First Banquet

Bonjour from Banquet Team 1 – Grace, Julia, Azlyne, and Sarah! We were in charge of preparing the first banquet of the semester, and we are going to take you through our journey!

Banquet Team 1 (from left): Sarah, Grace, Azlyne, and Julia

After some deliberation, we decided to make Boeuf Bourguignon as our plat principal (main dish). Julia, who is from Montreal, suggested one of her family’s traditional recipes for Boeuf Bourguignon that she really enjoys. After confirming our plat principal with Dr. Caldwell, we chose the food for our other courses, and settled on the following menu:

Aperitif: Kir Royal

An aperitif is a drink served before the entrée. A Kir Royal is champagne mixed with Crème de Cassis, which is a sweet blackcurrant liqueur.

Entrée: Asperges á la Périgordine

Our appetizer was asparagus in the style of the Périgord region. Most Périgord dishes contain either foie gras or truffles. In our case, the asparagus was paired with foie gras and mini bocconcini.

Plat Principal: Boeuf Bourguignon à la Québécoise / Nouilles aux oeufs

This was the recipe from Julia’s family.  Boeuf bourguignon is a dish originating in the Bourgogne region of France.  For over two and a half hours, the beef is slowly cooked in a red wine from Bourgogne. Towards the end of the cooking process, mushrooms and small onions are added in the pot. The boeuf bourguignon was served on egg noodles, with a side of cooked carrots.

Salade: Salade verte à la sauce Julia

A green salad with a traditional french salad dressing, consisting of red wine vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, salt and pepper.  

Assiette de Fromages: Bleu de Gex / St. Félicien / Comté / Palets de Sud-Ouest

We selected a blue cheese from the border of Switzerland, a cow cheese, a hard cheese aged 18 months, and a goat cheese, respectively.

Dessert: Gateau au coeur fondant de chocolat

Rather than baking a dessert, we adopted the French tradition of buying a high-quality dessert from a bakery, or the Marché des Capuçins in our case. We chose a soft chocolate cake.

Vin: Château de Citran 

We paired our banquet with a red wine from the Haut-Medoc region of Bordeaux.

Our menu, handwritten by Grace, on display at the banquet.

On Friday afternoon, we made a trip to buy the majority of our ingredients at the Auchan grocery store – a process that took a few hours. We also had to buy some pots and pans in order to make a meal of this magnitude. After shopping, we dropped everything off at Dr. Caldwell’s apartment and went over final logistics.

On Sunday, the day of the banquet, we started the preparation process at 11:30 AM. Azlyne and Sarah went to the market at this time to buy fresh ingredients for the meal. They bought a giant loaf of organic bread that was so big the worker had trouble slicing it, pâté which they discovered was really foie gras, provencal green olives that had one black one mixed in, four cheese varieties that took forever to choose, and a chocolate cake that was simply amazing. They were even successful in ordering everything in French!

While Azlyne and Sarah bought the final ingredients, Grace and Julia started preparing the meal. Meat was sliced into cubes and started in the pot, salad dressing was made, mushrooms and onions were prepared for cooking, and asparagus was boiled (in the microwave!).

Julia starting the process of Boeuf Bourguignon with the first step: cutting the meat

Boeuf bourguignon can be a tricky meal to make, especially when it comes time to blend in all the ingredients, such as the wine and the bouillon (broth). This is because the timing is key while pouring each ingredient, in order to avoid clumps in the sauce. Julia was worried that the sauce was going to be too clumpy, so she decided to make a transatlantic call to her mom via skype. Luckily, her mom picked up the phone! She spent some time advising Julia mid-banquet on how to proceed in order to make the perfect Boeuf Bourguignon. On s’adapte!

We fashioned the room in Dr. Caldwell’s apartment for the banquet by rearranging his desk into an extra table, and then set the places at both tables beautifully for our guests.

The smaller table and entrée 

Our guests arrived at 3:30 PM, and we started them off with an aperitif (the Kir Royal), peanuts, and olives, while we finished final preparations to serve the entrée.

Our valued guests (Sebastien, Molly, Fiona) with their aperitifs

The first course, Asperges à la Périgourdine, was served around 4:30 PM. Since we had two vegetarians in the group, we gave them extra asparagus, carrots, and mozzarella balls in place of the foie gras.

