Historic Burgundy has long been a thriving agricultural region. This has influenced the Bourguignons to create rustic and hearty meals from locally sourced ingredients, as Nina Richards reveals
Burgundy is home to some of the finest jewels of French cuisine, and many of France’s favourite meals and produce originate from its fertile land.
Perhaps the best known of such meals is boeuf Bourguignon, a traditional dish consisting simply of beef from the locally reared Charolais cattle, onions, carrots, garlic, red wine and herbs. Charolais beef is succulent and juicy, and the rich flavours of the casserole combine for a delicious, heart-warming dish.
Another perfect winter warmer is coq au vin, a French slow-cook classic in which home-reared roosters (often the famous Bresse de Poulet) are cooked with wine, lardons, mushrooms and garlic. Simple and very tasty.
Gastropods are go!
A speciality meal which often receives a mixed response from visitors to France – of course, true Francophiles are not deterred – is snails. Beurre d’escargot is a Burgundy recipe, traditionally made with large escargots de Bourgogne from the Yonne that are kept in their shells and stuffed with butter, garlic and shallots. Although often ordered from menus by tourists due to its novelty factor, this flavoursome dish is typically only eaten by the French on special occasions, and is said to be very satisfying.
Cheese is a staple, too – so keep an eye out for the famous époisses de Bourgogne. The perfect addition to any after-dinner cheeseboard, it is a tangy and strongtasting soft cheese, named after the village in north Burgundy where it originated. Prepared with marc de Bourgogne (a strong digestive alcohol), an orange crust is naturally formed giving this AOC status cheese its unique identity. Langres (from the same family of soft cheeses as Époisses), Cîteaux (a creamy cheese from the Abbey of Cîteaux) and the speciality goat’s cheese Mâconnais (a salted cheese from the town of Mâcon) are also worth sniffing out.
Elixir of the land
None of the above food would be complete without a glass of Burgundy wine – arguably the region’s greatest gastronomic asset. Lovingly-tended vineyards line the landscape, and it’s on this terroir that world-renowned AOC status wines are produced – Beaujolais, Chablis, Côte Chalonnaise and Mâcon. The wines’ bouquets vary from fruity to fragrant and there is no more delightful a past-time than wine-tasting in situ au château. Particularly pleasing to the palate are the wines known as “Burgundies” made from red Pinot Noir or white Chardonnay grapes. High demand and limited production has led to inflated prices outside of France, but when visiting the region a glass of this liquid gold can be enjoyed at a more modest price.
Other well-known Burgundy products to tempt your taste buds include Dijon mustard (need I say more about this versatile condiment?); Anis de Flavigny – originally made by the Benedictine Nuns of Flavigny Abbey, these aniseed sweets are ideal souvenirs; and Crême de Cassis, a blackcurrant liqueur used in the aperitif Kir.