Friday, October 20, 2017

Raifort – Horseradish. Horseradish on French Menus.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Horseradish roots on sale in the market.

Horseradish roots can reach up to 60cm (2’) long and that is a lot of horseradish.

Raifort, Cran, Grand Raifort, Raifort Sauvage – Horseradish.  Fresh horseradish is the root of the plant and is practically orderless, but once cut, like an onion, it can bring tears to your eyes. The taste of horseradish, like its distant relative wasabi, is difficult to describe. It is hot and spicy but nothing like pepper or chili, it affects your tongue and your sinuses; when you taste it is clearly horseradish, not any other spice.

Sauce Raifort
Sauce Raifort is the most popular French horseradish sauce. This sauce is made with cream or crème fraiche along with breadcrumbs and finely ground horseradish. The minute fresh horseradish is cut it begins to lose its bite. To preserve that bite vinegar is added and that explains its inclusion in most horseradish sauces. Other additions include mustard and sugar.  To make sure that the sauce is not too spicy only about 20% of the volume is horseradish.  
The horseradish flower.
Horseradish sauces came to the rest of France from the cuisine of the Alsace. Alsace is in the region of the Grande Est in France's north-east. Now horseradish is part of French recipes from the north to the south.
Horseradish on French menus:
Bavette d'Aloyau aux Échalotes Sauce Albert - An onglet, a flank steak or skirt steak, fried, prepared with shallots and served with the horseradish-based Sauce Albert.
Côtes De Bœuf au Raifort en Croûte de Noix aux Agrumes A bone-in rib-eye steak with horseradish, roasted “en croute,”  in a covering of walnut and served with citrus fruits.
Cote de Bœuf
Bone-in rib-eye.

Filet de Bœuf Poêlé, Jus de Bœuf Corsé au Raifort, Galette de Pomme de Terre - A cut from the beef tenderloin, the beef fillet, fried, and served with the natural cooking juices flavored with horseradish and accompanied by a potato pancake.

Nem de Tourteau aux Algues Wakamé, Croustillant au Raifort et Agrumes A crispy spring roll of crab meat with wakame seaweed prepared with horseradish and citrus fruits. (Torteau is the edible brown crab and the most popular fresh crab in France. Wakame is the seaweed most associated with miso soup, but it has been part of French seafood recipes for hundreds of years. Now it is farmed for local consumption and export).

Pavé de Sandre Rôti sur sa Peau, Lentilles Du Puy, Sauce au Raifort A thick cut of Zander, pike-perch, roasted in its skin and served with France’s highly rated AOP green lentils from Puy and accompanied by a Sauce Raifort.
Truite de Mer Marinée à l'Aneth et à l'Huile de Noisettes, Mousse au Raifort et Blinis -  Sea trout marinated in dill and hazelnut oil served with a horseradish moose and blinis.
Sea trout and oyster tartar.
Prepared with lemon, horseradish, and chives

Horseradish grows wild all over Europe and has inviting white flowers. The plant may reach one meter (3’) high but the root is the only part used. Wild horseradish flowers may be picked, but few can identify them and so they miss out on the free spice that is their root. In Europe, wild horseradish flowers between May and September.   The horseradish on French menus come from farmed plants. The origins of the English name horseradish are lost in culinary history, but assuredly, this is not a plant appreciated by horses.
Sauce Raifort, Queen Victoria and Napoleon III.
Sauce Albert is a horseradish-based sauce created by Francois Tanty the Chef of Napoleon III. The occasion was the visit to France in 1853 by Prince Albert the husband of Queen Victoria.  It was the first, peaceful visit to France by a member of the British Royal Family in 500 years. Then came a full state visit by Queen Victoria in 1855.  That successful visit was followed by hordes of British tourists, who carried back their impressions of the cuisine of France and especially the City of Nice on the Mediterranean. (From 1855 began the lifelong friendship of Napoleon III, the Empress Eugénie, and the British royal family. Napoleon III, who amongst other things was responsible for the invention of margarine, is buried in Farnborough, England and his crypt was paid for by Queen Victoria).
For a change
Roast lamb with Yorkshire Pudding and horseradish sauce.
In the USA horseradish is commonly used as the spicy ingredient in Bloody Mary cocktails and in fish and shellfish cocktail sauces. France imported the idea of seafood cocktails from the USA and the UK. However, France uses the tastier and milder Sauce Rose for seafood cocktails which is made without horseradish. 

