One of our favorite things to do is to learn and experience more about the different areas of wine producing. We learned from our time in the Pacific Northwest that we are huge fans of Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley located just south of Portland, Oregon is a great Pinot Noir producing area). When we discovered that the Bourgogne region of France was just a few hours away, we knew we needed to put it on our “must-see” list!
We headed out on Tuesday evening, after Ara got off work and drove the 4 hrs to Beaune, France—arriving just in time to sleep at our beautiful Airbnb in the center of town. We were traveling the first weekend of August and it was brutally hot during this time in all of western Europe—a definite heat wave. Despite our Airbnb being a lovely apt with amazing amenities, including the most beautiful and spacious bathroom I’ve ever witnessed in an Airbnb apt, there was no fan in sight and definitely no AC (most of Europe doesn’t believe in AC in homes). We spent one miserable night with very little sleep, roasting in this hot box of an apt in the most perfect little French town. It seems crazy to think back now on the experience, but oh man were we ever in rough shape that morning. It was particularly difficult as I was still battling nausea and morning sickness making the heat seem even more oppressive.
Even though we had the most terrible sleep that night, we had to rally and get ourselves together because we had an exciting day ahead of us. I had been looking forward to this day for quite some time and knew we had to make the best with our sleep deprivation.
We started the day grabbing some quiche from the patisserie, Passion Millot, on Rue de Lorraine. This quiche both gave us life for the day! It was the perfect amount of cheesy and flaky and had some delicious lardons (bacon). Once our bellies were full and we were trying to forget about the terrible night of sleep, we headed out of the apt for our short walk to meet up with our group for a cooking class with The Cook’s Atelier.
We were greeted by Marjorie and Kendall of The Cook’s Atelier in front of Hess Cheese Shop, directly across from the Beaune Market (market days are Wednesday and Saturday). The lovely, mother-daughter, expat duo who run the Atelier gave us a run-down of how this little shop in Beaune came to be. Inside Hess Cheese Shop, Kendall carefully selected several cheeses that we would enjoy later on in the day as Marjorie explained a little about how we would make our way through the market and the town gathering artisan and local purveyor goods for the cooking class with a short stop at the local butcher.
Once we arrived at the Atelier shop, we headed back through the beautifully curated shop into the magnificent kitchen. We all donned aprons and grabbed a station as Marjorie talked us through what we would be learning and making for the day. First up, we learned the art of gougères, a baked savory choux pastry mixed with cheese. I had my turn at piping some of the gougères out for our group. Next, we learned the proper technique for trimming a beef rib roast—and Marjorie seasoned the generous portion cut of Charolais beef that the butcher had selected for us. We made our way to the next course, learning the art of mastering a cheese souffle. Ara was the master behind the key to the souffle mixture—preparing the bechamel sauce.
Once we finished with all the prep work, we were whisked off upstairs to a beautiful airy loft that was setup for our cooking class group’s lunch. Laurent, Kendall’s husband, poured us a glass of champagne as we were handed the warm gougères—that melted in your mouth! What a way to start a lunch! We enjoyed a few small bites of pate and cured meats as we sat down for the lunch. The conversation was flowing with our small cooking class group and before we knew it, the staff were bringing up our finished souffles.
We devoured each course, each one thoughtfully paired with a wine from Bourgogne. Our lunch ended with a delicious dessert that we had also learned how to make—a simple butter cake with fruit. The grande finale for our lunch was a pan of hot-from-the-oven madeleines, freshly dusted with a layer of powered sugar and hand-crafted cappuccino. I could get used to French living if every day was like this! We loved the hospitality and all the staff at Cook’s Atelier!
Our goal for our second day was to take in as much of the little town of Beaune as we could as well as tasting and purchasing some wine to bring home with us!
We made our first stop at Marche aux Vins for a self-paced tour and tasting. It was unique to walk in the underground cave and see so many old, dusty bottles of wine on display.
I’d made prior reservations for a us to do a tour and tasting at Joseph Drouhin in the afternoon. I was familiar with their sister winery, Domaine Drouhin, located in Willamette Valley and I knew I wanted to try out the flagship winery. Ara and I both thoroughly enjoyed the tour learning about the extensive history of the winery that dates back to 1880.
For dinner we decided to check out one of the restaurants that came highly regarded from the ladies of The Cook’s Atelier. We made our way to Bissoh, an authentic Japanese restaurant. I know what you are thinking, “You guys went to France and ate Japanese?” Well let me tell you that this was some of the best sushi I’ve ever had in my life! I would drive to Beaune again in a heartbeat just to eat dinner here! We started out with a small plate of miso eggplant then Ara had his fill of delicious fresh sushi pieces (sushimi in my mind) and I had a soft-shell crab roll that was divine. We sat at the bar and enjoyed talking to the chef and his sous-chef while we made our way through dinner.
It was so lovely to stroll the town after dinner. The village of Beaune is so quaint and with just our two days there we found ourselves remembering little corners and finding it very easy to navigate the town. We can’t wait for our next trip back to stock up on more delicious Bourgogne wine.