We planned a quick two week trip, one week in Paris book-ending one week in Burgundy, more specifically Beaujolais, as we love Beaujolais cru wine, and the the simple rusticity of this area. Well, we short-changed Beaujolais with a weekend in Jura (fantastic) and included a night in Beaune and another in Gevry-Chambertin, as entry and exits to and from Beaujolais. Thanks to Gman and Jake Dear for their posts which helped inform this trip.
One of the pleasures for us in France, after the cuisine, is the great wine, and these days we are very enthusiastic about the bio (organic) and biodynamically grown grapes and the growing trend towards naturally made wine. We love the purity and depths of flavours achieved with these wines and are supportive of organic farming for many reasons, all of which promote health of the soil, environment and people. That said, we are not militant, but we do seek out winemakers and restaurants whose ethos are of like mind.
Ma Cuisine, Beaune
Pierre welcomed us in at 7:30 and gave us a great table up on the rise at the back of the room. There were already several tables seated and we had a good overview of the room. The menus are written on a board and although the three course set menu for 28e is a bargain, the more enticing dishes are à la carte, including their iconic boeuf bourguignon. A ramekin of delicious duck liver mousse with toasts was brought as an amuse and we decided on our à la carte choices. We were looking forward to the traditional tasty Burgundian cooking and wine that Ma Cuisine does so well and quickly made our choices. We began with 12 escargots and the jambon persillé; both classics were well-prepared. I had the magret de canard rôti and my husband had the pigeon entire rôti. Both came with sides of classic ratatouille and a pavé of potato gratin that was made from grated potatoes. This had great flavour and texture, without the richness of a dauphinoise. The pigeon was presented cut into pieces on a rich, gamy jus, and my husband, a lover of all birds, was enthusiastic with his praise for this dish, declaring it the best pigeon he has eaten. My magret was perfectly cooked but I couldn't say it was the best I've eaten; just that it was very good. My only real quibble is that the mains come with the same sides and although they were very good sides, I didn't think that they complimented the duck, especially the ratatouille. We drank a bottle of bio Rully 1st Cru "Chapitre" 2014, Domaine Vincent Dureuil-Janthial (55e). To finish, we both had fromage, I, the Epoisse, which was at its most perfect oozy ripeness - wow, it was divine. My husband had the assiette de fromage, which was five select cheeses, also at their ultimate affiné; Epoisse, Comté, Citeaux, Brillat Savarin, and what I think was Aisy Cendry, the soft ash-coated lait cru cow from Burgundy. Pierre noticed that we had finished the Rully when the fromage was served and we happily took a glass each of Maranges to drink along with the cheese. 194 e including wine
The service was excellent - the room filled in short order and Pierre and one young woman managed the service with grace and efficiency, never missing a step, even though there were several long tables to serve, most of which were having numerous bottles to open and pour and many glasses to set.
The following morning was Saturday and we went to the Beaune farmers market in the town square. After a quick café and croissant we olgled the wonderful stacks of white asparagus and baskets of strawberries, everything so beautiful and bountiful. We bought portions of fermier yogurt, which we ate on the spot, and cheese at Alain Hess to take on the road with us - Citeaux, Brillat Savarin and a Saint Marcellin, also French breakfast radishes, a small melon, and a baguette. We left Beaune and headed to the Jura for the weekend, with picnic provisions for lunch. (Jura details to follow.) I also slipped into the Marché aux Vins and picked up a bottle of Pernand-Vergelesses, Dubreuil-Fontaine, then into Mulot & Petitjean for some pain d'épices and Fallot mustard to bring home.
After our weekend in Jura, we left Arbois Monday morning destined for the wine village of Juliénas in the Beaujolais region of southern Burgundy, where we stayed for three nights at the Domaine of a vigneron who makes organic Juliénas wine, Domaine David-Beaupère, La Bottière. La Bottière, being the name of both the vineyard site and the chambre d'hôte. https://www.domainedavidbeaupere.fr/l...