(In my opinion, the French made the correct decision. In the USA, I have ordered or been offered a variety of seafood cocktails with outstanding shrimps and superbly fresh oysters, and, more. But to prevent my taste buds being anesthetized I have put the horseradish sauce to the side and ordered lemon juice and black pepper for the oysters and thousand island dressing with extra Tabasco for the shrimps. Only then can I taste and enjoy the stars of the show).
US Jumbo shrimp cocktail.

Horseradish is part of recipes from France to Scandinavia and on to Eastern Europe. It is the important part of the traditional British Sunday roast beef.  In parts of Northern Italy, at least from Verona to Padua, they still use the Austrian name kren (pronounced chren) and there they will serve you a white horseradish sauce as an optional sauce for your pasta.  The North of Italy had historically been occupied many times by the Austrians.

Horseradish was on the menu in Egypt, Greece and, Rome. Still today fresh horseradish is part of the traditional Jewish Passover ceremony. Horseradishes' sharp taste is used to remind the participants at the ceremony of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt. 
(Catalan - rave picant), (Dutch- mierikswortel, mierik),(German - meerrettich, kren), (Italian – rafano, cren), (Spanish - rábano picante),
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Behind the French Menu’s links include hundreds of words, names, and phrases that are seen on French menus. There are over 400 articles that include over 2,500 French dishes with English translations and explanations.  Just add the word, words or phrase that you are searching for to the words "Behind the French Menu" and search with Google or Bing.
Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2017.
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Savoie - Dining in the Savoy, France. The Departments of Savoie and Haute-Savoie in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman.
Mont Blanc
The residents, the people, of the Savoie are called Savoyardes, and the dishes from the region often have Savoyarde in their name. Then, if you find yourself having difficulties understanding some of the more elderly resident's private conversations, that’s because they are speaking Savoyarde,  a mixture of the two languages d'oïl and d'oc that sought to become modern French. 
 Le Canal de Savière, Chanaz
Lac du Bourget
The great cheeses of the Savoy.

Some of France’s most celebrated cheeses come from the Savoie region including Abondance AOP, Beaufort AOP, Chevrotin AOP, Emmental de Savoie IGP, Gruyère Français IGP, Raclette de Savoie IGP,  Reblochon AOP, Tome des Bauges AOP and  Tomme de Savoie IGP.
The wines of the Savoy.

There are more than twenty white, rose, and sparkling wines, all coming from just three appellations, including the Crémant de Savoie. The department of Haut-Savoie is known for its white wines while the department of Savoie has reds, roses, and whites. With a great deal of tourism and so much skiing, nearly all the region’s wines are consumed locally. So the ideal time to taste them is when you are there.

Dishes from the Savoie region on French menus:

Escalope Savoyarde – A veal escalope cooked in butter and served with slices of ham while surrounded with and browned with one of the Savoie’s cheeses, usually Gruyere Française, Emmental de Savoie, Beaufort or Reblochon.

Féra Fumée du Lac Léman –  Smoked broad whitefish from Lac Leman, Lake Geneva. The féra, the broad white fish, truite fario, brown trout and ombre, grayling, are fish from Savoie lakes that will be on many menus.

