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!
Bénédictine D.O.M., the Liqueur, and its Amazing Factory Benedictine in Fecamp, Normandy.
Behind the French Menu
A bottle of Bénédictine D.O.M.
Photograph courtesy of Bacardi- Martini
is an agreeable, sweet, orange and honey flavored, 40% proof, liqueur, named after the Bénédictinemonks who purportedly created it. This liqueur is only made in the pretty Atlantic coastal town of
Fecamp, in Normandy, France. There, in Fecamp, is the Bénédictine D.O.M.factory, called Le Palais Bénédictine,
the Benedictine Palace. That palace looks more like a French freaked out version of Hogwarts
School of Witchcraft and Wizardry than a palace; however, here Bénédictine D.O.Mis made.
Le Palais Benedictine
Photograph courtesy of sky#walker
Bénédictine D.O.M on French menus
on its own, when well chilled, or with ice, is a singularly pleasant apéritif;
when served at room temperature it is a pleasant and sweet digestif; despite its being a 40% proof liqueur.Bénédictine
D.O.Mis smooth and mild, and, perhaps
for that reason it is the essential ingredient in quite a number of cocktails
as well as sauces, pastries and other disheswhere the flavor of Bénédictine D.O.M adds that certain je ne
sais quoi. Without any doubt the most popular liquid combinationusing Bénédictine D.O.M is the drink
called B & B.,and that was
certainlynot created by the Bénédictinemonks
Bénédictine D.O.M., B & B, and the 21 Club in
New York City
& B began
as a combination of Bénédictine D.O.M . and brandy; created, in 1929, by
the barman at a famous New York speakeasy, the 21 Club. The combination of Bénédictine
D.O.M. and brandy produces a drier version of Bénédictine D.O.M.
that is enjoyed both chilled and at room temperature. From those famous,
infamous, beginnings, B & Bwas
on its way up the popularity polls where it remains today.The 21 Club where all this began is now one
of New York’s finest restaurants and remains at its 1929 address at 42 West
49th street; when dining at the 21 Club, you may still order a B & B.
Bottle of B & B
Photograph courtesy of Bacardi-Martini
France, when in a restaurant, and ordering B & B you will be offered
the bottled version that uses cognac instead of brandy, andis also made atthat French wizard’s school/factory/palace.
If you are making your own version of B & B at home and if you seriously want a
decent result you must use a decent cognac; a rougher brandy was OK at the
times of prohibition, but times have changed.
The secret formula of Bénédictine D.O.M.
keeps the formula of their liqueur secret, just like Coca-Cola, but they do not
deny that their formula includes 27 fruits and herbs that include hyssop, lemon
balm, angelica,coriander,cloves, nutmeg, black tea, myrrh,juniper berries,Ceylon cinnamon, thyme, vanilla from de
Madagascar, lemon zest, mace, orange zest and red berries and more.
Barrels of Bénédictine D.O.M. in the cellars of
the Palais Bénédictine
Photograph courtesy of isamiga76
the production process parts of the liqueur are stored separately in oak
barrels for at least 8 months before being prepared for mixing and following
thatthe completed liqueur is stored for
another number of months, again in oak barrels, before being finally tested,
filtered, and bottled.After two or more
years from the beginning of the initial production Benedictine D.O.M. is
ready for sale.
The history of the Bénédictine
monastery in Fecamp
story behind the Bénédictine monksin Fecamp, Normandy, is the history before the production of the Bénédictine
D.O.M liqueur. The monks’ history is a story of religious zeal, royal
intrigue, the French conquest of England’ under William the conqueror, and the
monastery’s destruction under the French revolution. The first Bénédictine monastery in Fecamp, Normandy, was probably established in the late 6th
century with its influence and importance dating from the building, or
rebuilding in the 11th century.Despite
some questions about the recipe, the monks almost certainly probably did make a
liqueur in that monastery, from the 16th century onwards, andthe honor for the creation of that liqueur, is given to an Italian monk named Dom Bernardo
Photograph courtesy of prayitno
the French revolution came anti-religious fervor, and in 1789, the monastery
was destroyed and the monks dispersed. Despite the revolution the Bénédictine
Abbey church the Abbaye de la Trinité de Fécamp, the Benedictine
Abbey of the Trinity in Fécamp; unlike the monastery was not destroyed and may
be visited. How close the original liqueur made by the monks was to the present
day Bénédictine D.O.M. is lost in the storm clouds of the French
revolution; the discovered documents that are said to relate to the original
formula for Bénédictine D.O.M. are considered industrial secrets and
have never been displayed.
