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Decadent Indulgence: Exploring the Culinary Riches of Bourgogne Franche-Comté

Located in the heart of France, the distinguished regions of Bourgogne and Franche-Comté boast an unparalleled offering of culinary delights. Their flavorful history is sown deep in the fertile soils and ingrained in the intrepid traditions fostered over centuries. From the piquancy of their prized cheeses to the succulence of their sizzling saucissons, each bite is a captivating story, a testament to the French art of gastronomy.

The gastronomic history of Bourgogne Franche-Comté is steeped in a tapestry of aristocratic influence and monastic heritage. The monasteries of the Middle Ages were central to developing the regions' wine and cheese production, combining spiritual pursuit with agricultural innovation. The Dukes of Burgundy, with their opulent tastes and hospitality, propelled the prestige of the local fare to new heights during their reign. Bourgogne's viticulture was refined through generations, culminating in the creation of some of the world's most coveted wines. This historical blend of devotion and nobility set the foundation for a culinary legacy that continues to thrive and tantalise palates around the globe.

The Cheese Legacy: Aromatic Treasure of the Bourgogne Plateau

France's reputation as the 'land of a thousand cheeses' finds fervent expression in Bourgogne and Franche-Comté, where the art of cheesemaking is as old as the rolling pastures that envelop these regions. The iconic Camembert, Brie and Roquefort hail from these verdant lands, but it is the distinctive cheeses of Bourgogne Franche-Comté that hold a special place in the hearts of cheese connoisseurs.

The region's exceptional cheesemaking tradition can be traced back to mediaeval monasteries, where monks crafted their own unique recipes using locally-sourced milk. The monasteries became the breeding ground for new techniques and flavour profiles, leading to the creation of iconic cheeses like Comté, Epoisses, and Chaource.

Today, these prized cheeses are still made with traditional methods that have been passed down from generation to generation. Each cheese carries a unique aroma and taste, reflecting the terroir and expertise that goes into their production. From the nutty, fruity notes of Comté to the rich, savoury flavour of Epoisses, each cheese is a testament to the region's rich agricultural heritage.

Comté: The Crown Jewel

Crafted in ancient cooperatives called 'fruitières', Comté is as integral to the region as the cows grazing its fields. This nutty, subtly sweet cheese, encased in a hard and golden rind, is a versatile staple. Whether folded into a soufflé or savoured on its own, the Comté cheese tells a tale of terroir unmatched in the world of fromage.

Aged within the cool, humid cellars of the Jura Mountains, Comté undergoes a transformation that is nothing short of remarkable. It's within these natural caves that the cheese is regularly turned, salted, and rubbed with a moist cloth, essential steps that enhance its complex flavour and perfect its granular texture. Every wheel of Comté is a reflection of its affineur's skill, the one who matures the cheese to its peak. The process of ageing can be prolonged beyond the minimum of four months, with some variants maturing for over a year, allowing for a deeper taste profile to develop. With each month, the cheese becomes more assertive, its fruity undertones intensify, and its texture grows more crystalline. No two wheels are quite the same, due to slight differences in the methods of production, each governed by the strict rules of the AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) designation that Comté proudly bears, signifying its protected status and guaranteeing its quality and authenticity.

Epoisses: The Pungent King

For the more adventurous palate, Epoisses reigns supreme. Adorned with a lush, rust-orange rind, it conceals a boundary-pushing taste profile within. This piquant cheese, with its earthy undertones, demands centre stage on any cheese platter, alongside a glass of the region's finest Pinot Noir. Its soft, luscious texture can be attributed to its unique maturation process. The wheels are washed with Marc de Bourgogne, a brandy made from the grape pomace leftover after pressing grapes for wine. This treatment encourages the growth of Brevibacterium linens, a bacterium that breaks down proteins in the cheese and produces a distinct aroma (some may describe it as "stinky"). But don't let the smell deter you - Epoisses has a rich, creamy flavour with a hint of mushroom and garlic. It's no wonder this cheese was reportedly a favourite of Napoleon.

The tradition of making Epoisses dates back to the 16th century, when Cistercian monks in the Burgundy region first created it. The cheese fell out of production during the French Revolution, but was revived in the 19th century and has since gained worldwide recognition for its bold taste and distinctive appearance. Today, it is made by hand in small batches by select producers, ensuring that each wheel is of the highest quality.

