Bouillabaisse by Liz

I like to serve dishes, French or fusion, that our World Visitors can discover and appreciate. Travelers from Japan love sea food but I knew enough not to feed them shrimp tempura. I treated them to a Liz’s bouillabaisse.

Here is the receipe:
As for all my ingredients, the fish need to be very fresh! Then add onions, carrots, tomatoes and potatoes, salt and pepper.
I use the carrots for the color and the potatoes to thicken the broth and give it more of a “bisk” look and taste.
Sauté the fish before in a little amount of colza oil.
Sauté oinions, carrots, tomatoes and potatoes.
Put all ingredients together in a steamer and cook for 10 minutes.
Remove the bones, keeping only the meat of the fish.
blend fish and vegetables with some fresh dill. Serve hot. You can add on top a grilled toast covered with ementhal or gruyère cheese. or a grilled garlic toast!

As always we are available to personally answer your emails and phone calls. However  we have just added a shopping cart for your convenience.

A Perfect Gift for wine enthusiasts:

BUY NOW and  save 10% on all purchase over €100.

O’Vineyards offers an array of Food & Wine Experiences. Click to read the TripAdvisor travelers reviews about our Wine, Food and Lodging.

This is an index of an ongoing series of posts about what people can do in and around Carcassonne.  Millions of people visit the medieval citadel (the Cité de Carcassonne) each year, but what should they do after  walking those gorgeous castle ramparts?

I obviously recommend visiting my winery at O’Vineyards.  We offer a full tour of the winery, and our unique history (we’re first generation winemakers) means that we can talk to you like normal human beings about the sometimes scary or pretentious subjects of winemaking and wine tasting.

But I also want to offer a full list of possible activities because there’s a lot to do in and around Carcassonne other than visiting me!

Things to do around Carcassonne

  • Walking distance from Cité de Carcassonne
  • Drink good wine
  • Eat good food
  • Visit castle ruins and historic sites
  • Cave spelunking
  • Walk, Hike, or Cycle
  • Ville-Basse

Walking Distance from Cité

This is a list of activities I’ve written about that are walking distance from the medieval castle of Carcassonne.  This may overlap significantly with the other categories on this page, but it was a very popular question so I have to talk about it separately.

  • Vineyards right outside the castle
  • Restaurants in the castle
  • Eating around the castle
  • Perfect picnic spots near Carcassonne
  • River Aude walk
  • Canal walk
  • Religious sites
  • Antique furniture restoration workshop
  • Art galleries

Wine & Vineyards near Carcassonne

Carcassonne is beautiful wine country and you don’t have to know a lot about wine to appreciate the rich flavors of the local producers.  The greater Carcassonne area touches five major wine classifications:

If you don’t want to do a whole tour, many wineries offer simple tastings of their wines.  Some wineries near Carcassonne are set up to receive people year-round.  For smaller wineries, it’s often a good idea to call ahead of time and book your visit to assure the winemaker will be available.  If you just want to walk through some vines, there are vineyards directly outside Carcassonne castle.

The rest of this is a work in progress.  If you find this article unfinished and you’d like more information, feel free to email me at

Eating around Carcassonne

I plan on writing a bit about different dishes and meals that are typical to the south and southwest of France.  I’ll also include some addresses of favorite restaurants.

resting in the castle ruins above lastours before sunsetCastle Ruins & Historic Sites

I plan on writing a bit about all the castles and ruins other than Carcassonne like the Chateaux de Lastours.

I had a great picnic watching the sunset at the Chateaux de Lastours.

There are many other ruins scattered around Carcassonne.

And some places aren’t even ruined yet:

  • Quéribus
  • Peyrepertuse
  • Puilaurens
  • Castelnou
  • Oppidum


Cave spelunking

I’ll write about the various cave visits like the Gouffre Geant de Cabrespine and the Grotte de Limousis.

Carcassonne for walkers, hikers, & cyclists

I’ll start listing ideas for walkers, hikers & cyclists.

Ville Basse

Things to do in the downtown area of Carcassonne known as the Ville Basse.  Things like local markets, the Place Carnot, the Canal, and the river.


Danny McCubbin and his photography assistant Anthony just came through the south of France.  We were very happy that they could stop for three days in Carcassonne and taste the wonderful food and wine of the region.  They participated in all our vineyard tours and workshops (i.e. they toured the winery, ate a 5 course lunch at the winemaker’s table, and shot some video of the recipes my mom teaches in her cooking workshop).

food laid out on table at o'vineyards

via Danny’s twitpic account

Danny’s Holiday

Danny is the editor for and has been working with Jamie for almost a decade now. He was as nice as you’d expect for a member of the Jamie Oliver team.  It’s always a pleasure to share the region’s food and wine with folks visiting Carcassonne and it’s especially fun when the visitors are totally unpretentious food lovers like Danny and Anthony.

