What does “French-Style Season” mean?
as you know, there are widespread protests across France in reaction to the gas tax, but stemming from a deeper sense of discontent, an unrest related to the cost of gas but also to the general rising cost of living & the struggles of the working class to make ends meet.. whilst their government serves the rich.. the movement is led by Les Gilets Jaunes (the Yellow Vests) & has been joined by the left & right & students & women.. the violence erupting in certain small areas (around the Arc de Triomphe) is making international headlines.. riots every Saturday for a month.. & they will continue.. that much is clear.. through the lucrative holiday season.. & beyond.. until change comes..
i went to the city to see.. i walked down Malesherbes to Haussman to Place de Opera to Rue St Honore, by the Tuileries& over the Pont Royale.. i saw ordinary people walking about, standing, talking, men & women, old & young.. nothing like a protest in the US where narrow, symbolic parades route are requested, permitted, surveilled & protected by the police.. here the protestors are everywhere.. on every street.. & everything shuts down.. no one main herd, but threads & streams herding & presiding all about.. like a people who own a city & know it.. the police (8,000 officers strong i am told) made their presence felt by running siren-on routes through the city.. by setting up van barricades around significant cultural sites.. but the entire city was shut down by the yellow jackets.. you could march down the middle of any street.. there were loud blasts coming from Rue St Honore like cannons.. the police were dropping smoke bombs to scare people.. if you ask me, it raised the level from march to combat.. one helicopter hovered high overhead (the first i’ve seen in 2 months, they do not report on traffic by costly gas-hungry helicopter).. as i neared the Tuileries i saw a few small groups of men (2, 3, 5 together) completely amped up & looking for a fight.. all in black with their heads covered.. on edge.. bouncing off of one another.. shouting & whistling.. you could see they were looking for a target.. a building to loot or or some police interaction.. but no one was fighting amongst themselves.. & the other marchers were not affected by or responding to them.. they were not the yellow vests.. they were anarchists wanting government blood..
i’ve been told by friends, both french & american, to stay away.. be safe.. don’t go downtown.. if our writers & artists do not experience the revolution (or war for that matter) first hand, what record do we have.. what heart to tell it.. i avoided the champs elysses from which a huge plume of smoke was rising.. at midnight i walked that way.. past the arc de triomphe.. by then a storm, with a violent wind & lashing rain, was upon us.. light traffic, few police officers.. the rioters had all been cleared.. i later read there were 1,000 arrents.. every storefront window was boarded up.. some had signs painted on them.. LUTTE ENCORE (loot again)..
i am impressed by the magnitude of things in France.. the coherence of the people.. the general gentleness of the police towards them.. the understanding on both sides of what revolution means.. the sense that, o here it is, it’s come around again.. & the knowledge that this will be heard.. & will be hard.. & will change things.. because the people here have power.. & yes i see & hear the embarrassing remarks made by my weak, unfortunate, sitting president.. that the french are against taxes, don’t care about the environment, question climate change.. all shallow, self-serving remarks.. the media might as well re-tweet any racist, fascist american.. it would be the same.. we know that this is not america, but the fear of a formerly privileged class now falling from their former fabricated glory.. living in Paris i can sense what europeans sense when they see america.. the teenager of the world.. unskilled.. unpredictable.. selfish..
This holiday season, while all of this has been going on in Paris, simultaneously we are all preparing for the winter holidays and the Winophiles are investigating how to express the holidays French style. So since I know practically nothing about this topic, and while I could google it, here’s a few ideas from friends.
Caroline Henry: French Christmas Eve and Day Traditions for Food and Wine
From Caroline Henry who grew up in Belgium and has lived all over the world working in wine, and is currently in Champagne where she is an expert on the terroir of Champagne and an award winning author; her book wine the 10th Terres et Vins de Champagne prize and I featured Caroline Henry in my article last summer on grower and biodynamic Champagne.
In general, Caroline says that
The French celebrate Christmas eve, more than Christmas day. It’s generally a family affair with lots of food and wine ( similar to Thanksgiving in the US). They did the obligatory foi gras, oysters, often scallops and other sea food, a roast (sometimes turkey but can be any meat), lots of veggies, cheese, and then a (often rich) cake for dessert. It’s often a chocolate log but it can be anything depending on the region. In fact there are many regional differences in what people eat. The region with the most typical Christmas tradition is Alsace I think, it has the German Christmas spirit and many special gourmet treats – often very meat focused or sweet. Eg they have jambon en croute, different pâté ( and fois gras), Kouglof, Xmas cookies, Stolle, etc etc.”
