I often write about French food.
How can anyone that loves food, not talk about French cooking?!
All roads lead to Rome, but all culinary paths and trails lead to France, at least for me...
Unfortunately, I have not been on that side of the Atlantic these days (as some of those more fortunate), but I started my closer relationship with the Alps a long time ago while spending some time in Switzerland and Italy.
Having some of my family members visiting in the French Alps, more precisely the Rhône-Alpes area, was just the extra motivation and inspiration I needed to write about one of my favorite places.
This region of France has some amazing scenery: lakes, rivers and mountains.
The really friendly and easy going people add to the ambiance, making it so easy for one to experience so much here.
They have it all here:
Big cities like Grenoble and Lyon, little Alpine villages
and unique mysterious places like the monastery
where the famous Chartreuse liqueur is made.
The food is fresh, wholesome, simple and pure, yet at the same time, complex enough to make the Rhones-Alps the second-most-starred region in the French Michelin food Guide.
You can enjoy the most simple and authentic dishes here, like a roasted pig on a stick or
gastronomic masterpieces in the Lyonnais bouchons (traditional and authentic restaurants associated with Lyon) that offer "cochonnailles" (a pork speciality), quenelles (ground fish dumplings), cervelle de canut (fresh cheese with herbs ),
Traditional Savoyard and Dauphinoise cooking consists of simple ingredients being used to make specialty dishes like: gratin (potato),
tartiflette (made with potatoes and Reblochon cheese), diots (Savoyard sausages), and matafan aux pommes (a kind of apple tart).
The most famous Savoy cheeses are definitely: Reblochon, Beaufort and Tomme de Savoie and Ardèche and Drôme goat’s cheeses.
There are numerous products marked as the AOC in the Rhône-Alpes, however the only meat worth of this label is Poultry from Bresse, with their white feathers, and blue feet.
Charcuteries from Lyon and sausages stuffed with truffle and/or pistachio etc..
Ardèche is renowned for its chestnuts. Another fruit that stands out in the Ardèche, as the chestnut, is the bilberry.
For many years, the Tricastin and southern Drôme have been the biggest producers of truffles (85 % of the whole harvest in France), way ahead of other regions that claim to be top truffle producers. From the month of December, truffle markets can be found throughout the Drôme.
Pogne, a plump brioche flavoured with orange water and a speciality of Valence, was originally made only once a year at Easter. Now it’s eaten year round.
Stuffed with pralines, it is called the brioche of Saint Genix.
Stuffed with pralines, it is called the brioche of Saint Genix.
Pralus, the cake and chocolate maker from Roanne, became famous for inventing the Praluline, a delicious praline brioche that is now exported throughout the world.
Walnuts from Grenoble are one of the region’s first AOC products and walnut oil is becoming increasingly popular, just like the Saint Marcellin, a creamy cheese that is made in the Isère.
In the Chartreuse mountains, the Abbey’s monks guard the secret recipe of green and yellow Chartreuse liqueur and elixir, made in the cellars at Voiron.
Obviously, Beaujolais wines are particularly known in this region, but along Rhone, there is so much more to write about. I don’t have enough space to write about all that so I will focus mostly on this region's delicious and authentic food recipes.
Some food specialties to enjoy in the Rhônes-Alpes:
Rosette de Lyon : French Salami
Volailles de Bresse : poultry
Fruits : apricots, peach, cherry...
Fondue Savoyarde: melted cheese on bread
Tartiflette: Reblochon cheese, with bacon, potatoes and salad in pot
Raclette: Cheese with potatoes, ham, salami and Italian coppa
Gratin Dauphinois: Potatoes with cream.
Ravioles de Romans : Cheese pasta.
Caillette: specialities of local meat.
