This page contains content from our previous website. To learn more about us, check out our new website.
Increase font size  Decrease font size

Ingredients and products


Jump to: Flour: A cornerstone of boulangerie  | The apple  | The orange  | Pumpkin (Squash, pumpkin, gourd)  | Matcha Green tea
Blueberries  | Ghee  | Curd cheese  | Cherry  | Quinoa
Mussels  | Pear  | Cep (Porcini) mushroom  | Chestnuts  | Normandy Camembert
Garlic  | Yeast  | Asparagus  | Chocolate  | Burgundy wines
Champagne  | Black truffle of Perigord  | Foie Gras  | Raspberries  | The Tomato
Gariguette strawberries


Flour: A cornerstone of boulangerie

Flour: A cornerstone of boulangerie

Wheat, rice, corn, the range of flours is as extensive as the number of cereals grown. Flour is the cornerstone of boulangerie and its quality essential for making successful bread, viennoiseries (Danish pastries), pasta, etc. Let’s take a closer look at this ingredient whose properties vary depending on the type of cereals used.

Flour: Definition

Flour comes from the Latin word farina, which is derived from far, farris, “wheat, spelt”. It is made by milling the grains of wheat or other cereals such as rye, corn or rice. Chestnut and chick pea flour also exist. In France, the most commonly used flour is wheat flour, which is made from common wheat.  

Different types of flour

Flour contains different types of vitamins depending on the cereal used, notably vitamins B1, B2, PP and E. They also contain minerals which are found in the husks of the cereal.

There are a number of types of wheat flour. In France, they are graded by number according to the type (e.g.: T55, T65), most commonly used in boulangerie.

Gluten content

Gluten (protein present in the cereal) gives the dough its elasticity. Most wheat flours have high gluten content but others have a much lower content (e.g.: Rye flour). The latter are classified as not suitable for bread making, which means that they cannot be used alone for making bread.

Chef Boudot’s suggestions for a change from wheat flour

When making bread, Le Cordon Bleu Boulangerie Diploma Chef Instructor, Chef Boudot, enjoys using rye, buckwheat, barley, corn, spelt, hard wheat semolina and chestnut flour.

His tip for getting the perfect crust: When dusting with flour, Chef Boudot combines hard wheat semolina and flour. 


Seasonal ingredients

The apple

The apple

Apples (Malus domestica), from the rosaceous family (Rosaceae), are a fruit with pips which are enjoyed the world over, especially in Europe and North America.

Originating in Asia, apples spread throughout Europe thanks mainly to those coming from the Caucasus and Altai Mountains. Between the 18th and 19th centuries, numerous varieties appeared due to cross breeding.

Apples are one of the most cultivated fruits in the world. Harvest depends on the variety but usually begins at the start of summer and ends at the end of autumn – and from autumn until the beginning of winter for wild varieties. As apples are grown in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, they are available year round.

Depending on the variety, apples come in different shapes and colors (two-colored, white, grey, golden yellow, red or green). Their taste varies greatly in terms of flavor, juiciness, tartness and crispness, depending on when they have been harvested and how they have been stored. Today, there are more than 20 000 apple varieties in the world; some are used in Cuisine and Pastry recipes whereas others are preferred in their natural state as a dessert.

The reference in terms of eating apples is the excellent sweet fleshed Red Delicious. Other varieties are also greatly appreciated such as Golden Delicious, Cortland, James Grieve, Starking, Sturmer Pippin, Cox’s Orange Pippin, McIntosh, Blenheim Orange, Belle de Boskoop, Reine des Reinettes, Jonathan, Rome, Russet, Gala, Stayman, Reinette Franche and Winesap.
Cuisine and Pastry Chefs mainly use Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Calville, Grenadier, Bramley and Gravenstein. Apples can be more or less ripe and firm depending on the culinary technique employed; poached, sautéed, cooked or pureed.

Numerous pastries include apples, notably the famous strudel, and apple pie, and they are often an integral part of donuts, charlottes, puddings, turnovers, tarts and many others. Apples are also used in distilleries to make brandy (eau-de-vie), such as the famous Normandy Calvados (AOC), and for making cider and apple juice.

Apples also have medicinal properties. Rich in minerals, fibers, carbohydrates and vitamins, they are extremely nutritious. Let’s not forget the famous saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”.

Click here to see Le Cordon Bleu Chefs’ apple recipes:

The orange

The orange

Originating in China, the orange is a round citrus fruit with thick orange skin and was introduced into Europe in the 15th century by the Genoese and Portuguese merchants.

The orange has juicy tangy flesh that can vary in color from yellowy-orange to deep-red depending on the variety. Its flesh divides into segments, which may or may not contain seeds.

For centuries oranges were a rarity; synonymous with luxury and wealth. Its usage in cooking was restraint. They were usually made into preserves or used for a table decoration, especially at Christmas time. It was also the only gift offered to children at Christmas.