Louis-Clèment David Beaupère, the eldest son from this family Domaine, took over the 4 hectare estate in 2008 and converted it to organic farming, becoming certified in 2014. Since then he has acquired additional hectares in Juliénas and Moulin à Vent (still organic). This is just the second year for his mother, Madame Claire, to operate a chambre d'hôte from the Domaine. Claire, born and educated in Lyon, is an artist by profession and she had part of the large 19th century farmhouse devoted to artists and musicians retreats already established. Claire is an exceptional and generous hostess, and a great cook. Her kindness and thoughtfulness made us feel more like family than guests. We stayed in the largest of the three suites, Dr. David's Suite, which opens onto a large Mâconnaise terrace overlooking the garden, pool and the picturesque vineyards and hills. A generous and delicious breakfast is included, served on her best fine china and silver - fruit, cheese, yogurt, homemade preserves, local specialties, delicious breads and croissants from the nearby boulangerie. On our last evening we arranged to have her table d'hôte for dinner. The other evenings we reserved at the following local restaurants and also had a couple of lunches wherever we were on certain days - we had a long list of potential spots at Beaujolais bistrots that can be found in the villages.
La Table D'Alain Bleton, Hotel-Restaurant La Rose, Juliénas
Situated in the center of the village, this was a pleasant 25 minute walk from the Domaine. There is an impasse through the vineyards that leads into the village which we used. (And I took long walks through here and around the village roads later each day when we returned from our excursions, sometimes accompanied by the resident dog, Lego.) La Rose was purchased by Christine and Alain Bleton last year, both professionals from luxury hotels and restaurants in France and Geneva. He, 64,and she, 54, have many years of experience between them. There are 11 rooms at the hotel and two restaurants; the dining room La Table and the bistro, La Petite Rose. It seems like it would be a very pleasant place to stay. It also looks like they have renovated and updated as everything seems fresh and new. La Table is a modern and elegant space, tables well-spaced for intimacy, the décor a serene pale blue and gray palette. This was the third week of the Spring opening when we dined there and Christine was supervising the sole waitress who was serving the room. It was her first day working there and although she was obviously experienced, she didn't know the menus and we kept her busy with our questions, which she most obligingly sought the answers for us. The menus are four courses, 31e; three for 28e, or à la carte.
I began with gâteau de grenouilles, jus au vinaigrette de myrtilles. We were told this was unique to the Chef, one of his specialties. The frog cake was similar to a twice-baked soufflé, very tender and delicate in flavour and presented in a deep pool of the most delicious brown sauce, with sweetness and acidity provided from the myrtille vinegar. My husband had the tarte fine aux tomatoes confites aux escargots. The pastry supported the roasted tomatoes and snails and was in a pool of warm cream sauce-very rich. He followed with ris de veau braisé au Madère. The sweetbreads were poached and sautéed, another rich but delicious sauce and thankfully a few vegies alongside. My plat was coq au vin de Juliénas - of course, we were in Juliénas! Another great sauce with traditional garnishes, but the coq was very tough and dry, unfortunately. However, my baba au rhum with Chantilly crème and extra rhum on the side was excellent. My husband took both the fromage and dessert. First, fromage blanc faisselle avec crème, then a terrific dish of sautéed Morello cherries with bergamont sorbet.
The wine carte was short and didn't offer much in the way of bio or natural wines of the region. In conversation with Christine, she did not seem to have a deep knowledge of some of the producers I was interested in, but I was happy to find a Côte de Brouilly, Château Thivin, Cuvée Zaccharie 2016 listed for 48e, which we drank and enjoyed. Château Thivin has converted to organic viticulture, and this is one their top labels, one we never see in Canada, so I was keen to try it.
Auberge du Cep, Fleurie
Camille (front of house) and Aurélien Mérot (Chef) have taken over the legendary Auberge du Cep. I never dined here when Madame Chabert ruled the kitchen, so I can only report on our meal, without any comparisons. The gastronomical cooking, faithful to the local terroir, is very good, carefully crafted and refined. There are several menus to choose from - à la carte; one dedicated to Madame Chabert; another to classic dishes, and the Menu Madone, which offers three courses (2-2-2) for 32e. Camille, the hostess, was the sole server to the room which was three-quarters full, and her service was correct, gentile and polished. Chef Auréline is from the region and after professional chef training he honed his skills working with some of the best regional chefs. The ambiance is a bit formal and the décor is perplexing, as if it can't decide what it should be.
