Breakfast: Same as yesterday.
We hike down to the gondola station, and ride down to Stechelberg one
last time. Then it's back on the bus, this time bound for Beaune,
Burgundy, France via Basel, Switzerland. In Basel, Rick and Gene
buy supplies for a picnic lunch for us, and then Gene tries to outguess
the weather while choosing a rest stop in France along A36. He succeeds
in choosing a stop that avoids the rain which has been plaguing us, on
and off, since we left Lauterbrunnen.
Unfortunately, none of the picnic areas at this rest stop are serviceable.
They are being "worked on". We set up the food on some benches, and
eat on our feet. (Gene later jokingly suggests that this is traditional
pour le pic-nic.) Anyway, here's lunch:
Finally, we arrive in Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy (Burgogne),
but not the political capital, which is Dijon, to the north. We arrive
early, just after 3:00 PM. This leaves us time to look around before
the walking tour Gene has arranged.
sandwiches. Mine is mozzarella, tomato, and lettuce on a poppy/sesame
mini-baguette. Brig's is a salami and cheese on a mini-baguette.
pickled cornichons and garlic. The garlic is crunchy and delicious.
wine: Merlot, Blanc de blanc, and a Mosel. The Mosel is rejected
by most as too sweet (I thought it was nice, but Brig said it had too dry
plums and bananas
Lindt chocolate assortment for dessert
We head for the Casino supermarché, two minutes from our hotel
(Le Grand St. Jean, on Place Madeleine).
The produce stand is well-stocked and (at last!) pick-your-own.
The prices aren't too bad, either. The really impressive counter
is (big surprise) the cheeses. They devote perhaps 20 feet of refrigerated
glass counter space to cheeses of countless (okay, Rick claims 400+) varieties.
The pastry counter is also fantastic, with all sorts of mouthwatering goodies.
And then the sausages, and prepared foods like boeuf bourgognan, or kidneys
in madeira and mushroom sauce, or... And that's the service counters.
The self-serve counters have more cheeses and other goodies. The
fresh fish counter looks good, but seems slightly more expensive than we're
used to. It includes several varieties of bivalves (like clams and
mussels) that we never see. And there's around 10 feet by 3 or 4
shelves of chocolates!
And we never even got a chance to look at the wines.
The group assembles in the hotel's lounge, to await the walking tour.
Le Grand St. Jean's lounge has been dubbed The Acid Room. Each wall
is a different color, and the carpet is yet another color. We're
talking maroons, burnt oranges, and dark greens. A bad
acid trip. In this unique decor, Rick and Gene introduce us to the
local cocktail, called Kir (crème de cassis
and wine -- see below). After this fortification,
our walking tour guide (Marie, I think) introduces herself, and leads us
through the town center.
walking tour was interesting. The area had once been part of the
Netherlands, then its own, independent duchy. There was a lot of
Belgian influence at that time. The local specialties include
The Hôtel Dieu is the main tourist attraction. It was a hospital
in medieval times, and offered care to the indigent, and more comfortable
care to the wealthy. The most interesting artifact is an altar painting
by Dutch painter, Roger Van der Weyden. It's a Last Judgment, very
colorful and intricately detailed. In particular, Archangel Michael's clothes,
and his wings (of peacock feather patterns) are incredible.
cheeses: citeaux; and époisse, which is marinated in the local
brandy, called Marc
liqueur: crème de cassis, a liqueur flavored
with black currant, and supposedly very rich in vitamin C
Kir: one part crème de cassis, two parts
dry white wine
Kir Royale: same, but with champagne instead of white wine
they also appear to make a spice bread (pain d'épices) that lots
of places sell. I never did get a chance to try it in Beaune
a dish made from ham and aspic infused with parsley and other herbs
After the tour, we drool on several patisserie storefronts and counters.
I encourage Connie K to purchase one of the corkscrews we have used successfully
for years (FF26 = $5). In return, later on, she causes us to buy
a couple of mini-bottles of Super Cassis and wild strawberry liqueurs.
Pour le dîner, we follow Gene's lead to a restaurant a few doors
from the hotel, called Relais de la Madeleine. Brig takes the FF68
menu, and I splurge with the FF90 menu in order to get both cheese plate
and dessert (what a pig!). A bunch of us get together to buy a dozen
escargot (FF58 = $10). Here's what we ate:
the meal, we wish Rob a happy birthday. We also celebrate Johny Vos'
last dinner with us. This was commemorated with
terrine de canard (duck liver pate -- nice, but rich)
jambon -- this is the ham with parsley aspic
bread -- good french bread, of course
boeuf bourgognan -- Brig liked it a lot, but the portion was too large
for her. It was served with small, boiled potatoes and a carrot puree.
The beef is supposedly from the local white steers that are supposed to
be so tender. I thought the dish was ok, but nothing exciting
truite soufflé -- this turned out to be a trout with some sort of
fish paste piped in prior to baking. It was good enough that I finished
it all. The trout meat was better than the "soufflé," though.
Truite Meuniere (available on the FF68 menu) would have done the trick
just as well.
platte de fromage: The waitress became annoyed with my attempts to
ask what is what, so she just cut me a piece of each, around 5 different
cheeses, including époisse and chêvre (goat cheese).
I'm afraid I enjoyed them all, though the epoisse seemed a little bitter
creme caramel - flan, by any other name. Nice, but it's just flan.
pomme tarte - excellent apple tart in a flaky crust.
chef, Monsieur "No Problem" Neaux, pops out a couple of times to introduce
himself and/or to ask how we are enjoying the repast. This guy is
a true character. We pull out the camera, and he and his moustache
ham it up for us.
a lyric by Rob to the tune of "Thunder Road" (which is apparently known
only to Rob and Donelyn).
yet another encore of Edelweiss
Mike's very clever semi-haiku tribute to Johny
Things to return for:
Wine tasting at the Marché aux Vins. Since we only had one
evening in Beaune, there was time for either the walking tour, including
the Hôtel Dieu, or the Marché aux Vins. We chose the
former, this time. I'd like to go back to taste some good Burgundy
Try more of the cheeses
Try the pain d'épices.