Today, oranges are the second most widely consumed fruit in France, just after apples. They are often eaten as they are, in salads, squeezed as juice or else made into preserves, in jelly or as syrup. Dessert fruit par excellence, pastry Chefs like to use it in their desserts and confectioneries, as in this recipe for vanilla panna cotta with basil-infused citrus fruits that Le Cordon Bleu Chefs are happy to share with you. Oranges are also used in cooking, especially in dishes based on partridge, veal shank, sole, liver, duck, mutton, trout or else seafood, as shown in this recipe for leek and orange soup with grilled scallops.

There are numerous varieties of oranges such as the "Maltese", "Moro", "Torocco", "Thomson", "Washington", "Navelina", "Shamouti", “Salustiana" or “Valencia” varieties.

The leading orange-producing countries are Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Italy and Israel from November to May and from South Africa and the US during the summer months.

Find out more; Le Cordon Bleu Chefs explain the correct technique for “peler à vif” Peeling and segmenting an orange  which eliminates the unwanted pithy deposits that ruin the flavor of the fruit.

Pumpkin (Squash, pumpkin, gourd)

Pumpkin (Squash, pumpkin, gourd)

The names squash, pumpkin and gourd are very often interchanged and it can be difficult to employ the correct term. As an example, winter squash varieties are used for the very popular pumpkin pie.

These are commonly used names given to the Cucurbitaceae family which comprises hundreds of species, which we will now refer to as pumpkin.

Native to South America, it was introduced into Europe in the sixteenth century and is today an increasingly consumed autumnal vegetable. The word ‘squash’ originated from the Indian word askutasquash meaning ‘eaten raw or uncooked’. The word ‘pumpkin’ is derived from an old French term pompion, meaning ‘cooked by the sun or ripe’.

Squash are generally divided into summer and winter varieties. Some examples of summer squash are scalloped squash, zucchini and smaller more unripe varieties quite often with a green and soft skin. Cooking time is generally brief. They have a relatively short shelf life. Winter squash most often have a thick skin and deep orange flesh. It requires lengthier cooking time.

Pumpkin flesh whether fibrous or smooth is extremely versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Pumpkin is suitable for boiling, steaming, baking, sautéing and in a microwave. The seeds of some varieties are often prepared for snacks.

Click here for a recipe suggestion by Le Cordon Bleu Chefs for Red kuri pumpkin cream with vanilla and chestnuts.

Matcha Green tea

Matcha Green tea

Imported from china, Matcha green tea is very sought-after in Japan.

It is made by adding scalding water to Matcha, a very fine powder of ground green tea. The preparation is then whisked with a bamboo whisk to obtain a uniform mixture with a jade green colour.

Matcha is often served in tea ceremonies in Japan. According to how much matcha is used, the tea can be light and fine (usucha) of thick (koicha)

As with many green teas, it is also known for its numerous nutritional and medicinal properties.

Matcha tea production is focused on the three weeks which lead up to harvest.   At this time, the tea bushes are covered to protect them from sunlight to slow growth. This process allows for the production of amino acids, which will give the mild flavor of Matcha. The leaves are then hand-picked. If the leaves are laid out flat to dry,  they become tencha which is ground to become Matcha.

Many Pastry chefs like to use matcha as a natural flavor and colour in entremets, macaroons, ice creams, chocolates and other desserts, such as a recipe for green Matcha tea pyramid, suggested by our Le Cordon Bleu Paris Chefs.



Blueberries are light to dark blue-violet in color and grow in Northern America and Europe.  Belonging to the cranberry family, this cousin of the cranberry exists in a number of varieties.  Rich in vitamin C, it contains high levels of antioxidants.

Blueberries can be picked in French forests, particularly in Alsace, Lorraine and Franche-Comté, from June until mid-October and ideally in the main growing season from mid-August until September.  A “comb” is used to pick the berries without the leaves.  Wild blueberries must be thoroughly washed before being consumed to avoid any risk of echinococcosis.

Plump and evenly sized berries are ideal, avoid those which are wrinkled or which do not have the characteristic jagged hole.

They can be eaten in their natural state, in salads for example, or more commonly in pastries such as the famous Alsatian blueberry tart.  They can also be used for making preserves or jellies, which can be served with poultry or game, and ice creams, sorbets, compotes, syrups or liquors.

Would you like to make an Alsatian blueberry tart? Learn how to prepare a sweet shortcrust pastry by following Le Cordon Bleu Chefs' technique.



“Ghee” or “ghi”, a key ingredient of Indian cuisine, is clarified butter made from cow’s or water buffalo’s milk.

The technique for clarifying butter consists of removing all of the solids from the butter, in other words the casein and the whey, leaving just the fat, more precisely the lipids.  Clarified butter is then stored in an airtight container so that it cannot oxidize.  

