Day Six: Endurance of the Stomach

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There comes a time on a gastronomical whirlwind where stomach fatigue sets in.  Champion eaters and drinkers out there will understand.  I call it Bacchusitis.  Maybe it was the second bout of Epoisses or the Steak Tartar with Frites or maybe too much great wine most likely all the above.  It is funny that my slender wife Lisa woke up raring to eat and I needed coaxing to face food today.

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For the first time this trip we ate petites dejeuner at the hotel we were staying at.  I love French breakfasts in their simplicity.  Café au lait, croissant, a perfect baguette, really yummy sweet French butter, preserves, more café and here in Burgundy a plethora of salumi, hams and cheeses.  Given my over-saturation of cheese you’d think that three cheeses on the breakfast buffet would be like kryptonite to superman.  But no, somehow I mustered the strength to persevere and march onward.  Forget the fruit and yogurt, fill my plate with charcuterie, bread and butter!

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The first stop of the day was wine tasting at Cave du Covent des Cordeliers.  Alexandre Dumas once wrote ‘A Montrachet should be drunk kneeling with one’s hat off’.  I think that should be expanded to include all of Burgundy.  Today’s tasting was unbelievable.

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The tasting started on shaky ground as Beau decided a convent was a good place to test his screaming abilities.  At first I thought the gentleman conducting our tasting was going to banish us from Beaune.  Beau kept grabbing the wire shopping baskets and moving them all over the cave.  Somewhere between dropping 288 euros on three magnums on vintage liquid gold and us mentioning that both Lisa and I worked for wineries in our checkered past the guy warmed up, even offering that he came from a family of 12 and had a million grand kids.  He poured us an amazing Volnay Premier Cru and asked us to bring it for a private tour of the lower caves where the ancient 100 year old Burgundies lived.  By now we had crossed from annoying customers to family.  The Volnay was outstanding and had me dreaming of food.  We wandered through the caves and surprisingly Beau never grabbed one of the ancient bottles though I thought about it several times.

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Descending into le Cave

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Look at the dust accumulated on the magnum.

This bottle hasn’t moved since it was born!

Feeling much like we just robbed someone we stole out into the afternoon and walked through an outdoor market on our way to Boeuf Bourguignonne, quite possibly the most known Burgundian cliché dish. We spent the afternoon walking between moments of beautiful sunshine and thunder crashing hail through the streets of Beaune.  It truly is an amazing city!

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As if to apologize for his outbursts petit Beau, ever the ladies’ man, would periodically grab Lisa all day, say mama, and give her a huge on the mouth kiss

After a short rest at our hotel we returned to the city center for dinner at La Ciboulette.  La Ciboulette rivals Ma Cuisine for King of the Regional restaurants and in many ways surpassed it.  The menu was more interesting, the owners more engaging and the food at least as good.  Ma Cuisine has history and magic.  But why say one is better than the other, both are great and both should be visited. We stopped at a non-descript brasserie for a kir royale, champagne mixed with local cassis where Beaumont gave his best shot at being annoying before falling asleep, DEEP SLEEP.

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The entire walk through Beaune’s bustling streets involved us running a pattern of stopping any threat. by all means necessary, that might provoke petit Satan.  This involved muffling dogs, knocking loud children over and pantomiming BE QUIET to several Frenchmen along the rue.  If France launches an overnight attack on the USA, it is my fault – sorry. We were the first customers at La Ciboulette and did my best Marcel Marceau imitation to convey to the wait staff that if he wakes it is their fault, not mine. The wait staff quickly got the point and set about making the dining almost too quiet.  Other guests entering, maybe some that had witnessed or at least read about in La Monde the infamous America family who’s child melted down in a Champagne restaurant quicker than the nuclear plants in Japan did after the tsunami, quieted themselves and ate in almost Monastery tranquility.  Marcel Marceau pantomimes broke out in the dining room.  I almost felt like I switched on an old episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, well, without the spam.

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My beautiful perfect little boy sleeping like an angel

After every course Lisa and I looked at each other with a ‘I know exactly what you are thinking please god do not say it out loud and jinx us’ look.  Every time someone would make a peep everyone’s attention focused on sleeping cutie to see whether or not he had awoken.  I honestly believe the guillotine would have made a comeback this night if someone disturbed his sleep. We ate like gods on regional cuisine.  Not Parisian cream and butter over indulgences but good old fashioned solid Burgundian fare, Oeufs a la Meurette (eggs poached in red wine with bacon and mushrooms), Pied de Veau sauce Vinaigrette tiede (veal feet served in a room temperature vinaigrette), Foie Gras, Joue de Porc sauce Bourguignonne (Pork cheeks simmered in red wine), Parmentier de Confit de Canard (Shepherd’s pie made with duck confit, and sweetbreads with morels.

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We drank the best wine of the trip so far – a 2007 Volnay 1er cru from Boillot’s ‘Les Caillerets’ vineyard.  The wine sang, well quietly sang, the virtues of Heaven and Earth and God’s love for mankind.  Truly a liquid orgasm I never wanted to end. The cheeses arrived and were at the perfect temperature.  It is not enough to have great cheese.  You also need to understand how to present and at what temperature.  The basket was a great way to bring a large selection of cheeses thru a tight dining space.

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After cheese came dessert and then café… truly a pleasant night. Beaumont did wake up after everything to applause, pantomimed applause and at least one drunken patrons’ poor adaption of of Marceau’s wall, and a nomination for the French Medal of Honor for his performance tonight.  If I understood the hostess correctly, he has been invited to the Presidential Palace in Paris for a full pardon.  No longer, well at least not till the next meal, will wait staff’s shutter windows and lock doors as we near the entrance of their restaurants.

ciboulette 01Viva la Beaumont!  My adorable petit gourmand! Bon Soir from Beaune… demain Chateauneuf du Pape. Stomach update: My liver has gone on strike and is refusing any more rich food.  I cried when Lisa enthusiastically said yes to breakfast, again.  Where is my zantac?  God help me!

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