Firstly some background on Bresse Chickens with credit to Wikipedia….
The Bresse is a breed of chicken originating from the Bresse area of the Rhône-Alpes region of France.
The birds are highly valued for their gamey depth of flavour, yet with fine, tender flesh and delicious, clean-flowing fat. Roughly 1.2 million are raised annually, but such is the demand inside France that few birds make it out of the country.
The most typical examples, known as Bény, have a distinctive red crown, white feathers and blue feet, making up the colours of the French flag, making it an ideal national mascot.
Poulet de Bresse are reared to exacting standards by small farms in a small designated area around the city, protected under French and European law (Appellation d’origine contrôlée) since 1957 - the first livestock to be granted such protection. AOC status was granted based on the unique characteristics of flavour given by local soil and grain, as well as the dedication of the local farmer's association to protecting quality. For example, stocks are limited by the size of the farm - with a minimum allocation of ten square meters for each bird.
Hopefully that will help to explain why we were fascinated to try one…we’ve been buying ‘poulet fermier’ mostly (a local farmers chicken that is raised organically in lots of space and very tasty and slightly more expensive although still very affordable) but having heard so much about the famous ‘Bresse chicken’ (one of Hestor Blumenthal’s favourites apparently), we found a lovely butchers and proudly asked for a Bresse Chicken. We were presented with a lovely looking chicken with crown and head intact (I can confirm the red crown and white feathers) and feet still attached (I can confirm blue feet) – the lovely man asked if I wanted them to which I must have made a face as he laughed and discarded them and then asked if I wanted the giblets to which I of course said yes (I know better than to turn giblets down in France – don’t wish to be totally frowned upon!) and so he proceeded to cut them out as they were of course still attached – he asked if I wanted them back inside the bird or on the side and if I’d like him to tie the bird up for roasting…….well as you can imagine all this took some time and we were totally sold on the bird at this point and as he or she had been so totally personalized there was no going back. And then we were presented with the bill – CHF 77.50 for a bird weighing 1.8 kg (less than 3.5lbs) – we were both absolutely stunned and a little horrified but to our credit (or perhaps proving our stupidity) we played it cool and smiled and thanked the man, paid for the bird and left (never to return).
We are having this tomorrow and although it’s bound to be a one off experience we are both actually quite excited to be trying our first Bresse chicken and feel that it’s money well spent on research – after all if they’re that good, perhaps it’s a breed that we can one day raise in France!
Tony will be heading back home to France on Monday so next week may be a little touch and go as we get used to not being with each other – it’ll be tough especially after spending the past 4 ½ months literally living in each others pockets! But we’re both very happy with Geneva, I’m enjoying my job (hope they’re enjoying me!) and we think the next few months will be the toughest as we work out the logistics but if we can limp through to the New Year (preferably limping with a few visits and the odd snowboarding trip in between) we think we’ll have it worked out by then and hopefully Tony will be getting happily stuck in to the renovations and improvements ‘chez nous’ in France.
I shall leave you with a few photos – we had a day off on Thursday to celebrate Jeune Genevoise which apparently is where people from Geneva used to fast – not being from Geneva we didn’t think it important that we should fast and so we popped over to France for lunch – a beautiful town called Yvoire just 40 minutes away and sitting on Lake Geneva (or Lac Leman for us locals!). Quite a treat as you can imagine to have a bank holiday on only my second week of work!
With love to all – a bientot!