Category Archives: Dijon

Running is good for the soul, and friendship

Yesterday I couldn’t help but laugh every time a car passed me on my short little three mile run. Armed with multiple layers and ski gloves, I had pulled the drawstrings of my sweatshirt around my chin so tightly that only my eyes and nose managed to peek out from the tight hole. Yes, I would be back in 28 minutes, and yes, this was Kentucky, where it never gets cold enough to warrant such ridiculousness. I’ll blame it on my West Coast roots.

All this to say that while I was running my measly three miles I remembered that one year ago at this time, I was training for a semi-marathon and running ten to twelve miles on a regular basis.

My friend Val, who was studying abroad in France while I was doing my teaching assistantship, and I had decided to train together to combat the effects of all the delicious French food we had become so used to eating. We were both runners, but had never done long distances. When we found out about the Nuits Saint Georges semi-marathon, however, our interest was piqued.

13.1 miles through the gorgeous vineyards of Burgundy seemed appealing, but neither of us could deny the real draw: talk of “wine tastings” along the way. At first we thought it must be an oral legend, a bit of Burgundian mythology that had spread over the years. We imagined a few runners nearing the end of their course and being rejuvenated by a winemaker with a beret and a sparkle in his eye. Years passed and word traveled; runners began knocking on the winemaker’s door for a little kick when their fuel ran low.

These are the kinds of things we hypothesized during long runs anyway. Laughing, and sometimes grunting, Val and I got to know each other over the miles. She was the faster runner, but I brought a strong dose of competition, so most of the time we stayed neck and neck. Once on our third tour of the Parc de la Colombière in Dijon, having just beaten our two previous 400m interval times, I pleaded for mercy, saying we should be careful not to injure ourselves beating the time on our third effort.

“We’re already going faster than planned for today,” I reminded her between gasps on the rest interval. “Let’s try to relax a little.”

Nearing the starting point, Val fingered her watch. I sucked in one last deep breath.

I don’t remember much but pain and the desire for oxygen when the timer was ticking. The big, shady chestnut trees that seemed so pleasantly encompassing on regular runs became a blurred tunnel as we whizzed by. I detested their solidity and I yearned for their stillness.

We beat our time again. Continue reading

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Filed under Adventure, Cool Characters, Culture, Dijon

Charles Joguet Chinon Franc de Pied: an adventure

I have to admit, as Monsieur Jacquey closed the iron gate behind me and motioned toward his secluded front door, I looked over my shoulder to make sure he wasn’t locking the latch.

“Le Nez de Saint Pierre,” he called himself.  St. Peter’s nose.  He was nice enough, although he blinked a little too curiously at me through his yellow tinted glasses. “I didn’t expect a young lady,” he said. I gripped my cell phone and followed him up a path to his “office.”

Monsieur Jacquey sells wine from his own collection, right out of his home, which is why I was a little wary. But he’s the only one in Dijon who had the wine I was looking for — a 2005 Charles Joguet Chinon Cabernet Franc — so, after supplying Nico with the name, address, and phone number,  I had rung the “nose’s” doorbell and hoped for the best.

His office was a converted patio adjacent to the kitchen. It had its own entrance, marked by an oak barrel. Inside, papers and books covered a giant desk, which was lit only by a computer screen. I took a seat opposite Monsieur Jacquey and he poured me a taste of a 2006 Braucol from Gaillac, a town “not far from Toulouse,” he said. Ever vigilant, I took a calculated sip.

“How does a young woman like you become interested in wine?” he asked, an eyebrow arched over one oval lens.

Was that a trick question?

“I came to France,” I said.

“Thought I heard an accent.”

Yes. Yes you did, I thought. But I said, “Yes, and I still have trouble finding my words.”

He excused himself for seeming nosy (“Forgive me for sounding indiscreet”) and went right ahead with his questions. “Did you come to France for love? Do you live here in Dijon? What are your plans?” etc. I did my best to answer politely, and discreetly, then, glancing at my watch, I searched for the infamous bottle.

“Oh, one moment,” he said, taking the hint. Scrounging around behind a cotton curtain, he emerged with a dark bottle, almost black. I smiled when I recognized the familiar label, adorned with beloved French humorist Francois Rabelais’ portrait. (“Drink constantly,” he said once. “You will never die.”)

