The bikers are in southern France, heading from Marseille to Catalan country. It's a journey rich in culinary delights, historical landmarks and heartwarming people.
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SI: Oh, mate, I'm loving this road trip.
Now, that's a view, Dave.
..new people... Look at your muscles!
..and new food.
Oh, that's good.
We're doing almost 3,000 miles around the Mediterranean
in search of the authentic flavours of Italy and Sardinia,
Corsica and France,
the Balearics and Spain.
And we'll end up in Andalusia at one of the biggest parties
in the Med - the Festival of San Juan.
But it's not all beach barbecues and sunburn, Kingy.
They're all looking at us now.
No, mate. We're tracking down the real Mediterranean...
You'll never get a tune out of that.
and all the culinary loveliness on offer.
Oh, wow. It's so simple.
We get to eat the tiger cow. Woo!
And of course, we'll cook with the locals.
And hear their stories.
We've island-hopped our way from Italy to France...
..Corsica first... Get in!
..and now the mainland.
Give us a kiss!
Vive la France! Ooh!
This is our take on a magical part of the world
right on our doorstep.
Hold on to your helmets...
..it's going to be epic.
We're in mainland France
and sunny Provence...
On the south coast, heading west.
Dave, I can't believe that we're here, mate, in Marseille.
Not only is Marseille known for pastis, petanque
and the famous fish stew, bouillabaisse...
But it's also a huge port
and has been the main Mediterranean gateway to Central Europe
since 600 BC -
first for the Greeks and then the Romans.
And now for us.
Well, we're definitely in the centre of Marseille, mate.
Marseille is one of the biggest cities in Provence,
known for its laidback attitude and perfect weather.
It's popular with tourists, especially foodies like us,
because of the incredible markets.
THEY SPEAK FRENCH
So much beautiful produce in one place,
we're in fruity heaven.
Oh, the strawberries. Ohh!
Dude, look at these cherries!
-It just makes you grin, doesn't it?
This is the perfect place to stock up for the trip.
Un kilo citron, s'il vous plait.
The market couldn't be more typically Provencal
full of colour, almost like a painting.
Oh, tomatoes. They look good. Oh, look at the little ones.
-That's Provence, innit?
But what's really brilliant is the huge range of produce.
-It's everything, isn't it?
But what I love is,
on one stall we've got olives from Provence,
we've got harissa from North Africa,
and all those influences around.
It's that melting pot of food and culture. I love it.
We've already done Italy, but I can't wait to dive into
the food and culture of the French Mediterranean.
And guess what? We'll be cooking and mingling with the natives,
we're going to be cooking and eating some amazing food.
And we're off to the Camargue,
with its bulls, its horses and its cowboys. Yee-ha!
And we're also going to be finding out
how our Roman ancestors used to feast.
Well, you've got to eat properly
if you're going to conquer the world.
We can't come to the Mediterranean without some sun, sea, sand and...
Hey, cut that out, you!
Ooh, sorry. I'm overexcited.
Me too. This trip promises to be a mashup of cultures -
the French, the Italians...the Spanish.
I'll tell you what it is, though.
-HAIRY BIKERS CHEER
-# Dedededede! #
To understand this part of the Mediterranean,
we'll tread in the footsteps of the Romans,
following the highway they built to link together their vast empire.
From Marseille in Provence,
we'll ride into the national park of the Camargue...
Then it's up to the Roman city of Nimes
before heading southwest...
To finish in Catalan country,
not far off the Spanish border.
But first, let's get our teeth into Marseille,
France's second city.
Home to around a million people, with a thriving multicultural scene,
which means a 24-hour, all-you-can-eat buffet.
And eat we shall, Dave.
We've been told by the market traders that if you want
to get a taste of the city's fusion of flavours,
we should meet a lady called Fatima.
THEY GREET IN FRENCH
Fatima is a living example of how the Mediterranean works.
She arrived here from Morocco 30 years ago,
and embraced the Provencal way of life,
especially the cuisine.
-The cuisine Provencal.
THEY SPEAK FRENCH
La bourride is a fish stew,
often called the bouillabaisse's little brother.
So, it is a traditional Provencal recipe,
but this has got North African, Moroccan influence in it.
First, Fatima builds some vegetable stock,
the perfect base for the stew.
As someone who found the right recipe for settling here,
Fatima has dedicated her life to helping others do the same.
She runs a drop-in centre,
where new arrivals can get advice and mentoring.
And a cracking dinner, too.
The Legion D'Honneur is France's highest honour,
and Fatima received it for services to her community.
It's an honour for us, too, to be here.
To make the bourride fish stew,
Fatima has marinated her fish in chermoula,
which is a North African marinade made from parsley, coriander, onion,
chilli powder and turmeric.
-C'est tres fresh. That's a lot of garlic.
To serve with the bourride, we'll make aioli...
A pungent garlic mayonnaise eggs, oil and tonnes of garlic.
THEY SPEAK IN FRENCH
The potatoes go into that wonderful vegetable stock.
-SHE SPEAKS IN FRENCH
-Now just a little bit of saffron.
It's good cooking, Si. If you think, the stock has been made properly,
then you've got the potatoes cooking in the stock and the saffron,
and then the fish, we marinated in the chermoula.
It's cooking in the vapour of those wonderful potatoes.
