We continue from Yukon in Canada.
Le Marche De Noel is the name of Holiday Kitchen in France this year, taking over for last year’s Alsace.
The Turkey Puffy Pastry is new, while the other two items return from last year. The Spiced Rum Punch Slushy and Holiday Kir also return, while the Sparkling Wine and Red Wine Blend are different brands.
We ordered one of each of the food items to see if anything had changed since last year.
Napoléon de Saumon Fumé, Brioche á l’aneth: Smoked Salmon Napoleon in a Dill Brioche – $5.75
The Napoleon impressed on quality and size with the salty, soft salmon combining with the creaminess of the spread, which tasted like it was made from sour cream and goat cheese with a little bit of tang against the smokiness of the fish. The soft, fresh brioche did an admirable job of keeping everything in and the dill helped brighten the flavor of the salmon even further. I appreciated that it was also one of few cold dishes served at the Festival as our visits were on relatively warm days. This may impress less if it’s a freezing 65 degrees out.
Bouchée à la Reine Traditionnelle: Turkey and Mushrooms in a Veloute Cream Sauce served in a Light Puff Pastry – $6.75
I liked last year’s Turkey entry, though I noted that it was a small portion for the money. That’s less of an issue this year with a substantial puff pastry holding sizable chunks of tender turkey and plenty of thick slices of mushroom served up with a creamy, buttery sauce. It ends up being one of the more substantial, comforting dishes served at the Festival that isn’t too far off of a turkey pot pie. Don’t tell the French, though.
Bûche de Noël au Chocolat “Christmas Log”: Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Caramel Ganache – $4.75
While the name of this is similar to last year’s, we enjoyed this year’s iteration quite a bit more.
Here’s last year’s, when the cake was much dryer and less flavorful.
This dense Christmas Log arrives with a bold, bitter dark chocolate flavor that’s sweetened up by the caramel sauce in the middle, which adds some butterscotch and sugar to the decadent ganache. Dark chocolate lovers are in business, while those that prefer lighter chocolate may elect to look eslewhere. There’s also a crispy little meringue on top, which is fun, along with a white chocolate piece and some crispy chocolate pearls.
Spiced Rum Punch Slush: Spiced Rum, Rhum Clement V.S.O.P., Orange and Pineapple Juice with Cinnamon – $10.75
The holiday version of the popular French slush was a lot more nuanced than your typical entry.
There’s a lot going on here and as a person that isn’t really in love with rum and juice, I’ll admit that I didn’t really care for it compared to the fruitier vodka slushes that we’ve seen at most Festivals over the last few years. But the cinnamon adds some spice and there’s actually some alcohol involved for once. We had no problem finishing it, but I’m not sure it’s the crowd-pleaser that makes these things so popular during Food/Wine/Flower/Garden.
Holiday Kir: Sparkling Wine and Monin Cranberry Syrup – $7
The syrup makes this one a little thicker and more artificial-tasting than the Moroccan entry and it also uses lower-quality sparkling wine. It’s potentially worth trying if you’re in the mood for a sparkler, but it’s far from fantastic.
Willm, Brut Blanc de Blanc Sparking Wine – $9.50
Last year’s $15 glass of Feuillatte is replaced by the more economical Willm Blanc de Blanc, which is a decent bottle that will set you back about $13 at the store. The wine is crisp with fresh fruit and nice acidity. I’d probably hold out for the Poinsettia Cocktail coming up near Morocco, but you could do worse.
France is another good entry with several items worth trying.