The French region of Burgundy is full of powerful fragrance, from classic beef bourguignon to Dijon mustard and freshly-baked gingerbread
The clue’s in the name: this much-loved French dish originated in Burgundy but it’s become renowned the world over. One of many examples of a peasant dish slowly refined into haute-cuisine, this hearty stew contains beef slowly braised in red wine (traditionally red Burgundy) and beef broth with onions, carrots and mushrooms, and flavoured with garlic and a bouquet garni. Traditional recipes include lardons, but since modern beef is sufficiently tender and well-marbled these are often unnecessary – though cubes of bacon are often still used to produce the initial cooking fat, and re-added to the dish at the end.
Freshly-baked pain d’épices
Did you know Dijon was famous for gingerbread? The story goes that it was first imported here from Flanders by Duc Philippe Le Bon after he tasted it in Courtrai. By the end of the 15th century Gaulderye bread appeared (made with honey and flour), which was eaten until the end of the 17th. Pain d’épices doesn’t actually contain ginger; it’s a sweet, dense bread made with spices and sometimes coated in a sugar glaze or filled with blackcurrant (cassis) jam, another Burgundian speciality. Until 1949 Dijon boasted 12 gingerbread makers – one of them was Mulot & Petitjean, which has endured since 1796, and its boutique on Place Bossuet is well worth a visit.
Introduced for the first time in the Burgundy gastronomy in 1336 for King Philip VI's banquet, this French mustard only developed its reputation at the end of the 18th century. The reason for its popularity originates from the recipe of a Dijon mustard producer, Jean Naigeon, who decided to use vinegar instead of verjuice (the juice of unripe grapes). Traditional Dijon mustard is made from black mustard seeds soaked in water until swollen, and then blended with vinegar or white wine. The seeds are ground to create a smooth paste, though in a few local recipes some seeds are left whole.
To protect the authentic recipe, Dijon mustard received the AOC French quality label in 1937. Mustard lovers should visit the Grey Poupon-Maille boutique in Dijon, where a wide range of versions – including those with sun-dried tomatoes, Thai spices, French espelette pepper or Provence herbs – can be sampled. Apart from being a great condiment for meats, Dijon mustard is used throughout Burgundy in sauces, signified by ‘à la Dijonaise’ on restaurant menus.