Danny standing on the castle ramparts of CarcassonneThey also visited the medieval cité de Carcassonne and stayed in the historic Hotel de la Cité.  Jerome Ryon, a local chef at La Barbacane, sat down with them to talk about cooking and food and how it’s about working with good ingredients and keeping things simple and accessible.  Jerome insists this is true even at his professional level of cuisine (La Barbacane is a Michelin starred kitchen).

It was Easter weekend so we got to see a few of the neat things going on around Carcassonne.  Easter egg hunts and chocolate making workshops.  And it’s asparagus season.  🙂

And we organized a tasting on Easter where we enjoyed wines from all over the department of Aude.  Some of Ben Darnault’s wines from Minervois, St. Chinian and Picpoul.  Some Minervois from Hegarty Chamans as well.  A whole lot of fun!

You Can Visit Too

And you don’t have to be a journalist to get these tours.  If you want to visit us and have fun with wine and food, you only have to email me.  Costs vary depending on what you want to do, so check out the tours and workshops we offer visitors and let me know what you want to do.


“Même si on est un peu Américain en cave, on est très Français dans la vigne.”

wine tasting for the "languedoc outsiders" groupWhile I was in London for the Languedoc Outsiders Tasting, I got interviewed by Marie Lahetjuzan with French Radio London.  It was a very fun interview at the end of a long day of tasting and you all know how I can get chatty (especially in front of a charming girl).  So they did a marvelous job of editing me down to fit into the time slot of her chronique on gastronomie, “A Table”.

If you understand French, then you can enjoy this mp3 of me stumbling through the interview that aired a couple times last week.

A Table avec Ryan O’Connell – source file

After reading Midi-Vin’s very good post (in French) about Le Vin 2.0, I have realized that my summary left a lot to be desired.  The main shortcoming is that I focused entirely on the speeches and I totally ignored the most important part of every conference: ambiance and audience.

So let me take a short moment to say it was a blast.

The Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature is a grand old building with a huge subterranean portion that kept us warm while Paris was blanketed in snow.  It’s also full of hilarious chandeliers and lustres made of various bones, antlers and minerals.  Awesome place.

The food was delicious.  Seriously good.  Probably tied with the Grenache Symposium in that respect (although the GS lasted a few days so they probably still sit in first place).  And the wines at the tasting that night were interesting too.

Vinternet got a good group of people together.  It looked like there were a solid 60-70 people there from various parts of the wine business.  A lot of producers, which I liked.

Tragically, the interprofession was not very present and I think that these big picture organizational types are the ones who could have profited the most from the conference.  In other cases, you have folks like the Vignerons du Luberon, cooperateurs in that part of France.  They loved the presentations but when you ask them how these ideas will be implemented at the cave, they smile knowingly.  Their boss will shoot these web ideas down instantly.  Sad that the boss couldn’t be there.  We might have converted him or galvanized him but the point is there would have been an exchange.

But let’s not get all depressed.  There were some folks there with more instrumental organizational roles.  The national level of les Vignerons Indépendants were present and charming.  I liked their style and they were much more receptive than some of the VI folks who I have met on the departmental level here in Aude.

The Languedoc was well-represented.  At various points throughout the day I discovered I was sitting next to somebody from the region.  I finally got to see Olivier Lebaron (from Terre de Vin / Vitisphere) IRL.  And I met the directeur from Anne de Joyeuse who also had a wine involved in the live tasting that night.  And of course, I’ve already mentioned Midi-Vin’s coverage of the conference.

Other posts that touch on vin 2.0:

  • Vindicateur – Is wine criticism turning into stand up comedy?
  • Musigny – I don’t know who this is (maybe Grégoire Japiot?) but it seems they streamed the whole conference on their iPhone!!
  • Wise Queen – something

Looking at pictures from harvests all over the northern hemisphere can really show you how naturally beautiful vineyards are.  There’s no need for trickery.  You can get a lot of mileage out of some relatively cheap amateur photography.  You don’t have to touch up or photoshop your pictures later on.  Vines are just pretty.  And wine is just beautiful.

Clos des Fées, 2010

Trick Photography in Food

This strikes me as important, especially after reading Good Grape’s review of Food Styling.  The book is written by Delores Custer, a prominent food photographer, and it’s got a lot revelatory insights about advertising photos you might take for granted.  How do photographers get cereal to float perfectly on top of the milk? (It’s not milk; it’s Elmer’s Glue.)   How is that beer bottle always dappled in the perfect amount of dew?  (Again, not dew.)  And the truly gross tool known as a T-28 which makes fresh cooked meat look steamy… (Just read Good Grape’s review for this one).

