Sunday, October 5, 2008

In the heart of Burgundy

Our stop in Beaune, in the heart of Burgundy vineyards was preceded by wine tasting lessons and a bit of history of the place. Beaune was a medieval town, with narrow streets all leading to the center of town. We left the hotel Mercury and walked to the old town, where another lesson in wine tasting awaited us, this time it was Burgundy wine.

The town was one of many small towns in the hills sorrounded by wineries and farms, typical Provence architecture, stone two-story houses with courtyards neatly lined up with fine gravel, olive and fig tree providing shade for bistro tables and chairs. Many houses had been converted to studio apartments or restaurants and shops.

Our meal in Beaune at the Jardin de Remp., a Michelin rated restaurant, was quite an adventure. We looked at the menu posted outside,all in French, and calculated that 75 Euros was a bit much, but probably worth it. The place looked like the Napa Tre Vigne restaurant, with outdoor seating in a beautiful garden setting.

The friends that joined us didn't know any French. It fell to me to order for all of us. I managed. And I was helped by an unusually sensitive and well trained staff. The food was the best we had ever eaten, anywhere.

I can tell you that each plate was a beautiful work of art, and the food tasted like nothing we had ever had. For appetizer we had a bite, yes, a bite of black cod, crunchy and salty, swimming in a foam of seagrass and curls of vegetables, resembling seaweeds nestling the fish.

A glass of Champagne started the meal accompanied by lollypops made with potatoes and beets licks, and toasted nuts acting as chess pieces on a wooden chess board.

A second dish of eggplant terrine came with a variety of breads and rolls and a bottle of Burgundy.

Our main dish was lamb medallions, small bites of really rare lamb, with pine-nuts and an unusual tomato sauce on top of a rice timbale.

The last dish was a wonderful souffle, lemony and light, surrounded by berries and drops of jellied fruit and molded ice-creams floating on a congeled bed of berry juice.

They sent us off with baskets of little cakes, candies and chocolates.

The only other time I was this impressed was in Palm Springs, fifteen years ago, at St. James. If I remember correctly, the prices were just as special.

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