Wild Burgundy Snails Resource Blog

Delicacies Decoded: Escargot

Posted by Doug Dussault on Fri, Jul 31, 2015 @ 11:42 PM

“Snailman” Douglas Dussault gives tips for consuming an often misunderstood specialty

MarkhamClub.com | Brandi Broxon


Some of the finest foods featured on high-end menus often have a bit of mystery. These delicacies are steeped in tradition leaving diners to question ‘What’s the proper way to consume this?’

One of those delicacies requiring decoding is escargot (French for snail), an often misunderstood and majestic cuisine on the fast path to acceptance.

Evidence suggests snails have been consumed since prehistoric times (Prehistoric Edible Land Snails in the Circum-Mediterranean : The Archaeological Evidence) and have been referred to as an “elite food” in varying cultures including Ancient Rome.

Enter Douglas Dussault, self-proclaimed “Snail Man” and owner of Potironne Company, an importer of French Wild Burgundy Snails. Dussault’s business supplies the slow specialty to more than 1,000 restaurants across the country and he refers to the Wild Burgundy variety lovingly as “land lobsters.”

Read Full Article on markhamclub.com

Tags: Snailman

The Snailman Cometh - Featured on 5280.com The Denver Magazine

Posted by Doug Dussault on Mon, Aug 04, 2014 @ 02:51 PM


Meet Doug Dussault, the Larkspur-based chef turned entrepreneur responsible for bringing the world’s best escargot to American restaurants.

The first thing I notice about Doug Dussault is his smile. He flashes it often, each time revealing toothpaste-commercial teeth lined up like gleaming tiles. Though we’ve never met in person, he greets me like we’re old friends as I walk into Bones, Frank Bonanno’s casual noodle spot in Governors’ Park, on an unseasonably warm day this past spring. Not wanting to waste a second, he settles onto a barstool and taps the one next to it. No wonder he’s so cheerful. We’re here to talk about—and eat—his favorite thing: snails. 

Everyone knows what a snail is, of course, but in the realm of edible gastropods, specifics matter: Dussault’s sweethearts are Wild Burgundy snails, or “Helix pomatia” if you’re into taxonomy. Undomesticated and sustainable, they are available at almost 1,000 of America’s best restaurants, including Thomas Keller’s Bouchon restaurants and Chicago’s Blackbird, thanks to Dussault. His Larkspur-based company, Potironne, is the exclusive U.S. distributor of the “Kobe beef of snails,” as he likes to call them.

Read the Full Article on 5280.com

the snailman cometh 5280 denver


Tags: Snailman, Potironne, Wild Burgundy Snail

Bonjour! Philadelphia to play host to National Escargot Day

Posted by Doug Dussault on Sun, Aug 03, 2014 @ 02:04 PM

May 22, 2015, 3:30pm EDT

Screen_Shot_2015-06-23_at_1.11.56_PMPhiladelphia will be playing host to a day completely devoted to a versatile protein that puts a new meaning to the slow food movement.

The city will be hosting National Escargot Day, which means participating restaurants will be plating more than 30,000 Wild Burgundy snails, or more than 600 pounds, according to organizer and self-professed snailman, Douglas Dussault.

Tags: National Escargot Day

A Very Exotic Program - Featured in "On the Menu" Show

Posted by Doug Dussault on Thu, May 01, 2014 @ 09:42 AM

Potironne was featured on "On the Menu" program, a weekly, one-hour program on the wide world of food, wine, travel & lifestyle by husband and wife Ann and Peter Haigh. 

"A Very Exotic Program, Unusual Protein, Ancient AND Modern Spices & Recipes using them, and a Beverage Product Line that Tastes Great & is Good for You besides. Doug Dussault, Owner, Potironne Company, Importer of Wild Burgundian Escargots (Snails),  Larkspur CO, www.snailman.com; Rawia Bishara, Chef & Co-owner, Tanoreen, Brooklyn NY, Olives, Lemons & Za'atar, The Best Middle Eastern Home Cookingwww.tanoreen.com; Chris Reed, Owner, Reed's Inc, Culture Club Kombucha "cultured" Beverages, Los Angeles CA, www.reedsinc.com."

