And on to Paris

Day 6, by Kasey

I practically skipped up the street to grab our morning croissant. It felt so good to be awake before 11 AM! It was our last morning in Bordeaux and she gave us a beautiful sunny day to say goodbye. 

We took our time getting ready for the train, careful to pack any leftovers and pungent cheese that Kelly would not want to return to after our journey to Paris. This time, we boarded the train with a full picnic; fresh blueberries, croissants, truffle cheese (my new favorite), and nice wine. However, I’m happy to report that train wine in France is good! 

Our journey to Paris was filled with laughter, good food, and Bordeaux wine. Having had 5 full days in France, we were all feeling more present in the moment; stopping to admire the countryside as it rolled gently by.

While Stephanie waited in line for train wine, she was approached by the Purser who immediately started speaking to her in French. For anyone who has seen this scene from Modern Family, it was quite the compliment! When his French outpaced comfort with the language, she asked him, “Parle-vous English”? He said “No, hablo Espanol?” So there they were, two strangers on a train in France, speaking Spanish!

We arrived in Paris feeling the full energy of the city. Our Airbnb was steps from the Louvre and surrounded by fashion. On the east end of the small street was Valentino. As we strolled down busy streets, we admired the fashion; Chanel, Dior, Versace…

We dashed past the place where Stephanie got engaged, and then slipped into the posh Hotel Le Meurice across the street from the entrance to the Tuileries Gardens. A gem Stephanie had discovered years before. We sneaked into their elusive bar area and thought we saw a John Legend siting! The decorations were dripping with old-world elegance; gilded mirrors, lush drapes, gorgeous paintings on the walls and ceilings, and the intoxicating smell of warm vanilla. It was like jumping into the deep end of a swimming pool. We sat quiet for a while, letting the outside hustle and bustle fade, taking in the scene and people-watching before dinner. 

For dinner, Kelly and Karen chose a French brasserie named Flottes. The bread was warm and accompanied by our favorite French butter! It was time for some classic French favorites; started with Oysters. Stephanie and Karen savored “the best Caesar salads they had ever had”. I was moved by the menus statement about the chef’s childhood favorite; coquilettes, fromage and jambon. I ordered it without asking anyone what it was, determined to enjoy it, and lucked out a very rich and decadent macaroni and cheese! Kelly had the sea bass with ratatouille – another classic French dish. We skipped dessert thinking we could stop at a Chocolatier on our way home but sadly they were all closed for the night. 

With full bellies and another day of happy memories, we settled in to the apartment for a good night’s sleep with high expectations for our last full day in France. 

A day in St Emilion

Day 5, by Kelly

Four women showering and glamoring it up in one bathroom….quite a visual, right???!!!  And we still like each other!

It was an early start for us and we were on a timeline to meet our guide at the tourism office but we didn’t miss having fresh buttery croissants before our departure.  Délicieuse!!

It was a short trek to the tourism office where we met our tour guide, Rudolph. He was energetic, knowledgeable and fun! We knew that we were up for a fabulous day of wine, history and cuisine in St Emillion!

Our tour guide Rudolph explaining where St Emilion lies within the Bordeaux region

The farmers were protesting in Bordeaux by blocking the public highways.  It wasn’t an issue for us because Rudolph knew how to avoid the highway en route to St Emilion.  

Our first stop was in Pomerol at a wonderful 12th century family owned chateau. BTW, we learned that to be considered a “Chateau” you simply have to have 24 vines and must produce (from vine to bottle) and bottle your wine. Kasey has 24 vines… she and I will be making and bottling wine in 2024! Chateau Morales!!! That means creating a beautiful label….don’t everyone line up to get on our high demand distribution list. LOL!

A darling young French woman led a tour of the estate and ended with a tasting of two wines. The first glass was the low production first label wine and the second glass was their second label wine. It was fun to compare the two wines and see which of the two the four of us preferred.

We piled back into the van with our two other tour mates and headed to the next winery in St Emillion.  We were met by handsome Bruno. He led us through their production process and a visit of the winery caves, which were carved out of the limestone under the estate. It was a dark and dreary cave which led to barrels of wine aging and waiting to be bottled later in the Fall of 2024.

The estate owns a wine shop in the center of St Emilion. We all nestled into the cozy seating area while Bruno led through a tasting of six wines, two of which were from his family estate. So fun to taste and compare wines from the St Emilion region.

Our driver, Rudolph, made reservations for dejuener (lunch) at a quaint boulangerie. We had a wonderful meal with wine and finished with little cups of espresso served with mini-canelles. Love the little sweets served with cafe!

We waddled out the boulangerie and headed into town for a quick tour of St Emilion which is situated on the top of a hill. It has a rich history of being a place where monks and nuns would go to live. The town was very quiet because most shops close in January after the holidays.

