• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Megan Blocker

Strasbourg, Champagne, and Paris...

101 posts in this topic

Quite a few other locations in France would hotly dispute Strasbourg's claim to be the foie gras capital.

Well, they'd be wrong (he says smiling).


Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This was the best foie gras I have ever had in my life -

Of course, Strasbourg is the Foie Gras Capitol of France, though perhaps not many people realize that.

Quite a few other locations in France would hotly dispute Strasbourg's claim to be the foie gras capital.

Its sort of like who has the best casoulette.

So true...it's actually something that both guidebooks mentioned - Strasbourg's competition with the southwest to be crowned queen of foie.


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The way you describe them I think the two dishes are far more erotic than platonic. Ideal, yes, but sensually so. No matter, they sound scrumptious whether platonic or erotic.

:laugh: :laugh: :laugh: Touche!

Ludja, sadly, we didn't get to visit any markets while in Strasbourg. I'll soon be posting about the rest of our Saturday, and while we were hoping to visit the farmer's market, we were on a quest to refill our book supply before we hit the quieter environs of Champagne - something that sent us on a bit of a goose chase around town (though it was a great excuse to ride the tram).

Must get back to work now...back-to-back meetings all day...but I'll be posting about Saturday and the beginning of our Champagne adventures soon!


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My 2:00 got cut short, so I have some time to post about our Saturday afternoon! :biggrin:

After our breakfast of champions at Christian, we made our way back toward the Gare Centrale, in search of what my Rough Guide promised us was a good English-language bookstore. Both Louisa and I are big readers, and we'd both gone through our supplies, mainly due to the long train ride through Germany.

We didn't have any luck finding the store (grrrr), but we had a great time riding the tram out to the northern side of town, and also walking around the neighborhood by the Gare, which was full of Indian and Middle Eastern groceries and restaurants, once you got a block or two in from the river.

We then hopped back on the tram to ride clear to the other side of town, toward Place de la Republique and the university. We loved the trams - they were fast, quiet, efficient, clean, and modern. They're almost all window, and they sit very low to the ground, so it's almost like riding in a glass bubble.

gallery_26775_3787_13680.jpg

That's the tram in the background, at the Republique stop. A bus is passing in the other direction up front.

During our walk back from the university area, we passed this church, St. Paul (which is the two-spired church viewable in the distance from our hotel room window):

gallery_26775_3787_44308.jpg

We also spotted a young, student-y couple kissing on a riverbank, and many, many couples kissing on the small bridges that criss-cross the Ill (no, you sleazy people, I did NOT take their pictures :wink:). This will be important to our story later, I promise.

One of the eG-recommended bierstubs was Les Trois Brasseurs (The Three Brewers) on rue des Veaux, just north of the river on the Grande Ile. We stopped in there for lunch, and I promptly ordered a glass of the blonde biere.

gallery_26775_3787_4255.jpg

I knew I wanted baeckeoffe, since I'd spent lunch the day before jealously eyeing Louisa's portion, and Louisa wanted a salad. She ordered a green salad topped with foie de volaille and a poached egg, expecting a small liver on top of a big salad. Well, the salad was big, but check out the pile of liver on that baby!!!

gallery_26775_3787_23380.jpg

It doesn't have quite the same impact on film as it did in person, but that is one big pile of chicken livers, I promise.

My baeckeoffe was excellent, better than the one we'd had the day before. Its broth was more deeply flavorful and better-seasoned, and the pig's knuckle buried within gave the dish a rich, gelatinous quality (in a good way, not a Jell-O way). The piquant, cool salad was a lovely counterpoint, and my beer wasn't too bad, either.