Jacquey placed the bottle between us. On the label, the name of the vineyard forfeits the spotlight to a vibrant red diagonal band announcing “Cabernet Franc de Pied.”  My host underlined it with his finger. “This is a special wine,” he said.

“Cabernet Franc is the grape of Chinon. When the phylloxera came in the 1800’s, it wiped out most of the vineyards in France, Chinon included.” He tipped his chin. “The insect came from America, but then so did the cure. American vines were immune to the phylloxera, so after a while, when all other remedies failed, someone thought to plant American roots and to graft French vines onto them, to save French wine. According to purists, something was irreparably lost, even though the rootstock doesn’t interfere with the development of the wine grape.”

Oh, the joys of French-American sibling rivalry.

“Well,” he continued, arching an eyebrow. “Some of the vines were saved. And that’s why they’re called franc de pied. They’re 100% French, and proud of it. Like I said, this wine’s special.”

After paying for the wine and thanking Monsieur Jacquey, I practically skipped away with my new bottle. When would I taste it, and with whom? Would I lay it down for a while, or decant it and taste it now? With what meal would I pair it? These questions brought a smile to my face as I made my way back toward centre ville.

For the answers, tune in to tomorrow’s post!

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Filed under Adventure, Cool Characters, Culture, Dijon, Photography, Wine

Wine and writing…This could be the start of something beautiful

Okay, this picture has nothing to do with wine. Or writing. But if you hop over to E-Romantic Hotels’ website, you will quickly find out why it works.

I’ve partnered with E-Romantic, a site dedicated to showcasing a collection of stringently judged and painstakingly chosen French bed and breakfasts, as their new wine-blogger. I don’t claim to be a professional, but I’m happy to call myself passionnée, an enthusiast. I’ll be writing monthly about my coups de coeur (the wines that blow me away) while I continue to learn.

Wine has become of increasing fascination to me, and I have my heart set on continuing my education in this domain (not to be confused with domaine). Since writing about my passions comes naturally, I can promise you’ll be seeing more wine posts on this site from now on. So fun!

I should probably also take this opportunity to ask for your help. If you know anyone in the wine industry — en France or in the States —  who could be a useful contact for me as I explore career opportunities and Masters programs, I would be so grateful for your suggestions. I’m in sponge mode: soaking it all up!

{Pictures taken this week at my favorite Dijon biscuiterie, La Rose de Vergy}

POUR LA TRADUCTION DE MELIE Continue reading

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Filed under Christmas, Culture, Dijon, Photography, Wine

Speedbumps and cigarettes: portrait of a generous soul

Every Friday morning she gets her hair done.  When she leaves the house, she pats the spot on the back of her head with a calloused hand. Her flattened hair will come back fluffy and voluminous: ready for whatever life throws her way this weekend.  When she returns, she drives her Peugeot minivan onto the sidewalk in front of her house, easing over the curb as if it were a simple speedbump.  She parks her car there on the sidewalk, two steps from her front door and only a few paces from the local gendarmerie.  She takes her chances.

There are always mouths to feed.  She has a rotating collection of keys and people come and go as they please.  Today she prepares a meal for five.  Cigarette teetering on the edges of her lips, she stirs her béchamel, listening with one ear to talk radio and the other to her sister, whose voice, repeating the ins-and-outs of her day, resonates from the countertop speaker phone.

She is tired.  Leaning against the laminate counter, she closes her eyes and closes her lips tightly around the cigarette, inhaling.  She is going over her list of things to do.  It’s a list she has memorized, and she rarely forgets.  She knows her brown-haired, brown-eyed granddaughters’ horseback riding, ballet, and violin schedules better than they do.  Sometimes she calls to remind them, and she is never, ever late.  Maybe she has to run a red light or cut someone off, but she gets those girls to their extracurriculars without fail.

And then she returns to her houseful of rotating keys.

I like to watch the evening news with her when I am there, sitting next to her in silence.  She asks rhetorical questions like, can you believe that? or did you hear what she just said? “C’est fou, ça!” she exclaims.  Crazy.  Crazy that prices at the supermarket are on the rise, crazy that the euro is under attack, crazy that the world is in economic stalemate.  The cat digs his claws into her knees when she gets worked up, but she doesn’t push him off.  She apologizes and quiets down momentarily.  She lights another cigarette.

When I call her I hear the familiar sounds of her routine in the background.  The radio. The oven. The door slamming. Tires screeching.  She knows how to multitask.  “How are you, ma grande?” she chirps, her raspy voice upbeat.  “Qu’est ce que tu peux me raconter de beau?”

