Bac Sucré 2016: 2nd Fruity Edition on Paris Pastry Street

If you’re looking for just one pastry street in Paris, most Parisians with a sweet tooth will guide you to the Rue du Bac – also known as Paris Pastry Street. Situated on Paris’s Left Bank (Rive Gauche) in the 7th Arrondissement, it has been a shopping street for centuries.

Birthplace of the Millefeuille

It’s also where the classic French Millefeuille pastry was invented by Adolphe Seugnot in 1867. Today the Pâtisserie Seugnot no longer exists but to make up for it, it’s now a street branching out with such a concentrated plethora of high-end pastry and chocolate shops that Rue du Bac is known more as Paris Pastry Street!

Last year saw the opening of the new event, Le Bac Sucré, created by Florence Mazo Koenig and inaugurated by the Mayor of the 7th, Rachida Dati. The event highlights the creative artisans’ savoir-faire and celebrates their creative sweet magic – this year through summer fruits to bring out the Paris sunshine!

Officially opened last night by Josiane Gaude, deputy mayor with the organising team, the Bac Sucré event kicks off today until Sunday 19th June. So here’s a tasting of what’s especially in store over the next 5 days.

Patisserie des Reves Paris Rue du Bac Sucre Event

LA PÂTISSERIE DES RÊVES

Pastry chef, Philippe Conticini opened his first patisserie here in Rue du Bac. Popular for his award-winning Paris-Brest (a praline cream choux pastry wheel), his pastries are all designed to evoke the sweet dreams of childhood (I’ve written a lot about his pastries on le blog lately! From Yulelogs, choux buns, even literally falling for his pastries, to the BHV tea salon).

As the event this year centres around fruits and new fruity sensations, receive a surprise fortune cookie with any seasonal fruit pastry, such as the Fraisier, Raspberry or Strawberry tarts.

93 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris


Angelina Rue du Bac Sucre Event Paris

ANGELINA

Particularly known for its legendary Mont-Blanc pastry, there will be Mont-Blanc lollypop (sucette) workshops over the weekend.

Special Edition: “Un été à Paris” – a raspberry compote, a light vanilla mousse, topped off with raspberries and redcurrants on the most deliciously crunchy praline crumble base.

108 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris
Tel: (33-1) 42 22 63 08 or sign up directly at the boutique.


Chapon Chocolate Rue du Bac Paris

CHOCOLATERIE CHAPON

Patrice Chapon will be giving demonstrations how he makes his chocolate from cocoa bean to bar this Saturday 18 June. Hour-long sessions can be booked online here. Hurry as they’re free and only 8 people maximum per group are permitted in the tight workshop area behind the boutique.

There are no special editions for the event but try a cornet of mousses from the bar – including the Venezuelan 100% Chocolate Mousse (I recently made the recipe here on le blog), or his prize-winning chocolate with a salted dome (chocolat au dôme de sel).

69 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris


Dalloyau Paris rue du Bac Grenelle macarons religieuses

LA MAISON DALLOYAU

Last year, the highlight was the launch of Dalloyau’s surprising savoury Réligieuses (double decker filled choux buns), which are still available on order at the boutique here – but the Réligieuse star for Father’s Day on Sunday is the Papa Poule, filled with a vintage rum cream. This year two more new macarons are in the spotlight from pastry chef Jeremy del Val, amongst seasonal favourites such as orange blossom, rose-raspberry, lemon, and Earl Grey (Bergamot tea).

Special Editions: Strawberry-Yuzu and Raspberry-Grapefruit macarons.

63 Rue de Grenelle (just on the corner of rue du Bac), 75007 Paris


Jacques Genin Bac Sucre Event June Paris

JACQUES GENIN

Famous for his melt-in-the-mouth caramels (particularly exotic fruits) and fruit jellies, last year he surprised us with more fruit jellies (I think I polished off the tasters of rhubarb jellies!) and even vegetable jellies!
His pastries, including a Millefeuille, are also just as legendary but these are enjoyed at the main boutique and tea salon in the Marais, on rue de Turenne. During EACH of the five Bac Sucré days, free demonstrations take place at 3.30pm Wed 15th-Sun 21st – no reservations needed!