Listen to the Show

Tags: Snailman, Potironne, Wild Burgundy Snail

All Hail The Snail - Featured on Tasting Table

Posted by Doug Dussault on Fri, Apr 25, 2014 @ 03:38 PM

By Jessica Battilana, tastingtable.com

“These are the Kobe beef of snails,” says Doug Dussault.

Dussault, a.k.a. the Snailman, should know.

Potironne Featured in Tasting TableThe sole importer of helix pomatia, the most succulent of edible snails, Dussault manages a team of foragers who look for the little mollusks in the wilds of France, Italy, Romania and the Czech Republic.

Did you know that snails hibernate? They do.

And migrate? Indeed. “Very slowly,” Dussault notes.

The Snailman has high praise for his namesake: “Sustainable. Methane-free. Organic. Free range. Snails are the ultimate protein source.”

Some well-known chefs agree. Cut from their shells, poached in court bouillon and canned, Dussault’s snails are delivered to an impressive list of admirers, including Daniel Boulud, Michael Tusk, Marc Vetri and Suzanne Goin.

As much as we love classic escargots à la bourguignonne, it’s exciting to see how chefs are thinking beyond garlic butter. Snails fill the ravioli at Girl and the Goat, the pasta sauced with a reduction of pork braising juices, bacon and tamarind. At Boston’s Toro, beer-braised snails are sprinkled atop fava been purée, grits and slices of pork-and-sweetbreads sausage.

“The fun part,” says Le Pigeon’s Gabe Rucker, “is taking the classic flavor pairings and tweaking them.” His idea of fun is a rice porridge studded with helix pomatia and nubs of chicken-snail sausage, accompanied by familiar bedfellows, parsley and garlic.

Our Test Kitchen got in on the fun with two original, easy-to-try snail recipes. The first, Bucatini with Snails, Guanciale and Anchovies (see the recipe), is a kind of play on amatriciana, mingling the unctuous guanciale with anchovy and plump snails.

Next up, an Endive and Radicchio Salad with Snails and Toasted Hazelnuts (see the recipe). Bright and interesting, it’s just the thing for to make an escargot enthusiast out of anybody.

Just ask the Snailman.

Tags: Snailman, Potironne

Philadelphia Has a Taste for Escargot and Foie Gras

Posted by Doug Dussault on Sat, Dec 07, 2013 @ 01:00 PM

by Jason Wilson, Philly.com.

DOES ANY foodstuff carry as much baggage for Americans as escargot or foie gras? When it comes to escargot, it can be hard to move beyond the old pop-cultural image of snail as “snob food.” Plus, for many newbies, there’s a primal, knee-jerk repulsion to the animal itself or to the presentation that, when done badly, can look like boogers. And when it come to foie gras — the third rail of the food world — it’s difficult to steer any discussion of fatty duck or goose liver away from the ethical or political and back toward the culinary.

The fact is, you can’t open a French restaurant and not have both on the menu. Of course, bringing up the French immediately means a certain strain of “Amurican” gets his back up. I began thinking about the cultural significance of snails this week, because Thursday is  National Escargot Day, which will be marked by special menus at numerous restaurants in Philadelphia.

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I love escargot. I mean, what’s not to love? When done well — meaning plump and meaty rather than shriveled and boogerish — it becomes a deliciously textured delivery vehicle for bubbling butter and garlic and herbs. But I realize that, for some, snails still represent a dividing line that they will not cross. It’s a shame. If this describes you, why not take the opportunity to try escargot this week? Come on, it won’t kill ya.

National Escargot Day was the brainchild of Doug “The Snailman” Dussault, whose company Potironne is the prime importer of wild Burgundy snails from Henri Maire, considered by many to be the best snail purveyor in the world. The snails are gathered by hand, then poached in a classic court-bouillon before being packaged and shipped.