We proceeded to eat the Boeuf Bourguignon, followed by the salad and cheeses, completing final preparations between each course. We ended our meal with the chocolate cake (not without fighting over who would get the biggest piece). As the evening drew to a close, there was a special guest appearance from Mina Carolina, Grace’s childhood pop star alter-ego.

Beef Bourguignon on egg noodles, our plat principal

The banquet itself lasted six hours, from 3:30 PM to 9:30 PM. It was a wonderful way for us to spend our Sunday, an event filled with eating, drinking, and socializing. As we finished up our final courses, we were able to admire the beautiful nightfall over the Pont de Pierre.

A beautiful view of the Garrone river from the window Dr. Caldwell’s apartment.

Our team really enjoyed the entire process of the banquet. We are all looking forward to our next banquet – when we get to arrive as guests!

Banquet Team 1 signing off! Stay tuned for our adventures in Paris. Au revoir et à bientôt!

Grace, Azylne, Sarah, and Julia


The Perigord: Geography, Food, & Wine

Hey! This is blog Team 4: Zach, Tanner, and Emily.

It was a beautiful weekend in Southwestern France, where the sun decided to pop its head out for the long awaited day trip to the Perigord! We took a break from the hustle and bustle of city life and took to the countryside to enjoy fresh green grass and rolling hills. The Périgord is a region in Southwest France known for its rich history, wildlife, and cuisine. Humans have been preparing food there longer than anywhere else in France (due to prehistoric connections in the Périgord). Most importantly, it is the center of truffle production– our main reason for making the trip!

Le soleil!

We began our Saturday morning awaiting our chariot (office of tourism bus) to take us to the countryside. However, the wait was a little bit longer than we expected… Instead of becoming worried and upset our group said “On s’adapte!” and walked around shining Bordeaux enjoying the sun and a café until the new bus arrived; in no time we were on our way to the Périgord!

Cate and Emily with the beautiful countryside home– our restaurant for the day!

It was a quick change of scenery as we drove away from paved sidewalks into vast lands of green. After a smooth ride, we arrived at the Truffle farm where we were immediately greeted by the owner of the farm and home. We didn’t waste any time when it came to eating, and immediately sat down in their rustic countryside home for a meal that can only be described as “the best food I’ve ever eaten” (-Grace Caldwell). As any great chef does, he explained to us how each course was prepared and various facts about truffles or “les truffes!” The first course was a small piece of pain (bread) with a truffle infused spread.

No true French meal is complete without l’eau de vie, which in English translates to the water of life. However, in France l’eau de vie refers to the life necessity– alcohol, specifically wine. With our meal we sipped on a sweet white wine called a Rosette. In contrast, we were served a bottle of red– a 2011 Château de Lys.

A smooth red wine called Chateau de Lys

Next came a dish called “La Brouillade” or in layman’s terms– fancy scrambled eggs. In short, this dish is prepared by whisking an egg, putting it in a container with truffle and leaving it in the fridge for a week. After this delicious dish, we were served les pâtes (pasta) with sauce aux truffes overtop (truffle sauce). On deck was a lightly dressed salad and a signature french cheese plate. To finish the delicious meal, was a small dish of vanilla ice cream adorned with a truffle caramel sauce. The perfect way to end a truffle meal!

La brouillade

Shortly after we began digesting our five course lunch, we joined a group of eager and lively people from all over the world. We were welcomed warmly as the “university students from New York.” Although we were already truffle connoisseurs, we listened to the farmer teach more truffle facts. France, Spain, and Italy are main producers of the truffle, however it was made clear to us that France reigns supreme over the latter two. This may be so, but did you know that parts of the United States produces truffles as well? California, Oregon, and North Carolina are among the truffle producing states!

Emily smells fresh truffles

Though they use dogs here at Pechalifour, pigs are expert truffle sniffers too.

The most important and interesting point of his presentation was when describing how he finds the truffles on his land. There are three methods to truffle hunting: using a trained furry four legged friend, a pig, or the method of “tapping.” This entails using a stick to tap on the ground, if une mouche (a fly) flies away from the dirt, that spot is likely where a truffle is hiding. However, lucky for us the farm had a trained dog to spot out truffles and her name was Lino! Although young, Lino had a great sense of awareness for truffles and served the group well! The SLU group was active during the hunt. Abroaders Grace Wetzel and Fiona Johnson stepped up to the plate and dug up some truffles of all different sizes- with the speedy assistance of Lino of course!

