Food and Wine

Discover seasonal French Cuisine menus


Monthly menus

Discover seasonal French Cuisine menus created by Diane Anthonissen

The February Menu


 

I initially thought of this menu for Valentine’s Day because I found the idea of sharing a cheese fondue rather romantic. Plus, cheese is one of Eric’s favorite food groups (that, and chocolate!). He’s not alone on that either. So the main and dessert courses were easy to conceive. I decided a 1st course would be unnecessary because I didn’t want to make the meal too heavy (and OK, I also know that we *love* cheese and would prefer to have our calories there!!). To kick off the meal in a celebratory manner, a more copious “apéro” would “très agréable”. My three suggestions: (1) shrimp and chorizo skewers because I find them festive and delicious, and I like serving at least one hot finger food in winter, (2) spiced nuts because with a dusting of cumin, fleur de sel, piment d’Espelette and herbes de Provence they provide nice crunch and flavor. Of course pecans or almonds are also good, but hazelnuts are my “go to” nut because they are locally grown and the 2020 harvest can’t be beat in terms of freshness and vibrancy, and (3) puff pastry straws because I love the texture and who doesn’t love anything involving puff pastry?! Knowing cheese fondue can be rich, I like to follow the main course with a simple green organic salad tossed with any kind of house made vinaigrette. (As a side note, we have a delicious apple cider that came about from one of Eric’s Calvados experiments last November, and it is out-of-this-world delicious! We’ve become one of those people that take 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar daily thanks to this accidental creation – and happy to do so!). Et voilà, now you know how this menu was born! Bisous, Diane

 

Wine pairing

Apéro
Pairing :  Champagne Gaidoz Forget, Carte d’Or. 

This is a somewhat rare champagne because it is dominantly made with Pinot Meunier (80%) mixed with some Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, resulting in a “full bodied” taste that is often referred to as “vineux” by French sommeliers. This is somewhat of an oxymoron, since champagne is a wine!  However, the vast majority of Champagnes are made with a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, some are 100% chardonnay, called Blanc de Blancs.  These Champagnes typically give a light and bubbly beverage that is loved by all!  The full flavor of the Gaidoz Forget is what I appreciate most because it’s a nice change from traditional Champagne, and it easily pairs with the apéro presented in this month’s menu!  I would even go a step further and say this is an easy choice if you’re looking for one wine to take you from Apéro through to dessert.  A Champagne where Pinot Meunier is dominant, even 100%, is interesting to explore. Ask your favorite caviste and enjoy a change of pace.  

Main Course:  Cheese Fondue
Pairing : Clos de la Meslerie, Peter Hahn, AOC Vouvray 2011

If you have decided not to stay with Champagne, my recommendation of Clos de la Meslerie will provide an uplifting and interesting pairing to compliment the richness of cheese fondue. This 100% Chenin Blanc is a demi-sec Vouvray from the Loire Valley, and the 2011 bottle we tasted recently has aged beautifully.  Its extraordinary length in the mouth enhances the cheese notes, and its real pleasure occurs when tastes of both wine and cheese linger together! This vintage has slight oxidative notes (think dry Sherry like) with a beautiful crispness, and it also has a slight sweetness, the combination of which works especially well with fondue. Experience for yourself the beautifully crafted wines of our friend Peter Hahn’s winery.  Although the 2011 vintage is no longer available for sale (nor in our wine cellar!), 2017 is a nice substitute according to Peter.  The 2019 is also expected to be a good pairing, and this will be released in the next month or so.  With only 4 hectare of vines, Peter is an artisan winemaker of small batch, organic, natural wines with distinctive “terroir” in the purest sense of the term.  He uses no pesticides nor herbicides and even uses a horse plow to aerate some parcels of the terrain.  The grapes are completely hand harvested and manually pressed in small batches.  The combination of abundant care tending to the vines, the land and the wine making process itself insures all of his vintages are unique, complex, full of character and worth discovering!  His wines can be found at their web boutique:  https://lameslerie.com/en/shop/.

The March Menu


The March Menu, by Diane ANTHONISSEN

This month I wanted to present a vegetarian menu because although we live in the southwest of France, aka “duck country”, Eric and I regularly enjoy meatless meals.  For the March menu, I liked the idea of serving a healthy main course (meaning no cream or butter in the dish).  The side benefit is it gives us some wiggle room to indulge a bit in the other two courses!  The photo of the main course is red snapper but while in France I would instead use “dorade royale” (sea bream), bar de ligne (line caught sea bass) or turbot (flounder).  For the entrée (1st course), I wanted a vegetable with some substance because the main course is ‘only’ fish and rice, without a heavy sauce.  Corn and scallion cakes fit the bill!  Although it used to be difficult to buy fresh, sweet corn in France during the summer, that has luckily changed.  I can buy it fresh, cut it off the ear and stock it in our freezer, making it easily available year round.  Corn in France is relatively expensive compared to other vegetables, at about 1,20€/ear, or 8€/kg based on the weight of the kernels removed from the cob.  (Just for comparison, the last time I bought fresh corn in Appleton, WI in 2019, it cost a dollar for 4 ears!).  I certainly don’t mind paying the price here to support local organic farming, with non-GMO corn to boot.   One final story on the subject of corn – I recall the odd looks I got 15 years ago when I would ask people where I could find fresh corn in France.  I know they thought I was crazy and the usual response was: “what do you mean - corn is for animals” !   Did anyone else have that experience?!  I’m glad that is changing.  Anyway, moving on to dessert, why not bananes flambées?  It’s a great excuse to get some fruit in the diet and it tastes much more decadent than it is to prepare.  Plus, once you get confident at making this dessert, the “flambée factor” is fun to do in front of guests!  Just be sure to announce “flambée” with great drama as it gently ignites to everyone’s delight!

