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.





Salon Mer & Vigne et Gastronomie

16 03 2009

Yesterday, Nick and I went to the Salon Mer & Vigne et Gastronomie.  Longtime readers may remember the write-ups I did on it last year, but for those of you who are interested, they were ThreeLongPosts.  And completely worth reading, if I do say so myself.  This year, though, I’m giving you the highlights.

Since March is Savoie monthhere on Croque-Camille, I made a beeline for the first cheese stand I saw.  Fortunately, Aux Saveurs des Montagnes, while based in Toulouse, had a wide variety of incredible Savoyard cheeses.  We tasted about half a dozen cheeses, all of which were remarkable.  The man at the stand made a point of explaining how his cheeses had nothing to do with their supermarket counterparts, and he wasn’t kidding.  We sampled the absolute best Morbier I’ve ever had the pleasure of placing on my tongue.  I never knew this, but it turns out Morbier comes from… Savoie!  Looks like this region may merit more than one cheese post.  After we’d made our selection, the guy tried to tempt us further with a nibble of Swiss Gruyère, which was outrageously good.  It had a texture not unlike really good Parmigiano-Reggiano, with little crystals of intense flavor scattered throughout.  The man pointed out that the Swiss Gruyère has no holes, and told a little joke: “Why are there no holes in Swiss Gruyère?” “Because they don’t have any mice in Switzerland!” Ha!

The array of wonderful wines from G. Prieur

Next we headed straight for G. Prieur, who had sent us free entry passes for buying a case of wine last year.  We were recognized immediately, and got to cut right to the excellent wines (instead of wasting time with the merely good ones).  Opting to start out by sampling the white wines this time, we were presented with a series of four excellent whites: a simple white Santenay, which would make a great table wine; a very distinctive and mineral 2005 Meursault; an exquisite apéritif-worthy 2006 Meursault, which Alain (our liaison) claimed was from one of the very best parcels in Bourgogne; and a premier cru Chassagne Montrachet 2007, whose briny character would make it a perfect accompaniment to any seafood dish.  (Here’s an insider secret I learned: true wine aficionados don’t pronounce the “t” in the middle of “montrachet,” such that it is pronounced “mon-rah-shay.”  Drop that one the next time you’re chatting up a French wine merchant – they’ll probably be impressed.)

G. Prieur's tasting glass

Moving on to the reds, of which we sampled eight, we learned that while 2005 Burgundies (both white and red) will age beautifully for several years, the 2006 vintage is best enjoyed sooner rather than later.  The highlights of the flight included a 2005 Vosne-Romanée, which was eyes-rolling-back-upon-first-sip good and a 2004 Corton-Bressandes Grand Cru, which Nick and I decided tasted like the best raisins ever.  Wines classified as Grand Cru in Bourgogne represent the top one percent of the region’s production, and let me tell you, you can taste the difference.

While we were tasting wines, we spotted our favorite Burgundian cheese producer (or at least their representative), so after buying more wine than we meant to (how do these things happen?) we headed over to sample some delicious washed-rind cheeses.

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