Wednesday 12 June 2013
Big day today, Jill has organised a jam packed itinerary. Luckily, all we have to do is be ready when Jills tells us and do what she tells us to do.
First stop L’Imaginarium – a sort of wine theme park/museum. Gregoir from Domaine Jean Claude Boisset has arranged for us to do a tour for free. It is dedicated to the history, production and appreciation of the fine wines of Burgundy. The place is huge and we spend over an hour investigating the displays and shows, including a puppet show. All the light and audio shows are alternatively in French and then English and are dreadfully one-eye against the English (quite amusingly so actually).
There is huge bottle shop and tasting area but we don’t have time to dally as we need to be at Domaine Comte Senard in Aloxe Corton for a tour of the cellars and lunch/wine tasting.
This is a much more commercial production that the traditional burgundian winery. A young man leads us around the gardens and then into a recently rediscovered cellar (it had been bricked up during World War 2 to hide the wines from the Nazi’s occupation). Our guide obviously has been given a script to follow and will not be distracted from his role, no matter how hard we try.
Lunch is a chicken mousse followed buy a devinely rich beef burgundy with some deadly creamy potato gratin. I’m sure there is more butter and cream in these dishes that I would eat in a month back home in Australia. But OMG it tastes good! Oh the wines were pretty good too.
Domaine Comte Senard is an old wealthy family winery, our next tasting is with a new up and coming wine maison Domain Bruno Colin et Fils in Saint Audin. We are greeted by a lovely young lady that is a new employee of the winery. Any lack of knowledge about the winery itself is more than made up by her enthusiasm for food and wine.
But wait there is more … we have one more stop Domaine Simon Bize in Savigny Les Beaune (where H and I had lunch on Sunday).
Wow this was a weird tasting …. although all our appointments have been made in advance and all confirmed. Here we were left waiting on the street outside a nondescript house for some time before Simon Bize’s Japanese wife cooly greeted us and let us see a little of the large warehouse. It is customary to offer a taste of the house wines with these appointments. It feels like we are hanging around like unwanted guests at the end of a party as she reluctantly disappears and then reappears with with one bottle and then another. It got really uncomfortable when Simon Bize, himself, shows up tired and dirty from a day working in the fields looking like he is about to have a nervous breakdown. Get me out of here!
Tuesday 12 June 2013
Buttery croissants, luscious jams, crusty baguette … ummm breakfast heaven… must try harder to resist tomorrow.
This morning we are off to Domaine P Dubreuil-Fontaine in the lovely village of Pernard Vergelesses with the lovely Christine Dubreuil. This visit is organised by Andrew Hood who has long time connections with the vineyard. They have a lovely ancient cellar set up as a tasting room.
Christine is the current winemaker for the well respected family business. Her father drops in to give her a message and stops to entertain us when she has to pop out. Like many of the older generation French his English is as poor as my French. But we still have an interesting chat.
Next stop is lunch in Beaune the capital of the burgundy wine district. After snavelling a rare and excellently positioned car park we head through the central square to Ma Cuisine.
By chance we run into Becky Wasserman and Russell Horne outside the restaurant. I can tell by the reaction of the others that I’m supposed to be impressed. Bill and Jill are listening with rapt attention to Becky’s words and Andrew is trying to make intelligent comments. Howard is gesturing to me to take a phone of them. Ummm what am I missing? Geeze I wasn’t that excited when I saw the Pope in Milan last year! Turns out that Becky was instrumental in bringing Burgundy to the attention of the rest of world 30 years ago. She is a sainted figure in Burgundy!
Run by another husband and wife team Ma Cuisine represents the best of the restaurants in the area. A traditional but everchanging blackboard menu based on seasonal local produce and a extensive winelist that has the boys drooling. Careful this might get expensive.
Sated and very happy we stroll back across the square to the Athanaeum … the most amazing shop. An extensive book and curiosity store dedicated to the food and wine of France and more specifically Burgundy.
