Saturday, July 10, 2010

Tour de France: Group I'm feeling tres French.

Maybe I've just developed a biased love for 'my region' of France, but I was so happy to be assigned the Tournus and Station des Rousses areas in the region of Bourgogne (in English- Burgundy.)

No idea what I'm talking about? (tut tut- you should have read my blog post last Saturday!) Just joking.... I will explain.

Many of you will know Barb from Winoes and Foodies. If not, go and visit her blog and you will immediately get a sense of how sweet she is. A little while ago, Barb tweeted about needing volunteers for a group food blogging project. Obviously I was immediately intrigued. I told Barb I was in, even without hearing any further details. A couple of days later, an explanation email arrived. Barb had asked us to partake in a Tour De France Group Food Blog Project. Basically each food blogger was assigned a region which corresponds to a stop in the Tour de France and asked to find out about food from that region, cook a dish and provide the recipe. You can get a total rundown of the project here. To get a little bit of background to my post check out Stage 6 at Amanda's cute blog - Eye Candy Carousel, which focused on another region in Burgundy.

France is divided into 26 administrative regions, 22 in Metropolition France, 21 on the continental part of metropolition France.

So, as I was saying, I was assigned Stage 7- Tournus and Station des Rousses stops which are situated in Burgundy, which I was pretty damn chuffed about. I love French food and although I am not particularly knowledgeable about the specific regions, I do have a little bit of a clue about Burgundy.

Map of the race

I'd better stop here and say, if you found this blog post thinking it was some sports mad blog actually about the Tour de France Race, sorry! That map is about as much information I am going to include about the actual race. You had better stop reading now (or keep reading if you love food too!). This blog post is entirely dedicated to the food of the region, which I might add, is quite special. It was rather hard to localise the cuisine to the smaller departments, because most of the good websites are in French and my french doesn't extend that far- but I'm trying. I have a little bit of info on the specific destinations Stage 7 - Starting in Tournus and travelling through to the destination of Station des Rousses and have included some more detailed info down the bottom of the post.

Fast Facts: The region of Burgundy is made up of four different 'departments.' The Yonne, the Côte d’Or, Nièvre, and Saône-et-Loire. The towns I am focusing on are located in the South of Burgundy.

Fast Food Facts: Burgundy is known for its great beef- specifically Charollais Beef. The country side is said to be dotted with the beautiful white beasts. One of the most famous/infamous French foods, the escargot (snails), are also a specialty of the region. Other well known dishes that have Burgundian roots are the aptly named Boeuf Bourguignon and Coq Au Vin. Burgundy is one of the largest wine producing regions in France, but differs from other French wine regions like Bordeaux, because it is composed of of thousands of small scale growers.

Famous Burgundians

Kir Royale: If you too, are a bit of a cocktail connoisseur, you may have heard of the Kir (cassis and wine) and the Kir Royale (cassis and champagne) a popular cocktail available on many well populated cocktail lists around the world. Cassis is a local blackcurrant liquer. You may not know that the Kir Royale is named after the French Catholic priest Canon Felix Kir who was a Burgundian hero, a Resistance fighter and who later became the mayor of Dijon for a period spanning over three decades. Kir became well known for serving this particular drink, and one of the reasons cited for him loving it so much was because it boasted local ingredients, something he was passionate about promoting. Yay Kir, he sounded like a pretty cool guy, focusing on local ingredients!

Well known dishes and a couple of things you might like to know about them
Boeuf Bourguignon:
Most of you will have heard of Boeuf Bourguignon, a classic Burgundian dish. This dish uses the regions beautiful beef and red wine to create a spectacularly tasty and hearty dish. Along side the beef and red wine, the dish usually includes mushrooms, onion, bacon, loads of garlic and herbs. Bourguignon is an example of a dish that was traditionally a peasant dish.

Jambon Persillé: Local specialty rarely found outside the province. Consists of chunks of ham in a jellied broth. Served cold.

Gougere: Gorgeous gougere's are savoury choux pastry with Gruyere cheese. They are usually served with wine and can be filled with mushrooms, ham or any range of savoury ingredients.

