The Art Of
The refinement of Bordeaux seeps into all aspects of its culture, history and lifestyle. Our series of articles is intended to inspire and entertain.
As it happens all over the world, the year is coming to a close in Bordeaux. But here, it doesn’t end in quite the same way as it does elsewhere. The people of the Bordeaux region – renowned for their art de vivre and taste for the good things in life – adore festive times like these. And they have a very special way of celebrating the imminent New Year, while at the same time delighting their guests’ taste buds.
Gilles, sommelier and proud owner of Bordeaux’s Le Flacon wine bar, knows a bit about such fêtes; carefully selecting and pairing dishes with wines. We had the pleasure of spending some time with him. We also met Bénédicte, an effervescent, thirty-something winemaker and instructor at the Bordeaux Wine School. Meeting both gave us the perfect opportunity to learn more about their holiday meal traditions.
In case you didn’t know, being invited to take part in a Bordeaux meal at Christmas time is a very good thing. If you have the chance to celebrate Christmas Eve at Bénédicte’s place, you will no doubt meet her entire family, across all generations. The guests are there to share and savour good food, as well as enjoy being together. Bénédicte tells us she plans to concoct a dish of sole, monkfish, shrimp and mussels that’s been simmered in a blend of mushrooms, tomatoes, cream, cognac and white wine – a myriad of flavours and aromas will blend in exquisite harmony, while providing a light dining experience. A dish born from family tradition, she serves it with a dry white Bordeaux wine. With a nose of citrus and pear, the wine tastes full and generous in the mouth. Another ritual is foie gras and capon. As for the rest, it’s usually a surprise! Each member of the family (there can be up to 40 people around the table!) brings a dish and the wine that best accompanies it.
Gilles, a strapping fellow with a mischievous gleam in his eye, prefers poultry, an ingredient he will magisterially prepare, to capture all the generosity that the land and people of Bordeaux offer for food lovers. The nearby church tower has just struck six o’clock, but Gilles has yet to catch the fish that will be eaten tonight. Fortunately, his sisters are bustling about in the kitchen, while he scours his cellar in search of two or three gems to share with the evening’s guests.
When asked in what country they would most dream of celebrating the holidays; their choices are radically different. Gilles decisively declares it would be Italy – for the culture, his love of the food and for the change of scenery. Bénédicte, on the other hand, would gladly fly off to Finland…to meet Santa Claus. She’d like to pass on her own magic and traditions to him, by presenting him with a bottle of her own wine - deep red in colour and a nose that’s been blessed with a complex bouquet of spices and black fruit. Not to mention a magnum of water (of a great vintage, of course) for the reindeer!
Bordeaux wishes you a glorious holiday season. Let life be delicious!
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