The Land of Exceptional Pinot Noir

beaune 01Hallelujah! Hallelujah! What an incredible start to the day!  Despite staying up later than I wanted sorting through over 300 pictures taken yesterday I feel great.  Beau still hasn’t fully adjusted to the time change but is doing better.  He is a little crabby and needy when he wakes up but after a double espresso he seems to be able to cope. Just like his Daddy.

After checking out of the Chateau, we stopped at a small Boulangerie along the highway for two croissant and two pain au chocolat. PURE HEAVEN!  I often wonder why American pastries are overly sugary, especially breakfast ones.  I suppose that leads me to my second gripe about American food norms – why the hell are children’s menus so god awful for children or even adults for that matter.  Who  really wants to feed their children deep fried chicken, grilled cheeses or mac and cheese as an industry norm?  Nothing wrong with very occasional delves into unhealthy food but could someone explain why kids cannot eat the exact same food in smaller portions as the adults eat?  Beaumont has been the shining star of that example.  In his short five months of eating he started with duck confit went to truffles and now has progressed to sweetbreads and kidneys.  Never once has he looked me in the eye and bitch that there weren’t French fries, fried chicken or ketchup included in his repas.

gas station

On the three hour drive south to Beaune (Burgundy) we stopped twice at a gas station, once  for coffee and once for gas.  It is really amazing to note the  cultural difference between France and America.  At the first gas station, I stopped in their version of a quickie mart for bottled water and was amazed they sold, among other things, real Madrange ham.  Unbelievable, something you actually would want to eat if you didn’t have time for a proper meal.  The coffee I got actually was good, full bodied and rich, not watered down brown water served burnt in a variety of big gulp sizes.  The diner equivalent had a variety of great salads, cheeses, hot dishes that actually looked good and wine.  No unhealthy prefabricated industrial food.

 

The second round of comparing cultures came when we went to the supermarket for bottled water and to do laundry.  On the surface the supermarket looked similar to any in America but upon further investigation I found blaring differences.  The first and largest difference was found in the seafood aisle.  They offered everything from the briny delectable crevettes gris (grey shrimp), langoustines (sweet, succulent deep sea lobsters), daurade royale, rouget, monkfish, etc. etc.  The variety of fish was amazing.  When I lived in Mendocino,I always found it astounding that along America’s longest coastline the grocery stores would have you believe that only salmon, halibut, and two other fish are can be found.    Walking further into the store I found lobes of foie gras, beautiful guinea fowl from a small farm and elk.

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For lunch today we went to a restaurant a friend has been raving about for at least ten years called Ma Cuisine.  I clearily understand exactly why he raved and will say GO THERE NOW!

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The sign leading to gastronomic paradise…  Ma Cuisine in Beaune

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My cousin Andre met us there for one of the best, simple and regional meals I have had in decades.  Lisa and I started with Ham Persillade, a Burgundian classic that also will find its way onto Figue’s charcuterie menu charcuterie plate.

Last night Beaumont was l’enfant impossible… today both Lisa and I were absolutely jittery about which Beau we would dine with.  Today we were blessed with little angel Beaumont, the petit gourmand.

Beau started with tasty little black olives

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Segued into daddy’s veal kidneys in a mustard sauce and maman’s ris de veau (damn, I swear that boy cannot eat enough sweetbreads!) and finished on the cheese plate complete with probably the most perfect Epoisses I have ever eaten.  To paraphrase Brillat Savarin, ‘a meal without cheese is like a beautiful woman with one eye’ – she may satisfy you in the short term but damn what happened to that eye!

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For Beaumont’s last two acts at Ma Cuisine he took a short stroll with Papa exploring the various puddles that filled the cobblestone walkway in front and slept – YES SLEPT!  Hallelujah!

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This is what heaven looks like to me

Anyone who truly loves wine will appreciate the following picture.  I took it shortly after Ma Cuisine and before descending into a cave for wine tasting…

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I honestly am not even sure of the winery’s name we visited.  There was door it said come in drink some wine and we scurried in.  They gave you tastlevin, little cork dorky wine tasting silver cups and told you have at it, take the tour on your own at your own pace… and only drink one glass of each of the 14 wines, please.  Wines were strategically placed down in the cave at various points.

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We ended up buying several bottles including a moderately priced ancient wine to share with friends joining us in Provence in a few days.  The rest of the afternoon was spent stopping in cheese shops, charcuteries, chocolate shops, knife shops and walking all over the picturesque town of Beaune.  I could live here very easily if I just could hit the lottery.

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Hardly hungry and closely hitting the proverbial food wall we returned to the town center for dinner where Beau gave his best dining performance of the trip.  He actually slept through all three courses including Lisa’s kir royale!  Hallelujah!

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I actually prodded him after I took this shot as I wasn’t sure if he was dead or alive.  Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah!!!

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On the way out of the brasserie he was awake long enough to get some cute little 15 month old French girl’s phone number before blissfully returning to sleep!

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The quiet streets of Beaune just minutes ago… bon soir!

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