Given the image of escargot, it’s surprising how affordable they actually are. A can of two dozen costs around $16 online. “I really like getting snails in front of people,” said the Snailman. “It’s a spectacular protein. It’s organic. It’s nutritious. Snails should be in everyone’s diet.” A serving, Dussault said, has less than 60 calories — this, of course, before the obligatory butter and garlic. “Texture is the biggest challenge,” he said. “But people who eat mushrooms will see there’s something similar about the texture.”

Peter Woolsey, chef-owner of Bistrot La Minette — which is celebrating National Escargot Day with a special menu — calls snails the “seafood of the land,” with a texture similar to mussels or clams but earthier in taste. “It has a seafood quality, but it’s not seafood.” “I have a special affinity for it,” Woolsey said. “My wife is from Burgundy, and when I visit my in-laws, these snails are literally in their garden. But if you see it alive, it’s icky looking.”

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For decades escargot was portrayed in popular culture as foodstuff for the wealthy. Through the 1960s and 1970s — “the Fondue Years” as the Snailman calls them — escargot was the ultimate symbol of sophistication. “It was a sign of affluence. It was a sign of being worldly,” he said. Of course, the opposite also happened. Not appreciating escargot was portrayed as a lack of sophistication. Think Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman.”

This highfalutin’ and aspirational image of escargot persisted well into the 1990s. Consider, for instance, the late rapper Biggie Smalls who, in his classic “Hypnotize,” left us with the immortal line, “I can fill ya wit real millionaires---/Escargot, my car go…”

Lately, the snail business has been great for the Snailman, with March being his best month since he began importing wild snails in 1999. At that time, Dussault had just finished cooking school at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and had been working at the famed French restaurant Taillevent. “The only thing that came into the kitchen in a can were these wild Burgundy snails,” he said. When he returned home, Dussault started Potironne and became the American importer of snails from that company. He found immediate demand from high-profile French chefs in the U.S.

Daniel Boulud in New York was his first customer.

The Snailman, however, has chosen Philadelphia as the city to personally celebrate National Escargot Day for the past couple of years. “The response I get in Philadelphia for snails is unlike anything else,” said the Snailman. “It has to reflect the caliber of chef, and the caliber of diners in the city.”

While there may be an increase of love for snails, there’s been a growing backlash against the other French bistro staple, foie gras. Animal-rights activists deplore what they call the “force feeding” of ducks and geese and have lobbied to ban the food in many cities and states. On July 1, California will be the first state with a law banning foie gras. More than 100 of California’s highest-profile chefs have petitioned the state assembly to reconsider the ban.

Woolsey does not mince words here: “I think this might be the most fascist thing going on in America right now. Foie gras is more humanely raised than food at McDonald’s. If the government is so concerned about the well-being of geese and ducks, why are they not also banning factory chicken or factory pork?”

Olivier Desaintmartin echoed Woolsey’s sentiments. “Foie gras is an easy target,” he said. “If you ban foie gras, you’ll have to ban a lot of other foods, too.”

In Philadelphia, we are no strangers to activism against foie gras. The heated debate in California reminds Desaintmartin of the mid-2000s, when activists here would show up on busy nights outside his restaurant. “They’d stand six feet from the front door and protest for two hours,” he said. “With a bullhorn.”

While he can’t be sure, Desaintmartin believes anti-foie gras protesters vandalized the front window at Caribou Café. “For five years, I got my window broken every year. And each time, it was when I had a foie gras special written on the window.”

Still, the protesters did little to dampen Philadelphia diners’ enthusiasm. “When the activists were protesting, my diners really pushed the envelope, and ordered more foie gras,” he said. “They weren’t going to be told what to eat.” One side effect of the foie gras debate is that the price has dropped dramatically. Desaintmartin says his foie gras, which he imports from France, has dropped from $35 to $38 per pound a few years ago to around $22 to $24 per pound. He believes that lower prices will have the ironic effect of driving more chefs to use the ingredient. “It’s fun to use, but it’s a tough ingredient to work with. When they say ‘fatty liver,’ they’re not kidding. If you don’t cook foie gras correctly, you could lose 90 to 95 percent of it. It takes a talented hand to make it shine. It took us weeks to come up with our terrine recipe. And the recipe takes 48 hours for us to prepare.”

