Kir, a taste of Dijon

      The first weeks of my life in France my French was a bit rusty and I could pronounce only two drinks well – bière and cafe au lait- suffice it to say I spent my first week or two drinking one or the other. But, I kept noticing that the people at the tables around me were drinking some pretty little red drink served in a cognac glass- wanting to immerse myself completely in my new French life, I got out the guide book and started researching. The drink was a Kir, easy enough to pronounce, I finally tried one at a little terrace under the trees of lively Place Zola in Dijon. It was lovely-the taste a little like cranberry,tart and sweet, with a subtle kick of dry white wine.

It turns out the Kir is Dijon’s specialty cocktail, made famous by Dijon’s most famous mayor Félix Kir (the local lake is named after him too). The Kir is a blend of Creme de Cassis, black-currant liquor from Dijon, and white wine, usually an Aligote from Burgundy. Fresh, sweet, tart, pretty and so easy, it’s my go to drink for practicing that perfect nonchalant at the local cafe pose.

Be sure to order a Kir for happy hour in Dijon or anywhere else in France…and if you’ve got something to celebrate (Valentine’s day, perhaps?) make it a Kir Royale-Creme de Cassis and Champagne, mais oui!

What’s your favorite French cocktail?

Besos, Dianne

(Image via Hospices-Beaune)

Little (foodie) Luxuries from The French Supermarket

I always love to stop in a supermarket when I’m abroad. Not only can I pick up the makings for a great and inexpensive picnic, but you get a peek into the way people really live wherever you may be, from the fruit, the butcher or fish monger, to the junk food and candy. A stop in a local supermarket will give you a first hand look at what the people really eat (and, in France it is the chance to pick up some escargot or confit de canard for your dinner party when you return home!) and offers a place to pick up a few gourmet pressies too. Here are a few small, inexpensive and très French ideas for all you foodies.

1. Bonne Maman – while you can find these jams and marmalade all over the world for a pretty price tag, in France they are generally on the cheaper end on the jam aisle. A good price (under 2 euros a jar), lovely design with that calligraphy on the label and the checked top,  soo many delicious flavors to choose from, and the jar looks nice even after you’ve enjoyed the jam. Look for the mini jars if you don’t have a lot of room in your suitcase, they’re adorable and five jars cost less than 3 euros.

2. Maille Mustard – Of course, if you are in Dijon you must go to the beautiful shop on Rue de la Liberté, but anywhere else in France go to the condiment aisle. You’ll find a few different styles of mustard, from the original Dijon Moutard, the seedy Moutard a la Ancienne, a few flavors mixed with tarragon or blackcurrants, but my favorite is the Moutard Fins Gourmet with a blend of herbs and white wine which makes a turkey sandwich, or any sandwich, so much better. Again, while you can pick up some Maille mustard abroad, the price tag (under 2 euros) and the variety of mustards, vinegar, and pickles they offer in France offer a nice surprise. If you’re looking for something smaller check out the tiny pots of Edmond Fallot mustard. A pack of four flavors costs under 3 euros.

3. Fleur de Sel-if you’re not familiar with it, fleur de sel is the hand harvested salt scraped from the top layer of salt before it falls under the water. In France it is usually from Brittany. Lately you’ve been seeing it all over the dessert world with sea salt chocolates and caramels. It might be a bit harder to find, but check near the mustard aisle. If you can find a pretty little box your gift is good to go and will cost under 4 euros. If not get a bag and you can make some make pretty pressies when you get home, I’d use tiny little spice jars or a tiny lidded jar,  or you can check out Design Mom’s idea on how package them.

4. Herbs de Provence– Everything tastes incredible with a pinch of the mix of oregano, thyme, lavender, basil, rosemary, sage and savory. I especially like to mix some in a cheesy omelette for lunch or dinner. Look for some of the cute packages in the south of France, or buy a big package to make into smaller gifts at home as pictured above (from Terrain). A bag will cost about 4 euros.

5. Anise de Flavigny– These candies, made here in Burgundy in the tiny town famous for the film Chocolat, come in a variety of flavors from traditional anise to violet, lemon, or ginger. Pick up a few tins for the sweets inside and because the little boxes are so pretty. One tin will cost you about 2.50 euros.

6. Creme de Cassis I first tasted creme de cassis mixed with white wine in a typical Kir on a terrace during our first week in Dijon, and I was hooked. Since then, a Kir is my usual aperitif. The Kir is the drink of Dijon, it’s named after a former mayor of the city who created the cocktail; you can also take a ride around the Dijon’s lake – Lac Kir, named after the same man. Sweet and just a bit of tart, creme de cassis adds the perfect kick to a cold white Aligoté wine, or, if you’re feeling really fancy, mix it with some champagne for a Kir Royale. Look for the pretty Gabriel Boudier bottle, it is the best and comes in a smaller sized bottle that is perfect for packing. A small bottle will cost under 8 euros.

Which would you like to give or receive?

Any other light and inexpensive ideas for gifts from the French supermarket?