Ghee has a number of culinary and medicinal properties:

  • It can be stored at room temperature, unrefrigerated, for a number of months.
  • It can be heated to a much higher temperatures than “traditional” butter (around 177°C compared to 121°C) which is beneficial when cooking at high temperatures.
  • Ghee has a hazelnut and roasted spices flavor.
  • It is more digestible than traditional butter when consumed in moderation.
  • It can also be used when preparing certain types of medication.

Clarified butter is also used in French cuisine and French Chefs often use it because of its advantages.  It is ideal for cooking food at a high temperature without imparting a burnt or bitter taste and makes sauces shinier and gives them a more delicate flavor.  Le Cordon Bleu Chefs show you their technique for clarifying butter.

Curd cheese

Curd cheese

Curd cheese is a fresh and slightly acidic cheese which is mainly produced in lower Provence and sold in small individual cylindrical molds. It has a creamy texture, is unsalted and has a very fresh flavor.

There are a number of different varieties of curd cheese but the most famous is Rove curd cheese, which is produced in a village by the same name, near Marseille. It is made using unpasteurized Rove goat’s milk to which white vinegar is added before it is heated to approximately 85°C. This process is known as “curdling”. It is then stirred with a skimming ladle so that the curd cheese sets and rises to the surface. Other varieties of curd cheese are usually made using the whey that remains when cheese is produced and not using whole (full-cream) milk. It is important to note that Var curd cheese in not, in fact, a curd cheese at all but a sweet curd.

Curd cheese can be found year round but Rove curd cheese is only available between spring and summer. In order to protect it from being counterfeited, the small group of Provençal producers is striving to be awarded AOC (official certification guaranteeing the quality of French produce) status.

Curd cheese is often eaten with sugar or jam. It is also used in cakes and other desserts. It is just as delicious in savory recipes: Stuffed vegetables such as zucchini or other Mediterranean vegetables, or as a filling for savory tarts or omelets.



The cherry is a red fruit of varying shades, or yellow, from the drupe family (small, fleshy stone fruit).

Its actual origin has given rise to controversial discussion, but both the Romans and the Greeks claim to be responsible for its introduction into Europe.  In France the cherry began to appear from as early as the Middle Ages, and then in the 18th century, Louis XV who loved cherries, encouraged their development and the discovery of different varieties.

Today there are more than 100 different varieties of cherry in France with Provence as the leading regional producer.  Turkey is the leading producer on a world scale exporting to Germany, Austria, The Netherlands and Italy.

Cherries are generally harvested mid-May for the earlier varieties and finishing mid-August for the later varieties.  They are found in abundance in France during the months of June and July.  Ideally they should be quite fleshy with a shiny aspect, and the stalk should be very green and well attached to the fruit.  Cherries are quite a fragile fruit and do not keep well, but may be preserved for several days in the fridge.

There are two distinct types of cherry which also define their specific use:

  • Sweet cherries or wild cherries. The sweet Bigarreau cherry with a firm flesh is undoubtedly the most popular. Their skin ranges from red to purple to black. Varieties such as Burlat, Hedelfingen Giant, Van, Napoleon, Marmotte, Stark Hardy Giant, Early Rivers are also available on the market. The soft guigne cherries are more tart. Sweet cherries are mostly eaten in their natural state, but they are also consumed ‘au naturel’ in tarts, clafoutis and compotes, and of course make up part of the ingredients of the famous Black forest Gateau.
  • Sour cherries which are the griotte and amarello cherries. They are generally used in the making of syrups, jams, condiments, and fruit brandies (particularly Kirsch), but also as a garnish for duck and game, or in the making of chocolates. Candied cherries are also used to complement cakes, puddings and to decorate gateaux.




Quinoa, of which over 2000 varieties exist, is a herbaceous plant of which the grains are harvested after maturation. Belonging to the same family as the beet (beetroot), quinoa is often wrongly thought to be a cereal.

For the Indians of “l’Altiplano”, quinoa, called "chisiya mama" in quechuan (meaning "mother of all grains") was a sacred plant and, in ancient tradition, symbolized the fertility of the land. Following Spanish colonization and the destruction of the traditional farming system, the cultivation of quinoa practically disappeared until 40 years ago when Andes researchers focused on the promotion of quinoa production. Quinoa has become increasingly popular over recent years and is readily available in some supermarkets and in shops selling organic or fair trade products.

Quinoa has one of the highest protein levels found in a grain known to mankind.  Quinoa is small, round and ivory in color, has a light and delicate flavor and provides a good source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Quinoa should be rinsed under water to remove it’s bitter taste before being cooked in boiling water and can be used to replace rice, semolina or pasta.

Many people eat grains only during the colder months, but quinoa's lightness combined with its versatility in cold dishes like salads and desserts makes it an ideal source of good summertime nutrition. Cooked quinoa is excellent in hot casseroles and soups, stews, in stir-fries, or cold in salads.

