One of the things we loved most when we were in France was our picnic-style dinners. If we’d had a proper lunch, rather than go out to eat in the evening we’d buy a baguette, some charcuterie, a cheese or two, maybe some rillette, and of course wine. Then we’d graze and drink wine and talk and laugh.
Where possible we’d pick up our food from markets or local stores rather than supermarkets so it would all be locally produced. One of the best markets was this one – Les Halles in Dijon.
We visited this market as the first part of a day cooking with someone I’ll introduce you to next week – Alex Miles. Alex is an expat New Yorker who we spent a fabulous day with – but that’s for next week.
The ironwork of these markets have a touch of the familiar about them – that would be because the building is said to have been designed by Gustave Eiffel. Yes, the same Eiffel. He was born here – in Dijon. As to whether he designed it? Well, that’s less clear. I’ve read some references that state his designs were rejected or there was confusion – it all sounds very French. In any case, Gustave was soon busy designing a little tower somewhere else instead…you might have heard of it?
Was he involved with Les Halles? I’d like to think so. Of course, I could do more research, but hey, why would I let the facts get in the way of a good story?
None of that takes away from the fact that this is a fabulous building – and an even better market.
French markets are a snapshot of the life and food of that region, and in Burgundy, that means dishes such as coq au vin, boeuf bourguignon, jambon persillé (ham cured with parsley), oeufs en meurette (eggs poached in a red wine sauce) and, of course, escargots.
Burgundy is also famous for its blackcurrants distilled into liqueur de cassis – the essential base of the French aperitifs Kir (cassis with white wine) and Kir Royale (cassis with champagne).
All of that was at this market. We, however, were there to buy cheese, vegetables and rabbit for the lunch we’d be preparing back at Alex’s apartment.
From here I’ll let the pics tell the rest of the story… There were spices and fruits…
cheeses…so many cheeses…
and other dairy – although as I think I’ve already said somewhere along the line, the French tend not to drink milk, but eat a lot of yoghurt.
Artichokes, asparagus and breakfast radishes…
and mushrooms…oh how I loved the mushrooms.
Veggies and bread in the outside stalls…
And flowers…although the dog was not for sale – he was very cute.
Then we took everything that we’d purchased back to Alex’s apartment and cooked a relatively simple veggie dish that tasted of spring on a plate – which I’ll share with you next time.