Joigny is said to house the largest set of half-timbered houses in all of Burgundy, likely due to its close proximity to the vast, forested area of Pays d’Othe – though it stretches into the Champagne region, the drink of choice here is cider! The art of cider making is not limited to the Normandy and Brittany region, this area of northern Burgundy is well known for its cider aussi! Their avrolles apples are native to the area of Yonne, due to their high acidity, they are too tarte to eat fresh, and so, are commonly used in baking and cider making.
Further into the heart of the Yonne area, we find a pastry close to our own hearts. Les gougères!
What are gougères? For those who haven’t been drooling with us over on our Instagram page, gougères are airy pastry puffs made with pâte à choux (choux pastry) and topped with cheese - most commonly, grated Comté, Emmentale, or Gruyère. They make a perfect appetizer, or if you’re like us, an all-day snack. The village of Flogny-la-Chapelle love this pastry so much they hold an annual festival to celebrate it. La Fête de la Gougère takes place on the third Sunday of May during which approximately 17000 of these delightful pastries are baked in a day!
Can’t make it to Burgundy this festive season, but still want to have the perfect party staple under your belt? Don’t worry, you can bring gougère right to your home with our online Choux pastry course. Our courses are for all baking levels, from complete beginners, to avid bakers who just want to hone their choux skills.
Making our way to the quaint village of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, who holds the title of one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (the prettiest villages of France) we find ourselves some of Burgundys famous bonbons (candies). Anis de Flavigny is considered la plus vieille marque de France (France’s oldest brand) the factory has been in the same Benedictine abbey for the last 400 years but the story of this sweet goes back to the Middle Ages. Sometime in the 8th century the monks concocted the idea of covering an anise seed in sugar, and it must have been a hit because the factory workers use the same recipe and ingredients to this day! If you haven’t been convinced to put Burgundy on your bucket list yet, maybe this will sweeten the deal.
Continuing on with our Burgundy adventure, we couldn’t talk about Burgundy without talking about wine, and we couldn’t talk about wine without a little history on the Burgundy area, notably, the land. Any wine maker worth his salt will tell you the secret to Burgundys success is all down to the le terroir which takes into account the geography, soil, and even how the land has been managed through the ages.
Why is Burgundy wine so popular?
Well, some of its notoriety has to do with just how long Burgundy has been making wine, which dates back to around 50 BC when the Celts were inhibiting the area and continued on through after the Romans took over the region. After the fall of the Roman empire, it was the church who took over the wine making.
The original objective of the monks was to cultivate the wine used for mass. Through their devotion to this practice, and their meticulous documentation, they developed a thorough understanding of the land they kept. By the 15th century their quality of wine was recognized around Europe.
All this to say it has been going on for a very long time! And because of this they have somewhat perfected the process. There are two main types of burgundy wine, Bourgogne Rouge, which uses the Pino Noir grape, and Bourgogne Blanc, which uses the Chardonnay grape. As wine has been such a large part of Burgundy’s history it’s no surprise that it has found its way into the food! Like boeuf bourguignon (burgundy beef) a popular dish this season, this beef stew is cooked with carrots, potatoes, onions, and a bouquet garni (a bundle of herbs typically tied together with a string) and of course, red wine. Traditionally the stew takes two days to cook, making the meat more tender and the flavor more powerful.
Tis the season, and spiced bread makes for the perfect festive treat this time of year. Nonnettes (little nuns) are a version of pain d'épices (gingerbread) brought to France by Margaret of Flanders on her marriage to Philip of Rouvres, the Duke of Burgundy in the 1300s. The nonnette is a round spiced cake, traditionally made with orange jam in the center, though it can now be found in a variety of fillings from raspberry to chocolate. The name nonnette comes from the French word nonne (nun) referring to the nuns who made them in their convent in the Middle Ages. Though Reims was originally considered the capital of spiced bread, the title moved to Dijon in the 19th century where it remains to this day. Of the twelve factories that produced this bread, only one remains today. The Mulot & Petitjean family business based in Dijon, has kept the tradition alive for the past 200 years, even being accredited with the “Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant” label. This label assigned by the French state rewards French businesses for their excellent traditional and industrial skills. While they don’t offer worldwide shipping, they do ship to most of Europe and the Uk for our friends nearby!