Back to French Home Cooking
Back to Bourgogne France and what we ate... Since we were staying in a fairly remote B&B, and the hostess Veronique offered dinner on a few nights, we took her up on it. To get down the mountain from Le Clos de L'Abbaye to the closest dining option is about a 30 minuted drive on cow paths, or over 1 hour one-way as we tended to get lost on all the backroads. It was to our advantage to stay up on the beautiful mountain top and have Vero cater to all of our dining needs. Vero does not cook dinner for B&B guests every night because she has many other responsibilities, so when she did have time to cook, we took advantage of her 4 course dinners and all the wine we could taste for 2 of the nights were in Bourgogne, on top of the wine and snacks she provided for us lost travelers on our arrival.
What was on the menu for our dinners were really great local wines, and 4-courses of Vero's expert French cooking. She made it look so effortless, but we all know, trying to make one of the mother sauces can be an ordeal. Is it that you have to have the French genetic makeup to make the lovely sauces that Vero made? Perhaps, because I can't do it.
veal with a cream sauce served with rice and steamed root veggies
endive salad served with a goat cheese and a special St Sernin du Plain cheese
apricot and raisin tart
all the Beaune Bourgogne wine we wanted
Evening 2 Meal
salad with smoked duck breast
fish in tomato sauce served with tagliatelle
special local soft white cheese
poached pear with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce
all the Beaune region Bourgogne wine we wanted
Trying to pick their brains about how I can manage to grow food in my tiny and well shaded yard, they suggested a winter crop. It is called Cut Flowers. It is a miniature broccoli variety that is fast growing. It is grown in England, with many parts of England have similar winters that Nashville has. This Cut Flower variety must be cut every week, or else the plant will bloom than die. Cutting the pre-blooms weekly keeps the plant available for food stock. I can grow food that will grow during winter when the tree leaves are down, and we get some sun in our yard. Anyone know where I might get some Cut Flower seeds for next winter?
The meals that Vero made for the 7 of us were so good, and made in the French tradition. The 1st evening main plate was veal with a cream sauce. Vero showed me the recipe, and it was long and involved. The sauce was made with a mire poix, browned veal drippings and cream, but my written description does not do the sauce justice. It was just a perfectly complex yet lightly flavored sauce for the dish. This is a sauce that only the French can just whip up for dinner. There was such subtly to this dish that we had. I wish I had the words to explain how delicious and intriguing this dish was. There is no where in my little world here in the USA that comes close to this meal. In a million tries, I do not believe I could make this sauce.
After tasting Vero's main dishes, I have put it on my list of life "things to do" is to find a non-competitive 5 mother sauces cooking class. I don't want a hell's kitchen class (no one thrives under that crap), I just want a nice teacher who can teach me the 5 sauces in the traditional way, so that I might come closer to making the lovely sauces Vero made for our dinners.
Besides being inspired by Vero's main dishes, I was also inspired by her salads and cheese courses. To start off with the salads, we had a lovely Belgian endive salad, walnut and onion with a light mustard dressing. Before Vero's salad, I had been brain-washed into this world of Americanized salad that are big bowls of industrial grown salad greens that are topped with too much overly flavored (sometimes harsh flavored) salad dressing. These salads are so big, monolithic, and almost torture to eat. The Americanized salads, you can get at any mid-range chain like Fridays, O'Charleys, Applebees, etc. So, when I ate Vero's salads, I woke up from this salad drudgery nightmare and into more subtle and artistic salads. Vero's salad dressing was a light mustard dressing that went well with the crisp pieces of endive. When I got home, I tried to recreate salads similar to hers.
Before I left for France, I decided that I wanted to have cheese, and if cheese was offered as a course of the meal, I was going to take the cheese course. There are so many cheese makers in France, and everywhere we ate, they offered locally made cheese. At Vero's house, the 1st dinner, she offered up a lightly flavored goat cheese and a young ripe cow's milk Epoisses style cheese, and on the 2nd night, Vero offered a delicate white local oozy style cheese. Epoisses is a type of pungent in aroma and flavor cheese made from cow's milk from cows that have grazed on Bourgogne pastures. I have never had, a cheese this fabulous before! As Matt said, it is literally the 1st cheese he has had in his life that smelled like sweaty feet, but the flavor was excellent with a rich, slightly salty flavor, and the texture was delectable.
As we were dining, I made claim that we cannot get Epoisses style cheeses where we are. It is true, Nashville is way behind the cheese 8 ball. We are able to get in some French soft cheeses, but by the time the cheese get through the importer, distributors and in the market, they are over aged, dried out, and not very good anymore. I got one Camembert a couple weeks ago, it was lacking aroma, and it was like cutting into a disk of rubber (not good eats). So, at anyrate, it is my goal to find a local vendor who can get in quickly a Epoisses for me, so I may use it at its perfect oozy ripeness. Anyone got any ideas?