Epoisses are best enjoyed at room temperature, permitting its flavours to mature to their fullest potential. For a classic French pairing, serve it with a crusty baguette. Its intense flavour also makes it an excellent addition to sauces and fondue, or simply melted on top of grilled meats or vegetables. However you choose to indulge in Epoisses, one thing is for certain - it's not for the faint of heart


Brillat-Savarin Cheese: A Triple Cream Delight

Brillat-Savarin, named after the 18th-century French gourmet and political figure Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, is a decadent triple cream cheese that is a true testament to the art of French cheesemaking. With a minimum of 72% butterfat content, this luxurious cheese presents a delightfully rich and buttery taste that simply melts in the mouth. The pure white, edible rind encases a creamy, smooth interior that can only be described as a blend of fresh cream and cultured butter. Despite its richness, Brillat-Savarin manages to maintain a delicate, light taste that works beautifully as a dessert cheese or can serve as a sophisticated and creamy addition to a cheeseboard. Enjoy it with sparkling wine or champagne to elevate the experience to new heights of gastronomic pleasure.

Morbier: A Gateway to Artisanal French Cheeses

Morbier cheese, instantly recognizable by its signature dark vein of vegetable ash running through its centre, is a semi-soft, cow's milk cheese hailing from the Jura region of France. This defining layer of ash, which originally separated the morning and evening milkings, is both a tribute to the cheese's history and a unique characteristic that ignites curiosity. Morbier has a springy, ivory-coloured pâte enveloped by a distinctive washed rind, which develops a complex array of flavours during its ageing process. It bears a gentle, creamy richness with a slightly fruity and nutty aftertaste that lingers pleasantly on the palate. Though less pungent than the Berthaut Epoisses, Morbier still makes a bold statement on any cheese platter. Pair this versatile cheese with a light red wine or savoured simply with a slice of baguette, allowing its subtle yet distinctive taste to come to the forefront.

Regal de Bourgogne: Richness Redefined

Regal de Bourgogne is an exquisite French cheese that boasts of an unparalleled creaminess and a luxurious depth of flavour. Originating from the heart of Burgundy, it's a triple cream cheese indulgence that personifies the opulence of French cheese-making. Coated with a smattering of raisins or blueberries, which not only impart a charming appearance but also offer bursts of sweetness that cut through the decadence. Inside, its white, bloomy rind opens up to a buttery and rich interior with hints of tangy, fermented undertones—a delightful contrast that is both bold and inviting. Perfect for adding a touch of extravagance to any cheese board, Regal de Bourgogne is best enjoyed with nuts, honeycomb, and a glass of sparkling crémant for an authentic journey into the artisanal world of French cheeses.

Small Gaugry: A Bite-sized Delight

Small Gaugry, another treasure from the distinguished fromageries of France, is a delightful miniature version of the renowned Gaugry cheese. This petit fromage encapsulates the essence of its larger counterpart, promising an experience that is both rich and nuanced despite its smaller stature. With a rind that is delicately washed, Small Gaugry develops a lovely orange hue and a slightly pungent aroma that is characteristic of the finest washed-rind cheeses. Its taste is a harmonious balance between a subtle sharpness and a creamy, melt-in-the-mouth texture. Known for its versatility, it pairs divinely with a light-bodied red wine, adding a gourmet touch to intimate gatherings and elevating the taste characteristics of culinary creations.  

Cancoillotte: The Fromage Frais of Franche-Comté

Cancoillotte is a stellar example of "fromage frais" (fresh cheese) hailing from the Franche-Comté region, known for its delicate yet distinctive taste. This cheese is crafted from the local milk, gently cooked and then seasoned with a touch of salt or garlic for added complexity. Its texture is marvellously smooth and almost fluid, reminiscent of a fondue, making it an exceptional choice for a warm toast or as a unique sauce for potatoes. Cancoillotte stands out in the realm of French cheeses, with a low-fat content that doesn't skimp on aroma—a testament to the innovation and cultural heritage of its artisans.

Savouring the Slime: A Gastronomic Rite of Passage with les Escargots

Escargot, or snails, may be the 'butterfly of the land,' metamorphosing in the hands of skilled chefs into delectable dishes, but in Bourgogne, they are an enduring culinary emblem.

In the lush greenery of Bourgogne, the humble escargot is elevated to a delicacy that encapsulates the rich culinary traditions of the region. These land-dwelling mollusks are typically prepared with an enticing blend of garlic and butter., and fresh herbs, transforming them into a sumptuous affair. Often served as an appetiser, the escargot is presented in its coiled shell, basking in a savoury concoction that entices the senses.This dish goes beyond its taste; it embodies a cultural tradition cherished for centuries,with each bite underscoring Bourgogne's gastronomy legacy.