Soupe a l’Oseille : soup with herbs
Gratin de Crozet : special kind of pasta gratin
Quenelles de Lyon: Knedles (dumplings) with local fish in sauce
Andouillettes: speciality of local meat
Perches au vin : fish with wine
Lièvre à la royale : jack-rabbit in sauce
Tomme de Savoie
(Tomme de Chartreuse is one of them)
Reblochon: used to cook the famous «Tartiflette »
Bleu de Sassenage : blue cheese
Picodon d’Ardèche : goat cheese
|Ordinary local gathering cannot go without big selection of authentic local cheeses|
Crème de marrons
Gâteau de Savoie : cake
Tarte aux Myrtille : blueberry tart
Bugnes : fritters
Pogne : local brioche with pralines
Papillotes : filled chocolate
Recipes from this region:
Quenelles Lyonesse (Dumplings from Lyon)
The quenelle recipe is believed to originated in Lyon, a city in the Rhone-Alpes region of France. The quenelle Lyonnaise gained its popularity when a prestigious publication included it as one of the universal recipes at the end of the 19th century. Traditionally, quenelle Lyonnaise use pike fish, a freshwater bony fish found in lakes and ponds near Lyon. Today, the famous quenelle Lyonnaise retains its character by using the same fish, species and the traditional procedure.
Method of Preparation
The traditional quenelle recipe and the original ingredients include spike fish, beef fat or butter, eggs, flour, and nutmeg as spice. The method of preparing perfect quenelles de brochet consists of three major steps: the panade, the farce and shaping of quenelles. The first major step is to make the panade. A perfect panade is a well-made stiff paste by mixing flour, eggs and butter together until smooth enough to the touch. The second major step is the making of the farce. It is done by properly mixing the dice fish fillet and butter with the panade that was prepared in the first step. A nutmeg may be added to add more distinct flavor in this phase. The third major step consists of forming quenelles into oval shape using two spoons. These make the quenelles ready to be poached in salted water or stock over slow heat.
Since I live in salmon region, where pike fish is not very often on a fish market, I wanted to use modified recipe of this interesting dish that I can prepare more often in my kitchen.
3/4 cup water
1-1/2 ounce butter
salt and pepper to taste
3-1/2 ounces flour
1 pound salmon filets
salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste
7 ounces butter
Remove bones and skin from salmon, rinse off scales. Keep salmon chilled.
Make panade: Bring water, butter, salt and pepper to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the flour all at once and stir until the mixture comes together in a ball. Return to the heat to dry out the mixture slightly, stirring constantly. Transfer it to a pan, flatten it out so it cools quickly and coat the surface with butter to prevent drying out. Cut the salmon into chunks and purée in the food processor. Add the panade and blend until smooth. Break the eggs in a bowl and add them in a steady stream to the salmon mixture. Soften the butter and blend it into the salmon mixture. Pass mixture through a sieve and return to a bowl. Stir until smooth. Bring a half full frying pan with water to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and poach a spoonful of the mixture. Taste it to correct seasons. Then poach the remaining dough, using two wetted spoons. Use with your favorite sauce or asparagus sauce (recipe follows).
Asparagus sauce for the quenelles
1 cup asparagus, cooked and chopped (reserve some tips for garnish)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pinch mace
1 cup whole milk (or more if needed)
Sauté the onion and garlic in the melted butter over low heat until soft. Sprinkle in the flour, mix, then add milk slowly over low heat, stirring until well blended and thickened. Cool slightly. Put mixture in a blender or processor with the cooked asparagus (except tips for garnish), salt and pepper, and mace. If a thinner sauce is desired, add a couple of tablespoons more of milk. Reheat in the saucepan but do not boil. Pour on the plates and add the warmed quenelles over top. Garnish with reserved asparagus tips.
Mushroom sauce for the quenelles:
1/2 pound mushrooms
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp finely chopped shallots
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Prepare and cook the chicken quenelles. Drain and set them aside.
Slice the mushrooms. There should be about two and one-half cups. Heat the butter in a saucepan and add the shallots and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are wilted, stirring often. Sprinkle with flour and stir. Add the milk, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. When blended and smooth, add the cream, salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, cool, and slowly bind in the egg yolk.
Preheat the broiler. Butter a shallow baking dish. Add the drained quenelles. Spoon the sauce over all. Sprinkle with cheese and run under the broiler. Cook about five minutes or until the top is bubbling and golden brown.
Pogne de Romans(brioche cake)