 

 

The March Wine Pairings, by Eric ANTHONISSEN

 

Entrée (1st course) – Corn and scallion fritter cakes
Pairing: Château Lagrezette, Merveille de Rocamadour, Viognier Sec, IGP Côtes du Lot, 2018. 

Château Lagrezette is a property near Cahors but with parcels further North, near Rocamadour, where they grow Chardonnay and Viognier grapes. This wine has beautiful aromas of white flowers, ripe apricots and peach along with a long finish with toasted notes. This entrée provides several wine choices depending on the other ingredients used besides the corn.  Indeed, the corn itself will provide for a sweet flavor that can easily be paired with either a red or a white wine - all we would need is a bit of a contrast between the sweetness and the wine itself. I would recommend a wine you like on its own because it will most likely go well with the corn fritter. Now, when the other ingredients come into play (such as which cheese is added to the corn fritter itself along with which salsa/guacamole/sour cream sauce is served with it), the story changes depending on their intensity, and will force us to take those flavors into consideration. In this case, the two main ones to consider are: spices – present but not “mouth burning” and the “citron confit” (preserved lemon) which provides for a delicate acidity and citrus taste. The full flavored “Merveille de Rocamadour” will stand its ground and provide for a nice pairing here.

Main Course:  Fish filet, turmeric rice, Porto reduction

Pairing :  Château Belingard, Reserve, 2018, AOC Bergerac Sec, White

A classic recommendation here: a dry white wine from a beautiful property near Bergerac, in Pomport: Château Belingard. Note that “Bergerac Sec” is a specific AOC for dry white wine made mostly with Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes. The Bergerac region also offers several delicious AOC red wines (such as AOC Bergerac, AOC Côtes de Bergerac, AOC Pécharmant etc.), but these will likely be too robust with this main course. The Château Belingard Réserve 2018 white wine has very intense flavors of white fruits with hints of vanilla. The freshness, full ripe fruits flavors, hints of citrus and menthol with an extraordinary (for a white wine) long finish will pair beautifully with the red snapper and turmeric Porto sauce.

The 'Vigneron' (winemaker), Laurent de Bosredon, and his wife Sylvie, are charming people who will gladly welcome you to the property where you will be able to admire one of the most beautiful landscapes of the Bergerac region! The name Belingard comes from 'Beleen gaard', the Garden of the Sun! It goes back to the Celts and some old sacrificial stones are still visible on the property.  Wine tastings are always a pleasure at Château Belingard – we’ve brought groups there who have been enthralled.  The people at this vineyard are very nice, the sightseeing is wonderful, the sun is often shining and the wine is excellent, what else do you want?!

Enjoy, Eric

The April Menu


 

Wine Pairings for April’s Recipes
Recipe Course Eric’s Recommended Wine Pairing
Poached white asparagus Entrée Le Clos de la Meslerie, Peter Hahn, AOC Vouvray, semi dry (depending on vintage)
Spiced Leg of Lamb confit, fondant potatoes, mixed pepper and red onion sauté, herby ranch-like dressing Plat Château Les Croisille Calcaire 2016
Mango Vinaigrette N/A
Strawberry mousse verrine N/A

The April Recipe Pairings, by Eric ANTHONISSEN

Entrée (1st course) – White Asparagus

Asparagus are notorious for being somewhat tough to pair with a wine.  Avoid red wines – they will lead to an unpleasant mix in your mouth!  It would be the “anti-pairing”!  The tannins would bring out the bitterness of the white asparagus.  That bitterness needs a white wine and I prefer a semi-sweet as a general rule.  Riesling and other Gewurztraminer wines would be good choices.  After that, if there is a rich sauce to go with poached white asparagus (such as hollandaise or mousseline which involve eggs, butter, and perhaps cream), then I’ll opt for a semi-dry that goes more on the dry side.  My preference goes back to Peter Hahn’s Vouvray.  Depending on the vintage, the amount of residual sugar varies so that the result is either “dry” or “semi sweet”. https://lameslerie.com/en/shop/

Main Course:  Lamb

A robust red wine was in order for such a special preparation as this farm-raised lamb (first cooked confit and then dry rubbed and finished on the barbeque).  I selected Château Les Croisille Calcaire, 2016, an AOC Cahors, 100% Malbec red wine.  Calcaire is so named because the soil of the parcel of land where the vines are located are dominantly made of limestone.  What this brings to the wine is a freshness and minerality.  But this wine is also robust and full of aging tannins which makes it a very interesting combination indeed.   Château Les Croisille is an organic winery making very distinctive red wines.  This wine was delicious with the lamb, fondant potatoes, mixed peppers and even the “Ranch style” sauce worked because it had a depth of flavors packed into it.  I hope you get a chance to try it, either at our place, or on your own.  It would also pair well with grilled steaks, duck magret and other hearty meats.

Enjoy, Eric

 


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