Page-level ads

Recommended for you

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cerises, Bigarreaux and Griottes - The Cherries of France. Cherries on French Menus.

Cherries on French Menus will mostly be under the names
 Cerises, Bigarreaux, and Griottes.
Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Last updated February 2017
Cherry blossom
Photograph courtesy of .mused™
The word cerise covers all types of cherries with bigarreaux usually, but not always indicating sweet cherries while griottes always represent the mûre, slightly sour, morello type cherries.

The Cherry 
The cherry on the cake.
In French that is la cerise sur le gateau.

After strawberries, the second most popular fruit in France is the cherry, and to prove it France is the 15th largest cherry producing country in the world. In season, from May through early August different cherry varieties will fill the markets and restaurant menus will be filled with dishes made from fresh cherries.
Cherries on the tree.
Photograph courtesy of D H Wright.
Cherry recipes and dishes on French menus:

Aumônière de Poire et Mousse de Griotte au Grand Marnier – Pears stuffed with a mousse made from the griotte sour cherry and flavored with Grand Marnier liqueur.
Cerise au Marasquin  -  Maraschino cherries; these were originally a native Croatian cherry used for making maraschino liqueur.  Today the maraschino cherries on top of your whipped cream or cakes are produced primarily by adding a red pigment to normal cherries while flavoring them with all sorts of substances and lots of sugar. I suggest you think twice before eating the red stuff in these cherries!
Cerises au Porto sur Glace à la Vanille –   Cherries; here they are probably griottes, morello type cherries, flavored with port and served with vanilla ice cream
Cerises Burlat  - Burlat cherries are native French cherries that taste and look like a medium-sized California Bing cherry, and I love Bing cherries. From that similarity, I am not surprised that the Burlat is the most popular sweet cherry in France.  The Burlat cherry developed from cuttings from a wild cherry tree, and the finder was a French soldier, named Léonard Burlat.  Léonard had been called up for service in the French army during WWI, and in 1915, he discovered a remarkably different wild cherry tree near the city of Lyon.  When Léonard went home on leave he took the cuttings from that tree back to his farm, near his home village, now the small town of Loire-sur-Rhône in the département of Rhône in the Rhône-Alps and the rest is history. France had fallen in love with Burlat cherries.
   Burlat cherries
Photograph courtesy of Guillaume Brialon.
Léonard Burlat ended up with a cherry and a street named after him as well as the thanks of a nation of cherry lovers. Burlat cherries are now grown all over the world, and in France, they account for over 50% of the cherries sold annually. 
Cerises Noir - Black cherries. Usually, this indicates griottes, morello type sour cherries.
Cerises Jubilee - Cherries Jubilee; morello type cherries marinated in kirsch, a liqueur made from cherries, accompanied by vanilla ice cream, and finally,  in front of the diners,the dish is flambéed while being served. This famous recipe was created, and first served at the Savoy Hotel, London, by August Escoffier in honor of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, her 60 years on the British throne; that was on the 22nd June 1897. 


Cherrie Jubilee
Photograph courtesy of Sarah Cady
You may wonder how a dish created in England in honor of a British queen remains on so many French menus?  Well, Escoffier was, of course, an extremely famous French chef, and Queen Victoria loved France and was also much loved by the French. Queen Victoria and her family were close friends of the Emperor Napoléon III and the Empress Eugénie.  When Napoléon III lost his job as Emperor at the end of the Franco-Prussian war (1870-1871), he found refuge in England. Later, when Napoléon III died in England in 1873 Queen Victoria, paid for the crypt built in the Benedictine Abbey of St Michael’s in Farnborough, Hampshire, England, where he is buried. The abbey itself was built for Napoleon III by the Empress Eugénie, and when she died in 1922 she was buried next to him. Their only son Napoléon Eugène Louis, the Prince Imperial, Napoleon IV, died fighting for the British Army in the South African British Zulu wars, in 1879; he is buried in the same English church alongside his parents. There is also a bigarreau Napoleon, the Napoleon sweet cherry and it is a yellow to pink to red sweet cherry. Many French tourists, visiting the UK, make a point of visiting the last resting place of Napoleon III and Napoleon IV.
For more about Napoleon III see the post:
Napoleon III and margarine.
and for Napoleon I's descendants see the post:
Clafoutis aux Cerises Burlat - Clafoutis made with the sweet burlat cherries. Clafoutis are a traditional tart from the région of Limousin,  and the first clafoutis was only made with cherries mixed and cooked together in a crêpe-like batter. Clafoutis are no longer exclusively made in the Limousine and now are just as popular when made with other fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and fish.
A cherry clafouti.
Photograph courtesy of Magalie L'abbe.
Confiture de Cerises Noires- Black cherry jam
Filet de Canette Montmorency Slices of duckling breast prepared with the famous Montmorency morello type cherries; while cherries are no longer grown in Montmorency any dish with Montmorency in its name will contain cherries and Montmorency cherries are grown all over the world. The village of Montmorency near Paris was famous for its cherries and also for the painter Camille Pissarro who spent time there.