Les Trois Brasseurs was awfully dark inside, so we were grateful to emerge into the (slightly grey) light of day. We continued our walk along the quai, eventually reaching the aforementioned "Batorama" dock (I feel like its name really should have an exclimation point after it, even in legal documents.), where we purchased two tickets and got in line to board the next barge making its way around the city. We were promptly cut in front of by a large group of French tourists. :hmmm:

The latest thing in our list of ultra-touristy activities, the boat trip was a great way to see the city. We'd planned to do it the day before, but the water had been too high, and the boats weren't running. So we felt like old pros as the boat went through Petite France, past the Ponts Couverts, through the medical school, and up the lock just past the Pont St. Martin. We also went out to the Institutions Europeennes, which meant that we got to see the Parliament and Court of Human Rights buildings without having to trek out on foot through the residential and embassy-rich neighborhoods around them.

On the way back to the Grande Ile, we passed by St. Paul and the neighboring riverbank - upon which reclined the SAME student couple, in the SAME position, four hours after our first sighting of them. That is some impressive stamina, people.

Upon our return to dry land, we decided it was time to buckle down, find some books, and eat some frites with mayonnaise. We walked over to Place Kleber, where I had a vague recollection of seeing a bookstore with the word international on its sign. On the way, we grabbed this, the seemingly-bottomless cone of frites, served with a squeeze-packet of tangy French mayo.

gallery_26775_3787_21395.jpg

Mmmmm...

We got ourselves some books (Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood for me, About a Boy by Nick Hornby for Louisa) and headed back to the room to stash them before dinner.


Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dinner that night was at a more casual vinstub on rue du Marche-aux-cochons-de-lait , about a block south of the cathedral, called Le Gruber. We were seated downstairs, next to a really wonderful French family (father, mother, and young adult daughter), who were incredibly friendly and very indgulgent of our French.

On the table when we arrived was an egg cup filled with something white and brown, dotted with green...when the bread basket finally came, we spread some on the bread and gave it a go. I couldn't quite tell what it was until the gentleman next to us leaned over to me and said, "C'est schmaltz." Mon dieu! Schmaltz, with cracklings, on bread.

gallery_26775_3787_27021.jpg

gallery_26775_3787_27044.jpg

For our entrees, Louisa ordered a salad with chevre chaud, and I went for a tarte a l'oignon. My tarte came with a green salad, and was irresistibly rich and creamy. Served at room temperatue, the contrast with the salad wasn't as sharp as I might like, but it certainly wasn't bad.

gallery_26775_3787_15199.jpg

For her main, Louisa went for an oldie but goodie, a tarte flambee all gussied up with even more chevre chaud!

gallery_26775_3787_5433.jpg

I was craving meat, and went for the onglets de boeuf, served with a shallot sauce and some really excellent frites (Twice in one day!).

gallery_26775_3787_23724.jpg

For dessert, we split a creme brulee. The creme part was great - really custardy, very creamy, rich, and just the right amount of vanilla. However, it just wasn't bruleed enough! There was sugar over the whole top, but only the very middle seemd to have seen the business end of a kitchen torch.

gallery_26775_3787_21858.jpg

We headed home, walking slowly but surely toward the hotel, and hit the sack in sated peace. The next morning, it was up early for breakfast at the hotel (where a fellow guest and I campaigned for a refill of the coffee urn, en francais, mais oui!), and then we boarded the train to Champagne!


Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Absolutely gorgeous trip report, Megan.

Thanks, Lucy...I've never been more jealous of you than during the ten days I spent in France. :wink:


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our journey to Reims (via Chalons-en-Champagne) was uneventful, and we were pleasantly surprised, upon arrival, to see a little park right next to the gare in the center of town. We hopped in the taxi that our hotel had sent to retrieve us, and settled in for the 20-minute drive to Champillon.

For our stretch in Champagne, we stayed in a small hotel called Hotel Royal Champagne. Since we planned on using our time in Champagne to relax and recover from the hustle and bustle of the cities we'd visited so far, and to rest up for Paris, we thought posh was the way to go. :wink:

We pulled up to the hotel, a former stop on the French postal route and a favorite spot of Napoleon's for a drink, and were escorted to reception. There we were served a glass of local champagne and a madeleine each, before walking down the hill to our room, which had a gorgeous view of the valley below and Epernay in the distance.