“But it’s soooo good,” Woolsey said. “Everything that touches foie gras tastes good.”

To buy wild Burgundy snails online, and for recipes: potironne.com.

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Jason Wilson has twice won an award for Best Newspaper Food Column from the Association of Food Journalists. He is the author of “Boozehound” and editor of “The Smart Set,” an online arts and culture journal at Drexel University. Follow him at twitter.com/boozecolumnist or go
to jasonwilson.com.

Tags: Snailman, Potironne, National Escargot Day, Philadelphia, Wild Burgundy Snail

The Slowest Food

Posted by Doug Dussault on Sun, Jul 01, 2007 @ 02:45 PM

Maybe it’s their role as icon for the Slow Food movement. Or maybe it’s the obsession with adventurous eating among fashionable foodies. Whatever the reason, suddenly, this spring, snails (land lobsters to their most fervent fans) are everywhere—from Momofuku Ssäm Bar, where they’re served in a chawan mushi with edamame and black truffle, to Varietal, where Wayne Nish has concocted what might be the first escargot lasagne. Some like Momofuku’s Dave Chang tout the poky gastropod’s firm but unrubbery texture and its miraculous ability to act as a flavor sponge...

Read More

By Robin Raisfeld & Rob Patronite
NY Mag.com


The Snail Picks Up The Pace

Posted by Doug Dussault on Sun, Jun 10, 2007 @ 02:42 PM

The marketing of the snail - and more precisely, the helix pomatia linne, the creme de la creme of snails - requires an untypical array of talents, not the least of which is a certain agility and inventiveness with language.

In this regard, Douglas Dussault, also known as the Snailman, and the exclusive U.S. distributor of Henri Maire's Wild Burgundy Snails, is extremely well matched: Lowly snails wear the mantle of "land lobsters" in his vernacular; his Potironne Co. champs are "the Kobe beef of snails."

One might be inclined to dismiss this as so much blarney. And to be honest, I was disposed to give the man short shrift. But there is an infectious charm about Dussault, born partly of his own good humor and willingness to abide my snail jokes. It is buttressed by his tenure in a number of kitchens and his solid training: He even did time, as a cooking student, at Taillevent, the legendary Parisian dining destination.

There is also the matter of his client - the snail itself, a niche curiosity suddenly enjoying one of its occasional revivals. (As steak prices soar, might it assert its will as an alternative "free-range," as Dussault calls it, protein? The ultimate slider? This year's sleeper?)

They're invading the Big Apple: New York's Varietal is serving them in a deconstructed lasagna. But Philadelphia is one of Dussault's hottest markets: Matyson carries his snails, along with Savona and Lacroix, Marigold Kitchen and Overtures. On North Broad, Marc Vetri's new Osteria sprinkles them on its incomparable wood-oven pizza.

So it came to pass that on May 24, Dussault stopped by the city (from his home in Texas), having prevailed upon Georges Perrier's Le Bec-Fin to host an eight-course tasting menu to commemorate National Escargot Day. To discuss the snail with Dussault is to experience the rush of first hearing the miraculous news about ostrich ("the other red meat") and, later, buffalo, which seemed capable of effortlessly doing everything beef could do, but without the need for a Lipitor chaser. Nutrition facts for snails: They deliver half the protein of broiled salmon or raw filet mignon at 20 percent of the calories, and only a tiny fraction of the saturated fat.

Dussault is polished to a bit of a glow this evening, speaking fluent French to the waitstaff. "I like the smiles I'm seeing," he says, surveying the elegantly set tables. There's a wry flavor of John Lithgow about his features.

The escargot de Bourgogne - which confines itself to Europe - is as uncompromisingly natural and green as protein gets. Hunting season is limited to May, protecting against overharvesting. (Specially trained bands of Gypsies, Dussault says, mow meadows, then set up camp and harvest the snails at dawn when they crawl up the grass shoots to drink the morning dew.) They are handled with care, stored in crates allowing roaming room: "They're the true Slow Food," Dussault says, "sustainable, no methane emissions, wild, organic [although not certified as such]. Snails are the future!"

