May 21, 2007

Alsace and back

We’re just back from 4 nights in Alsace staying in Strasbourg and Colmar. Michelle was in Strasbourg last December for a business meeting and came home raving about how beautiful it was, how the cathedral was gorgeous, how the people were fantastic, how amazing the sauerkraut was, how good this was, how good that was and so on and so on – so we decided to go with mum in May. May is such a pretty month, the only problem being the TGV to Strasbourg doesn’t start running until June, so instead of the new fantastic speed of 2.5 hours it took us approximately 4.5 hours Paris/Strasbourg which comes under the ‘just becoming too long for rail journey’ headings for me. But it wasn’t too bad. In fact the going part of the trip was relatively quick. We arrived in Strasbourg around 10pm, dumped our belongings at our small but quaint hotel just beside the cathedral and headed off to a restaurant in the historical centre recommended by our taxi driver on his bit out of the way route between the train station and our hotel. Sauerkraut, sausage, pork and bits being the staples we tucked into that first night accompanied by a bottle of Alsatian Gewurztraminer.

Thursday morning in Strasbourg it rained. Thursday afternoon in Strasbourg it rained. Thursday evening it rained in Strasbourg. We didn’t let it bother us really. We took a boat cruise on the river Ill in the morning and rented a walking tour around the historical centre in the afternoon. We stopped for lunch, more hearty fare, coffee and beer off and on all afternoon. Strasbourg is a beautiful city even in the rain. Thursday night we went to a typical Winstub for dinner, with singing and dancing and ate tarte flambee which is like a white sauce pizza till we could eat no more….

The next morning, with the weather looking like it would clear up we rented a car and set off for the first in our day of wine tasting set up again by the wonderful JD. First stop, mad dash down to the house of F.E. Trimbach in Ribeauville at 10am… we were a bit late, we missed the tour of the cellars but made it in time for the tasting where we were offered some great Gewurztraminer, pinot gris, rieslings and vendange tardives and where we of course bought some of the great bottles sampled. Next was lunch in Ribeauville. A very beautiful, but very touristy little town where mum & Michelle chose the restaurant in the centre of the main street of town. Truly, the centre of the street. The cars were coming straight for us as we were quietly perusing our menus, there was a car rally on so we got to see a variety of old cars, most with exhaust problems.

Next stop on the wine trail was one of our favorites from Hunawihr, Domaine Mittnacht Freres. It was the most pleasurable experience so far, we had a price list, we had the attention of one of their knowledgeable staff and we tried a selection of Alsace Cepages and grand crus along with late harvested sweet wines and even a bubbly before walking out of there with a couple of cases of our favorites.

Another pretty voyage through gorgeous little villages and we headed north again back towards Strasbourg where we stopped in Andlau to taste some wines from the domaine Marc Kreydenweiss. Another fan of Quebec his son led us through the Alsace whites and also offered us some reds from their domain in the Cote du Rhone which we really enjoyed. It was a long day. Lots of good wine – we turned around, took the freeway and headed south to Colmar… (to be continued…)

filles at 7:54 am

Comments Off on Alsace and back

May 14, 2007

Burgandy = Bourgogne = Good

Before I forget I want to tell you about our adventures in Burgandy. It was the first of our mini weekend breaks we had planned to take with mum & Pete on their 6 week stay in Paris. The organisation to accommodate our combined interests – theirs to visit France and Europe and ours – to take a break from the comfort(!) of our living floor meant that we have planned a long weekend in Bourgogne, 4 days in Alsace, 5 days it Italy and 4 days in Marrakesh finishing with a weekend in London before they get back on the plane for the 24hour flight home.

Bourgogne was the first trip away. We left Paris Friday afternoon from Gare de Lyon heading south-east to Dijon. We planned to spend 2 nights in Beaune and, before anyone asks – I didn’t know the TGV went directly to Beaune! From Dijon we hired a car and drove along the Cote d’Or to Beaune where we checked into a lovely little hotel just outside the historic centre of the town. With the help of our local Montorgeuil wine expert and friend, who set up appointments with 3 different winemakers in the region, we spent Saturday in and out of little villages surrounded by vines – Grand cru, 1ere cru and the rest. It was wonderful.

