One of the best reasons for working aboard Finesse from a chefs point of view is Burgundy’s great larder.
I am only with finesse for seven months a year, but these incorporate spring, summer & autumn the three best seasons of the year for produce.
I usually arrive in April to welcomed at the markets by one of my favourite ingredients asparagus, in all of its varieties from the thick stemmed white varietal through the various types & thicknesses of green asparagus to the wild asparagus with it’s very different appearance. Asparagus is so versatile to cook with, we blanch, roast, steam, ferment, pickle & serve it raw, fermenting & pickling are ways extend the season as asparagus only has a short time where it is at its best. Around the lock keepers forage for wild asparagus which sometimes I am lucky enough to get. I will post about fermenting white asparagus in weeks coming.
Here is a little pre starter of green and white asparagus.
Tomatoes are also one of the great sights when arrive & head of to the market, around the world they call them heirloom or heritage tomatoes, but here in France the they just call them tomatoes, but marked up with great names like green zebree, noir de crimee, ananas & marmande.
I buy great tomatoes & try not to do too much with them, sometimes the produce so good it will stand on its own, we serve tomatoes with a bit of great mozzarella, basil & balsamic vinegar or olive oil.
Selection of heirloom cherry tomatoes from a local market.
My other favourite ingredient that is available when I arrive is the violet artichoke, which for me is synonymous with French cuisine & I find very therapeutic to prepare. The previous post was a recipe for artichoke a la barigoule, which is a classic way to prepare & cook artichokes.
We move on to may with local strawberries & brassicas arriving in the market, As anyone who stayed on Finesse will know brassicas which include cauliflower, broccoli, purple sprouting, tenderstem & romanesco. These are some of the most versatile vegetables around & depending on how you cook them can pair with anything savoury. I will post some recipes with these paired up with sone spice from my travels in Asia.
Next to come into season are a couple of my favourite fruits apricots & cherries which we use in abundance on the boat & I will post a number of recipes for over the next few from a clafoutis to sorbet. These are great fruit from a chefs point of view as they can be used in the sweet or savoury side of kitchen & they can be preserved by pickling, fermenting, steeping or freezing, for the more adventurous of you will put up a post about lacto fermenting fruit which will give you a new flavour profile, I will be using this quite a bit on the boat this summer, we have a dish of cauliflower, lacto fermented apricot & salted caramel & a dish of duck breast, confit with fermented & fresh cherries.
Also in June we get fennel in season which is another of my favourite ingredients, however I like to use this in the sweet side of the kitchen, it pairs beautifully with lemon, lime, orange, rhubarb, mint, dill, thyme, ginger & chocolate of all types, nothing better than a dark chocolate & fennel truffle, but currently my favourite ice cream is my fennel ice cream we pair up with rhubarb on the boat, I will post the recipe here soon.
We have access to a lot of great produce over the summer but I always look forward to the start of autumn and the arrival of local wild mushrooms, there are a lot of wild mushrooms on sale now but there is nothing like fresh local mushrooms, the flavour they carry & the way they smell, fresh apricot smelling girolles cooked with thyme & copious amounts of butter.
I will post about preparing wild mushrooms, cooking and preserving them in next few weeks.
Fresh local ceps & girolles.