If you want it a bit less spicy,
just use fennel instead of the chermoula,
and, by the way, you can use any white fish for this.
This is our first taste of Provence.
The fish has so much flavour from the chermoula,
the potatoes cooked in the saffron and the broth...
..it's lovely, careful cooking,
but it's so full of flavour, man.
The aioli, Dave, just sits perfectly well.
It's mega garlicky, like all good aiolis should be,
and if this is what this part of France has on offer...
-It flipping is, man. It really is.
Well, Fatima, we can't give you another Legion D'Honneur,
but we can give you all our thanks from the bottom of our hearts.
-Thank you so much, Fatima.
-SHE REPLIES IN FRENCH
Oh la la!
David! You can't go around trying to snog all the women. It's wrong!
Oh, I was carried away! That food was sublime.
Well, let's walk it off, mate.
-It's going to be great.
-It is if we get the ferry.
-What time is the ferry?
Oh, flipping Nora.
We are leaving the bikes and crossing the water to a place
I've always wanted to visit, the village of L'Estaque.
That's a nice yacht.
I love art and it has been my mission since uni
to check out the places that my favourite artists painted.
And L'Estaque was a prime location for the Impressionists
in the 19th century.
L'Estaque, it's a half an hour ferry ride
and it's still like a district of Marseille.
But it is where the Impressionists used to go.
People like Cezanne and Renoir and they went there for the light.
So, we're going to pay homage to your art heroes, Dave.
But can you believe that for some lucky beggars,
this is a daily commute.
-Merci. Au revoir, Monsieur.
-Here we are, Si.
-I can't believe it, it's great.
L'Estaque, where the light is turned up to 11.
-It certainly is. It is different actually.
-Everything seems vivid.
It does, yeah.
It was the quality of the light, the friendly people
and these views that seduced the Impressionists.
This is wonderful.
A sort of Provencal time capsule.
But I fear that your painters are no more
and have relinquished their place to a different kind of artist -
a street artist.
And one that I can relate to a bit more, mate.
First on the tasting menu are panisse,
little bundles of joy, simply made of chickpea flour and water.
They're savoury, they're tasty and what's more, with chickpea flour,
they are gluten-free.
-Oh, they really are delicious.
-Wouldn't it be brilliant with beer?
-Good for you?
Which country does panisse come from?
It comes from Italy.
So an Italian staple has become a French classic.
-Mediterranean again, dude. The superhighway.
Second on the menu is chichis fregis,
made of wheat and chickpea flour, yeast, water and lemon zest.
-It's like a doughnut.
-But it's long and sausage-like.
Si, the literal translation of chichi fregi is fried willy.
-Chichi means willy in the local slang.
Time to get hands-on.
Right he's got, like, a chichi gun.
La fusil de chichi.
Let's get the end up.
Wow, you just go for it.
A circle in the fat.
-Do you want to try?
Are you having a go, dude?
I suspect it's not going to be as easy as Michel makes it look.
-Is it one of those?
Yes. Do small.
I think I've just got fired.
-I lost my rhythm.
Oh, did you? It's not like you.
-It's all right, I think I'm rescuing it.
Do you think they're going to be able to sell it?
-No, but I think you might be able to eat it.
It's kind of rustic but edible.
It seems it takes a few years to master the art of the chichi.
For the first time, it's not so bad. It's good.
Michel, I take that as a great complement. Merci beaucoup.
Give us a look, then.
-This chichi is not for the customer, it's for you.
OK, merci. Je comprendre, Michel!
-Au revoir, monsieur!
Today, it's au revoir, Marseille, and bonjour to the open road.
Let's go West in the footsteps of the Roman legions.
This place is littered with ancient sites.
The old city of Nimes is the biggie but I've got a tiny detour in mind, mate,
if it's all right with you?
The spectacular Camargue national park.
Great choice but we are still on the trail of the Romans.
Julius Caesar was a great admirer of their stunning white horses.
Nowadays, there are paddy fields everywhere,
as rice production is a big thing.
But it's the wild black bulls I want to see,
and the cowboys, or guardians, who look after them.
This is definitely special access.
So, we're stood here because the guys that are rounding the bulls
have told us to stand very still and very quietly
because the thing about bulls...
..they're wild, first of all,
and they're really quite unpredictable,
so we're stood here doing exactly as we're told.
It's like a strange mythical world, the Camargue, isn't it?
It is. I didn't realise that it was quite like this.
There's quite a lot of Spanish influence here.
It's the black bull of the Camargue that we're here for -
the taureau -
but they've got this kind of history here about the bull going back to Roman times.
Today, these bulls are raised for a specific kind of bullfighting,
in which the animal isn't killed
but returns season after season to compete.
That race of bull wouldn't exist
if it wasn't for the cowboys of the Camargue.
-It's very special, isn't it?
Oh, they're big, aren't they?
They're getting bigger as they're getting closer!
Look at the horns on that one!
Yeah. They don't like being too close to us, do they?
Time to withdraw, I think.
Let's go to the homestead and find out
a bit more about how this sort of farming works.
The ranch has been in the Mailhan family for generations.
They're big in the local community,
and in the past have played host to President Georges Pompidou
and even Jackie Kennedy.
Well, we're in the right place, then.
So more special access, by the sound of it.
And just in time for lunch.
