Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Beaujolais, France - Unique Tour and Fabulous Dinner

Our one full day in the Beaujolais region was spent with Madame Francoise Barbet, coordinated through Jack at Trufflepig.  A lady who emanates boundless knowledge and love for the Beaujolais region, she truly made our day spectacular.  Heck, I think we fell in love with the region just because of Francoise!


Not only did she give us a history lesson of Beaujolais, but we saw with our own eyes how the region is changing, in a sad way.  As Beaujolais wines are becoming less in demand in the market, wine makers are closing shop, and in turn pulling up their vines.  It's a sad thing to see - vacant lots with roots all torn up.  It is a beautiful part of the countryside nonetheless, and we had such a wonderful learning experience getting to taste various types of Beaujolais wines.  It's opened up my eyes to see past the stereotype that Beaujolais wines are 'weaker'.  So. Not. True.  There is a subtle balance to be appreciated, and a blend of delicacy and strength that I imagine must take generations to master.


We had the opportunity to meet one of these families who have been growing grapes and making wine for many generations.  I've learned what a special breed these wine makers are - their profession full of very hard work, and a lot of joy.  On our day with Francoise, she took us to meet the Romy family.  They are such nice people - we met Monsieur and Madame Romy and their son Nicholas.  One of my favorite memories of the trip is tasting their wine with them over an assortment of cheeses. 


Domaine Romy
At first I was intimidated - I mean tasting wine with the wine maker itself? And they're asking for your opinion, as if it even matters.  But I learned very quickly there is no right or wrong answer, as everyone will taste something different in the wines and it's all about coming together and bouncing ideas off each other.  Such fun!

Tasting wine with the Romy family
Later on in the afternoon, Francoise treated us to a tour of a barrel maker.  I've always wonder how they made those! We saw how the process works from start to finish, from fresh cut slabs of wood, to smooth and seamless barrels.  Amazing!


They start off with cut slabs of wood
They age for several years, inside and outside, to weather them
Seamless covers are made
The circular body is put together
Almost there...
Look, it's real! Hard to believe how they started off.

After a full day of touring the beautiful Beaujolais region, we had dinner at La Poularde, a modern and unique twist on French food!  I'm not sure how or why, but we were the only diners at the restaurant the whole time we were there.  Shocking, because the food was excellent.  They were generous with food, as they kept bringing out more and more dishes that weren't listed on the menu.  There was not one thing we didn't love about every dish.  It was quite inventive! Check it out...


Amuse-bouche.  Amazing presentation!
I've never seen a radish so dressed up!



After a set of amuse-bouche and our appetizers, our entrees were pigeon.  Yes, pigeon.  Insert my cringey face, because my stomach turned as I ordered it.  When I think of pigeons, as a New Yorker, I think of those nasty, unfriendly birds who think it's their daily mission to try to aim their waste at you.  But it seems these French pigeons we had are more polite and are farm-raised.  Surprisingly, it turned out to be quite good! It was a bit gamey for my taste, and a little boney, but it wasn't bad at all.  However, don't count on me looking to order pigeon again!

Pigeon... I guess it helped that they made it look pretty with flowers

For dessert, they generously brought out homemade ice cream, along with a large assortment of homemade caramel popcorn, Madeleine cookies and pate a choux.  Loved it all! What a treat to have so many desserts to choose from.  Undecided about which to pick, we wiped out that decision by eating them all.  And they were soo good!



I loved our meal at La Poularde and would return in a heartbeat, if only it wasn't a 6 hour flight + 3 hour drive from NY.  Sigh...  It was a fun and inventive meal.  I wished there were other diners with us to enjoy it!

That wraps up my time in the French countryside.  Believe it or not, we're not done eating (or drinking).  Remember, we still have Paris to tackle! Check back to read about my time in the City of Lights.

Au revoir, mes amis!

Piggy KL

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