Escargot: Snails are so very Burgundian and can be served in shell, in a ceramic dish, on puff pastry- pretty much however you like. The key is loads of garlic, shallots and butter.

Ouerfs en Meurette: A little bit odd concept but yummy all the same- poached eggs in red wine sauce- another Burgundian wonder.

Wine: The Burgundy region lies a couple of hundred miles east and north of Bordeaux. It covers a large area, the vineyards running in a long, thin line from Auxerre in the north to Lyon in the south. The climate is continental, with cold winters, hot summers but plenty of rain. It is easiest to think of Burgundy in terms of its distinct regions. Running from north to south, these are:
Chablis by far the most northerly of Burgundy's regions, known exclusively for dry white wines.
The Côte de Nuits home of the great red Burgundies. Some white is produced too, but the reds are the region's glory.
The Côte de Beaune known for both red and white wines, but the greatest white Burgundies (other than Chablis) are from here.
The Côte Chalonnaise generally regarded as a lesser district. It still produces some extremely fine wines, both red and white.
The Mâconnais the southern limit of Burgundy. Wines tend to be cheaper and made for drinking young but can be excellent value.
Beaujolais (not shown) is quite a bit further south. Though not part of Burgundy, it is usually included when we talk about the region.

(information taken from

The big cheese: Like any great French region, Burgundy have their fair share of fabulous cheeses. Cheese is a big focus and many meals incorporate cheese. Epoisses and Chaource are two home region ripping fromages.

Dijon, The town that really does Cut the Mustard: You have all heard of Dijon mustard right? Well Dijon is also the cosmopolition capital of Burgundy. Dijon mustard was, funnily enough, created in Dijon, France. I could go on for hours about this greyey yellowowy sharp condiment. It's one of my favourites. Dijon style mustard can be made all over the world as long as it follows the original recipe established in Dijon- this is another one of the protected food types similar to reggiano parmigiano or champagne. For a full history on Dijon mustard, visit this site, there's more info there than I could squeeze into this one little post!~

Michelin Starred Restaurants: There are 26 Michelin Starred restaurants in Burgundy! As you can see, a region that takes its food very seriously. You can find a full list of them here . There is also a Michelin Starred Restaurant in Tournus called Aux Terrrasses which specialises in rich and authentic local cuisine.

My dish: Coq Au Vin
Even though it was really hard to decide what dish to cook, I chose to make a classic Burgundian dish, Coq Au Vin, which is basically chicken braised in red or white wine. Typically Burgundian Coq Au Vin is made with red wine.

"Coq is the French word for "cock" (as in Rooster, or male chicken). Vin is French for "wine" and "au" is French for "of the". Consequently, "Coq au Vin" literally translates as "Cock of the wine". However, as literal translations are not that meaningful, a better translation would be "Cock cooked with wine".

Until the 20th century it was common for rural families to have some chickens (for eggs and meat) and a rooster. The rooster would be kept until it was too old to perform its duties, at which time it would be killed and eaten. However, by this time the meat would be hard and stringy, so cooking it slowly in wine would tend to soften the meat and make it more edible. As such, the recipe has historically been considered "peasant food" or "poor people's food" as the well-off would be able to afford a better cut of meat which would not require slow cooking in wine in order to be edible.

In modern times, few people would choose to eat an old cock. Consequently, most modern versions use a chicken instead of a cock. As such, if one was being exact, the recipe would be called "Poule au Vin" (chicken cooked in wine). However, the old name "coq au vin" is always used, even if a chicken is substituted for the traditional cock" (Information from

Obviously, I had to use chicken- and had to be even more resourceful, as when I went to the butcher late on a Sunday morning, all they had left was chicken drumsticks. Chicken drumsticks... sigh. I NEVER use chicken drumsticks- but whatever.. I needed to get this into the slow cooker so drummies it was- maybe not all that authentic, but they do use all parts of the chicken so I guess that includes drumsticks!

There are millions of recipes for Coq Au Vin all over the place - I took mine from a couple of sources, a basic french cookbook I found from the 1960's and also Gourmet Traveller. I also changed the recipe a little bit so that I could put everything in the slow cooker. You can tweak things here and there to suit your tastes but make sure the base elements stay the same if you wish to reamin true to the dish.

