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 Triumph

21 10 2009

It’s actually been pretty fun at work this week.  I haven’t said that in a year and a half, and I was afraid I never would.  We’ve been trying out new recipes for the bûches de Noël for this holiday season.  Not only do I like experimenting in the kitchen for the way it breaks up the general work routine, but this year I have been included in the proceedings.  As in, asked for my opinions and for any ideas I might have in the way of new bûche flavor combinations.

I really wanted to do a chocolate/banana/peanut butter thing, but I know better than to get too wacky (i.e. American) with this crowd.  So I Frenchified the idea, swapping in praliné mousse for the peanut one.  I ordered some bananas and when they were good and ripe I sliced up a couple and sautéed them with butter, raw sugar, and rum.  The chef found an intriguing recipe for a banana biscuit, so we tried it, and it’s delicious.  I put a sample of the cake together today, and when we tasted it, we knew we had a winner on our hands.  So just like that, my creation is going to be produced and sold this Christmas and New Year’s.  If you live in Paris, I highly recommend you come pick one up when the time rolls around.  (Or better yet, reserve one in advance.  I’ll let you know the details at a later date.)

Oh, and a quick reminder to click over to Foodie Fights and vote for me in Battle Cumin and Pecan!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

Le Cumin et Les Noix de Pecan

19 10 2009

That’s cumin and pecans for any strict Anglophones out there.  Two decidedly not-French ingredients.  But they are the two featured ingredients for Foodie Fights Battle #14, in which I was chosen to participate.  Cumin, at least, is fairly easy to come by around here, but pecans are horrendously expensive.  Lucky for me, Nick recently brought back a bag full of goodies from Trader Joe’s, including some pecan halves.  Game on!

Hot, salty nuts

At first it felt a little weird trying to construct a dish based around a spice and a garnish; but then I have been known to build an outfit around a pair of shoes, which I guess would be the sartorial equivalent.  So… cumin and pecans.  Cumin makes me think of Mexican or Indian food, while pecans are 100% americana.  I had a number of ideas floating around – curried carrots on cumin rice, cumin-pecan kettle corn – none of them really gelling into something I wanted to get off my butt and cook.  Then I remembered that it’s sweet potato season.

sweet potatoes, pre-roast

And suddenly I had to have something Thanksgiving-y.  The cumin would be an unusual twist, but I thought I could make it work.  Smoky bacon (what else?) and sweet maple syrup provided the catalysts that ended up tying it all together.  The pieces of the puzzle fell together while I was at work, so I quickly scribbled “Cumin-Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes w/ Sweet + Spicy Pecans   Bacon!” on a torn-off scrap of paper, very excited to buy some sweet potatoes at the Asian market and make this dish happen.

Which it did, Saturday night.  We had some guests for dinner, so I made the sweet-spicy-salty pecans first, appropriate for nibbling in between Wii bowling games.  Honestly, the pecans by themselves were a huge hit, and I got repeated requests for the technique.  I could have left it at that, but why would I, when I could use the pecans to top cumin- and bacon-scented sweet potatoes?  I definitely wanted to use whole cumin seeds, but I didn’t want them to be too crunchy, so I tossed them with the potatoes, some chopped onion, blanched lardons, and a little oil before covering the baking dish with foil and baking/steaming it for 30 minutes.  However, steamed sweet potatoes don’t excite me nearly as much as roasted ones, so after the initial half hour, I took off the foil, drizzled on a vinaigrette made with maple syrup and apple cider vinegar, and continued roasting for another hour while I prepared the rest of the meal: duck breasts and spinach wilted in the duck fat.

Cumin-Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Sweet and Salty Spiced Pecans

It was a great dinner for a chilly autumn night, and I can definitely see this one on the holiday table.

The battle starts tomorrow (Tuesday, October 20).  I’d love it if you headed over to Foodie Fights and voted for me.  It should be worth checking out, even if you ultimately decide I didn’t earn your vote – I haven’t seen the other entries yet, so I don’t know what I’m up against.  The winner will be announced on Thursday, so get your votes in!

Click through for the recipe, which I heartily encourage you to try.

Read the rest of this entry »

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…

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Gâteau Tatin

7 10 2009

Apple season is rapidly approaching full swing, and for the time being, I’m full of apple ideas.  (Give it a few months.)  One of my very favorite things to do with apples is carameleize them à la tarte Tatin.

