By Barbara Nestor, photos by Martin Ellis
Fortunately the friends I was with have good taste, an eye for a bargain, and a sense of fun. The brasucade they recommended involves a hard day out for one oyster-cultivating family in Marseillan. How does it work? They tip shellfish and sardines on to a grill the size of a door, light vine-wood underneath it at table height and stand back until the smell and a ringing bell informs waiting customers it’s lip-smacking time.
In my case, since losing my ‘fifth sense’, it’s all senses except taste and smell that entice. So while I was glad of the recommendations of my companions, for myself it was the colour, textures and sounds that sufficed. The orangey-yellow of the mussels marinaded in white wine and herbs, the crunchiness of the six-inch sardines, the coloured chopped peppers that swam in the marinade, the pink shells of prawns as big as your hand, and the spit and crackle of the vine-wood twigs – all inviting me to enjoy.
The menu is straightforward. Go with friends and enjoy their conviviality over wine and three fish courses! followed by a crisp Tarte Tatin and coffee.
A brasucade is the mass serving of mussels in a metal tray cooked over coals, and the tradition is upheld at the Coqui Thau.
if you enjoy the tastes and smells, lucky for you. But you don’t need a full suite of senses to make an enjoyable occasion of the brasucade – just an enjoyment of good company, an appreciation of colours and sounds, and a smallish purse. We paid €22 each for 5 very generous courses – prawns or oysters, grilled sardines, mussels in white wine and herbs, mussels with peppers, wine and paprika, tarte tatin, coffee and wine were all included in that.
We loved it. I hope you do.
30 Chimin de l’Etang
04 67 77 68 58
Booking is essential.
Unfortunately you’ll have to wait until next season for the brasucade, which they serve on Tuesday and Saturday lunchtimes in May, June and September. In July and August they serve on Tuesday, and Thursday lunchtimes and Saturday evenings.
At all other times in the season you can go for oyster and mussel tastings – straight from the etang right behind their back door.
Don’t dress up, it’s gloriously rustic.
Read more about how to make your own brasucade here.