Mediterranean red mullet

Mediterranean red mullet

The following recipe has typical Mediterranean ingredients: olive oil, red mullet, fennel, black olives, cherry tomatoes, garlic, and saffron. If you cannot find red mullet in your area, you could replace it with bream or some other firm- fleshed white fish.

I prefer to bake red mullet fillets in oven. They only need to be brushed with olive oil before baking, there is no need to add any salt because black olives contain enough salt. As the red mullet fillets in our supermarket in Nice are quite small, they only need to be baked for about 7- 8 minutes in 200° C.

2 servings

About 250- 300 g red mullet fillets
1 fennel
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
5- 7 new potatoes
About 10 cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp. pitted black olives
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 tsp. saffron powder
Lemon wedges

Wash the potatoes and cut them into thick slices. Microwave with some water for about 5- 6 minutes until soft. Spread the slices on kitchen paper to dry.

Wash the fennel and cut into thick wedges. Microwave with a little water for about 5 minutes until soft, then let dry on kitchen paper.

Warm 3 tbsp. olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the minced shallot and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, fennel, cherry tomatoes, and black olives. Sprinkle the saffron over the vegetables and mix gently. Grind over some black pepper, cover, and reduce the heat. Let simmer.

Meanwhile bake the red mullet fillets. Spread the fillets on an oven tray covered with baking paper. Brush them with olive oil and bake for 7- 8 minutes.

Divide the vegetables on the plates and place the fish on top. Decorate with dill and serve with lemon wedges.


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Risoul: Summit of Razis 2575 m

Summit of Razis 2575 m

Risoul (1850 m) in the Southern French Alps is a ski resort connecting with the neighbouring resort of Vars. To reach it by car, however, you have to drive down from Vars to Guillestre to take the good road up to Risoul.

In summer, in spite of numerous ski lifts and runs, Risoul offers some great hikes. We chose to do part of the loop trail called Le Grand Panorama. This was in mid-June and the resort was completely closed and deserted. We only met a couple of other hikers on the trails.

Above the Risoul Tourist Office, at the front de neige with several ski lifts, we started along a dirt track by Les Melezes ski lift. After 200 m or so we came to a signpost showing the direction of our planned itinerary to Sommet de Razis along Le Grand Panorama trail (yellow marks). We forked left, heading east, along a wider dirt track in a magnificent forest. At the next sign, we turned right, now heading south, starting to climb more steeply. We crossed some ski runs, while most of the time zigzagging in the woods along Crête de Mélézet. Leaving the ski area, the trail continued even more steeply along Crête de Razis, eventually above the tree line. Some easy scrambling was needed in places.

Approaching the summit, the trail levelled off. There were some patches of snow here and there. We first walked past a wooden cross, and saw the highest point marked with a cairn and a sign not far away. It took us about 2,5 hours from the village.

We continued along the marked trail passing Risoul’s highest ski lifts, before descending towards Col de Valbelle. Because the alpine meadows were still quite wet, and there was lingering snow in some spots, we opted to descend mostly along small dirt roads winding down to the village. The views were superb also during the descent.

Hiking time: 4h 30

Climb: 736 m

Length: 13,7 km

Map: IGN 3537 ET Guillestre Vars Risoul


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Cipières to Gréolières for lunch

Restaurant in Gréolières

Cipières (750 m) and Gréolières (830 m) are two villages in Moyen Pays facing each other over the River Loup. Gréolières is nowadays a popular lunch stop among cyclists and hikers and has good restaurants.  Cipières is these days a rather quiet village where mostly locals reside.

We planned to hike from Cipières to Gréolières along the GR4 trail, and to have lunch in Gréolières before turning back.

On this particular Saturday, however, Cipières was unusually busy. There was a funeral or wedding at the church in addition to a trail happening so the village was packed with cars. We finally found a spot at the entrance of the village, some 700 m from the village square.

We walked through the old village and started descending along the GR4 trail towards Gréolières, which in the beginning was visible on the other side of the verdant Loup River Valley. Most of the trail ran in the woods, protecting us from the direct June sunshine. We reached the River Loup in about 45 min. from the start and crossed it along an old stone bridge (pont en dos d’âne). The bridge at 570m was the lowest point of the hike. The following ascent to Gréolières crossed the paved D703 road a few times. The white and red GR markings were numerous along the trail.

We came directly to the square with a few restaurants, already serving lunch. We chose La Vieille Auberge with a tempting Mediterranean menu. Their three-course formule midi was 25€ with several choices. The restaurant has good reviews and we were not disappointed.

We took the same trail back to our starting point.

Duration: 2h30 (active hiking time)

Distance: 8,3 km
GR4 between Cipières and Gréolières

Climb: 448 m (own log)

Map: “Vallée de l’Estéron" 3642ET


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Mediterranean sweet and sour duck

Duck breast, magret de canard, is popular in the South of France. Less known are aiguillettes de canard, which are thin strips of duck without fat. These should be quickly fried on both sides so that they remain tender and pink inside, rosée.
If you cannot find aiguillettes de canard in your area, you can prepare them by thinly slicing a duck breast and removing the fat.

Aiguillettes de canard go very well with different fruit and berries, with vegetables, and honey. The following recipe is my twist from a recipe on a package of aiguillettes de canard. Feel free to try different fruit and berries in the recipe.

2 servings

About 300 g aiguillettes de canard or 1 duck breast thinly sliced and the fat removed
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
150 ml chicken fond
1 tbsp. lavender honey or other runny honey
½ organic lemon
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
Parsley to decorate

In a frying pan, warm the olive oil and butter over medium- high heat and quickly fry the aiguillettes on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the chopped bell pepper and shallot to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and add the minced garlic. Sauté the vegetables for about 10- 15 minutes until they are soft.

Meanwhile cook the chicken fond until it thickens and reduces a little, you only need 150 ml for the sauce. Microwave some new potatoes and green beans. Grate the zest of ½ lemon. Peel the lemon half and cut it into very small pieces removing the stones and membranes.

When the vegetables are soft, add 150 ml of chicken fond and 1 tbsp. lavender honey into the pan and mix. Grind over some black pepper. Add the aiguillettes back to the pan together with the lemon zest and pieces and reheat for about 1 minute.

Serve the aiguillettes with new potatoes and green beans and decorate with parsley.


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