Monday, August 9, 2010

The Grands Crus of Burgundy, August 9, 2010

By September These Grapes Will Be Ready For Harvest

Gentile Country Pastures Along The Route Leading To The Grands Crus

Nuits Saints-Georges, The Grands Crus of Bourgogne

We Successfully Purchase Gas For Blue Goo At A Ford Dealership In Nuits St. Georges

This Tractor Fits Nicely Over The Grape Vines and Is Commonly Seen Moving On Streets Of The Grands Crus As It Moves From Vineyard To Vineyard

Beune, The Popular City Of The Grands Crus Wine Region

L'Arc Leads Us Into The Beune Old Town

Sitting Proudly Between Audi & Mercedes Is The Blue Goo, First To Arrive For Lunch!

Gnocchi At Le Chef Coq

Le Chef Coq Rendition Of Thai Shrimp...I Can Do Better In Flavor

Old Commercial Section Of Beaune Approaching Centre Ville

An Unusual Quiet Spot In Beaune

A Colorful Business In Beaune

This Immoblier (realtor) Attracts Buyers To His Listings By Posting A Picasso

This Youth Group From The Church, Entertain Tourists & Make A Little Money In The Process

Beaune Is Quaint, Cute BUT Way Too Touristy For Us, A Good Place To Visit Sept.

A Tour Bus Stands Out Amount Grape Vines

"Nostalgie" (Oldies but Goodies) Is Big In France, The Theater Shows Laurel & Hardy

A Side Street In Beaune Offers Some Relief From The Intense Summer Sun

The Butcher Shop Is Also Closed

Many Beaune Shops Are Closed During August While Owners Vacation

Pedestrains Only In Beaune

A Forest Lines The Road Leading Out Of Nuits St. Georges

Houses Abut Streets, But Thick Stone Walls Prevent Noise Penetration

Beautiful Tile Roofs Sparkle In The Noon-day Sun, Adding Texture To Gray Villages

Wine Country Villages Are Colorful And Clean

The Dazzling Small Village Of Meuilley, High Country

Meuilley, A Village In The High Wine Country

A Narrow Wild Flower Lined Country Road Draws Us To The High Wine Country

A Slice Of Farm Land Next To The Michelin Restaurant, Le Chef Coq, Where We Ate Lunch (Restaurant/Hotel In Background)

A Colorful 2CV Rests In This Nuits Saints-Georges Carport

This Sign, Posted In A Quiet Nuits Saints-Georges Neighborhood, Honors A Fallen Neighbor

This Tidy Village of Nuits Saints-Georges Is Cleaned All Day By This Gentleman

A Small Wine Village In The High Wine Region Above Beaune

Not Your Ordinary Traffic, Except In The Grands Cru. This Guy Is Heading To Hautes Côtes

The Vine Grids Are A Painter's Delight With Contrasting Texture And Colors

Vines Are Impeccably Manicured And Placed In Grids

Another Religious Sculpture Protecting The Village Beyond

The Children Of The Grands Cru

This Religious Stained Glass & Stone Shrine Houses The Madonna And Is Maintained By The Village

Fresh Flowers Are Placed At The Foot Of The Madonna In The Shrine

Although we'd visited the Grands Crus a few days ago, we only saw a bit of Nuits Saint-Georges before we were to tired to go on, so we decided a Monday would be a good day to revisit. It was a very warm day, I'd say about 85 fahrenheit, but it seemed much warmer walking around sunny villages.

We Drove on "green roads" which are nonpaying roads but not as rural as some of the more remote roads we've been on. Mostly, however, we saw pasture lands and small farms on this route. At one point the Route Des Grands Crus merges with the highway we took.

We drove into Nuits Saint-Georges and turned right at the first light to see if this time we might be able to snag a table at the Michelin restaurant, Le Chef Coq, We tried to have lunch there last Wednesday, but when we arrived a note on the door explained that they were closed on Wednesdays. No doubt a work slow down in August may have had something to do with it, as well. August is definitely the month for "vacances" in France. In fact, unlike our last dining experience when we were able to eat inside the lovely air conditioned dining room, we were only able to dine out on the terrace this time and there was much less pompe and circumstance and a limited fixe prix menu as well. We're quite certain it must be because it is August and the chef must need time to rest as well.