We were busying ourselves with finding places to put our suitcases and hanging up our more sensitive-to-wrinkling garments when the door opened and one of the staff walked in bearing this:

gallery_26775_3798_46030.jpg

In addition to the sweeties, there were two glasses of a thick peach puree, which we drank down before realizing how well it would have paired with the split of Veuve in the minibar. :wink:


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Our journey to Reims (via Chalons-en-Champagne) was uneventful, and we were pleasantly surprised, upon arrival, to see a little park right next to the gare in the center of town.  We hopped in the taxi that our hotel had sent to retrieve us, and settled in for the 20-minute drive to Champillon.

For our stretch in Champagne, we stayed in a small hotel called Hotel Royal Champagne.  Since we planned on using our time in Champagne to relax and recover from the hustle and bustle of the cities we'd visited so far, and to rest up for Paris, we thought posh was the way to go. :wink:

We pulled up to the hotel, a former stop on the French postal route and a favorite spot of Napoleon's for a drink, and were escorted to reception.  There we were served a glass of local champagne and a madeleine each, before walking down the hill to our room, which had a gorgeous view of the valley below and Epernay in the distance.

We were busying ourselves with finding places to put our suitcases and hanging up our more sensitive-to-wrinkling garments when the door opened and one of the staff walked in bearing this:

gallery_26775_3798_46030.jpg

In addition to the sweeties, there were two glasses of a thick peach puree, which we drank down before realizing how well it would have paired with the split of Veuve in the minibar. :wink:

But how much would that split in the minibar have cost? :wink: It would have been nice and appropriate for them to have had the split on the tray.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But how much would that split in the minibar have cost? :wink: It would have been nice and appropriate for them to have had the split on the tray.

Fair point, Doc. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the lack of price-gouging in the Czech and French minibars (for instance, most 12-ounce bottles of water were around $1-2)...can't recall the exact price of the split, but I think it was around what you might pay in a New York bar - maybe $15-20 bucks?

Then again, as a Manhattanite (and one who frequently checks out the minibar cards in her mother's various hotels), I have a skewed idea of what "price-gouging" really means. :wink:


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our first afternoon in Champagne was a lazy one...Louisa went for a short run (OK, my afternoon was a lazy one), and I took a bath in the giant tub in our bathroom, which had a glass wall looking out onto the same valley view.

After we washed and brushed, we headed up the hill to the main house and restaurant for dinner. We were seated at a lovely table near the fireplace, looking toward the wall of windows and the other patrons (providing excellent opportunities for people-watching).

For dinner, we chose one of the three tasting menu options, and were very happy. Our sommelier, a lovely gentleman named Frederic, recommended a bottle of the Ayala Brut (I believe it was a 1996) - you have to drink champagne in Champagne! - and we put ourselves in his very capable hands.

The amuse was a lobster soup, concentrated and thick on the bottom, brothy in the middle, and topped with foam. It was delicious, rich and fragrant, but it paired very poorly with the champagne, leaving an unpleasant metallic flavor behind in the mouth.

Undaunted, we moved on to the entree, zucchini flowers stuffed with pesto. Also on the plate: a single, fried zucchini flower petal, a salad of fava beans, tomato, and ollive oil sauce, and a delectable langoustine. The langoustine was perfectly seasoned, and oh-so-tender. I ate it bit by tiny bit, trying to make it last all night. Unlike the soup, this dish went extremely well with the Ayala.

Next up was the poisson course, which was a lobster ravioli. Well, several lobster ravioli. The pasta was thin, light, and very delicate (which was a good thing, since Louisa has a special hatred in her heart for thicker ravioli), and the filling...oy. Very rich, succulent, and served with a lobster jus and on a bed of garlicky spinach, which helped cut through what could have been a heavy dish. This was my favorite dish of the night, and really could have been a whole meal in itself.

