In France, the third Thursday of November marks the arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau, a light, fruity wine that’s perfect for jovial holidays.
Last Saturday night, I celebrated this French fall fète at Bistro Moulin, where chef Didier Dutertre prepared a three-course prix fixe meal for the occasion.
The menu was mouthwatering—chef offered three options for each of the three courses.
Before even considering what I was going to eat, I ordered a glass of the Beaujolais Nouveau. This year, the bistro is offering 2012 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau (glass $8, bottle $30).
The wine was fruity and light, very easy to drink and the perfect way to settle down and unwind after a busy afternoon of errands.
I perused the menu, surveying the many tempting choices.
For the first course, chef included many of the favorites from the nightly dinner menu—chef’s signature spinach gnocchi gratin, French onion soup or housemade country-style pate.
But it was the Dungeness crab bisque that ultimately won my vote. The texture was velvety smooth, with a lovely surprise of chunks of fresh crab meat the bottom of the bowl. I loved the little bit of heat that built with each bite. The pairing with the sweet Beaujolais was surprising, bringing out more of the fish notes of the crab, giving the soup bolder, deeper flavors.
For the main course, I chose roasted rabbit with chanterelle mushrooms, cipollini onions and whipped potatoes.
Some diners have reservations ordering rabbit because it can be a little gamey. Not so here—that rabbit was so moist and tender. I loved the combination of flavors with the sweet onions providing a lovely flavor counterpoint to the buttery umami of chanterelles.
I couldn’t resist the apple tarte tatin for dessert. This iconic rustic French dessert used to be a staple on the bistro’s dessert menu and I was truly sad to see it retired when the weather warmed. (It’s a dish best enjoyed on a chilly winter evening.) Its return brought tears to my eyes. (OK, not really, but damn near close!)
The slow-cooked apples turned out so tender, melting like butter with a cut of my fork. They were sweet, almost caramelized. I loved the dollop of crème fraiche on top, giving a little bit of rich fattiness to complement the delicate apples.
Sure, we might only celebrate the Beaujolais Nouveau but once a year, but we can enjoy chef Didier Duterte’s delicious French food year-round!
Bistro Moulin is at 867 Wave Street in Monterey. 831-333-1200. www.bistromoulin.com.