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This month La Gourmet Box invites you to explore the département of Ain, north-west of Lyon. Benefiting from the sunshine and rich soil of the Jura Mountains to the north and the influence of the Rhone Valley to the south, the unique climate of this region yields a scrumptious array of culinary delights: the famous Bresse chicken, prized for its deep flavour and texture; Bleu de Gex cheese and Comté cheese from the Jura Mountains; freshwater fish from the Dombes lakes; the renowned French quenelles (large oval dumplings) in a crayfish butter Nantua sauce; Bugey wines, and so much more! After sampling this box, we know you'll agree with us that Ain is a food lover's paradise.
In the heart of Bugey Cerdon AOC country, the Lingot-Martin vineyards thrive in lime-rich clayey soil on terraced hillsides that give the grapes optimum exposure to sunlight. This Bugey Cerdon is a sparkling, subtly aromatic rosé made using the "ancestral method" from a blend of 2 varieties, Gamay and the native Poulsard. This bubbly wine, served chilled, makes the perfect aperitif. Unlike the Champenoise method, in which bubbles appear during a second fermentation that involves adding a liqueur de tirage (yeast + sugar) to the fully fermented wine just before bottling (after all of the grapes' natural sugar has already been transformed into alcohol), the ancestral method calls for a single, spontaneous fermentation in two stages with no added sugar (no liqueur de tirage or dosage). The natural sugars in the grapes themselves do the fermenting, but the process is interrupted by filtering and chilling the wine; once bottled and stored at room temperature, the natural yeast in the wine is reactivated and the fermentation process continues, producing carbonic gas trapped inside the stopped bottle and... voilà, bubbles! As there is no disgorging, a small amount of lees remain in the bottle. To eliminate them, the wine is transferred in a pressurized atmosphere to preserve the bubbles, filtered and returned to the clean bottles. And then our Bugey Cerdon is ready to savour!
Artisanal smoked carp rillettes (90 g)
Artisan: Le Fumet des Dombes.
In the heart of Ain, in the Dombes lakes region, this artisan has been smoking fresh and salt-water fish for over 30 years. The Dombes lakes are the perfect natural habitat for the common carp (Cyprinus carpio). By the time it reaches adulthood (2-3 years old), a carp weighs approximately 1.5 kilos, and its flesh is tender and low in fat. The smoking process is specially designed to preserve all the natural flavours of fresh carp. Prepared in rillettes (a kind of meaty spread very typical of France), this fish is a true delicacy served on slices of bread or blinis.
The Biscuiterie Les Gaudélices makes traditional baked goods from the province of Bresse (in the Rhône-Alpes region) using Gaudes flour, obtained by milling select kernels of lightly roasted sweet corn. Corn has been cultivated in Bresse since the 16th century, and Gaudes flour is one of its signature products. To make these savoury biscuits, the flour is combined with a bit of Comté, a locally-made cheese. These delicious, crunchy morsels go perfectly with a glass of sparkling Bugey Cerdon!
French poultry quenelles (5 pieces)
Artisan: Nolo Frères.
The French quenelles in Nantua sauce made by Nolo Frères, in the province of Haut-Bugey, are the legacy of a unique savoir-faire passed down from generation to generation since 1948. The recipe hasn't changed, and neither have the ingredients. Quenelles are a French delicacy, a type of dumpling made from semolina flour mixed with butter, eggs and milk or water, to which our artisans have added shredded poultry meat. This particular recipe is succulently meaty (22% poultry rather than the standard 12%) and calls for plenty of fresh eggs to ensure a fluffy, tender, melt-in-your-mouth experience. Best of all, it’s free of preservatives, artificial colouring and GMOs, guaranteed. In addition to selecting only the finest ingredients, Nolo Frères mixes the panade (quenelle dough) with the poultry using a traditional method that gives these dumplings their unique flavour. The mixing is done in two stages: first they blend semolina flour, salt, fresh whole eggs, beef tallow (preferable to butter because it gives the quenelles an unbeatable texture), fresh organic milk and a small amount of water to make the panade. After cooking for a while, this dough is then mixed with shredded poultry meat, fresh whole eggs and fresh organic milk. Nothing but wholesome, all-natural ingredients! To prepare your quenelles, bring a pot of salted water to boil and blanch them. When the dumplings rise to the surface, turn the heat to low, boil for 10 minutes and drain. Cover them with the authentic Nantua sauce you’ll find in your gourmet box, and dig in!
Authentic homemade Nantua sauce for French quenelles (215 g)
Artisan: Nolo Frères.
The Nolo Frères Nantua sauce is an exceptional béchamel made from organic whole milk, flour and crayfish butter. The Astacus astacus or noble crayfish, also known as "red-legged crayfish" in France, once thrived in the lakes of Nantua but is now fished in waters across Europe. They are cooked whole and minced to give the sauce its essential flavour and natural orange colour. Whole milk gives this Nantua sauce its creaminess and intense flavours (no water or artificial flavouring here!). It's the perfect companion to our quenelles: a match made in heaven!
Honey and apple pulp vinegar (10 cl)
Armelle, the founder of Maison Libeluile, is passionate about fine food, and that passion is reflected in her collection of premium vinegars made from fruit pulp, each more colourful than the next. The secret to her vinegars is choosing only the finest ingredients and making liberal use of fruit pulp. The result? All-natural, intensely fruity flavour. This month's gourmet box comes with a pale yellow vinegar made from the pulp of Granny Smith apples, whose zesty tang is offset by a local multiflower honey. This fruit-rich vinegar will definitely take your salads to the next level.
Artisanal kiwi-strawberry jam (160 g)
Artisan: Au Milieu des Fruits du Bugey.
Guillaume Menconi welcomes us to the heart of Bugey, where his orchards thrive thanks to the sun-drenched, fertile soil of the Jura Mountains to the north and the mild influence of the Rhone Valley to the south. In a laboratory on the premises, this artisan processes his own fruit crops as well as wild berries and plants gathered in the area, turning them into jams, jellies, sauces and vinegars in old-fashioned copper pots. The jam we've chosen for this box is a true delight, combining the tangy freshness of kiwi with the sweetness of strawberries, both grown in the province. A perfect balance for the perfect breakfast!
AND WITH A BIT OF LUCK... A CHANCE TO WIN ONE NIGHT AT A CHARMING HOTEL
Terres de la Grange, a lovely french countryside house in Rhône-Alpes region.
One of our GOURMET BOXES will contain a fantastic gift certificate that entitles two fortunate gourmands to a night at an extraordinary country guesthouse. The Terres de la Grange estate stands in the heart of the heart of the region Rhône-Alpes. While you wait for your box to arrive, we invite you to discover this lovely corner of France on their website. Good luck, gourmands!