What’s French for El Nino?

We’re quite a long way from the sea in Burgundy. From Dijon it’s a good 7 hour drive to just about any serious stretch of ocean – the Atlantic to the west, the English Channel to the north or the Mediterranean to the south. The Pacific, where the weather system known as El Nino originates is half a world away.

However that doesn’t make us immune to the weather it creates and this week in Burgundy we’ve had all sorts of weather, including snow! It hasn’t been the coldest winter up until now but we’ve most definitely been in gloves and mufflers and hats this week as we’ve gone about our business of getting Le Papillon ready for the summer season.

In general the climate in Burgundy is considered ‘moderate’ or ‘mild’ – in fact just what you’d expect in an area so famous for its gorgeous grapes and wonderful award winning wines. In spring and autumn we average around 60˚ with lots of sunshine and the odd shower to freshen things up. In the height of summer the temperature only averages around 75˚ and it’s a nice dry heat even on the canal.

That’s one of the reasons Americans like to visit with us, particularly those from the East Coast who suffer such high temperatures and humidity throughout the summer months. For them Burgundy is a breath of fresh air in more ways than one.

Of course we think the real reason they come is that in the midday heat we offer them a scrumptious frosted glass of chilled champagne or white Burgundy, perhaps a crisp Ladoix. Then, as the warmth vanishes into the clear night sky we break open a rich warm red Burgundy – something like a Santenay that fills the mouth with flavour and warms the heart.

What’s not to like about that – all things considered it’s a brilliant combination. We’d love to show it to you.

More next week on this blog. In the meantime we’ve chosen Canapes de Crevettes au Cerfeuil as the recipe of the week – it’s a super-simple tasty starter that would whet anybody’s appetite for a visit to Burgundy!

Canapes de Crevettes au Cerfeuil

Shrimp and Chervil Canapes

Makes 18

Serve this delicious shrimp mixture on thickly sliced and lightly toasted unsweetened brioche rounds. The buttery richness of the brioche works perfectly with the shrimp. The mixture is best served the day it’s made.


18 x 2-inch rounds or squares of good quality unsweetened brioche

¾ pound cooked and peeled small shrimp

1 small shallot, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chervil, chives or dill

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons canola oil

4 tablespoons crème fraiche or heavy cream

Fine sea salt and white pepper

Finely chop the shrimp. Combine all the other ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until lightly thickened. Stir in the chopped shrimp. Lightly toast the broche rounds, top with the shrimp mixture and a sprig of herb.

Super-simple and super-tasty.

Recipe courtesy of Eleanor Garvin’s excellent cookbook At Home in Burgundy – The Papillon Recipes.

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