Coq au vin
2 tbsp olive oil
90 gm butter, coarsely chopped at room temperature
1.6 kg free-range chicken, jointed ( I used less as it was only for two people)
150 gm piece of pancetta, cut into 1 cm pieces ( I used bacon- I think it gives a heartier flavour)
12 small pickling onions ( I used larger onions as I forgot to get pickling onions)
125 ml (½ cup) brandy, warmed
750 ml (3 cups) Red Wine ( I used about half this amount and think that worked well)
500 ml (2 cups) chicken stock
3 parsley stalks
2 fresh bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme
2 small heads garlic, halved lengthways
1 tbsp plain flour
200 gm mixed small mushrooms such as pine, Swiss brown and button, trimmed
¼ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

I also added eschallots into the mix as I love the flavour they bring to a dish.

I’m going to leave in the GT recipe, as it is very thorough, I completed these steps in a bit of a different order and then added my dish to a slow cooker on low heat for 8 hours instead of placing in the oven. I also placed all the herbs and sauce in the slow cooker so the meat would have a long time to bring in their flavours.

1 Preheat oven to 160C. Heat oil and 20gm butter in a large casserole over medium-high heat, add chicken pieces and cook for 10 minutes, turning until golden, then transfer to a plate and keep warm. Add pancetta and onions and cook for 5 minutes or until golden, drain off excess fat. Return chicken to pan, pour over brandy and ignite with a long match. When flames are extinguished, add wine, stock, herbs and garlic and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil, cover and place in oven for 1 hour or until chicken is tender and cooked through. Transfer chicken, onions and pancetta to a warm dish, cover with foil and keep warm.

2 Strain cooking liquid through a fine sieve, discarding herbs and garlic. Heat sauce in clean casserole over medium heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until reduced to 2 cups. Combine flour and 20gm butter into a paste, whisk into sauce and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.

3 Meanwhile, heat 50gm butter in a frying pan over medium heat, add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes or until golden, season to taste and set aside.

4 To serve, return chicken, pancetta, onions and mushrooms to sauce and cook for 5 minutes, turning to coat and warm through. Serve chicken and sauce scattered with parsley, with mashed potato on the side.

Sorry the photos are really bad- but you get the idea right? P.s I didn't take photos of each step- so the photos are more like a progress report rather than a corresponding account.

I love French food, and I'm really happy to have been a part of Barb's Food Blogging Project. Burgundy is like a gourmands dream destination. I hope to get there one day to sample all their fabulous produce. Burgundy is, without a doubt, a culinary wonderland. I am heading out tonight and may even try a Kir Royale if I can get my hands on one. I'm totally interested to see what the other bloggers uncover about their regions, as I know France has so much wonderful food, steeped in history.

To see what wonders
Station des Rousses - Morzine Avoriaz holds gastronomically, head over to Reena's blog- Coconut Raita tomorrow for Stage 8

Tell me dear readers: Have you sampled any Burgundian delights?

I visited the SBS Website and found out some more detailed info about Tournus and Station Des Rousses if you are interested in reading- they really sounds like idyllic places- I can't wait to go. Someday, not too far away.

"Tournus Facts: County town of Saône-et-Loire canton (71). Six towns in the county of Saône-et-Loire – Bernard Thévenet and Michel Laurent are both natives of Saône-et-Loire – have welcomed the Tour, but thus far not Tournus.

Nestled in a green setting, between the River Saône and the Monts du Mâconnais, Tournus is the gateway to South Burgundy.

Situated 100 km north of Lyon and to the south of Dijon, it enjoys a privileged location on the main Paris-Marseille route as well as a rich cultural heritage. For example, Saint-Philibert Abbey (9th and 11th centuries) which has retained almost all of its conventual buildings (the church, the crypt, the cloisters, etc.), as well as the refectory and the monks' cellar, which are now used for shows and exhibitions. Not forgetting the Hôtel-Dieu (hospital, 17th and 18th centuries), classified as a historic monument and which houses two museums: the hospital museum, including a magnificent apothecary, and the Greuze museum, devoted to the fine arts, with a particular focus on the painter Jean-Baptiste Greuze who was born in Tournus in 1725.

