Vive La France
Bastille Day Soiree
I have learned to savor both the simple pleasures and big experiences of life, by sharing with close friends and family my favorite things. Laughs shared. Memories relived and plenty of toasts made over some bubbly are among those appreciated the most, along with any reason to celebrate.
Thus, on July 14, in honour of Bastille Day, France’s national day commemorating the 1789 storming of the Bastille fortress-prison in Paris during the French Revolution, I hosted a small afternoon soiree. Perhaps this style of party had more in common with Marie Antoinette’s tastes then the revolutionists, but nonetheless what better way to bring friends together in true Parisian style.
To prepare for the celebration I chilled a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne, knowing it would be perfect to mark the occasion. The house of Veuve Clicquot has always been a developing Champagne house it was founded in 1772 only 17 years before the start of the revolution. During the Napoleonic Wars, Madam Clicquot extended great effort to establish her wine in royal courts all over Europe and today boasts the Royal Warrant of Queen Elizabeth II, identifying it as a personal favorite. The brand’s signature bright yellow label, set on a dark green bottle is a recognizable trademark for those who savor champagne.
Once chilled the champagne was served in flutes, stemware designed specifically for carbonated drinks. This style of goblet features a tall, narrow bowel which prevents the bubbles from escaping, while the long stem prevents the wine from warming in your hand. When poured the champagne appears as a light, pale yellow liquid bubbling up in the glass. Your nose will immediately pick up on a crisp bouquet full of fresh green apple and yeast. Once the champagne hits your tongue the bubbles burst into action, delivering a delightful, very dry flavour with hints of apple, pear, and freshly baked bread. Because of it dry or ‘brut’ nature, this champagne pairs well with smoked salmon, caviar, and sweets!
I matched this Veuve Cliquot with classic French pastries from Toronto’s Nadege Patisserie, a hidden gem in our city and one of the finest patissiries in Canada, combining four generations of pastry chef experience. Chef Nadege Nourian, born in Leon, France, into a family of dedicated confectioners, bakers, pastry chefs, and chocolatiers. Following in her family’s footsteps, she is taking traditional techniques to modern heights. After a lifetime in Europe learning, creating and working with some of the top chefs in the world, she has brought her talents and passion to Toronto. I have no doubt that Nadege will grow and prosper, bringing its sweet culture to Torontonians.
Macaron, a delicacy brought to France by Queen Catherine de’Medici of Italy in the 16th century, was later perfected by French bakers. This delicacy, referred to as a gerbet, is comprised of jam, ganache, or butter cream, sandwiched between two wafers made of egg whites, sugar, and almond paste (essentially baked meringue). It was first created at the world famous Patisserie Laduree in Paris, personally my favorite confectioner in the world, which is a must visit when next in Paris. These decadent and delicate treats, which are prepared in a variety of flavors marked by distinct colors, literally melt in your mouth. From the traditional chocolate, vanilla and pistachio, to more adventurous flavours, such as salty caramel, rose, coconut, or camembert cheese, all are sure to please. With playful colours and assorted flavours there is no better way to charm your guests.
At my soiree we toasted the passionate thinking and actions of the revolutionists of centuries ago, while enjoying the gastronomic legacy of France. The afternoon was a wonderful success with my guests happy to discover that any reason to celebrate the finer attributes of life is reason enough. While many of our modern day dining practices, utensils and foods can be attributed to the French culture, I am just happy to salute their passion and love of finer things. Vive La Revolution, Vive La France!