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Published on Thursday 30th of October 2014 by Valerie

La semaine du gout

And very tasty it was too! Creme brulee aux trois fromages, boeuf bourguignon accompanied by pommes de terre Dauphinoise and to finish it all, the most fantastic creme brulee a la lavande. Our taste buds were definitely tickled in all the right places. It was ‘la semaine du gout’ in France and French Ignition could not resist bringing a taste of it to its members.

Started in France by Philippe Tomber in 1990, ‘la semaine du gout’ is an event that celebrates food. Since then, ‘la semaine du gout’ has extended its reach to several other countries in the world in the shape of lectures, workshops and festivals. The event has even found its place in the French education syllabus. Every year in October, primary school children are invited to discover new flavour with the help from experts in the food industry.

So we had our very own French Ignition ‘semaine du gout’ which was far more akin to fine dining than classroom walls! French conversation and laughter quickly started flowing alongside the wine. Our host, Richard, had brought up two of his finest bottles from his own cellar and at £25 a bottle, you could certainly tell the difference from the wine bought at a local supermarket. Personally speaking, it felt like I was tasting wine for the first time… Everyone was entranced as Richard filled our glasses and told us the secrets of wine serving and the art of wine drinking.

That first sip of wine went a long way to stimulate the French conversation and the atmosphere was exhilarating. After a while Andrew, chef at The Bistro Beaumartin, brought us the first course. Andrew had redefined the concept of crème brulee as a dessert and introduced it as a starter: crème brulee aux trois fromages. Well, it was ‘la semaine du gout’ after all and the gamble was to challenge our pre-conceived ideas about food. That particular gamble paid off really well! The first mouthful was enough to make you lose track of reality and the last one transported you into another world altogether.

Then the main course came along: Boeuf bourguignon and pommes de terres dauphinoises. Good Heavens! Everything melted in the mouth. It was enough to turn any vegetarian into a meat eater. Luckily for them, the vegetarians amongst us stuck to a main dish of pommes de terre dauphinoise, otherwise they might have had to reconsider their eating habits. I was very relieved when one of our French native speaker blurted out “oh my God! It’s better than my mum’s”! I had been thinking the exact same thing and feeling guilty about it… Andrew chatted to us and revealed part of his secret. According to him, it all hinges on the quality of the wine used to marinate the meat and the time it is left to marinate.

We finished our meal nearly the same way as we started: With a crème brulee reinstated as a dessert. In true ‘semaine du gout’ style, Andrew had his own twist on this well known sweet having added lavender, a plant associated more with the perfume industry than with food flavouring. All the ingredients blended together incredibly well and it showed on the faces of all diners.

When we left The Bistro Beaumartin some time later, we were all elated and full, buzzing from speaking French, listening to French, eating and drinking French and all of this effortlessly. For a couple of hours, we had been transported to an all French environment for a memorable French experience.

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