Foodie in France – Day 5: Beaune

Another good nights rest and another beautiful day in Beaune. Today is our lunch and wine tasting at La Table D’Olivier Leflaive. It’s also our four year wedding anniversary!! I couldn’t have dreamt of a better place to be spending it but in the beautiful Burgundy wine country.

Since we’re in for a heavy lunch we opted out of breakfast and enjoyed some coffee in the hotel sitting area. I have to reiterate the beauty of our hotel. The sitting room isn’t your normal sitting area in your traditional hotel.

This room is a 12th century monastery with stone vaulted ceilings illuminated by candle light. Bruno, the owner of the hotel, has every table decorated with antique candle sticks and fine linens. While you enjoy your breakfast and morning coffee you can listen to the jazz or soothing classical music playing in the background…I’m in heaven.

Shortly after coffee our taxi picked us up to take us to Puligny-Montrachet, a connecting village in the Bourgogne (Burgundy) wine region. The sun was peaking out of the clouds today, reflecting the colors of the vines so beautifully.

Once we arrived at La Table D’Olivier Leflaive we were introduced to our sommelier (wine expert), Simon. He was an Englishman who had moved to France “for love”…yes so romantic!

The restaurant was absolutely beautiful. It was perfectly modern with French flair. Soon after we arrived we were introduced to the wine maker himself, Olivier Leflaive. He was a charming Frenchman who took much pride in his family’s business. The family had been making wine for over 300 hundred years.

The afternoon consisted of 10 wines to taste along with a 6 course meal. Tip – if you are not driving don’t feel like you have to utilize the spittoon…drink away!!

The Menu
• Gougéres: Cheese Gougéres
• Persillé de Thon au Chardonnay et Saumon Fumé: Terrine of Tuna and Parsley with Chardonnay and Smoked Salmon
• Poulet farci á la tapenade et sa Sauce Coco Flan de légumes: Chicken stuffed with tapenade and coconut sauce with Vegetable flan
• Plateau de Fromages: Selection of Cheeses
• Mousse au Chocolat Maison: Homemade Chocolate Mousse
• Espresso

There’s only one word to describe this meal…heaven! I’ve never eaten so slow in my life…just savoring every last taste, bite by bite. The Gougéres (cheese in pastry) were a perfect start and went very well with the Chardonnays. The tuna and salmon were perfection. The flavors of the tuna and parsley paired phenomenally well with the creamy dill sauce served with it, and the salmon was buttery and perfectly smoked.

The chicken was exquisite. I have to emphasize…I HATE coconut with a passion. So when I saw the dreaded word on the menu I was scared. But what better place to push aside personal culinary feuds then in France. It was magnifique!! The coconut flavor was so subtle yet provided a flavor punch with the tapanade stuffed chicken. Oh and the vegetable flan…ridiculously creamy and good. Okay I’m hungry again and already planning my next trip back!!

In France, cheese is generally served before dessert or in place of dessert all together. It acts as a digestant and gives you the chance to taste cheeses specific to the region. Delish!!! I hope my open minded palate comes back to the states with me. I’ve never had such bold cheese before and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

To finish off the meal we indulged in chocolate mousse and espresso. It was a perfect end to a beautiful meal.

Amongst all of the feasting don’t forget we were tasting some incredible wines. Burgundy Chardonnay is the best I’ve ever tasted and was the main grape variety put on display during the tasting. Pinot Noir was introduced at the end and was amazing as well. As I mentioned in the previous post…I do not like Chardonnay. California Chardonnay can’t even compare to that of the Bourgogne region. The taste is less oaky, smoother and much fruitier (but not sweet). If my bank account can afford it I will be searching and investing in Bourgogne Chardonnay when we get home.

The Tasting
– Bourgogne Sétilles 2009
– Chassagne-Montrachet 2008
– Meursault 2008
– Puligny-Montrachet 2008
– Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru ABBAYE de Morgeot 2007
– Meursault 1er Cru Charmes 2007
– Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Garennes 2007
– Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2007
– Pommard 2007
– Volnay 1er Cru Mitans 2007

It was hard to decide which bottle to take home since all of them were extraordinary, but we went with the Meursault 1er Cru Charmes 2007. This bottle will definitely not last long.

With French wine the label is quite unique. The name of the village is showcased along with the location of the Chateau in regards to the land. The Grand Cru is generally touted as the best due to the location at the top of the hill. A lot of times you won’t see a label like “Chardonnay” or “Pinot Noir” on the bottle, just the name of the village. Each village is known for a specific grape and, due to the climate and weather, most of the villages in Bourgogne produce Chardonnay.

We said goodbye to Simon, our amazing lunch & tasting and headed back into town for some site seeing and shopping. The city of Beaune isn’t very big and is easily accessible on foot. It was a perfect afternoon. After a few hours on foot we stopped by the Chocolatier for a quick snack. It was just too good to resist.

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After some shopping and walking around we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our anniversary dinner. We decided to stay at the hotel and sample some of Bruno’s best…or I should say his son the chef’s best cuisine.

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The Menu
– Escargot
– Fondue with mashed potatoes
– Regional selection of cheeses
– Gingerbread Creme Brûlée
– Espresso

The Wine
– Corton Grand Cru (from the wine safari)
– Hospices de Beaune

A quick note about the Hospices de Beaune. Different vineyards throughout the region donate their wine to the Hospices (hospitals) at an annual wine auction that occurs every November. The winner of the auction that year is donated to the Hospice and it is generally the best wine of the region. In our case…it absolutely was the best. Dare I say even better then the Grand Cru. It had a chocolate undertone without being too sweet or overpowering. Absolutely perfect with our Fondue.

The meal was fantastic. The escargot was amazing and the Fondue was fun and super tasty. The three sauces were divine and completely gone by the last bite of steak. The only mishap of the night…Fondue grease spilled on my brand new dress. Yes leave it up to the clumsiest person alive to spill grease on my new beautiful French dress. Let’s hope the cleaners can work some magic.

My adventurous taste buds definitely stuck with me for the regional cheeses and to my surprise the strongest tasting cheese was actually my favorite. Last and certainly not least…the Gingerbread Creme Brûlée…the best!!! I can’t describe how amazing this dessert is. The dish is lined with a Gingerbread crust, filled with vanilla bean custard, and torched to perfection. Amazing amazing amazing!! I couldn’t ask for a better meal. The food and overall experience was beyond words.

We ended the day and our last night in Beaune at the coolest pub down the street. It was filled with memorabilia from all over the world…and yes it even had a Texas flag hanging from the ceiling. The funniest thing about this place was they were playing the full video collection from the 1980s to mid 90s of Madonna. Yes all Madonna…all the time.

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This was a magical day and something we will remember forever. Beaune is a beautiful place and I will miss it dearly! Tomorrow we continue our journey to the Rhônes Alps region to Annecy.

Goodnight!!

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