Special Editions: Fruit jellies (kiwi, pear, blood orange, pineapple, lychee, raspberry, mango-passion)

27 Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris


Eric Kayser Bakery Paris, rue du Bac

LA MAISON KAYSER

Boulanger Eric Kayser has followed the last three generations in his family as an artisanal bread-maker.

Special Edition: Sweet honey bread with raspberry chips.

18 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris


LA GRANDE EPICERIE DE PARIS

Recently renovated, Le Bon Marché classy department store at the end of Paris Pastry Street of Rue du Bac is renowned for its gourmet food hall, luring us from stands of cheeses and cured hams to its bakery and patisserie sections. Their pastries are exquisite, from billowy lemon meringue tartlets to the latest seasonal temptations.

Special Edition: Almond crumble choux bun, with apricot cream, Madagascan vanilla cream (crème légère) and poached apricot.

Le Bon Marché
38 Rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris

Grande Epicerie Paris Apricot Choux Bac Sucre Event Paris

There are even more patisseries, bakeries and chocolate shops on and around the corner to enjoy: Acide Macaron, Des Gâteaux et du Pain, Hugo & Victor, Boulangerie Galland, Foucher Chocolatier, and Secco bakery… now you can see why it’s referred to as Paris Pastry Street!

Bac Sucré Event
Rue du Bac
7th Arrondissement Paris

Wednesday 15- Sunday 19 June 2016
For the full programme, visit BacSucre.com


Bonjour Paris Publication Contributor Jill Colonna  This article is published with Bonjour Paris.

 

Subscribe to the New Monthly Newsletter!

This is an exceptional post today as I’m dying to spread the news: at long last I finally have my VERY OWN NEWSLETTER!

Forget the previous email updates (via Feedburner) alerting you as soon as a new blog post or recipe was out.  Instead I’m starting completely from scratch; when you sign up, you’ll be alerted to all new posts on the blog on a monthly basis.

The best part with the monthly newsletter is that I can share news that I wouldn’t normally post on the website. Not all of you follow me on social media, so you may miss photos on Facebook or Instagram of the fun stuff I’m up to in and around Paris. With this newsletter you’ll have more straight in your inbox.

For example, last month did you hear about me dropping in for a baking session with Carol Gillott at her 6th floor Paris apartment on Ile-Saint-Louis? Carol is the talented watercolour artist aka ParisBreakfast, who painted the delicious map for the endpapers in Teatime in Paris.  She claims she paints cakes but can’t bake – but look at the gorgeous financiers she made!  She’s now going around Paris tasting financiers and deciding her homemade is best.

financiers teatime in Paris made by parisbreakfasts carol gillott

I’ll share with you the view from her rooftop, where we left the batter out to cool – plus views of Notre Dame just before the cherry blossoms were springing out.  As it has also been the French school holidays, I’ll have other Spring- like views and news to share.

If you were previously receiving email alerts, I shall delete this system completely over the next few posts. As I won’t be transferring these emails, you will need to sign up to this new monthly newsletter instead.  A huge thanks to Cédric Bonnard of Mosaïque Studios, who convinced me to make this move!

Your privacy is important, so I won’t sell, rent, or give your name or address to anyone. At any point, you can select the link at the bottom of every email to unsubscribe.

So:

All that’s left for YOU is to sign up and off we go!

(just click on this button to register for free)

P.S.  To thank you for signing up, I’ve included a surprise little gem of a recipe for you. Please tell your friends!

Paris Macaron Week at Pascal Caffet – 18-24 April

When a Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) announces a Macaron Week in Paris, you need to make a detour.  Hidden away in a side street in Paris’s fashionable 16th arrondissement, just off Rue de Passy, you’re in for a treat. Remember Pascal Caffet’s award-winning pastries: éclairs, top pralines, and his legendary Las Vegas?

Pascal Caffet Patisserie Macaron Week April in Paris

From 18-24 April, Pascal Caffet is adding three new flavours to his already large collection of exquisite macarons. I was given a special treat to taste them for you in the boutique before they officially come out tomorrow.

Macaron Week in Paris at Pascal Caffet patisserie

For Matcha Green Tea lovers, his Thé Matcha is spot on.  Just the right dosage to taste: subtle but enough for the special tea to shine through the interior fondant ganache. I would thoroughly recommend that you START with this flavour, to fully appreciate its taste.

