato cake, which is not good enough without this pure gold 🙂
    I bought also the Calvados, thinking of your apple tart…so that is the next on the list.
    The problem is that now I want to try this simple lemon tart too…and the chicken with cognac…
    You are such an inspiration….
    Many hugs from a not so warm Sweden 🙂

    1. Bonsoir Natalia! Thank you for dropping by! So happy you found a little French épicerie – what a good feeling it is to buy ingredients that can make all the difference. 🙂 Cooking is all about joy, patience and fun – I hope you’ll get a chance to try all these recipes! Each one of them has a story, inspired by love and kindness. Enjoy Natalia! Bonne soirée, Mimix

  11. that lemon tart looks lovely and so easy to make,i must give it a always brings me joy to read your posts.

    1. Merci Emily! Thank you so much for dropping by – such a pleasure to greet you here in my little world in Médoc. It’s such a pleasure to share – I hope you will enjoythe recipes and stories! Bonne soirée, Mimix

  12. Normally I prefer the plainest of roast chicken, but this one sounds like pure genius! Just enough flavours to make it special, but not too many to overwhelm it.

    An inspiring post, and even more so with some of Woody Allen’s wisdom!

    1. Thank you Sasha! It’s wonderful how a slight twist like cognac can change everything! I am a huge Woody Allen fan – I love his nervous wit! Warm greetings from Médoc, Mimix

  13. What a magical day you had. I love everything French and your blog keeps me spellbound for hours at a time. My best friend and neighbor is from France and I love the way she does things. She takes such care with simple things and they always amaze me. From the hand-rolled hems on garments to the simple, yet deliciously flavored meals, she amazes me. She is a jewel and I treasure her. Thank you for letting me escape to your corner of the world.

    1. Thank you for dropping by Sandy! So happy to hear about your friendship – it’s so wonderful to be able to share and exchange all the lovely little details in life. I hope you will enjoy a few recipes! Bonne journée, Mimix

  14. Ah, a generous host, and a welcoming table. What more could one ask for…except a few bottles of a vintage of your choice? Amazing. I’m on my way.

  15. Hi Mimi,
    As always it’s such a pleasure to read your blog, every week I look forward to hearing of your new adventures in the Médoc and your food discoveries! It’s especially lovely for me because I’m from Agen, so it’s like I’m keeping in touch with my region! By the way, do you have a favourite “pruneau” receipe? Personally I really enjoy them with a “feuille de chêne” salad, some “pignion” and “lardons” or smoked ham, or the “diables à cheval” (wrapped in bacon) for apéritif (sorry for the mixture of french and english)…
    I will definitively try your chicken receipe this Sunday. Thanks again for your great blog, keep enchanting us!

    1. Bonjour Camille! How lovely to hear you are from Agen! My mother, grand-mother and aunt are from Moissac, so we are practically neighbours. I am loving our new lives in Médoc (we’ve been here nearly 3 years now). We have little adventures everyday, so many stories to tell. As for les pruneaux, my favourite recipes is the far aux pruneaux, and definitely diables à cheval – I love to mix sweet & savoury. I hope you will enjoy the chicken recipe – it’s one of Fabien’s and Véronique’s family favourite dish! Bonne journée! Mimix

      1. Hello!
        I was about to leave a comment down the page but can’t help writing it there as a “reply”: I can’t believe you’re from Agen (or Moissac), I actually am from Agen too! And as an “agenaise”, my favourite pruneaux recipes are also sweet-and-savoury. For example, I love the combination of pruneaux and magret séché in a salad or a pizza. Mimi, your Médoc stories sound fantastic. How lucky you are to meet such wonderful people ! You seem to enjoy every bit of it and that’s the best part 🙂

        1. Bonsoir Eva-Mona! Thanks so much for dropping by! I love Agen, and pruneaux are one of my favourite ingredients!! Such wonderful summers spent there! Wea re enjoying our Medcocain lives, everyday is like an adventure! Bonne semaine! Mimix

          1. Bonsoir Eva-Mona and Mimi! That’s so funny all of us meeting here… Moissac is so lovely. Thanks for your reply Mimi, I would love it if you shared your far au pruneau receipe because I’ve never made one! I’m really excited about the artichoke souflé, I’ve just bought some today and I’m going to try it out! Thanks for sharing your passion and inspiring us Mimi!
            Have a good week you two.

