This Thursday is the third Thursday in November, and you know what that means — Beaujolais Nouveau!
That's when Beaujolais' vin primeur (wine sold in the same year it is harvested) is released, miraculously, ready to celebrate. In France, wine bars pour prodigious amounts of the fresh, fruity wine. I remember a Paris friend inviting me for lunch on the third Thursday of November and tasting oh, five or six bottles, each different, he’d picked up at his local wine shop.
Here in L.A., we don’t tend to make such a fuss. Wine shops will have some bottles, of course. Georges Duboeuf's (about $10) is the most widely distributed. (Note that Beaujolais Nouveau is not the same as Beaujolais Villages or Beaujolais Cru, which has more heft and character and can be aged.) But a few restaurants do the tradition proud with special Beaujolais Nouveau dinners.
Thomas Keller's Bouchon in Beverly Hills offers a weeklong three-course, regional prix-fixe menu for $45 and a bottle of Jean Foillard Beaujolais Nouveau for $30 beginning Thursday and ending Wednesday, Nov. 27. Have Thanksgiving guests arriving early? Celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau at Bouchon with house-made garlic sausage in brioche and then red wine-braised beef cheeks with vegetables, followed by mignardises (dainty sweets). Add a cheese supplement to finish off the bottle for $10 more. For reservations, call (702) 414-6200.
Over at Kendall’s Brasserie at the L.A. Music Center, on Thursday, chef Jean Pierre Bosc is cooking up a three-course prix-fixe menu at $48 per person, which includes a carafe of Beaujolais Nouveau for every party of two. You could start, for example, with a classic eggs meurette (red wine sauce-poached eggs with bacon lardons) or lemon-and-coriander-cured salmon, then have rotisserie chicken or sautéed sweetbreads, and for dessert, chocolate fondant or apple tarte Tatin. And then there’s this beautiful detail: After 8 p.m., with the menu, it’s all-you-can-drink-Beaujolais Nouveau. For reservations, call (213) 972-7322.
In the OC, Florent Marneau at the French bistro Marché Moderne is celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau with cassoulet every night for a week, starting on Thursday. His is cassoulet Toulousain made with white beans, duck confit, Toulouse sausage and pork belly confit. The cassoulet is $30, or $39 with a glass of Beaujolais. A half-liter carafe (about 3 glasses) is $26. For reservations, call (714) 434-7900.
The St. Regis Monarch Beach gets in on the action too. Thursday only, a sunset reception with Beaujolais Nouveau, fresh seafood and artisan cheeses followed by a five-course dinner at Motif restaurant for $105 per person. Chef Frederic Castan's menu includes Maine lobster and veal sweetbread terrine, chicken breast with truffles, beef pot-au-feu, cheeses from Beaujolais and a winemaker dessert. For reservations, call (800) 722-1543.