I've never cooked Bourride before although I've eaten it a few times in France. Bouillabaisse has been done in my kitchen on occasion, and with success, but on Friday I was on a mission to find a good Bourride recipe and a great wine match for it. As with many things French, there seem to be endless variations on a theme with Bourride so I mixed and matched from three recipes I found in my rather-too-extensive-as-far-as-my-husband-is-concerned cookery book library. The three were from Leith's Fish Bible, Michel Roux Junior's 'Matching Food and Wine' and Clare Ferguson's 'Flavours of Provence'. The latter provided most of the inspiration although I used white fish easily available here - hake and monkfish.
So how does Bourride differ from that other southern French 'stew', Bouillabaisse then? I like to differentiate between the two by saying that Bourride doesn't include tomatoes and that it is served all in one go whereas, with Bouillabaisse, the done thing seems to be to eat the broth first (with rouille, grated gruyere and little garlic toasts) and the fish is tucked into afterwards, almost as a second course. Feel free to correct me!
Wine suggestions for Bourride seem to centre on white Cassis and provençal rosé although other possibilities abound. I can vouch for the Cassis so, to ring the changes, I went for some cheapish white Bordeaux (sémillon/sauvignon) which I wasn't expecting to be anything special in terms of a match, an Albariño (grape of the same name) from Rias Baixas in Northern Spain and a Corsican rosé (niellucio, grenache, alicanté). Whilst I can see why a rosé might work with Bouillabaisse, I was struggling to see how it could work with the Bourride sauce which was made with egg yolks, aïoli and crème fraiche.
Sure enough, the rosé did nothing for the Bourride nor the Bourride for it and the finish on the wine became very bitter. For me, the Albariño worked tolerably in combination with the dish although some of its characteristic floral and spicy notes were lost. The body and lemony flavours of the white Bordeaux were fantastic with the Bourride and the wine kept its character completely whilst enhancing the lemon flavours in the stew. My quest for the perfect wine for Bourride ends here - it's great how this food and wine matching game often throws in a real surprise!
And now I'm off to make gougères in celebration of the fact that we're off to Burgundy in a few days. Mmm, might put some Crémant de Bourgogne in the fridge...........