We continue on from Brazil.
France returns out in front of the Pavilion on the right side. On busier days, check to see if the line is shorter on the left/back side of the Marketplace, particularly before 3pm.
France drops the Warm Goat Cheese Pudding this year without offering a replacement, while also switching out the venerable Boeuf Bourguignon for a similar Carbonade de Boeuf. While the same Crème Brûlée returns along with La Passion Martini Slush, St-German Sparkling Kir, and Kronenbourg 1664, the two wines are different.
- Croissant aux Escargots: Escargot Croissant with Garlic and Parsley – $5.75
- Carbonade de Boeuf, Purée de Pommes de Terre: Beer-braised Beef with Bacon, Onion and Mashed Potatoes – $6.25
- Crème Brûlée à la Confiture de Framboises: Crème Brûlée with Housemade Rasberry Jam – $4.25
- La Passion Martini Slush: Vodka, Grey Goose Le Citron, Cranberry and Passion Fruit Juice – $10.75
- Cabernet Sauvignon, Village la Tourelle, Bordeaux — $6.50
- St-Germain Sparkling Kir: Sparkling Wine and St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur – $8.50
- Kronenbourg Blanc 1664 Pale Lager – $4.25
Croissant aux Escargots: Escargot Croissant with Garlic and Parsley – $5.75
This is a Festival favorite and one of only a couple of returning items that I allow anyone in my entourage to order on the first day of the Festival, which is historically devoted to new items. Four escargot(s) are baked into the croissant which is topped with a buttery garlic and parsley spread. You might be a little apprehensive about the whole snail thing, but this is a good opportunity to try them. The escargots hold up surprisingly well with all of the butter and garlic going on. Definitely worth a try.
Carbonade de Boeuf, Purée de Pommes de Terre: Beer-braised Beef with Bacon, Onion and Mashed Potatoes – $6.25
Above is last year’s Cabernet Sauvignon Braised Beef with Mashed Potatoes, where I had this to say:
This is a very alcohol-forward dish with a pronounced red wine flavor and the beef is more stew-quality than your typical high-end short rib dish. The potatoes also tend to harden a bit under the heat lamp. This is a pretty safe skip and your money is probably better spent on one of the many other beef dishes available at the other booths.
And here’s this year’s, which is the same idea, only the beef is braised in beer with onions and bacon. I think it works better overall and I appreciated that the meat was much firmer and far less stringy than last year, but it’s still tender at the cost of a lot of fat that remains attached to the relatively small hunk of beef. On the plus side, the bacon and onion give the sauce a much deeper, more complex flavor and we don’t suffer from that acute rush of acid at the front of each bite like we did with the wine-based version.
Overall, it amounts to an above-average beef stew served with a scoop of buttery-soft mashed potatoes and is another dish that will probably taste better as temperatures cool. I don’t think there’s anything compelling about it, but you could do worse.
Crème Brûlée à la Confiture de Framboises: Crème Brûlée with Housemade Rasberry Jam – $4.25
The sugar isn’t freshly caramelized, but the browning process adds a thin, crunchy, glass-like top layer that easily breaks into the luscious vanilla bean custard underneath. The raspberry jam adds a delightfully fruity component and a really fresh, sweet/tart flavor.
This is pretty average for Crème Brûlée, but even average Crème Brûlée is delicious. I recommend picking one up if you’re making a stop.
La Passion Martini Slush: Vodka, Grey Goose Le Citron, Cranberry and Passion Fruit Juice – $10.75
The Passion Fruit Martini Slush is probably the most popular cocktail at the Festival and is similar to the other various slushes that France offers year-round. It’s reliably cold and refreshing with a pleasantly fruity flavor that isn’t too sweet along with a questionable amount of alcohol. Very tasty, but don’t expect it to pack a punch.
Chardonnay, Le Vieux Manoir — $4.25
France’s Chardonnay hails from a different vineyard this year and comes with a 50 cent price drop, which is particularly surprising given the fact that the bottle price is a couple of dollars higher than last year’s offering. With that said, it’s really not very good, too dry and with a flavor closer to wet cardboard than bright fruit. But it’s cheap and after 27 other samples, you might not even notice.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Village la Tourelle, Bordeaux — $6.50
On the other hand, the Cabernet is $2.25 more expensive than the Chardonnay at the Marketplace and the bottle price is around $5 less at the store. Go figure. Perhaps they were basing the cost on how good the wine tastes, which would actually make some amount of sense in the grand scheme of things. Anyway, the dark red wine enjoys an elegant flavor dominated by black cherry, plum, and cassis with a firm tannin structure. I’d be far more likely to put a $10 bottle on the dinner table than pick up a small plastic cup for $6.50 here, but it pairs really nicely with the beef.
St-Germain Sparkling Kir: Sparkling Wine and St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur – $8.50
This was an improvement over what we were served last year with the floral bouquet of the St. Germain Liqueur adding a refreshing, effervescent quality to the sparkling wine. It’s worth trying if you’re a little “adventurous,” but the Mimosa Royale from Morocco with Orange Juice and Orange Liqueur is a “safer” option. On the plus side, this one is all booze.
Kronenbourg Blanc 1664 Pale Lager – $4.25
Kronenbourg is available in France throughout the year and you’ll also find it on the dinner menu at Be Our Guest Restaurant over at Magic Kingdom, among other locations. This witbier is otherwise heavy on the lemon and orange citrus up front with some lingering coriander spice on the back end. It’s a pretty expensive proposition at the Festival and there are better options at nearby Belgium and The American Adventure at Block & Hans and Hops & Barley.
Overall, France is a solid stop, offering the popular Escargot Croissant along with the Passion Martini Slush. The Crème Brûlée is a smart add if you’re in the mood for something sweet and you could make an argument for the various, albeit overpriced, wines.
It’s a bit of a walk to Ireland, with that review available here, so you might want to load up.