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Saturday, June 30, 2012

"Tasting" wine in Bourgogne

I am afraid to write about a recent weekend in Bourgogne.
I am very aware that every blogger who has been to France has written such a blog. I am not sure if I am more worried about theirs being better or mine being the same. Nevertheless it was a weekend totally deserving of some writing.

In typical Melanie fashion I added a wee bit of stress before departure. Short story -  I lost my train ticket. In a rather bizarre purchase arrangement, I was not able to just print out a new copy. So I bought a new one. Oh well.

Thursday evening we all eventually arrived in Beaune to much sampling of local wine. My favorite of the evening was a Givry. We had a bit of local cuisine at Le Bistrot Bourguignon and a relatively early night, knowing Friday had much in store. Like exchanging our train tickets for an earlier arrival Sunday, finding what turned out to be rather rickety bikes, and cycling largely in the wrong direction to arrive at Ladoix-Serrigny, still hoping to find Aloxe-Corton. By 2PM and we were hungry and tired. A rather humble looking spot Les Terasses de Corton offered a terrace and lunch. In fact we enjoyed a really good meal of boeuf bourgignon or cochon de lait accompanied by a very nice bottle of Aloxe-Croton, because it was local and we were not sure we would ever find its home.

We did find it and had the opportunity to taste several very nice wines chez Christophe Vaudoisey. I believe several bottles found their way home on our bikes including one now at my place.

Friday night was very casual, with wine at Le Galion followed by dinner (joues de boeuf in bourgignon sauce for me) and then dinner with a very good bottle of Nuits St. George at Le Conty. We had to walk at least 30 paces to move from one to the other, and both afforded us this view of a beautiful old building with a very modern light show.

Saturday was our day to cycle,
on a cyclepath, through the vineyards.

Pommard, Volnay, Merseault, all went by in a flash as we attempted to arrive at Montrachet in time for a highly recommended lunch at a starred Michelin restaurant, Le Montrachet. And what a fine lunch it was. A little platter of warm apps appeared almost immediately, followed by a proper amuse-bouche. My entree was something delicious, followed by my main course of something even more delicious.

We had local wine, cherries in wine sauce, between the dessert amuse bouche, and the milliardises shown on the right. The unpretentious thingies on the left were the best thing I have ever tasted. I offered to arm wrestle Simon for his, but a true gentleman he offered it to me instead.

Although Carole and Simon were eager to go to Chateau Merseault, Alison and I chose a leisurely ride back through the villages we had seen at a blur on the way. I must say it was a lovely afternoon.

And then it was Sunday. 
A very nice visit to Hotel-Dieu-Hospices de Beaune. 

Built in 1441 to care for the poor it remained in operation until 1965 or so. If you ever needed to be in a hospital in the Middle Ages this was the pace to be! It even had its own winery. And a still for making pharmaceuticals. And beautiful paintings. And tapestries. Just go see it between wine tastings. You will not be disappointed.
And just one last wine tasting at Vins de Bourgogne on our way out of town...

I learned a lot about wine this weekend - still know next to nothing but could order a decent bottle of Bourgogne in a restaurant if I needed to!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Have a nice day

On the subject of what energy to send back into the universe, I am trying to make a conscious choice daily.

For example, Monday morning on the train to the airport, a very large woman boarded. She was clearly uncomfortable, perhaps physically, perhaps in other ways as well, and seemed to think that I was the source of this. After struggling with a good location for her very large purse (no not on my lap, not on top of the Kindle I was reading, not on top of my head which was lower than her) she heaved a big sigh and singled me out.
In French she began to yell at me for sitting down when the train was crowded. It was not so crowded and many people were sitting besides me.
I innocently looked at her and said "Merci Madame".

That did not help. In her very loud words, there were people on the train who needed to get to work and I was somehow not supposed to be taking up the space. Although I was also going to work, in Zurich, I did not bother to explain this to her. Just kept reading.

She then insulted my rather cool pink suitcase. I stroked the bag and told her I liked it very much as well .

Are you ready for this? Upon departing she reached out a considerable distance to intentionally step on my foot.
I wished her a nice day.

Don't get me wrong. I was being nice in what I knew was not an innocent manner. Nevertheless I believe I thwarted her attempts to be mean to me.
What do yo think?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Embarrassing moments

How many embarrassing moments does the average person have in a day? A week? 
Do I have more or less than the average?
Take today for example. I am at Monoprix picking up a few items. As usual I do not take a basket, because I only need a couple of things. Which turns into 2 sizes of garbage bags, 3 pairs of pantyhose, laundry detergent, cleaning cloths, and oh why don't I try that new bikini wax. 
I will tell you why not. As I was walking through the store I could feel something starting to slide from my over-filled arms. Now of all the things that could have fallen, which thing do you think it was? Of course, it was the bikini wax strips. And they didn't just fall all at once in their package. Oh no each one dripped from its now opened box one at a time onto the floor in a slow motion nightmare. 

And please never say the Monoprix staff are not helpful. The most attractive 6 foot something man in Paris zoomed over to help me retrieve my fallen articles, by picking up each strip one by one and handing it to me so I could put it back in its box. How nice of him. 

So tell me on average: One truly embarrassing moment per week? One per day? I am going to count this week. If I have enough fingers and toes.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Seeking a Common Language

People sometimes ask me what is the hardest part about living in Paris.
You might be surprised at my response.
It is communicating with non-French people.
Picture this: two people who speak French as a second language try to have a conversation
"How is your here I try to find the word for the thing that your legs are attached to at the top of your legs but below your waist" (Yes I meant hip)
"Vous avez le truc pour nettoyer la uses circling motion with both hands?" (She was very surprised when I showed her the toilet brush. She wanted to mop the floor. I am so glad we cleared that one up!)
"What is the word in English for" (Yes that is just what we need, the insertion of another language we do not have in common. That will surely help this conversation!"
It can be quite funny at times, very frustrating at others. I think at the end of the day everyone appreciates understanding and being understood. If it takes considerable work to make that happen, we should perhaps be grateful.
But hey, I am no Buddha.