We had our choice of three courses. For my entrée, I chose the roasted slices of marinated egg plant topped with fresh buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil, while my husband selected the chilled white green bean gazpacho. Both were extraordinarily delicious. Before our entrée, I should mention, we had an aperitif of a crisp white burgundy wine and they also provided us with a small tower or snacks to enjoy. Our next course, or plat principal, for me was a Thai shrimp concoction and for my husband gnocchi. Both were good, but being from Hawaii and knowing how to cook most Asian dishes, I should have known better than to order something Asian. I was critical of the dish, and felt I could have done a much better job. Ce la vie! Dessert was scrumptous: a chocolate brownie baked in a small loaf pan, still warm from the oven, and it oozed rich creamy chocolate when I cut into it. Also on the plate were tiny sweet strawberries, a small tub of gooey caramel and some devilishly rich vanilla bean ice cream. My husband ordered fresh strawberries with a gelée champagne topping and he enjoyed it, but after I took my limited three bites of dessert he happily dug into the rest. It was amazingly yummy.

We followed our meal with a strong petit café and rested for a bit before climbing back into Blue Goo. We were first in the restaurant but by the time we left, cars were parked all over and most were very expensive cars and everyone in the restaurant, except the two of us, were french and seemed to be recognized by the small wait staff. Since this restaurant is off the beaten path, we consider it a hidden gem. At 23.50 euros for a three course lunch, it's not exactly inexpensive either, especially when you add a couple of glasses of wine at 7-12 euros each.

Instead of driving back toward Nuits Saint-Georges, we turned left to see what was up the road. It was our first time on this back road and we had no idea how many small wine villages were tucked away in the high country above. We found several and these tiny villages were immaculately maintained, all had some religious object standing guard over them, and seemed to be quite lively--unlike those remote villages of the Champagne region north of Dijon. We enjoyed the drive to higher ground, and can recommend it for sure. The vineyards of the Haute Crus are so immaculately groomed, not a weed can be seen. The vineyards are beautifully terraced and laid out in grids, giving the appearance of a patchwork quilt. Quite amazing, indeed. The vistas are quite remarkable and the entire wine region can be seen from there. It seemed cooler and more pleasant and we were the only people up in the region, with the exception of people who lived there.

After driving around the Grands Crus, we drove toward Beaune. What a difference in the number of people visiting. It was hot, crowded and difficult to find parking. Walking on the streets was not pleasant because there were so many people. It was a colorful little town, but just way too popular for us. We could see "tourist trap" on every bend and turn in this town, with ice cream cone and t-shirt shops everywhere. We walked on the shady side of the streets, found a brasserie, drank down a coke and agreed that we'd seen quite enough of the village. Perhaps a return trip some time during fall, we acknowledged, would be a good idea.

We arrived home around 7:30 p.m. and I went right to work trying to create my own Michelin meal. I deboned a chicken and made a delicious gnocchi dish with a wine sauce. It was as good if not better than my lunch. We set the dining table table, opened some good burgundy and enjoyed a quiet evening at home.

It was a wonderful day and we're now ready to say that we've seen enough of the upper and lower wine country of the Grands Crus. Our next adventure will be as far as Chalon-sur-Saône, a beautiful city on the river Saône that we visited a few years ago while on a wine cruise up the Rhône and Saône.

Tomorrow I am cooking curry for our friends in Couternon, so it is doubtful that we'll be traveling out from Dijon. Instead we'll be seeing the inside of the super marché, bakery and Picard.

On our agenda in the coming weeks are several things of interest: another dinner in a french household (father and mother of our exchange friends), an overnight visit with friends in Semur-en-Auxois, and a french wedding. These cultural experiences are something we cherish and feel to fortunate to be able to enjoy. We will look forward to sharing them with you.

We'll travel out again Thursday, so stand by.

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