Le Cordon Bleu Chefs reveal two recipes based on quinoa:


Mussels Mussels are small molluscs with shells ranging in color from dark blue or black to brown on the outside and pearly silver on the inside. While there are many species of mussels, generally only marine mussels are consumed, the most commonly eaten varieties being the blue or common mussel, the Mediterranean mussel and the New Zealand mussel. The small, dark blue common mussel is fished or farmed in the Atlantic ocean, the northern Pacific ocean, the English Channel and the North Sea. The larger Mediterranean mussel is cultivated along the Mediterranean coast as well as the south-western coast of Europe. The New Zealand mussel is cultivated along the coastlines of New Zealand. Spain leads the way in European mussel production while Canada is the main producer in North America, and China holds the title of largest producer of mussels in the world.While mussels can be either harvested or fished, most of the mussels that find their way to our plates are of the farmed type, also known as mussel culture. There are three different methods for cultivating mussels: on ropes, in seed beds and on wood pilings (intertidal growth technique). Rope cultivation is done by suspending seeded lengths of rope in the water whereas the seed bed method, also used in oyster cultivation, is less used. The intertidal method consists of growing mussels on wood pilings planted into the ocean floor, partially submerged. This technique, practiced along the Atlantic coast and the English Channel, produces small, fleshy, tasty mussels that are particularly appreciated for their good quality. The «Moules de Bouchots de la Baie du Mont Saint-Michel» was the first in its category to be awarded the AOP label (Appellation d’Origine Protégée). Furthermore, mussels cultivated using the intertidal technique will soon be labeled “Guaranteed Traditional Specialty” (« Spécialité Traditionnelle Garantie" or STG in French), a European hallmark of character and quality.Mussels are at their best between the months of July and January, whereas during the period of February to May they tend to have a milky aspect. They are most often consumed in cooked dishes; however they can also be eaten raw. Among the many different ways to prepare them: «à la marinière » (with white wine, shallots and parsley), in cream sauce, « en mouclade » (with a butter-flour mixture and curry spices), stuffed, gratin-style, in omelets, on skewers or even fried.


Pear The pear belongs to the botanical family Rosaceae, or the rose family. It is oblong in shape; its skin can be yellow, green or red covering tender, succulent flesh. It is a particularly fragile fruit so too much handling should be avoided. It oxidizes rapidly once peeled so it is advisable to douse it with lemon juice when working with the raw fruit, in the same way as with an apple. A pear continues to ripen after it has been harvested, and should be harvested before reaching full maturity in order to fully appreciate it.There are a great number of different pear varieties, such as Williams, Doyenne de Comice, (commonly known as ‘Comice’) and Conference, all of varying shapes and colors for specific uses in both sweet and savory preparations. Pears can be found year round in France, in autumn, Beurre Hardy, Conference and Comice should be favored, and in winter, Angelys and Passe Crassane. The Williams pear, harvested in summer, is the main variety used in canning and preserving in syrup and also in the production of eau de vie and liqueurs.The pear lends itself well to dessert making with desserts such as the famous Charlotte or Pears Belle Helene, a well known French classic combining a pear poached in syrup with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. Pears may also be enjoyed poached in wine, caramelized, or in a sorbet, mousse or compote. They are a perfect match for chocolate, as in the recipe Chocolate and Caramelized Pear Tart. The pear also has its place in savory recipes, particularly in sweet and sour combinations such as an accompaniment to meat or in the form of chutney.

Cep (Porcini) mushroom

Cep (Porcini) mushroom The cep (porcini) mushroom is synonymous with autumn and widespread in Bordeaux-style cuisine.Cep (Porcini) mushroom is characterized by a firm white stalk, and a wide, dark brown cap that can grow up to 30 centimeters in diameter. Cep mushrooms possess a nutty flavor and are one of the most prized by mushroom gatherers the world over. A number of varieties exist such as the bronzed cep, summer cep and the Bordeaux cep.This variety is best used while very fresh because they deteriorate quickly after being picked. Purchasing dried porcini is very common. When using the dried variety, ensure that they remain fragrant. If the dried variety is dry and crumbly, they will most likely be old and flavorless.Porcini are prized for their versatility in cuisine: They can be eaten uncooked in a salad, stuffed, grilled, in a casserole or a flan. In Bordeaux, where the cep is a local delicacy, it is often cooked just with oil and garlic or parsley.


Chestnuts The chestnut is a fruit with a shiny brown casing that comes from the sweet chestnut tree. It is surrounded by a thick husk with long, sharp, needle-like spikes.Unlike other nuts, chestnuts have high starch and water content but low levels of protein and fat. Chestnuts are a staple food in Corsica, the Massif Central and some areas of northern Italy and Sardinia. The Dordogne, Lozère, Ardèche and Corsica are the main chestnut producing areas of France.Chestnuts are extremely versatile. They can be roasted before being peeled and eaten. They can be cooked and candied, known in France as “marrons glacés” or used cooked and purred to form a cream. They can be peeled and then cooked in a variety of ways and used as an accompaniment for a variety of vegetable dishes. They are also used to make chestnut flour.