The handling and poaching in court bouillon by Henri Maire add to their cost, which can amount to a nickel more a snail over competitors, including the so-called petit gris. But look at the variety of sizes (up to "giant," which indeed is nickel-sized) of his product, Dussault says, not long before a third course of the biggies lands on the table - chef Pierre Calmels' robust, meaty (but not rubbery) snails grilled on a vanilla-bean skewer. (Next up, snails "Surf & Turf," involving a tangle of slivered conch over land snails in bordelaise sauce. And after that, grouper propped over a tangy snail Bolognese. Then, an exquisite saddle of lamb stuffed with snail persillade, the snails assigned the role of diced mushrooms.)

At a table nearby, a waiter suggests the snails might be thought of as "terrestrial mollusks," a term that pricks Dussault's ears up.

He smiles approvingly. You can see the wheels turning. Snails by another name, again!

Potironne Co.;

"The snail picks up the pace",
The Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/10/07, By Rick Nichols

Quality Time

Posted by Doug Dussault on Sun, Jun 18, 2006 @ 03:33 PM

A new chef at 1789 picks up where his predecessor left off

Nathan Beauchamp stepped into some big pumps in January when he replaced Ris Lacoste in the kitchen at 1789. One of the city's most visible female chefs, Lacoste had enjoyed a mostly smooth, decade-long ride at 1789, which she left after New Year's Eve to mull opening a place of her own.

During Lacoste's tenure, the 44-year-old establishment in the shadow of Georgetown University blossomed into a destination for modern American cooking. Oyster stew and rack of lamb shared the menu with orange-scented red bell pepper soup and salmon fragrant with Persian spices. Whether you were a conservative or a liberal eater, you were assured of finding something to entice you at 1789.

You still can. Beauchamp is young (31 next month), but he brings impressive credentials to the stove, having worked first for chef Jeff Buben at Bistro Bis on Capitol Hill and then under chef Cathal Armstrong at Restaurant Eve in Old Town Alexandria. Beauchamp obviously picked up some valuable lessons during those two tours of duty. Which explains why the woman at the table next to me is getting excited. "These snails!" I overhear her tell her companions. "This pastry!" she continues.

I know exactly what to order when my server asks whether I want an appetizer. "I'll have the escargot in puff pastry," I tell him. The snails are tender and meaty, nestled in a delicate shell and accented with a vivid parsley sauce. It's just a few ingredients, but they're all prime. Is there a chef with aspirations who doesn't serve foie gras? Beauchamp does the delicacy honor, marinating the duck liver in brandy and white pepper and serving it in a rich round, with elegant garnishes of shaved roasted pineapple, pistachio brittle and clear sauternes jam, the last a nod to the sweet white wine that marries so famously with foie gras.

Another showy opening act is 1789's creamy-textured steak tartare, garnished with a sunny quail egg on top and a handful of fried capers on the plate. The raw meat, spiked with roasted jalapenos, is scooped onto shards of smoky flat bread for a racy sort of chips 'n' dip. But before any of these starters, patrons get a gratis snack from the chef. One night it's a demitasse of carrot soup with a drizzle of beet juice; another time it's a bite of asparagus with ribbons of prosciutto from Virginia. Whatever the combination, the amuse-bouche is light and lovely.

Beauchamp writes a menu that celebrates the season. So ramps, asparagus, soft-shell crabs and rhubarb colored his plates in April and May. Based on a recipe used at the very good Thai Square in Arlington, those sauteed soft-shells were dynamite, crusted in toasted jasmine rice and splashed with an electric sauce of pink peppercorns and rice vinegar. Matchsticks of pickled rhubarb lent a tangy note to an entree of sweet diver scallops perched on a bed of polenta.

My first taste from the new chef, in late March, was mixed: Short-rib raviolini revealed tough pasta, and grilled quail was deliciously smoky but accompanied by sweet dates (nice touch) that were refrigerator-cold (brrr . . . and grrrr). Yet my tongue and my stomach high-fived each other in response to just about every dish on each passing visit. The chef's designer pork chop is thick and full of savor, enhanced with sweet carrots and a thick block of crisp-tender bacon that melts on the tongue. And perfectly cooked tilefish gets an elegant escort of diced lobster, English peas, fava beans and pearls of Sardinian pasta cooked in lobster stock.

