Red grape clusters dangling from cafes, wine shops, and awnings across France, a sure sign that it's Beaujolais Nouveau time again. The ubiquitous Georges Deboeuf label and Cafe de la Comedie at the Louvre/Place Colette.
Thursday, November 19, the third Thursday of November, is the official release date of this festive, fruity red wine that celebrates the end of the harvest and gives a preview of this year’s vintage.
According to French law, Beaujolais Nouveau, made from 100 percent Gamay grapes, is released at one minute past midnight on every third Thursday of November. This decades-old tradition is celebrated worldwide with creative “Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrivé!” events, heralding the wine’s arrival.
This year is truly a reason to celebrate. Georges Duboeuf, who single-handedly created this phenomenon, has proclaimed this year’s harvest as “the best of the last 50 years.”
Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé! The New Beaujolais has arrived! In a rare display of marketing acumen, a practice normally scorned and reviled throughout French vineyards, the Beaujolais producers created not only an event but a tradition that has now permeated even the smallest wine shops around the world. What began as a local celebration of the yearly release is now a global phenomenon, with French decree that the release of Beaujolais Nouveau is to be no earlier than midnight on the third Thursday of November.
So tomorrow at 12:01 a.m. November 19, 2009, over a million cases of Beaujolais Nouveau will begin their journey to all corners of the world via Fedex, La Poste, Vespas, wheelbarrows, rickshaws, camels, and any other mode of transportation imaginable. With over 120 million bottles produced, over half will be consumed almost immediately. And with the increasingly elaborate methods of wine production, it’s remarkable that barely a month earlier the wine was still encased in grapes. A quick harvest, swift fermentation and even faster bottling, badda-bing-badda-boom!, it is ready to ship on the third Thursday of every November! The Gamay grapes are pressed within a few days of picking, thus eliminating the astringent tannins normally attributed to red wines, so Beaujolais is much lighter, fruity and tres easy to drink. To me it tastes like Kool-Aid but then again my wine knowledge would fit in a thimble...so enjoy! Cheers!
Hey Everyone - My apologies for once again taking the lazy route this year but haven't been able to get my act together. Quelle surprise! So yes, I am committing that heinous act of re-gifting. Now before you judge me and hurl culinary insults my way, my friend's sister gave her used potholders one Christmas, I kid you not!, so re-gifting a few recipes can be all that bad... Here are some Thanksgiving ideas from the past few years. Don't miss the spice bread and foie gras stuffed chapon recipe and please don't torque the turkey like I did 2 years ago... Happy Thanksgiving and Bon Appetit! Laura
[November 2007] Putting together a menu is always the hardest part for me - I struggle, agonize, bemoan my fate - so if you don't want to suffer the same, here are some ideas from the Ghosts of Thanksgiving Past...
And this year, I'm in San Francisco cooking with my Paris flatmates. Here's the menu below... Whether it actually ends up being this will be wholely determined by how much champagne we consume while cooking and if certain people went out the night before and decided to clean the oven at 4am...but I digress... We decided on a capon since I torqued the turkey last year. Cross your fingers and toes and wings and thighs for me! thanksgiving 2008 chez john et pierre ---- rose champagne smoked salmon on brioche with lemon creme fraiche toasts with arugula, proscuitto, chevre ---- burgundy pinot noir chapon stuffed with foie gras, sauteed trumpet mushrooms, cognac cornbread stuffing with dried cranberries, apricots roasted asparagus sliced fennel, beets, oranges with a raspberry vinaigrette ---- sauterne (or maybe back to champagne?) pears poached in red wine on creme anglaise drizzled with chocolate
I could have saved $40,000 and 6 months, endless cuts and burns, bad hair days, bruised egos, fashion disasters, gas that could peel the paint off the side of a barn, and having cats follow me home because I smelled like a mackerel!
As y'all know, I attended the full time 6-month culinary program at the FCI a few years ago (and yes I experienced all of the above... in abundance!) so when I saw this book come out, I had to buy it. Like James Peterson's Sauces, this book too could ballast a boat - all 500 pages! - but it is also a veritable treasure chest, a culinary Fort Knox if you will, of all things cooking. If Techniques is the only cookbook you ever purchase, you'd be set.
Techniques is almost verbatim our first quarter (6 week) curriculum. Really! Word for word, gram for gram, ingredient for ingredient. I even pulled out my notebook and compared the Sauces section. Exactly the same. Our first quarter was spent learning these 250 techniques. (Before I went to cooking school I burned water! I still do, just less often...) We then spent the next 3 quarters refining and practicing and expanding on all these techniques. So if you don't want to sacrifice 6 months and $40,000 and the above mentioned humiliations to attend cooking school, then buy this book and cook every recipe over and over and you will become an excellent cook. If you master all the skills and techniques in the book, you can walk into any kitchen (even in France!) and hold your own as this is the foundation of classic cooking and the language of the kitchen.
