Tired but most content, I just got back from a weekend spent with Jeff Kingston in Burgundy and Geneva. On Saturday we had dinner at Lameloise
and on Sunday we pushed our way through the packed halls of the Geneva car show
for a few hours.
Jeff and I met at the Geneva airport on Saturday morning, grabbed a rental car and straight away headed down to Beaune, where I wanted to pick up a few bottles of the local wines. On the way, Jeff confessed that he has spontaneously rearranged his European itenary the week before and had snuck off to Lameloise to do "reconnaissance". I didn't buy of course, after all, Jeff's been to this restaurant too many times to count.
Thankfully Jeff is a true expert on the subject of Burgundy wines, a mere glance at the displays of the numerous wine shops would either prompt him to enter for a closer look or have him shaking his head in mild disgust. After our successful shopping tour, we debated back and forth if we should risk our appetites for the evening and go for a small snack or not. The windows of the many delicatessen shops finally proved too tempting to pass and we settled on a baguet and some cheese which we enjoyed the French way, sitting on a park bench. I could have easily filled our car with delicious food for sale throughout the town but we did come across a few items that were less tempting:
Pig ears and jellied pig snouts, non merci !
We then headed of to Aloxe-Corton, a tiny village which is world famous for the fabulous wines grown their. We checked in to the charming Villa Louise
, a wonderfully rustic pension with only seven rooms located smack in the middle of some of the world's best vineyards.
Before heading off to the restaurant, Jeff took me on a tour through the regions best vineyards, pointing out which producer owned which strip of vines, he really knows his Burgundy. I was fascinated to hear that one patch of land could produce the most fabulous Grand Cru while the other just across the road would barely merit a "Village" appellation.
When we arrived at Lameloise, a big surprise party for a very famous winemaker was just breaking up. We were told that all the guests were winemakers too and all had brought wine as a gift. Why does nobody ever throw me a party like that ?
After a most friendly greeting, we headed up to their newly remodeled salon for a glass of champagne and the opportunity to browse through the menu. I don't know if this is an option for all the guests but we were allowed order the appetizers in half portions and that way compile our dream menu ourselves. After a half an hour of intense deliberation, I finally made my choice, it wasn't easy at all to pick from a menu on which virtually every item is tempting. They served us a plate of lovely little puff pastries and tiny slices of dark bread with a creamy spread together with our drinks. In light of all the food that was to come, Jeff cautioned me to hold back on these snacks. Of course his warning fell on completely deaf ears.
I happily let Jeff take care of the wines, the week before he had coerced the sommelier to put us away a bottle of red of which the restaurant had only managed to acquire six bottles of, and ours was the last one they had.
After ordering, we were then asked to our table which was in the cosiest of the restaurant's three rooms:
Let the feast begin !
White wine: Puligny Montrachet Les Demoiselles 1996, Michel Colin. Roasted nuts, vanilla, smoke ... Tasting a wine like is just an incredible joy, is this really made out of grapes ?
Amuse bouche: Jumbo shrimps on a bed of finely chopped vegetables
My first course: warm and cold foie gras with spicy fig chutney and all kinds of wonderful little sauces. Note: this is a half
Jeff's first course: Croustillant de homard, lobster meat sandwiched between wafer thin pastry on a bed of tomatoe sauce
My second course: risotto of Bretagne langoustines with a light and creamy bisque and strips of old parmesan cheese (ooogah !!!)
Jeff's second course: Bar dore sur la peau with a few splashes of balsamic vinegar
Red wine: Clos de Vougeot 1997, Domain Meo Camuzet. I now understand why even the best restaurant in Burgundy only managed to get half a case of this nectar. I like full-bodied wines and normally associate Burgundies with light fruity wines. But this Clos de Vougeot was just brimming with flavors, earth, tannin, oak, the pure Burgundy experience.
We both easily agreed on the same main course: pigeon breast covered in black truffels. As it should be, the main course was the absolute highlight of this fantastic dinner. The meat was cooked perfectly red and so moist and tender. But the side dish served in a silver bowl pleased me almost just as much. It was the rest of the pigeon, mixed together with mushrooms and a delicious thick stock. Eating this dish was like having one of the world's finest chef's cook you an incredible delicacy and his grandmother making you the stew of a lifetime at the same time !
Of course, we had to sample from the cheese wagon
Vacherin Mont d'Or flowing away at 12 o'clock, the blue cheese at the bottom of the plate was just incredible.
The greeting from the patissier, a little cup of most delicious bavaroise
While we were in Beaune, I unsuccessfully tried to locate a patisserie which sold those wafer thin apple or pear tarts I love so much. At Lameloise, I found it. Both Jeff and I chose the triple apple dessert: tarte tatin, apple tart and a scoop of the most wonderous green apple sorbet
While we were enjoying desserts, every few minutes a waiter would bring another plate with more sweets on it, petite fours, pastries, caramel and nougat candy or candied orange strips. Risking a sugar shock, we tried to devour them all but eventually had to wave the white flag.
Lameloise is a most fabulous restaurants and merits every rave review it's every gotten. The staff is extremly friendly and efficient, the atmosphere is very relaxed (for once I wasn't the worst dressed man in the room, about a third of the guests weren't even wearing a tie) and the food, in every detail, is just awesome. Starting from the perfect seafood, to the breads and ending at the most creamy caramel candies I've ever tasted, virtually everything they bought out was of the highest quality. While the food is rich of course, it's not heavy, cream is hardly used and I slept very well that night. Most highly recommended and worth any detour !
We met up for breakfast the next morning and actually managed to eat something, too tempting were the local delights the Villa Louise had in store for us. Traffic was thin so we arrived at the Palexpo in Geneva well before noon and spent a few hours ogling everything the car industry had to offer. Perhaps it's because Switzerland doesn't have automobile industry that such a large car show is held there, neutral ground so to speak. But a few cars are made in the country, including one of the absolute show stoppers, the incredible shrinking Rinspeed
An easy to park two-seater ideal for the city ...
... folds out to a roomy four-seater for the family outing
It was a beautiful day so we spent the rest of the afternoon in Montreux where half of Western Switzerland seemed to be gathered around the lake. We then headed up to the top of a mountain for a plate of cured meats, a fondue and a bottle of fruity Montreux white. Though slightly more frugal than the night before, a very fitting way to cap of an exiting weekend.