  16. Hey Mimi 🙂

    I don’t read many blogs, but yours is on top on my list! I love your writing sense (I’m also a journalist by profession and I know when someone occupy my attentiong to read his whole blog in just tree days from dust till down..then that’s definitely worth it!). Every time I read your everyday stories I feel like I’m reading a book from some medieval time. And of course the photographs give that spirit too. So, I’ve just wanted to tell you that I descide to start again to write my blog, which I turned off about tree years ago, and all of that because of your interesting stories! I figured out that these writings will made me happy, I could share my everyday experience and at the same time write a kind of journal of important days and occasions which I don’t want to forget. Cause life is made of those lil’ & simple, but beautiful things – like making a dish, walking in nature, playing with children…At the end I wanted to ask you something – I noticed that you cook to your kids all the time and I guess that you don’t give them to eat snacks like chocolates and chips or even fastfood. If that’s true, I’m so glad for made that decision, cause people can’t figure out that natural, domestic food is much more better that industrial which is untasty, it’s only makes addiction of it. And I almoust forget to tell you – I love your recepes cause I can’t find the same ones on the other food blogs! Hugs from Belgrade 🙂

    1. Bonsoir Kajka! Thank you for writing such meaningful words – they truly mean the world to me! I am very touched to hear you will start writing your blog again – you are so right, life is made of those little and simple yet beautiful things that make us happy in every way. Whether it’s food, nature, family, or simply a wonderful feeling, it’s so good to share and reach out to those who want to receive. Regarding your question, I try to give my children the best food possible. Our kitchen table always has a variety of fruits so they can pick anyone they want. I encourage ‘after-school’ snacks like bread and butter instead of sugary biscuits. As for chocolates, I offer dark +70% cocoa without sugar which they really like. I am so happy to hear you like the recipes – they come from all my favourite food memories! Merci Kajka! Mimix

  17. Wow, the lemon tart looks so simple and scrumptious! I love hearing stories about “accidental friendships” – I think they’re the best kind! What a happy accident it was for you to run into Fabien … so very Woody Allen, indeed!

    1. Oh yes you must try the recipe – Véronique made it look all so simple – this lemon tart turned out to be my favourite evere. Enjoy! Bonne soirée, Mimixx

  18. What a treat to be served such deliciousness in such a gorgeous place…

    You are such an incredible cook Mimi, that to be on the receiving end for a change must have been a real treat… and so well deserved… 🙂

    What wonderful hosts and how lovely their passion for their wine and their produce… thank you again for all the culinary inspiration… and the stunning images… xv

    1. Merci Vicki!! I kept telling Oddur what a treat it was! Fabien and Véronique are so passionate and fun, it was an unforgettable Monday! Fabulous wine and company, I couldn’t ask for more 🙂 Bisous, Mimix

  19. Dear Mimi,
    My lemon tart is almost baked, and my house smells wonderful. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your blog. Thank you. A little part of Toronto, Canada smells like French countryside, thanks to you!

  20. Mimi, Mimi, Mimi!

    Your blog is a dream. So elegant and beautiful, just like you!

    Made the lemon tart, it’s cooling at the moment. I can’t wait to try it, it smells amazing.
    Thanks for your wonderful work.

    Emma Xx

  21. Mimi, thank you so much!
    I love the cognac sauce; I was 15 years ago in a dinner party in the city of Cognac and the host there made a cognac sauce and it was magnificent; like a journey in a different world…
    Les photos sont admirables!

