Now in its sixth year, the Sud de France Festival returns to New York City through June 30, bringing the food, wine and lifestyle of the Languedoc-Roussillon region to the Big Apple.
Like previous years, there are plenty of tastings and demonstrations worth checking out. New to the festival this year, however, is a tasting-table series, featuring collaborations between chefs and wine directors of restaurants Contra, Estela, Navy, Reynard and The Cleveland to create Languedoc-Roussillon-inspired menus paired with the region’s pours.
Interpretations of classic dishes like cassoulet, aligot, cod brandade and more abound, bringing a unique taste of the south of France to New Yorkers.
We caught up with Paul Shaked, co-owner of The Cleveland; Max Sussman, executive chef at The Cleveland; and his brother, Eli Sussman, chef at Mile End Delicatessen in Brooklyn, to get a sneak peak at one of their unique pairings.
Though not the first time these chefs have worked together (the brothers also co-authored a cookbook, Best Cookbook Ever), their collaboration lends a new take on the traditional Mediterranean fare of the Languedoc-Roussillon. Shaked’s wine recommendation—a bold Roussillon red—encourages people to think outside of the box.
Octopus with Nectarines and Blood Sausage
Recipe courtesy Max Sussman, executive chef at The Cleveland, New York City, and Eli Sussman, chef at Mile End Delicatessen, Brooklyn.
1 head fennel, thinly sliced on mandolin
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, divided
2 cups water
2 medium nectarines, diced to half-inch cubes
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or finely crushed red chili peppers
½ teaspoon ascorbic acid (optional)
1 large octopus
4 Calabrian chilies or chiles de árbol
1 cup orange juice
½ cup rosé wine
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 4-ounce boudin noir or blood sausage (precooked)
1 small bunch watercress
Combine the fennel, apple cider vinegar, kosher salt, coriander seeds, 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar and water in a bowl, making sure the fennel is covered by the liquid. Refrigerate overnight.
In a large bowl, combine the nectarines, cayenne pepper or chili peppers, 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar, a pinch of kosher salt and the ascorbic acid (if using). Let the mixture marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Carefully submerge the octopus and simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from the pot and rinse in cold water. When it’s cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to separate the tentacles from the head, making sure to slice all the way to the head to get the full tentacle
Place the tentacles in a pot just large enough to fit them, and cover with the chilies, orange juice, rosé wine and ¼ cup of olive oil. Slowly bring to a simmer, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Simmer for 50 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool.
Once cooled, drain the tentacles and dry completely. Drain 16 pieces of pickled fennel and dry completely.
In a large nonstick pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Carefully place the octopus in the pan and sear on both sides just until browned, crispy and warm through, approximately 4 minutes. Remove the octopus from the pan and rest on paper towels.
Divide the sausage into 8 pieces, add to the pan and cook until warmed through, approximately 2 minutes. Set aside, and repeat with the pickled fennel (or use another sauté pan to warm the fennel while you cook the sausage).
To assemble, place a tentacle on a plate with a piece of sausage, a few spoonfuls of spicy nectarines, 2 pieces of seared pickled fennel and a few sprigs of watercress. Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice over the top, and serve immediately. Serves 8.
Bruno Duchêne 2011 l’Anodine (Collioure)
A Grenache-based wine from Roussillon, “this whole-cluster-fermented red served with a slight chill is a perfect pairing for Max and Eli’s inventive dish,” says Shaked. “The wine shows rustic dark fruit and mineral-driven undertones, while the whole-cluster fermentation brings an uplifting liveliness to an otherwise heavy cépage. This is a special occasion wine served only from magnum-sized bottles. That being said, it is befitting of a large gathering of friends around a perfectly cooked octopus dish!”