We chose the Menu Madone and it began with an amuse of cold petits pois soup in a verrine alongside a savoury pistachio and curry financier, followed by another amuse of asparagus purée with jambon cru, raspberry sorrel and a soft cloud of créme fraiche. First course was a silky purée of curried cauliflower (we noticed that the Chef likes curry and pistachio flavours) on which a sautée of crab and whelks were arranged. Beautiful presentation and all the flavours were harmonious - at this point we knew the caliber of the Chef. The main we chose was crostillant de caille farcis aux morilles. The quail breast was de-boned and stuffed with morels, then breaded and deep-fried; the legs confited separately. These were plated over spring vegetables and more morels with a swirl of pea purée and quail jus. Just fabulous is what I can say. For dessert my husband chose the fresh strawberries, slice over pistachio crème, with pistachio, strawberry purée and buttery sablé garnish - a dazzling dish to look at. Once again, I had the assiette de fromage; three cheeses - soumaintrain (lait cru Burgundian fermier cheese which was new to me), an aged chèvre, and a blue, garnished with - you guessed it - pistachios. Mignardises offered chocolate caramels (which were too soft and sticky to enjoy), madeleines and mini brulées. The wine carte is good, many Beaujolais cru choices. As we had visited the Madonna that afternoon for a panoramic lookout over the hills and valleys, we couldn't resist ordering a wine from that vineyard, and so we chose Fleurie La Madone 2014 Domaine de Prion from natural winemaker Sylvain Chanudet, 42e. My husband loved it - its made in a big, muscular style. I prefer a more traditional floral and fruity Fleurie.
Le Coq, Juliénas
We heard through the grapevine (literally) that there is a female chef, Marie Dias, doing great cooking who has taken over this old-fashioned bistro (c.1923) in the center of town and as we were staying in Juliénas, we thought it best to try it for lunch. The are open daily for lunch, only dinner Thursday, Friday, Saturday. We arrived, sans reservation, about 12:15 and walked in to the seductive aroma and sight of a large pan of a pear tart cooling on the zinc bar. The formule midi, 16e, written on a slate, offered two courses - supreme de volaille cuisine façon Tagine, fruits secs, legumes de printemps, followed by the tarte aux poires et amandes. We took a table indoors and the room filled up quickly and became quite lively, as did their outdoor terrace, the day being warm and sunny. A plate of warm gougères and sliced saucisson sec arrived as a starter. The chicken was delicious in a spiced Tagine broth and some fresh vegies, with a dish of buttery potato purée on the side. The pear tart with almond crème on a buttery pâte feuilletée was divine, as was the vanilla bean ice cream served with it. We had a glass of white Macon, D.Michel, to drink for 6e and café to finish for 2.5e that came with madeleines. We couldn't help noticing that although Le Coq was full, their next door neighbour, La Petite Rose bistro, had only one table occupied.
Restaurant Le Côte de Brouilly, Odenas
After finishing our visit at Château Thivin, it was already past noon, so we drove around the bend and into the village of Odenas to lunch at this bouchon Lyonnais, again sans reservation. Pas de problème! We walked through the small bouchon and out into the enclosed courtyard behind the restaurant where everyone was dining, it being another fine, sunny day. Our waitress, a mature woman, had to be the happiest server we've encountered. We ordered from the Menu Beaujolais, three courses at 27e, and had a glass of local rosé to begin. A dish of fried duck skin was set down, followed by pork rillette and toasts. Soon after we ordered a pot of Côte de Brouilly rouge and our entrées arrived - salade à la fraise de veau façon Beaujolais, which was a composed salad of beautiful greens with great big pieces of andouille (rag-like) and a poached egg on top. The main we chose was saucisson pistaché chaud - it came sliced and covered in a rich brown sauce, along with a basket of sautéed grenaille potatoes, Then the desserts: a tarte praline for my husband and for me, île flottante. That was a huge lunch, and good fait maison cooking. The owner came running after us when he saw us leaving, all smiles and hearty handshakes.
