I love springtime; it is the season of renewal. Our senses are awakened and energized with fresh produce at the market: asparagus, beets, carrots, peas, herbs, lettuces, leeks, fennel, strawberries, and so much more. I’ve created a spring French menu inspired by my local farmer’s market paired with a Tavel Rosé from the southern Rhône Valley and a Cru Beaujolais from the vineyards of Moulin-à-Vent.
The French have a way with food and wine. They take care in selecting their ingredients, creating a menu, and preparing the dishes; and it doesn’t end there. The French sit down around a table with family and friends and savor the food and drink. They taste the flavors, textures, and nuances of what is on their plate and in their glass. They are present in the moment and allow themselves to linger and enjoy. Yes, c’est la vie!
The French way of living life has inspired me to seek out quality, seasonal ingredients, take the time to get lost in the art of cooking, and aspire to gather family and friends around my table to taste, linger, and enjoy food and wine.
My Wine Tasting Notes
2020 Cháteau d’Aqueria Tavel Rosé, Rhône
14.5% abv | 45% Grenache, 20% Clairette, 15% Cinsault, 8% Mourvèdre, 6% Syrah, 4% Bourboulenec, 2% Picpoul | Château d’Aqueria
Deep pink in color with flavors of strawberries, watermelon, orange rind, red currant, spices, and minerals. The wine is medium to full-bodied with a round, smooth mouthfeel and fresh acidity. A well-structured and balanced rosé with a lingering finish.
2019 Château des Jacques Moulin-à-Vent, Beaujolais
14% abv | 100% Gamay | Château des Jacques
Pale ruby in color with a hint of garnet. Full-bodied with welcoming acidity, plush tannins, and a round, smooth mouthfeel. Juicy ripe red and black fruit, notes of anise and violets. An easy-drinking wine with a moderate finish.
Springtime French Menu
This French spring-inspired menu captures the season’s ingredients, pairing them with the Tavel Rosé and Moulin-à-Vent Beaujolais. The rosé offers refreshing acidity, fruit, and structure to the pairings. The Beaujolais pairs exceptionally well with the herb marinated lamb and the anise flavors of the fennel. The menu is a celebration of the season’s food and wine.
Roasted Carrots, Lemons, and Thyme with White Beans
For the Carrots
- 1½ lb. baby carrots, with the green tops
- 1 organic lemon, thinly sliced with seeds removed
- 1-2 tablespoons rose harissa
- 1/4 extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
For the Beans
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 medium white onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 2 14 oz. cans low sodium cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
- kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
- 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2+ tablespoons thyme leaves divided + thyme sprigs for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Cut of the green tops of the carrots leaving about one inch of green stems. Line a roasting pan with parchment paper that just fits the carrots in a single layer. Add the lemon slices randomly over the carrots. In a small bowl mix together the olive oil, cumin seeds, garlic, honey, and lemon juice. Drizzle the mixture over the carrots and toss to evenly coat the carrots. Roast for 30-35 minutes or until tender, turning the half way through the roasting time.
For the beans. In a medium saucepan add the olive oil and sauté the onions over low heat to just soften them without adding any color. Add the garlic, beans, broth, salt, and pepper. Increase heat to medium and cook for about two minutes. Stir in the olive oil, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoons of thyme leaves. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
In a medium bowl, mix together the yogurt, olive oil, buttermilk, salt and pepper.
On a serving platter, put the beans and top with the roasted carrots and lemon slices. Drizzle or dollop some of the yogurt over the beans and carrots (serve the rest of the yogurt on the side), scatter the remaining tablespoon of thyme leaves and garnish with a few thyme sprigs.
- 4 medium fennel bulbs, about 2½ lbs.
- kosher salt and pepper
- 3+ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced with a little salt
- 1 teaspoon rosemary leaves, chopped
- 1 small rosemary sprig, leaves removed
- 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, crushed
- 8 oz. Gruyère cheese, shredded
- 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
- 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
Preheat the oven to 375° F
Remove the tough outer layer of the fennel bulbs. Cut the fennel crosswise into 1/2″ slices.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and fennel slices and boil for 2 minutes. Drain the fennel and put it into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain the fennel again and pat it completely dry.
Lightly oil a baking dish and layer the fennel to a depth of 1½ inches.
In a small bowl combine the 3 tablespoons of olive oil, fennel seeds, garlic, rosemary, and Aleppo pepper. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the mixture over the fennel and then sprinkle the whole rosemary leaves over the fennel. Sprinkle the shredded Gruyère over the fennel followed by the Panko bread crumbs. Drizzle the remaining oil mixture over the top, followed by the grated Parmesan.
Bake the fennel uncovered for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Garnish with parsley.
Herb Marinated Grilled Boneless Leg of Lamb
- 3 lbs. boneless leg of lamb, butterflied and trimmed of excess fat
- 1/2 cup mixed fresh herbs; I used Italian parsley, mint, rosemary, and thyme, chopped
- 4 medium garlic cloves, smashed and minced
- 1 lemon, zested
- kosher salt & pepper
- 2 oz. extra virgin olive oil
In a 9″ X 12″ rectangular glass baking dish, combine the chopped herbs, garlic, lemon zest, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the butterflied leg of lamb, turning and coating the lamb. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.
Bring the lamb to room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to one hour before grilling.
Prepare the grill with a hot side and a cool side. When the grill is ready sear the fat side of the lamb for 6 minutes and then flip the lamb and sear the other side for an additional 6 minutes. Move the lamb to the cool side of the grill and insert a digital grilling thermometer into the lamb. Open the bottom vents and cover the grill. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the thermometer registers 125-130° for medium rare.
Transfer for the lamb to a cutting board and tent with foil. Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.