It's like a hacienda, this place, innit?
It is. A massive Spanish influence.
It's so Spanish.
It just feels like it, doesn't it?
Hello! I'm in the kitchen.
How are you?
-This smells good.
-Doesn't it just?!
The farm's other specialty is rice.
So there is red rice, complete rice,
black rice, long rice and round rice.
That's what we call the red rice of the Camargue that we buy in England.
It's kind of got a chew, a taste, a bite.
It's sort of in between the brown rice and the white rice.
-It's so nutty as well.
It's so beautiful.
Red rice is rich in fibre, vitamin B,
iron and calcium,
and when cooked is a bit softer than brown rice.
In short, it's a superfood.
What's in here, Claire?
I've just started cooking some gardianne de taureau.
It's onions and meat.
And gardianne de taureau is the name of the dish?
While the Camargue bulls aren't reared for meat,
when one dies, nothing is wasted,
and the meat finds its way into the pot.
That's a lot of meat.
Any particular cut of the taureau, Claire?
-No? Just all of it?
Just all of it. Yeah.
That's proper nose-to-tail eating.
So, Claire, how long do we have to cook it for now?
About eight hours.
Well, that means we're not going to taste it.
Not this one.
And here is one that Claire made earlier!
Well, I must say, I've never eaten taureau before.
It's a rich, beautifully-mature meat.
I think it is not as strong as wild animals,
-like wild rabbits or...
-No, no, it's not.
That's very true.
-A bit stronger than beef.
It really works. It's thick and unctuous.
The olives are great in it.
It is. It's supercharged beef.
-Shall we do a doubler?
-Oh, yeah. I think so.
-Oh, taste of the Camargue, eh?
What a treat. Claire has inspired me to cook our own version of her stew.
Aye, let's make a classic daube de boeuf.
This is just like the most fantastic stew,
with the brandy, the wine, the red wine vinegar,
the cloves. It's got loads in, takes forever, it's brilliant.
First, we build the marinade with onions, carrots and celery.
One thing I've noticed, like, with French,
when they're doing like a boeuf bourguignon
on a blanquette de veau, the veal stew,
the chunks are massive.
Are you all right there?
And we put in first a bottle of red wine.
Use the best, fullest, biggest red wine you can afford.
100ml of brandy.
All this booze is very indulgent,
but worth it for a special occasion.
And to tenderise and to sharpen things up a bit,
50ml of red wine vinegar.
Good red wine vinegar.
For extra flavour, I'm making not one but two bouquet garnis,
with bay leaves, thyme, cloves, a cinnamon stick,
peppercorns, orange peel and fresh parsley.
-If you pull one end...
Now, we repeat, I need one for later,
but this one, my chum, can go in your pot.
Oh, all those flavours in the marinade.
-It's great, innit?
-It's going to be good.
Yeah. We've got the brandy, the wine...
-You forgot the garlic!
Slice the garlic...
-Yeah. I forgot.
Dave's beautifully hand-knotted and tied bouquet garni.
-That goes in. Now sink it.
# Go to sleep, little beefy
# Close your beefy eyes
# Cos Si and Dave are waiting... #
GRUFF VOICE: To eat you!
Now, this goes into the fridge for 24 hours.
-I'll put this in the fridge.
-All right, dude.
For now, we're going to use one we prepped yesterday.
We've got to strain all this
and we're going to reserve the liquor,
because we'll show you what to do with that later on.
And believe me, that is liquor in there.
There's brandy and all sorts.
We're in business. First, I'm frying the meat in batches...
While I chop the pancetta and another onion.
Right, and we're going to keep building on those flavours.
Now, into that pan go the lardo.
And they can be quite crispy.
And now in with the onions.
-It's looking good, mate.
-Yeah. I think we're there, dude.
-Shall we deglaze?
-Let's deglaze a bit, yeah.
So, I'm going to use a ladleful of this marinade.
Remember, it's got all the brandy, the wine, the vinegar.
This is going to pull all those lovely caramelised bits
off the bottom of the pan.
Works like magic, nothing sticks.
Now it's time for the beef to go back.
Ooh. Get those resting juices in, dude.
And now some tomato paste.
As for the bouquet garnis, this was the old one.
But it's all about building up flavour upon flavour,
this daube, so we pop in its twin.
And we're not going to waste these wonderful veggies
that we marinated in that wine and brandy.
They go in too.
Right, and this goes in.
But we haven't finished yet.
No. Oh, no!
And to top it all off, a jug of very good beef stock.
We don't want to waste any flavours,
so we're going to use a pate a lutter.
Now, lutter, in French, means to struggle.
It's flour, water, with an egg white.
Basically, we use it like putty,
and, literally, as it gets hot, it'll go hard.
You'll practically need a chisel to break it.
You bring it to the table, crack it.
Every bit of flavour will stay in that pan.
Now, it's got to simmer away
in its sealed glory for three hours.
-Shall we go for a swim?
Right, let's chibble it off.
-Are you ready?
Two, three, four...
Ooh, that's lovely.
Remove the bouquet garni,
there's nothing edible in this yet.
Now it's time to pop in the olives.
They're black olives and there's stones in.
Some say you get better flavour with the stones.
Don't forget to season, according to your taste.
You can't beat freshly-ground black pepper and beef.