The kitchen still serves rack of lamb, and it remains a solid choice. Thickly cut and with just enough fat to carry its flavor, the meat comes to the table rosy and juicy, with a cheesy potato galette and creamed spinach that is not too rich. Tradition at its best.

Speaking of tradition, 1789 is one of a handful of area restaurants that maintains a dress code. The reservationist will remind gentlemen to wear a jacket (but not necessarily a tie) for dinner; if they forget, the restaurant maintains a stock of 36 blue blazers in a variety of sizes. Use the time on the phone to request a table in one of the rooms on the ground floor, which is home to the stately John Carroll Room, replete with hearth; the clubby Pub, just off the entrance; and the Manassas Room, wrapped in wood from a pre-Civil War barn and decorated with vintage prints. One of the dutiful servers might point out an interesting feature suspended from the ceiling there: What looks like a giant coffeepot with holes in it is an old pig scalder, surrounded by small lanterns. If possible, avoid the upstairs dining areas, which look underdressed (hey, why not make them conform to a fashion code?) and lack the charm of the first-floor venues. Beauchamp's food deserves a better backdrop.

In an age when people think nothing of wearing gym clothes to a meal away from home, or yak away on their cellphone in public as if they aren't bothering anyone, the gentle formality at 1789 is downright refreshing. Servers in black captain's jackets and bow ties can answer any question about the food and setting, and they pamper you through dinner like charming hosts in a mannered home. From the moment you call to reserve to the moment you leave, you are in exceptionally capable hands. The restaurant's young valet parkers are some of the best anywhere. Who stands out front matters at 1789, says executive manager Mark Kibbe; the valets are "the first thing people see."

A lot of restaurants fade at dessert. 1789 impresses diners right through the finish, not so much with fireworks but with honest flavors and solid craftsmanship, courtesy of pastry chef Zoe Behrens. A wedge of chocolate mint torte gets a faint crunch from a wafer in its middle; the dessert tastes like an after-dinner mint, only more luscious. An ice cream sandwich made with lemon ice cream and almond meringue is inspired, reminiscent of an old-fashioned icebox cake. And admirers of carrot cake will find a recipe to lust after here. Lovely as they all are, I'm partial to fruit desserts. One of the best this season is a warm galette of rhubarb and strawberries. Its flaky crust and floral bergamot ice cream greatly flatter the centerpiece. But you're not done yet; with the bill comes chocolate-covered peanut clusters that you try to resist but can't (and shouldn't).

The guard has changed at 1789, but the bar has not. It's still high. With any luck, we'll have Beauchamp around for as long as the talent that preceded him.

By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, June 18, 2006

2006 James Beard Foundation Awards

Posted by Doug Dussault on Sun, Jan 01, 2006 @ 02:51 PM

Potironne Congratulates 2006 RISING STAR CHEF:
Corey Lee, The French Laundry, Yountville, CA

Potironne Congratulates 2006 OUTSTANDING SERVICE AWARD
Gary Danko, Gary Danko, San Francisco

Potironne Congratulates 2006 OUTSTANDING RESTAURATEUR
Daniel Boulud, The Dinex Group, NYC

Potironne Congratulates 2006 OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT
Thomas Keller, The French Laundry, Yountville, CA

Potironne Congratulates 2006 BEST CHEF: SOUTHWEST
Bradford Thompson, Mary Elaines at The Phoenician Scottsdale, AZ

Potironne Congratulates 2006 BEST CHEF: SOUTHEAST
John Besh, Restaurant August, New Orleans

Potironne Congratulates 2006 BEST CHEF: MIDWEST
Shawn McClain, Spring, Chicago

Potironne Congratulates 2006 BEST CHEF: MID-ATLANTIC
Fabio Trabocchi, Maestro at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner McLean, VA

Potironne Congratulates BEST CHEF: CALIFORNIA
Suzanne Goin, Lucques West Hollywood, CA