Sunday, February 23, 2014

"Only Lyon"

Add to Google Reader or HomepageAbout a month ago, we went to Lyon to pick up friends at the airport. Since Lyon is the “gastronomic” capitol of France, we decided to go early and enjoy a meal at one of Lyon’s restaurants. We got miserably lost and almost forfeited our reservation. Despite a WONDERFUL meal at 126, we decided that the city was too large and too easy to get lost and thus took Lyon off of our “must visit” list.

When we told Jane of our experiences and resulting decision, she countered with: “Lyon is beautiful. Let’s give it another try.”

We found a nice apartment in the Croix Rousse section of the city via VRBO and made our plans to visit. Between Jane’s good driving and Ellen’s Google maps, we made our way directly to the apartment without problem. It was a two bedroom apartment furnished in IKEA modern. It also had a garage – a big plus!

The owner explained that the apartment was originally a silk shop – many of the old buildings in the Croix Rousse section were. The area of the kitchen/living room was where they had their loom thus explaining the extremely high ceiling. The bedrooms were used for storage and a small door – where there is now a wall adorned with a huge mirror led to the sleeping space.

Lyon is located at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône rivers. It has been an important city since Roman times. The old town is located between the rivers on the ‘Presque Isle’. The Croix Rousse neighborhood sits above the old town offering wonderful views of the city. Lyon became the silk-weaving capitol of Europe during the Renaissance. The silk workers – les Canuts – made silk and wove it into fabric. They built covered passages – called Les Traboules – to move the silk protected from the rain from Croix Rousse to the merchants in the lower parts of the city. Many of these passageways still exist.
Ellen and Jane check out one of the Traboules
Despite the decline of the silk industry in Lyon, the city remains vital. It is now called the gastronomic capitol of France. Paul Bocuse, who is one of the proponents of Nouvelle Cuisine, is from Lyon. It is therefore easy to find excellent restaurants. Three days, three wonderful restaurants. Some Lyonais restaurants are called Bouchon which normally means cork or blockage but in Lyon it stands for restaurants that serve local favorites – from local sources. We chose – Le Bouchon des Filles – and selected from the menu du jour from which we chose: rognons de veau (veal kidney), quenelles (shredded fish incorporated into a dumpling and saucisse (sausage). The meal was excellent. Even their pichet de vin was better than most table wines. (Lyon is situated between Burgundy to the north and the Northern Rhône Valley so finding excellent wines is easy.)

Another facet of Lyon is the “trompe l’oeil” murals found around the city. We found two while we were walking but saw another four as we were leaving and driving along the Saône.

Look closely. I am standing in front of the mural!
A major ad from the Tourist Bureau is “Only Lyon”. We appreciated the anagram. It is a wonderful city.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

Add to Google Reader or HomepageThe evening started with a note from Dan reminding me of a wonderful lunch on St. Valentine’s Day at Les Abeilles in Sablet eight years ago with a group of friends. It ended with an espresso after another wonderful meal at La Lyriste in Vaison. 

Benoit, chef at La Lyriste, mentioned that he was planning the menu for St. Valentine’s Day when we were having dinner with them last week. I asked Marie to make reservations for us. (Good idea!)

The meal started with a glass of champagne and Amuse bouche.

The entrée was: Queues de Gambas Laquées au Sirop de Liège, Huile Basilic.
 Shrimp tails painted with fruit syrup and served with Basil oil 
  (on a bed of fennel, leeks and potatoes).

We chose a wine from one of the local (Vaison) vintners whom Dan and I met last spring. It was a nice CdR that paired well with the veal and the cheese. The young vintner and his wife have only three hectar of vines but they make nice, old-world style wines.

Terre de Gaulhem, 2010
The main course was:  Pavé de Veau Blanc Roti au Thym, Sauce Champignon, Pomme de Terre éecrasée au curry; a perfectly prepared piece of veal served on a bed of smashed potatoes gently flavored with curry. The mushroom sauce added a nice touch. (I let my appetite get ahead of my camera and ate too much of the main course before I remembered to get a picture.)

The cheese course – Camembert Pané was a lightly breaded piece of Camembert served on lettuce.

The dessert, oh the dessert: Ananas/Crème Tendre au Chocolat. I thought it was chocolate mousse served on thin slices of pineapple. Ellen thought it was ganache served on thin slices of pineapple. Either way, it was great.

Happy Valentine’s Day!