Food

Goût de France 2019

Thursday, March 28, 2019

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Goût de France (Good France), which was started in 2015, is a renowned worldwide gourmet festival that celebrates French gastronomy. The event showcases the best of French cuisine and this year, the first in Jamaica for French Ambassador to Jamaica Denys Wibaux and his wife Angélique, saw 30 guests dine on four courses at the ambassador's Hillcrest Avenue residence.

After Champagne (Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé) and cocktails on the airy véranda, guests found their seats around four tables. Each was named for a culturally and historically important region of France — Flandres (Flanders), Bourgogne (Burgundy), Bretagne (Brittany), and Provence. Flanders is the location of the Second World War Battle of Dunkirk; Burgundy is famous for its wines; Brittany is the seventh-richest region in France, home to a large number of medieval buildings, inspiring numerous French artists since the 19th century; and the French Riviera is located in Provence.

Dinner began with foie gras. Yes, it was brought directly from France. Creamy and sinfully delicious, the foie was accompanied by onion jam, toasted brioche (the bread was obtained from Eleni's Bakery) and alfalfa sprouts, you know to balance out all that fat. Wink. The second course, too, saw duck being served: the classic French dish duck à l'orange.

The entrée was France on a plate: rich, confident but connected to agrarian roots. The duck was accompanied by a sweet and earthy pumpkin purée and al dente turned zucchini, carrots and beets. Fun fact: turning vegetables is a classic French cookery technique in which vegetables are peeled to form the same barrel shape to be aesthetically pleasing and have the same cooking time. This was followed by an impressive cheese course that, honestly, could have been the only thing served and guests would have left impressed and satiated.

The cheeses, personally chosen by Angélique Wybaux, included Bleu de Brebis de Charlevoix, Camembert, Comté, and Sainte Maure de Touraine, shared the same boarding pass as the foie gras. Rounding out the cheese course were pâte de goyaves (known locally as guava cheese), nuts and crusty baguette from Eleni's. Ambassador and Madame Wibaux clearly wanted to give their guests a night in France. And they did. But wait, there's more.

For dessert guests were treated to a trio of classic French desserts: silky crème brûlée, a soft and chewy macaron, and a square of delightfully spongy opéra cake. The portion and flavours were the perfect way to end the meal.

Thursday Food would be remiss if we did not mention the wines. Of course, they were French! Served at dinner were a 2016 William Fevre Petit Chablis; a 2012 Château Les Gravières Saint-Émilion Grand Cru; and a 2014 Thomas Barton Sauternes. The mineral notes, zesty freshness and nutty aromas of the Petit Chablis cut through the unctuousness of the foie gras and highlighted the pleasing minerality of the onion jam. The earthy, slightly herbaceous and black pepper notes of the Saint-Émilion Grand Cru sang gloriously and when paired with the duck à l'orange it was a symphony. Coming round the bend was the Sauternes whose syrupy legs, floral nose and nectarine notes could stand up to the deliciously strong cheeses.

Goût de France 2019 Jamaica succeeded in the global mission of celebrating French gastronomy and upheld the French adage “Le bonheur est dans la cuisine” — happiness is in the kitchen.


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