Monday, March 31, 2008

Gone Francin' Days 3-4

So, we wake up super early on Tuesday morning because we have a 10am appointment with Domaine Druhin to see their cellars and do some tasting. I was, cough cough, ever so slightly hungover but rallied well. We were on the train and to Beaune with plenty of time to get a pan au chocolat and some desperately-needed coffee before meeting with the Druhin rep. Our guide at Druhin was Jean-Pierre who looks exactly like you would expect your crazy British cricket coach to look like, complete with spectacles that magnified his eyeballs about 50 percent and awesome Australian-tinted English. Everything was either “ghastly” or “my-rackulous” and he had a walrus mustache that he twirled about every third sentence as he discussed those damm-ned inferior Pinot Noirs that some of the other lesser appellations try to pull off. We liked him right away. He took us out the door, around the corner to what looked like to be an old vicarage, where we started down the first set of stairs. I think we may have gone a couple of flights down? There were sealed glass doors after the last flight of stairs and when we walked through and the doors shut there was just this heavenly aroma of red wine wafting from the walls that were covered in rows upon rows of caskets. It wasn’t a vinegar-y or sharp smell, just nice and comforting and a little musty. I loved it..for about the first 10 minutes until it became increasingly apparent that being surrounded by wine smell when you are (eversoslightly) hungover is, well, a little vomit-inducing to be honest. We were passing through part of the cellar and Jean-Pierre says to us, “This is the newer part of the cellars, built in the later 15th century” and all I could think to myself at the time was “please tell me they thought to put in a bathroom because otherwise, I am in trouble.” I know that the tour went on for about another 20 minutes or so with JP dropping lots of great info on the Druhin history of winemaking, but all I could think about for most of that time was how much I did not want to puke in the corner. That’s gotta be bad for the vintage.

Made it to the wine-tasting room, which as it turns out was the site of the first Burgundian parliament dating…uh, way back (can’t remember how old he said, maybe 9th century?) Anyway, bless those little Burgundians, but they had a working WC. On to the tasting which was very nice—about 8 wines some a little too young, but all definitely my-rackulous. Sam has actual notes that I can probably drag up for you, but for those less technical--it was lovely. Lesson learned on the spitting thing. I obliged this time.

The afternoon was scheduled with Maison Louis Jadot, but having had such a close call at Druhin, I decided it might be better for me to head back to the hotel for a little sleepytime and later, finding the open stall market and the H&M. Sam went on to the tasting at Louis Jadot and said it was amazing and they had tasted mostly gran and premiere cru’s (i.e. the good stuff). My liver thanked me nonetheless.

Dinner that night at Bistro des Halles which was really good. I had salmon in garlic butter and Sam had something in a la’orange sauce –which main ingredient I can’t remember because the sauce was just that awesome. For dessert, I attempted to get chocolate mousse but ended up with some sort of coffee custard instead. Those damned tricky menus—when I say “mousse” I mean MOUSSE. Can’t you French waiters understand my mangled semi-Spanish?? The custard thing , it was…eh. The real treat was that Sam opted for the cheese course—leading to his near demise. They gave him about a pound of epoisse and not to be defeated, he was determined to not leave any on the plate. He might have gotten a little woozy there near the finish, but prevailed in the end.

We went back to the hotel and it is right about this time that we remember about the stinky cheese that we purchased the day before and stashed in the bedside table for later consumption, which due to our (my) wine slurping did not happen as planned. The aroma awaiting us in the hotel room….Oh god. Let’s just say that despite the fact that it was under 30 degrees, we opened the window.

Then we watched Nouvelle Star, the French version of American Idol. They were showing several episodes in a row of the semi-finals. As best we can tell, the object of the competition is to sing as badly and off-key as humanly possible. Bonus points if you can end the song with a crazy face and monkey-like screaming.

Wednesday was an “off” day meaning we didn’t have anything scheduled and thus could sleep in and eat Grainy Maniacs (these crazy chocolate covered granola bars) with Orangina before rolling out of bed to waddle about town. We got brunch at CafĂ© Gourmand where we had our first really great lunch (the other lunches were just merely superior to what we have here). I had steak and a mashed potato dish that appeared to be mostly butter. That is to say: yum. Sam had veal and the best brussel sprouts I have ever tasted—there were lardons! After lunch, we decided to take a train to Montbard to go see Abbaye de Fontenay, a super-old monastery in the middle of nowhere. It was really beautiful, even though it was too cold for the grounds to be blooming much. We noted that when you walked inside any of the buildings, the temperature dropped at least 10 degrees. Early air-conditioning maybe? Sucks in the middle of winter though. On the grounds waiting for our taxi, we’re stalked by ducks and then we see what appear to be a mama badger and 5 little baby badgers—how cute! Til I snuck up closer to get pictures and we realize they’re really either gigantic rats or whatever is the French version of Nutria. Much less cute, more ick. Wildlife looming ever closer, our taxi comes and it’s time to head back to Dijon for another dinner. We cannot possibly be expected to wait more than 4 hours in between dishes with lardons. Early to bed for one more wine tasting appointment on Thursday.

entire set of photos coming soon, promise. These are Sam and Jean-Pierre, part of the Abbaye, nutria (??) and the Battle of Epoisse, round 1.

1 comment:

Robyn said...

Other than the rats, sounds fun!