The viande was roast leg and breast of pigeon, served with poached foie gras. On the side was a potato and carrot galette, a perfect cube tied with a leek "ribbon". The dish was full of dark, meaty flavors - no brightness to contrast it, but still very good. Especially the foie. :wink:

The cheese cart was amazing - and I'm not really even a cheese person! I can't remember the names of, well, anything, so I really, really apologize. I'll try to get Louisa to answer your questions if you have them - when I say I'm not a cheese person, I mean that sometimes, cheese nauseates me. I know, it's weird, what can I say. But I'm very proud of myself - not only did I try all six cheeses on my plate, I enjoyed three of them! :wink: Well, my mom was proud, though you guys probably just think I'm nuts. My two favorites were an epoisses-esque cheese (but not epoisses - I would have remembered that) and a sharp goat's cheese that came in a pyramidal shape and smelled like dark chocolate.

Finally, dessert, a tarte framboise (moderne). A layer of pate sucree on the bottom, then a layer of confitures, then some huge, fresh, juicy raspberries. On top of those, more confitures, a paper-thin disc of dark chocolate, and then, finally, a layer of dense whipped cream. The tart was served with a tropical-tasting sorbet, which may have been mango and rose, though we weren't certain.

Petits fours were sea salt and caramel truffles, strawberry macaroons, and minty marshmallows.

On our way out, they asked if we would be having breakfast in the restaurant or on our terrace. Ummmmm...terrace, s'il vous plait!!!!

And then we rolled home.


Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The next morning, we woke up to this view. The fog rolled in each night and covered the Epernay valley, so that when you woke up, it looked like you were floating in the clouds. When I took the picture, the fog had actually receded pretty significantly...

gallery_26775_3798_32208.jpg

A few minutes after we woke up, there was a knock on the door...in came one of the hotel staff, bearing this beautiful gift:

gallery_26775_3798_26238.jpg

On the tray was a breakfast big enough for four - not that the size stopped us from eating pretty much the whole thing. An inventory:

- Coffee

- Yogurt

- Fruit salad

- Orange juice

- Grapefruit juice

- Croissants

- Baguettes

- Pains au chocolat

- Jambon fume

- Jambon blanc

- Saucisson

- Honey

- Marmalade

- Confitures

- Coffee

- Warm milk

- Butter

A close-up:

gallery_26775_3798_35817.jpg

A particular favorite of mine was the croissant with the strawberry jam, and the coffee, black, with sugar. Louisa went for the baguette with smoked ham and butter, and for the yogurt.

We absolutely decimated that thing:

gallery_26775_3798_5974.jpg


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh my goodness. That is so beautiful! :wub: I could just look at that view all day, with some charming server bringing me breakfast, coffee, lunch, drinks & dinner! Oh and some of those sweets from that first tray s'il vous plait.. :smile:


Edited by Chufi (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What an incredible view and wonderful sounding meals, Megan!

The amuse was a lobster soup, concentrated and thick on the bottom, brothy in the middle, and topped with foam. It was delicious, rich and fragrant, but it paired very poorly with the champagne, leaving an unpleasant metallic flavor behind in the mouth.

Undaunted, we moved on to the entree, zucchini flowers stuffed with pesto. Also on the plate: a single, fried zucchini flower petal, a salad of fava beans, tomato, and ollive oil sauce, and a delectable langoustine. The langoustine was perfectly seasoned, and oh-so-tender. I ate it bit by tiny bit, trying to make it last all night. Unlike the soup, this dish went extremely well with the Ayala.

Next up was the poisson course, which was a lobster ravioli. Well, several lobster ravioli. The pasta was thin, light, and very delicate (which was a good thing, since Louisa has a special hatred in her heart for thicker ravioli), and the filling...oy. Very rich, succulent, and served with a lobster jus and on a bed of garlicky spinach, which helped cut through what could have been a heavy dish. This was my favorite dish of the night, and really could have been a whole meal in itself.