1st stop was the Domaine Amiot-Servelle where we were given a small lesson in the layout of Burgandy, the designation of the land into packets of grand cru, premier cru and village, the basics of Pinot Noir and most importantly when you’re planning on tasting a few dozen wines in one day, how to spit. A bio wine, we tasted Chambole Musigny 2005 down to 2000 in their premier cru Les Charmes and Les Plantes as well as their Grand Cru Clos Vougeot and walked out of their cellar a couple of hours later with a case of various vintages, all spectacular and a head full of new information to digest.

Next stop was the Domaine Pavelot in Savigny les Beaune. Again we tasted a range of premier cru and walked away with another case of some very fine wines most of which would be best kept for a few more years if we’re disciplined enough, or drunk right away if we’re not.

The highlight of the day was our third and last stop at the Domaine du Chateau du Chorey. With M. Germain we tasted a mix of premier cru pinot noir and chardonnays that were all delightful. We spent the afternoon deep in conversation on the wonders and joys of Montreal and doing business with the SAQ, winemaking in Australia compared to France while we tasted one after another after another. By this stage late in the afternoon Michelle and I were quite adept at our spitting, shame that it was, but Mum & Pete, as our guests and as back seat passengers didn’t let a drop go astray. No spitting this wine for them, they drank every last drop that was offered. We left with a couple of cases under our arms, a recommendation or two for restaurants for the evening and a promise to return in the fall to stay in the castle. It was superb.

Back in Beaune we wandered about the village, stopped for an aperitif (beer if you must know…) and then had a fabulous meal at another fantastic restaurant where the local specialties are everything that makes the french food so wonderful – boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin, jambon persill√ɬ©, and epoisses de Bourgogne. We managed some tourist sites as well. The petit train around the village, the Hospices du Beaune with its gorgeous tiled roof and then we spent the rest of Sunday afternoon driving from one picture perfect village to another celebrating the Australian version of Mothers Day in a very posh, but very good restaurant in the Chateau de Ste Sabine.

The dash back into Dijon, the inevitable getting lost to return the hire car and then the hour and a half return trip to Paris by train with two noisy tired children in the seats beside us just about finished us off, in fact did finish Pete off, the rest of us sauntered out for a Thai meal on rue Tiquetonne, the perfect foil after a weekend of wine and the full rich food of Bourgogne.

filles at 2:55 pm

Comments (1)

May 11, 2007

Pinot Noir

It’s been a bit quiet on here because my mum & Pete arrived last Sunday. Despite struggling with a cold we’ve been out wandering about, visiting galleries, markets and the city and we’re just about to leave to take the train to Dijon, pick up a car and spend the weekend in the Burgandy region. Thanks to our friendly neighbourhood wine shop, we have appointments booked at some wonderful wineries tomorrow… bring it on!

filles at 3:03 pm

Comments (1)

May 5, 2007

Labour day picnic

It’s been a busy first week of May. May 1st is a public holiday here so we spent Tuesday in the Jardins des Halles with another Australian family picnicking in the park. Both of us bought loads of Italian goodies plus champagne plus rose plus desserts, we sat in the sun, chatted about all the important things, the kids had a play in the kids playground and then we ended the afternoon here, drinking more champagne. While in the park we witnessed a gaggle(!) of homeless being rounded up and sent on their way by a dozen or so policemen and park patrollers, it was hard to work out just exactly what they had done and why they were being removed. We tut tutted and felt sorry for them (they weren’t upsetting anyone) and watched them as they were moved on, then on again and again until they left the park altogether. Not 10 minutes later one of the same policemen walked towards us, bent down and quietly advised Michelle to cover our bottle and be a little more discreet in our alcohol consumption otherwise we would have to be removed as liquor was forbidden in the park…. it took us just a bit longer than that to realise the similarities and the differences in treatment.

filles at 4:45 pm

Comments (1)

May 4, 2007

it all happens in India

Imagine waking up one day to find an aeroplan in the middle of the street….

filles at 11:37 pm

Comments (1)

May 2, 2007

a Parisian Curry

I found this passage with Roger when he was here in January. Michelle and I ate here one day in March, and while it’s good, in fact it’s the best curry we’ve had in France, nothing beats Mother India in Glasgow….

filles at 11:49 am

Comments Off on a Parisian Curry