Saturday, October 14, 2017

Savoie - Dining in the Savoy, France. The Departments of Savoie and Haute-Savoie in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman.
Mont Blanc
The residents, the people, of the Savoie are called Savoyardes, and the dishes from the region often have Savoyarde in their name. Then, if you find yourself having difficulties understanding some of the more elderly resident's private conversations, that’s because they are speaking Savoyarde,  a mixture of the two languages d'oïl and d'oc that sought to become modern French. 
 Le Canal de Savière, Chanaz
Lac du Bourget
The great cheeses of the Savoy.

Some of France’s most celebrated cheeses come from the Savoie region including Abondance AOP, Beaufort AOP, Chevrotin AOP, Emmental de Savoie IGP, Gruyère Français IGP, Raclette de Savoie IGP,  Reblochon AOP, Tome des Bauges AOP and  Tomme de Savoie IGP.
The wines of the Savoy.

There are more than twenty white, rose, and sparkling wines, all coming from just three appellations, including the Crémant de Savoie. The department of Haut-Savoie is known for its white wines while the department of Savoie has reds, roses, and whites. With a great deal of tourism and so much skiing, nearly all the region’s wines are consumed locally. So the ideal time to taste them is when you are there.

Dishes from the Savoie region on French menus:

Escalope Savoyarde – A veal escalope cooked in butter and served with slices of ham while surrounded with and browned with one of the Savoie’s cheeses, usually Gruyere Française, Emmental de Savoie, Beaufort or Reblochon.

Féra Fumée du Lac Léman –  Smoked broad whitefish from Lac Leman, Lake Geneva. The féra, the broad white fish, truite fario, brown trout and ombre, grayling, are fish from Savoie lakes that will be on many menus.

Fondue Savoyarde - Recipes for dishes similar to today’s Savoie cheese fondues date back two to three-hundred years. Then, the Savoie’s cheese fondues became famous with the growth of winter sports in the 1950’s. Today’s Fondue Savoyarde will include at least two or three Savoie cheeses usually chosen from Abondance, Beaufort, Emmental de Savoie or Gruyère Française. The cheese will be melted in white wine and flavored with a touch of garlic. The taste of the fondue changes with the percentages of the different cheeses used, so every restaurant’s fondue has its unique flavor. To these cheese fondues, may be added the Savoie’s much-appreciated kirsch cherry liquor.
Cheese fondue
Gratin Savoyarde  - Boiled potatoes baked in butter and beef stock and covered with one of the local cheeses and browned,  The gratin, together with a salad, may be a lunchtime main course as part of a fixed price menu, or it may be the garnish for a main course.
Gratin Savoyarde
Omelette Savoyarde – An omelet made with sautéed potatoes and Beaufort cheese.  Sometimes it is made with added ham or lardons, bacon pieces.
Soupe Savoyarde – A vegetable minestrone-style soup made with smoked lardons, bacon pieces, and crozets, served over gruyere or another of the Savoie’s cheeses on toast. Crozets are the Savoie’s traditional wheat, potato or buckwheat flour square pasta shapes. For local specialties like this much will depend on the chef’s grandmother’s recipe.

Tartiflettes and Reblochonades -  A whole Reblochon cheese baked, melted over boiled potatoes with some recipes adding crème fraîche to the cheese. The cheese and potatoes are the Reblochonade. On the side may be local dried meats, sausages or ham. The meats will be on the menu as charcuteries and the Savoie has many excellent dried meat recipes and lots of different cured hams.

The two departments
The Savoie and Haut-Savoie were part of the Italian Dutchy of Savoie until 1860. Then, along with the city of Nice on the Mediterranean, they became part of France. (The Savoy Hotel in London is named after this region).

The Savoie region.

The Savoie
The Savoie is home to France’s largest natural lake, Lac Bourget, over 18 km (11 miles) long.  With four fabulous lakes including Lac d'Aiguebelette, Lac des Évettes, and Lac de Tignes. (To protect the ecosystem of Lake Aiguebelette, motor boats, even for the fishermen and women, are prohibited).  For the tired traveler, the department of Savoie is home to the city of Aix le Bains, the third largest spa in France. For the hungry Savoie is home to some of France’s best chefs.  Aix le Bains is just 9 km (6 miles) from Lake Bourget and home to the Faure Museum with its significant collection of impressionist paintings and many of Rodin's works.  Chambéry, the ancient capital of the Dutchy of Savoie and now its departmental capital is just 18km (11 miles) away from Aix le Bains. For winter sports go to Albertville home of the last French Winter Olympics.
The Haute-Savoie.

The Haute-Savoie is home to the tallest mountain in France the Mont Blanc, which it shares with Italy and Switzerland. The Haut-Savoie also borders Lake Geneva, also called Lac Léman, which France shares with Switzerland and there are another thirty lakes in Haute-Savoie.  Annecy, the departmental capital, is a beautiful small town set on the even more beautiful Lake Annecy.  Annecy has an abundance of restaurants in the town and around the lake, including some of France’s finest. Here, we spent a week traveling around Lake Annecy enjoying all the Savoie’s wonderful cheeses.   The Haute Savoie is also home to over 100 of France’s skiing centers, including Megève and Chamonix. In Megeve along with a week’s skiing we enjoyed two perfect, but distinct, Fondues Savoyarde.
The old town of Annecy.