What good things do I have to tell her? I smile.  Despite the million tasks she must accomplish in one day, my news — always “good” — is of abiding interest to her.

“Oh, nothing too exciting,” I respond.  “I have an interview next week…is it okay if I stay?”

“Do you have your key?” she asks in response.

I imagine the little silver key, attached to a string of faded blue plastic beads, in the outside pocket of my purse.

“Yes.”

“Well then, the door is open! Let yourself in and tell me if you’re staying for dinner.”

When I hang up the phone, I can’t help but giggle.  C’est fou, ça, I say to myself.

For Marie-Amelie’s translation into French… Continue reading

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Filed under Cool Characters, Dijon, Gratitude, Unconventional Wisdom

Ze French way with wine: It’s not what you think, America

A few nights ago at a dinner party a woman in a low-cut green dress asked me — in a roundabout way — about France.

“Did you ever go to Tuscany while you were teaching in France?”

I told her that I hadn’t gone yet, but  it’s on my list.  Then, because she seemed to have an interest in wine I asked, “Have you ever been to Beaune?”

“No,” she answered demurely, leaning over the table  as if a monumental effort were required to contain the associations “Beaune” brought to mind.   She gestured toward her husband, then almost whispered, “We were advised to go to Tuscany instead of Burgundy.  We’ve heard the wine-tourism is better in Italy.”

Her husband looked up from his menu.  He interrupted the man next to him and called over the table to me. “Do you like wine? he asked, raising his glass, but not waiting for a response.  “We have over two thousand bottles at our house, so you could call us connoisseurs.  And we always go to Italy for our wine-vacations.”

Surely I can’t call myself a connoisseur.  I don’t even have a cellar of my own, let alone a collection of bottles.  But I indulged this couple, fishing for an answer I already knew was coming.

“Why exactly did you steer clear of France?” I asked assez innocently.

The woman in the green dress squinted her eyes and pursed her lips, affecting disappointment in delivering the bad news.  A strand of dyed brown hair fell into her face and she brushed it away with a hand that knew even a light touch would smear her makeup. Then, her dramatic pause expiring, she answered.

“The French.  Are not as — friendly — as the Italians.”

I leaned back in my chair, forcing an understanding smile.  Now it was my turn to lay it on thick.

“I can see why you would think that,” I said, honestly envisioning the Parisian waiters I have so faithfully bashed over the last few months.  “They can be a little different, can’t they?”

Ms. Green-Dress took the reins, beginning a laundry list of reasons why Tuscany was better than the France she’d never even seen outside of Paris.

I let her talk, disinterested in trying to prove her wrong.  She was wrong, of course, and I didn’t need a visit under the Tuscan sun to be sure.  “Different” being the operative word, there is just no comparing  the French and the Italians, let alone French and Italian wines.  I’m no connoisseur, but I’d say Ms. Green-Dress’s senses are completely blocked by a habit that is shamefully American: ego-centrism and the belief that our familiar culture is the right one.

The very idea of “wine-tourism” is American.  I have nothing against it, for that matter.  I believe in selling your product and if that includes brown-nosing a bit with the customer, more power to you.  I like the American philosophy that “the customer is always right,” and I love service with a smile, even if sometimes it tinkers with artificiality.

The French detest artificiality.  For them, the whole concept of tourism reeks of counterfeit and any place that has been overly contaminated by it becomes the bane of the locals’ existence.  Sure, Parisians still visit the monuments from time to time, but on those days they call themselves “tourists” and say they are doing “the tourist thing” — a subtle reminder that they know of the other, real Paris that padlocks its portails against the onslaught and disappears behind the luster of the City of Lights.

Effectivement, this attitude is not conducive to selling anything.  I can understand the shock Americans — born salesmen compared to the French — might suffer upon setting foot in France and realizing that (surprise, surprise) the world does not revolve around vacationers, even rich ones willing to spend a pretty penny on wine tours.

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is that the least artificial thing about the French and their wine is amour.  For a Frenchman, the temperature of the cellar is almost as important as the warmth of his children’s beds.  His collection of bottles is organized by year, and each bottle represents an experience or event.  “Let’s crack a bottle from Juliette’s wedding,” for example.  He knows the grapes and the terrain and often he knows the viticulteur himself.


