French language and culture commentary from the U.S. capital

‘Bon App’’

Fromage Faux Pas: How to Slice and Eat Cheese

decoupe

The well known gastronome Brillat-Savarin once said, “A meal without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.” Dramatic, to be sure, but so is the characteristically French love of fromage. In fact, many French people will excitedly be able to tell you that France has over 365 varieties of cheese. Enough varieties of one food that you could eat a different type every day for a year and still not get… Read More

An Introduction to Wine Tasting

delas

This blog has already profiled specific wines, wine regions, and winemakers, but for those who aren’t familiar with tasting, we thought it might be useful to provide an introduction to the subject more broadly. Accordingly, this post presents a convenient framework (and several resources) for thinking about wine. We’ll start with some encouragement and theory, followed by a few brief lessons and a case study on arguably the world’s best syrah. Wine experts are not mystics, just good students For… Read More

For the Love of Nutella

nutella

Oh sweet, sweet Nutella. The chocolate-hazelnut paste that has spread its way onto tables across the globe is easy to love and has become an obsessively addictive delight to be enjoyed on everything from crêpes to croissants to bare fingers the world over. And like every great love affair, there’s a story to go with it. Nutella got its start in Italy in the 1940s as a response to cocoa rationing during World War II. It originated as a… Read More

L’art du pique-nique

thepursuitaesthetic.com

Warmer weather signals many things: longer days, lighter clothing, and, of course, the pleasure of eating outdoors. There’s nothing quite like relaxing outside with a good meal and a bottle of wine, whether it’s at the beach, on a picnic table, or even sprawled out on a blanket in your jardin, to christen the arrival of good weather. Le pique-nique à la française is practically a national pastime. The French are known for their great… Read More

Navette Recipe: Celebrate Spring à la Marseillaise

navette

Printemps est enfin arrivée à Washington and for springtime à la française, one of the best treats is the classic navette, an individual, boat-shaped cookie traditionally made à la fleur oranger: with a touch of citrus and a hint of floral that will help you welcome the blooms — and take your mind off those allergies! The ideal place to find navettes is in Marseille, where the historic origins lie, but you can make them at home,… Read More

Fast Food Meets French Culture

20burger1902

The epicenter of haute cuisine, France may not seem a likely location for a fast food craze, but believe it or not, quick dining options have arrived and are making it clear they’re not going anywhere. Despite recent debates over the future of French cuisine, the country continues to be known for its gourmet food culture, and yet fast food restaurants have become increasingly popular. One study by food consultancy… Read More

Finding Red in a White Wine Capital

chateau

In Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer, a cocksure Ewan McGregor turns down a nice-looking pour with, “White wine — never really seen the point of it.” Despite its cheeky air, the quip conveys a preference that many probably find forgivable. Measured economically, on a global basis red wine outweighs white in terms of both volume and price. Yet the Loire Valley turns this law on its head. Along the banks of… Read More

Gender Confusion in French Nouns

coin

As an anglophone, the whole idea seems murky and overcomplicated, but you’ve accepted the facts: knowing which words are masculine and feminine in French is a pain in the fesses. Little did you know the heads-is-feminine-tails-is-masculine coin you’ve been flipping has a third surface. One that means the noun in question can be masculine or feminine. Fun, right? Depending on which article you choose, the word’s definitions are entirely different. The full list… Read More

“Diamonds” in the Rough: Unearthing French Truffles

Truffles in the market by KimonBerlin

As the cold settles over France every year, an intricate forest game of hide and seek goes on in France — and the target is a fungus. Extending from November to March, la saison de la truffe produces every gourmand’s dream: Périgord Diamonds. The shy but enormously sought-after prizes come from the southwestern region of Dordogne and are the most famous of France’s black truffles. When harvested, le truffe noir de Périgord may be shaved,… Read More

Sourced from France: the Single-Vineyard Cabernets of Diamond Creek

dclogo

In Washington, you don’t see many bottles of Diamond Creek. This Napa Valley estate only produces about 2,000 cases per year, and many either stay out west or are sent to Europe, Russia, or East Asia. To put this in perspective, a large Bordeaux estate like Léoville-las-Cases may produce nine times that amount in any given year, and some Napa estates clock in at even larger multiples. According to Phil… Read More