We got back into the van headed to our last stop at Chateau Martinet. Another beautiful family-owned winery. We were given a brief history of their winemaking process and headed to their little wine tasting room. Rudolph went through a fabulous tasting of the property’s wine alongside a few  from neighboring wineries. So cute because I had said at the first stop that American wineries serve a cracker for a palette cleanser or something simple to munch on while tasting, so at lunch Rudolph went to a market and surprised us with light little puff pastry crackers. He really was a great guide!

We had a full day and headed back to Bordeaux. The farmers were still protesting so the public highway was backed up. Rudolph was prepared for traffic and gave us a game of guessing the aromas of wine to play. So much fun to pass the time!  My team (Kasey, Karen and myself) came in second……in other words we were the losers!!!

I had a Zoom meeting that evening so the “girls” went to Palatino for a great Italian dinner. They made such a great impression on the cute French cooks that they sent the them a ham and white truffle pizza!

I was so grateful…they brought me a bag of pasta, pizza and burrata leftovers. So amazing! 

French Onion Soup and Seven More Courses

Day Four, by Stephanie

After yesterday’s rain, we were greeted with fresh streets in Bordeaux. Kelly and I ran down the street to pick up fresh, buttery croissant and hot out of-the oven chocolate brioche @ I couldn’t resist buying a couple of their specialty Merveilleux cakes for later. 

While Kelly’s landlord came to the apartment to fix the toilet seat, Karen, Kasey and I headed downtown to experience the shopping center of town. 

Kelly stayed behind to prep and setup for the video class of the French Onion Soup recipe. And THAT soup was so delish!  Our Recipe Club members will be ecstatic when they learn how simple and fabulous this recipe is when they receive the it in their next mailing. It was an amazing lunch.

We reflected on the fact that we’ve been eating tremendous food in France, but nothing compares to the food Kelly creates. We’re so lucky!!

After lunch, we got our steps in while searching for a check-in bag to pack home our “extras”. It was delightful to experience espressos and the hospitality of @CafeBrasserie on Rue St Catherine. 

And now for the Michelin Star restaurant experience…

One of my personal goals as a new “Foodie” came from watching @EmilyinParis. It was to experience a true French Michelin Star restaurant. Kelly planned our dinner @C’yusha, a French Michelin Star restaurant, with an exquisite continuous display of six courses.  Each course was a small plate of modern French cuisine, which we enjoyed with two fantastic bottles of St Emillion Grand Cru wines. The first course was described as a scrambled egg and lobster mousse, followed by warm bread with homemade carrot infused butter. The second course was a delicate creamy truffle-cauliflower soup, with a cauliflower stuffed brioche with dollops of bright citrus sauce. (Continued after photos…)

Course three was a picturesque display of two perfectly seared scallops resting on a delicate frothy sauce accompanied with a spear of roasted endive, a pumpkin truffle, and fresh Enoki mushrooms.

I’m not a big fan of chicken, but the main entree (and fourth course), was a succulent pan-seared chicken cutlet. I only ate half of it….Kelly was surprised that chicken was the main plate rather than duck or beef but the preparation and sauce with buttery and rich mashed parsnips was delightful.

And that left two final courses! The “Avant” dessert course was two mild cheeses served with a bit of fig jam finished with a sprinkle of “fleur de sel”. The the final serving (wait for it…) DESSERT! It was a chocolate creation of a gateaux with ganache center and a chocolate crisp that had a “pop rocks” experience. Very special. And speaking of special, I highly recommend the vin rouge Chateau Laroze. Perfectly balanced with a bold flavor and smooth finish. We took down two bottles. It’s a good thing we had a long walk home!

Bordeaux is like Portland 15 years ago. It’s fairly safe with a lot of locals walking around. We’ve noted how friendly everyone we met has been and how, while we have been eating a lot of different French food, we are fortunate to be able to have this time in Bordeaux together. After all, friends are treasure and #FoodIsLove. 


Crepes and Calamari

Day Three, by Kasey

We awoke to the aroma of fresh-from-the-oven Chocolate Cramiques from Aux Merveilleux de Fred. Kelly and Stephanie had gone for a quick morning stroll and brought back these delightful treats! 

We headed out to shop at some of the stores we had passed on our way to the market on day one, when we were on a mission (and truthfully, too tired to care). After a stroll through the linen shop, we found the creperie we were seeking as inspiration for the first recipe in our winter Recipe Club mailing. 

Years ago in Paris, I was so excited to savor crepes. I was more than a little disappointed when the first street vendor I found spooned Smuckers jam into a reheated crepe. 