So it now has to cook for a further hour with the lid off
so it reduces to a beautiful, beautiful stew.
Et voila! Our succulent daube de boeuf.
Full of flavour, it's perfect served with rice, pasta
or even roasties.
Perfect end to a perfect day.
Eh, Kingy, come and have a look at this.
What? We're trailblazers. We don't need that.
I don't know. Let's have a look...
You can find some interesting stuff here.
Look, "Avignon et Provence, la Gastronomie Romaine Antique."
You can learn how to cook Roman-style.
Shall we give it a call? Go on, for a laugh.
It's ringing. Ah, bonjour. C'est Mireille?
Ah, bonjour. Bonjour. Je m'appelle David.
J'avais un interest dans la gastronomie romaine antique.
Oui. A tout a l'heure.
Oui, oui. Bon Jovi!
Bon Jovi?! Adam Ant?!
It's cool. We can go this afternoon.
Let's cook Roman!
That's a masterclass in Roman cuisine sorted!
Excellent. It seems that all roads round here
lead us to the Roman Empire one way or another.
And we're off to Nimes, my favourite French city.
But with a slight detour.
-I'll get you there.
Now, the word "awesome" is often overused,
but now and again it's entirely appropriate,
and this is one of those occasions.
This is Le Pont du Gard,
one of the highest Roman constructions in the world,
built to bring huge amounts of water into Nimes.
Nimes was a crucial outpost of the Roman Empire,
so a good water supply was vital.
It was all part of a cunning Roman equation.
Clean water meant quality of life,
and a good quality of life meant happy people.
And happy people don't revolt.
That was just one way the Romans maintained
a hold over their empire.
-This is incredible.
-This is the top of the viaduct.
-So this is the original watercourse, then?
-Yeah, it's Roman plumbing.
The water comes down that way, heads off there to Nimes.
-Turns it into Nimes.
-You know these bits, Kingy?
It's the limescale, like the build-up you get in your kettle at home.
They didn't have those tablets and stuff we put in.
It's the mathematics involved that I can't comprehend.
I remember somebody saying you couldn't build the arch
on Wembley stadium without a computer.
You think, "Ah, Le Pont du Gard, the great pyramids..."
I think they've done all right, you know?
Oh, Si, we're just footsteps in history, isn't it? Back in time.
It's just amazing, man.
Well, I'm not sure it is Roman but how about we knock up
a little snack that is definitely Mediterranean?
I'm game, as long as I can give it a twist.
Oh, what a place for snacks, Kingy!
-Look at that fougasse.
-The bread of the South.
-It's oily, it's cheesy...
-Oh, the heat!
-The heat's getting to him.
It sent Van Gogh into delusions of illusions.
Right, listen, what we're doing...
-I know what I'm doing!
-I know what I'm doing.
I'm doing the traditional, correct tapenade.
The word "tapenade" comes from "tapeno",
which means "caper" in Provencal.
So in addition to black olives and anchovies,
its key ingredient is capers.
My twist on this classic snack
is made from green olives and it's a pate.
So, everything, everything that I do with this tapenade
happens in this, the pestle and mortar,
because this recipe is steeped in antiquity.
However, Mr Myers, what have you got yours with?
I've got the Psychotronic 43...
That will pulverise my pate into a pate
in two shakes of a donkey's whatnot.
In this part of France, everything starts with garlic.
Right, I'm just going to put two tablespoons of capers...
And, basically, both mixes are mega simple.
We just mash everything together!
Doesn't that look...
Look at that deep green and the real black olives.
That's a palette, the palette of the South of France.
-Looks like tarmac.
-Shut your face.
Cornichons go into the pate.
And anchovies into the tapenade.
AnchOVIES? It's very American.
Si's put the anchOVIES into...
-It's not ANCHovies!
It's only ANCHovies if you come from Barrow!
And for the pate, juice of a lemon.
These were the ones we bought in Marseille the other day.
As you can see, they've travelled beautifully.
It's absolutely joyous here.
So, lemon juice.
Cream cheese and flat-leaf parsley
complete my pate...party!
-Do you want a go with me thingy?
If you make a quantity of tapenade
and you're not going to have it all straight away,
put it in a sealed container,
drizzle some olive oil over the top of it,
and it'll keep in the fridge for a good long time.
All we have to do with my beautiful green olive pate
is to tear the fougasse,
smother in that delightful pate,
give a piece to your friend with pride...
The fire comes from the garlic, and it's the taste of Provence.
Hmm. That's good.
The texture is creamy but the gherkins give it a lovely sharp bite.
Right, now to try a proper tapenade.
-I have to say, that does say Provence to me.
They're both incredibly different, but, together, they're perfect.
Well, from Provence to Peterborough, both recipes work brilliantly.
I mean, weather like this helps,
with the river and Le Pont du Gard behind you,
but you know what I mean!
The Romans really built things to last.
And now we're cruising alongside the Via Domitia,
a road the Romans built to connect Italy with Spain.
And it's taking us to somewhere pretty special.
What did the Romans ever do for us, eh?!
Oh, Dave, I loved Le Pont du Gard,
but I must say I'm really excited about going to Nimes.
Oh, not half as much as I am.
I mean, I've got such fond memories of Nimes
when I was a penniless student,
and also going there with Lil, you know?