Fondue Savoyarde - Recipes for dishes similar to today’s Savoie cheese fondues date back two to three-hundred years. Then, the Savoie’s cheese fondues became famous with the growth of winter sports in the 1950’s. Today’s Fondue Savoyarde will include at least two or three Savoie cheeses usually chosen from Abondance, Beaufort, Emmental de Savoie or Gruyère Française. The cheese will be melted in white wine and flavored with a touch of garlic. The taste of the fondue changes with the percentages of the different cheeses used, so every restaurant’s fondue has its unique flavor. To these cheese fondues, may be added the Savoie’s much-appreciated kirsch cherry liquor.
Cheese fondue
Gratin Savoyarde  - Boiled potatoes baked in butter and beef stock and covered with one of the local cheeses and browned,  The gratin, together with a salad, may be a lunchtime main course as part of a fixed price menu, or it may be the garnish for a main course.
Gratin Savoyarde
Omelette Savoyarde – An omelet made with sautéed potatoes and Beaufort cheese.  Sometimes it is made with added ham or lardons, bacon pieces.
Soupe Savoyarde – A vegetable minestrone-style soup made with smoked lardons, bacon pieces, and crozets, served over gruyere or another of the Savoie’s cheeses on toast. Crozets are the Savoie’s traditional wheat, potato or buckwheat flour square pasta shapes. For local specialties like this much will depend on the chef’s grandmother’s recipe.

Tartiflettes and Reblochonades -  A whole Reblochon cheese baked, melted over boiled potatoes with some recipes adding crème fraîche to the cheese. The cheese and potatoes are the Reblochonade. On the side may be local dried meats, sausages or ham. The meats will be on the menu as charcuteries and the Savoie has many excellent dried meat recipes and lots of different cured hams.

The two departments
The Savoie and Haut-Savoie were part of the Italian Dutchy of Savoie until 1860. Then, along with the city of Nice on the Mediterranean, they became part of France. (The Savoy Hotel in London is named after this region).

The Savoie region.

The Savoie
The Savoie is home to France’s largest natural lake, Lac Bourget, over 18 km (11 miles) long.  With four fabulous lakes including Lac d'Aiguebelette, Lac des Évettes, and Lac de Tignes. (To protect the ecosystem of Lake Aiguebelette, motor boats, even for the fishermen and women, are prohibited).  For the tired traveler, the department of Savoie is home to the city of Aix le Bains, the third largest spa in France. For the hungry Savoie is home to some of France’s best chefs.  Aix le Bains is just 9 km (6 miles) from Lake Bourget and home to the Faure Museum with its significant collection of impressionist paintings and many of Rodin's works.  Chambéry, the ancient capital of the Dutchy of Savoie and now its departmental capital is just 18km (11 miles) away from Aix le Bains. For winter sports go to Albertville home of the last French Winter Olympics.
The Haute-Savoie.

The Haute-Savoie is home to the tallest mountain in France the Mont Blanc, which it shares with Italy and Switzerland. The Haut-Savoie also borders Lake Geneva, also called Lac Léman, which France shares with Switzerland and there are another thirty lakes in Haute-Savoie.  Annecy, the departmental capital, is a beautiful small town set on the even more beautiful Lake Annecy.  Annecy has an abundance of restaurants in the town and around the lake, including some of France’s finest. Here, we spent a week traveling around Lake Annecy enjoying all the Savoie’s wonderful cheeses.   The Haute Savoie is also home to over 100 of France’s skiing centers, including Megève and Chamonix. In Megeve along with a week’s skiing we enjoyed two perfect, but distinct, Fondues Savoyarde.
The old town of Annecy.

Mineral water from the Savoie region.
Local mineral waters include Aix, Badoit, Evian, Thonon. Altogether more there are more than thirty local brands.
Fountain in the town of Evian
Beer from the Savoie

Local beers include Nonne, Chanaz, Cimes, Mont-Blanc, Galibier, and Faucigny.
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Behind the French Menu’s links include hundreds of words, names, and phrases that are seen on French menus. There are over 400 articles that include over 2,500 French dishes with English translations and explanations.  Just add the word, words or phrase that you are searching for to the words "Behind the French Menu" and search with Google.

Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2017.

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman