Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday 30 April 2008

Bulletin from Beaune

The euphony of the title above appeals to me! It also has the virtue of being factual as I am currently in Beaune in the Burgundy region of France, nearing the end of this stage of my return to Scotland. Since I last posted here (* - see at end), whilst spending a night in Valencia at the start of my journey back north, I have spent two nights at a very nice bed and breakfast in the hills outside Sitges, a little south of Barcelona. Unfortunately the weather, although rather nice on the day I arrived there (Sunday), deteriorated on Monday and remained overcast with a little rain for most of the day - none of this prevented me having a very pleasant long walk along the Sitges promenade and back (probably 6-7km) followed by a very good lunch on the terrace of one of the restaurants on the promenade. Tuesday started overcast, too, but before I left Sitges the sun had already begun to poke through the clouds and my resumed journey north into France became increasingly bright as the day wore on, and most of the afternoon was in bright sunshine and on my arrival in Vaison-la-Romaine (Wikipedia article here) to visit with friends we were able to sit on their terrace enjoying the evening sunshine (and aperitifs with tapenade) before a superb home-cooked dinner. The lady of the house is a good cook and the meal started with copious quantities of new-season fat white and green asparagus accompanied by a sauce of mayonnaise mixed with a little Dijon mustard and beaten egg white; a real treat. Followed a speciality paté of the region (pork brain and black olives) accompanied with butter and bread, then a local variant of boeuf bourgignon in which both mushrooms and green olives play a part, in addition to the usual ingredients. Following this was a selection of cheeses and finally a copious bowl of the first local strawberries of the season. Naturally the meal was accompnied by bottles of local white and red wine. I slept very well las night!

This morning (Wednesday) I awakened to the sound of heavy rain outside. By 11am I was on my way again and the rain, which had lessened a little before my departure, came back more strongly during my drive back to the motorway. There are many vineyards in this area which sell wine direct and offer wine tastings to visitors, so I called in at one such in the small town of Suze-la-Rousse and after tasting a number of their wines I purchased several bottles of one of their red wines and smaller quantities of two of their white wines, together with a bottle of each of their Creme de Cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) and Creme de Myrtilles (blueberry liqueur); as I was already carrying quite a lot of Spanish wines and sherries, mainly to give as gifts to people I will be visiting on my way back home or to people at home, the amount of wine I could purchase today was limited by what I could carry in an already quite well-filled car!

Tonight I am in the town of Beaune in the Burgundy region. Dinner this evening was very good, too. I started with more new-season, mainly white, asparagus with a vinaigrette dressing, then followed on with some fish (ray in butter - not a fish which I have very often been able to have in Britain, I've mainly eaten it in France and Morocco). Finally a plate of local cheeses. The meal was accompanied by a half-bottle of a good white burgundy (a Mercurey, a wine from the Côte Chalonnaise village of the same name) with a glass of red burgundy (whoe name escapes me at this late stage of the evening, but was delicious) to go with the cheese.

It is now rather late. Tomorrow I shall be travelling on to Vioménil in the Vosges region; it is a tiny village with about 170 inhabitants and is the source of the River Saône. I will be out of the reach of an internet connection until I reach the Netherlands on Friday, although will probably have little time or oportunity to blog further until I reach home in Scotland next Tuesday. By which time, of course, who has been elected as the new Mayor of London will be old news; no doubt I'll have something to say about that next week, whatever the result is tomorrow.

(*) - Unfortunately this article seems to have disappeared; I vaguely remember removing it for other reasons some time after I wrote it, but have no offline record of the text - so it is gone into the ether.

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