We did sort of our courting there.
It's an amazing place.
It's a proper Roman city,
but right in the South of France. It's magical.
Ah, I can't wait. Honestly!
Especially as I've secretly arranged for Dave's wife to join him here
as a romantic treat and a bit of a surprise,
and he hasn't got a clue.
Wow! Nimes is as stunning as I remember,
packed with ancient sites.
In fact, the Roman colonisation here was so successful
that Emperor Augustus used it to showcase
what the Roman Empire could do for people.
And it wasn't just architecture,
trade and running water that they brought here.
The Romans also introduced gourmet cuisine.
And that's what we are going to explore next -
The food expert I called this morning
is waiting for us.
Ah, Mireille, merci beaucoup.
Thank you so much for coming to meet us here.
-And what a great location! Look at this!
Mireille loves cooking, and her specialties are unique.
I mean, this is the food that the Romans who went to that
amphitheatre would be eating.
-Well, the posh ones. What a treat.
This really is getting immersed in the Mediterranean.
Oh, it's superb, man.
Her inspiration comes from 2,000-year-old recipes.
This bread is exactly the same as the bread that they found
in the rooms at Pompeii.
Mireille's ingredients show the extent of the empire's trade network...
..all of which were exotic new flavours to Roman gastronomy.
But it didn't end there.
It's... What is that?
It's a specialty sauce, very important.
Oh, it's from dried fish!
It's Roman fish sauce, isn't it, basically?
It is, it is.
And all the drippings that go through,
the salt pulls all of the moisture out of the fish,
it drips down and goes into that.
This pungent fish sauce is a key ingredient
in many Roman recipes.
..including this ham hock en croute,
marinated in honey, figs and bay leaves for 24 hours before roasting.
You can taste the bay, you can taste the figs.
It's sweet, it's unctuous, it's lovely.
A decadent feast fit for Caesar himself.
It may be food from 2,000 years ago,
but there's gastronomy, there's taste in it.
It's food that's more than just subsistence.
Mireille, what's for dessert?
SHE REPLIES IN FRENCH
So it's a domestic dessert?
It's a dessert that's made for people at home,
and it's stuffed dates.
What's in the stuffing?
Raisins, honey, olive oil, black pepper and ginger
complete this sweet treat.
And my treat for Dave has arrived.
He still has no idea.
Are you going to try a date?
Want some more ginger on it?
Ah, bonjour, monsieur!
Ca va bien?
I couldn't let you enjoy Nimes on your own.
When did you arrive? I'm in shock. You look gorgeous.
You're in shock I look gorgeous?!
No, no, not shocked you look gorgeous!
THEY SPEAK FRENCH
You two, off you go!
-Well, have a good evening.
-What about my bike?
-Never mind your bike. We've sorted it out.
-Give us a kiss.
-Thank you very much.
-Au revoir, madam!
Au revoir, guys.
How are you today, mucker?
Top of the world, thanks!
I've said goodbye to Lil and I'm all yours again.
Well, the Romans didn't just come here
for the lovely weather.
The region has a natural resource,
essential to the success of the empire - salt.
This production is at Aigues-Mortes, literally 'dead water'.
-Hello, how are you?
-Hi, Luc, nice to meet you.
It's a lot of salt.
We're being shown around by Luc,
who has worked here for most of his life,
and he really knows his salt.
Humans have been drawn to the salt here since antiquity,
but no prizes for guessing who first took it seriously.
The salt was so prized that first the Romans,
then later rulers, maintained a settlement to defend it.
Salt was a way to preserve food
and thus ensure continuity of food supplies to the Roman legions,
and the workers building the empire.
The Romans, like the soldiers, would be paid in salt,
hence the phrase "not worth your salt".
But you can imagine, though, if salt was like money,
I mean, this must be the Treasury.
It must be like the Fort Knox of the salt world.
The difference between sea salt and table salt
is that table salt is usually mined from underground deposits,
while sea salt is made by simply evaporating seawater.
What's really intriguing is the colour of the water.
Beta-carotene is a natural pigment,
created here by microscopic algae,
which thrive in the salty conditions.
And which turns the local flamingos,
who thrive on the algae, pink.
The salt, though, stays white.
-Only white. Naturally white.
So, what about the gourmet salt,
known locally as le fleur de sel, or salt flower?
Have you got any to taste? Can we taste it?
-It's got your name on it.
My name, and look...
Take it. You can taste it.
-It's very delicate.
You have calcium, magnesium.
It is not a salt to cook. No.
No, no, no.
-It's a salt after cooking.
-Can we borrow that?
It's a present!
Thank you very much.
What a top bloke, eh, Dave?
Aye, salt of the earth, Kingy!
I know. Let's pay homage to Luc's amazing salt
by cooking with one of my favourite ingredients -
Definitely! Especially as brandade de morue is a specialty of Nimes.
Mate, you've got to let Nimes go.
Now, salt cod was a staple all over the Mediterranean.
It kind of looks like fish hardboard.
It was a way of preserving the vast reserves of cod that they had in those days.
It's kind of cuisine borne out of necessity,
cos you had to preserve the fish,
but some of the recipes, like this one, are really tasty.
Smell that. It ain't good.
Now, like gammon or a ham joint,
you can't cook the cod like this.
First, you need to extract the salt.