Next up, is Mûre or Blackberry. All of Pascal Caffet’s fruit flavours are compotes and not too sweet, which is why I love his macarons. Again subtle, it’s as if biting through a tangy soft fruit jelly with the added crisp macaron shell.

New Yuzu macaron by Pascal Caffet, Macaron Week Paris

The third flavour is Yuzu.  It’s a hit!  Slightly acidic with the citrus flavour eventually whacking the taste-buds after the two or three seconds and leaving a wonderful lingering after-taste without it being tart. As they say in France, “Chapeau”, so hats off to you Chef Caffet!

Yuzu’ll be needing to taste this macaron – at least! Add 3 more macarons, since for 4 macarons bought, he’s giving away one free!

Pascal Caffet
13 rue Duban, 75016 Paris

Monday: 12 noon- 7.30pm
Tuesday-Thursday: 10am – 7.30pm
Friday & Saturday: 9am – 7pm

Tel: 01 – 45 20 08 04
Metro: La Muette or a 15-minute walk from Trocadero

Complete Guide to Macaron Day Paris 2016

As our thoughts are happily turning to the budding arrival of sweet Spring, it’s time to get planning so here’s my Complete Guide to Macaron Day in Paris.

The official spring date of Sunday 20 March unveils the 11th annual Jour du Macaron in Paris – but this year we have a bonus: it will stretch over the weekend, starting on Saturday 19th.
Initiated by the Picasso of Pastry, Pierre Hermé, Macaron Day is a charitable event which is followed by the high-end pastry chefs of French pâtisserie throughout France, Europe and the World over who are all members of Relais Desserts.

complete guide macaron day Paris

 

This year, it has been a bit of a secret, and on social media I’ve seen, “It seems quiet in Paris this year…”
It’s rather the opposite!  I’ve been phoning around the boutiques and here’s what’s happening.
So let’s get planning!


Update 2 Feburary 2017: It’s the same this year, as so far nothing is yet mentioned!
However, this guide is still helpful for Macaron Day Paris 2017, as each year the same boutiques take part.

This year The Jour de Macaron takes place 19-20 March 2017.


So, how does it work for Macaron Day in Paris?

It’s that simple: One donation (un don) = One macaron.
Your donations go towards the association, Vaincre la Mucoviscidose – Fighting Against Cystic Fibrosis. Their volunteer workers rally around the Relais Dessert boutiques with their tins and each time you add your donation, you pick the macaron of your choice.
Last year the Association raised a fabulous €50,000 and so this year, let’s help them top it!

To assist your planning of the perfect macaron weekend in Paris, each participating boutique for Macaron Day is listed below as well as opening times. N.B. some boutiques are closed on Sunday.

Pierre Hermé

With a gourmet choice of 25 macarons, you’ll probably be glad there’s a queue on Macaron Day at Pierre Hermé, just so you can decide on a few.  Just look at this list below!
If you need my help, I’d recommend the latest flavours which are divine – such as Mahogany (salted caramel, mango and coconut); Vénus (rose and quince); Céleste (passion fruit, rhubarb and strawberry); and Yasamine (Jasmine, mango & grapefruit).  Or go for the classics such as Mogador (milk chocolate & passion fruit) or his Rose & Jasmine. I’ll leave you to decide!

Choice of macarons Pierre Herme for Paris Macaron Day 2016

4 rue Cambon, 75001 Paris (Saturday & Sunday: 10am-8pm)
39 avenue de l’Opéra, 75002 Paris (Saturday & Sunday: 10am-8pm)
18 rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004 Paris (Saturday & Sunday: 10am-8pm)
72 rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris (Saturday & Sunday: 10am-8pm)
Publicis Drugstore, 133 avenue des Champs-Elysées, 75008 Paris (Saturday & Sunday: 10am-10.30pm)
89 boulevard Malesherbes, 75008 Paris (Saturday & Sunday: 10am-8pm)
Le Royal Monceau Raffles, 37 avenue Hoche, 75008 Paris (Saturday & Sunday 3-6pm)
Lafayette Gourmet, 35 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris (Saturday: 8.30am-9.30pm. Closed Sunday)
185 rue de Vaugirard, 75015 Paris (Saturday: 10am-8pm; Sunday 9am-5pm)
58 avenue Paul Doumer, 75016 Paris (Saturday & Sunday: 10am-8pm)
Printemps, Parly 2 shopping centre, Le Chesnay (Saturday 10am-8.30pm; closed Sunday)

