I spent Saturday picking grapes and sorting them before they went into the large oak barrel for fermentation...I say picking, I should say cutting. And, I was eager to return to it today, but the decided not to cut today...they explained it all to me in French, but I have no idea what they were saying, except that I should not come today. Okay, one victory with language today, so I won't get discouraged, and I understood the most important part which is that because of the lunar change, they can only pick very early tomorrow, then stop until later this week. As I understood, they do not pick when the moon is in its decent because the grapes shut down. This is a bit of a mystery to me, but I am intrigued by it and they make awesome wines, so clearly they know what they are doing. That said, I had the day off. I realize that this whole trip is many days off, but I feel better if I think that this work is terrible...I am, how do you say, "a very lucky woman." Okay, so I have to do my job, right? Which is to say that I must eat and drink and write about it for all of you.
I heard that La Mere de Germaine in Chateauneuf de Pape was very good, so there I went. It is a nice atmosphere, a bit fancier than typical small restaurants, but very warm and super friendly. The dinning room is large, bright, and sunny...it feels like an extension of outside, which is so inviting. The menu is a pris fixe lunch, with three courses. There is a lot of words for each choice, so I go for the words that I know...Poisson, okay, there is my entres, and for the main plate, saumon. I do okay with menus, but I refuse to pull out a dictionary, and at times my pride gets the best of me. I recall a salad once in St. Emillion, in Bordeaux, that resembled corned beef hash, yikes.
But, today, everything went very smoothly. The appetizer was delicate, beautifully prepared, and perfectly cooked.
There was a bed of fresh parsley which supported a terrine of fish, avocado, and potatoes, topped with a small piece of red fish. I tried to discuss with the waiter the type of fish, but I finally settled on "red" and we don't have the same thing, but I would liken the flavor to fluke, or a very light simple fish. It was great, though I had selected a glass of white Chateauneuf, from Bosquet du Pape, and it was a bit heavy for the delicate appetizer. What can I say, I am not perfect! (please don't tell.)
It was, however, perfect with the main dish, which was a bit more fatty and rich.
The salmon was very rich and dense, more like a sockeye in Seattle, which is why it worked so well with the wine and with the delicious pile of polenta. I am not a huge fan of polenta, but that is not to say I do not like it. The problem is that all to often it is not salted properly, in my opinion, and there is too little fat, so it tastes bland and can be a little gelatal. I am not sure that is a word, but I am going for it. (All those years in school, I should be able to make up a word or two.) This polenta was exceptional. Again, the presence of Italian ingredients, but with French style. The polenta had a touch of cheese, with a bit of a tomato, ginger, and onion compote, and small blanched pieces of lemon rind. The ginger was very subtle, but added an interesting little bite. And, with the wine, it was perfect.
I am learning about the whites of the region, and enjoying them. We see very few at home, but they are fabulous food whites with a lot of complexity. I will work on finding more when I return.
Tomorrow, I will spend the day with Daniel Brunier at Vieux Telegraph, which I am very excited about. I will watch their process of wine making! More on that in tomorrow's post.
What are you eating?