Normandy Camembert

Normandy Camembert Internationally renowned as one of the best French cheeses, Normandy is proud of its Camembert. In 1983, Camembert was given not only AOC status, a symbol of quality in France, but also AOP status, a symbol of quality in Europe. AOC Camembert is produced in 5 departments in Normandy; Calvados, Orne, Manche, Eure and Seine Maritime. Available year round, Camembert is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk; it is hand-ladled and has a soft center and a white mold crust. It is thanks to the quality of the milk produced by Normandy cows that this cheese is so remarkable. A good Camembert should give off a delicate slightly moldy smell, be perfectly round in shape, soft and creamy yellow in the middle with a thin white mold crust which is slightly marked, referred to as “rust” (red pigmentation).In Normandy, Camembert is traditionally eaten neither too firm, nor too soft but somewhere between these two extremes but it is really a question of personal taste. In a specialist cheese shop more flavorsome and inventive Camembert’s can be found such as Camembert with cider or with Calvados.Camembert is often found on French cheese platters and also in picnic baskets. Camembert has become increasingly popular in recent years with cuisine Chefs in recipes such as breaded Camembert, Camembert fritter, or Camembert in puff pastry for example. Chefs particularly appreciate combining Camembert with apple as in our recipe of the month!


Garlic Garlic is a bulbous plant from Central Asia which is used as an aromatic element in the culinary world. It is the most pungent and spicy member of the bulb family, but the flavor sweetens and mellows when cooked.The bulbs, commonly known as "heads of garlic" hold several cloves which have a thin white or pink skin. The bulb itself is covered with several skins, which can be of different colors.
There are three types of garlic, white, pink and red, and there are several different varieties. Amongst those well known in France are white garlic from Lomagne and Drôme, purple garlic from Cadours, and pink garlic from Lautrec and Auvergne. Garlic can be harvested either "green" or "dry". Green garlic or new season's garlic is harvested at the beginning of May and sold within 24 hours. Dry garlic - the most commonly used garlic - is harvested from mid-June but only sold at the end of July, giving it time to dry.
Dry garlic is stored in a cool, dark place, traditionally hung in bunches; white garlic will keep for 6 months and pink garlic for a year. Garlic, like olive oil, is an emblematic ingredient of Provençal cuisine. It is used to great effect in aïoli, a dipping sauce made from crushed garlic, egg yolk and olive oil - not to be confused with grand aïoli, a Provençal dish consisting of salt cod and vegetables served with aïoli.
Garlic is also a basic ingredient used in other Provençal specialties such as garlic soup, anchoïade (anchovy purée), and bourride (fish soup).
Although garlic is an essential ingredient in Provence, it is also a common ingredient in all other regions of France today. It is eaten raw or cooked, finely sliced, finely chopped or crushed, with its skin left on, puréed... However, the germ (green sprout) must be removed before cooking.



Yeast is a microscopic mushroom that accomplishes fermentation by producing enzymes and is used as a leavening agent in a variety of types of dough. Fermentation is the process by which yeast reacts with sugars transforming them into carbon dioxide gas and alcohol. The dough then rises due to the gas that is trapped inside. These gases must be retained in the product until the structure is set enough to hold its shape. The alcohol evaporates completely during and immediately after baking.

Yeast is available in two principal forms: fresh (compressed) and active dry. Compressed yeast is generally preferred by professional bakers. An exact measurement of leavening agents is important because small changes can produce major defects in baked products. Yeast is a living organism and, as such, it is sensitive to temperature.



As springtime steadily approaches, seasonal ingredients start to appear in French markets. However, they will only be available for a few months, and so it's a great idea to make the very best of them. Asparagus is one of the ingredients that marks the start of the warmer months, and May is the perfect time to enjoy all of the different varieties of this vegetable that France has to offer.

Crisp, delicate asparagus is high in fiber and water, and low in calories. During the warmer months, it is a much sought-after ingredient. Asparagus has been grown in areas of France with sandy soils since the Renaissance, and was a favorite ingredient of many a French king, particularly Louis XIV.

Though there are different types of asparagus -- white, green, purple and even red – they are all essentially the same, but each type is grown in a different way. If grown underground, the asparagus will be white. Once the tip emerges from the earth, it will turn purple. If the asparagus is grown above ground with access to sunlight, it will turn green.

Green asparagus is grown in the South of France, and has a strong, slightly sweet flavor. In the town of Pertuis in Provence, growing asparagus has been a tradition since the 19th century. Green Pertuis asparagus is recognized as being one of the best asparagus varieties. A large amount of green asparagus is grown in the Languedoc and around Toulouse, and wild asparagus is also found in the South, particularly in the Cévennes and Pyrenees regions. Wild asparagus looks very elegant on a plate, and is often served as a garnish.

