July 29, 2010 Beaune, France

So we get in the car and drive. Actually we were going to take an adventurous route but TomTom doesn’t know all the roads and our map is from 1992 and definitely doesn’t know all the roads plus John has a cold so we just go the straightforward way. The great excitement of the trip is stopping at the auto grill where we get a kabob plate. Neither John nor I can figure out what the meat is. Maybe chicken? This comes with French fries and salad. It is a totally uninspiring lunch eaten next to an English family on holiday. This makes us recall happy family vacations with kids arguing and refusing to eat what you’ve bought them. What is this family doing in France? Looking at castles? With three kids between twelve and four? I foresee disaster for them. The little girl is named Edith and the husband calls his wife, mother, which seems quaint. I hope they are going to see their French great-aunt who has a swimming pool, stables and a playground.

We make it to Beaune mid-afternoon and are shown to our room in the creaky old elevator.


Creaky elevator and John
Creaky elevator and john

We have a balcony and go out to look out over the rooftops. The multicolored roof is on the Hospices de Beaune, founded in 1443 by Phillip the Good. We visited there the last time we were in Beaune.

Rooftops of Beaune
Rooftops of Beaune

I say to John, “this is great having our own private balcony!” Turning around I notice that there are two doors. Huh. Well, the one on the right must be into our bedroom and the one on the left which is slightly ajar must be the one we came out of that leads back into the sitting room. So I open the one on the left which leads into a room where a woman is sitting in her bathrobe. “Eek!” we both say. I back out saying, “sorry, sorry.” Any idea of speaking French has totally escaped me.

The lady or the tiger?
The lady or the tiger?

Our plans in Beaune include taking showers and going out for a fancy dinner. The restaurant where we planned to go has gone out of business so we are trying a new one, Loiseau des Vignes. It’s supposed to be all the rage although we find it oddly empty and full of mostly tourists. There is a table of about eight Japanese who had ordered the full bore tasting menu and we watch while they soldier through looking as though they are either going to explode or fall asleep. Our first course is terrine of foie gras with toast. It is delicious, the best we’ve had the whole trip. But it is also ginormous which makes eating the rest of the dinner difficult.

Foie gras with toast
Foie gras with toast

The foie gras is followed by a quenelle of sandre with a lobster sauce. John objects to the fluffy texture. He wants it to be like a dense piece of gefilte fish. I think it is fine and the sauce is yummy although very rich.

Quenelle of sandre with lobster sauce
Quenelle of sandre with lobster sauce

Next we have an entrecote of beef (rib steak) with a bernaise sauce accompanied by whipped potatoes and some veg. I don’t care for the way many restaurants serve whipped potatoes. I like mashed potatoes that still have some resemblence to potatoes and not just an oozing pile of potato goo. But the dish is good and the local wine pairing goes nicely.

Entrecote of beef with bernaise
Entrecote of beef with bernaise sauce

And now we are about like the Japanese table, ready to explode. But there is more. There is cheese. On a private note, I just don’t get the cheese after the dinner and before dessert. I am already full. Cheese is rich and heavy. It seems like not the thing to have after a big meal. But that’s just me – not really continental. So after choking down some of the cheese, they bring dessert. It is a chocolate cassis palet. ( I just looked up palet. It means puck.) So we are having a rectangular chocolate hockey puck! I move it around the plate some, picking at the edges. There is no way I can eat this too. It’s a good thing that we are walking the two blocks back to the hotel. We need to work off this dinner!

Chocolate and cassis palet
Chocolate and cassis palet

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