Fiona rejoices, holding her truffle

Grace digs for her truffle, the biggest found by the group

Due to our slight bus dilemma, our trip was cut a little short. However, we saw and experienced everything to make our trip one we will never forget. The day was chalk full of laughs, beautiful weather, (most importantly) a dog, and a once in a lifetime experience. After a quick group photo in front of the picturesque countryside we scurried onto the bus to return to our beautiful Bordeaux with full stomachs and happy hearts. Thank you for reading and following along!

Nous voici!

On s’adapte!

P.S. shout out to Grace Caldwell our student intern for researching and planning this awesome day trip!

Emily, Tanner, and Zach

Toulouse and Carcassonne

Bonjour from Toulouse and Carcassonne! This is Blog Team 2: Charlton, Grace, Alena, and Fiona!

Blog Team 2 hard at work giving you a glimpse into our journey!

This weekend the program took an excursion to the beautiful city of Toulouse, which is approximately two hours South-East of Bordeaux. Toulouse is known as “la ville rose,” or the pink city, due to the pinkish color of the brick buildings.

Toulouse, “La Ville Rose.”

After arriving in Toulouse, we got settled into our hotel rooms and got bundled up to go explore the city. Dr. Caldwell took us on a walking tour where we learned a lot about the history of the city. Most notably, we took a long detour into the Basilique Saint-Sernin, a beautiful Romanesque-style Basilica in the center of the city. Probably because we are an odd-looking group of American teenagers, one of the curators asked if we wanted to see more of the cathedral. Most of us took him up on his offer and were lucky enough to climb up to the second floor, the “tribunal.”

The Basilica Saint-Sernin

    A beautiful sunset at le Couvent des Jacobins

After the basilica, we went to see “Le Couvent Des Jacobins,” a Gothic-style monastery. This was also so beautiful, and there was a garden there that we were admiring when the sky decided to completely downpour on us. Luckily, there was a chic cafe across from the Place du Parlement, so that became the next stop on our tour–we admired the Place du Parliament as we drank some Chocolat Viennois (hot chocolate with whipped cream).

Macalah, Molly and Fiona, all smiles with their chocolat!

The place du Parlement

From there, we went to a restaurant called Le Point d’Ogre where we celebrated Grace’s 21st birthday over three courses – and lots of wine! We hit a record of 3 ½ hours for one meal. Some popular choices for food were: gateau du canard (duck cake) and pied de cochon (pigs feet).

Celebrating Grace’s birthday

Out for dinner in Toulouse

On Saturday we traveled to Carcassonne to explore the medieval fortified city and castle. We spent the morning exploring the corners of the city, the education museum, and the candy shops. In the afternoon we explored the inside of the castle and walked along the surrounding wall admiring the beautiful views of Carcassonne.

A beautiful view contrasting the medieval, fortified city of Carcassonne with its lower, modern counterpart.  

A group shot (minus Sarah) in front of the medieval city

Charlton, Zach, and Julia standing on the castle wall looking out on the city beyond the castle.

After a morning well spent exploring Carcassonne, the group was treated to lunch at the Compte Roger, where we were able to try a local dish called Cassoulet. Cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked casserole that was initially created by the Romans. When it was first created, Cassoulet consisted of pork, sausage, goose, duck, pork skin and fèves (fava beans). The recipe later substituted fèves for white beans. The chef explained his dishes and the wines offered to us, and finished his explanation by telling us his cooking is so good it can make the sun come out. After leaving a finally sunny Bordeaux just to spend two days full of rain in Toulouse, we were hopeful. And then, what do you know – just as we took our first bites of his delicious entrée, the sun finally peaked through the clouds!

Toulouse’s specialty dish, the cassoulet

Another of our chef’s beautiful plats, chicken and risotto

Back in Toulouse on Sunday, we spent some time in the art museum La Fondation Bemberg at l’Hôtel d’Azzézat (a renaissance structure) as well as exploring the inside of the Place du Parlement’s Capitolium building. Sunday morning hit the group hard after a Saturday night out in Toulouse, and almost everyone was fast asleep as we rode the train back to our lovely home in Bordeaux.

Sebastian, Macalah, Emily, Lessi and Azlyne exploring artwork at Fondation Bemberg

Alena and Sarah in front of some of the artwork in Place du Parlement

We’ll see you next week as Blog Team 3 gives insight into student life at our French universities. As always, on s’adapte!

Grace, Alena, Charlton, and Fiona