After finding Howard who has managed to get wander off we leisurely drive back to our hotel to while the afternoon hanging in the sitting room and conversing with turtles.
Monday 10 June 2013
We get a good nights sleep in preparation for what is going to be an epic week of fine wine and delicious meals. It all starts with the best croissants that Nuits has to offer, these delicious pastries are so buttery it is almost criminal, smothered with Francoise’s home made cherry jam they are irresistible (must try harder tomorrow morning).
Out morning tasting is just down the street with Gregoir Patriat at Jean Claude Boisset (Gregoir is pretty irresistible as well). This is our third or fourth visit with Gregoir! He is good looking and has a refreshingly non-traditional French attitude. He leads us through the beautiful gardens into the winery and down into the cellars and the tasting room. We are treated to 5 white wines and 4 red wines mainly from the 2011 vintage as well as a very lovely 2005 Les Charbonnieres.
For lunch we are heading to an old favourite Le Chambolle in the lovely village of Chambolle Musigny operated by the husband (chef) and wife (front of house) Eric and Martine Claudel. Jill and Bill are greeted like the old friends that they are. We all sip on a bottle of cremant de bourgogne while Bill, Andrew and Howard thoroughly investigate of the wine.
After an absolutely delicious lunch we head to Domaine Comte de Vogue also in Chambolle Musigny. Francois Millet is the ever precise and lyrical poet wine maker. Comte de Vogue is a very small but prestigious winery and we have been lucky to return there each year. Monsieur Millet enthrals us with his poetic descriptions of the the vintage and the different wines. He is hypnotic in English I can only image what his descriptions are like in his native language. The tasting here is straight from the barrel, the wines are so precious that anything not swallowed or spat is returned very carefully to the barrel.
We return to Madame de Loisy for a quite afternoon before we wander over to the main street of the village and take a seat in the square at L’Etoile for a few quite drinks and a light dinner.
Thursday 6 June 2013
Today is a belated birthday treat from Janet, she has made a reservation at restaurant Le Coquillage in the Le Chateau Richeux Hotel. A beautiful renovated chateau high on a cliff overlooking the bay of Cancale. Its just a short drive from our hotel and we arrive around 12.30. The hotel is set amidst a beautiful garden, where they grow their own vegetables. There is also a small bakery on site where three days a week the resident baker makes all the bread for the restaurant from organic grains in a wood fired oven.
Le Coquillage is a slick and professionally run restaurant, ooozing refined charm. We are soon seated at our window table that looks across the garden and the coast as we enjoy a glass of champagne.
The waiter arrives and explains the menu and suggests a fresh lobster for an additional 39 Euro, how can I resist! We settle on the Menu Grand Choix de la Baie, plus the lobster and wines to accompany each course. This takes all the pain away from choosing wine from the list. I note with interest the number of French couples who share a half bottle! There are some very elegant people here.
After some ‘amuse bouche’, our entrees arrive. Janet is having the Tartare de daurade (sea bream tartare) and for me the Pommes de terre nouvelles persil plat et lieu fume le long du four a pain (pollock smoked in their oven with home grown baby potatoes). Both dishes are amazing. Simple yet complex with the most amazing flavours. French cuisine at its finest. Completed with a fine Sancerre. Oh and the bread and the fabulous Brittany butter mmmm!
I knew we were getting serious when the waiter brought out a large bib for my next course. Yes, my homard. Eight hundred grams of fresh Atlantic lobster. Unadorned with any excess, gently fire-place grilled with a butter sauce to accompany this masterpiece. The chef had cracked the shell in all the right places and the claws came out in a single piece. That takes exceptional skill. It was delicate, sweet, moist – just divine.
Janet has the Blanc de barbue, asperges, roquettes, blettes marine et Poivre des Mondes (brill fillet with asparagus, aragula and marine sea kale). Superb! Served with a Saint Veran, its a fine match.
After allowing the main to settle Mathieu brings out his sweet trolley. Everything on this sugar wagon has been made by Mathieu. Wow. Take as much or as little as you wish. I settle on four or five selections. Well it is my belated birthday lunch, isn’t it?
