Archive of ‘On Wine’ category

Rosé d’Anjou, Perfect Summer Wine

Rosé d’AnjouThe Loire Valley, often referred to as the ‘Garden of France’, is an important wine producing regionlocated between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes-sur-Loire. One of the main regions here is the Anjou.
The region produces a variety of wines, but perhaps the most popular (certainly here in the Netherlands, especially since the 70s!) is the Rosé d’Anjou.
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Getting to Know the Côte Chalonnaise (Diary Entry)

Whenever I go to France, I always keep a diary of the things we do and the places we see. I even like to stick in things like receipts from places we ate at or purchases we made (usually wine and food!). Here’s an entry from one late February/early March, years ago. It was our first time in the Côte Chalonnaise, a place we would later visit again and again.

Sunday: Today started off quite gray with ice and thick mist. It was unbearably cold in the house, so one of the first things Hans did was throw on his thick, red sweater and go out to collect some wood to light a big fire in the kitchen.
Côte ChalonnaiseIn the meantime, I scrambled eggs, fried sweet slices of bacon and made a large pot of French press coffee. To me, a morning like this is a beautiful ideal. Like a dream almost. I feel thrown back one hundred years. I know that in a past life, I was a French country girl, and the feeling I get at a moment like this just proves that to me.
Beautiful FranceBeautiful FranceWe first went to the market in Chalon-sur-Saône. It’s winter, but the market was still bountiful with an explosion of color, artisanal products and beautiful food presentations! There was pink garlic, freshly-slaughtered, fat chickens, cheeses and even an oyster stand.
Côte ChalonnaiseOystersIt was rather busy for a Sunday, and many shops were open. I took notice of a beautiful butcher’s shop where tongue and pigs’ feet were on display by the front door. Repulsive to some, but I am a strong believer in ‘head to tail’. If you eat meat, you eat everything.
After the market, we drove back to Buxy for lunch, only to discover that the restaurants didn’t serve any lunch on Sunday. The only one that did was the local bar, Bar Le Bacchus. It looked pretty closed, and I wasn’t really sure a meal there (if they were open) was a fabulous idea.
BuxyBut we decided to try it out, and luckily, it was exactly what we were looking for. We had a steakfrites, a bottle of the local Givry wine, and for dessert the best îles flottantes ever. Not bad for a local bar run by one guy, and we think, his wife. She wasn’t there when we came in, but magically appeared just minutes after we made our order, tied on an apron and went right into the kitchen. She did a pretty decent job with the steak (saignant, or bloody, just the way I like it), but went a little overboard with the frites. They were nice and hot though. Complaining was not an option. Devouring on the other hand…
Steak-fritesBuxy Bar BacchusAfter lunch we headed to Beaune where an antique fair was being held in the covered market known as ‘Les Halles’, directly in front of Les Hospices de Beaune, the 15th century almshouse founded by Nicolas Rolin. There was lots of fur, stoneware, silver, copper, and vintage Parisian clothing. We treated ourselves to a set of silver dessert spoons for just twenty-five euros.
(NOTE, NOT PART OF DIARY: I came home after that trip and polished the spoons. I hate to admit I haven’t even used them once. Shame on me.)
Monday: The day started off cloudy again, but pretty soon the sun came out and it suddenly went from winter to spring. We drove around the local vineyards, and after a coffee break, we visited the wine cave at Buxy, a great place to buy local wines at reasonable prices (lower than supermarkets).

Côte ChalonnaiseCave de BuxyWe were told that wine tastings were offered on Saturdays. There are folders next to all of the wines (in French and with recipes), and you can take your time and box up your own bottles. There is also a small selection of regional products. Besides a few boxes of Mercurey, Givry, Montagny and Rully, I bought some grape seed oil. A liter bottle for just a little under five euros.

Cave de Buxy The house where we are staying, by the way, is an old wheat mill called Moulin de la Canne. We are staying at L’etable, a very cozy, recently renovated part of the mill. It is decorated in typical French country style, which means lots of copper and stoneware. We are the only guests in this secluded paradise called Cersot.
Cersot CersotWe are very close to the Montagny vineyards which produce delicious Chardonnays. It is winter but I can imagine how wonderful it will be here in the summer. There is a small river flowing by the front door, a tall chestnut tree and a view of the Burgundian hills.

