A Burgundy-Inspired New Year’s Eve Dinner!

Lately, folks have been asking me what I’ll be making for dinner this New Year’s Eve, and what could be better than a meal inspired by a recent trip to France’s Burgundy wine region?

Last September we had the pleasure of spending a truly delightful day in Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy, with Marjorie Taylor and her daughter Kendall Smith Franchini, Founders of The Cook’s Atelier. Originally from the US, Marjorie and Kendall followed their bliss to France and started their new venture five years ago. Kendall had been living in France for ten years, going to school and then working for Christie’s Auction House and wine importer Kermit Lynch. Marjorie was co-chef proprietor of the award-winning restaurant and cooking school, Ruby Beet Gourmet, in Phoenix, Arizona prior to making the move overseas. She had also studied at La Varenne cooking school under noted teacher and cookbook author, Anne Willan. Together, this mother daughter team decided they wanted to be on the same side of the pond and now offer market tours and hands-on cooking classes to students lucky enough to score a spot in one of their highly coveted classes. And for good reason, the “Market Tour & Lunch” class we experienced was hands down one of the highlights of our entire trip.

Many people had recommended we see the Beaune market during our visit and we considered ourselves very fortunate to have Marjorie as our guide – there was so much to see! As we made our way through the vast marketplace, Marjorie introduced us to her favorite purveyors of produce, meats and cheeses. Everything from Bresse chickens to Truffe de Bourgogne beckoned – it was truly a feast for the senses. After we had procured the ingredients for our lunch, we took the short walk through the charming town of Beaune to the “atelier” (French for studio or workshop), a small but very elegant and inviting space. A beautiful zinc-topped farm table was the room’s focal point as well as a large chalkboard featuring the day’s menu. Two generously sized windows allowed sunlight to stream in, giving the space an ethereal feel and making for ideal food photography (coincidence?). To the right was the kitchen, already appointed with work stations where we would all help prepare the day’s meal. Everyone got to participate and Marjorie was a very relaxed and patient instructor not to mention the lady can cook!

Once finished, we were treated to chilled flutes of Crémant de Bourgogne, Burgundy’s sparkling wine, paired with Marjorie’s delicious Gougeres which, up until that day, had always seemed too daunting to make. They were warm and divine right out of the oven and took the edge off of our hunger which we were just starting to notice. Soon after we sat down to a beautiful meal of Escargot with Parsley Butter followed by Monsieur Vossot’s Filet of Beef with Late Summer Vegetables and Roasted Potatoes with Thyme. By the time our dessert of Summer Butter Cake with Soft Cream arrived at the table we had become fast friends with our fellow students, also visitors from other countries around the world.

With our meal we enjoyed local wines made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (Burgundy’s specialty!) and since we also visited Maison Louis Jadot and Maison Joseph Drouhin during our trip I’d like to suggest a few of their wines to pair with this delicious meal. Burgundy is generally a pricy proposition, however, if you’re looking for two great values, try the 2011 Drouhin Vaudon Chablis ($25) a citrusy, flinty Chardonnay with a racy acidity which will pair nicely with the rich escargot. For a red, try the 2010 Louis Jadot Chateau de Jacques Morgon ($32) with notes of black cherry and currant with a lovely minerality and supple tannins. If you’re looking to kick it up a notch for New Year’s Eve, try the 2010 Louis Jadot Meursault ($54), a rich, mineral-tinged white made from 100% Chardonnay, which would make a lovely pairing for the escargot. The 2009 Joseph Drouhin Clos de Mouches ($95), a delicious, cherry and spice-laced red with silky tannins made from 100% Pinot Noir, would complement the filet of beef beautifully. By the time we had finished our “lunch” it was around 5pm, and we were in no rush to leave the “atelier” with its deliciously inviting atmosphere. Reluctantly, we eventually said our goodbyes and made our way back to our hotel. All in all it was a pretty fabulous and memorable day!

I really look forward to recreating this meal for New Year’s Eve and I hope you enjoy it as well. All of the wine recommendations are available through The Wine Atelier and to access the recipes, just click the recipe names in the above paragraphs which will take you directly to The Cook’s Atelier website. If you plan on traveling to France in 2014, I highly recommend a visit to The Cook’s Atelier. If you’re a foodie I think you would thoroughly enjoy it. Wishing you a very Healthy and Happy New Year!