Apples like to spoon.

Which I did, Saturday morning.  However, I just couldn’t get excited about making the puff pastry for a tarte Tatin.  Also, I only had four small apples, which wasn’t going to be nearly enough.  What I wanted was a poundcake, but lighter, maybe made with some yogurt.  So I tweaked the Ratio, a lot.  As in, changed the leavener, removed some butter, added some brown sugar and bourbon, and of course the yogurt is not a traditional poundcake ingredient.

Awaiting the cake batter

And it worked!  Astoundingly well.  We ate it for an afternoon snack and a few subsequent breakfasts, but it would be an excellent dessert, served warm with some crème fraîche or Greek yogurt alongside.

Like tarte Tatin, but cake!

Apple Cake, Tatin-Style

For those fall days when you’re craving tarte tatin, but puff pastry or even pie dough seems like too much work, a quick brown sugar pound cake makes the perfect base for buttery, caramelized apples.  (Which are also excellent on their own, or over ice cream.) A hit of bourbon feels right.

For the Tatin apples:
4 apples, peeled, quartered, and cored
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ cup / 50 g sugar
Splash of bourbon (optional)

  1. Melt the butter in a medium nonstick skillet.  Add the sugar and cook until the sugar starts to melt.  Place the apple quarters in the sauce and cook over medium-low heat, turning occasionally, until evenly caramelized.  Pour a little bourbon (if using) over the apples and cook a few more minutes to evaporate.  Remove from heat.

For the cake:
4 oz. / 115 g unsalted butter, room temperature
4 oz. / 115 g sugar
3 oz. / 85 g brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. bourbon
8 oz. / 225 g all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
4½ oz. / 125 g plain yogurt
Tatin apples (see above)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F / 190 C.  Butter an 8”x8” / 20×20 cm (or approximate equivalent) baking dish.  Combine the flour and baking soda in a bowl.
  2. In another bowl, cream the butter, sugars, and salt until fluffy.  (You can use an electric mixer with the paddle attachment or your arm with a wooden spoon attachment.)  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla and bourbon.  Gently stir in half of the flour – I recommend doing this part by hand – then the yogurt, then the rest of the flour.
  3. Arrange the apples in the bottom of the baking dish, being sure to pour any excess caramel sauce over them.  Pour the cake batter over the apples and even out the top.
  4. Bake until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes, rotating the dish halfway through baking.  Remove from oven and cool 10-15 minutes.  Loosen the sides of the cake with a small knife and turn it out onto a plate.  Serve warm or at room temperature, for dessert, breakfast, or a snack.  Cover leftover cake with foil – it will keep 3-4 days on the counter.

Serves about 8.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

Pour Votre Santé…

2 10 2009

There seems to be a law in France that all ingestibles must come with a warning.  Ads in the Métro for anything remotely edible from fresh melons to KFC have a banner across the bottom from an organization called mangerbouger.fr.  They say things like:

  • Pour votre santé, manger au moins 5 fruits et légumes par jour.  (For your health, eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day.)
  • Pour votre santé, pratiquez un activité physique régulièrement.  (For your health, regularly engage in physical activity.)
  • Pour votre santé, ne mangez pas trop gras, trop sucré, trop salé.  (For your health, don’t eat too much fat, sugar, or salt.)*
  • Pour votre santé, bougez plus.  (For your health, move more.)**

And so on.  These warnings also occur on TV commercials as well as in radio ads.  Today at work, we were listening to the radio, comme d’hab, and my favorite French supermarket, Carrefour, was advertising six bottles of Bordeaux for 15 euros.  (I can’t imagine it’s any good – it’s still two buck chuck.)  Anyway, the ad came with the requisite warning: Pour votre santé, attention à l’abus d’alcool.  (For your health, watch out for alcohol abuse.)  The Homer Simpson part of my brain went “Mmmm… alcohol abuse,” followed immediately by my less boneheaded self , “well, it is Friday… I should pick up some beer and/or wine on the way home from work.”

So thank you, mangerbouger.fr, for the tasty beer I am sipping now.  And the next one.

*I am always amused to see this one on McDonald’s ads.
** This one is popular on the radio.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

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