Happy Bastille Day! Bonne fête! Joyeux Quatorze Juillet!
What is the holiday all about? It commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison on July 14 during the bloody revolution of 1789 – the one where all the aristocrats lost their heads.
Get the history here – and see how the French celebrate their day of independence.
At D’Artagnan, Bastille Day means pétanque, Pastis and lamb merguez sausage. Read on to see how Ariane celebrates Bastille Day.
A French classic: lamb merguez sausage dressed with mustard
We are always happy to have visitors at our Union, NJ office. When Chef Bryce Shuman of Betony in NYC made the trip, along with two chefs from his kitchen, he came bearing gifts.
From left to right: Alex, Pierre, Chef Bryce, Ariane, John, Chef Jack.
The first was an autographed dish for the wall of plates in our dining hall. The message reads: “Dear Ariane, Thank you for being one of our partners in greatness for many years, and for many more to come. -Bryce and the team at Betony.”
A dish from the team at Betony that will hang on our wall of plates in the dining hall.
Ariane was honored to be a guest lecturer at the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC last week. Ariane is committed to educating and supporting the next generation of chefs, and she enjoys going to culinary schools to share her experience and wisdom. This time she demonstrated breaking down a whole duck – with the foie gras inside – and talked about the uses for each part.
The beak-to-tail philosophy means that we eat the whole duck, and waste nothing. From duck breast to duck leg confit, duck pâté, mousse and duck fat … we enjoy every tasty bit. The liver may be the big prize, but every part is valued. Even the bones are used to make demi-glace.
Ariane starts with the whole duck, foie gras and all.
Saveur, one of our favorite food magazines, has an entire French issue out now. Plan your trip to France, or simply armchair travel … either way, there are recipes to try!
The issue has many articles and recipes that we love. Check out the profile of the revolutionary Chef Michel Bras, written by Chef Wylie Dufresne, to find out how much this quiet bespectacled chef has contributed to the culinary world.
Chef Michel Bras talking with Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Together they cooked a course for our 25th anniversary progressive dinner. Photo Michael Harlan Turkell
For a fancy dish, foie gras torchon has a humble name. This sister to foie gras terrine is similarly named for the vessel in which it is cooked. “Torchon” means “dish towel” in French, since the foie gras was traditionally wrapped tightly in a towel for cooking. You may see torchon wrapped in a towel, or muslin, to make that historical connection.
Today cheesecloth is more commonly used to form the raw foie gras into a cylindrical shape. The oblong bundle is then gently poached in a pot of water or stock to cook it.
And we are celebrating the day! As you may know, D’Artagnan is founded and owned by a woman, the inimitable Ariane Daguin.
Ariane was born into a world of great food. Her father, Chef André Daguin, is famous throughout France for his artistry with foie gras and other Gascon specialties. Ariane was expert at deboning ducks, rendering duck fat, preparing terrines and cooking game birds by the time she was ten.
A teenage Ariane with her father Chef Andre Daguin in Gascony
A career in food might have seemed natural, but there was no place for a woman in the strict culinary hierarchy in France. Instead, Ariane decided to pursue an academic degree at Columbia University. While working part-time for a New York pâté producer, Ariane was in the right place when the opportunity to market the first domestically produced foie gras presented itself. She and a co-worker pooled their financial resources to launch D’Artagnan in 1985 as the first purveyor of game and foie gras in the U.S. She hasn’t looked back.
Devoted advocates for natural, sustainable and humane production, Ariane and D’Artagnan have been at the forefront of the organic movement in America, pioneering organic, free-range chicken (years before the FDA allowed the word “organic” on the label), and humanely-raised veal. She continues to find ways to bring innovative products to the market, all while staying true to her mission.
Ariane has always been an advocate of women in the kitchen, having broken the stainless steel ceiling herself. And she is quick to mentor and support women in every walk of life. Here are a few photos from the archives of Ariane with some pretty incredible women.
We celebrate the accomplishments of women everywhere today – and every day.
Before you get all weak in the knees and start humming a Disney tune, let’s examine the facts about eating rabbit meat.
- Rabbit meat is tender, lean, delicious and as versatile as chicken, to which it can also be compared in taste.
- The Italians and French eat rabbit the way Americans eat chicken, which is to say, quite often.
- Rabbits are easy to raise in small spaces, especially in urban or suburban settings, and true to their reputation, reproduce quickly.
- Rabbits are one of the most productive domestic livestock animals there is: they produce 6 pounds of meat on the same feed and water that produces one pound of beef.
January 9th is National Cassoulet Day, celebrated by all who are devoted to this hearty dish of slow-cooked beans and cured meats. In honor of the occasion, we are giving away 2 cassoulet recipe kits with our friends Languedoc Wines. Because everyone knows that cassoulet and red wine were made for each other. And the only thing better than cassoulet is FREE cassoulet. So head over to the site and enter for your chance to win (there’s also a great discount on cassoulet offered when you enter).
In our kit you will find 3 pounds of Haricot Tarbais, the heirloom beans typically used for cassoulet in Southwest France. Duck leg confit, that miracle of preserved duck, features prominently in our recipe. Two types of sausage and preserved pork belly called ventrèche are the other cured meats in our version of this classic dish. All of this – and a little duck fat and demi-glace – will feed 12 people (more or less, depending on appetites). So get a party together and start planning for cassoulet victory!
For a bit of cassoulet inspiration watch our video of Ariane making cassoulet with Chef Pierre Landet. Anyone can make cassoulet – there’s no reason to be intimidated. Check our recipe to see how simple it is. And good luck in the giveaway.