Did you have the Ayala with the ravioli too? Ifso, I am curious about how it paired with that dish? I was surprised about your reaction to the initial pairing. Champagne is one of the great food wines and a pairing with lobster is fairly classic. I have never had the Ayala (so far as I can remember anyway :raz: ) nor obviously that amuse, so I have no idea from experience how they may have worked. I suspect the issue ofthe metallic aftertaste was more a function of the amuse than the Champagne as you didn't have that response with the langoustines. While that may have been a little disappointing, it is nice to see that it did not affect your overall joie de vivre either diring that meal or afterwards. :smile:

Megan, this really is a wonderful report. Between this and daddy-A's, I think the tourism rate to France will increase significantly in the near future!


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Oh my goodness. That is so beautiful!  :wub: I  could just look at that view all day, with some charming server bringing me breakfast, coffee, lunch, drinks & dinner! Oh and some of those sweets from that first tray s'il vous plait..  :smile:

That view was my absolute favorite thing about the hotel...I sat there every afternoon and either read my book or took notes about our travels. I'm such a city girl (Louisa actually had to tell me to calm down on the first afternoon, because I was all fidgety about not going, going, going), but sometimes it's nice to just...be.


Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Did you have the Ayala with the ravioli too? Ifso, I am curious about how it paired with that dish? I was surprised about your reaction to the initial pairing. Champagne is one of the great food wines and a pairing with lobster is fairly classic. I have never had the Ayala (so far as I can remember anyway :raz: ) nor obviously that amuse, so I have no idea from experience how they may have worked. I suspect the issue ofthe metallic aftertaste was more a function of the amuse than the Champagne as you didn't have that response with the langoustines. While that may have been a little disappointing, it is nice to see that it did not affect your overall joie de vivre either diring that meal or afterwards. :smile:

We did have the Ayala with the ravioli, and it paired well...I agree, I think it had something to do with the amuse, and I'm not sure exactly what could have caused it. The wine went really well with all of the other courses - VERY food friendly. It's going to be my number one Christmas gift this year. For the privileged few who will appreciate it, that is. :wink:

Megan, this really is a wonderful report. Between this and daddy-A's, I think the tourism rate to France will increase significantly in the near future!

Thanks, Doc! I've been reading through his report - we visited a few of the same spots in Paris, within a few weeks of each other, so that will be a fun comparison, I think!


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OH MY GOSH, Megan!

We were in France the same time!

Sam and I were in Paris last week!

AND, we've been to Strasbourg/Alsace, for a few weeks, based in Ammershwihr---

and Champagne twice!

Stayed last Christmas in a suburb of Epernay in Champagne, with similar views!

Love both places! Your report is wonderful.

Look for our review of Paris restaurants last week

(coming soon).

As soon as I can write them up.

P.S. Tarte Flambee, real ones, are my favorite things in the world. You can't get them in Philly, nor NY (remember Cafe D'alsace? Non. Nor even Paris last week at Le Epicerie de Bon Marche....You HAVE to get one in the region only.

It's sort of like Kugelhopf in Alsace/Strasbourg. Forget about Paris. Just had one, not the same.


Philly Francophiles

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to go to France now...

Is there an eGullet charter flight?


Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have to go to France now...

Is there an eGullet charter flight?

If there isn't, there should be. I just bored my friend Faith silly with my Strasbourg memories. She thinks we should move to Barcelona...how do I help her see the light? :wink:


Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OH MY GOSH, Megan!

We were in France the same time!

Sam and I were in Paris last week!

AND, we've been to Strasbourg/Alsace,  for a few weeks, based in Ammershwihr---

and Champagne twice!

Stayed last Christmas in a suburb of Epernay in Champagne, with similar views!

Love both places! Your report is wonderful.

Look for our review of Paris restaurants last week

(coming soon).

As soon as I can write them up.