We finish the meal with tea and coffee served outside overlooking the bay. The sun is shining and it has been a glorious afternoon.
This was a memorable lunch, that every traveller should have the opportunity of experiencing in France.
Monday 3 June 2013
After doing some extensive and intensive research I have made a reservation at a well regarded restaurant in the 11th for dinner at 9:00 tonight. The 11th is not a suburb that is on the tourist map … in fact it is definitely off the map. It is a suburb that houses the workers of Paris.
I feel a bit over dressed as we get off the metro and navigate to the restaurant. We are early so we wander down the Boulevard Voltaire and find a cafe to enjoy a pre dinner champagne or two.
Back at the resturant at 9:00 we are left waiting at the crowed entrance for a few moments before we are seated at a small table right next to the kitchen. I have a great view of the 6 chefs working closely together in the kitchen that is smaller than mine at home. The chefs are literally rubbing elbows, each assigned their special dish.
Septime is a bit of a mystery as the website only has the logo and address and a link to make reservations. The handsome young waiter advises that us that there is no menu. The dishes are all surprises … chosen for their market freshness. Do we have any dietary requirements?
After he left to get our glasses of champagne we amuse ourselves by wondering what his reaction would be if we told him we were lactic phobic, vegetarian, celiacs who don’t like seafood or weird vegetables?
It takes a while for our first dish to arrive but wow when it does …
Fresh salmon with zucchini flowers, poached baby leeks and zucchini juice.
Fresh and poached asparagus, fresh cheese and mustard greens.
Salted cod, grilled cabbage, mayo and radishes.
Grilled lamb with artichoke, wild greens and grains.
After that were two divine deserts which were too delicious looking and disappeared before the camera came out.
The food is seriously good and I can’t wait to get back there next year.
At the table next to use are two lovely tiny girls who are getting some special treatment from the kitchen. They are petite but sure do a great job packing away all the food. We start chatting to them a find out that it is Siew Mei’s birthday (she got a skateboard and dinner) and Severine, who lived in Australia for a year, in Raymond Terrace,of all the god awful places to live in Australia. Like most of the young French people we have spoken with, her English is superb (Severine’s is particularly good), very friendly and either have been to Australia or want to go there.
Its well after midnight and we say goodbye to our new friends and take our very full tummies home.
Tuesday 28 May 2013
As we were unable to get into Noma, despite Kym Machin’s intervention, I had a backup and booked us into Kadeau, which has recently been awarded a Michelin star. Copenhagen hits way above its weight when it comes to top notch restaurants … it only has 1.5 million population, but 2 restaurants with 2 Michelin stars (both in the top 50 restaurants of the world) and 11 restaurants with 1 Michelin star. Impressive huh!
We head down for our massage to work out some of the travelling knots. The spa is located in our hotel and is one of the top facilities in town. After our spa treatment we dress up and grab a taxi to Kadeau Restaurant only to find out that the restaurant has moved and we need to go to the other side of town, which luckily in Copenhagen is not that far away. We still arrive on time for our 7:30 booking. We are seamlessly greeted, our coats tucked away and seated at a tiny table. The room is understated and decorated in stylish Danish furniture … white walls, wooden floor boards, subdued lighting.
As we have already ordered the tasting menu when I booked, glass of champagne is quickly served as is the first of our appetisers.
All courses are matched with wines. We both agree that some of the wine matchings are a bit dubious. Kadeau is a slick and professionally run business. The waiters are attentive, knowledgeable and without attitude. And most are hunks! The food is a little pretentious, to say the least. Its like they are trying a bit too hard with some of the food combinations.