A Historical Escargot Odyssey

The tale of snail consumption traces back to prehistoric times when they were a common part of the human diet. But it was the Romans who first embraced them as a delicacy. In Bourgogne, they became a fixture, particularly the famed 'Petit-Gris,' celebrated for its perfect balance of flavour.

From Vineyard Pests to Palate Pleasers

Initially eaten out of necessity, snails transformed from vineyard pests to sought-after starters, drenched in a sumptuous concoction of garlic and parsley butter, then nestled within their repurposed shells. Today, the Burgundy snail's presence in Coq au Vin or stews provides a depth of umami that is all but unmatched.


Cooking Les Escargots

Preparing snails at home requires the patience to cleanse them thoroughly and the touch to balance the garlic, butter, and herbs that accompany them. Slow-baked or pan-fried, a plate of escargot is a culinary indulgence that defines the slow pace and luscious comfort of Bourgogne cuisine.

Mustard: The Indispensable Condiment

No exploration of the Bourgogne Franche-Comté gastronomic scene is complete without introducing the exquisite world of mustard.

Dijon Mustard: The Gold of Burgundy

Synonymous with the city after which it's named, Dijon mustard has achieved global acclaim as a culinary touchstone. Its mellow kick and smooth texture grace dishes from classic boeuf bourguignon to modern bistro staples with equal magnificence.

The history of Dijon mustard is steeped in royal approval, dating back to when the Dukes of Burgundy flaunted their wealth and power by hosting extravagant banquets featuring this pungent condiment. Its recipe, a closely guarded secret, was first concocted by the monks of the region, and later perfected by the mustard makers (moutardiers) of Dijon. This artisanal tradition has been passed down through generations, constantly evolving yet always retaining its noble heritage. Today, Dijon mustard is a staple in French cuisine and a must-have ingredient in any kitchen.

A Touch of Finesse with Savora

A relative newcomer in the world of mustards, Savora is the underdog with a punch. With ingredients beyond the commonplace, like port, Armagnac and honey, Savora is the nod to change, the whisper of novelty without forgoing the region's deep-rooted culinary traditions.

Savora presents itself as a compelling alternative to traditional mustard. Concocted with a noteworthy blend of spices, including cinnamon, Cayenne pepper, nutmeg, turmeric, and a hint of cloves, it brings an eclectic taste to the condiment spectrum. Far from being a simple alternative to mustard, Savora offers a multifaceted taste profile that can transform the simplest sandwich into an exotic delight or add a twist to dressings that complements a variety of salads. It is not only an accompaniment but also an ingredient that can stand alone, making it a versatile addition to the gourmet pantries of both professional chefs and home cooks seeking to elevate their culinary creations with its unique bouquet of flavors.



Sauce Bourguignonne: A Mythical Melange

This sauce, a hearty blend of red wine, onions, and shallots, fortified often by the familiar Dijon mustard, is the quintessence of rich Low Country cooking. It blankets roasted meat, steaks, and even grilled Salmon with a hint of Burgundy splendour. The traditional preparation of this sauce is now available in jars and bottles, ready to grace the table with its rich flavours. This succulent drizzle adds a touch of elegance to any meal, giving it an undeniable French twist. While the origin of the name remains somewhat unclear, legend has it that this sauce was created by one Arturo Carlson in his restaurant called La Bourgogne in the late 19th century, hence its name.

The flavours of Savora and Bourguignonne sauce perfectly complement each other, creating a harmonious dance on the palate. The distinct notes of spice and tang from Savora beautifully balance the rich, wine-infused flavours of Bourguignonne sauce. Together, they create a symphony of taste

Charcuterie: The Art of Air-Dried Meats

A feast from Bourgogne Franche-Comté is incomplete without an ode to the artisans of charcuterie.

Morteau and Montbéliard Sausages: Icons of Indulgence

These iconic sausages, recognized with the prestigious PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status, are a celebration of age-old traditions. With distinct spices and methods, Morteau delights with its smoking process while Montbéliard pays homage to the local love affair with caraway seeds.  Both exemplify the mastery of meat curing, making them a must-try for any food enthusiast.

Morteau sausage, often referred to as "Saucisse de Morteau," is distinguished by its strong smoky aroma and robust flavour, attributed to the pinewood used during the smoking process. This sausage is crafted from pork that is fed a diet based on local cereals, contributing to its rich taste. Each Morteau is easily recognizable by the wooden peg known as a "cheville" that seals one end, a hallmark of its authenticity.

In contrast, Montbéliard sausage, "Saucisse de Montbéliard," is treasured for its slightly curved form and the subtle hint of caraway which differentiates it from other varieties. It is cold-smoked over softwood sawdust and juniper branches, imparting a delicately spicy yet smoky taste. This gentle smoking technique allows the distinctive taste of the caraway to shine through, making it a favoured ingredient in the hearty stews and cassoulets of the region.