Mineral water from the Savoie region.
Local mineral waters include Aix, Badoit, Evian, Thonon. Altogether more there are more than thirty local brands.
Fountain in the town of Evian
Beer from the Savoie

Local beers include Nonne, Chanaz, Cimes, Mont-Blanc, Galibier, and Faucigny.
Connected Posts:


Behind the French Menu’s links include hundreds of words, names, and phrases that are seen on French menus. There are over 400 articles that include over 2,500 French dishes with English translations and explanations.  Just add the word, words or phrase that you are searching for to the words "Behind the French Menu" and search with Google.

Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2017.

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Mâche – Lamb's Lettuce or Corn Salad. Lamb's Lettuce in French Cuisine.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman.
A lamb’s lettuce salad.

Mâche - Lamb’s lettuce or corn salad. France’s tastiest contribution to a mixed salad. Mâche leaves are nutty, juicy, with just a tinge of spice, and a texture that expands when tasted with other salad greens.

The name lamb’s lettuce comes from the spoon-shape of the leaves said to resemble a lamb’s tongue. The name corn salad is associated with the plant growing like a weed in wheat fields.  Lamb’s lettuce grows wild all over Europe as well as in Egypt, North Africa, and North America.  While it has been cultivated in Europe since the 16th century, it was mostly looked down upon as food for the peasantry until the 19th century.

Nevertheless, mâche reached the tables of the French aristocracy through Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie (1626 – 1688).  Jean-Baptiste earned famed as the kitchen gardener in Nicolas Fouquet’s beautiful Chateau Le Vaux-le-Vicomte in the department of Seine-et-Marne 52 km (33 miles) from Paris. The Sun King, King Louis XIV, used Fouquet's Chateau Le Vaux-le-Vicomte as his inspiration for the Château de Versailles.
Chateau Le Vaux-le-Vicomte
Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie would become world famous as the creator of King Louis’s Potager du Roi, the King’s kitchen garden. From here he would bring hundreds of new fruits and vegetables to the king’s and France's tables. By the time of Napoleon III, lamb’s lettuce was on France’s restaurant menus.
Today, the Potager du Roi is a vital reservoir of heirloom plants and is a working agricultural school.  When visiting the Château de Versailles and you have an hour to wait for a tour then visit these gardens which are just behind the Chateau.
The Potager du Roi has a French language website, but it is easily understood with the Bing and Google translate apps:

The Potager du Roi.
Mâche on French menus:
Mesclun des Maraîchers Nantais – A mesclun salad from the market gardeners of Nantes. From around city of Nantes comes 80% of France's lamb's lettuce. A salad mesclun should have at least five types of young salad greens.  A well-balanced salad mesclun will include lettuce (sweet and crunchy), Treviso radicchio (bitter), mache (sweet, nutty), escarole (crispy and bitter), rocket (spicy), etc.  The ingredients will change with the seasons. A salad mesclun will be served with a vinaigrette sauce.
Noix de Saint Jacques Rôties, Salade de Mâche aux Agrumes – The roasted meat of King scallops served with a lamb’s lettuce salad with citrus fruits.
The meat of seared king scallops with a mâche salad.
Salade d'Avocat, Mâche, Roquette, Feta, Menthe Fraîche – An avocado salad with lamb’s lettuce, rocket, feta cheese and fresh mint.
Salade De Mâche, Tomates Séchées et Copeaux De Parmesan Lamb’s lettuce salad, dried tomatoes and shavings of Parmesan cheese.
Velouté de Mâche – A veloute, a velvety lamb’s lettuce soup. Only the lamb’s lettuce leaves are used.
Velouté de Mâche

Local names for mâche include blanchette, boursette, clairette, doulcéta, doucette, gallinette, oreillette, oreille-de-lièvre, raiponce and valérianelle. Mache salad is also known as Salade de Prêtre, a priest’s salad and Salade de Chanoine, a canon’s salad. Both belong to the Christian tradition of Lent when traditionally meat was not eaten.  
Now mâche is available everywhere, but twenty years ago that was not true. Then, just before returning home from a trip to France on the morning I left, mâche would be added to my last minute purchases. It weighed nothing and took no room, being practically unsquashable. 

Mâche is just as essential to a French green or mixed salad as the French think it is, and 80% of Europe's supply comes from the area around the city of Nantes in the Pay de Loire. The same area produces nearly 50% of all of Western Europe’s supply. There are several varieties, with the critics making much of their differences, but I enjoy them all.
Early 20th-century drawing of
Valeriana locusta var. olitoria, lamb’s lettuce.
Mâche in the languages of France's neighbors:

(Catalan - canonges), (Dutch -  veldsla), (German – feldsalat, Rapunzel), (Italian -  dolcetta), (Spanish -   canónigo),  (Switzerland -  nüsslisalat or nüssler)
Connected Posts:

Behind the French Menu’s links include hundreds of words, names, and phrases that are seen on French menus. There are over 400 articles that include over 2,500 French dishes with English translations and explanations.  Just add the word, words or phrase that you are searching for to the words "Behind the French Menu" and search with Google.

Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2017.

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman