Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Burgundy Eats

Here are some of the delicious things to eat in Burgundy:

Oeufs en Meurette - Poached eggs in red wine sauce. This is one of those simple dishes that in the end, not all that simple. The classic version of this dish includes good veal stock, slab bacon, and absolutely farm fresh eggs that must be poached in the red wine sauce...you get the point. Three small poached eggs appear on a plate, perhaps on a bed of finely diced shallots, resting in a pool of beautiful red wine sauce. I would eat this every day if my cardiologist would only lighten up.

Jambon Persillé - A gelatinous terrine of chunky ham seasoned with parsley. Sorry, but that description does not make the dish sound as wonderful as it truly is. Imagine this: a big white plate, a rectangular slice of rosy pink and green-flecked Jambon Persillé, a few gherkins, some good hot Dijon mustard, a slice of crusty bread, a nice glass of Volnay (substitute most any red Burgundy here)...this is just local old-school goodness. I should have taken a photo.

Escargots - Does this really need an explanation? Actually, I think it does. You've heard of this but have you ever had this dish? In Burgundy? Well, if you go, you really should try it. Large land snails are marinated in Chablis wine, cooked, and then slathered in parsley, butter, and garlic. They may be served in their shells or in a plate with many shell-sized depressions where individual snails bathe in their parsley sauce. When this is good it's fantastic - it's not at all a vehicle for butter and garlic, as some might have you believe. Well prepared snails are so earthy and toothsome, they touch a deep culinary nerve. You will be equally happy eating these at a street fair with a glass of Aligoté using a wine barrel as a table top, or at a fine restaurant with a mature Chassagne-Montrachet. There is a reason that this dish is classic.

Charolais beef - There is something very special about this local beef. Maybe that's why Beef Bourguignon became such a famous dish. Charolais is deeply flavored and beefy, but is not overwhelming or heavy. It stews beautifully but an entrecôte can be grilled and served rare too. A steak of Charolais is completely delicious in the most primal way, and the fact that it that it requires a little elbow grease to slice only adds to the charm. These cows have an outdoor life, they walk around a bit, after all.

Époisses - The ultimate Burgundian stinky cheese. Cow's milk cheese, washed in Marc de Bourgogne (local brandy). This cheese must be aged, but not for too long - about 45 days. This cheese has a distinctive rust colored rind and when ripe, should give just a bit at the center to the touch. It should be thick and runny on the plate. Although the aromas are quite powerful, the flavors should be delicate, with fresh grass and churned butter. It should be served at a specific temperature in order to display full aroma and flavor. Not all restaurants do this properly. Apparently, Ma Cuisine in Beaune has all but perfected Époisses service.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but these are some things that I would eat every time I'm in Burgundy. The wines in Burgundy are pretty good too, by the way, and tend to go well with the food. You might try them also.


Anonymous said...

I like your list. Sounds like you really enjoyed everything.

KJ said...

Awesome list, makes me hungry just thinking about it. When I was in Burgundy I also had no shortage of Bresse Chicken, and at many vineyards baskets of Gougeres were set out, I can easily gorge myself on those tasty little buggers.

Brooklynguy said...

hey salty - good to see you back around these parts.

Jon - WHAT is Bresse Chicken, if you please?

Anonymous said...

Oh, Brooklyn Guy, if you missed out on Poulet de Bresse...well, you'll just have to go back. Not to steal Jon's thunder but Bresse chickens are an appellation controllée poultry that's pretty remarkable.

Weston said...

mm cheese had this Triple Cream brie from Burgundy. was awesome then again the price, it better of been good hah

KJ said...

Steve L. said it. AOC Chicken. Tastes better than chicken has any right to.