Jambon Persillé: A Terrine with a Twist

This savoury terrine is another delicacy from Bourgogne Franche-Comté, traditionally made with ham and parsley. However, in recent years, chefs have put their own spin on this classic dish by adding different meats and herbs, such as pork belly and garlic. The result is a more complex, multi-layered flavour that still pays homage to the traditional recipe.

Jambon Persillé originated in the town of Auxerre, where it was created as a way to preserve leftover ham and add some extra flavour to it. The terrine is made by layering chopped ham and parsley in a mould, then covering it with a gelatinous broth made from cooking the bones and skin of the ham. Once chilled, the terrine is sliced into thick slices and served cold as an appetiser or as part of a charcuterie platter.

The addition of garlic and pork belly adds depth to the aroma profile of Jambon Persillé, making it a popular choice among both locals and tourists. It is often served with crusty bread, Dijon mustard, and a glass of local white wine, such as Chardonnay or Aligoté.

While traditionally made with ham, Jambon Persillé can also be made with other meats such as chicken or duck.

Paté en Croûte: Meat in a Masterpiece

Imagine finely minced meat, ideally game or pork, studded with pistachios, nestled within a flaky pastry crust. Paté en croûte, a culinary lesson in patience and precision, is a sensory symphony that exemplifies the meticulous artisanal spirit of the region.

The origins of Paté en Croûte date back to mediaeval times when encasing meats in pastry served as both a method to preserve the food and to impress guests with a show stopping presentation. This dish requires skillful hands to create the perfect balance between the richness of the meat filling, the crunch of the nuts, and the buttery tenderness of the crust. Every bite takes you through the diverse textures and taste that have been wrapped together and baked until the pastry turns golden-brown. Traditionally enjoyed during the festive season, it's now a year-round treat for those who appreciate the nuances of a well-crafted charcuterie item. Contemporary variations may introduce exotic meats or incorporate ingredients like foie gras or truffles to elevate the dish to new levels of gastronomic delight.

The Charolais Beef: A Cut Above

Known for its marbling that creates rich and tender meat, the Charolais breed is a culinary cornerstone. From delectable charcuterie to the main event, its presence on the plate embodies the heritage of the Franche-Comté fields and forests. This bovine breed has a long history in France, originating from the Charolles region, and is prized for its flavorful and succulent meat.

The lush meadows of Franche-Comté provide the ideal grazing grounds for Charolais cattle, allowing them to reach their full potential. Farmers carefully select prime animals at specific ages to achieve optimal marbling and tend


Sweet Sensations: Desserts to Delight

The gustatory grandeur of Bourgogne and Franche-Comté transcends the savoury to the saccharine.

The Legend of the Nonette

This diminutive gingerbread cake, traditionally filled with a tangy layer of apricot or orange marmalade, encapsulates the region's commitment to traditional recipes. A Nonette de Dijon, with its warm spices and tender crumb, is the perfect marriage of comfort and cosmopolitanism.

The Nonette's origin dates back to mediaeval times, a period when spice trade flourished and gingerbread became a popular confection among French monasteries. Over the years, iterations of the recipe were refined by Dijon bakers who sought perfection in the balance of flavours. These treats are not only steeped in a rich history but also in the art of French baking, where precision and attention to detail are as essential as the fiery gingery bite that characterises a classic Nonette. Today, they remain a beloved souvenir for visitors and a source of local pride among artisans who continue to honour centuries-old traditions.

Confiture de Mirabelle: The Sweetness of Mirabelles

Mirabelle plum jam is the sweet souvenir of late summer. The luscious golden fruit is cooked down with sugar to create a jam that captures the fleeting essence of the fruit, a dollop of sunshine on a winter's morning croissant. The jam's vibrant taste is a testament to the region's bountiful orchards and the dedication of local producers who carefully handpicked and preserved each mirabelle. Enjoy it on toast or as an ingredient in pastries, sauces, and glazes.

Sweet Charcuterie: A Novel Idea

In the spirit of gastronomic explorations, consider the evolution of charcuterie to the land of sweetness. Candied meats and pork pies with a sugary twist offer a unique way to wrap up a meal, or a brave new addition to the dessert table.

The gastronomy of Bourgogne and Franche-Comté is a symphony of essence, a legacy of landscapes and a testament to a proud culinary legacy. With every bite, one can taste the lush fields and craggy plateaus, the rivers that run like veins through the land, and the warmth of the hearth that permeates the traditions. Bon appétit!


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