Monday, April 9, 2012

Lyonnais Bouchon

Saucisson chaud à la lyonnaise is a simple dish of poached pork sausage and warm,dressed potato salad

Travelers have passed through Lyon for thousands of years, en route from Italy to Flanders, or more recently from gray northern skies to southern sunshine. These days, it is a destination in its own right, luring visitors with its architecture, history, and homey bouchons – cozy traditional inns that specialize in the city’s very own style of hearty cuisine.
 "In the kingdom of good taste, Lyon’s cuisine reigns above all others,” or so says a popular adage in Lyon. There’s certainly no shortage of wonderful ingredients – Lyon is surrounded by fine food, from Bresse chickens, Charolais beef, and Jura pork to the fish of the alpine Savoie lakes and the gleaming fruit of the Rhône Valley. Sitting at the crossroads between north and south, the city has cemented its gastronomic supremacy.

Once the capital of the Gauls, and still sometimes referred to in this way, Lyon has been a magnet for trade through the ages. During the Renaissance, its four annual fairs drew traders from all over Europe, and wealthy families soon began to ensconce themselves in the old town around St Jean, taking care to be close to both church and state (the governor’s house, the cathedral, Left The Cathédrale St-Jean and Notre Dame de Fourvière on the banks of the Saône river, which joins the Rhône at Lyon and the archbishop’s house). The regal former home of the Gadange family, influential Italian bankers, is now the Lyon history museum.
 But the bourgeoisie did not make up the clientele at the local bouchons, which were the haunt of the workers, such as coachmen, who knew they could always count on a fresh, hearty meal and a pot of Beaujolais at a price to suit their meager wages. Pork was a menu constant, from andouillette (tripe sausage) and petit salé (pork belly) to fried crackling. It was not until the early 1900s that the Mères Lyonnaises (the mothers of Lyon) made Lyon a cuisine capital with their simple, subtle cooking. Mère Guy, Mère Fillioux, Mère Brazier, and Mère Bourgeois turned bouchon cooking into an art, and brought a new type of clientele to the table. Mère Brazier went on to become the first woman to win three Michelin stars, but it is often the modest Lyonnais cooking that draws the contented sighs: the pork and salty lentils, boiled pink sausages studded with pistachios, black pudding with melting apples, chicken softly braised in vinegar, salads of frizzy endive, egg, and chunks of smoky bacon, cheesy potato gratin, and butter-soaked apple tarts. Look out for an authentic bouchon by spotting the Authentiques Bouchons Lyonnais label, a guarantee of traditional warmth and astonishingly good food.

The Best Places to Eat Lyonnais Cooking

La Meunière moderate
 Bouchon purists agree that they don’t come much more atmospheric and traditionally French than La Meunière. The patron, Jean-Louis, has the spherical belly, handlebar mustache, and cheeky, welcoming smile of those long-disappeared bistro owners you might have glimpsed in sepia photos, but he’s no phantom. And like Jean-Louis, the food is hearty, so prepare by running a triathlon, swimming the Channel, or walking up and down Lyon’s Fourvière Hill at least twice. Start the meal with an apéritif known as a “communard” – a heady mix of red wine and red fruit syrup handed out with slices of cured sausage. Then launch into a range of robust salads (brains, tripe, lentils, herring, sheep’s feet, or the ever-popular salade lyonnaise of bacon, croutons, frisée lettuce, and a poached egg). One of the city’s oldest bouchons, La Meunière dishes up the classics with gusto: black pudding with apples, gratin of tripe sausage, chicken braised in vinegar, pistachio sausage and veal kidneys with mustard. For dessert, pears cooked in red wine or a plum tart are irresistible.
 11 rue Neuve, Lyon; open noon–1:45 PM and 8:15–9:30 PM Tue–Sat; closed mid-Jul–mid-Aug and last week Dec;
 Also in Lyon
 With its turned-wood and tiled street façade, Chez Hugon (+33 4 7828 1094; inexpensive) looks just like the convivial bouchon it is. Expect authentic Lyonnais food served up in plentiful quantities – potato and herring salad, pike quenelles in a creamy crayfish sauce, black pudding and apples, and for insatiable carnivores, tête de veau (calf’s head).
 Also in France
 In Paris, Aux Lyonnais (www.auxlyonnais. com; moderate) is a delicious-looking place, from its extravagant mirrors and moldings down to its flowery belle époque tiles and period apéritif posters. As part of super-chef Alain Ducasse’s L’Esprit Bistro group, Aux Lyonnais is more refined than rustic bouchon, but the cooking is definitely bouchon-inspired: calf’s liver with parsley and garlic, farm-raised chicken in cream, pig’s head sausage, and black pudding with potato purée arrive on the table in cast-iron pots and frying pans. All the cured meats and sausages are shipped up from Lyon.
Around the World
 If you’re in Los Angeles searching for French food with a hint of Lyon, slip into Thomas Keller’s Bouchon (; moderate). It has the casual, chattery vibe of a bouchon with the panache of a Paris bistro, and serves chunky country pâté, foie gras terrine,and blood sausage with caramelized apples. Cooking Classes
 Veteran super-chef Paul Bocuse is a local treasure, known for his Michelin three-star restaurant and more pocket-friendly bistros, but he also runs the Institut Paul Bocuse (www., just outside Lyon in the Château du Vivier, which has been teaching cooking skills – from one- to three-day courses for amateurs to degree courses – for more than 20 years. Aurélie Chauvin is another passionate cook, who worked beside Michelin-starred chef Mathieu Vianney at Les Oliviers before deciding to open her own cooking school in Lyon, Délicieusement Votre (
 You can learn to make an entrée, main course, and dessert in three hours or take a themed class – for example, in patisserie.
 A Day in Lyon
Old Lyon is a UNESCO World Heritage site, full of medieval churches and Renaissance buildings, and its narrow streets are full of surprises.
 MORNING : Explore the city’s traboules (hidden passageways linking ancient streets). Map in hand, set out from Place St Paul in Old Lyon to explore the cobbled lanes. Visit Cathédrale St-Jean to admire the stained glass and the astronomical clock.
 AFTERNOON : Look for the giant modern murals that are splashed across Lyon, sometimes covering whole buildings. The architecturerich Presqu’île area has some of the best, including Fresque des Lyonnais, picturing Lyonnais celebrities, and the nearby Bibliothèque de la Cité, where huge books decorate the building.
 EVENING : Take the funicular up to the gilt-rich basilica of Nôtre Dame de Fourvière, built in the 1870s on the site of a Roman temple. Alongside are two 12th-century chapels, and there’s a sweeping view of the whole city from the terrace.

 There are flights (Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport) and high-speed trains to Lyon from many European cities. The city has an efficient tram, train, and bus network, and free bicycle rental.


Collège Hotel (inexpensive) is a quirky school-themed hotel with all-white decor.
 Artelit Chambres d’Hôtes (moderate) has romantic rooms in a 16th-century building with a pink tower in Old Lyon.
Villa Florentine (expensive) is a restored 17th-century convent with a city panorama that’s hard to top.
 Place Bellecour;

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