Here’s the dinner menu from an excellent restaurant named Le Petit Paradis in the town of Beaune in France’s Burgundy region. Beaune is an ancient city – but filled with modern outlets that architecturally merge well with historical structures. Most visitors here are French. The town, located in the heart of the wine country, has a bustling weekly market. Burgundy is broken down into five wine production regions, and we visited two in the nerve center of these vineyards – the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune. These produce some rockin’ good reds (made primarily from Pinot Noir) and whites (almost all Chardonnay).
Okay – back to dinner.
The restaurant Le Petit Paradis is relatively small, and shows the daily dishes on mounted blackboards. Little wall alcoves include bottles and inverted decanters placed on silver pegs, as well as a conspicuously perched little white angel (this is paradise, remember).
My friend Robin started off with a soup – velouté de carottes au cumin – cream of carrots with cumin, garnished with shavings of radish and chives. This was a taste explosion and confirmed that the French indeed wield formidable magic in the kitchen.
I ordered rillettes de maquereaux fumes en tartine glace wasabi – or roulettes of smoked mackerel and wasabi ice cream. This included a silver toothpaste-like tube with the mackerel freshly inserted, served with a hunk of green ice cream (cold, liquid wasabi) and baby arugula.
We ordered a bottle of 2007 Joseph Drouhin Meursault – a Grand Vin de Bourgogne – which means that the Chardonnay grapes grew on some prime mid-slopes of nearby wine coated hills.
Robin ordered ailes de raie aux câpres beurre noisette – skate with snowpeas, capers, and brown butter sauce, while I chose souris d’agneau confite aux épices – a knuckle joint of lamb with spices. The succulent meat fell off the bone.
For desert – I chose fondue gourmande au chocolat – chocolate fondue with fruits, while Robin had chiboust àl’ananas (crème pâtissière et meringue italienne) – cream pastry filled with vanilla and whisked with egg whites over grilled pineapple.
The lesson learned? Take a Burgundian wine you enjoy, combine it with creative French cooking, and prepare for a taste rodeo.
Here’s to your health – pour votre santé.