So, we've soaked and boiled our fish already.
I am going to go off and boil our potatoes.
To add flavour to the cod, I'm blanching it in milk
with garlic, a bay leaf and lemon zest.
Now, some fennel and some peppercorns.
While that simmers away, do keep an eye, though, on the spuds.
Right, this has been simmered for 12 minutes and left to cool now.
I'm on my way, dear fellow.
# Right, time to put the fishy on the dishy...
# When the boat comes in
# Dance to your daddy Sing to your... #
Right. So we fish this out...
For perfect mash, I'm using a ricer.
Now, I have very clean hands and I'm just going to pick through.
I want no bones.
To the riced potatoes I'm now going to add...
..about 100ml of cream.
What I need to do now is, I'm going to get my mortar in here
and start crushing the fish.
I'm adding a little bit of cooking liquor to soften the fish.
Right, I think that's there, Kingy.
Great. And now we add the potato.
Now it's time to make the brandade.
This is the special bit.
Like mayonnaise, you beat it vigorously,
whip it, and slowly drizzle olive oil into it.
Are you ready?
The olive oil binds the ingredients together
and gives the brandade its silky smooth spreadable texture.
You should have a white cloud-like silky consistency.
-It needs salt and pepper.
Some wonderful sea salt, the flowers of sea salt.
So, we put the brandade into a little terracotta bowl.
Not too much.
Unlike a fish pie, you don't want to cook it again
or grill the top.
You really want to keep that smooth,
unctuous texture as it is.
And we drizzle it with olive oil
with, of course, one hand in the air.
And now a little grating of nutmeg
with this little tincy nutmeg grater.
This is the traditional way to serve the brandade.
And of course, because we can, truffle.
This is kind of a poor person's dish, but...
-We're bigging it.
-We're bigging it.
The perigord truffle.
-Je suis arrive.
Beautiful, subtle taste of the sea.
It just comes together in a symphony of loveliness.
And indeed a non-fish eater would probably enjoy this.
You've got the citrus, you've got the fennel,
you've got the flavours of that milk.
And who doesn't like creamy potatoes?
Another day, another adventure.
After Provence and the Camargue,
we're heading south towards Catalan country,
starting in Sete, an unspoilt little port
on the Mediterranean coast.
Actually, it reminds me of Venice, or Birmingham.
You know, it's full of canals and waterways, isn't it?
A bit of a difference in the weather, though!
Right, what's for brekkie?
Well, as it happens,
Sete is home to a breakfast unlike any other,
a specialty called a tielle.
Ooh! Bonjour, madame.
The crust is made of a bread dough
and is filled with chunks of octopus in a spicy tomato sauce.
Blimey! And look, it's baked in all sorts of sizes
and given an olive oil wash, to give it a bit of colour.
This was food that was to be used and appreciated
by people working on the farm and at sea alike.
It reminds me of a Spanish empanada.
Hmm. We've definitely moved away from the Provence now,
and we're kind of entering Catalan country,
and you can tell by the...
The filling is deeply savoury and piquant,
a little bit of spice at the back of it.
-But it's great food to be shared by friends, Simon.
-Which reminds me of that great song by Georges Brassens.
Les Copains D'Abord.
-Friendship first, dude.
Moving on, we're getting ever closer to Spain.
But, Si, one thing we've learned the more we've travelled
in this part of the world,
is that national boundaries don't mean much here.
You're not wrong, Dave. We're in Catalan country now,
which starts in France and goes south into Spain.
And the Roman legacy is still in evidence,
linking the countries around the Mediterranean.
Thanks to its temperate climate,
Catalan country is an outstanding wine-growing region.
But we are not here for the wine because it is also where
they make world-class vinegar.
La Guinelle has been supplying vinegar to some of France's best
chefs for the last 18 years.
Nathalie is the artisan producer and mastermind
behind this incredible product.
Oh, you can smell the vinegar.
Nowadays, Natalie shares her passion for vinegar,
and the running of the place, with her son, Adrian.
Are these all different vinegars?
HE SPEAKS FRENCH
Banyuls is the name of the local wine variety
that Nathalie uses to make the vinegar that's in such demand.
Like all the best things in life, making vinegar is a natural process.
Bacteria in the air form a film on the wine
and slowly turns the alcohol into acetic acid,
or what we call vinegar.
This bacteria can have many forms.
Very different looks but it's always like we call the mother.
The mother, as they call it, is the skin that covers the wine
as the transformation into vinegar occurs.
It is pink for red wine and beige for white wine.
How long does it take for the wine to turn into vinegar?
HE SPEAKS FRENCH
-SHE SPEAKS FRENCH
But it's so important, vinegar, to the gastronomic palette.
It's the sour, the slightly sweet, the slightly bitter.
When great chefs use vinegar properly,
it lifts a dish to another level.
We are desperate to taste some. Could we try some vinegar?
It's viscous, isn't it?
To me it tastes a little bit of raspberries, the fruit.
I can imagine making something with venison with that, with game.
It's so much more than just an acid...sweetness.
Well, thank the good Lord for bacteria, eh, mate.
We're not done yet.
There's another local product that Nathalie wants us to taste.
They're wonderful, aren't they?
They are incredible.
It's one of the components of great cuisine and we've found it here,
like you say, from a small artisan producer,
it's in some of the best restaurants in the world.