All in all, there is a lot of deception in food marketing.  And on the whole, I’m really happy to work in a field where taking beautiful pictures is pretty effortless.  I mean, there are parts that are less pretty.  And some professional equipment will definitely make your press photos stronger.  But artisanal winemakers don’t have to lie.  Even the least romantic parts of the job (assembly line work like sorting tables and bottling lines) look pretty good without any effort.  The picture to the left is a perfect example from a bit south of here at Domaine Gayda where even the boring jobs look great.

I should mention that Food Styling does contain some wine trickery.  If there’s no wine on hand, the photographer can fake it by diluting Kitchen Bouquet with water.  You might wonder why a photographer would happen to have Kitchen Bouquet around but not a bottle of wine.  Well, they also use this brown thickening sauce to fake coffee, to dye poultry, etc.  It’s a part of their tool box.

Dolores Custer and her colleagues are masters of food forgery in a way.  And I’m sort of glad I don’t need to use their services.  While much of the food and beverage industries are driven to advertise that one fleeting moment where a product looks perfect, wine tends toward a more long-lived appreciation.  Maybe that’s why we’re more candid?

Anticipating a moment vs. Enjoying The Moment

There’s a time lapse video I saw on Edible Geography:

It’s a clever conceit, but also — I imagine — functioned as a visceral reminder that our obsession with only buying flawless fruit and vegetables over-prioritises a single, freeze-framed moment in an organic cycle.

–Edible Geography

By recreating a 17th Century still life painting in reality and watching that still life die and live and die again, Grahame Weinbren sort of calls into question our fascination with immortalizing short moments of food porn.  Really, a lot of the things we consume are still alive.  This is especially true about wine.

Wine is alive and changing all the time and it can be enjoyed at almost any moment.  You’re not obligated to wait for some fetishized, fleeting seconds when the wine will be perfect.  You can drink young wine to appreciate certain characteristics of youth or you can wait and drink older wines that feature more aged characteristics.  Whenever you open it, there it is, waiting for you.

But maybe some of you think I’m getting too philosophical here.

And heck, some people might even think I’m dead wrong about wine photography.  After all, it’s hard to flip through a wine magazine without finding three pictures of wine being poured.  Is that our obsession?  The moment it comes out of the bottle?  Are there photographers who pour Kitchen Bouquet into the bottle so the wine will look thicker as it streams out in front of the camera?  Not at O’Vineyards.

It’s spring and it’s wonderfully hot. We went from one of the coldest winters to one of the hottest Springs. And in brief, it feels like Summer at O’Vineyards.

And now we’re starting to get our dearest vacationers so it feels even more like Summer. The other day, Anthony Swift from Wine Pleasures came through with a group of Norwegian wine women. These wine ladies had just visited Carcassonne’s castle ramparts in the morning where I met the group and led them back to the vineyard just a few kilometers away.

I like all the tour groups we get, but Wine Pleasures was a special pleasure because Anthony is as obsessed with the Internet as I am (maybe more?). So the group doesn’t get shy around cameras. And we get to share the tasting with you.

We did a live stream that you can still access here:

wine pleasures norwegian women lunch near carcassonneWhat you don’t get to see in the stream is the delicious schmorgesborg that my mom prepared for the luncheon after the wine tasting. The photos don’t do it justice. But if you follow the blog or visit us with any frequency, you know that my mom is a cooking machine.

You can follow Anthony Swift on Twitter and Facebook.

This is one of the two tables full of food

We had one of those epic lunches that lasts until way after sunset.  Our friends from l’Oustal Blanc in Minervois La Liviniere came over and we had a lot of great food and delicious wines.  The Fonquerle’s brought us a pretty epic Rhone wine from Plan de Dieu called Calendal (Philippe Cambie & Gilles Ferran).  It accompanied some of these lovely platters of charcuterie quite nicely!  Everything prepared by mom, as usual!

Soon, I’ll post some post video footage of a couple conversations in the winery. For now, I just wanted to post some food pictures before it all spoils. 😀

How to find us

Domaine O’Vineyards, located in the North Arrondissement of Carcassonne, is just minutes from the Carcassonne train station, the Medieval City, and the Carcassonne Airport.
GPS coordinates: 43.259622, 2.340387

Wine, Dine, Relax at our Boutique Vineyard
Unique thing to do in Carcassonne
Wine Cellar. Winery Visits. Wine Tasting.
Wine & Food Pairing

North Arrondissement of Carcassonne
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou, France
Tel: +33(0) 630 189 910

  1. Best by GPS.
    Follow the signs to Mazamet/ Villemoustaussou using the D118. At the end of the last straight part of D118, you will come to a roundabout with the Dyneff gas station.
  2. Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
  3. Look out for the second road on your right, Avenue des Cévennes which curves up hill (about 1km) to Avenue de la Montagne Noire on the left.
  4. At the last juction, bear left. the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
  5. After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.