Saturday, September 26, 2015

Meals on wheels: Bordeaux part II

As promised, or threateningly announced: here's is part two of Schlachtplatte goes Bordeaux!

While there is the old, breathtakingly beautiful Bordeaux, there is also the new, modernist, or even futurist Bordeaux. The middle part of the bridge you see below can be drawn up like an elevator to let huge ocean cruise ships pass underneath! I witnessed this quite astonishing spectacle.

One of the reasons I wanted to go back to Bordeaux were the good memories I had of the Sunday market at the quais in les Chartrons. The fougasse I used to buy there while living in Bordeaux is one of my fondest food memories and for it, I had arranged to be in Bordeaux on 2 consecutive Sundays ... only to discover that the market stall that sold it 8 years ago no longer exists... oh well, luckily, there are many other food options in Bordeaux.

The market itself is still the nicest market in Bordeaux, much nicer than the one at place St Michel on Saturdays (though that one is the place to go if you are looking for fresh mint). I mean, just look at that cheese! Don't you want to buy one of each kind?

After the market, I strolled around les Chartrons where you can stumble across lovely stores that look somewhat fallen out of time.

And yes, that, for reasons of utmost authenticity, is a big pile of merde du chien in front of the poisonnerie.

Another place where I had spent a lot of time in Bordeaux and which has not lost any of its beauty is the jardin public, a park that serves as a green oasis with meticulously taken care of flower beds, palm trees and sculptures.  Make sure to visit when you're in Bordeaux!

However, Bordeaux does not only offer old art, but also contemporary art. There is the stunning CAPC, but also, the main station under reconstruction. Or what else could this wild collection of scaffolding be that supports the station at the moment? 

At the station, I took the train to Biarritz for a couple of days on the seaside, just like half of Bordeaux did!

copyright of all photos j.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Meals on wheels: les Vosges, France

Interrupting my posts on Bordeaux and Biarritz for... another France post, but this time on les Vosges! All the first halves of my childhood summers were spent at my aunt's vacation home in the French Vosges region. So, when I made the plan to visit the Vitra Design museum's exhibition on African design (excellent!), we quickly decided to spent some days with my aunt in her house as well.

I had not been there in, I guess, ten years and while I remembered it to be beautiful, I had not remembered it to be this beautiful. The region of the Vosges is not the most prosperous one of France, but it is full of charme, and as my invented saying goes: it's like the French Black Forest except with even better food!
What I really like about the region is that it still has a very distinct character. You can't order cappuccino with almond or soy milk there because all you will get is a café alongé with regular milk. If it is myrtille season, you get everything myrtille, but you won't get a stupid New York cheese cake. It seems very authentic, as far removed from internatioanl hipsterdom as possible, in which every popular region, every large city has become more and more interchangeable.

Besides a million small museums of local history, there are also a couple of bigger museums, such as the musée de l'image in Épinal, a museum and production site of the popular picture sheets. I highly recommend a guided tour of the factory where the sheets are still being produced today like in the 19th century.

The lake in Géradmer is wonderful for swimming (just look at how clear the water is!), weather permitting, but you can also tour it with canoes, pedal boats or wind surfs.

With 1363 meters, le Hohneck is one of the highest summits in the Vosges. The view is stunning: on an early autumn day, you can see as far as the Black Forest! I recommend going there between 17:00 and 19:00 when the sun is at the right angle to colour everything golden. 

The lac des corbeaux was another popular spot we used to visit when I was a child. This year, summer was so dry that the lake had very little water. It's popular among fishermen, and since it only takes about 20 minutes to walk around the lake, it is a nice spot for a walk even for those people who are not so good on foot. 

We went to Géradmer twice, because the pâtisserie Schmitt was oh so good, that we were not thinking twice about coming back there for more cake. Their royal probably was the best one I've ever had because they really understood that the crunchy part of the royal should be as thick as possible.

After everyone had eaten at least one piece of cake (which is a polite way of saying everyone had more than one piece of cake), we continued to the jardin de Berchigranges, a beautifully sculpured, once private, now public garden that you best visit barefoot because the lawn is so soft, it would be a shame to wear shoes.

We also went all the way to the summit of the Grand Ventron where we enjoyed the nice views and paid a visit to the free range cows that look like straight out of a tourist leaflet. There are also many fermes in the regions that have goats and produce their own goat cheese. We chose to visit the small goat farm in the small village of Ventron called la chèvrerie de peute goutte where we ended up buying a delicious goat cheese! I wish we had bought more than just one piece, but hey, you always need a reason to return to a place, non?

We had so much good food that it feels really unfair to have to go back to a normal Berlin diet. Apparently, as a child, one summer all I ordered when we went out for dinner was trout, so on our last evening at a local ferme auberge type restaurant, I indulged in trout with almonds that was swimming in brown butter, nomnomnom!

The region is also known for skiing in the winter (apparently, we once went skiing there, but I do not have any memory whatsoever of that vacation...), and I guess it is only a matter of time until we will go there again in the winter for some powder snow (well, at least some snow...)!

copyright of all photos j.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Bordeaux: Potato Head restaurant

Another reason to come to Bordeaux was the plan to have lunch at the small, unpretentious restaurant that we used to go to for lunch every Wednesday while I was doing an internship in Bordeaux years ago. But that restaurant no longer existed! So I started to look online for a nice place to go for lunch on Saturday. 

This is how I stumbled across Yummy Bordeaux, who so passionately wrote about potato head, that I just had to try it out! 

They have a lovely terrace in the backyard that quickly filled with people. For lunch, they offer a very fair priced formule, but I went all in and had a three course lunch.

Their menue is quite small - three dished to choose from for every course - which is plenty of choice for me!
For starters, I took the Burrata on a bouquet of salad and herbs, tomates confits and water melon. At first I was afraid that there was too much salt on the Burrata, but it was just impeccable!!!! The best thing however were the tomates confits! I think it is not an exaggeration when I say that on Saturday, 15t August at 12:30 I had the best tomato in my entire life! This wasn't a complicated dish to prepare, but one in which only the best of the best raw produce was used and that is all that matters to me!

Being in Bordeaux, it would have been a shame to take anything but fish for the main course. The cod fish on zucchini purée and roasted apricots was a lovely, light choice!

The dessert likewise was an easy choice for me because one came with cassis sorbet and those who know me know that cassis sorbet is just about the best thing I can imagine! 

Fluffy Madeleines, tart cassis sorbet and sweet crunchy meringue - what more do you need?

And all this, including either a glass of whine or a soft drink, cost 24 euros! What a bargain! I think I owe Yummy Bordeaux a grand Merci for drawing my intention to this modern Brasserie-gem in Bordeaux!

copyright of all photos j.