What to Drink for Bastille Day

Any drink you serve at a Bastille Day party must cover two bases: It has to be French and it has to be refreshing—after all, unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere, for must of us, Bastille Day falls during that stretch of summer when temperatures start to really climb.

Here are my five top drink choices for toasting the day.

1. A Kir Royal….with St. Germaine

You know how much I love my nightly kir (white wine + crème de cassis) and my celebratory kir royale (sparkling wine + crème de cassis). Either will do on any other day of the year, but I think Bastille Day calls for something even more special. Make a Kir Royal with St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur…

The French spirit is made from macerated elderflowers; thankfully it’s more about a citrusy, pear-like freshness than it is about the floral notes, which are present, but not overly so. To make, simply place a tablespoon of St. Germain in a Champagne glass and fill it with about 5 ounces of sparkling wine.

2. A French Sparkling Wine

You can’t go wrong with sparkling wine when celebrating.

Wait a minute—strike that. Yes you can. Frankly, on these super-hot days of summer a toasty-dry Champagne just won’t do. I suggest toasting with something more fruity and light—such as a sparkling wine from the Loire Valley (crémant de Loire). Wines from this region are often off-dry (that is, a touch sweet). While winemakers can choose from about a dozen grape varieties to craft their blends, the most renown whites are anchored by Chenin Blanc, resulting in sparkling wines with a great balance of fruit and citrus notes.

Blanquette de Limoux: An easy-drinking wine that’s hard to find.

If you live near an incredibly well stocked supermarket, look for Blanquette de Limoux, a very easy-drinking sparkling wine from the Languedoc-Roussillon. To me, it’s like a cross between a Prosecco and a Moscato d’Asti: fruity, fun, and easy to like (unless your a close-minded dry-wine-only freak).

3. A French 75

For too many people “sweet” or “fruity” (mistakenly) means “unsophisticated.” For my [somewhat annoying] guests who are in that camp—those who might turn their noses up at my bright and fruity summer sparkling wines—I’ll morph the above Crémant de Loire (or Blanquette de Limoux) into a citrusy-tart French 75. They’ll get a drink that’s racy and refreshing. And because it’s spiked with gin, maybe their attitude will mellow a bit. Find my recipe here.

4. Pernod, Ricard, or Pastis

This is a classic South-of-France drink when the temperatures climb. For Bastille Day, I suggest doing something a bit different with it, however, and serving it in a cocktail: Either in un perroquet (with mint syrup) or in une tomate (with grenadine). See my recipes.

5. Une Piscine de Rosé (i.e., a goblet of rosé served over ice)

Yes–I know I’ve written about this trend lately, but it bears repeating. Because honestly, it’s what I’ll be serving this Friday, on the balcony and into the night. In case you’ve missed it, read about La Piscine here.

By the way—a winery has launched a new wine in France called Rosé Piscine—it’s a rosé specifically designed to drink on ice. Please don’t think for a minute that you have to buy this particular rosé. Really, just about any good, crisp rosé will do. But since it’s Bastille Day, please make it French.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

This Year’s Bastille Day Party Menu (It’s Easier Than Ever)
Host/Hostess Gifts for Bastille Day
Five Great French Apéritifs + Your Complete Guide to the Apéritif

Alors, what will you be drinking this Bastille Day? Tell me below—or on my Chez Bonne Femme Facebook Page.

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Great Gifts for Bastille Day 2017

This is my second in a series of some posts leading up to Bastille Day, Friday, July 14th. But first, a history refresher:

What, Exactly, Is Bastille Day? Celebrated annually on July 14, Bastille Day is the national holiday of France.  It commemorates the start of the French Revolution, which began on July 14, 1789 as the Bastille, a national prison and symbol of King Louis XVI’s absolute monarchy and power, was overtaken.

Much like America’s Forth of July, the holiday celebrates freedom and the fight against repression. It also celebrates the beginning of France as a republic.

Alors, vive la république!

On to today’s post:

So….you’ve been invited to a Bastille Day Party, and you want to bring a host/hostess gift. Whether you want to go high or low, I’ve got you covered! Here are some of my favorite French and France-related items for your favorite Francophile (or perhaps, just for you).

1. A French Cheese Sampler

Sure, I love heading to a great local cheese-counter and tasting through a bunch of cheeses to find a great gift…but sometimes, I just don’t have the time. That’s why this pretty little package will come in very handy! It comes with some of my favorites: Comté and Tomme de Savoie, as well as ever-popular Camembert and less-known Buchette Nostalgie (a soft goat’s-milk cheese). It also comes with some fig jam, and who doesn’t love that?

Best of all, you don’t have to wrap it….and even better, you can send it after the party, as a thank-you gift.

I also appreciate this: Oftentimes, cheese packages are very expensive to ship. Shipping on this set is free. It currently costs $65.95 on Amazon.

2. Le Creuset Silicone Trivet

I’ve pretty much cracked or chipped all my china trivets, and think this one will last forever. As of today, the price is $15.95, but you know that could change!

