Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Beaune, France - Endless Food and Wine (Part I)

Us Piggys have sure been busy circling the globe lately.  Piggy KK is in Asia and I recently returned from my trip to France.  I have so much to share with you! I spent some time soaking in the local culture (wine!) in the French countryside region of Burgundy. We visited some local winemakers, drank wine with them in their cold dark cellars over cheese or potato chips, whatever was their fancy. We drove through lovely villages with rolling fields, soft hills and farms. We walked through a weekend market, and oh the arrays of chacuterie and cheese were to die for! I had some delicious traditional French meals, and go figure, fell in love with snails. After four days, we made our way to Paris. The empty roads, silent nights, and random cows were fun, but I was looking forward to getting back to the hustle and bustle of a city.  I'm definitely a city girl at heart! Paris needs no introduction - a truly beautiful city with magnificent food. It'll take me a couple of posts to get through all of this, so let's start at the beginning!

Set on doing France right this time, we enlisted the help of a trip planning service. Their name itself, Trufflepig, sent our imagination fluttering with what kind of experience they could help us arrange, and they totally lived up to everything we hoped for and more! And seriously, all thanks goes to Jack at Trufflepig, who really knows what he's talking about and has an awesome accent to boot.

Street view in Beaune
The first leg of our trip was spent in Beaune, a lovely little town in the heart of wine country. Driving through (very bumpy) cobblestone streets to get to our hotel, we immediately felt miles and miles away from the city life we left behind.  The pictures you see of the French countryside don't do it justice - there is a sense of peace and a calm happiness along the rolling hills of green and yellow and the adorable little villages.  After a few days in the countryside, I finally felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders and for once in a long time, felt some semblance of peace.  Blame it on the ### glasses of wine, or that I was desperate to escape the immense pressures back home, but I attribute it to the general doctrine the locals live by - taking time to enjoy and cherish life (not rushing through every minute/hour/day like me) - finally seeping into my blood stream. Ok, maybe via the wine...

Today I'll share some food and wine tasting experiences we had in Beaune and the surrounding villages, which will probably spill over into the next post too because there were just so many good meals.  We also had equally wonderful experiences in the Beaujolais region, which will definitely have to wait until a later post!

After a very long, long, day of traveling from NY to Paris to Beaune, we were rewarded with a wonderfully simple and traditional first dinner at a restaurant called Le Bistro Bourginion. Unfortunately they were sold out of the Beef Bourginion by the time we got there, but the other dishes we ordered did not disappoint!

Escargot - Hubby's choice (at this point of the trip, I was still turning my nose at them)
Steak Frites!
Shrimp and Scallops

The next day, we kicked off the all-important wine portion of our trip with a visit to Bouchard Aine & Fils for a "tasting of the senses".  Our guide taught us how to appreciate wine by smell, sight, touch and taste. We took a thorough tour of their wine cellar and snapped some pictures along the way...

Swirl, swirl, swirl.  And check out the color of your wine - there's apparently a story behind it.   Which I usually miss as I'm too quick to drink.
Me sniffing moss and leather, as there are many elements of fragrances in every wine.  As fun as it was, I hope I never actually smell moss in my wine.
Though the wine wasn't that great, it was a fun experience to start the trip off.  After the tour, we were good and ready for lunch so we hopped in the car and headed 10 minutes down the road to a neighboring town called Volnay for a local meal at Le Cellier Volnaysien.  Even thought it was a weekday, they were bustling at lunch time.  The food was delicious and traditional and not a bad value either.  

We sat in the back room, the front rooms were all pretty busy. 
Starting off the meal as the French do - with a carafe of wine!

Hubby ordered more Escargot.  By now, I'm starting to get intrigued and dig into 2 of them, surprised that they're actually quite tasty! Hmm...

Chicken with cream sauce and potatoes. Delicious!

Hubby JL ordered a dish that will stop you in your tracks - Oeufs en Meurette, which translates to Eggs poached in a red wine sauce. 

A close up.  He loved it and claimed it was a very satisfying meal.

Another fantastic and memorable meal was dinner at Caves Madeleine, a little restaurant in the heart of Beaune with a friendly owner and staff.  One of my favorite dishes of the trip was had here, and given my track record with snails, you may be surprised what it was!

A fun thing to do at this restaurant: picking your own bottle of wine off the shelves, whatever you fancy! The owner was very helpful in directing us to a great bottle that paired well with our food.

And now, I must share with you the soup which I'm still craving - I literally licked the bowl clean!

Cassolette d'escargot de Bourgogne - Escargot soup! Oh my... it was so rich and delicious.  And, this made me start loving snails.
The rest of our meal was rounded out with Beef cheeks and Duck, both of which were wonderful.  I wish I remembered the translation for you, but unfortunately the wine has clouded my memory.

Everything we had was so good, and the atmosphere in the restaurant was warm and cozy.  If you do go, be sure to make reservations, which we had.  It's a small place, and just while we were sitting there, we saw at least 4 or 5 parties get turned away because it was full.  

Well, I think I've overloaded you with pictures of food in and around Beaune.  I've got myself missing it again after going through the pictures.  It's truly a unique town with so much character.  Next time, I'll be sharing with you one of our favorite meals of the trip (in Beaune!) and experiences from a wine tour! Stay tuned!

Merci beaucoup!

Piggy KL

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