Le Friday 5 #30
Exploring Beaujolais and some proper old school French food
So I’ve been in Beaujolais for the last few days which necessitated skipping my usual free post in the first half of the week. To make up for it I’ve removed the paywall to the Friday 5 this week although it would obviously be great if those of you who’ve been wondering whether to sign up as a paid subscriber would take the plunge. As I’ve mentioned before if you take out an annual subscription it’s only £3 a month.
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Plus there are some extra hotel and restaurant tips at the end for those of you who are paying subscribers 😉
What to say about Beaujolais?
Well it’s not all about nouveau but you probably know that and that there are 10 so-called crus named after the villages in the region, the best known of which are Fleurie, Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent. There are differences between them - Fleurie and Moulin-à-Vent generally being lighter and more elegant, and Morgon richer and more full-bodied - but the soil and the vintage have a big influence too. Soils like the pink granite above produce wines with more of that fresh floral character, particularly at higher altitudes. The blue stone in some areas of Morgon like the Côte de Py result in more structured ones. 2021 is quite light, more typical of classic Beaujolais. 2020 which was a hot vintage, is much richer.
I’ll be recommending some in the Guardian in a couple of weeks time but here’s one to keep you going: the 2021 Le Ronsay from Jean-Paul Brun which you can buy for £9.95 from The Wine Society if you’re a member or for £11.99 from De Burgh in Dalkeith in Scotland if you’re not. Very much in the fresh floral style both because of the vintage and the winemaker who chooses not to chaptalise and likes to keep his alcohol a low 12.5%). Just delicious.
If you’re thinking of celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau Day which is on November 17th this year the good news is that 2022 was a terrific vintage. I know wine promotional bodies always say that but it genuinely was despite the heat. Full, ripe but not excessively alcoholic (which Beaujolais shouldn’t be). You could of course serve the usual charcuterie platter to celebrate but why not make it a pizza night? I tried a pissaladière with a Régnié (one of the other crus) and it was just brilliant.
I (almost) overcome my andouillette aversion
You may remember I introduced my regular feature So you think you don’t like … with a pronouncement that I didn’t think there was anything anyone could do to make me come round to andouillette. Turns out there is.
Well almost. At Chez Bobosse in Belleville-en-Beaujolais which is regarded as one of the best charcutiers in the area they served us a whole range of charcuterie including a gratin de andouillette (top left) which I felt in the interests of research I should at least try.
I don’t know what they had done to the assorted innards but they weren’t nearly as pungent as they tend to be further north and were definitely improved by a cream and onion sauce and a crunchy topping. I mean most things taste better with cream, right? I still wouldn’t go so far as to order it it but if I found myself faced with it I could cope.
If you like andouillette you may want to give it a try. There’s a relatively easy recipe here if you read French which gets 4.5 stars from readers of Femme Actuelle whose readers may admittedly be more into pongy sausages than us Brits.
Oeufs au vin
Another slightly challenging dish but only if you don’t like runny egg yolks is oeufs en meurette which is poached eggs in a red wine, mushroom and bacon sauce (the kind you might have with a coq au vin). I’ve had it before in Burgundy but as I discovered from this fancy-schmancy version this week it’s even better with a full-bodied Beaujolais. Pretty well anything from the 2020 vintage would do the trick.
When did you last make a soufflé?
They’re so rare on restaurant menus these days that I feel it’s my duty to encourage any chef that puts them on by ordering one. Actually, who am I kidding? They’re impossible to resist. This was a a vanilla soufflé with pear and a mandarin coulis - the fourth course of a 47€ set menu (including 24 month old Comté) at the one Michelin-starred Auberge du Cep in Fleurie. which also does a brilliant lunchtime menu for just 27€.
Soufflés are really not that difficult to make and not expensive either. I wouldn’t make them for a crowd but four is do-able and they’re a totally seductive treat for two. So long as you don’t drop it on the floor which I once did at the end of a somewhat boozy evening. Here’s a recipe from the ultra-reliable Mary Berry or try Felicity Cloake’s ‘perfect’ chocolate soufflé here.
Rediscovering walnut oil
I don’t know if, like me, you buy a nut oil for a recipe then forget to use it and find out it’s oxidised before you’re half way through the bottle. A visit to the Huilerie Beaujolaise in Beaujeu was a timely reminder to keep any open nut oil it in the fridge. They do an impressive range including a very fine flavoured hazelnut and pistachio oil and some terrific vinegars too. I loved the quince and calamansi vinegars (a Philippine citrus fruit that’s a cross between a kumquat and a mandarin orange, according to Wikipedia). You can buy them online in the UK from classicdeli.co.uk.
And some extra Beaujolais restaurant recs for you lovely paying subscribers
A romantic place to stay and where to hang out with the local winemakers