I was so lucky to work in Paris this February – I spoke at Vin Expo/Wine Paris on behalf of the USDA. I shared American wine info at a “Les Talks” during the largest annual conference for wine in France! Yes, it was incredibly fun, and interesting. My mostly French audience was polite, attentive and appreciative of info about Americans and wine. They are typically very insular in their choice of wine, so an American overview and history was well received. (whew!)

While i was there I took advantage of every opportunity to enjoy the food of France. One of my favorites was the “Salad Aux Lardons”, a salad made with frisée, a spiky-leaved lettuce that is slightly bitter, and a great foil for the fatty lardons, which are big chunks of french bacon. Often topped with a poached egg and scattered liberally with croutons, this salad is a staple on Paris bistro menus. The photo shows you just one of the yummy salads I enjoyed.

While talking French food and wine on the show, I wanted to share the salad with Christine, so I created my own riff on the salad and topped it with a Champagne Vinaigrette. We talked about 3 different kinds of lettuces often used in French salads – red leaf, radicchio, (not the Italian red version we usually see in the market), and frisée. I talked about how to make the lardons and croutons for the salad, then we moved to the back table where I had an array of French pastries, and we shared a bottle of bubbles, a Cremant de Bourgogne that is easily found in the U.S., including right here in Atlanta. The cremant will go well with the salad and the rich pastries.

Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne is a sparkler made from the pinot noir and gamay grapes  in the same method as Champagne, it can’t be called champagne because it is from another region of France – Burgundy. In other words, it gets its bubbles in the same bottle that you purchase in the store. And not only does it taste divine, it’s also an excellent value for the sparkle, about half ,(or less), the price of champagne. That’s cause for celebration🍾

The company, Louis Bouillot was founded in 1877 in Nuits-Saint-Georges, a little village nestled the heart of the Côte d’Orby Jean Bouillot. Jean, a wine and spirits merchant, was one of the few in his day to specialize in Crémant de Bourgogne. Louis Bouillot is still located in Nuits-Saint-Georges. Super fizz for an everyday wine🥂

Here’s the easy recipe for the salad and dressing. If you can’t find frisee or radicchio, just use all red leaf lettuce – its sure to still be good.

French Herb Salad

  • 10 – 12 Cups Fresh Spring Greens including frisee
  • About ½ Cup of Your Favorite “Soft” Greens like Parsley, Cilantro, Basil, Dill
  • Champagne Vinaigrette
  • Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
  • Lardons (Chunked Bacon that has been sautéed, Croutons that have been cooked in the bacon fat.)

Place the greens and herbs on a large platter, drizzle with the half the dressing and then toss again. Season well with salt and pepper. Top with Lardons and Croutons.

Champagne Vinaigrette

  • ¼ Cup Champagne Vinegar, (you can use rice wine vinegar instead)
  • ½ Cup Avocado Oil, (canola or grapeseed oil can be used)
  • 1 TB Lemon Juice
  • 1 Honey
  • 1 TB Dijon Mustard
  • Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

Add the vinegar, avocado oil, and honey to a jar and shake well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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