White asparagus, a specialty grown in the Center and Landes regions, has a delicate nutty flavor that is slightly more bitter than that of green asparagus. Its texture is firmer and it is covered with a thick fibrous outer layer which should be removed before eating. “Asperge des Sables” (literally “asparagus from the sand”) from the Landes region has I.G.P (“Protected Geographical Status”) status, and is one of the most well-known varieties of the vegetable. Its white color and tightly closed bud make it easy to recognize. Argenteuil, a town in the Ile-de-France region, was also part of the history of this illustrious vegetable, which used to be grown in the town's vineyards in abundance. Argenteuil asparagus spears are thick and white with a pale pink tip. Today, urban development has meant that the town no longer produces asparagus, but the vegetable is still grown in more rural areas, and has kept its name. The name is also used for certain dishes containing asparagus, such as Argenteuil French-style scrambled eggs or Argenteuil asparagus soup.

Asparagus of all colors is classically boiled or steamed in a bundle; however it is going to be served. It makes the perfect appetizer; white asparagus is served with a mousseline sauce, and green asparagus is served with vinaigrette. The spears can be added to a salad or served as a garnish with meat and fish.
The simple preparation techniques and delicious flavor of asparagus make it the star of any springtime meal.



The origin of chocolate dates back to ancient civilizations and, before becoming food for human consumption, chocolate was considered the food of the Gods

The first people to cultivate cocoa trees were the Mayas. The beans were grilled, ground and heated. The cocoa liquor that resulted was mixed with water to produce a bitter tasting beverage. Following the decline of the Mayan civilization, the Aztecs continued to cultivate cocoa -- which they valued as highly as gold - adding sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and honey. The resulting beverage called “xocolatl” was renowned for being nourishing, and fortifying.

In 1502 Christopher Columbus became the first European to discover cocoa beans after being given them as a gift by the natives of the Island of Guanaja (In the Caribbean). He did not realize the importance of his discovery.

In 1519, Hermann Cortez arrived in Mexico. Along with his soldiers he drank a strange flavored drink and in 1528 organized the first shipment of cocoa to Spain. For a century, Charles the fifth, King of Spain, maintained a cocoa monopoly. After its introduction to Spain, chocolate consumption spread through Europe.

The cultivation of cocoa started in Mexico. From there it was established in the Caribbean, moving on to South America and then onto the African Continent in 1822 following the European colonization.

In 1770 the French chocolate and tea company, Pelletier and Co. was created. They were the first to use a hydraulic press; however the French Revolution in 1789 prevented the development of more revolutionary techniques. In Holland, in 1828, Mr. Van Houten discovered powdered chocolate.

In Europe, several innovations occurred in 1875: Henry Nestlé invented powdered milk and Tobler used this discovery to produce his version of milk chocolate. Lindt created the « conchage » process which increased flavor and smoothness.

Burgundy wines

Burgundy wines The Burgundy vineyard, which covers an area 250 km long by 30 km wide, is found in the east of France, to the north of Chablis and to the south of Maçonnais.Composed mainly of south and south-east facing valleys and slopes on a predominantly clay-limestone soil, the domains are generally small and embedded in family tradition. The savoir-faire of winemakers has been passed from generation to generation and is recognized in France as a national treasure. Today, the importance of terroir in Burgundy is still seen as a model for vineyards across the world. The delineation of vineyards into unique terroirs known as climats dates back to medieval times when monasteries played a major role in the development of the Burgundy wine industry. This system is still in place today with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir the undisputed King and Queen of 100 appellations. Burgundy wines are amongst the most prestigious on earth. This fact is all the more incredible when we consider that a single grape variety is able to produce balanced, almost perfect wine such as the famous Romanée-Conti or the exceptional Montrachet. Burgundy is a magic combination of geology, climate and know-how and a model of identity and authenticity that winemakers throughout the world seek to copy.


Champagne Situated to the east of the Ile de France region, Champagne is one of the regions of France which produces a highly refined sparkling wine with world renown.
The 3 main grape varieties used in Champagne production are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Harvest takes place around the end of September and the grapes are handpicked.The pressed clear juice is traditionally tanked and undergoes an initial alcoholic fermentation. Once the wine is ready, the cuvée is created by blending different still wines produced in the Champagne Appellation. Different years, grape varieties and vineyards can be blended in order to create a quality wine, year in year out, in a style that is unique to each Champagne house. Once the famous “liqueur de tirage” (sugar and yeast) has been added, the bottles are hermetically sealed, laid down horizontally in a cellar and undergo a second fermentation producing the bubbles that are so sought after.The bottles are stored horizontally for a minimum of 15 months or 3 years for vintage Champagne: This is when the bubbles develop. Other processes allow for the extraction of yeast deposits and the addition (just before the final cork stopper is inserted) of a “liqueur de dosage” made up of wine and sugar which will result in dry or not so dry Champagne. Depending on the amount of sugar added, the Champagne will be Ultra brut, Brut, Dry, Medium or Sweet.
Champagne was given AOC status in 1936. As a result, it is subject to very stringent testing and trademark protection, ensuring that its quality and prestige are maintained. Champagne is synonymous with special occasions, and is traditionally opened to celebrate an event. It is also widely enjoyed as an aperitif, either alone or as a "kir royal", when a fruit liqueur or cream is added. It can also be served with dessert if it is medium or sweet. Champagne can "Blanc de Blancs" (from Chardonnay alone), vintage or special cuvée; there is a bottle to suit every occasion. Nowadays, both cuisine and pastry chefs use champagne in recipes to give a distinctive flavor to dishes and desserts: sorbets, mousses, sabayons and sauces, etc...« Champagne is to wine what haute couture is to fashion »
Alfred Gratien