Table d'hote, La Bottière
For our last evening in Juliénas, Claire made us dinner. That morning she told us she was making one of her specialties, quenelles de brochet sauce nantua, which is my favourite Lyonnaise dish. We saw them on the lunch menu that day at Le Côte de Brouilly and we steered clear of them, knowing that they were on the dinner menu that evening. Another couple who arrived that afternoon joined us at the table, Claire dined with us, and we had a most pleasant evening. Her quenelles were awesome - an enormous gratin arrived to the table with giant quivering quenelles set in a mass of bubbling rosy sauce. I was telling her we had saucisson pistaché for lunch and her face fell - little did I know the quenelles were only the first course! Out came another dish of the fat saucisson pistaché cooked on a bed on grape lees. Then, a dish of braised cardoons and carrots, followed by a big bowl of salad greens with shallot dressing, reblochon cheese and baguette. Faisselle with crème fraiche was passed, then raspberry tart, and finally her preserved cherries in some kind of spirits. We drank the Juliénas wine from the cave under the house that her son Louis-Clèment makes. It was concentrated and spicy, really well-made. 25e pp, (wine extra)
Ferme du Roland, Jullié - Col de la Siberia
This is an organic working farm, near Juliénas, with a farm to table restaurant/tavern (only by reservation on certain days) and a small store that sells their own made-on-the-premises charcuterie and terrines, cheese, eggs, etc. We bought some honey and a very tasty saucisson sec, shaped into a disc and coated with herbs de Provence. It was just as delicious as the one we bought from Maison Gilles Verot in Paris the week before, but at a fraction of the price. (Verot was 18e, Rolland was 3e) The saucisson kept very well and was just the thing to have around when we opened a bottle of Beaujolais.
Les Deux Chèvres, Gevrey-Chambertin
Our last night before returning to Paris via the TGV was spent at this boutique hotel located 13 km south of the Dijon station. A truly lovely and welcoming place to stay that was once a former winery, it is set among the vines in the old quarter of Gevrey-Chambertin. Upon checking in, we met British-born Paul, co-owner with his wife Jolanta (who was back in Poland visiting), and I immediately like him. He was kind and welcoming in a genuine way, but I liked him even more after I told him we had been down in Beaujolais for several days, and he said with dead-pan British humour- "So, now you have come here to have some decent wine?" I paused for a split second and then saw the merry twinkle in his eyes, and we had a good laugh. There are complimentary bikes for guests to use and I had fun cycling through the surrounding vineyards and small roads. They have a splendid organic breakfast buffet (15e) served in their big open kitchen that would be a shame to miss. Paul was at the stove taking orders for eggs and a server was at the ready to make custom fresh squeezed fruit/vegetable juices. The quality and abundance was impressive and even if you aren't a big breakfast eater, the care taken to provide the best local and organic foods can be appreciated in what you do consume. They also have a beautiful cave with vaulted ceilings where they hold daily tastings with a sommelier who can guide you through Gevry-Chambertin and other Burgundy wines, and a carefully edited selection of Burgundy wines for sale. I was tempted when I saw bio Pascal-Marchand wines at reasonable prices, but hesitated as we were already carrying too many bottles of Jura and Beaujolais wines with us. The restaurant Chez Guy and Bistro Lucien are just minutes away on foot, and I've read that certain restaurants have pick-up and return services if you want to dine farther afield. https://www.lesdeuxchevres.com/
Chez Guy, Gevry-Chambertin
Our last dinner in Burgundy and we were still up for more traditional cuisine. We had a fine dinner here, the service was excellent and the cooking without fault. Two heavy tomes for wine - one for white and one for red - from which to choose. We went right to the reds (only red wine is produced in Gevry-Chambertin) and chose a Gevry-Chambertin Domaine Duroché, 2015, 89e. Over dinner the wine opened up and revealed bramble and barnyard, those unmistakable Pinot flavours. At the onset, delicious, thick, crisp cheese straws were brought to the table, followed by ramekins of silky cauliflower purée. We chose the Menu Terroir, 32e, three courses (2-2-2). I enjoyed the best rendition of oeufs en meurette - two eggs poached in a perfect wine sauce with lardons; and a very good jambon persillé for my husband with pickled onions and green salad. We knew ahead we were going to order the 12 hour braised beef cheeks for our mains, one of Chez Guy's signature dishes. Cast iron cocottes came, piping hot, with delicious and tender sliced beef and carrots in a rich, winy sauce. Our waiter brought four petite jars of Fallot mustards to have with our beef, and when we open just one, he came to the table and opened the other three and insisted we try the other flavours as well. The bread was also terrific. For dessert I had the assiette de fromage - Epoisse, Citeaux, and Marc de Bourgogne, all excellent and served with pain aux noix. My husband had a millefeuille of pain d'épices with Ani de Flavigny and cassis sorbet - this was a terrific dessert that incorporated flavours of Burgundy. I must say that after all the rich food and heady wine, this Last Supper in Burgundy left me in a state of deep satisfaction, but also very ready to to return to Paris and some lighter, modern plates.
Wine Tastings in Beaujolais to continue...