Okay, j’exagére, un peu.  But for the French, wine-making really is a sacred process, respected and revered by the consumer and vehemently protected by the producer.  Which explains the seeming lack of wine-tourism from an American perspective.  We’re into big sales, they’re wary of marketing campaigns.  We like to be catered to, they like to be respected for their professionalism. We enjoy bar-hopping (or vineyard hopping) and they enjoy relishing one bottle at a time: slowly, methodically, with a mind for the years that went into its production.

I realize I’m talking stereotypes here.  Not all Americans are as unaware as the lady in the green dress, and not all French people are equally dazzled by wine.  But when I think of Burgundy, with its slopes of vineyards rising along the Côte de Beaune, flashy tourist-centered marketing is the farthest thing from my mind.

{Michel Pernes}

When I think of Burgundy, I am mentally transported to a familiar window-seat on the regional train.  Even after months of commuting between Dijon and Beaune, I would find myself flattening my nose against the glass and staring out at the endless rows of golden vines.  Passing through villages, my gaze would fix momentarily on the multicolor tiled church steeples that, in their brilliance, sang praises to their surroundings.  Then, more vines flaunting hidden treasure beneath their orange and yellow and red leaves.   That,  if anything, was the best form of wine-tourism: there I was, an American in France, making my way through the portail to see the other — real — beauty beyond.

Art Credits: Weheartit.com; Michel Pernes, Beaune

TRADUCTION A LA MELIE:

Ze vin à la française : ce n’est pas ce que tu crois Amérique …

Il y quelques jours, lors d’un dîner, une femme en robe décolletée verte m’a demandé, d’une manière détournée, de lui parler de la France.

« Etes-vous allée en Toscane pendant que vous enseigniez en France ? »

Je lui ai répondu que je n’y avais pas encore été, mais que j’en avais l’intention. Puis comme elle semblait s’intéresser au vin, je lui ai demandé « Etes-vous déjà allée à Beaune ? »

« Non, » a-t-elle répondu d’un air affecté, se penchant au dessus de la table comme si elle avait besoin de faire un effort monumental pour regrouper tout ce qui se rapporte à « Beaune » dans son esprit. Elle fit un geste en direction de son mari, et murmura presque : « On nous a conseillé d’aller en Toscane plutôt qu’en Bourgogne. On nous a dit que le tourisme œnologique était mieux en Italie. »

Son mari l’a regardée par-dessus son menu. Il a interrompu  son voisin et m’a interpellée de l’autre côté de la table. « Vous aimez le vin ? » m’a-t-il demandé, levant son verre mais n’attendant pas de réponse. « Nous avons plus de deux mille bouteilles à la maison, on peut dire que nous sommes connaisseurs. Et nous allons toujours en Italie pour nos vacances « vin ».

Bien sûr, je ne peux pas dire que je suis une connaisseuse. Je n’ai même pas de cave à moi, et encore moins une collection de bouteilles. Mais j’ai été indulgente avec ce couple, cherchant la réponse qui je le savais déjà allait venir.

« Pour quelle raison exacte évitez-vous la France ? » leur ai-je demandé assez innocemment.

La femme en robe verte a plissé les yeux et pincé les lèvres, feignant la déception à l’idée d’annoncer une mauvaise nouvelle. Une mèche de cheveux teints en brun est tombée devant son visage et elle l’a repoussée d’une main toute consciente que même une touche de lumière pourrait endommager son maquillage. Puis, à la fin de sa pause théâtrale, elle à répondu :

« Les Français. Ne sont pas aussi sympathiques que les Italiens. »

Je me suis adossée à ma chaise, affectant un sourire compréhensif. C’était à mon tour d’en faire trop.

« Je peux comprendre pourquoi vous pensez cela » ai-je répondu, pensant avec franchise aux serveurs parisiens que j’ai si fidèlement descendus ces derniers mois. « Ils peuvent être un peu différents, c’est cela ? »

Mme Robe Verte est montée sur ses grands chevaux, entamant la litanie des raisons pour lesquelles la Toscane valait mieux que la France, qu’elle n’avait d’ailleurs jamais vue en dehors de Paris.

