Saturday, October 29, 2011

Michelin Star...........or not!!

We like to research good  restaurants before we arrive anywhere and so we were very happy to be able to secure a table for two at the Michelin starred Le Chassagne in Chassagne Montrachet for Sunday lunch.  We had a reservation for 13.00 hours and because of difficulties finding the restaurant (the main road into the village was blocked and we had to follow a deviation) we arrived at 13.10.
Imagine our horror when told we had arrived too late!  It was obvious that the chef, who was the person who had taken our reservation by phone, and was the person we saw as we arrived upstairs, had forgotten us and given our table away! And every table was taken!
We have never had this happen before! And 10 mins late would not seem to be unacceptable. And he had our mobile number if he was worried we were not going to arrive!
So we then had to call around to see where we could eat….. difficult last minute for Sunday lunch in France as this is the traditional day for the family to go out together! 
Our first call was to the Hotel Montrachet in nearby Puligny Montrachet

A favorite!  Full!!
Then we called another favorite place there, the  Maison Olivier Leflaive

We had stayed here on a prior trip and it is a fabulous place to stay.

 And had tried their fabulous wine/dinner degustation!

Unfortunately they were closed for lunch but they recommended a very casual place in Puligny Montrachet, L’Estaminet,  which is located on the same square as Le Montrachet.

This restaurant has  been well reviewed on TripAdvisor, although we didn't know that then!

The food was unexpectedly good!! And obviously a lot more reasonably priced than a restaurant with a Michelin Star!!

And we would definitely return! Good food, good wine, good price, good ambience!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bach à Bacchus

After spending the month of June in Italy, and dining on pasta way too frequently, we felt in need of French food and so spent a week in the Beaune area… specifically in Meursault!  We rented a great place,   La Vieille Cuverie , slightly marred by the fact the owners, who normally live in Paris, were next door with their 4 children.... so every time we wanted to use the pool we had to move/remove inflatables!
However it was extremely comfortable!  It was described as a 2 bedroom(SLEEPING A MAXIMUM OF 8!!!! NOT SURE WHERE!), but it is only a 2 bedroom if one doesn’t mind going through the other bedroom!  Not obvious from the photos!  And definitely not comfortable if rented by  2 couples sharing!!
It was however close to a camp site (not visible nor intrusive!!) which was great as it had bikes for rent and the bike path from Beaune to Santenay went past there.
So we duly rented bikes and cycled to Santenay for lunch! The bike path is great as it uses the very small roads used by the viticulture farm vehicles. So, minimal traffic!

Lunch at Le Terroir in Santenay!

Although one does have to look out for tractors backing out!!

We enjoyed some great lunches while there!  We have found that lunches in France at good Michelin star restaurants can be very reasonable, as compared to dining in the evenng! So we dined at some seriously good restaurants!
Top of the list Maison Lameloise  a 3 star Michelin star at Chagny. We found out that there one could have a set menu lunch for 75 euros per person, including wine, coffee and water(65 euros without) , on Monday, Thursday and Friday.  In case you think this expensive our normal meals out ran around 110 euros/2 persons! And not necessarily in 'good' restaurants! This was an excellent lunch and we would highly recommend!
We also found that they have a junior/sister restaurant nearby in Chagny, called Pierre et Jean.  This was so good we went back twice!

Meursault has a music festival in July of each year... Bach à Bacchus!  Really very interesting, as one gets into wine estates not ordinarily open to the public.  Tasting wine and listening to music is a great way to spend an afternoon!

A very young, very talented pianist!!

This YouTube is from 2010 but gives an idea of what it is like!

There was also a festival of music in Beaune which is held in the Hospices de Beaune courtyard unless it is raining! Which, of course, it was while we were there!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

La Traviata

We were thrilled to find out that on the day we had intended leaving Italy there was a performance of La Traviata in Verona’s Roman Arena, with excellent seats still available. We hastily changed our plans to include an overnight in Verona! This had been on our ‘to do’ list for a long time!

We were able to order seats online , a very easy process.

The Opera, La Traviata, was  a fantastic production. And the setting is superb.

It has to be seen, to be believed!  We were in the parterre part and so were able to look up at all the other spectators, rather as the gladiators must have done in the past! The arena is huge and holds around 15,000  for the Opera performances. However in Roman times it could hold 25,000 people!!

We were lucky to find a hotel within walking distance, with its own parking! A prerequisite when driving around with lots of possessions left in one’s car. Easy pickings!!
The hotel was appropriately named Hotel Verona !!

One thing we omitted to do!   Book a table in a restaurant close to the arena!  With that many people around for the performance all good restaurants were booked months in advance. In fact we did not have too much choice for a hotel either even though we did book that months in advance!

Exploring Verona the following morning was fun, not many people were out and about. We had to, of course, go by Juliette’s balcony!

Which now seems to be the area for lovers to place a heart lock and swear to eternal love!

And we found this old denouncement box for people charging interest on loans, not allowed by the church.

This basically translates as  'Denounce in secret, usury and usury contracts of any type'