Less than a two-hour drive from Lyon is the Jura, a departement français in Franche Comté and a mountain range that continues into Switzerland and Germany, just north of the Alps.
The region’s dramatic cliffs, formed by faults, offer stunning overlooks and provide a cinematic backdrop for the region’s famous Vin Jaune (yellow wine) vineyards.
Vin Jaune is in demand throughout France as a key ingredient in many recipes, an aperitif and an accompaniment for meals or with the famous local cheese, Comté.
The Jura is also home to a cake named after the écureuil (squirrel). This incredibly rich nut cake was created at a local bakery to replicate scarce chocolate during World War II. The innovative patisserie guarded the secret recipe for this perennially popular cake, long after the war. But when an irate employee left the shop, she took the recipe with her, and spread the (good!) news. Now the cake is available in patisseries throughout the region.
The cake pictured here was handmade by Catherine Palanchon, who lives near
Lons-le-Saunier, in the Revermont region of the Jura. She is an excellent chef and a warm and friendly host. We spent a great weekend with her and her husband, Alain, who raises organic beef. Needless to say, we ate very well, and this cake was the high point of our culinary explorations there.
If you are traveling in the Jura, look for for the squirrel silhouetted on top of the famous Écureuil (squirrel) Cake. It won’t bite, but you will… and beware: this écureuil is fiercely rich!
And if your travels take you to the Jura, there is nothing better to relax you after a long car journey than a Shiatsu Massage provided by Catherine Palanchon!