Close to the cultural French metropolis of Narbonne, Gruissan sits on the sting of the Mediterranean Sea, necklaced by beautiful pink salt lakes that mirror the shade of a contemporary glass of French rosé.
Gruissan is in Occitanie — the French division located between Provence and Catalunya that was previously often called Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées. That is France’s most efficient wine area, liable for 5% of the world’s wine output. Though viticulture is the dominant agricultural business, guests rating the uncommon alternative to style a few of the world’s finest salt — fleur de sel — on the supply web site within the quaint village of Gruissan.
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Gruissan is an historic fishing village, positioned on a small island surrounded by marshland that was industriously transformed into salt fields. These fields are an sudden pink because of salt-loving algae referred to as dunaliella salina, which thrive within the shallow beds of sea water. These beds evaporate within the Mediterranean solar and wind, forsaking sea salt, which is harvested as an agricultural product. A portion of the salt produced right here develops into the world’s most interesting ending salt, fleur de sel.
“Fleur de sel” interprets to “flower of salt” — an apt title for this delicate, flaky salt blossom, which floats to the floor and is delicately harvested every summer season within the conventional technique utilizing a easy shovel and rake dealt with by skilled salt harvesters.
Fleur de sel retains a excessive moisture content material and clings to the contact. It has a refined, oceanic taste and progressively melts like a layer of lace on the tongue. It’s harvested alongside the Mediterranean in Occitanie and close by Provence, in addition to alongside the Atlantic coast. As a result of fleur de sel is fashioned by a mixture of warmth and wind (each aplenty throughout Gruissan summers) and the composition of the ocean-born algae, this can be a product that displays atmosphere — not not like terroir as a facet of wine.
“I take advantage of salt from Gruissan as a result of I strive as a lot as potential to work with native merchandise,” says chef Philippe Deschamps of Michelin-starred Le Restaurant Bernard Rigaudis. “I add fleur de sel simply earlier than sending out the plate — it dissolves in a short time and enhances the style of meals.”
An curiosity in historic methods ensures the continuation of customs which were cultural and financial influences for the reason that Roman Empire. There’s a stability of formality and modernity, nevertheless — whereas the fleur de sel harvests are nonetheless executed within the conventional hand-harvest technique, trendy mechanical means are additionally employed for the number of different salt merchandise made right here.
” The salt tradition within the Narbonne territory dates from the time of the Roman Empire,”says Steve Hocine, director of the Le Salin de Gruissan, overseer of the manufacturing of Gruissan merchandise in addition to training to the general public.
The boxier salt crystals that sink under the floor are referred to as gros sel. These might be ready with native herbs, pepper and even Languedoc wine — usually they’re offered in a grinder for use throughout cooking. There may be additionally a liquid salt that may be spritzed referred to as Elixsel, which accommodates hint parts exhibiting a salty taste with much less sodium. All of Gruissan salt merchandise are on the market, together with a big selection of native wine and different delicacies, within the onsite (on-line right here) Saunier’s Boutique and Eco-Museum.
Guests can guide a desk at certainly one of Gruissan’s eateries with a view of the salt fields. Right here one can pattern the native fish or meat baked in packed salt crystals or sheep’s milk ice cream sprinkled with fleur de sel. Maybe most tempting are the native oysters, which have been bred to thrive particularly in Mediterranean salt marshes. All dishes are served with a small cassoulet pot or picket field of fleur de sel which is doled out with a fragile miniature spoon.
Every summer season the harvest is widely known via conventional re-enactments, a competition and musical evenings. In accordance with Le Salin de Gruissan, the 2018 season kicks off this month with excursions out there seven days per week demonstrating to guests that ” an astonishing alchemy of the solar and wind mix their efforts to provide salt.”