complete guide macaron day Paris

Laurent Duchêne

With at least 15 macarons to choose from including the great classics, I’d also pick the more unusual flavours such as his Chocolate-Yuzu or Mojito macarons.
Update: Popcorn & Salted Caramel is a new flavour, launched as of Macaron Day!

238 rue de la Convention, 75015 Paris (Saturday: 8.30am-7.30pm & Sunday: 8am-1.30pm)
2 rue Wurtz, 75013 Paris (Saturday: 7.30am-8pm; closed Sunday)

Dalloyau

This historical institution, on the go since 1682 from the original boutique in 101 rue du Faubourg St Honoré, now has ten boutiques in and around the City of Lights offering a range of flavours of our favourite Parisian macarons.

For Macaron Day, Dalloyau are launching FOUR NEW FLAVOURS for Spring:
Damas Rose & Raspberry; Orange Blossom; Caramel Toffee; and Chocolait Coco.

complete guide macaron day Paris

5 Boulevard Beaumarchais, Bastille, 75004 Paris (Saturday & Sunday 9am-8.30pm)
2 Place Edmond Rostand, 75006 Paris (Saturday & Sunday 9am-8.30pm)
63 rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris (Saturday & Sunday 9am-8.30pm)
101 rue du Faubourg St Honoré, 75008 Paris (Saturday & Sunday 8.30am-9pm)
Lafayette Gourmet, 35 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris (Saturday: 8.30am-9.30pm. Closed Sunday)
69 rue de la Convention, 75015 Paris (Saturday & Sunday 9am-8pm)
Galeries Gourmandes, Atrium du Palais des Congrès, 2 Place de la Porte Maillot, 75017 Paris (Saturday: 11am-8pm; Sunday 10am-8pm)
18 Place du Marché, 92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine (Saturday & Sunday: 9am-8pm)
67 Jean-Baptiste Clément, 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt (Saturday: 9am-7.30pm; Sunday 10am-2pm)
21/39 rue d’Alsace, 92300 Levallois-Perret (Saturday 10am-9pm. Closed Sunday)

Macarons Paris Jean-Paul Hevin chocolates

Arnaud Larher

I love to pop into the boutique in Rue de Seine, especially after one of my chocolate-pastry walks in the Spring and Summer in  Saint Germain-des-Prés. Choose from the normal selection of exquisite flavours (Pistachio is good; and Café – infused Grand Cru coffee ganache from Southern India), or opt for something different, such as his Mille Fleurs (raspberry ganache with flower essence); Marrons-Cassis (candied chestnut with blackcurrant marmalade); or Chocolate-Lime with dark chocolate from Brazil.

93 rue de Seine, 75006 Paris (Saturday: 10am-8pm; Sunday: 10am-7pm)
57 rue Damrémont, 75018 Paris (Saturday: 9.30am-1.30pm & 3.30pm-7.30pm; Sunday: 10am-1.30pm)
53 rue Caulaincourt, 75018 Paris (Saturday: 10am-7.30pm; Sunday 10am-1.30pm)

Parisian macarons from Jean-Paul Hevin chocolate

Jean-Paul Hévin

As I write, the pastry chefs are busy working on a special chocolate macaron for the event. What will it be, we wonder?  A double-coloured chocolate duo or a single cacao cru to nibble on? Watch this space – as soon as I hear from the boutique, I’ll update this here and let you know on my social media networks (see links above).