The coat of arms of the Bénédictine monasteryof Fecamp
Photograph courtesy of Barcadi-Martini
How Alexandre Le Grand created Bénédictine
abhor vacuums and even more the French abhor the loss of a fabled liqueur.The vacuum created by the destruction of the Bénédictine
monastery in Fecamp and the consequent loss of the liqueur produced
there was filled with a new tradition in 1863. Then, in 1863, a Fecamp wine merchant and businessman Alexandre
Le Grand, Alexander the Great in English, claimed to have discovered in his
family’s library a 16th century Bénédictine manuscript with the
recipe forthe liqueur made in the
original Bénédictine monastery. The liqueur recreated from those
documents was called Bénédictine D.O.M, by Le Grand and the rest is
Statue of Alexandre Le Grand at the Palais
first large factory was built and opened in 1888; then in a case of arson it
was burned down in 1892.Le Grand had called his firstfactory the Le Palais Bénédictine, the
Benedictine Palace, and withhis product
already successful he rebuilt his palace in an even grander styles and that is what is seen today.The architect was Camille Albert.
I am told that the architecture is a unique and wondrous combination of Gothic and Renaissance
design; however, it has to be seen to be believed.
The Bénédictine monks have no relationship to
today'sBénédictine D.O.M. liqueur.
monks have never had any relationship to Bénédictine D.O.M.; neither
were they involved in the design of the factory that produces the liqueur.The owners of the Bénédictine D.O.M
liqueur are since 1992, part of the Bacardi-Martini group who make and market
many of our favorite alcoholic drinks; the family of Alexandre Le Grand had
sold their interest much earlier.
is no other factory like Le Palais Bénédictine in the world, and
probably will never be unless they start bottling something in Hogwarts!
Today’s factory opened in 1900, two years after Alexandre had died; his
family continued production of Bénédictine D.O.M with enormous success for over sixty years.
The factory is open all year round except from January 1 through 15 February,
and you may visit for a small contribution to the factory’s maintenance and the
cost of your testing their merchandise.
A dining hall in the Palais Bénédictine
Photograph courtesy of
visiting the factory you may see some of the production process, explore their
rooms and their museum that apart from Bénédictine
D.O.M.history also has displays
ofattemptsthat have been made at faking the
product.Along with the story of the
fakes themuseum has a
unique mixed personal collection of
paintings along with many ivory carvingsand some sculptures. More importantly, from time
to time the museum puts on engaging and distinct exhibitions of modern art and, of
course, on the way out, you may purchase some of the palace’s products,
A ceiling in Le Palais
Photograph courtesy of hannibalgamer
the recipe was the original monk’s formula or a 19th century creation, is not
terribly relevant as the liqueur is excellent. Alexandre Le Grand stuck
with Bénédictine D.O.M through thick and thin and he, and later his
family, made it a worldwide success.According to the Bénédictine D.O.Mweb site,www. Benedictinedom.com, a site that you will need to use to check the
opening hours, as, like many places in France, they close for lunch!
A window in LePalais
Photograph courtesy of saigneurdeguerre
obtain the official consent of the Bénédictine order in Rome to use the
name, as well as a permit to use the original coat of arms fromthe Bénédictine monastery in Fécamp. Alexander
Le Grand also included the motto of the Bénédictine order D.O.M
on his liqueur’s name, D.O.M. stands for Deo Optimo Maximo, in Latin,
and means To God, the Good and the Great.
The Benedictine Abbey of the Trinity in Fécamp;
the area you may also visit the Abbaye de la Trinité de Fécamp, the Benedictine
Abbey of the Trinity in Fécamp; unlike the monastery it was not destroyed
during the French revolution.Its
history and the monastery’s history are interrelated with Guillaume of
Normandy who later became William the Conqueror and King of England; William’
the conqueror’s’ sgreat- great- great …
grand-daughter is Elisabeth II, the Queen of England, Northern Ireland,
Scotland and Wales.
Bénédictine Abbey of the Trinity in Fécamp
Photograph by sky#walker
town of Fécamp, and the area around ithas many excellent restaurants dedicated to Norman cuisine; I can also
confirm the existence of many excellent seafood restaurants. The larger
restaurants’ menus include desserts with Bénédictine D.O.M. in the
recipe. The town itself, is a beautiful small coastal town, nearly in the
center of Normandy’s Atlantic coast; it has a casino, a place
to park your yacht, and fetes of one form or another almost every month. Fécamp
began as a fishing village and remains one with locally caught fish on many menus; you can also buy freshfish right off the fishing boats in the old
Photograph courtesy of JOG yacht racing.
visit in November join in the celebrations at Fecamp’s Foire aux Harengs,
their Herring Fair.