Behind the French Menu gives a tasty background to French cuisine, French dishes, how they are made and how they should be served.
Where there is a story behind a dish's creation and
that story may aid the diner's enjoyment then that will also be included. Bon appétit!
Many of the dishes
created in Bordeaux, or created elsewhere to honor Bordeaux will
contain the word à la Bordelaise in the dish’s name; à la Bordelaise
indicates dishes prepared in the manner of the people of Bordeaux as the
locals are called Bordelaise.
A restaurant in the Place du
Photograph courtesy of Roger Wollstadt.
One or more of Bordeaux’s popular
and traditional dishes will be on all local menus as well as the menus of most
French restaurants around the world. I am noting just seven from the many your
menu may offer:
Entrecôte Bordelaise– One of
the greatest steak dishes in France and for that matter anywhere. Here a
grilled entrecote,a rib-eye steak will be served with a Sauce
Bordelaise.Sauce Bordelaise is
made with a veal stock, a Bordeaux red wine, butter, shallots, and herbs. When the sauce is made with the addition of moelle, bone
marrow, then the menu will note Entrecôte Bordelaise à la Moelle.
Entrecote Bordelaise a la Moelle
Photograph by Monkey Business
through Yay Micro.com
marrow will have been added to the sauce and more may decorate and flavor the steak
when it is served.
one of the most famous Bordelaise dishes.
Lamproie à la Bordelaise– A stew
of lamprey, a rather odd a fresh-water and sea-water creature that is, in fact,
neither fish nor eel. The stew includes
red Bordeaux wine, leeks, onions, butter, olive oil and depending on the
chef either bacon or ham. This is a dish that, unfortunately, is seen less and
less; the lamprey must be carefully skinned, and many chefs do not have the
trained staff for this traditional dish. Look for Lamproie à la Bordelaise
from February through April when the lampreys are caught as they swim along the
rivers Dordogne and Garonne to the Atlantic on their annual
Filet de Bœuf Bazas– A thick
steak cut from the Bœuf de Bazas IGP,also called the Bœuf Bazadaise Label Rouge
IGP, one of the best beef cattle in France.
A Bazardais bull
Photograph courtesy of
Rouget de Méditerranée Sauté Bordelaise – Red
Mullet from the Mediterranean Sea prepared in the manner of Bordeaux. Here, the
red mullet will be lightly fried with a
white Bordeaux wine sauce.
Cannelé de Bordeaux
or Cannelé Bordelais- A traditional cake from Bordeaux; you will find the cannelé
being offered as a street snack as
well as a dessert served in fancy
restaurants. In some Bordeaux restaurants, it will be served flambé; that seems to have
been created for the tourists. However, that’s OK as most of us are
Carré d'Agneau de Pauillac –A rack of lambfrom the label rouge, red label, highly rated lambs raised along the
meadows close to the coast of the wine
growing region of Pauillac. These
lambs are raised by their mothers and considered one of the finest of France’s
many excellent lambs. If you are in the region on the last Sunday in May
consider joining in the Fête de l'Agneau de Pauillac; the fete of Pauillac
lambs, held on the Sunday before Whit Monday.
A rack of lamb cut into 3 lamb chops.
Photograph courtesy of Michael Fletcher.
See more of Michael’s photographs at www.flickr.com/photos/disneymike
In France Whit Monday is a secularized national holidayand the French
Government Tourist office will give you this year’s exact dates. At the fete
apart from enjoying many dishes in local restaurants dedicated to their unique
lambs, you may watch sheep dog trials and taste the famous wines of Pauillac.
Bordeaux has a
long and respected history, it was an important trading center and port long
before the Romans came, with vines, to establish the Bordeaux vineyards
2,000 years ago.NowBordeaux is the most famous wine-growing region in the world with
the wines labeled Bordeaux AOC/AOP representing 25% of all of France’s AOP
wines. According to the experts the
enormous diversity in the region’s soil and its many local micro-climates
allowed for the creation of exceptional and distinctly different wines within a
relatively small area. The wines of Bordeaux have
always been emulated by the world’s vintners; even the shape of the Bordeaux
wine bottles are copied in every wine-growing region, in the world.
A Bordeaux Chateau: The Château Marojallia in Margaux.
Photograph courtesy of epeigne37.
A Château is the
name for a wine estate in Bordeaux. To
test your memory, as I have given up,
there are over 6,000 different Châteaux in Bordeaux; with each Château
producing wines under its own label. So remember if you see a 4 year-old or
an even older Bordeaux wine in a French supermarket or wine shop at a
low price, leave it. Just as, there are no free lunches, so there are no cheap,
and good, old Bordeaux wines; the professionals will have snapped up all
the bargains long before you or I arrived.
The Bordeaux vineyards have, I
believe, 57 different AOC/AOP appellations! That means 57 different types of
wine, slightly less than Heinz actually has products! Thankfully, restaurant
wine-lists are not divided into 57 different sections for Bordeaux wines,
instead the Bordeaux wineswill be shown in groups; the groups
are based on the wine growing regions and on the types of wines.
Cabernet Sauvignon grapes on the vine in Bordeaux
Photograph courtesy of Steve.Hyde
most famous Bordeaux wines:
and white with dry and semi-dry white wines as well as some dessert wines.
Médoc and Haute
Médoc; red wines.
Pauillac; red wines.
A bottle of 1994 Château Lafite Rothschild. A wine from Pauillac.
Photograph courtesy of testastretta-999
St. Emilion; red
Sauternes and Barsac;
St. Julien; red
St. Estephe; reds wines.
Crémant-de-Bordeaux; the sparkling white and roséCrémants-de-Bordeaux AOCwines come from vintners in the Gironde
part of Bordeaux.
Most of the names for the wines were
simply taken from names of the villages and areas where the grapes are grown;
look out for the villages of St-Emilion, Pomerol, Médoc, Haut-Médoc,
Graves, and Sauterne among the others; visit the area, see the
towns and villages, visit a Bordeaux chateau, meet the people and enjoy their wines, local cuisine and, of
course, the countryside.
While many of the Bordeaux Châteaux are not open to the public the local French Government Tourist Information Offices are happy to
provide maps with different routes de vin, wine trails. Their maps include the Bordeaux Châteaux that are open and do have wine tastings; they also provide the addresses of local restaurants; caveat emptor the wine tastings require a small contribution to the local economy.
When you are in Bordeaux and do not know which
wine to choosethen consider the good, and
relatively inexpensive, Vin de Pays de l'Atlantique. This is a Vin de Pays from the Bordeaux
area that many smaller restaurants choose as their house wine; it will
often be a better choice than an expensive bottle of something unknown.
When you need a break
from wines and wineries consider the nearby sandy beaches of Pyla-sur-Mer
just 35 kms and a little over half an hour by car or train from Bordeaux.
Pyla-sur-Mer has excellent hotels, B and B’s, restaurants and tens of
kilometers of sandy beaches; this is where the French go in the summer.
Photograph courtesy of caccamo.
If you wish to explore
beaches and oyster farms as well then look for hotels in theBassin d'Arcachon, the Bay of Arcachon , it is famous for its oyster farms where you may visit, and it is just about 45 minutes from Bordeaux.