- Crispy jerusalem artichoke with mushroom mayo – parsley and bone marrow soup
- Dried celeriac with seaweed and turnip with yeast flakes and linseed – fresh cheese
- Gravad burnt breast of duck
- Roasted heart of rooster with pickled gherkins and emulsion of wild garlic
Now for the mains – Bornholmerbank
- Bread and butter (of course)
- Razor clam, oyster, thongweed, parsley
- Leek, skate wings, sorrel, fermented pea juice
- Asparagus, woodruff, browned butter
- Roasted monkfish, cabbage, green strawberries, burnt butter, whey
- Confit Chicken feet, the leg actually with carrots
- Belly of lamb, heart, new onions, old onions, sour onions
- Sloe, pine, yoghurt, spelt
- Jerusalem artichoke and rhubarb butter, browned butter, hazelnut
Now, Howard & I have high expectations, we have eaten at many fabulous restaurants, however, we were a little disappointed with the food. But it was a wonderful (if an expensive) experience.
Monday 18 June 2012
It is our last day in Paris and we are determined to get some shopping done. .
Yesterday H went for a walk while I blogged and he found a suitable “Janet” dress.So he said! When we eventually get going (11:00 am – most shops don’t open to 10:00 or 10:30), H takes me to the store. The dress in the window is gone, but another lovely orange dress is in the window. It may have been cold here over the last week or so, but technically it is summer here, so the spring/summer fashions are out. Take note: orange is going to be THE color in Australia this summer, also very popular is watermelon, white and navy blue.
The shop is called Caroll – it is a small boutique chain that we do not have in Australia. I try on a heap of lovely summer frocks, jackets and cardigans. They are all pretty much gorgeous. I must have them all! Now I am not much of a shopper – Howard is much better at it than me, but when I’m on to a good thing I go for it. I rationalize my purchases with the thought “We will get the tax back!”
Now for shoes!
Before I go berzerk with the credit card we take time to go for a walk through a lovely little park called Parc de Monceau also in the 17th.
I am hungry now, so we stop at a bistro for lunch. Luckily now that I am fed I am no longer shopping hungry and we take our purchases back to the hotel.
Tonight we are hoping to get in to Frenchie. One of the hottest new places in Paris. Written up by Anthony Bourdain in his show “No Reservations”. It is notoriously hard to get into as they only accept reservations between 3 – 5 pm and they do not list their email address. There is two very strict sittings per night (Monday to Friday only) 7:00 and 10:30 pm.
But we are told that if you go there at 7:00 pm we may be able to get a table if there is a cancellation or no show (i.e. someone is running late) We negotiate the metro to Sentier and get there around 6:30. The restaurant is down a shabby little lane, Rue de Nil (it gives one the feeling that you would have a better chance of scoring a deal than getting a meal). The restaurant is practically unmarked, but is given away by a few Americans hanging around the door. We have a word to the waitress and go for a wander down a busy pedestrian street to kill some time.
We return and after some milling around and confusion the snazzy little waitress comes across to the wine bar and beckons us over. We are in! Other people are glaring at us – we are the lucky ones. It is a tiny restaurant with seating for only 30 and every seat is taken. There is a very limited menu, two selections each of entree, main and desert (45 euro), with an optional starter of Foie Gras for an extra 16 euro. We have one of everything. Howard selects a bottle of rose Champagne and we are in nirvana.
Taking the last available table next to us is a young couple who have a business on the Gold Coast and live at one of our favorite beaches Casuarina. We spend most of the night talking to them when we are not moaning about how good the food is.
By 10:15 everyone is being quietly encouraged to pay the bill and leave and there is a horde of people waiting outside. By 10:30 everyone is ushered out and the tables start filling again.
7 June 2012
We have another beautiful day for our morning walk around the vineyards.
Thankfully, we do not have any wine tastings this morning just a lunch reservation at Ma Cuisine in Beaune. Beaune is the capital of the wine region. To the north is the Cote de Nuits and to the south Cote de Beaune. Cote de Nuits where we are staying is famous for red wines and Cote de Beaune is famous for the white wines, Montrachet being the most famous.
Ma Cuisine is a fabulous tiny restaurant just off Place Carnot the main square in Beaune. Reservations are essential and this place draws tourists as well as the locals.
