Last week, I celebrated Fête de Beaujolais Nouveau, along with mushrooms, mozzarella, and magret, that each had their moment of glory on my table. I don’t need a special occasion to cook really lovely meals , because I try to make each night a celebration of light and joy around eating a beautifully prepared meal with love!
Cuisine du marché means planning meals mostly around seasonal foods and what you find at the best price for the quality. Mozzarella isn’t seasonal, but the rest were good buys last week as fall starts to turn into winter, and its now or never to enjoy this year’s beaujolais nouveau!
Even though some criticise the annual Fete de Beaujolais as a marketing scheme to sell overpriced young Beaujolais, I always look forward to the festivities! True, the wine may be overpriced, but it is not everyday that you get the opportunity to taste freshly vintified wine, unless you live in a wine village and know vintners who make vin primeur, or new wine.
Most wine makers in Beaujolais do, but not all. Other wine regions may offer a few bottles of their primeurs too, but generally their newly fermented wine has just begun its aging process and is destined to be bottled next year or even later for wines aged in oak barrels.
Almost all wine bars, cavists and a fair amount of restaurants gear up on the third Thursday on November,to welcoming the new Beaujolais in town! And why not? It has its own merits in its unquestionable freshness, fruitiness and lovely aroma that is unique to Beaujolais Nouveau.
It is absolutely futile to compare Beaujolais Nouveau to classical wines. It is what it is! You don’t compare kindergarten students to high school graduates, do you? Well you can’t do it either with a wine barely out of fermentation!
Besides for me, it is really all very symbolic, which I wrote more extensively about in a post on November 16, 2012. Newness and freshness are the key words! Taste and drink the juice of gamay grapes that hasn’t been allowed to age. Delight in its exhilarating and tantalizing youthfulness!
At the Cave des Papilles, in my own quartier, they were luring you in with free terrines of pâté, a musical trio, and generous samples of high end primeurs. I tasted a really lovely beaujolais and a new muscadet from Languedoc Roussillon, that was brimming with flowery tones of fresh crushed grapes.
The drizzly cold night didn’t deter anybody from swarming around wine bars and sellers who were passing out free samples, in hopes you would buy a bottle or two. Many had bands playing throughout to pump up the gaiety.
Knowing that I would be spending quite a sum to refill my wine cave next week at the Salon des Vins Independant, I refrained from buying the pricey ones, and settled for one purchased that afternoon, as they only can start selling Beaujolais Nouveau on the day of the fête.
Right now, it is practically the end of the wild mushroom season, so when I saw mushrooms for a fantastic price at a local Parisian grocery chain, I really indulged!
First mushrooms of the season start in September and usually come from Scandinavia and Russia, and mountainous parts of France. These are usually the very bright and buttery yellow girolles, seen in a photo I took in Helsinki last fall.
Following these are the giant cepes and pretty chanterelles, like those in the photo. A past foraging in the forest for grey chanterelles was great fun, but I was scared to eat to eat mine out of fear that a poisonous one might have been mistakenly gathered. So now I leave it to the professional ones!
The rather scary named death trumpets, are the black ones, offering a more earthy taste. The cream colored mutton feet are much larger and dense with a milder flavour.
My favourite ones are buttery girolles and chanterelles, both grey and yellow stemmed. I sauté them in butter, some eschalots, maybe a dash of white wine and finish with a sprinkle of parsley or dill. Simple and divine!
Magrets de canard are flooding the markets now, as the foie gras season is under way in preparation for Christmas. A magret is the breast of a foie gras duck with a thick fat covering, that I cook skin side down, slowly melting away most of the fat till the skin is crispy and caramelised, then finish off for a few minutes in the oven.
It should always be served rare or rosé as seen in the photo. I usually garnish it with either apples, figs, prunes, or citrus, that add flavour to a sauce of port wine, deglazed with the pan juices. Last night, I served it with the lemony canada gris apples and special mi cuit prunes with a port and cassis(blackcurrent) sauce.
Mozzarella roulade is a wonderfully fresh and simple way to use up my basil before the cold withers it. The mozzarella is rolled out and filled with Parma ham, wilted spinach, fresh basil leaves and shavings of Parmesan, drizzled with olive oil and then rolled back up into a roulade. Sliced, with sprigs of dill, and drizzled with your best olive oil, it makes for a colourful and pretty rosette served as a first course or main as seen in the photo.
I love Greek styles pastries, either sweet or savoury made with philo dough. One of my favourite vegetable ones is Spanakopita, which is crunchy flaky philo filled with spinach and herbs.
A wonderful and generous Greek friend, (thank you Katerina!) who brings cook books, olive oil from Crête, mountain herb tea, wild oregano and goat cheese from the island of Samothrace is who I think about each time I fix a Greek speciality, such as the spinach, dill, parsley and feta filled philo pastry, that I am sure is not as good as her mother’s!
This week I will be busy planning and strategizing my multiple visits to the huge wine salon starting Thursday, which I will probably write about next monday. Till then, I plan on enjoying Beaujolais Nouveau for what it is, as its time to drink is short! Cheers!
- 70Last night was the big and I mean big celebration throughout France to celebrate the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau. The crescendo has been building for over a week or so, with just about every wine store, brasserie or restaurant advertising their Beaujolais party. Besides the enjoyment of tasting the new wine, I find a symbolic…
- 32Here I am again, in the middle of beautiful wines, that I can't drink! I have to go armed with much restraint and discipline if I am going to get though my long list of wines that I want to taste at the spring Salon des Vignerons Independants. Tasting and drinking are two different things!…
- 31It has become an annual ritual for me to go to the Salon des Vins des Vignerons Independants, which always occurs the 3rd week of November, just like Thanksgiving, and one in the spring. It is without a doubt the largest gathering of independent wine makers in Paris! There are always over 1000 booths in…