Thursday, February 3, 2011

La Vie En Rose: New Year in Europe

Monday, January 3, 2011 – Tournus, France
We got off to a late start on Monday morning, and after melting James's French-press onto his hotplate, headed to the grocery store to buy ingredients for dinner. Larger French groceries stores, it turns out, are fairly similar to American grocery stores, with only minor differences. One of these differences, my personal favorite, was a milk machine outside the store, which filled bottles that you could buy there, or that you’d brought from home. A big fan of reusable containers, I was really into this.
We then headed up a lovely dirt road to La Cave des Vignerons de Mancey, the shop and tasting-station for Mancey wines. The grapevines are mostly a few kilometers to the west of Tournus, so we didn’t get a chance to see them, except while we were on the trains in and out, but a cave is a spot where you can taste and buy the wines, and I was glad to have been able to see this one.  

My only regret about our time in Burgundy is that I wish we’d had the chance to try more vineyards, and I think if I went back, I would rent a car and do a little tour. At Mancey, we tried six wines, three chardonnay and three pinot-noirs, and I wasn’t completely in love with any of them, but it was really interesting to listen to descriptions of the wine in French, and to be trying some new flavors. At home, I try to drink mainly New York wines, so the trip has been great to expand my world in that aspect.

James had to teach an evening class, so Emily, Roger and I prepped our dinner of onion soup and potatoes. While I started cooking the soup on James’s hotplate, Emily and Roger played an extremely intense game of Egyptian rat-screw, which continued throughout our time in Tournus. When James arrived, he put together a very simple potato au gratin dish, in the toaster over. We started the meal with foie gras and truffles on bread, which was extremely rich. I liked the foie gras, but not nearly as much as the truffles, and knowing what goes into it means I probably won’t eat it again, though I’m glad to have had the experience. The truffles, on the other hand, I would gladly have again. I was fairly amazed with what good food we could cook without a stove or oven, and the onion soup was, in my opinion, better than what we’d had in Paris. 

 James said something really wise that evening, which I have carried with me ever since: "The food just needs time. All good food needs is time to cook." The dinner was punctuated with two of the Mancey wines, three French beers, and Kir. More card games ensued, including poker, and somewhere around midnight, we decided to eat the desserts we’d purchased earlier that day. It was a very relaxing, calming day, and just what we needed in the middle of the trip.


  1. I have it on Dave's word that James makes the best bread he's ever had. He told me this one afternoon when, frustrated and sad, I was lamenting to him that my attempt at bread that day had gone horribly awry and as a baker I could never be redeemed.

    "Oh, bread! James makes THE BEST BREAD...."

  2. Ah!! Ryan and I are planning a trip to France in late May, and we'll be spending some time with my parents in Burgundy!! I'll have to get recommendations from you as the trip draws closer!