P.S. Tarte Flambee, real ones, are my favorite things in the world. You can't get them in Philly, nor NY (remember Cafe D'alsace? Non. Nor even Paris last week at Le Epicerie de Bon Marche....You HAVE to get one in the region only.

It's sort of like Kugelhopf in Alsace/Strasbourg. Forget about Paris. Just had one, not the same.

It's so true!

I owe you two a PM...I'm a bad eG'er. :sad::wink:

Can't wait to compare your Paris bistro reviews to mine...we did the same thing, taking all of our cues (well, most of them) from eGullet, with a little Jeffrey Steingarten mixed in for good measure.


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Once we'd recovered from the morning's bread-basket gorge-fest, we made ourselves presentable and climbed into a cab for the ride down the hill into Epernay. We weren't quite sure what to expect, and when the cab dropped us in front of Moet and Chandon, we realized that the guidebooks (which had been snide about certain things in Prague and Strasbourg that actually turned out to be quite charming) hadn't been kidding - Epernay was fine, but certainly nothing extraordinary (outside of the gorgeous champagne houses lining the avenue). Add to that the fact that the length of the avenue de Champagne is being torn up and re-paved right now, and you've got yourself a slightly bleak picture.

We went into Moet (our plan was to visit them and Perrier-Jouet) to buy tickets for the next tour in English (our French is strong, but we didn't want to miss a word), and were reminded that it was 12:00, and the house was closed until 2:00. We're such New Yorkers! :wink:

So, we took a walk up the hill, then back down and around into the centre ville...the only folks we ran into until we hit the main roundabout were lycee students. I felt so old!

We decided that it had been too long (almost three hours!) since we'd eaten last, and ordered a salad to split at a little cafe in downtown Epernay, two blocks from Moet. We ordered the salade paysanne, which came with bacon, potatoes, egg, and tomato...sort of like breakfast on a salad, tossed in a really tangy (the way I like it) vinaigrette).

gallery_26775_3798_19282.jpg

(Side note: I'm writing this in the coffee house across from my apartment, and a young man just sat down next to me and started speaking in French on his cell phone. Sigh.)


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(Side note: I'm writing this in the coffee house across from my apartment, and a young man just sat down next to me and started speaking in French on his cell phone.  Sigh.)

And suddenly you find yourself homesick for a place that is not your home... :sad:


~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...

It's sort of like Kugelhopf in Alsace/Strasbourg. Forget about Paris. Just had one, not the same.

But you can get excellent Gugelhupf's in Austria and Germany...

It sounds like the pastry shops in Strasbourg, along with all the food, must be quite an interesting blend of French and German.

I'll take your comments from experience on the Tarte Flambee though... :smile:

The hotel in Champagne looks like something out of a dream idlyll!


Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After our salad, we headed back up the avenue de Champagne and bought our tickets for the tour of the Moet cellars. It was a small group, mostly American with a couple of Brits mixed in. The tour was led by a charming woman (she never told us her name, but Louisa and I have named her "Clothilde") who was dressed in a very well-cut grey tweed blazer and similarly stylish black pants. Only later did we realize that this is the uniform for Moet cellar guides - only in France.

Our tour started with a quick peek into two of the salons off of the lobby - both decorated as they were in the early 19th century, and both two of Napoleon's favorite rooms in the house (he was a friend of Claude Moet's and a frequent visitor). Then we watched a video about the history of the house and the champagne-making process, from grape to degourgement.

We descended into the refreshingly cool, surprisingly elegant cellars. The tour was marvelous (I know some people find their tour very commercial, but we really enjoyed ourselves) - the guide was very knowledgable, and we loved seeing thousands upon thousands of bottles of champagne in one place :wink:. The tasting was very intimate - only our little tour group, and Louisa and I tried two Brut Millesimes, one rose and one white. The white was very, very dry, as Moet tends to be. I think it would have been better with food (I did like it when I tried it with one of the little crackers on offer), but wasn't terribly drinkable on its own. I really enjoyed the rose, though - I'd never had Moet's rose before. It was also dry, but not quite as harsh going down.


