5 Gourmet Condiments You Need to Try Right Now
BBQ season is in full swing. What better way to impress family, friends and yourself than with affordable gourmet condiments. Some of these you may have never even heard of! That's OK. French Lunch is here to cultivate your culinary knowledge. Make fine dining a staple at your next BBQ with these five gourmet super condiments.
This amazing steak sauce from France is meant to garnish steaks, but use it to garnish sides too! This sauce consists of beef simmered in red wine, usually red Burgundy wine. A scrumptious haute cuisine staple that you can drizzle over your Parisian potatoes after BBQing them. Spread the juiciness equally!
This oil takes the traditional Provençal herb mixture, Herbes de Provence, and distills it into an aromatic gourmet condiment! A sunflower oil-infused mix combines rosemary and thyme for a lovely taste. Ideal for salad dressings.
Where would French cuisine be without confit, the famous gourmet preserve? Confits come in many varieties, especially meats — the most popular being duck confit. But as we all know, you can preserve vegetables too! This olive oil- and herb-rich onion confit will leave a sweet but hearty taste in your mouth. Who can say no to caramelized onions? Not us! Serve with steak or any main course, meat-laden or otherwise.
If you read our blog, tweets, and FB posts, you know how much we love this classic Provençal meal-come-condiment. Yes, tapenade can be eaten by itself on bread, but that’s a bit boring, don’t you agree? Try grilled zucchini with this olive & fig tapenade or serve it on crackers topped with mozzarella or brie… we recommend brie and fig tapenade because of the awesome contrast. Three flavours at once!
The humble, yet gourmet truffle is a fungus… so what on earth is it doing in honey? Sounds like a strange combination, but we assure you that it’s a fantastic one. When white truffles and acacia honey are blended together, the result is a naturally earthy and sweet taste. We recommend you glaze your grilled meats with truffle honey, especially chicken. Cheese lovers can eat it with their favourite aged cheeses. Consider baking your cheeses first!
Which condiment do you look forward to trying? Enjoy summer sprucing up your BBQ game with affordable gourmet from French Lunch.
We look forward to feeding you!
Enriching the Western Diet, French Style
If you’ve been to French Lunch’s “About” page, you’ll see that we’re very interested in helping people emulate French eating habits — our goal is to leave our customers with better food knowledge, and we aim to do this by providing everyone with fresh lunches and dinners that can be prepared any time of the week. Hence, our food is frozen, because freezing meals is the best way to retain their nutritional value.
We could have chosen any type of cuisine for our project. But we stuck with French and European foods because we want to promote a healthy Western diet. These days, people tend to scorn Western foods. They’re all seen as high in fat, sodium, sugar, carbs, and cholesterol, and sometimes, rightfully so. But nowadays, even traditional European foods get lumped in with modern day junk foods, and you’re often warned by the media to avoid them or face obesity, heart attacks, high blood pressure, and other horrors. But if Western dishes are so dangerous for the body, how do those who eat them for every meal manage their health?
As with all things, moderation is key.
In the U.S. and Canada, obesity rates are steadily increasing. We human beings (especially us North Americans) have access to more food than ever before, and just don’t know how, or just don’t have the time to wade through the plethora of choices we’re presented with. This is no surprise, considering that, on average, Americans work 316 more hours than their French counterparts.
Sadly, we can’t offer a solution for the disparity in work hours, but we can explore ways to be healthy when leading a busy lifestyle. As well, the fact that nearly 7 in 10 Americans are overmedicated and overdiagnosed means that nutrition is something that needs to be taken a lot more seriously than it currently is. We feel that good nutrition may help offset the trend of overmedication in North America, and relieve some ailments permanently. A well-moderated diet can minimize vitamin deficiencies, blood pressure issues, type II diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and other common health problems that our ancestors rarely faced.
So what are the keys to good health? As mentioned above, moderation and portion size. We need to start paying attention to what we eat, and how much we eat. Like any fitness magazine will tell you, cut down your intake of processed foods. Eat them occasionally, and if you are going to eat them on a regular basis, choose something with as little salt and sugar and with as many fresh ingredients as possible.
