Our mushroom brie toastie combines delicious caramelized onion and mushrooms on butter and mustard-flavored toasted baguette slices. Easy tasting French!.
So, upon returning from Bordeaux, I was walking in our local neighborhood when we came across a neighbor giving away excess tarragon. This instantly reminded me of our trip to Bordeaux, as tarragon is commonly used there. And so, I just had to make a bruschetta-like toastie featuring some favorite French ingredients. Brie, tarragon, mustard and caramelized onions. If you are looking for a fancy grilled cheese, with some French touches, then this one might be for you.
French cuisine is rightly famous right throughout the world as being one of the best cuisines to experience. It can sometimes have a reputation for consisting of, perhaps, some complex dishes. But, as our visit to the gorgeous city of Bordeaux confirmed, more often than not, the locals eat plenty of tasty, simple French foods.
Bordeaux is just full of quaint laneways surrounded by magnificent stone buildings dating back hundreds of years. It’s easy to just lose yourself and just wander through the streets window shopping. If you just focused on the food-related shops alone in Bordeaux, you could spend many days just wandering the old city admiring all of the cheeses, pates, terrines and breads on display.
It was common to observe many of the locals enjoying some of these simple foods, with cheese being a favorite choice in this famous wine-producing region. In Bordeaux most small shops selling food will have a small number of tables and chairs, usually with some inside and some outside, in the pedestrian only streets. What a pleasant activity, enjoying a small plate of cheeses with an accompanying glass of excellent, Bordeaux red.
Eating Simply in Bordeaux
Why is it that some foods just taste better when you enjoy them in their home country? For example, pasta in Italy. It never ceases to amaze me how something so simple as fresh pasta with a little, olive oil, pecorino cheese and black pepper can taste so good in Italy.
Well, as you would expect, you will experience the same feeling when you visit a city like Bordeaux in France. For me, it was all about the cheeses in Bordeaux. You could honestly spend days, just going to the specialty cheese shops and small delicatessens who just carry a stunning array of French cheeses. The glorious aroma of cheese when you enter the humidity and temperature-controlled storage and tasting rooms is something I will never forget and is testament to how seriously cheese is taken in France.
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Another lovely experience in Bordeaux is being able to enjoy a cheese platter outside in the gorgeous weather. Almost all of the old city is car-less or car access is heavily restricted. This makes enjoying that cheese platter a reality as you don’t have any noisy cars continually whizzing past you. Oh, how we love that about Europe!
Of course, these same, small shops also sell glorious French breads, pates, terrines and small goods. Yes, let’s just talk about the bread in Bordeaux. The breads were everything we hoped they would be. The range of breads is simply stunning and they would be all considered to be, “artisanal”. Funny isn’t it how new businesses in some countries use old-fashioned food ideas and then use use the label, “artisanal”. Whereas in France, the old, “artisanal” way of making bread has never changed. It’s always been artisanal!
Tarragon is an Underrated Herb
One of the ingredients we were re-acquainted with in Bordeaux was tarragon. This much underrated herb is famous in French cuisine, primarily because of its starring role in béarnaise sauce.
Tarragon does have a mild anise taste. And, although the herb is very common in France, tarragon actually hails from Siberia and is part of the Sunflower family! It is a perennial herb and grows long branches up to about 3 feet long. Only eat the small leaves, not the stem.
Like other herbs, tarragon has many health benefits. Tarragon contains nutrients and minerals such as protein, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, manganese, magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium and vitamins A and C, niacin and riboflavin. But, although the health benefits are nice, it’s really the taste that excites with tarragon.
Tarragon goes beautifully when cooked with chicken, fish and mushrooms. Some famous dishes include:
The classic béarnaise sauce is flavored by tarragon (great on steak).
French herb roast chicken. Put some tarragon between the skin and the flesh of the chicken before you roast it and you will be rewarded with a hint of tarragon throughout the whole dish.
Creamy tarragon dressings go beautifully with seafood salads. In fact cream and tarragon are a match made in heaven.
And so, why not use some of these French ingredients and methods to add a touch of class to an everyday dish to make it a classic? A dish can get a real lift like this a mushroom brie toastie.
Mushroom Brie Toastie with Mustard & Caramelized Onions and Tarragon
Our mushroom brie toastie combines delicious caramelized onion and mushrooms on top of our butter and mustard-flavored toasted baguette slices. They are actually grilled in the broiler and served as an “open sandwich” with no top piece of bread.
I don’t know too many people who don’t enjoy the taste of grilled cheese. Our mushroom brie toastie is, in reality, just a fancy grilled cheese recipe. But, here is what we did to add that touch of class to turn a grilled cheese sandwich into a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich.
Do try and use a herb like tarragon. This gives the dish some French attitude and flair and imparts a lovely anise flavor. Your next best alterative is chervil or oregano.
We used a lovely French brie for a richer taste.
We visited a Maille mustard outlet in Bordeaux. There, you can buy your own blend of mustard by combining different types. Maille mustard is found right throughout the world and with good reason. We use a prepared mustard and melted butter to flavor the baguette discs before topping with the mushroom mixture and brie.
A garnish of sprouts or sliced green onion at the end adds color and taste to our mushroom brie toastie.
Want some more mushroom recipes?