|Christa and me in Lyon|
So first of all, sorry for the long hiatus from blogging. Life has been a whirlwind ever since my wonderful friend Christa came and visited me over the Christmas break and we travelled all over Europe and France – Colmar France, Freiburg Germany, Basel Switzerland, Dole, Lyon, Annecy, and little towns sprinkled here and there! We had the most marvelous time and I hope to update y’all about those soon.
But for now, I have to discuss to major food events I went to this past week – Sirha in Lyon and the Percée du Vin Jaune in Voiteur.
So Sirha is a 5 day food event that takes place every 2 years in Lyon France aka the gourmet food capital of France. ( I just went on Monday the 28th) Let’s just say this was like the Olympics of food! There were people from all over the world and the expo hall was beyond immense. I was there for about 5 hours and didn’t even see everything – 6 grand halls filled with all products relating to food – we had breads, pastries, cheeses, hams, kitchen uniforms, new kitchen products, restaurants, wines, cheeses, sushi, blown sugar, sugar monuments, chocolates, the list goes on and on and on. Since I went with my professors from my hotel and catering school they hooked us up with some fabulous samples – I ate quite well at the event. I tried all sorts of different chocolates from the well-known brands of Barry and Valrhona and they even had these fabulous chocolate sculptures up for show – simply remarkable.
|Drink I had at Massenez|
|Mont Blanc at Grand Marnier|
Then we had a little stop at G.E. Massenez, which is a company that produces several types of l’eau de vies (strong liquors) like cherry, blueberry, cassis, etc. But since we were with the bartender teacher, we all received a delicious cocktail mixed with cranberry juice, cherry juice, and several other fruit juices and topped with cherries soaked in Griottine cherry liquor. Man, it was good! I picked up some recipes if anyone is interested ;) Then we went and visited the booth of Boiron, which produces a lot of top quality fruit and veggie purees – the school and Didier use them all the time. They actually sat down with us at a bar table and served us several little tasties. I had a cucumber puree topped with caviar and a petit egg and a tomato and bell pepper gazpacho soup as well as tasting several fruit and veggie reductions and purees like grated coconut – which was rather potent and good! Next we headed over to Monin, which produces a lot of syrups for drinks and desserts or just for cooking. We had this delicious little sandwich of curry, mayo, smoked salmon, and mango puree- so good – we all snuck two! We were also served a refreshing iced tea with an infusion of lemon and rosemary – mmmm. Along the way, I tried a white wine from Romania – quite sweet and would be good as an appéro or dessert wine. Lastly, we went to the Grand Marnier booth and I have to say I ate quite a bit here – I mean what can I say, desserts infused with Grand Marnier – can’t go wrong can ya? I had a Mont Blanc cookie with Grand Marnier, sable Breton cookie, confit of orange, almond paste, vanilla cream, and chesnut cream – wow so good. I also had several dark chocolates infused with Grand Marnier with cherry and orange.
|Coupe de Monde|
Lastly, I have to mention probably the most important part of this event – the competitions. Coupe de Monde de la Pâtisserie (World Cup of Pastry) and the Bocuse d’Or (really high honor for chefs named after the famed Paul Bocuse). I was primarily interested in the Coupe de Monde seeing as I love the art of pâtessierie and I actually got to see part of the competition the day I went! So basically teams from all the world compete for spots to even compete. Unfortunately America didn’t make the cut…but oh well. Anyway, the teams are composed of three members – one for sugar, chocolate, and ice sculpture. They have 10 hours to create a masterpiece and a presentation using sugar and chocolate and one ice sculpture. The work these teams create is quite remarkable. Takes my breath away.
|Chocolate sculpture at Valrhona|
France won and Didier’s cousin actually was the team member who created the ice sculpture! Plus, France was the first team ever to combine sugar and chocolate for the final masterpiece – quite exquisite! France has won for the past 7 years and for good reason.
As you can probably tell, I had a foodie heaven day – I saw everything a foodie’s heart desires and ended the day on a good note with a free espresso from Malongo coffee and trying some apple ice wine from Canada – the juice is extracted from frozen grapes! I’m so glad that I came to France this year - perfect timing!
|Carolyn and Me at Percée|
Now onto food event number two – same week - 5 days later – Saturday February 2 – the Percée du Vin Jaune! ( I can’t resist saying that as I type this, there is lovely blanket of snow on the ground and the snow is softly falling , I love France!)
|Percée when it was sunny|
So the Percée is the major wine event of the Jura and occurs every year to celebrate the piercing of the Vin Jaune. So the Vin Jaune is the special and most well known wine of the Jura - literally translated as yellow wine. It is derived from the Savagnin grape variety and is a specialty of Château -Chalon, a small village quite close to me and is on the list of the most beautiful villages in France. The grapes are picked late and they undergo a very slow fermentation, and age for exactly 6 years and 3 months – and as for us here in the Jura, those 3 months are rather important haha. The vin jaune has a very strong nutty flavor and is a gorgeous amber color. It is wonderful, especially when served at a temperature a little less then room temperature and served with comté cheese and walnuts or chicken or white fish. The vin jaune along with the vin paille are most expensive wines in the Jura. The vin jaune comes in a unique, square 620 ml bottle called a clavelin.
|View of Voiteur|
|My portable wine glass|
The percée is literally the piercing of the barrel of the vin jaune after 6 years and 3 months. People from all over Europe come to this event – this year about 40,000 people over 2 days. The percée takes places in a different village in the Jura every year and this year was Voiteur (a village right next to Château–Chalon). Wine makers from all over the Jura are stationed in various garages and caves (cellers) around the entire village. After I pay my entry fee of 13 euros, I receive a real wine glass that I wear around my neck – yes only in France would that be possible- and 10 tickets for a dégustation (tasting) of wine at the various caves. In addition to the caves, there are booths for food, music playing, and a spectacle of drunks – it is a fun atmosphere! Carolyn, Pascal, Andrew (a fellow American living in France), and I went around to different caves tasting several types of wines from the Jura – just hold up your glass and the vendor pours. One of my favorite wines was the Vin Paille from Château de L’Etoile (www.chateau-etoile.com). It’s a sweet wine, but full of body and character – man it was good. I also really enjoyed the Vin Jaune from Domaine de la Pinte in Arbois (www.lapinte.fr) – nutty, rich, and full bodied. That day, I also tried a chardonnay, crémant, Savignon, and a MacVin. I had a fantastic day! The only slightly unpleasant part of the day was the wacky weather. So on the way to the event, it was snowing. When we arrived, sunshine and blue skies. Then about 1 hour later, sleet and ice. Then cleared up, and on the way, windy and ice. It was a cataclysm of weather elements – whew! Nevertheless, fantastic time!
One a final note, I tried frog’s legs! DELICIOUS! Especially cooked in butter, garlic, and parsley. TRY IT!
|Automatic crêpe machine|
|sculpture made of sugar by the best sugar craftsman in the world|