Like any self-respecting town in the Burgundy region, Tournus also has a high-quality vineyard with the Macon appellation and is renowned for its gastronomy, with several Michelin starred restaurants. A wealth of attractions that make Tournus an essential place to visit."

Station Des Rousses Facts: Another major first for this stage finish in Les Rousses, a pretty village in Haut Jura that, together with three other towns in the surrounding area – Bois d’Amont, Lamoura, Prémanon – forms a family summer vacation and winter ski resort. The birthplace of skiing in France, the resort is also well known to cyclists as the climb to Les Rousses (1,140 m, level 2 or 3 climb), which leads to the Faucille pass, has been ascended more than 40 times since 1911.

The French-Swiss resort of Les Rousses (6,300 inhabitants), situated at the heart of the Haut Jura Regional National Park in the Franche-Comté area of France, offers the ideal altitude for relaxing holidays in a peaceful and protected natural setting. Used by the French teams to prepare for cross-country skiing events, the resort is the birthplace of Jason Lamy-Chappuis, the combined cross-country ski champion at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. It is also known all over the world for the famous Transjurassienne event (76 km of cross-country skiing).

In summer, Les Rousses offers a wide range of activities for all the family: hiking, mountain biking, swimming in the two lakes, sailing, canyoning, golf, ice skating, horse riding, adventure trail in the underground passages of Les Rousses Fort.

In winter, all activities revolve around snow: downhill skiing (40 lifts), cross-country skiing (220 groomed kms), snowshoe trails and footpaths, dog sleighing, tobogganing, biathlon, kite-surfing, ski joëring.

14 fabulous comments:

So Simple said...

Yes I have sampled Burgurdy delights spent a week or so there in 1985. Took a boat down the river. It was fabulous and I loved the food. That Jambon Perseille was a big favourite with us and we lunched on it along with terrine, crunchy baguette,
lovely French butter and some delightful Burgundy to wash it down

The InTolerant Chef said...

i'm glad you didn't decide on snails. I've given them a couple of tries, but don't see the point. Luckily I love love love garlic butter so it wasn't a complete waste!

Reena said...

Great post! I can only imagine the amount of time you spent researching! The coq au vin recipe looks fantastic - I'll give it a go soon.

Happy Cook said...

What a wonderful post i loved reading it. And i think this is one of the best cog au vin i have ever seen, love tha dark colour. Dleicous. Drooling here :-)

Steph@littlepotbelly said...

Great job on your research, really comprehensive! I used to order escagots as a kid whenever my dad took me to Jimmy's Kitchen, this really old school restaurant in HK. Properly done snails are the best, but sadly I haven't come across ones as good in my adult years.

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

That Coq Au Vin looks great! And what a comprehensive post too! I've tried and loved escargot, gougeres and beef bourguignonne as well as coq au vin :)

Amanda said...

Wow - excellent research!
I was initially pleased to have a late stage of the race to cover, but the standard which has been set is worryingly high!!

Chris said...

Great job on this stage! And, delicious looking Coq Au Vin. :)

Barbara said...

Great post Eliza. I've just arrived home from a weekend in Melbourne and will come back and read the post in full when I've unpacked. The Coq au Vin looks wonderful.
Thanks for joining in.

Big Boys Oven said...

tgis dish looked great you did it so well, not easy for me tho! :)

D said...

I made Coq au vin the weekend of the black pearl sale, popped in my Dream Pot (travelling slowcooker) and ate it down at New Farm Park by the river. Was great. I will keep your recipe for next time :)

Jeanne @ CookSister! said...

Gougeres. Epoisses. MAN, I love Burgundy! Great post and a lovely dish to finish with :)

peasepudding said...

A perfect French classic, you have inspired me to make it again! great post

Erin said...

Burgundy is one of my favorite gastronomic regions. I would happily walk through fire for a plate of oeufs en meurette. Great post!

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