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  22. Hi Mimi, I adore your blog! Your writing and images are so inspiring. This menu looks amazing, I am going to make the lemon tart and I was wondering what size tart tin you would use? Thank you in advance. Cheers, Kathy.

    1. Bonsor kathy, THANK you for dropping by! It was such a lovely lunch, I just had to share every single dish 🙂 Véronique used a slightly larger tart pan, around 11.5 or 12 inches is good. The idea is to have the tart quite thin. A very rustic tart with zero effort! Have a lovely week! Mimix

  23. Hi Mimi,

    I have just cooked and eaten the lemon tart, which was just devine. Thank you for sharing this easy sweet treat.

    I love your photographs 🙂

    Wendy x

  24. Hi Mimi,
    Thought I would give you an update on the comment I left a few weeks ago when I was planning to use this menu for a wine tasting/dinner party. I had to substitute shrimp for cuttle fish as it isn’t available where I live and then paired each course with a French wine. Everyone loved both the food and the wines! That chicken was the best roasted chicken I’ve ever had! Thanks so much for posting the beautiful pictures and great menu!

  25. Mimi,
    I stumbled upon your beautiful blog when I was searching for Le Ami Jean parmesan soup. Can you please tell me what you mean by unsealed cloves (of garlic). I would like to make this chicken.

    1. Hi Jenise! thanks for following Manger, and glad to hear you found the parmesan soup 🙂 To answer your question, unsealed cloves are simply unpeeled garlic cloves, as in a whole garlic clove. In french we call it ail en chemise (in their shirts), such a cute description! Enjoy the recipe! Mimi x

  26. The lemon tart looks amazing. I am planning to make it for a friend’s birthday, but how big is the tart? Is an 11in tart pan too big? I love your blog so much and I am also gifting my friend with your cookbook!

    1. Thank you so much Evelyn! 11 inch is totally fine. This recipe is shared by my friend Fabien’s sister – she’s makes this tart overtime she hosts a lunch or dinner. She always says the secret to this recipe is too use fresh farm eggs – it changes everything! Mimi x

  27. I tried the tart for my grandpa’s birthday and it turned out great! I used a little less sugar and it was the perfect. You would think the filling is not enough for the tart but because the crust shrinks significantly, the amount filling is just right. You could probably double the recipe for filling you have a tall shell. I love how this recipe is so simple and short. I just trusted my instincts with it and served it with some fresh strawberries on top. So good!

    1. Do you have a trusty no-fail minimal-shrinkage tart crust recipe? Like a pâte brisée, sucrée, and sablée? Which one would work best? As you can see, I’m really into perfecting this tart. Thank you!

  28. I’ve only just discovered your blog today when searching for a pear cake. I made your Italian pear cake and it was a hit. Next will be this lemon tart. My husband and I will be traveling to Paris (from Australia )for the first time this year in July and reading your blogs on food has gotten me so excited on things I’ll get to try while there although I’m sure the country cooking is much better


  30. Bonsoir mimi rentrons d une soirée exceptionnelle de la fête du vin de Bordeaux je viens de lire votre blog
    Félicitations pour lucian à qui je souhaite la bienvenue et tout le bonheur possible . bravo à vous .merci pour vos messages “manger ” ainsi que pour les superbes photos de votre mari
    Marie Pierre de gaillan en médoc

  31. Hi Mimi, quick question about the tart. I’ve made it twice (with local fresh egg) but it looks nothing like your picture. The photo is of an almost creamy, custardy looking bright yellow filling but mine is always clear and brownish. Is it because I’m using natural cane sugar which is sand colored, instead of refined sugar?
    No matter, the result was delicious. I brought it to a dinner hosted in a magnificent garden (Louis Raymond, landscape designer extraordinaire) whose husband is a fabulous baker and a friend of Dorie Greenspan.
    He wants the recipe, and I didn’t have a piece left after dessert, so it was a huge hit. So fresh and lemony. But the looks of it disappoint so…any idea why it turns out looking so differently?
    Thanks for taking the time out of your very very busy life to reply.

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