3. Le Creuset Cast-Iron Trivet

So, if you’re a little more fancy-pants, why not go for the Le Creuset Cast Iron trivet? It will wear like….iron, of course. And it’s just so lovely, with that kind of belle epoque design that reminds me a bit of the iron railings on balconies all over France. It’s $74.95, but hey, Amazon Prime Day is coming up (July 10), so keep an eye on the price—you never know.

4. My Favorite French Memoir of the Past Year: Finding Fontainebleau (Now in Paperback!)

Released in paperback just last May, this irresistible memoir is must-read for anyone who loves France. What I appreciate most about this book is that it goes beyond the usual touchstones of our Francophilia (The food! The markets! French bakeries! Cafés!) and tells us about a France few of us know: France of the 1950s. The author’s father, an Air Force officer, was posted to the town of Fontainbleau after the war, and Carhart recounts, among other things, life as an American schoolboy in a French lycée, along with camping trips his family took in post-war Europe. Interspersed with these utterly charming stories of his expat American boyhood is the history of the Chateau Fontainbleau itself—intrigues of those who lived there and often made their own marks on art and architecture of the grand residence, from François I to the Bonapartes.

Surprisingly, the book didn’t make the huge splash that Anglophones-in-France memoirs often make, but for you, that’s a good thing: Chance are, the recipient hasn’t already received or read it—and they’ll love you for turning them onto it. Right now, it’s priced on Amazon at $11.29.

5. Spices, Spices, Spices—and Salt!

Bring (or ship) a goodie bag of some essential French spices, including:
Herbes de Provence: The quintessential South-of-France blend of dried spices, anchored by thyme and rosemary, but also with lavender, marjoram, basil, and/or oregano. Great for grilled beef and lamb this summer!
• Piment d’Espelette: The classic Basque seasoning for seafood, chicken, eggs, and pipérade.
Fines Herbes: Tarragon, parsley, chives and chervil in a blend that’s divine on fish, chicken, and seafood.
Fleur de Sel: That beautiful finishing salt that adds extra flavor and texture to food.

Any other great gift ideas for the French food-lover in your life? Please share!

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Bastille Day Party Menu and Bastille Day Potluck Recipes

What to serve on Bastille day? Here’s a great party menu for Bastille day, including easy Bastille day recipes.

Lucky us! Bastille Day falls on a Friday this year, making it a fabulous day to have a party. Might I suggest and “apéritif dînatoire”—one of those cocktail parties that stands in as dinner? Below is menu.

(PS: Any one of these recipes can be good stand-alone recipes for toting to a French Bastille Day potluck):

Bastille Day Party Menu

• One really good centerpiece salade composée (main-dish salad)
• A few other good French salads
• Oeufs-Mayo
• Charcuterie
• Fromage
• A Great French Midsummer Dessert: Cherry Clafouti

Details, Details:

• A French main-dish salad

In the center of the buffet table, place one hearty salad. I suggest my Turkey Salad Veronique or Shrimp and French Green Lentil Salad. But you can’t go wrong with a great Salade Niçoise, either.

• A few other good French salads.

Put out some colorful faves: Roasted Beet and Blue Cheese Salad, French Tabbouli (or regular Tabbouli), Corn and Radish Salad, French White Bean + Tarragon Salad (page 52 of the Bonne Femme Cookbook).

• Oeufs-Mayo

True francophiles go nuts for oeufs-mayo, that deconstructed (and super-easy) version of deviled eggs. Put a platter of these babies out, and watch them disappear.

Rosette de Lyon. Photo by Jules Morgan.

• A French Cheese Platter, of course.

Make life easy on yourself: Just go to your favorite cheese counter and pick up a goat’s-milk cheese, a cow’s-milk cheese, and a sheep’s-milk cheese. You’ll have plenty of flavor variety, without going crazy about it (which can be kind of fun, too when you have the time).

• A Charcuterie Platter

Go to your favorite gourmet grocer and pick up some thinly sliced salamis (include some rosette de lyon, if possible), prosciutto, and pâté. Be sure to add some cute little French cornichons and some olives.

If you’ve thought ahead, and you want to go entirely upscale, consider purchasing some foie gras from D’Artagnan. (I recently tried the Foie Gras Torchon and swooned.)

Cherry Clafouti

It is SO easy to forget how good this simple dessert is. I just had a great reminder over the weekend, when I had a friend for lunch. Everyone loved it, and truly, it takes only moments to stir together before you slide it into the oven. And here’s a news flash: You can make cherry clafouti with tart cherries, too. That’s what I happened to have on hand, so I went for it, and we enjoyed the contrast of tart fruit and velvety-smooth sweet custard.  Sweet cherries are classic, though. Simply choose what you like best. And if it’s super hot in your neck of the woods, serve the clafouti nicely, refreshingly chilled. (If not serve it slightly warmed, which is more traditional.)

Sweet cherries (pictured) are classic, but sour cherries (tart cherries) work in Clafouti as well.

Whatever you do for Bastille Day, enjoy. And Vive la France!

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