Worthwhile French Beers: La Mandubienne Blonde

31 10 2009

This is pretty much the last post I expected to write in Burgundy Month.  But yes, Nick and I did stumble across a locally made beer while in Dijon.

A glas of Burgundian... beer?

When we go on these weekend jaunts, I research the dining options, and Nick finds out about the beer scene.  He found a neat-looking place called Le Cappuccino that he wanted to check out, so we headed to a less-touristed part of town for a little local flavor.  Inside, we found that they even had a local beer on tap – La Mandubienne.  They even had brochures from the brewery, Brasserie des Trois Fontaines, which we unfortunately did not have time to visit.  In any case, we enjoyed the beer, and Nick wrote up a review for the website Beer Advocate.  He writes:

Color is opalescent wheaty-yellow to dark straw. Good high head that eventually settles into a nice lace over the beer. Aroma is rather full of esters (banana & pear mostly), but not over-the-top Jolly Rancher by any stretch.

Read the rest here.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





My Dijon Photo Album

29 10 2009

Sadly, we are running out of October.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Halloween, and Thanksgiving even more, but I wish I had more time to explore the rich culinary heritage of Bourgogne.  There were two pretty stellar lunches, featuring Burgundian classics like kir, oeufs meurette, and all kinds of mushroom dishes (we picked the right time to go to Burgundy – just as mushroom season was getting into full swing!); and one rather disappointing dinner, which I didn’t bother photographing.  We did a lot of walking around the city, admiring the timbered houses and colorful tiled roofs.  Since I’d be here all night if I tried to cover it all in one post, instead I have built a mosaic of my favorite pictures from the trip.  Click on the title of the photo at the bottom if you want a better view or a little more info.  Enjoy!

Good views and good eats in Burgundy
1. Kir in its Natural Habitat, 2. St-Begnigne Cathedral, Dijon, 3. Velouté de Poireaux, 4. Lentil Salad with Ham at L’O, 5. L’O – Chicken in Mushroom Sauce, 6. Entrecôte at L’O, 7. Pear “Biscuit” at L’O, 8. Boules de Glace at L’O, 9. Hôtel de Vogüe, 10. Place de la Libération, 11. L’Eau d’Origine Contrôlée, 12. Oeufs Meurette at Café Gourmand, 13. Mushroom Tatin at Café Gourmand, 14. Crumble au Potiron at Café Gourmand, 15. Veal Burger, 16. Pompon Boar, 17. L’Assommoir, 18. Gargoyles

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





A City Known for Mustard in a Region Known for Wine

16 10 2009

Maille boutique, Dijon

Dijon, located in the Côte d’Or département, is a city full of great food, wine, and shopping opportunities.  Nick and I arrived in town Saturday morning and headed straight for the market, which was packed with local and regional cheeses, charcuterie, wines, and produce.  If the weather had been nicer, we would have picked up some goodies and found a picturesque spot to enjoy a picnic.  Alas, it being October, we got gray skies and intermittent rain.  Nonetheless, we did not go hungry.  After a long lunch in a restaurant near the market, we wandered over to the rue de la Liberté, the city’s main shopping street (in fact, it is what I remember most about my last visit to Dijon, in 2000, particularly the H&M).  This time, though, I was shopping for mustard.  The Maille boutique features dozens of flavors of mustard, from cassis to herbes de Provence to marc de Bourgogne.  I wanted to try them all, but feared for my sinuses.

Stoneware mustard jars

My favorite feature of the shop is the mustard taps, where you can have a stoneware mustard pot filled with your choice of fresh mustard.  Apparently Maille has one other boutique in France, located in Paris – D’oh! – so when I run out, I can go there to get my pot refilled.

Mustard Tap

And then we were off in search of wine…

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Délice de Bourgogne

12 10 2009

Can you believe I spent an entire weekend in Dijon and didn’t have a single regional cheese?  Well, it’s true.  Not for lack of trying, mind you – I foolishly thought that two-plus hours was a sufficient amount of time for a three-course lunch.  Unfortunately, I had to cancel my cheese plate order (all made in Beaune!  I was so excited!) in order to catch the train home.  On the upside, Paris is still a pretty good place to buy cheeses from all over France.

Afternoon snack of champions

I found a little round of Délice de Bourgogne without much trouble, and took it home, stopping by Du Pain et Des Idées for some bread, which gave it just enough time to come up to temperature for my afternoon snack.

Délice de Bourgogne is a triple-crème cheese (one of my favorite categories), clocking in at around 40% butterfat.  It is made from pasteurized cow’s milk, and tastes, rather unsurprisingly, buttery.  This one is a tad underripe in my book – I like it more gooey than firm – but still has a pleasant smooth texture and buttery flavor with a hint of yogurty tang.  Later on (if I can wait that long) it will develop a fuller aroma, grassier and earthier, though it will never get as strong as its raw-milk brethren.  I think a glass of white Burgundy – that’s Chardonnay, but not the oaky juggernaut it’s become in California – would be a perfect accompaniment.

