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 does the over 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 delighting their guests’ taste buds, as well.
Gilles, sommelier and proud owner of Bordeaux’s Le Flacon wine bar, knows a bit about such fêtes. He carefully selects and perfectly pairs dishes and wines, and we had the pleasure of spending time with him. We also came across Bénédicte, an effervescent, thirty-something winemaker and instructor at the Bordeaux Wine School. A chance for us to learn more about their holiday meals.
In case you didn’t know, being invited to take part in a Bordeaux meal at Christmastime is a very good thing. If you have the chance to celebrate Christmas Eve at Bénédicte’s place, you will no doubt meet nearly her entire family, across all generations. The guests are there to share, savor, sup, and enjoy being together. Bénédicte tells us she plans to concoct a dish of sole, monkfish, shrimp, and mussels simmered in blend of mushrooms, tomatoes, cream, cognac, and white wine. Myriad flavors and aromas blend in exquisite harmony, while providing a light dining experience. A dish born of family tradition, served with a dry white Bordeaux wine with a nose of citrus and pear, full and generous in the mouth. Another ritual: foie gras and capon. As for the rest, one never knows! 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 just struck six o’clock and, though Gilles is not yet at the point of going out to catch the fish to be eaten tonight, his Christmas dinner menu is not yet well-defined. 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.
And when asked in what country they would most dream of celebrating the holidays, their choices are radically different. Gilles decisively declares it to be Italy – for the culture, the love of food, the change of scenery. Bénédicte, on the other hand, would gladly fly off to Finland…to meet Santa Claus. And to pass on her own magic and traditions, she would present him with a bottle of her own wine, deep red in color, the nose blessed with a complex bouquet of spices and black fruit. Not to mention a magnum of water (of a great vintage, needless to say) for the reindeer!
Bordeaux wishes you a glorious holiday season. Let life be delicious!
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