I start with the marinated sardines with an aubergine compote, followed by a steak (best to keep the steak eating to back home in Oz) and fromage blanc for desert.
Howard and the two Bills carefully negotiate the wine list and select 2 wonderful wines for us.
After lunch we give Ele a quick tour of Beaune, unfortunately we do not have time to visit the Hospices de Beaune which is a wonderful old building – originally a hospital for the poor. But no visit to Beaune is complete without a visit to the fabulous Athenaeum, which is a bookstore/gift store. But there is no time to dawdle, we have to be back in Nuits St George by 2:00 pm for a tasting at Domaine Faiveley. We have been to Faiveley a few times in the past and were not impressed, but there have been some big changes to the management of the winery. The heir apparent of this massive domaine has taken over and modern techniques have been introduced resulting in a vast improvement in the wines produced.
Our guide is the gorgeous Clementine Barbier who is young, lovely and full of enthusiasm for both the Faiveley brand and wines in general. She gives us all a new innovative wine stopper – which she says she never uses because when she opens a bottle she always finishes it. Sounds like a very wise young lady to me.
The tasting of six whites and six reds from the 2010 vintage, left all of us impressed with the quality of the wines. Howard and the Bill’s had the hots for young Clementine I can tell you! And to prove what a wonderful girl she is we were given a few bottles to take way with us. Very rare in Burgundy!
6 June 2012
We have a very big day planned today …. brace yourself.
We have our morning stroll and today we visit the vineyards of Richebourg and Les Suchots, breakfast with Madame Gros and then at 10:30 am our appointment with Francois Millet the winemaker from Comte Georges de Vogue, Howards all time favourite domaine visit. Our agent in Melbourne was a little tardy in arranging this visit to say the least! In the end Howard and Bill called in and spoke to M Millet who kindly agreed to receive us the following day.
Monsieur Millet is formal, extremely polite and could have been a poet if he was not one of the greatest wine makers in Burgundy. He is charged with the stewartship of crafting the magic Musigny Grand Cru. He has the most poetic and elegant way with words when describing his wines and his impression of each vintage. The 2011 vintage he tells us is like the late afternoon when you are having a break and enjoying the sun (the 2010 vintage was early morning on the lake).
Domaine Comte George de Vogue only makes 6 wines but they are all exceptionally good, amazingly delicate but at the same time so powerful (or so I am told by H).
After the visit B1 insists that we go to Marsannay for a tasting at a place he discovered a few days ago. Unfortunately the tasting room is closed but we are directed out the back (by an ancient man driving an ancient Russian car) to Domaine Fougeray de Beauclair. Patrice Olivier the winemaker and son-in-law of the owner gives us a tasting of his modest but good wines and a lesson in french pronunciation. It seems that different areas pronunce things differently – no wonder its so confusing to us Australians.
I have suggested that we skip lunch and have a big dinner instead, all are in agreeance. But B1 being B1, can’t help himself and before I know it, he has Patrice ringing up a local restaurant for a reservation. Luckily it has to be a quick one, because we have another tasting this arvo.
So off to Auberge du Clos du Roy in Chenove, wow what a find. I attempt to keep the food intake to a minimum and select only a main and desert.
My main was seriously one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life. The duck was incredibly tender and swell cooked and the sauce OMG!
Fortunately we run out of time and we have to cancel the desert and rush away for our afternoon tasting at 2:30 pm at Domaine Meo-Camuzet back in home territory, Vosne Romanee. I must admit after our 2 tastings this morning and wine at lunch I have trouble focusing on the tasting. We are joined by an obnoxious American man and an overbearing German lady who also take all the fun out of the experience. Can’t say I remember too much about the wine …. sleepy now ….
But wait, we have to have the big dinner I organized. Jill picks us all up at 7.00 pm to drive us down to Santenay to dine at Le Terroir. Santenay has a huge square with a fabulous fountain and in the square is a food van producing wood fired pizzas right from the van (yes its got a chimney and everything).
Yes it is the set menu again …