Black truffle of Perigord

Black truffle of Perigord

There are 70 varieties of truffle in the world of varying size, shape and color.
In France, when one thinks of truffles, the one that immediately springs to mind is the black truffle of Perigord. A culinary delicacy thanks both its rarity and its unbeatable intense flavor, the “black diamond” is a symbol of “haute gastronomie”.

The word truffle comes from the Latin word “Tuber” which means outgrowth. Truffle is a fungus which lives below ground level although fairly near the surface and in most cases at no more than 30 cm in depth. It is particularly predominant around certain species of tree in particular the oak tree and, being neither grown, nor planted appears spontaneously.

The growth cycle of a truffle generally begins in spring (sometime between April and June depending on climatic conditions) and lasts for 9 months. Around August the truffle encounters a period of rapid growth; summer storms and the warmth encourage rapid multiplication of the cells that make up the truffle. In this very short period of time (around 10 days) the weight of the truffle is determined. October marks the end of the truffle growth period and as of November the truffles begin to ripen but will not be ready to be collected until sometime between December and February when they have fully ripened and give off their unique odor.

Today, pigs or dogs are still used to find truffles as they can easily pick up the delicate truffle odor. If the truffles are not ready then the ground is recovered so the truffles can continue to ripen.
There are 70 varieties of truffles of which 32 are common to Europe. The size and shape of a truffle varies although it is generally rounded. Truffles come in a variety of colors, black, dark brown, grey or white.

The black truffle is a rare and treasured delicacy and the most prized in France is that of Périgord. Known as the "black diamond", it is one of the star products of the Périgord region. Undoubtedly the most flavorsome of the existing varieties of truffle, it is used in both dishes from the Périgord region and the rest of France. Nowadays its name does not guarantee that it originates from Perigord as it can be found in a number of other areas in France and even in Italy and Spain but it keeps the botanic name “Black truffle of Perigord” which forged its reputation.

Truffles can be eaten either raw or cooked. They are often used simply to add flavor for example to oil. A variety of other products exist such as paste and sauces which have the advantage of bringing the delicate truffle flavor to a dish at a moderate price. It is said however that a true truffle connoisseur will only eat the truffle whole, either raw or cooked, but with little accompaniment.

Foie Gras

Foie Gras Foie gras is a jewel in the French culinary world’s crown. Eaten on special occasions, it is traditionally found at Christmas and New Year parties served either cold or hot depending on individual taste. General information
"Foie gras" refers to the liver of geese or ducks that have been fattened in a specific way, force-feeding.
The main foie gras producing regions of France are the South-West (goose and duck), Alsace (goose), as well as the Vendée and Loire Valley (duck).
Other European countries such as Austria, the Czech Republic and Luxembourg also produce good quality goose foie gras.
Foie gras, which can be eaten in various ways, is subject to strict guidelines. There are only three products that are allowed to use the name « foie gras » : whole foie gras, foie gras and “bloc de foie gras” . Foie gras is also used as an ingredient to make things such as foie gras parfait, mousse or pâté. Goose or duck?
Goose foie gras remains the most expensive. It melts less than duck foie gras when heated and particularly lends itself to the making of terrines.
The most commonly consumed foie gras is duck foie gras. It lends itself to the preparation of hot dishes but careful attention must be paid when selecting a foie gras as it melts easily when cooked. Choosing foie gras
Foie gras should be a creamy white color with a pink tinge for goose foie gras and creamy white with a yellow tinge for duck foie gras. The foie gras should look healthy and smooth, not have an overly strong smell. The locality in which the poultry was bred does not have any bearing on the quality. More important is the way in which the poultry has been raised and slaughtered.
The best time to buy foie gras is from October to February/March. Good quality duck foie gras can be found year round as force feeding carries on throughout the year but production is much lower out of the main foie-gras season. Choosing foie gras can also depend on the weight required. Goose foie gras generally weighs between 600 and 900g, and duck foie gras between 400 and 600g. Goose foie gras can even reach 1 kg and, occasionally, even more and duck foie gras can reach up to 700g. One should however be wary of foie gras which is overly heavy, even if it looks okay, as the cells may be fragile and break up during cooking releasing all the fat.


