Australia Day was very nearly all about Champagne and Coq au Vin!
If French explorer Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse had left a little earlier and not been held up by a gale when trying to enter Botany Bay on 24 January 1788, our flag could have looked very different! As would our national drink.
Captain Arthur Phillip was already in Botany Bay, and the same gale prevented him from leaving to Sydney Cove where he was planning to move his settlement. Apparently the French were received courteously – but Captain Phillip did send out a party of 15 convicts and 7 free men, led by Lieutenant Philip Gidley King to claim Norfolk Island for the crown to pre-empt the French getting there first!
There is actually a Lapérouse monument in Sydney, and over the last 200 years, the French Navy regularly come to pay their respects. Lapérouse Day, Bastille Day and the Foundation of the Lapérouse Moment are celebrated every year.
Lapérouse was not even the first French man to have a brush with Australia. Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne spent several days in Tasmania in 1769 where he was the first European explorer to have contact with the Aboriginal Tasmanians thereby proving that Tasmania was not Terra Nullius. Marion Bay is named after him.
So in keeping with this ‘Almost French’ theme for Australia Day, here are my top 5 Champagnes to drink on Australia Day, and a recipe for Coq au Vin.
The Bubble Diva’s Top 5 Champagnes to drink on Australia Day
- Vincent Brochet Brut Premier Cru
- Mumm Cordon Rouge Rosé
- Tendil et Lombardi Rosé
- Vilmart Grande Reserve
- Canard Duchene Authentique Brut Rosé
I have chosen all non-vintages for my list, because Australia Day is all about getting together with friends and the more the merrier. All these choices would go beautifully with a traditional French Coq au Vin, but equally as well with the Great Australian BBQ!
Recipe: Coq au Vin**
Olive oil mash
- Step 1
Place the flour in a plastic bag. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken and shake until lightly coated.
- Step 2
Heat half the oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken and cook, turning, for 5 minutes or until brown. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining oil and chicken.
- Step 3
Add the bacon, eschalots and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until eschalots are golden. Add the wine, stock, thyme and bay leaves and bring to the boil. Add the chicken and reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 40 minutes or until tender.
- Step 4
Transfer chicken to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Add mushrooms and tomato paste to the wine mixture. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper. Return chicken to the pan with the brandy and stir to combine.
- Step 5
Meanwhile, to make the mash, cook potato in a saucepan of boiling water for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain. Return to the pan and use a potato masher or fork to mash until smooth. Add oil and combine. Season with salt and pepper.
- Step 6
Place coq au vin in a serving dish and top with extra thyme. Serve with mash.
Vive La France, Vive l’Australie!
*Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=170046
** Courtesy Taste Magazine http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/1725/coq+au+vin+with+olive+oil+mash