And just taste it and you know why.
Thank you so much for taking the time.
-Au revoir, Nathalie.
That was incredible. No wonder Nathalie's vinegar is such a success.
And I hadn't realised that this area is about so much more than wine.
Turns out it's one big orchard.
Yes, the weather and the soil are perfect
for growing fruit, especially apricots and cherries.
Our next stop, Ceret, is the place for cherries,
cherries so good that, by tradition,
fruit from the first picking each year
is sent to the French President.
This is going to be the perfect place
to stock up for our next recipe.
We should cook something inspired by the fruit
and the glorious weather here.
Where shall we stop? There's so much choice.
Just follow the sign, dude.
Bonjour, madam. Bonjour.
Bonjour. I saw the sign at the top...
..and they say that Ceret is one of the best places in the world
to buy fruit, especially apricots and cherries.
-Oh, merci. Merci.
Look at that.
When you pop the cherry into your mouth,
it's like what you want a cherry to taste like.
-Do you know what I mean?
It's like what it looks like, it tastes like.
-It's just wonderful.
Apricots, me favourite.
Sweet, sunshiney, apricot flavour.
Beaucoup de soleil ici.
This is just what we need for our recipe, Si.
Madame, what do Catalan people eat?
What's the history of their food?
What do they eat?
THEY SPEAK FRENCH
I think we're going to find out first-hand what a cargolade is.
It involves snails and a barbecue, and we've been invited.
-Right, let's go, dude.
-I love snails.
Brilliant. That's dinner sorted.
First, let's cook a Catalan recipe using the local fruit.
What does Bob Marley have in common with a gypsy?
-No, they both like their cake with jam in,
especially when the jam comes from Christine and Fabrice's orchard.
You see, what we're going to do is,
we're going to cook a bras de gitan.
Bras de gitan.
-Which, translated, means "gypsy's arm".
Now, it's a very, very old, traditional recipe in these parts.
-It's a wonderful story. So...
-Once upon a time...
This region played host to seasonal workers,
who came to pick the fruit in the many orchards here.
And most of them were from the gypsy community.
When the fruit picker had done a particularly good job,
the lady of the house would bake him a cake.
And the cake is rather like the most exotic, generous swiss roll
you've ever seen, and this would be wrapped in a cloth, and the gypsy,
or the worker, would take that away with them,
and the cake was called "a gypsy's arm".
OK. So what we're going to do...
I'm just going to put some heat gently into this pan.
Firstly, I'm making a creme patissiere, starting with milk and a vanilla pod.
And we're going to bring that to the boil so the milk is infused
with that wonderful aroma of vanilla.
Turn it off, let it cool just for a moment...
-You're at the boil.
-We're at the boil.
Meanwhile, I'm creaming some egg yolk, sugar and cornflour.
Then mix the warm milk with the egg mixture.
We put it back on a gentle heat
and wait for it to thicken, so the flour cooks out.
We want it thick as well.
Remember, it's the filling for a cake.
-For the cake mix, I'm using flour.
It's funny, I think it's with Mary Berry,
whenever I talk about baking now, I go all kind of posh.
-Some ground almonds, baking powder for a bit of lift,
a pinch of salt, and that's it for the dry goods.
-RESUMES NORMAL TONE:
-Now, into this big bowl, I want four eggs.
And now we're going to cream it with more caster sugar.
Just dunk it in.
-Once my sugar and eggs are creamed,
the dry ingredients are folded in.
And now just a couple of drops of almond extract.
Use extract not essence.
Essence is kind of chemically,
extract is from the almond.
Now, you need one of these.
It's a Swiss roll tin.
It's been greased and lined with baking parchment.
I used to love a Swiss roll when I was a kid.
My mother used to say,
"Oh, would you like a slice of roly-poly with your pop?"
"Oh, yes, Mother." But it was very frugal.
Just pour this batter into your greased and lined Swiss roll tin.
It'll go into a moderate oven for 20 minutes.
Now, creme pat takes a little patience...
..but it's worth it.
Keep the heat even, keep it gentle and keep stirring.
And then it's ready when you can see it starting to trail.
So that will be a perfect consistency for our cake.
Now, I've taken care to make sure that the clingfilm
sits on the top.
The reason for that is, I don't want a skin to form,
because if a skin forms it changes the consistency entirely
of the creme patissiere, so it's important that we do that.
Well, that's it. Look at that. It's risen up beautifully.
I've just loosened it a little bit,
so we've got a chance of getting it out.
If you can think of it as the centre of a spiral,
we need it to double over quite quickly,
so I'm just going to put a cut here,
just about halfway through.
It's a bit like dressmaking.
I've made many a pleated skirt!
So we need to turn this out...
Cos remember, that side is your finished side.
Look at that. It's beautiful.
I'll just save this and make something for children at Christmas!
Now, this is in honour of my mother.
She loved orange liqueurs.
She loved cake, especially like this one,
with almonds and icing sugar.
She'd sit down with a slab of it,
with the icing sugar in her moustache,
and roll her eyes in ecstasy.
So, much as you put kirsch with a Black Forest gateau,
we're going to sprinkle some orange liqueur
onto the sponge. Not too much, cos we don't want it too soggy.
If you've got children and you don't want to get plastered,
leave the booze out.