For example, instead of eating chocolate chip cookies, eat almond and nut cookies. Or have coconut macaroons sweetened with maple syrup. Even though macaroons are typically considered unhealthy, they’re still healthier than chocolate chip cookies with nothing but bleached flour, chocolate chips, and high fructose corn syrup — and virtually no fibre. However, having a couple of cookies after dinner or for a light snack (if you’re not planning to eat anything for a while) is fine. What we advise is for you to choose products made with whole ingredients, including vegetables, fruits, saps, syrups, eggs, and meats, rather than ones with preservatives and overly refined ingredients. The more whole ingredients, the more nutritional value.
Tied to whole ingredients is the consumption of more produce. The majority of North Americans simply don’t eat enough vegetables. We love our meat and dairy, but not our vegetables! If you look at French Lunch’s lunch and dinner menu, you’ll see that almost all of our dishes involve a common group of produce: onions, celery, potatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes. We cook produce with olive oil and wines for more flavour, and both have various health benefits. Altogether, these ingredients, when paired with herbs and spices, create a smorgasbord of flavour and nutrition.
It seems rather strange that the French have no qualms about the fattiness of their foods. They also don’t eat as many vegetables as you’d expect, and love their wine and chocolate. To foreigners, the French seem downright sloppy with their food habits. Yet the French have some of the strictest food traditions in the world, and can be inflexible when it comes to food. This inflexibility often works out in their favour.
When it comes to breakfast, the French eat very little. Black coffee and a croissant. That’s it. Compare this to the traditional English breakfast of sausages, eggs, toast, orange juice, and coffee. Animal products aren’t healthy by themselves in large quantities, and Americans tend to overeat them. Plus the strict French diet is enforced across society, from schools to workplaces.
When it’s time to eat, it’s time to eat, no buts and no distractions. You’re not allowed to snack from childhood onwards, and the three meals you do eat cover a range of different food groups. Pizza isn’t a vegetable in France, but it can be a healthy way to cover a few food groups at once: add on broccoli, asparagus, black olives, bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and perhaps, a bit of pepper to a pan pizza and pair it with roasted zucchini, and it turns into a nutritious lunch. Sides. Sides are what make French meals healthy.
At French Lunch, we do sides, and we encourage customers to consider pairing our dishes with vegetable sides. We understand that French food isn’t perfect. Some main courses certainly aren’t nutrient-rich on their own. So whatever you pick, eat it with stir-fried or grilled vegetables. You can enrich your diet, one veggie at a time. Don’t worry about ruining the dish’s taste, either — French meals are meant to be complemented by other foods, which are often side dishes that highlight sauces, broths, stock, and gravy.
You can have your cake and eat it too — as long as you eat it in moderate portions within a diverse diet. After all, why limit yourself? Traditional western diets are healthy when fresh, whole ingredients are thrown into the mix.
French Lunch Gourmet: Choosing The Perfect Dessert
After a lavish coq au vin, it’s always delightful to end with an equally lavish dessert —perhaps one or two petit fours, an éclair, or crème brulée. French Lunch has almost as many desserts as it does main courses, and you’re bound to find something you like among our selection of gourmet European pastries, chocolates, cakes, tarts, and more. All of our desserts are imported from Europe, mainly France, and are mostly French in origin. Let’s go over them briefly.
Chocolate éclairs. A good old éclair can’t do you wrong if you’re not big on European treats, as you can get them at any grocery store, coffee shop, or restaurant these days across Canada. How do our éclairs differ? For one, we’re completely transparent about what’s inside them, all the way down to the preservatives (some are required for the éclair to keep while shipping). Main ingredients include water, sugar, eggs, and flour.
Chocolate lava cake. Warm it in the oven, slice it in half, and watch the chocolate syrup within ooze out like a mini waterfall. This is a dark chocolate-flavoured lava cake (24%) with sugar, butter, crème fraiche (a fattier version of sour cream used in France), eggs, flour, and cocoa powder. Perfect for a cold, rainy day in spring.