Hints and tips from the Deans and Chef Instructors pepper the book in every technique with tidbits such as "...cook beans at a constant low temperature and cool them in their cooking liquid. ~ Dean Alain Sailhac" or "Do not cover a chicken after roasting or it will steam and make the meat taste reheated." ~Dean Jacques Pepin". It's like getting a personal cooking lesson from some of the world's the greatest chefs. A few that I'm not sure made it into the book that will I will never for include, "If you have time to lean, you have time to clean ~Chef Henri Viain" and "What you put in the pot, you get out of the pot. ~Chef Pascal Beric" and God love them both for their dedication to their students.
Techniques teaches the 250 classic foundation techniques including stocks, sauces, soups, salads, eggs, potatoes, poultry, beef, veal, lamb, pork, fish, shellfish, marinades, stuffings, organ meats (my least favorite day in cooking school!), pastry dough, creams & custards, crepes, brioche, frozen desserts, meringues, mousses, and soufflés (my favorite day in cooking school! :) As I browsed through the book, 6 months of my life flashed before my eyes, intermittently cringing while remembering slicing off the tip of my thumb on the mandoline or burning my wrist on the convection oven and laughing out loud picturing the over-whipped genoise, splattered pommes anna, and over salted poulet roti grandmere dubbed "inedible" by the chefs.
Many if not all of the recipes in my humble little blog, such as the ones here and here, are based on the foundation I learned in cooking school. Techniques also explains in great detail terms in a kitchen, names of equipment and pots and pans (and the difference between stainless steel and aluminum, cast iron, non-stick and the benefits and pit falls of each), food safety, knifes and knife skills, and professional kitchen management.
If you want to become an great home chef or are considering or about to attend cooking school, I implore you to devour (pun intended) this book. If you learn all the techniques, or at least become familiar with them, then you will be leaps and bounds ahead of the game. Bon courage et bon appetit!
Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe ~ Paris, December 2007
Copied from an email I sent my flatmates in Paris a few days after arriving back in San Francisco....
"...I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever fly through Washington DC/Dulles again. Ever, ever, ever! Did I say ever? NEVER!
To start, we were late leaving CDG because of a SUSPICIOUS BLUE BAG left in the terminal. Good thing I got there early because it took me almost and hour and a half to get to the gate. The airport was mobbed with people of all shapes and sizes and colors in various forms of ornate ethnic clothes, some bright, some subdued, all in need of washing. The line to check in at the gate was about 5 people deep and a veritable mosh pit. Why is it that the check in desk at Lufthansa is always calm, serene, and orderly while chaos reigns at United? Anyways, after answering various and inane questions about the whereabouts of my luggage and the content within, I made it to the check-in counter and was helped by an absolutely delightful, kind woman. WHEW! I had upgraded the night before, as you know, to Washington but was wait listed from Washington to SFO however she said, "It looked very good".
Giddily anticipating my complimentary business class cocktail, I then proceeded to the longest passport control line I'd ever seen. It snaked along the wall nearly the entire circumference of the airport. While waiting in line for nearly an HOUR, we kept hearing announcements asking the owner of a SUSPICIOUS BLUE BAG left in the terminal to come get it. I kept hearing it as I marched through passport control and as I was headed to the gate I heard a BOOM! They BLEW UP THE BAG! They didn't remove it, inspect it, x-ray it nor seal it. No. They BLEW IT UP! In the terminal! I ran for the Red Carpet Club, slammed back a glass of champagne and headed for the gate...
Click below to continue reading this explosive travel tale -->
Hi Everyone! Thank you all for being so patient with me the past few months. I had emergency surgery so have been out of touch for a while but am recovering well, in spite of a setback here and there, but I promise I will get y'all up to speed on the past few months.
It is absolutely GLORIOUS here in Paris. I don't remember a spring this spectacular in the past 3 years. Today it was 80F degrees and each day has been more beautiful than the last. The entire city is a-bloom, an exploding rainbow of petals and leaves and everyone is outside soaking up, embracing, clutching the sunshine. This picture of Notre Dame I took on Easter Sunday walking home along the Seine after Easter mass at the American Cathedral. It was one of those days that makes you glad to be alive.
Some of my most treasured memories in Paris are of time spent over a chocolate chaud or a vin chaud or an impromptu walk around the 6th with Dorie Greenspan. She knows everyone. Really. Everyone. It's amazing. And very fun. I try to stay in her wake, hoping some of her magical fairy dust will float back onto me. She tells me stories after stories after stories of the richest, most delightful experiences, experiences with some of the industry luminaries. Over a delicious lunch at Le Comptoir this week, Dorie shared more of her fascinating life with me. I can't begin to convey them with the humor and joy that she did but I hope they at least bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart as they did to mine. Click here to read the whole story...
Love is nothing short of a national sport here in France and the French claim to celebrate it every day of the year, not just on February 14th. It is more beloved than soccer or philosophical debate, though love plays heavily into both. All store fronts are bedecked with Valentine's decorations but regardless of the time of year, people are always kissing.
Sometimes it's charming, like a couple I spotted smooching after a long lunch at the Palais Royal; other times you want to hurl, like when the couple in line in front of you at the post office are slobbering on each other so much so you feel like you are in the front row of the dolphin show at Marine World. Anyways, back to Valentine's Day... This year I got a tad carried away with the heart-red-love theme. Click here for more on this celebration of love...