Burgundy (part 8: whilin’ away the days)

The next several days were the greatest concentration of “simply be in Burgundy and live.” It might be the large number of novels set in the English countryside speaking, but our ideal has been a combination of food, wine, markets, walking around the village and vineyards, and being in the house.

Monday

We found a market in a village called Nolay, about 20 minutes’ drive. We figured we could pick up most fresh things there, and then supplement at the local supermarket. However, we arrived to find the market had four stands, only one of which had vegetables. Jordan bought a couple of things, and I picked up some tomatoes on the way back to the car. Given the lack of success at a market, we decided to go not to the local supermarket, instead driving an extra 20-30 minutes to one in Chalon-sur-Saône. It turned out to be very large and have a solid selection of fruits and vegetables. So we stocked up for a couple of days on those, as well as picking up ingredients for baking.

By the time we got home, it was mid-afternoon. Jordan immediately leapt into action in the kitchen, and the rest of us settled into what would become the routine of helping Jordan when possible (usually by cleaning), reading, and conversation. Dinner was beef Bourguignon without the beef, which was delicious. (It turns out margarine here is as good or better than butter at home.)

Tuesday

After breakfast, we drove up to the village Savigny-les-Beaune, about 25 minutes from Puligny-Montrachet. In particular, we visited the Chateau de Savigny-les-Beaune, which has been converted into a set of museums. Some of them are expected, like the collection of restored rooms on the ground level of the chateau. However, most are devoted to transportation, including fire trucks, motorcycles, race cars, and a collection of eighty fighter planes (!). We meandered through the museums, more than a little surprised by the size and scope of these collections.

We made our way back to the house for lunch. Jordan prepared and herb soufflé, and roasted fennel with wine reduction, and we added a green salad to start. Our friends Fran and Chris arrived a little after 2pm, just as we were setting the table. We had prepared an introductory wine tasting of sorts — Henri de Villamont white wines from Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, and Chassagne-Montrachet — to go with lunch, which everyone enjoyed. It still astonished me how much the terroir can differ in nearby locations (the total distance across these three villages is about 6km) and how much that translates into the wine. But it’s wonderful to explore.

After lunch, we all needed a walk. We hadn’t yet been to Chassagne-Montrachet, about 2km away, so we walked there through the vineyards. We visited Caveau de Chassagne-Montrachet and tasted several wines from the village. I managed to get us a little lost in the vineyards on the way back, but it meant only a few minutes’ detour to get back on track and into Puligny. The day was rounded out by dinner at Maison Olivier Leflaive, which was again outstanding.

Wednesday

Jordan started us off right, with apricot bread pudding made from the remainders of baguettes and brioche of the past few days. This was perfect, both in execution and timing (the boulangerie isn’t open on Wednesdays).

Virginia found a market in Montchanin and pictures indicated it was significantly larger than the one in Nolay. So we piled into our cars and took the D974 highway through Burgundy’s non-grape agricultural area. For a large stretch, we drove alongside the canal, providing both amazing landscapes and a look at the locks, which looked more modern than those we saw in 2005. Fran, Chris, and I missed a turn and had to detour a bit, but that meant we found a center for bowling and LASER GAMES! (Sadly, we didn’t return to actually try them out.)

We arrived to find a long, linear market. Jordan, Edward, and Virginia were already well into their considerations of various vegetables. Fran mentioned she wanted to have beef Bourguignon and I could eat that most days, so I coordinated with Jordan so he would repeat Monday’s dinner and I would add beef separately. We also got some cheese and fruit, some of which became lunch when we returned to the house.

After lunch, everyone pretty much retreated to rest, whether that meant a nap or simply relaxing around the house. Jordan got started on dinner, and toward the end I pan-seared the beef in butter and plated it on its own. The meal was paired with a vertical of Michel Nöellat’s Nuits-Saint-Georges premier Cru “Les Boudots” from 2008, 2005, and 2001. 

We played Kill Doctor Lucky before retiring for the night.

Thursday

We bade Fran and Chris goodbye after breakfast. Soon after they left, the skies opened up and we had our first truly rainy day. So we stayed at home, alternating between conversation (usually with food) and reading. We did take advantage of the weather to consider that we had a deep fryer and a lot of oil. So we made frites and fried leeks to go with some leftovers for dinner.

Around 10pm, we walked over to the Place des Marronniers to join the Bastille Day celebration. The village had started before, but we were mostly interested in the main event of fireworks. Around 10:30pm, a small brass band started playing renditions of pop songs and walking north. We, and the entire village, followed them to the north edge of the village where we were treated to a fairly long fireworks show. It ended around 11:15pm, and we went home.IMG_3511


Of course, this was also the night of the horrific and senseless attack in Nice. Mom woke me at 4am about it, and I have little more to say. Puligny is 400km away and people didn’t seem to change following the attack. That may be a reflection on French resilience, or possibly resignation (which would be terrible in its own way).

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