Caroline continued with some comments about French traditions in her region of the country, Champagne:
In Champagne, people drink the local tipple at apéro and often also at dessert and some through the meal, though most will drink red with at least cheese but often also the meat dish. A common meal would start with apéro ( with lots of petits fours, oysters, fois gras etc) then there generally is a creamy seafood dish, scallops, lobster, crab are often on the menu. Followed by the main meat dish (here there is often game in the menu), then cheese and salad, desert. Presents are opened and the atmosphere is very jovial! Dessert is either paired with rose champagne, Demi sec or a liquoreux. After the meal there will be the digestive (cognac, marc, …) and coffee.
Caroline concluded by saying that “At Christmas people eat tons of chocolate and tropical fruit and nuts as well – don’t ask me why!”
After Midnight Mass, families enjoy the pinnacle of the event: les treize desserts de Noël, 13 desserts symbolizing Christ and his apostles. These are typically a mix of nuts, dried figs, dates, raisins, black and white nougat, quince paste, white grapes, citrus fruit, candied fruits, a confection called calissons, pompe à l’huile (sweet olive oil bread) and – less ancient but still delicious – chocolates and bûche de Noël (a Christmas cake shaped like a log).
In my part of France (Languedoc), oysters are a big deal as they are grown locally, and often enjoyed either with Champagne (if you’re pushing the boat out/going traditional) or the local sparkling wine (Blanquette de Limoux) or the local wine commonly associated with oysters, which comes from the same area, which is Picpoul de Pinet.
- Jamon en croute bites
- young brie
- triple cream brie
- Basque cheese
- 60 month aged gouda
- duck liver pate
- BBQ stuffed scallop and clam shells
- rosemary bread
- water wafers
- lobster and shrimp bisque soup
- spinach salad Lyonnaise
- mushroom pilaf
- festive holiday sugar and gingerpeople cookies
- chocolate croissants
- Champagne Roederer Brut Premier
- 2017 Chateau de Tracy Pouilly-Fume, Loire Sauvignon Blanc
2015 QUADRATUR COLLIOURE ROUGE 2015 GSM
Domaine de l’Hortus GSM
- 2015 – Pamille Perrin – La Gille – Gigondas
Champagne Roederer Brut Premier- $65
purchased on sale at Vons
Color: Very pale straw, very little delicate bubbles the come from all over the bottom of the glass, even from the sloping sides of the glass
Nose: Ripe pear, yeasty brioche, toasted almonds, little bit of clove, it is hard to spend time on the nose, because it smells so good, you just want to get it in your mouth.
Palate: Almond paste and kiwi fruit were the first two things that came to mind after first tasting this wine for sue, Gwen found marzipan, golden delicious apple, baked apple pie with a bit of baking spice on the finish. there is not a yeasty quality on the plate, and salinity over minerality,
Pairing: So good with the caviar, as usual a perfect pairing, The soil is diotomatious earth, which is dead squid beaks. great with our ham and cheese mini muffins. It loved the lovely buttery richness of the puff pastry and the brie. The seafood bisque was so fantastic with the champagne, the perfect pairing of the evening.
2017 Chateau de Tracy Pouilly-Fume, Loire Sauvignon Blanc
Color: Light straw, almost platinum
Nose: Juicy fruit gum, jack fruit banana, tropical fruit, grapefruit
Palate: Viscous on the palate, salinity, tart acidity, lime and lemon, grapefruit, brings out all the different citrus flavors.
Pairing: Great with the brie and ham encroute, the very lightly mustard pastries bring out a mustard pollen sweetness in the wine. Enhances the flavor of the pate but does not do much for the wine. As usual, goat cheese and Sauv Blanc is awesome. The wine works with caviar, but it is not the same as caviar and champagne. I enjoyed the salinity with the caviar. It was great with the tapenade, the bright lemony richness of the tapenade brought out the beautiful acidity in the wine. The anchovy in the tapenade became nutty. Super yummy with the bisque.
Coume del Mas QUADRATUR COLLIOURE ROUGE 2015
Grenache Noir 50%, Mourvèdre 30%, Carignan 20%
Coume del Mas was created by Philippe and Nathalie Gard in 2001. The domaine now has around 15 hectares of vines, principally on the steep slopes around Banyuls sur Mer. Grown on schist soil, the grapes were destemmed and handsorted, cold soaked, then underwent maceration for 3-5 weeks with pumpover as needed followed by 12 months in barrel. Learn more.
Color: On the maroon side with a pretty pink rim. This wine is on the dense side
Nose: Earthen, musky, husky, rich, cherry, tobacco, silty mud.
Palate: Very smooth, bright tart cherry, and blackberry right off the vine.