Raspberries Raspberries are small fruits, roughly 2 cm in size, pink-red or yellow in color and grow on raspberry bushes.They are sweet, full of perfume and slightly acidic. Raspberries are low in calories, rich in pectin and the minerals potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron. Raspberries can be grown in the open or in greenhouses. The latter can be found on French markets from April, whereas those grown in the open are only available from mid June to October. There are numerous varieties of raspberries but they are grouped into two categories: “ever” bearing and summer-bearing. Yellow raspberries are more difficult to find than the red but are just as sweet. There is also the loganberry, a hybrid variety of American origin which is a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry. Much bigger and darker than raspberries, loganberries are available in autumn. The horticulturist James Harvey Logan created the fruit by accident during the 1880s whilst trying to develop a new variety of blackberry. Instead of crossing two blackberry plants he crossbred one blackberry and one raspberry plant, thus creating this variety. The biggest raspberry producer in the world is Russia. Eastern countries in general, such as Serbia, Poland or Hungary, are main producers. France ranks 10th in the world and 6th in Europe. The Rhône-Alps region produces 1/3 of France’s raspberries.Raspberries are fragile and must be handled delicately. Once picked, they do not ripen and do not keep for a long time. To conserve them, they must be put in syrup or eau-de-vie, a fruit brandy. They freeze well, allowing chefs to use them throughout the year.Raspberries can be used to create various recipes, including jam, coulis, syrup, jelly, compotes, shaped fruit jelly, raspberry seed oil, or even liqueurs and eau-de-vie. Chefs like to use them in their recipes, especially in tarts, entremets, ice creams, sorbets or charlottes. French pastry shops often offer individual raspberry-based desserts in their shop windows, like tartlets, macaroons or shortbread biscuits. Nevertheless, raspberry lovers enjoy them just as they are or sprinkled with sugar.

The Tomato

The Tomato In France, the tomato was originally called “the apple of love” or “golden apple” and, for a long time, was a victim of its bad reputation. Originating from North-West and South America, the pre-Columbian civilizations cultivated the tomato which was introduced to Europe as a result of the Spanish conquests in the XVI century. The Europeans were very suspicious of the tomato and it was initially considered to be toxic. Its use, therefore, was initially limited to decorative or medicinal purposes or quite simply to keep mosquitoes at bay. It wasn’t until the XVIII century that the tomato became a source of interest in cuisine. From this moment, the tomato’s development became widespread, it is now cultivated worldwide and its culinary uses are endless.The tomato is one of the most cultivated fruits in the world and comes second only to the potato in terms on consumption. The wealth of varieties makes it a common and recurring ingredient in many dishes. As a result of eating only the most well know varietiesWhen choosing tomatoes freshness is, with all varieties, the key: The tomatoes should be firm, fleshy, shiny and with no wrinkles or cracks. In France, tomatoes can be found year round. From March to October the majority are French varieties whereas the rest of the year tomatoes are mainly imported from the Southern Mediterranean where the journey can slightly destroy the flavor. Tomatoes are very nutritional: high water content, low calorie content and full of mineral and vitamins. The tomato is therefore an excellent ingredient for summer dishes, a time during which the tomato is at its freshest and full of flavor.The tomato is delicious in it’s simplicity when eaten raw, quartered and simply sprinkled with a little fine “fleur de sel” sea salt, or even whole as an aperitif using the huge variety of vine-ripened cherry tomatoes. Today, the top chefs are able to transform the tomato with mastery. It is perfect as a base for a sauce, flavorsome in a jus or a gazpacho, indulgent in jams and marmalades, refreshing in a granita or sorbet, surprising in a vinegar, modern in a jelly, simple in a salad and full of Mediterranean flavors when candied, sun-dried or oven-roasted. Traditionally used in savory dishes, the tomato has, over the last few years, become more and more used for its sweet flavor

Gariguette strawberries

Gariguette strawberries The “Gariguette” is a medium-size, elongated and red-orange colored strawberry, with a sweet but acid taste. The flesh is firm to the touch but fondant and juicy in the mouth, and genuinely appeals to those who appreciate good foods.This is one of the varieties the most sold in France, and it is also the most precocious. In France, the full season is from May to June, but we find this strawberry in the markets from the month of March, often coming from Spain.The “gariguette” variety is cultivated only in a few regions of France, mostly in Brittany and in the South. Usually, sold in 250 g or 500 g containersThe “gariguette”, and strawberries in general, are tempting fruit that create a unique appetence through their visual aspect. Both pastry and cuisine Chefs adore this variety and use it in their recipes as soon as it appears on the market : fresh, cooked or oven-dried.Served in salad or soup, as a garnish on tarts, in the famous “fraisier” cake (click here for our Chocolate Fraisier recipe), as sorbet, coulis on a hot dessert, mousse or simply natural, “gariguette” strawberries please all food enthusiasts.