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
P.S. Tarte Flambee, real ones, are my favorite things in the world. You can't get them in Philly, nor NY (remember Cafe D'alsace? Non. Nor even Paris last week at Le Epicerie de Bon Marche....You HAVE to get one in the region only.

It's sort of like Kugelhopf in Alsace/Strasbourg. Forget about Paris. Just had one, not the same.

Flammkuchen (tarte flambee) is also found in the area around Heidelberg. They are very nice, but I prefer Italian pizza.

If I wasn't afraid of getting sea sick, I would like to see the Alsace again by river barge.


Edited by Swisskaese (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

P.S. Tarte Flambee, real ones, are my favorite things in the world. You can't get them in Philly, nor NY (remember Cafe D'alsace? Non. Nor even Paris last week at Le Epicerie de Bon Marche....You HAVE to get one in the region only.

And not only that (please don't anybody take offense) but according to real Frenchmen, you can't get them (real ones) in the city either - and here's why I say this. (Probably long-winded but I'll do my best to make the point).

On my first trip to Strasbourg in the early 90's we came a Christmastime, and street vendors and markets were everywhere, and everywhere we turned, we gorged ourselves on the incredible "Tarte a l'Oignon":

gallery_11181_3796_38218.jpg

(Flaky butter-based pastry crust, eggs, cream, onions, bacon=heaven on earth.)

We heard about Tarte Flambee and not seeing anything different, assumed we were eating it. Then we did a little research and realized we weren't.

So at the hotel I brought into play a rule taught to me by a crazy Italian friend of mine: when looking for eating recommendations, always seek out an overweight civil servant (that they're fat means they like to eat, and that they're in a low paying job means they seek out the best food at the best value - you know, it has served me well!). So I waited till evening when a portly fellow came on at the desk at the hotel, and asked him to verify that what we were eating was not Tarte Flambee (it was not) and asked him where to find it.

Well, "not in the city, for sure" he said, and went on to explain that it was a country, or peasant dish. So he took out their handwritten book of restaurants, and flipped to the Tarte Flambee page, looked down it saying "ah, this one's closed, this one I don't like, nor this one... ah, here's a good place!" and he asked if we had a car - we did.

So off into the countryside he sent us. We were to leave the northern end of Strasbourg by a local road, and follow the signs for "Wolfisheim", where we were to turn for "Achenheim", where we were to turn for "Oberschaeffolsheim", then again for "Osthoffen", and finally "Dalenheim". The towns (I use the word loosely) got smaller and smaller, until Dalenheim, which was really only six buildings, three on each side of the road, about 25 minutes from Strasbourg.

There was a big tavern that specialized in Tartes Flambees (and now I know they dot the entire countryside) - they had a little hut out back with the wood burning oven that cooks them in under a minute, and inside they serve them in all their forms, from the standard with just creme fraiche and fromage blanc whipped together and spread on the dough (a bread dough pulled super-thin), top them with onions and bacon, and put them in the oven where they buckle and blister in 60 seconds - to the ones with cheese and a very few other extras.

There's a dessert one with apples and Calvados that is standard, and spectacular - the bread dough is spread with the creme/cheese mixture, and topped with apples, and baked. It's transported on a piel, and even though it walks through a freezing courtyard, it arrives at the table so hot that when Calvados is drizzled on it, it lights with a match; a mixture of sugar and cinnamon is sprinkled on it while it's flaming.

I don't have any photos of this, but I do have video of the experience, and I will try to dig them out and convert them to web format.

I do see that now Flam's has indeed opened in the city, and your Tartes, Megan, sure do look like the real thing (!)

(PS - I also have discovered that these Tarte Flambee places in the country seem to be "smoking obligatory" - they're so dense with cigarette smoke that you can't see into them. The first time, we endured it for the experience; when we tried to go back the next year, we couldn't do it, and turned around. Maybe when the new law passes...)


Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.