November 17th, Fête du beaujolais nouveau !

November 17th, 2007

The world has caught on, as thousands of thirsty visitors are drawn to a Rhône village: Beaujeu. For more than thirty years, this traditional new wine celebration has spilled over into towns and bar terraces across two continents (at least!). I recall being among enthusiastic wine-lovers who gathered annually at the New French Café in Minneapolis to toast the beaujolais nouveau. And now, the Sarmentelles or Fête du beaujolais nouveau is underway in Beaujeu, lighting the village with fireworks at dusk on the eve of November’s third Thursday.

But it isn’t just wine that would draw me all the way to this town in the Rhône hills. It is Beaujeu’s liquid gold in addition to liquid rouge:  autumn is time to press nuts for rich, aromatic oils.   Jean-Marc Montegottero uses a century-old stone press to extract a dozen types of oils at his Huilerie beaujolaise. Pressing is done to such high standards that he is counted in many a chef’s little black book of suppliers. For a whiff of heaven, walk into the shop at 29, rue Echarmeaux on the day he is roasting hazelnuts and pressing the oil. Browse for awhile and choose from their range, a delicate pistachio oil, the hefty walnut oil (superb sprinkled on pumpkin soup or purée with just-shelled and toasted nuts), or refined argan oil. If Beaujeu is not on your itinerary, contact them to ship an order. Their website is “under construction” but the telephone is: 33 (0)4 7469 2800. When in Beaujeu, stop in for a tasting and take a scheduled tour of the mill (2.50 Euros). ‘Tis the season - for new wine and fresh nut oil!

p.s.  This line of nut oils is also available in Paris at La Grande Epicerie de Paris.

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