231 rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris
41 rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris
3 rue Vavin, 75006 Paris
23 bis avenue de la Motte Picquet, 75007 Paris (all 4 boutiques open Saturday: 10am-7.30pm. Closed Sunday)
Lafayette Gourmet, 35 Boulevard Haussemann, 75009 Paris (Saturday: 8.30am-9.30pm. Closed Sunday)

Sadaharu Aoki

This Japanese-French pâtisserie is highly Japanese but I can assure you that the Japanese macaron language helps gets the ooh and aahs of communication going, macaron-munching style! Try spectacular flavours such as Matcha Green tea; Black Sesamé; Genmacha; Hojicha; Earl Grey; or I find this perfectly acidic citrus Yuzu macaron always hits the spot.

complete guide macaron day Paris

56 Boulevard de Port Royal, 75005 Paris (Saturday 10am-7pm; Sunday 10am-6pm)
35 rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris (Saturday 11am-7pm; Sunday 10am-6pm)
Lafayette Gourmet, 35 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris (Saturday 8.30am-9.30pm; Closed Sunday)
25 rue de Pérignon, 75015 Paris (Saturday: 11am-7pm; Sunday 11am-6pm)

Christophe Roussel

This boutique, “Creative Duo with Julie” (Christophe’s wife) at the bottom of the Montmartre hill, has come up with the launch of a new macaron in time for Macaron Day weekend: Strawberry-Passion Fruit.

Strawberry Passion macaron from Christophe Roussel for Macaron Day

Photo of strawberry-passion macarons courtesy of Christophe Roussel

 

gateaux a Bord sticker for Macaron Day in Paris

Also created for the event by Christophe Roussel is this French car sticker, meaning “Cakes on Board”, with 3€ of each sale given to Cystic Fibrosis and it’s so clever, he’s trademarked it.

For other macaron flavours, why not try the Morello Cherry and Chili; Passion Fruit and Lemongrass; or Apricot and Lavender, making us dream of a hot, fragranced summer in the South of France. One of my all-time favourites, however, is his Cheesecake macaron – you have to try it!  On second thoughts, try them all.

 5 rue Tardieu, 75018 Paris (Saturday and Sunday 10.15am-8pm)

 

 


Enjoy yourselves, happy tastings and make a charitable weekend out of eating macarons in Paris.  Not only is it gourmand, but it’s all in a good cause.  Why not share your macaron experiences together on the MadAboutMacarons page on Facebook? I look forward to hearing from you.

Happy Macaron Day in Paris – or make yours the perfect Parisian macaron weekend!

Macarons vs Macaroons

It happened again.  I recently caught myself wincing at the teatime menu’s English version. This time it was in one of Paris’s most elegant tea salons, where the famously stylish Parisian “macarons” were translated as “macaroons”.

I know, it’s not one of the world’s first problems, but get it right.

Macarons and macaroons perhaps sound alike, but they are both totally different.

Macarons vs Macaroons

This confusion with an extra “o” is nothing new; it happens frequently, whether it’s on a top tearoom menu in Paris or on high-end supermarket packaging around the world. Even a UK bookshop snootily turned down stocking my first book five years ago, simply because the title read “Macarons” and not “Macaroons”. It’s a subject that has been raised often, but the same mistake continues like a couple of crêpes on deaf ears.

I’m perhaps mad about macarons, but if you’re just as infatuated with Paris’s Ambassador of Pastry, with its smooth delicate meringue-like shells sandwiched together with chocolate ganache, jam, curd or buttercream, its name needs to be defended. I’m not being posh or trying to show off I can speak some French after 24 years of living here – it’s just that the term, macaron is the right word to use to describe these little filled rainbow-coloured Parisian confections.

Over the last four years of guiding pastry tours in Paris, I’m still surprised by the recurring question: “So what’s the difference between macarons and macaroons?”

bitten macarons by Jill Colonna

Food lovers are evidently still puzzled. How on earth can two deliciously dainty confections create such mystery?

The only similarity between the two is their gluten-free mutual ingredients of egg whites and sugar; a macaron includes ground almonds (almond flour), whilst a macaroon is made with coconut.

So let’s get it straight with the simplest answer: the macaron is meringue-based and the macaroon is coconut based.

But there’s more to it than that.

macarons vs macaroons Jill Colonna

Is it a macaron? A rougher looking amaretti cookie and a Parisian Gerbet macaron

MACARONS

Macarons date back to the middle ages but we have a better idea of its history during the Renaissance – first cited by French writer Rabelais – when the Venetian macarone (meaning a fine paste of something crushed) of ground almonds, egg whites and sugar was brought to France by Catherine de Medici and her chefs when she married the future King of France in 1533, Henri II. It was a meringue-like biscuit but a much rougher looking type of confection, predominantly tasting of almonds and looking rather like an amaretti biscuit.