Sliced duck breast with sour cherries.
Photograph courtesy of Curt Gibbs ExperienceLA on Flickr
Entrecôte de Daim aux Bigarreaux  -  An entrecote, a rib-eye steak, from the fallow deer served with a sauce made from sweet cherries; this will be farmed deer.  In France, in the hunting season, when wild game is served the menu will make that clear; either the full menu will be marked as a Carte de la Chasse, a menu from the hunt.  Or wild game on the menu will clearly indicate the fact, for example, daim sauvage, wild fallow deer. Many of the animals traditionally associated with hunting are farm-raised in France.  On your menu without any other indication, the rabbits, hares, fallow and other deer, pheasants, quail, and even wild boar are all farm-raised and will be on menus all year round.
Griottes à l'Eau-de-vie A dessert of griotte, morello, cherries made with an eau de vie, a fruit brandy, usually this will be kirsch, itself a cherry liqueur. A dish like this will usually be served with a soft white cheese or ice cream.
Kirsch Guignolet or Kirschwasse - A popular and colorless cherry brandy.  Kirsch, in France, may be in your cheese fondue, in desserts, cakes or served ice cold on its own.    Kirsch from the Fougerolles, the small town in the département of Haute-Saône in the région of the Franche-Comté is one of the most respected sources for French Kirsch.
Kirsch de Fougerolles AOC

For more about the initials AOC and AOP  on French foods and wines see the post:
Tournedos de Canard, Sauce Bigarreaux - A thick cut of duck breast served with a sweet cherry sauce.

Bigarreau - Sweet cherries: (Catalan - Cirera or guinda), (Dutch - kers), (German - kirsche), (Italian - ciliegi, cerasa) (Spanish- cereza, guinda).
Griotes - Morello cherries, sour cherries: (Catalan - guinder, cirerer amarg),  (Dutch -  zure kers),  (German –sauerkirsche, weichselkirsche, weichsel), (Italian  - amareno, visciolo, amarasco), (Spanish  -   guindo, cerezo ácido, cerezo de morello).
The cherry festival in the town of Céret
in Languedoc-Roussillon.
(On 1-1-2015 the regions of Languedoc- Roussillon and the Midi-Pyrénées
became the new super region of Occitanie).
Apart from Fougerolles so famous for its Kirsch liquor, there are other famous cherry towns in France; a particularly compelling one is the town of Céret in Languedoc-Roussillon, (Occitanie).

Céret has a  cherry festival on the first Saturday and Sunday in June: however, for all fetes and celebrations check, ahead of time, with one of the French Government Tourist Office in your country as the dates for local celebrations do sometimes get moved around.

The Céret cherry season begins in May, and there will be sales of all products made with cherries at stalls and restaurants in and around the town along with bands, traditional Catalan dancing and more.
Cherries in Céret.
Apart from all of France’s favorite cherry dishes local menus will also offer a wide range of French and Catalan-influenced dishes.  At almost any time of the year, Céret is a delightful place to visit as there is much more to the town and area than just cherries, Catalan cuisine and Céret’s Catalan Sardana Dance Festival as the town also has a very distinctive museum of modern art. Céret and its relationship to modern art began when Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso came here in 1911 and spent a year or two in Céret during Picasso’s cubist period. Today Céret considers itself the home of cubism; over the years, many other artists, not just the cubists have also spent time there.

George Braque’s painting of a Man with a Guitar.
Painted in Céret, 1912  Now at the MoMA, NY
Photograph courtesy of wallyg
Céret’s small but unique Museum of Modern Art was founded in 1948 by some of the artists who visited and loved the town; it holds works, mainly donated by artists who spent time in Céret, and that includes Picasso, Braque, Chagall, Matisse, Miró, Soutine, and others.
Portrait of the artist Chaim Soutine painted by Modigliani in Céret.
For  the opening times of the museum and days when it is closed see the museum’s website:

Getting to Céret.
Céret is in the département of the Pyrénées-Orientales in Languedoc- Roussillon (Occitanie) and is just  15 km (9 miles) from beautiful Mediterranean beaches, 15  km (9 miles) from Perpignan and 18 km (12 miles) from Spain. 

Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2013, 2017.
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

No comments:

Post a Comment