Pairing: With the young brie, the cheese was almost gummy, but the wine was stellar. It also loved the tapenade: brings out the bright citrus notes of the food. Great with the pate– brings out a lovely fruitiness in the wine that is not evident with out the pate. When we first tasted this wine, we knew it would be a perfect pair with the mushroom pilaf and we were not mistaken. It brings out the fruit in the wine and the earth in the pilaf. It was so very tasty. It resonates and lingers and lasts making you so very happy. With the salad there is a wonderful pomegranate citrus, with baking spice characteristic that happens between the two. There is a definite magic that happens!
2017 Pic Saint Loup
Pairing: Great with the tapanade and the pate, the bright acidity mingles well with both of these foods. Liked the nutty richness of the Basque cheese. Red wines are not always great with brie, but this one does. with the salad, this wine is much too fruity. Really likes the earthy components of the pilaf. There are no baking spices in the dish, but it brings out baking spices in the wine. The mushrooms and herbs de provence were fab. This wine also enjoyed the stuffed clam and scallop shells heated on the BBQ.
Please join us in saying Joyeux Noël!
We will be celebrating the season with French style this Saturday by publishing posts by the following bloggers who will also be participating in a twitter chat on the topic at 8am Pacific.
The #Winophiles Bring You A French-Style Season Sat. December 15th
We hope you’ll join us on Twitter for a discussion about having a French-style holiday season using the hashtag #winophiles — 8am PT – 11ET – 17:00h France
HTML French-Style Season – Dec2018 #winophiles
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla whips up “A French #Winophiles Fête: Foie Gras, Pain d’Epices & Champagne Drappier“
- Jill shares from L’OCCASION shares “How To Bring French Holiday Traditions Home“
- Gwen at WinePredator has “Season’s Greetings French-Style“
- Wendy at A Day In The Life On The Farm gives us “A Holiday Gathering with French Foods and Wines“
- Martin at ENOFLYZ Wine Blog shares “A Taste of French Inspired Holiday Food and Wine“
- Deanna from Asian Test Kitchen tells writes about “Ants Climb a Tree with French Wine“
- Jeff from foodwineclick discusses “What is French-Style Season?”
- Liz from What’s In That Bottle tells us how to “Frenchify Your Festivities with Fun Wines“
- Payal writes at Keep The Peas shares “Bonnes Fêtes à la #winophiles”
- Lauren from The Swirling Dervish shares “Parisian Holidays: A Few of My Favorite Things“
- David Crowley of CookingChat shares “Festive Pairings for Pouilly-Fumé and Other Special French Wine #winophiles“
- Kat from Bacchus Travel & Tours tells us about “Noël en Provence #winophiles“
- Jane cooks things up at Always Ravenous shares “A French-Inspired Winter Dinner”
- Nicole from Somms Table shares Crocus “l’Atelier Malbec de Cahors with Château Mercuès Saffron Chicken Soup”
- Rupal from Journeys of a Syrah Queen shares “French Inspired Holiday Wines”
- Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles entices us with “Un repas de Noël pour les fêtes de fin d’année (A Christmas Dinner for the end of the year celebrations)…with wine #Winophiles”
- Michelle of Rockin Red Blog writes about “A French-Inspired Holiday Alsatian Style”
- Lyn writes at L.M. Archer shares “The Hedonistic Taster: A French-Style Season“
- Lynn from Savor the Harvest shares “Give a Little Touche Française to your Holiday #Winophiles“
So what’s up next for the French Winophiles? Well, I’m kicking off 2019 by hosting and featuring biodynamic wines! Here’s the full schedule as of today but subject to change:
- January 19, 2019: Biodynamic Wines of France | Host: Gwendolyn Alley, Wine Predator
- February 16, 2019: Provence | Host: Wendy Klik, A Day In The Life On The Farm
- March 16, 2019: Women of Champagne | Host: Julia Coney, Julia Coney
- April 20, 2019: Chablis | Host: Liz Barrett, What’s In That Bottle?
- May 18, 2019: Gérard Betrand Wines Languedoc- Roussillion | Host: L.M. Archer, L.M. Archer
- June 15, 2019: French Cheese & Wine | Host: Martin Redmond, ENOFYLZ Wine Blog
- July 20, 2019: Loire Reds
- August 17, 2019: French Basque Country (or Jurançon) | Host: Lynn Gowdy, Savor the Harvest
- September 21, 2019: Corsica | Payal Vora, Keep the Peas
- October 19, 2019: Cahors | Host: Nicole Ruiz Hudson, Somm’s Table
- November 16, 2019: Rasteau with Thanksgiving| Host: Michelle Williams, Rockin Red Blog
- December 21, 2019: Vouvray | Host: Jeff Burrows, FoodWineClick