Day 16 and 17 (even though it hasn’t happened yet) A Beaune Idea
The original plan was to check out of our Provencal vacation rental, drive at light speed to Paris over six hours away, race to the hotel, babysitter than La Tour d’Argent for singularly the best foie gras dish I have ever eaten in my 48 years. With the liver taxed and severe bloating setting in the idea of fast or running like OJ through Paris just seemed impossible. I started thinking that Beaune was half way in between and maybe we needed to revisit either Ma Cuisine or La Ciboulette again.
Andre, or Pastis as we began calling him, called Ma Cuisine for us and DAMN it they were closed for lunch on Saturday. Luckily la Ciboulette was open and Beaumont had not had a melt down there.
We arrived in Beaune in time for our lunch reservation and somewhere during the three hour drive there we decided gluttony was the theme for the last day. I will guarantee I am paying for it this morning with sloth like movements and the reflexes of a 200 year old. We decided on the 29 E prix fixe as it had both a Magret and beef with Epoisses for Walter.
We started with a glass of Champagne and nibbled on rillettes of pork with garden radishes. Champagne always whets the appetite no matter how full or overly saturated with wine you are. It is always the right and civilized thing to start with. Even as I am writing on the plane ride home even more saturated, dehydrated, bloated and gastronomically beat (gluttons will be gluttons, we did stop for a quick bite at Gordon Ramsey’s resto during our three hour layover in London) the stewardess just handed me a glass of sparkling sunlight and the cycle of Bacchus restarts.
We started with a 2009 Puligny Montrachet from Etienne Sauzet. Maybe not the perfect match for a dozen of the best escargots in garlic butter I have had in years but delightful. I started with Jambon Persille. When in Beaune do as the Beauneans! We switched gears to a Domaine Pierre Damoy 2001 Chambertin Grand Cru for our main course of Magret de Canard and Walter’s Pave of Beef aux Epoisses. The wine was wonderful and matched the Magret high note for high note. Ordering the cheese course was easy since we all had Epoisses on the brain. We ordered a half bottle of Michel Gros 2009 Chambolle Musigny as the Damoy was kicked. We had a nice dessert before heading over to Walter’s favorite wine shop in Beaune. Due to copious quantities of alcohol, I kept making comments like: ‘I got a Beaune-ner’ and ‘coming here was a Beaune-ness’. Perhaps you too should be feeling no pain as I was.
The owner of the wine shop cracked a huge smile when Walter walked in. Walter had spent many an hour drinking killer bottles of Burgundian juice in that shop and probably shipped as much Burgundy home to his house in Sacramento as some bigger distributors in the USA have. Just to get motivated to look at the bottles Walter bought a serious bottle of Burgundy from his favorite producer to drink while shopping. Walter was overly kind and bought us two jewels to take home as souvenirs from an incredible trip. We also bought a 2003 Domaine Dujac Clos de le Roche to nurse with yet another wheel of Epoisses later that night in Paris. I was so dehydrated by this point. We stopped at a café for a double espresso to help me see single again so we could push on forward and drive the remaining 3 hours to Paris.
Day 17: on board British Airways
So I am in my seat drinking yet more Champagne and thinking of the future. We did have a nice meal at Gordon Ramsey’s resto at Heathrow. We started with Champagne (go ahead, say ‘but of course’ in your best French accent) to drink with our Szechuan pepper and salt calamari and my Queenie Scallops with Garlic and herb breadcrumbs; a half bottle of 2005 Rioja Reserve with my aged English Rib Eye sauce Béarnaise with Chips and Lisa’s Whiskey cured Salmon with soft boiled duck egg and asparagus. My liver and belly are hoping this will be the last overindulgence’s till the next trip to France. Beau is fast asleep being feed an increasingly wine-saturated breast milk for the last 16 days. Lisa is watching a DVD and enjoying a glass of Rioja enjoying the quietness of the snoring Beau. Whoops, he just woke up.
I look to the future of my new position as Chef of Figue and hope the kitchen staff is ready to kick some ass and take no prisoners. I hope my dreams of what this can be, will be and that the future brings forth everything both Lee the owner and myself hoped it would and even perhaps, brings all of us to new plateaus we never even knew existed.
Chef Francois de Melogue