(NOTE, NOT PART OF DIARY: It is wonderful in the summer! We went back a few monthhs later and here’s what it looked like.)
Cersot Cersot CersotYesterday, Tuesday, we decided to have dinner at Chez Jules in Chalon-sur-Saône. We were the first to arrive, but soon, the place quickly filled up. There were two sides to the restaurant, and we were seated by the window. The decor was modern with a touch of country. Lots of red with peonies on the curtains and stoneware chickens as decoration. The tables were very nicely set with good glasses and linen napkins, but the music could have been a little friendlier on the ears. Who wants to listen to dance music at a restaurant! The waiters were two very gracious (and very young) boys. One of them said he could speak English if needed, but of course, we only spoke French.
The food at Chez Jules was delightful. Our amuse bouche was a crostini topped with a garlicky fish and vegetable salad. We had a Kir as an apéritif, and with our dinner I ordered us a Givry Premier Cru. The wine was light and fruity and paired just fine with my dinner, even though it was fish. I had the trout with a chive beurre blanc sauce and a potato quenelle. Hans had the boeuf bourguigon with potatoes and garlic croutons. I almost forgot to mention that we both had oeufs en meurette as a starter. This classic Burgundian dish consists of a poached egg with wine sauce served on toast. The wine sauce was amazing and the crouton very garlicky! Sadly though, my egg was overcooked. For dessert I had the tarte tatin which was served with a warm caramel sauce, and Hans had a millefeuille of pears and chocolate which looked rather tempting.
(NOTE, NOT PART OF DIARY: I searched, but could not find any photos of our dinner at Chez Jules. Sorry! Another thing: I think I need oeufs en meurette for dinner tonight.)
Yesterday, Wednesday, we woke up to a clear, icy day. Côte ChalonnaiseOur plan was to visit Autun. We first headed to the market, but when we arrived, we weren’t surprised to see that only a few vendors had showed up. I guess they decided to stay indoors by their fires, nice and warm. Funny that there were still tables outdoors though.
As we walked through the city, we came across that place where we took a picture of Kirstie eating an apricot some years ago. And we also saw the same dried fruit stand that we once captured on a photo with wasps swarming all over the place. The market may have been small, but being there brought back a lot of fond memories.
Buxy(NOTE, NOT PART OF DIARY: Here is a picture of our very first visit to Autun and its market.)
AutunWe had lunch at brasserie, Le Commerce. I started with a cocotte of snails in a garlicky cream sauce. They were so good! The sauce was thick and velvety and coated the back of the spoon, yet it was not heavy at all. I mopped it up with thick chunks of bread. For my main course, I chose one of my favorites, the blanquette de veau a la sauce ancienne. The meat was so tender and the cream sauce light and lovely. It was such a treat to eat it with forkfuls of fluffy rice. Unfortunately, dessert was not an option. We were much too full!
blanquette de veauBy the way, they also do an excellent steak-frites.
steak-fritesCappuccino, is another story. This pretty much applies to a large part of France though…
French cappuccinoThursday: So, today is our second to last day. Our biggest plans include a walk through the market in Buxy, coffee at the Bar du Raisin and later this evening, dinner at Restaurant Girardot in Buxy. I expect to have a hard time saying goodbye to France tomorrow.
BuxyBuxy Côte Chalonnaise

And as expected… I sure did. Unpacking my wines at home made me feel slightly better though.

 

Saturday Chez Moi

Welcome to a brand new year! In case you’re wondering, no, I don’t really make resolutions or think that life will suddenly get better once the clock strikes midnight. Much wiser to live mindfully every day and to make each moment count!
So how did I spend the first Saturday of the year? Read on!
After a pain au chocolat and an espressso, I turned up Charlie & Zaz and decided to clean the house. All of the decorations and lights were neatly put away and brought up to the attic. The house suddenly looked so naked! And so clean! I was a little sad before I started but good music got me through it just fine.

home decorI even decided to clean some of the storage space and counters in the kitchen. It was a huge mess. A job which I had been putting off for the longest. It’s all nice and neat now! All the old vinegars and spirits are gone and the little rack next to my kitchen window — notice my dried lavender 😉 — is finally tidy!
home decor kitchenAfter that hearty cleaning session, I got all dolled up and headed out for our first Saturday lunch. I was so happy hubby was feeling a bit better — seems like he caught a terrible cold somewhere.
We stayed close to home and decided to check out Le Baron in Almere. We’ve been there for drinks a few times, but never for a bite. The horrible reviews always scared me off. Luckily, our experience was positive. The service was excellent (the waitresses are SO friendly and bubbly!) and the food was simple, decent Dutch pub fare. I had the schnitzel and hubby went for the spare ribs. I think this will become a fun weekend hangout for us.
schnitzel wineespressoThe afternoon ended with a quick shopping round for dinner tonight. I picked up a new wine for a ridiculously low price, Château La Tonnelle 2011 Bordeaux Superieur. The bottle reads ” Dark garnet with aromas of wood and an intense fruity flavor of blackberry, cassis and cherry.” I’ll tell you my thoughts tomorrow on Instagram.
IMG_4849Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend, and if you’re going back to work this Monday after a  long Christmas break, chin up — it’ll be spring break before you know it! 😉

More Than the Côte-d’Or: Discovering the Great Wines of Burgundy’s Côte Chalonnaise

Côte Chalonnaise winesTo the wine connoisseur, the region of Burgundy is synonymus with the Côte-d’Or. Often referred to as the ‘golden slope’, the east-facing escarpment produces some of the world’s most prestigious wines. Think of big names such as Gevrey-Chambertin and Puligny-Montrachet. These are the giants that have made the region famous. Unfortunately, a bottle bearing such a name on its label, is not within everyone’s budget. But those who continue further down south will find the Côte Chalonnaise – a district which is similar to the Côte-d’Or yet produces wines that are significantly more affordable and certainly worth discovering.
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