Je l’ai laissée parler, aucun intérêt de prouver qu’elle avait tort. Elle avait tort, bien sûr, et je n’ai pas besoin d’une visite sous le soleil de Toscane pour en être sûre. « Différent » est le mot clé, il n’y a aucune comparaison entre les Français et les Italiens, et encore moins entre les vins français et italiens. Je ne suis pas connaisseuse, mais je dirais que les sens de Madame Robe Verte sont totalement bloqués par une habitude hélas toute américaine : l’égocentrisme et la conviction que notre culture familière est la bonne.

L’idée même de « tourisme œnologique » est américaine. Je n’ai rien contre d’ailleurs. Je crois en la vente et si cela implique faire un peu de lèche-botte aux clients, à vous de jouer. J’aime la philosophie américaine « le client a toujours raison » et j’adore être servie avec un sourire, même s’il est un peu artificiel.

Les Français détestent les artifices. Pour eux, tout le concept du tourisme empeste la contrefaçon et tout endroit trop contaminé est mis au ban par les habitants du coin. Bien sûr, les Parisiens visitent quand même les monuments de temps en temps, mais dans ces moments là ils s’appellent eux-mêmes « touristes » et déclarent qu’ils vont « faire le touriste » – un subtil rappel du fait qu’ils connaissent l’autre Paris, le vrai, qui verrouille ses portails contre les assauts et disparaît derrière le lustre de la Cité des Lumières.

Effectivement, ce comportement n’est pas propice à la vente. Je peux comprendre le choc des Américains – nés commerçants, comparés au Français – lorsqu’ils posent le pied en France et qu’ils réalisent que (surprise, surprise) le monde ne tourne pas autour des vacanciers, même les riches désirant dépenser des sommes rondelettes en descentes de caves.

Une chose que je n’ai pas encore mentionnée est que le point le moins artificiel au sujet des Français et de leur vin c’est l’amour. Pour un Français, la température de sa cave et au moins aussi importante que la chaleur du lit de ses enfants. Sa collection de bouteilles est classée par année, et chaque bouteille représente une expérience ou un événement. « Ouvrons une bouteille du mariage de Juliette, » par exemple. Il connaît la vigne et le terrain et souvent le viticulteur lui-même.

D’accord, j’exagère un peu. Mais pour les Français, la fabrication d’un vin est vraiment un processus sacré, respecté et vénéré par le consommateur et protégé avec véhémence par le producteur. Ce qui explique l’apparent manque de tourisme œnologique d’un point de vue Américain. Nous voulons des grandes ventes, ils se méfient des campagnes marketing. Nous aimons être satisfaits, ils aiment qu’on les respecte pour leur professionnalisme. Nous aimons faire la tournée des bars (ou la tournée des vignes) et ils apprécient de savourer une bouteille à la fois : lentement, méthodiquement, en pensant aux années nécessitant son élaboration.

Je réalise que je parle ici de stéréotypes. Tous les Américains ne sont pas aussi ignorants que la femme à la robe verte, et tous les Français ne sont pas éblouis de la même façon par le vin. Mais quand je pense à la Bourgogne, avec ses vignes en pente grimpant le long de la Côte de Beaune, la dernière chose à laquelle je pense est le marketing touristique tape à l’œil.

Quand je pense à la Bourgogne, je me transporte mentalement dans un siège fenêtre dans le train régional. Même après des mois de trajets entre Dijon et Beaune, j’écraserais mon nez contre la vitre et contemplerais les rangs infinis de vignes dorées. Traversant les villages, mon regard se poserait momentanément sur les clochers couverts de tuiles multicolores, chantant de leur éclat leurs prières aux alentours. Puis, encore des vignes, trésor caché étalé sous leurs feuilles oranges, jaunes et rouges.

Ca, plus que toute autre chose, est la meilleure forme de tourisme œnologique : j’y étais, Américaine en France, traversant le portail pour voir l’autre – la vraie – beauté derrière.

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Filed under Culture, Dijon, Wine

Allez mesdames-messieurs, Allez!

“Allez, mesdames-messieurs, allez! Mes fraises fraiches, deux euros la barquette, allez!”

I smile at the gray-haired old woman as I pass in front of her fruit stand. Pacing behind a table adorned with little red jewels, she doesn’t notice my smile, or even pause before her strawberry serenade flows seamlessly into a cucumber carol.

Fine form today, I think to myself upon hearing the familiar voice of the North African man across the way belting out his typically incomprehensible market spiel. “Allez,” he calls, following with a “mesdames” and trailing off into something that only he can understand about his fruits and vegetables.  He’s my favorite merchant, and although I have never bought anything from his pricy stand, I make sure to pass by each time I go to the market, just to hear his pitch.

