This country is bursting with the most scrumptious delicacies my tummy is doubly thankful for. And if there’s one thing I have discovered about France, is that its food tingles the taste buds and tempts the heart.
Gastronomy and modern Western cuisine have been universally shaped by French culture. The Michelin guide – the who’s what of food – started in France. But even without a Michelin-star restaurant budget, it is possible to enjoy some of the best food. The sensational taste of food is important for enjoying a cuisine, but the appreciation and understanding of a different culture is an equally important one. With French food though, I’d almost be forced to eat those words.
Having lived in England for 7 years, I was inclined to mock the French as one naturally. This annoying thing of the French I have found to be so true whenever I visited that country; they’re so proud of their food – and their wine! I’ve had French food before and I mean it’s good but do you have to christian a cheese after every city you have? Who does that but the French? Nobody.
Anyhow, we began our journey in Burgundy, where some of the best restaurants are said to be. Famous for its wines, the city is located just 300km south of Paris in East-Central France. We visited Beaune, Dijon, Mâcon – in a 4-day trip with several pit stops and detours. It was altogether exciting a whirlwind experience.
Although I enjoyed all of my meals in France, the city that is closest to my heart (and stomach) is Dijon. La Cloiserie, ‘Bell Tower’, lives in the heart of the old city as part of the Chateau Relais Hotel La Maison De Philippe Le Bon – a unique boutique hotel which has a wonderful courtyard with a garden where you can lounge during the summer. Dijon is full of history, and used to one of the richest cities in France so it is an obvious tourist destination, but it is full of surprises.
The food at La Cloiserie is typically Bourguignon. Each of their dishes is a must-try in this region and represents the best of French cuisine. Its very red indoors setting also puts one in the mood for love.
Les oeufs en meurrette – consists of poached eggs in a red wine sauce was warm and welcoming. A pleasant surprise. Who would have thought something eggs and wine could be a match made in heaven? The eggs were silk-cream-like while the red wine coated the soft floating whites; a lavish dish that merges the delicate richness of two distinct entities. I had never thought and eggs and wine could go together before.
Escargots – Typical French delicacy; deliciously chewy and soft at the same time. And when it’s warm, it’s ultimately pleasurable with the tastiness of butter and garlic infused. There is something innately romantic about escargots, the sharing of the escargots as you plop one piece into the others mouth, the richness of the flavours… aren’t snails sensual? And after you’ve finished eating the escargots, the French thing to do is to dip a piece of bread into the serving dish and plop it in; unctuous juices are a delight.
Suprême de volaille ‘Label Rouge’ roti (Supreme Label Rouge chicken) – superbly cooked, moist, had the crispiest skin which bubbled where the fat was oxidised, adding texture and the fat flavour to the dish. The accompanying elements, polenta cream and caramelised vegetables and thyme juice went well together. (As a matter of fact, I’ve never had such a chicken before and briefly wondered if these chickens were not already being exported, and if they were, whether it would be the same as eating them here. Surely it’s the atmosphere of the place that lends the dish its charm? As they say, it’s not what you eat but who you eat with.)