In France, the macaron’s super-model upgrade wasn’t made famous until the 1900s. This is the modern smooth, coloured macaron as we know it today, that’s now creating the confusion, known as the Parisian or Gerbet macaron. Ernest Ladurée’s second cousin, Pierre Desfontaines takes the credit for inventing these sandwiched confections – although this calls for yet more delicious, historical homework. Most importantly, a macaron is not a Parisian macaron unless it has a ruffled, frilly foot underneath that smooth, shiny surface.

But even the macaron can be a confusing term today, as there are also many French regional varieties using the same ingredients as the Parisian macaron but the proportions are completely different. Each resemble more the original Italian macaron introduced by Catherine de Medici and many date back to around the French Revolution. Each region adds its own twist and, as a result, they all look so different (check out just some of the variations here).

For example, in Picardy, the Amiens macaron speciality adds marzipan, fruits and honey. Other prize-winning French regional macarons continue today in Boulay, Chartres, Cormery, Le Dorat, Joyeuse, Montmorillan (which looks more like an round almond cakes), Nancy, Saint-Émilion, Saint-Croix, Saint-Jean-de-Luz (created for Louis XIV’s wedding in 1660) and Sault.

macaron vs macaroon coconut or almond version

Macaron on the left (don’t be confused with the coconut on top, I was just being funny); Macaroon on the right. Both recipes in “Teatime in Paris”

MACAROONS

Simpler and quicker to prepare, the coconut macaroon is also known as rocher coco or congolais in French. Sometimes the macaroon confection with shredded or flaked coconut – either star or cone-shaped – is dipped in chocolate.

It’s not clear when macaroons came on the scene but one thing is for sure: it was added to this gluten-free treat around the 1800s when coconut was brought from the East.

Just pronouncing macaroon makes us want to roll the “r” like we do in Scotland – and it’s no coincidence that us Scots are proud of the Scottish Macaroon bar: it’s particularly sweet since the fondant inside is primarily sugar and potato (trust the Scots to think of that one!) and coated with a thin layer of chocolate and coconut. I wonder if Catherine de Medici’s successor, Mary Queen of Scots as French queen brought it in her year-long reign as Queen of France?

Scottish macaroon bar homemade snowballs, just like Lee's classic

Last Christmas I adapted the large traditional bar to make these mini Scottish Macaroon bar snowballs. If you want to see the real thing, head over to Christina Conte’s blog at Christina’s Cucina to see how to make the real McCoy bars!

To puzzle us further, there’s yet another exception to the rule of almonds and coconut: there are plenty of macaroon recipes outside of France which use pie crust or pastry as a base and the macaroon reference is a mixture of coconut and/or almond toppings. For example, see this recipe for macaroon jam tarts.

Macaroon Jam tarts

Macaroon jam tarts

MACARONS vs MACAROONS

So before the confusion spreads any further between macaron and macaroon, let’s nip it in the bud.  In all their varying forms, the macaroon refers to the coconut confection; the macaron today, unless a regional version is mentioned, refers to the Parisian or Gerbet macaron – the shiny, dainty version. Just don’t forget its frilly foot.

Now it’s your turn: if you spread the macaron word, it will be no mean feat!


 

This article was published over at BonjourParis.com

Chestnut, Pumpkin & Mushroom Tarts – and Beaujolais Nouveau!

The shock of the inhuman terrorist attacks in Paris last week have perhaps numbed us. But this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Day 2015 has never been so symbolic this Thursday 19 November. Beaujolais producers affirm that their “wines are to be celebrated” and “they represent French conviviality and culture.

The moment of sharing this year is a strong symbol to show that France still stands strong and is proud of its values.”

The French know how to continue their art de vivre and they need our support during this tough time – as locals and tourists alike are perhaps scared to venture out for a while in the Paris we love so much. After an exceptionally hot summer and a perfectly mature early harvest, the French have good reason to be proud. 2015 will apparently be an outstanding vintage and so it’s time to celebrate wine in France and around the world.

Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Day 2015 Paris

Today nearly a third of Beaujolais production is sold as Beaujolais Nouveau. It’s the first French wine to be released for each vintage year. Harvesting takes place late August to early September and the traditional Gamay Noir grapes (which make up 98% of Beaujolais wines) are fermented for only a few days then released on the third Thursday in November, a practise that has continued since 1985 by the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO).

Like Beaujolais Nouveau, Beaujolais basic reds are to be drunk within the year. They’re real bistro wines in Paris, served slightly chilled and slightly blueish-light-purple in colour due to the Gamay grape, known for being light, fruity and easy-drinking.

Pumpkin sage and mushroom tarts with Chestnut Flour

This week also marks 24 years ago since I met my Frenchman. Antoine had just returned from a student Beaujolais Nouveau evening and so we quickly found a mutual conversation starter – admittedly I made him do most of the talking just to listen to his endearing, oh-là-là accent. Having blind-tasted the Scottish Wine Society’s selection the previous evening – celebrated in true Frenchie style with the official jury arriving on bicycles, clad in onion-johnnys, berets, blue and white stripy nautical matelot jerseys – the best producer was unveiled with its pretty flowery label since it typically tasted of banana and bubble gum. Although my thoughts were leaning towards the highest category, the Beaujolais Cru wines.

When I explained to my new French-Corsican friend Antoine that evening about the 10 Crus (Brouilly, Régnié, Chiroubles; Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie, Saint-Amour; Chénas, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin à Vent), and how some of them could keep up to 10 years in the bottle with no need to chill the red wine either – I’d somehow talked myself into a Frenchman’s heart. We had an excuse to meet again and thankfully, we’re still continuing the love of discovering of new wines together.

Chestnut Pumpkin Tarts

So to celebrate the perfect partner, here’s a delicious recipe for chestnut pumpkin tarts that match well with the basic Beaujolais or the lighter to medium bodied crus. Inspired by my Corsican family who use chestnut flour in their cooking, I’ve added it to the pastry; the roasted pumpkin and mushroom filling is also good with any turkey leftovers.

Chestnut flour pastry for pumpkin sage and mushroom tarts

Roasted Pumpkin, Mushroom and Chestnut Tart Recipe

You could also replace the mushrooms with left-over turkey, as the wines also partner very well with poultry.

Makes one large tart (28cm diameter) or 8 individual tartlets

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Resting Time: 2 hours
Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Chestnut Pastry

150g plain flour
100g chestnut flour
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp water

1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and mix until the dough forms a ball. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for an hour.  Remove the dough from the fridge and leave to stand until room temperature, to make it easy to roll it out.

2. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface then using the pastry roller, wrap around the pastry to transfer it to the tart tin.  Press it in to the sides then, again with the roller, roll over the top of the tin to clean up the edges.  Keep in the fridge while preparing the filling.

Filling

350g pumpkin, roughly chopped into small chunks
3 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, white part, sliced finely
350g mushrooms, cut into big pieces
1 tbsp sage leaves, finely chopped
3 eggs
250g crème fraîche
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
salt & pepper
Parmesan shavings to serve (optional)

3. Preheat the oven to 180°C/360°F (gas 4). Place the pumpkin with half of the oil and sage in a roasting tin and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, over medium heat, cook the leeks in the rest of the oil until translucent.  Add the mushrooms and continue to cook.  There’s no need to add any more oil.  Wait until the mushrooms give off their liquid and then set aside to cool slightly.

5. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, crème fraîche, nutmeg then season with salt and pepper.

6. Sprinkle the roasted pumpkin and sage over the tart base, top with the leek and mushrooms and pour over the creamy egg mix.  Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes for a large tart (30 minutes if making tartlets).

Chestnut pumpkin tarts

So cheers to this year’s vintage! Serve with this year’s jam-packed Beaujolais Nouveau (apparently it’s full of forest fruits on the nose!) or enjoy it at any time of year with a medium-bodied Cru: a Saint-Amour, a Fleurie, or a Côte de Brouilly and let’s raise a toast to the French.

To show your support for our local bistros, restaurants and wine bars in France, see the
List of Beaujolais Programme throughout France.