At the dairy stand, I hand over two empty glass yogurt pots in exchange for a discount on my purchase of three full ones. Then I cross the market to the bakery to pick up a still-warm baguette for 85 centimes. A woman with unintentionally orange hair and a Mary Poppins purse steps in front of me.  There are no lines in France.  The eyes of the girl behind the counter dart between us as she hands another customer his bread, and the elderly lady catches on.  “Excusez moi, Mademoiselle.  Après vous.” She nods her head at me.

“Pas de problème, Madame,” I say, and then: “Une baguette s’il vous plaît.”

{My honey…man}

Yogurt in one hand, baguette in the other, I return to my studio, my penthouse, my chambre de bonne.  Mine for just one more day.

Mine for just one more day, this little lookout in Dijon.

And yet, as I pack my boxes, I can’t help but feel that I am arranging bits of this morning — and all the mornings like it — to take with me when I go.  This little studio will probably never be mine again, but there is still so much of it I can keep forever.

COMING UP: Recap of a wonderful two week tour of France, and the continuation of my helpful and humorous travel hints! I’ve been at it again folks, so get ready for some armchair travel to the D-Day beaches, Mont-St-Michel, the site of Joan of Arc’s martyrdom, a wedding in a castle, a gypsy pilgrimage to the Mediterranean sea, a horseback ride in the marshland of the Camargue, bullfights in Nimes, and some really great tips on how to avoid foot fungus in hostels.  (Sorry, I just had to reward all of those who read the whole list.)  More soon!

PS- Special thoughts of my brother, who would have been 22 today.  Forever young, Brycie Bru. We miss you.

TRADUCTION A LA MELIE:

“Allez, mesdames-messieurs, allez! Mes fraises fraiches, deux euros la barquette, allez!”

Je souris à la vieille dame aux cheveux gris en passant devant son étal de fruits. Faisant les cent pas derrière sa table ornée de petits joyaux rouges, elle ne remarque pas mon sourire et passe sans transition de sa sérénade pour fraises à son hymne aux concombres.

« En pleine forme aujourd’hui » me dis-je en écoutant la voix familière du Nord Africain de l’autre côté vociférant son incompréhensible baratin de marché. « Allez » appelle-t-il, suivi d’un « mesdames » sa voix se perdant ensuite dans quelque chose à propos de ses fruits et légumes que lui seul peut comprendre. C’est mon marchand préféré, et même si je n’ai jamais rien acheté à son stand hors de prix, je fais exprès de passer devant à chaque fois que je vais au marché, rien que pour entendre son boniment.

A la crèmerie, je tends mes deux pots en verre de yaourts vides en échange d’une réduction sur l’achat de trois pleins. Puis je traverse le marché jusqu’à la boulangerie pour acheter une baguette toute chaude pour 85 centimes. Une femme aux cheveux colorés involontairement en orange et portant un sac de Mary Poppins arrive de l’autre côté. Il n’y a pas de file d’attente en France. Les yeux de la fille derrière le comptoir passent de l’une à l’autre alors qu’elle tend son pain à un autre client, et la vieille dame comprend. « Excusez-moi, Mademoiselle, Après vous. » dit-elle en hochant la tête.

« Pas de problème, Madame »dis-je, puis « une baguette s’il vous plait ».

Les yaourts dans une main, la baguette dans l’autre, je retourne dans mon studio, mon penthouse, ma chambre de bonne. La mienne pour un jour encore.

A moi pour encore une journée, ce petit poste d’observation à Dijon.

Et là, en faisant mes cartons, je ne peux m’empêcher de penser que je suis en train d’assembler des morceaux de cette matinée – et de tous les autres matins comme celui-là – pour les emmener avec moi quand je partirai. Ce petit studio ne sera probablement plus jamais le mien, mais il y a pourtant tant de choses que je peux garder pour toujours.

A VENIR : un résumé d’un fabuleux tour de France de deux semaines et la suite de mes conseils touristiques pratiques et humoristiques ! J’y suis allée les enfants, alors préparez vous à un voyage sans bouger de votre fauteuil sur les plages du débarquement, le Mont Saint Michel, le lieu du martyr de Jeanne d’Arc, un mariage dans un château, un pèlerinage gitan en mer méditerranée, une ballade à cheval dans le marais camarguais, une corrida à Nîmes, quelques tuyaux vraiment supers et comment éviter d’attraper des mycoses des pieds à l’auberge de jeunesse. (Pardon, félicitations à ceux qui ont lu toute la liste). La suite bientôt !

