April 5, 2009

Bordeaux trip day 1: two meals 500km apart

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Today’s my first day back in France after a very long absence.  Flying long-haul in cattle class was rough, but thankfully the processing upon arrival at Paris Charles De Gaulle was a breeze.  Getting myself to Gare Montparnasse was also pretty easy, and I rented a locker and dropped off my baggage at the station.

With a bit more than an hour and a half to spare before the train departure, I headed off to Dalloyau next to the Jardin du Luxembourg.  This is my favorite salon de thé in Paris, situated next to my favorite garden in Paris.  I’m gonna get myself some breakfast to start the day.  I arrived just a few minutes before the opening time of 9am (don’t Parisiens eat breakfast earlier?), so I had to wait a bit before being led to the salon de thé upstairs.

I was happy to order a pot of Dalloyau N° 10, one of my favorite teas.  This blend of Darjeeling has been infused with peach flavors, and was created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Dalloyau's presence in Japan.  Sadly it is no longer for sale at their stores in Japan, so I was excited to be able to at least enjoy it here.

I must admit that the pain au chocolat was a bit disappointing, but the croissant aux amandes and the chausson pommes were both very yummy.  I quickly finish breakfast and head back downstairs to buy some goodies for takeaway…  Tons of yummy pastries here, plus the usual selection of macarons. Surprisingly, the trademark Opéra was missing this morning.

Hopping on the TGV after breakfast, I find myself arriving at Bordeaux Gare St-Jean 3 hours later.  I'm picked up by a driver, and instead of grabbing a jambon beurre sandwich on the run, I meet up with my friend at La Tupiña for lunch.  We are scheduled to come for dinner in two days, but it's nice to have a preview.

The restaurant is named after the cooking pot hanging over the fireplace, which always has something or another cooking inside.  The place is very homey and the food unpretentious.  It apparently is my friend's favorite restaurant in Bordeaux.  We gave wine a pass since we will have more than enough alcohol in our system for the next 3 days.

I had a taste of some poached giant white asparagus spears, which I found a bit too big (hence old and not very tender).   I had wanted something simple - and supposedly light - so what did I order but cassoulet?!  I guess I just couldn't pass up the chance to have the real thing since I am in the south of France.   And it was delicious!   The simple stew of white haricot beans, pork sausage, fatty pork and duck leg - with a layer of gratin on top - really hit the spot.

After lunch we took the scenic route via the airport to our hotel, Château Cordeillan-Bages.  As we head north-west, we passed by most of the major appellations of the Médoc, along with some of the most recognizable châteaux in the region: Léoville-Las Cases, Ducru-Beaucaillou, Pichon Baron and Latour among them.  We would be visiting all of those on our whirlwind tour of 24 châteaux over the next 3 days.  But now I have to get ready for dinner at the Michelin 2-star restaurant inside our hotel...


Lambda said...

I am hungry and I have no idea of what to have for lunch today. My choice seems to be McD vs Yoshinoya.....

Glad that you are having a good time eating away!

Susan said...

Oh, I love La Tupina!! Did you try their pommes frites? They're frite'd in duck fat!
Be sure to try the canneles - they're a speciality of Bordeaux. You can buy them from street vendors - I love the super-dark ones (they look burnt but they're not). But only get them if they're crisp - if they're soggy they're not nearly as good.

Unknown said...

enjoy your stay in France.

Unknown said...

Hi Peech, I have been following your blogs for some time and they are vivid and exciting! I am currently planning a Bordeaux trip and would need a driver. Can you share your driver contact with me if possible? Many thanks in advance. Amy
PS I may have more Bordeaux questions to follow! *v*


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