Thursday, 28 July 2016

France Day Huit: Wino Forever

Bonjour! I've returned from a vacation in France and now for the travel diary because my memory is terrible so I need to recap it all. This was a family vacation to catch the Euro Cup courtesy of my aunt and uncle, without them, this trip wouldn't have happened.

France Day Huit

As there was another Euro match the guys were scheduled to watch in Bordeaux, we drove to nearby Chateau de la Brede only to be disappointed that it wasn’t open for viewing. It is a castle with a moat according to Wiki so that sucks because I would have totally pretended to be a Queen in the midst of a fierce battle where opposing forces are trying to take her castle, and possibly her life. DRRRAAAAAAAMMMAAAAAA!!! 
You can stand outside but you can't come in.

But every cloud has a silver lining and we chanced upon a nice restaurant situated in the centre ville near a church (also closed!!) – La Table de Montesquieu. I had the set meal which consisted of a beef tartare starter (meh, not really my kind of thing), haddock with rice (yum, I love haddock and I LOVE RICE FOREVER), followed by a pineapple, rum and ice cream dessert which was my second favourite dessert of the trip (my favourite was the apple pie from Monsieur Jeannot). It was so simple yet really delicious. Plus alcohol. Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzed. 

The most modern interior design we'd seen

Happy dancing men because of wine I guess

Beef tartare plus little squiggles

Shrimp guarding the salad

Sausage and oysters - strange combo no?

Very rare steak

Haddock, rice and possible mushroom gravy - hard to tell

Love this big time

Ice cream perhaps

The best way to end a meal

The guys departed for the game and my uncle’s cousin and I made our way towards Bordeaux centre for yet more shopping. We headed to Rue Ste Catherine which is the main shopping street, and sadly I couldn’t manage to finish walking through it because I only had two hours. SOB. While Toulouse is the bigger city, there’s just something really charming and historical about Bordeaux, so sorry Toulouse but I  <3 Bordeaux more. 

OMG apparently I took a total of ZERO photos of Bordeaux. Because shopping. 
We met up with the football hooligans fans at the Cite du Vin, a huge museum that’s all about wine and probably 70% filled with alcohol. This museum is famous for its modern architecture that juxtaposes the historical architecture of the city. PERFECT FOR OOTDS!! 

Serious OOTD business
Just strolling through the wine park yo.
Behold! The Cite du Vin!

As we left the museum, we dropped off for a gas top up along the highway and ended up destroying our appetites by eating a huge chunk of fries from Auto Grill. These fries were good, like the MacDonald’s fries. YUM. Couldn’t eat dinner after of course. Such an idiot. 

MMM fries

Food coma

Key learnings:

  • Things are often closed in France it would seem. BOOO HISS.
  • Must make pineapple, rum and vanilla ice cream as a dessert for dinner parties – it’ll be a hit
  • Bordeaux is beautiful – go for the architecture, stay for the shopping
  • My uncle’s cousin and her husband are big wine drinkers so they know their stuff – people pay for rarity, rather than actual quality. So for example, if there’s a really awesome wine, but it’s made in excess, it has less value, no matter how yums the wine. Sometimes, the excess wine produced will be sold off under a different brand so as not to lessen the value of the original vineyard’s wine.
  • Red wines need to be aired for about half an hour, while people don’t normally air white wines, which are less complex.
  • Burgundy wines are the most expensive, and can cost as much as $30,000 a bottle which is CRAZYPANTS. I am clearly in the wrong line of work. 
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

France Day Sept: Thin and fat

Bonjour! I've just returned from a vacation in France and now for the travel diary because my memory is terrible so I need to recap it all. This was a family vacation to catch the Euro Cup courtesy of my aunt and uncle, without them, this trip wouldn't have happened.

France Day Sept

I'm sure that it's become clear by now that this trip was all about two things - Football and food. Day seven wasn't an exception but this time we went even more fancy pants, driving to the Relais & Chateau in Puymirol to eat at the two Michelin starred restaurant by Chef Michel Trama,L'aubergade. The decor of this place is just mad - it looks like what would happen if Narnia had a baby with a very old French interior designer.

Windy day

Ghost practising walking through walls but getting stuck

There's something strange afoot

The food itself was also fancy as one would expect – I’ve never seen an aubergine/eggplant sliced so thin. I’m not sure whether this is really all that delicious because, well, it’s almost non-existent and feels like I’m crunching on a deep fried cloud. But I’m no food expert so this probably counts as ignorant rambling but you know how great I am at rambling on and on.  

Pre-starter starter? That's a sushi in the middle!

Not sure what's up with the orientation but this is truffle and vegetables

Dieting aubergine/eggplant and carrot

squid ink something? I didn't eat this

Cod with gravy. Not shown - a side of peas

Strawberry tart dessert alien


Passionfruit alien sac

The end of the meal, the purple balls are delicious chocolate

After lunch, we walked across their chio courtyard to the hotel boutique part which really looked like a rich French person’s kitchen. Ok so I don’t normally eat foie gras because I find it really cruel to the goose/duck but it’s really tough to come to a place where foie gras production probably powers the economy and not eat/buy any so I bought three expensive jars to give away as gifts.

Dream larder

And as if that’s not enough, we then went to Musee de Foie Gras which is like a little curation of things about foie gras that’s situated at the farm where foie gras is produced. The museum is a small little tour of all things to do with foie gras but also a little bit specific to this farm (eg. What the process on this farm is like), it takes maybe 20-30 minutes to go through it all. While the display write-ups are in French, they give non-French speakers a paper with some basic summary of each station in English. Anyway, it’s quite easy to get a sense of what’s happening from all their posters and displays. The best part is the end where you sit in a darkened room and screen a short film about the farm’s history, their farming process and also how to prepare and enjoy the foie gras, with the owners preparing the food like cooking show hosts. When you’re done with the museum tour, you exit through the shop so you can buy the foie gras with the new knowledge of how to prepare it. Please remember to wear a chef’s hat.  

The duck's caption is probably 'eat me here, here and here'


Predators! Look at those mean angry faces

A hell lot of foie gras

We had a failed attempt to lure Jericho (see Day 4) round for dinner again because we got another BBQ going onto to have France say 'No monsieur' on us by chucking rain down and drowning out the fire and lots of our dinner. We miss you Jericho. We miss you dried potatoes. (We still ate soggy potatoes).

Mother Nature is a cruel b*tch

Key learnings:
  • Thinly slicing an aubergine is fancy. You can do it using these
  • There are different grades of foie gras, the best being foie gras mi cuit which is the kind without preservatives but it doesn't keep long and must be refrigerated and then consumed quickly after opening, sadly making it unsuitable for travel. 
  • Foie gras comes from both goose and duck liver. The farm at the Museum we visited says that they only fatten the birds' livers up for 2 weeks out of a year (I think. My memory is bad) and they sit around and massage the birds' throats while force-feeding. The rest of the time, apparently the birds wander around the farm having a grand ol' time. Please note that this has to be proven since I didn't see it with my own 2 eyes. 
  • Don't try to fight Mother Nature. She will always win.  
Thanks for reading!