PS : une pensée spéciale pour mon frère, qui aurait eu 22 ans aujourd’hui. Jeune pour toujours, Brycie Bru, tu nous manques.

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Filed under Adventure, Bryce, Cool Characters, Culture, Dijon, Food, Gratitude, Travel

“I hereby challenge thee, Turner” — Tarte Tatin

This weekend was a whirlwind, with my gal Nina and her fiancé Matt meeting me in Dijon from their little place in Digoin (Saone-et-Loire) and then making our way to Chatillon to spend the weekend on a double-date with Nico (“The Weekend of Love”).  Nina promised to bring some good recipes so we could spend a healthy amount of time in the kitchen when we weren’t out enjoying the gorgeous weather.  But before the festivities began, she posted a challenge on my wall.  The results were not too shabby, and still warm when Nina and Matt arrived. A terrific way to kick off a terrific weekend.

There are a few different stories detailing the history of the Tarte Tatin, but one thing is sure: this upside-down pie was born in Lamotte-Beuvron in 1898, at the Hotel Tatin.  The Tatin sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline, ran the hotel, with Stéphanie in charge of the cooking.  Some people say that this sister was particularly overworked one day when she left her apples cooking a bit too long in butter and sugar.  She smelled them burning and quickly threw a pie dough over the simmering apples, shoving the whole thing into the oven to cook the crust. After turning the contents of the pan over onto a platter, she served it to her guests as it was — to rave reviews!

Another story proposes that Stéphanie accidentally put a caramelised tarte in the oven upside down.  I think the first account seems more likely, don’t you?

Check out smitten kitchen for the official recipe…one word of advice: caramel is hard to achieve in a nonstick pan. After waiting an inordinate amount of time with no results, (sometimes you really do have to make the mistake to learn from it), I transferred the already hot butter and sugar to a stainless steel saucepan and in 30 seconds it was caramel.  Really, it does make a difference.  Then I poured it back into the original pan and continued as normal.

TRADUCTION A LA MELIE:

Je te défie ici même Turner – Tarte Tatin

Ce week-end est passé en trombe, avec ma copine Nina et son fiancé Matt venus me rendre visite à Dijon depuis leur petite ville de Digoin (Saône et Loire) et notre escapade à Chatillon pour passer le week end en double rendez-vous avec Nico (« le Week-end de l’Amour »). Nina avait promis d’apporter de bonnes recettes afin que nous passions un temps raisonnable en cuisine quand nous ne serions pas dehors en train de profiter de la météo radieuse. Mais avant le début des festivités, elle a posté un défi sur mon mur. Le résultat n’était pas trop minable et encore chaud à l’arrivée de Nina et Matt. Un moyen du tonnerre pour démarrer un week-end du tonnerre.

Il existe plusieurs histoires légèrement différentes racontant l’origine de la Tarte Tain, mais une chose est sûre, cette tarte à l’envers est née à Lamotte-Beuvron en 1898, à l’hôtel Tatin. Les Sœurs Tatin, Stéphanie et Caroline, dirigeaient l’hôtel, avec Stéphanie à la cuisine. Certains racontent qu’un jour cette sœur, particulièrement débordée laissa ses pommes cuire un peu trop longtemps dans le beurre et le sucre. Elle les sentit brûler et jeta rapidement une pâte à tarte sur les pommes frémissantes, glissant le tout dans le four afin de cuire la pâte. Après avoir retourné le contenu du moule sur un plat, elle le servit à ses hôtes tel quel – à la satisfaction générale !

Une autre histoire propose que Stéphanie aie accidentellement renversé une tarte caramélisée dans le four. Je pense que le premier récit semble plus probable non ?

Consultez le site smitten kitchen pour la recette officielle … un conseil : le caramel est très dur à réaliser dans un moule anti-adhésif. Après avoir attendu bien trop longtemps (parfois il faut vraiment faire les erreurs pour en tirer une leçon), j’ai transvasé le beurre et le sucre déjà chauds dans une casserole inox et ils se sont transformés en caramel en 30 secondes. Cela fait vraiment une différence. Puis je l’ai remis dans le moule d’origine et j’ai continué comme indiqué.

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