Lemon meringue tartlets. A tangy, yet sugary dessert that will cool you down on a hot day. The tartlet portion forms a slight crust around the cream, preventing it from sliding downwards and giving the tiny pie a neat form factor. Take one to work with you and leave it in the fridge for three hours before lunch or maybe just before your shift ends, and it’s ready to eat. Remember to put your name on it so no one steals it! Made from sugar, eggs, wheat, butter, lemon juice and almond powder.
Crème brulée. A dessert native to France, our crème brulée is from Québec, which is close enough culturally. It comes in a pack of two. This brulée is a blend of cream, egg yolks, partially skimmed milk, sugar, starch, and a packet of caramelized sugar (that red stuff on the top of the brulée). This dessert requires at least 8 hours of defrosting time in your fridge, but the wait is oh so worth it. It’s like ice cream custard. If warmed, it melts on your tongue, along with the caramelized sugar topping, and produces a heavenly taste. You will want more.
Hot chocolate soufflés. Another pack of two from Quebec, the soufflé has white chocolate and cookie crumbs inside. Defrost it in the fridge for 8 hours and warm it in the microwave. Grab a bit of vanilla ice cream to go with it and you’ll have a mouthwatering hot and cold dessert: an ice cream soufflé!
Key lime cheesecake. Separated into three lovely colours indicating cream cheese (white), key lime cream (yellow), or graham crumbs (brown), this is a rather picturesque dessert. Defrost it, grab a spoonful and see if you’ve created a neat division of layers. Try the cream cheese layer first, then the key lime, and finally, the graham. It’s more fun to eat each layer one by one so you can discover for yourself how the ingredients complement one another!
Caramel flan. In France, this dessert is also known as crème caramel, but both terms are used interchangeably. This is a soft, spongy caramel custard from Quebec in a pack of two. This is a plain dessert, as its main ingredients are cream, eggs, and caramel, but there’s a hint of coconut in there too. If you’ve eaten a spicy dish and want a light dessert to alleviate your tongue, look no further than caramel flan.
Red velvet cheesecake. Mmmm, red velvet! In cheesecake form, no less. Vibrant strawberry pureé over red velvet, with white stripes of vanilla and a little dollop of cream cheese on top. It’s a great gift to give someone (or yourself). Give it to Mom for Mother’s Day, or eat it just because. Who needs an excuse to eat a perfectly good cheesecake?
Exotic petit fours and chocolate petit fours. Petit fours are small and often, cute-looking individualized confections topped with a variety of sweet ingredients. They’re often sold in large sets, and tend to offer diners a bit of every dessert out there. Both of our petit four sets are from France, so you know you’re getting quality chocolates.
Petit fours (eight) – names and ingredients you might not know
- Far Breton: a miniature Far Breton cake, this petit four combines flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and butter with floured prunes and powdered sugar.
- Chocolate éclair: a miniature éclair!
- Praline choux: a petit four based off the Paris-Brest pastry with praline cream using choux pastry dough (the kind of dough used to make éclairs)
- Hazelnut ganache: ganache refers to icing or glaze used to fill chocolate pastries. It’s made by pouring hot cream over chocolate and then stirring it to remove all lumps.
- Fleur de sel: this literally translates to “flower of salt” and refers to sea salt. Fleur de sel is used to add more flavouring to foods, and is often sprinkled on chocolate to balance its taste.
Canelés de Bordeaux. Onto the rather noteworthy gourmet foods! Canelés de Bordeaux are round, rum-based pastries with vanilla and custard interiors and caramel exteriors. They have a unique flower-like indentation at their peaks and can be eaten during any meal of the day — including breakfast. Our French canelés are composed of sugar, wheat, rum, milk, and powdered eggs. If you want a sophisticated dessert, take these canelés home.
French macarons. Colorful and adorable, macarons are iconic these days. No French food shop is whole without them, including us — that’s why we went out of our way to import these macarons straight from France for you to enjoy. Each pack contains a dozen macarons: chocolate, lemon and vanilla.
French Lunch has more than 11 desserts for you to dig into — and we’ve only gone over the frozen ones in this article. We have more in our pantry, including chocolate fleur de salt, packaged Belgian macarons, and assorted biscuits. What’s your favourite?
As always, we look forward to feeding you,