Now, these are the jams that we bought from Christine.
Are we going to go apricot or black cherry?
It's an arm, innit? It's obvious.
So I start in the middle.
You want about a 2cm border, cos it's going to spread.
The creme pat.
Beautiful work, Kingy.
Now I know why your bathroom tiling is so good.
Now we come to the climax of this operation.
It's the part where you roll your poly.
So a damp tea towel...
Gently roll the sponge.
-And look, don't worry if it cracks.
That's it. Don't worry about the custard.
Oh, look at that. It's more like a gypsy's leg!
Listen, they're big lads, gypsies.
Yes. I wish I had biceps like that!
And to finish, add some apricot jam on the top
and sprinkle over a few sliced almonds.
There you are, Kingy, there we have it.
The bras de gitan, the gypsy's arm.
For our last evening in Catalan country,
we've been invited by Christine and Fabrice,
who made that awesome jam we used.
We're joining them and their family
to try an exciting Catalan specialty, a cargolade.
That's a snail barbecue to you and me.
THEY GREET IN FRENCH
From the vineyard?
They are natural.
I've had snails... You know, in Burgundy, we have the garlic butter,
but this, it's like the sunshine,
is just that stronger.
I'd say to anybody, if you like eating cockles or mussels, seafood,
they're a lovely food.
Well, in England they used to call them "wallfish".
This carafe is called a porron,
and it's a local way of sharing a really good bottle of wine.
You start close in...
CHRISTINE SPEAKS FRENCH
You've got to get it away from your mush!
Oui, oui, oui, oui, oui.
Oh, c'est bon.
What exactly is it to be Catalan?
Well, Catalans definitely know how to throw a party
and make two travellers feel very much at home.
-Is it Catalan sausage?
I think it's interesting, isn't it, now that we're here
on the borders with Spain and in Catalan country,
the Roman road that we followed
is the absolute backbone.
That superhighway of culture, history and food.
It's just wonderful. It's Mediterranean.
-We're nearly in Spain.
-Over there a bit.
# Espana, por favor! #
Next time, we're off to Spain but not the mainland, the Balearics.
There's epic landscapes...
Oh, that is incredible.
Seas to sail and, of course, tasty food to try.
Look at that.
Some of the best we've ever had.
Oh, come here.
If that had a wedding dress, I'd marry it.
This time, the Hairy Bikers are in mainland France, in Provence. They begin their journey in Marseille, one of the largest ports in the Mediterranean, where the population is as diverse as the Mediterranean itself. They meet Moroccan-born Fatima, who runs a welcome centre where recent immigrants can cook and eat together. The bikers taste her amazing bourride, a delicious fish stew - bouillabaisse's younger sibling. She has been awarded the Legion d'Honneur for her services to France. The boys reckon that the bourride alone is worth a gong.
The quality of the light in this part of France is such that it has always attracted artists to the region. Dave is a keen artist and knowledgeable too. He is keen to follow in the footsteps of the impressionists, so the bikers take a local ferry across the bay to L'Estaque, a charming waterside community where the seaside snacks are legend. The panisse, legacy of Italian workers who migrated here in the 1930s, and the chichi fregi, a sausage-shaped doughnut, both reflect the links that Provence has with the wider Mediterranean.
As they travel westwards, it becomes clear that one of the biggest influences here is that of the Romans, who conquered great swathes of Europe 2,000 years ago and left their mark on the culture and the landscape. This is true even in the remote and little-explored region of the Camargue. Here the bikers find untamed white horses and wild bulls, distant descendants of animals used for the Roman army. They meet a family that has been here for generations and taste the local beef stew, gardiane de taureau. This encounter inspires their first dish, daube de boeuf.
Back on the trail of the Romans, the bikers explore the ancient, double-height aqueduct of the Pont du Gard, built to bring water to Nimes. In the shadow of the bridge, they create a roadside snack in the shape of an olive tapenade two-ways.
Their next stop on the old Roman road of the Via Domitia is the city of Nimes, where they have arranged to meet a local food historian and enthusiast for Roman cuisine to find out what constituted Roman-style gastronomy. One of the elements essential to the success of the Roman Empire was their ability to feed large numbers of people throughout the year, and that is where another gift of the Mediterranean comes into play - salt. The bikers explore this extraordinary landscape of flat, pink, salt ponds to find out what makes the salt produced here so sought after. This visit inspires their second dish, brandade de morue (salt cod and mash). After an overnight stop in Sete, their traditional breakfast of tielle (a pastry filled with spicy octopus) points firmly towards a Catalan influence in the cuisine. First, it's the artisan production of an exquisite wine vinegar and then the abundance of fruit that flourishes in this benign climate - apricots, cherries and peaches. Over the centuries, the orchards of Ceret have been a traditional employer of migrant labour and seasonal workers were often gypsies... which leads to the story behind a local cake, the bras de gitan (gypsy's arm), a delicious jam and cream-filled swiss roll.
All over this region, the bikers have been welcomed by the locals. Their last night in France is no different, as a Catalan fruit farmer invites them to a family gathering where they dine on the regional specialty, cargolade, barbequed snails. You could hardly get a more fitting ending to this celebration of the essence of Southern France.
Featured recipes: daube de boeuf; tapenade; brandade de morue; bras de gitan cake.