Once again, I’m just in time for La Fête du Fromage at Chez Loulou.  Be sure to see what the rest of the roundup has in store on the 15th!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Kir Bourguignon

9 10 2009

I know you’ve all been wondering when I was going to announce the French Region for October.  (Actually, I know you haven’t.  Statistics show that these “Regional French” posts are some of the least visited on this site.  And yet, some of the most searched… hmmm.)  At any rate, this is a region I’ve had planned since the beginning, and one I’m very excited about: Burgundy.  Bourgogne to the French.  I will be using the terms interchangeably.  Some of my favorite wines and cheeses in all of France come from Burgundy, not to mention some of the dishes that are inextricably linked with Classic French Cuisine, such as Boeuf Bourguignonne, Coq au Vin, and escargots.  (Let’s not forget gougères are also a Bourguignonne specialty.)  My trip is planned, and in honor of Dijon, whe’re I’m headed for a weekend, as well as in honor of Friday, I present to you Kir.

Kir by candlelight

Kir, a classic French apéritif, was invented by Félix Kir, a former mayor of Dijon (who I can’t stop imagining as the Bud Clark of France).  Cassis, aka blackcurrants, grow very well in Burgundy, so naturally the wine-loving populace came up with a way to make them alcoholic.  By soaking fresh cassis berries in alcohol, they extract a sweet liqueur heady with the aromas of the ripe fruit.  As the story goes, the drink was invented to make less-awesome white wine more drinkable by mixing it with one third crème de cassis.  And believe me, it does.  Cheers!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Balbuzard Café

30 09 2009

All summer I had my eyes peeled for Corsican restaurants in Paris.  (July was the originally-planned Corsica month, but then the spur-of-the-moment trip to Rouen happened.  Fortunately, it turns out that Fall is the best time of year for Corsican charcuterie, so I lucked out.)  I spotted one on a bike ride near the Place de la République, did some research in my Pudlo guide, and decided that Balbuzard was the place to go.

Saturday night we finally went.  Nick and I were joined by another couple, and the four of us walked there together after apéros chez nous.  We were greeted immediately upon entering the colorful (red and yellow tiled floor, lime green and magenta velvet wallpaper winding up the stairs) café.  We were seated at a table near the bar with a good view of the rest of the room, including the small Corsican épicerie (jams, honeys, and charcuterie available for purchase) in the corner.  A bottle of Corsican wine was ordered – we went with the one suggested by the waiter to compliment the cured meats – and our meals chosen, and we chatted with our friends during the brief wait for our first courses.

Salade d'avocats avec gamba et noix de st-jacques

I had chosen the avocado salad with prawn and scallops.  The prawn was great, but there wasn’t enough of him.  The avocados were perfectly ripe, and the salad was served with a cold tomato compote and a wedge of fresh cheese.  Only the scallops disappointed.  Like the rest of the salad, they were cold, and I had really been expecting freshly seared, rare-but-warm specimens.  I didn’t notice much of a difference in flavor or texture between the scallop meat and the other part (roe?  liver?  other mysterious organs?), which I thought was odd.

Terrine de sanglier

Nick had the terrine de sanglier, a delicious wild boar pâté.  Corsican wild boar live their days running around in the forest, eating chestnuts, and you can tell when you taste their extremely flavorful, slightly nutty meat.  The terrine was served with an onion jam that really put it over the top.  Table positioning made taking photos of our companions’ plates awkward, but our vegetarian friend ordered the terrine de chèvre (cheese, that is), and ate every bit.

For the main course, I opted for the figatellu.  It’s a classic Corsican sausage made from the liver and heart of wild pigs. 

Figatellu aux lentilles

The flavor is strong, but I really enjoy it.  Served on a bed of warm lentils with an oven-dried tomato and a breath-freshening sprig of parsley, the sausage really hit the spot.  I couldn’t help but feel a pang of jealousy, though, when I looked over at Nick’s plate…

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Miel de Corse

24 09 2009

One of Corsica’s largest crops is the chestnut.  As such, they feature prominently in dishes both sweet (cakes, candied chestnuts) and savory (various breads, a type of “polenta”), as well as in the local liqueurs.  Much of the chestnut harvest is dried and ground into flour, which has been granted a.o.c. status.  Another Corsican chestnut-based treat with the privileged status is honey.

Organic chestnut honey from Corsica

The stuff is, quite frankly, wonderful.  It has a rich, nutty aroma with floral undertones, all of which carry through on the palate.  I’ve been using it to sweeten my green tea, but I’m trying to come up with a recipe that will feature it more prominently.  (My first meeting with chestnut honey was years ago, when I used it in an orange pâte de fruits – a sort of jelly candy – for the restaurant where I worked.  It was one of my (and the chef’s) favorite flavors of jelly, so I made a lot of them, though now that I think about it, I haven’t laid so much as a taste bud on it since then.  But the reunion is going well, like when you run into an old friend and discover that nothing has changed – you can still talk for hours with no awkward silences.)

I also love the artwork on the jar.  The bee is dwarfed by the gigantic, hairy chestnut, and it looks as though he is going to have to battle it in order to get to the sweet flower.  A battle that is well worth it, in my book.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.








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