Remember Gourmet Magazine? I still grieve. And if you go WAY back, then you remember when Gourmet used to have a feature called “Gourmet Holidays”, which exhaustively covered a specific destination with a luxurious word count (10,000 or so), capped off by restaurant and hotel recommendations, and recipes. We’ve toured many a city, clutching our dog-eared issue of Gourmet, prior to the days of TripAdvisor and Open Table.
The photos were definitely vintage, but as to the rest—well, things generally hum along in Burgundy just as they have for the past few centuries. Their coverage of all the sights and villages was quite correct, and I was surprised that even some of the restaurants were still around, after 42 years. Like the Restaurant Greuze in Tournous, which has gained and lost a star or two along the way, but is still flourishing. Photo: the old Gourmet articles included a cartoon or two, like this elegant Burgundian monsieur.
Many of the recipes they share are classic ones, still on les cartes today. Things have lightened up a bit; there is a Crayfish Omelette from the Greuze which may have the record for the highest fat and calorie count you can possibly cram into one dish (first you make a half pound of crayfish butter, then a sauce with heavy cream…). I won’t share them all with you—after all, are you going to whip up ‘Eggs with Foie Gras in Ramekins’ for breakfast tomorrow? I didn’t think so. Photo: Jambon persillé, featured in the article, is still on many a Burgundy menu. Food photography has changed a bit, you think?
However, there was a classic fish dish that sounded yummy and not terribly difficult. In my own test kitchen, it turned out to be pretty délicieux. And the article inspired me to plan some more traveling in my ‘home department’ of beautiful, bountiful Burgundy. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever done an overview of touring La Bourgogne for first-timers, so let’s do that soon, shall we?
RECIPE: Gourmet’s Lotte à la Mistral (Monkfish with Mushrooms, Leeks, and Cream)
A firm white fish like cod, halibut, or haddock should work, if you can't get monkfish.
- 8 slices of monkfish, or other firm fish, 1” (3cm) thick
- a (partial) bottle of dry Chardonnay
- 4 cups minced mushrooms
- 1 cup minced leeks
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cup tomatoes, peeled, chopped, and seeded
- 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
- 1 teapspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablesppon chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 cup dry vermouth
- 3 to 4 tablespoons crème fraîche
Pre-heat oven to 350 (175C). Arrange fish slices slices in a buttered, shallow, flameproof baking dish and add enough dry chardonnay to barely cover the fish. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat, cover loosely, and poach for 15 to 20 minutes, or until opaque. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer fish to a heated platter, pouring the liquid into a saucepan, to reduce; keep fish warm.
In a large skillet, sauté mushrooms and leeks in butter until they are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and seasonings except basil. Sauté the vegetables over medium high heat, stirring, until most of the moisture has evaporated. Add the basil the last minute or so; remove the bay leaf and add salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, reduce reserved poaching liquid over high heat to 1 cup, add 1/2 cup dry vermouth, and reduce by half. (this took me a while. Reduce it well, as the crème fraîche doesn't thicken it as much as you might think). Remove pan from heat, stir in crème fraîche. Top each slice of fish with a portion of the mushroom mixture, and nap with the sauce.
In the COMMENTS: Several readers have been to gîtes and share their experiences—and Page is going in June and will report back. Thank you, Paula and Rachel (of And Then Make Soup), for reminding me that gîtes are rated by wheat stalks, from one to five, which is based on the amenities offered (wi-fi, pools, etc.).
Favorite Reads: If you haven’t seen Kristin Espinasse’s review of Tita , zip on over to French-Word-a-Day to check it out. It’s about a girl growing up in the south of France, and it’s by Marie Houzelle.