Burgundy (part 13: food and physics)

Monday

We all slept in (because why not?), enjoyed our breakfast, and then drove up to Dijon, where we were to pick up our friends Rhea and Rachael at the train station. Having learned from our experience in Dijon, we were ready with a plan for moving the car after the pickup, and found a spot on the street near the city center.

We walked through the market area, even though it’s closed on Mondays. As much fun as it would’ve been to shop there, it’s probably just as well given how far Dijon is from Puligny-Montrachet. It’s still an important landmark for our navigation, though, as many cafés and restaurants are located around the market hall. We ended up at a place called Speakeasy, which was done up like a 1920s American bar/lounge. We enjoyed the full three-course menu du jour and coffee/tea in very comfortable chairs just inside the restaurant (and with full view to the street).

After lunch, I went to refill the time on our parking and then met the others at the Place Darcy to start the Owl’s Trail. I have to say the trail helps you both see a lot quickly and gives you some direction rather than randomly meandering around. We covered all but the last few stops, which looked less interesting to us. We also detoured into the Rousseau Loop, an optional part of the trail that takes you into more commercial districts, as part of our wandering. By the end, we were satisfied we had seen a lot of Dijon and were ready to head home.

IMG_3560
Dijon’s Place de la Liberation.

After we arrived at the house and gave ourselves time to refresh, we made our way to Maison Leflaive for Virginia’s and my third and final visit. The staff definitely recognized us and welcomed us as neighbors. Tilak, their sommelier, was outstanding as always with guiding us through the wines and terroir. (As a side note, this has been a critical reason why we kept returning — most of our friends don’t know Burgundy, so this has served as a great introduction. And unlike going to a winery, this came with food!) Patrick Leflaive, the current winemaker, stopped by our table to say hello and joke with Tilak.

The food was also very good and filling without being heavy, as it had been each of the previous two times:

  1. Home made poultry terrine, mustard cream, mixed leaves
  2. Roasted fillet of cod, tomato compote, zucchini and chorizo
  3. Regional cheeses from Alain Hess -or- Chocolate and Blackcurrant Mousse, shortbread biscuit and a red-fruit emulsion

We added three glasses to our tasting (Bâtard-Montrachet for Virginia, Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru Les Folatieres for Rhea, and Corton-Charlemagne for me), so we were all tipsy by the time we finished. And so to bed.

Tuesday

Though we were encouraged the night before to tour the Olivier Leflaive winery and vineyards, we ended up sleeping in instead and starting late. It ended up working out okay, and we very much enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before heading out.

We drove up to Beaune in time for lunch. After parking, we walked over to Le Conty, where Virginia and I ate a few weeks ago. This time, we stuck to the daily plats (salads for everyone!) rather than linger over a three-course meal, which worked well for all.

After lunch, we walked through the Place Carnot to the Hospices de Beaune. Though it’s one of the most well-known attractions in Burgundy, we hadn’t yet made it there. And frankly that was our loss — it was amazing, from the roof tiles to the reconstructed medical facilities and original artifacts to the artwork. One such piece by Rogier van der Weyden enraptured Caryn, who studied art history and always wanted to see one of his works up close. I took only a few pictures because I was mostly gawking at everything.

After all that, it was back to the house. Dinner was roast duck legs with a honey-lavender glaze, buttery roasted potatoes, artichokes, and green salad. We preceded that with cheese and ended with poached apricots over vanilla ice cream. Nom nom.

Wednesday

We ended Tuesday night early so we could get up early to drive to Geneva in the morning. Geneva is about two hours away by motorway (hooray for 130kph speed limits!) and is a fairly nice and fun drive. It feels a little precarious on the bridges, high above any solid ground, but the speed limits and guides are well placed to move you along without being unsafe. When we arrived at the Switzerland border, we were motioned to pull to the side. An official came up and asked us for forty euros. We weren’t sure why, but she was official and we did it. She gave us a sticker for the windshield and we continued on. It turns out that you need this sticker to legally drive in Switzerland for that year. Unfortunately, we needed it only for the day.

IMG_3576
The Globe of Science and Innovation at CERN.

In any case, we made it to Geneva, parked by the train station, and took the train up to CERN to meet Rhea’s friend Preema, who is a scientist there. We all visited the public exhibits there, and Preema gave us more in-depth explanations of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and how it works. Sadly, we did not go underground. But it provided plenty of geeky moments. Afterward, we all needed food pretty badly, so we took the tram back to downtown and walked to the lake, where we had a very nice lunch of chicken kebab, couscous, aubergine, and salad. The weather was perfect for eating (and generally being) outside, which was evident from the number of sunbathers at the pier.

IMG_3578
Walking along Lake Geneva and marveling at random hundreds-feet-tall fountains.

Lunch was followed by gelato from a nearby spot, and then we walked along the lake to the United Nations building. We got nowhere close to the actual building, but were able to take some pictures from the gate. We then headed back to the train station to make our goodbyes — first to Preema, who had been a wonderful host, and then to Caryn, who was continuing on with her vacation in Italy starting the following morning. The remaining four of us then piled into the car for the drive back to Puligny-Montrachet.

Dinner that night was simple — sausage, caper, and tomato pasta. We were all pretty tired from the long day and said goodnight soon after.

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