As we walked into the creperie, I could tell right away that this was going to be a different experience! The place was packed with locals (always a good sign) and there were so many options on the menu it was difficult to choose. Kelly and I had the salmon with goat cheese, Stephanie chose the classic hame crepe followed by a chocolate drizzled crepe as dessert, and Karen chose scallops. 

But first, the wine. We selected a rosé. The label read Wine is Love. How perfect is that?!?! This was truly the inspiration we had been seeking.

The scallops in Karen’s crepes were delicious. And after befriending the staff, Stephanie captured a video of the crepe-making process in the form of a little show in the kitchen. It is clear these chefs have been making crepes for a very long time. 

With a full stomach, we headed to the grocery to gather ingredients for the second recipe to share with club members; sautéed calamari. Kelly taught Stephanie the process for selecting and weighing veggies in France, while I admired the ‘Foods in Season’ signage. So helpful!

In good spirits, we returned to the apartment to cook and video. We savored an hours-long dinner, starting with various cheeses and bread, followed by Calamari over thin noodles and topped with a garlic, shallot, and white wine sauce.

It was a full day of delightful flavors and warm conversation with amazing people. A true French experience. 

Jetlag, Happy Hour, and Fish Piccata

Day 2, by Kelly

Jetlag has caught up with the girls. 2 out of 3 rose around 10:45 and the last, Stephanie, wandered into the kitchen looking bewildered and asked, “is it really 11 am?”. Laughter started our fabulous day off! We discussed plans for the day but by the time we all had coffee, showers, hair and makeup it was almost 4 pm! 

We decided to wander to an area where I knew there were a few restaurants that have happy hour. We chose the Spanish restaurant with outside seating, but the day wasn’t warm, so we ended up sitting inside. We ordered a bottle of Spanish wine, croque monsieur and a baked camembert that was warm and creamy.

We devoured the tapas and wandered through the narrow historic buildings looking for our next stop. Spouses and children back in the states were all waking up and their phones started ringing.  So funny to watch the transition of our conversations turn to catching up with loved ones. That didn’t stop our search for our next stop as we headed towards the Garonne River. Found a great pub where we chose to again sit inside.  Ordered cocktails and wine and planned for our next activity…. cooking dinner!

We had purchased fresh white fish at the open market (Marche des Capucins) on Monday and didn’t want to miss the opportunity to cook this magnificent fish while it was still fresh. We wandered home along the river, pulled out pots and pans, poured some Bordeaux wine and videoed me preparing piccata fish served over pasta and roasted squash.

We made a video of the process so you (and we) could make this savory dish at home! Bon Apetit!

The making of fish picatta in Kelly’s kitchen

Such a fun night! We finished it off with delectable chocolate, a myriad of laughter, and a little more wine.

We all found it hard to say good night but knew that we had a full day ahead of us…..chatted until too late and pulled ourselves off the sofas and headed to dreamland.

Mussels in the Market, Chocolate & Wine

Day One, by Stephanie

Best feeling ever waking up in a different country after sleeping the whole night through! We were TIRED from our long journey. The warm soup before dinner was so nurturing. “When in France,” breakfast is pastry. We walked over a mile to the open market, and after cruising most of the “shops,” we settled on an almond chocolate pastry for Karen, a traditional croissant for Kasey and Kelly & I split a flan infused puff pastry. Standing breakfast! 

Next up was dejuneur (lunch) at @BistroPoulette, where we sat at the bar and had bowls of mussels. Kelly & I talked in “Franglish” with the waitress and became quite chummy with an Italian couple from Verona (north Italy) sitting next to me. Kasey & Karen befriended Sara from London.

Lining up for mussels at lunch
Lining up for mussels at lunch.

After lunch, we continued our three mile walk through a high-end market centered around a cobblestone road. We stopped for a little personal shopping, then stopped at Kelly’s favorite wine shop. We learned more French and headed home before dinner. 

So here’s the foodie experience for the night… we hit two different wine bistros. The first one, @L’ampelo sold wine by the ounce (in machines; select the wine, put your card in and push the bottle you want to try). They provided a plate of creative cheeses and incredible butter (have you tasted the butter in France? Oooh la la!). The second one, @BarauVin, had a line out the door, but is Kelly’s favorite. They knew her by name and gave us bucket pours of wine with a Prosciutto-style meat and possibly a cured slice of beef carpaccio. The cheese was quite mild, but Kelly said, “it can’t compete with the wine!”

Waiting in line at Kelly’s favorite wine bar.
Kelly's apartment sits alongside the Opera building
Kelly’s apartment sits alongside the Opera National de Bordeaux.
Choosing olives for our afternoon snack!

After dinner, I insisted on finding a chocolatier to accompany our aprés dinner vin rouge. Of course, we couldn’t choose, so dark chocolate over orange gel, caramels, lemon and cranberry balls, and a few chocolate squares are enough to give us a taste of everything. 

I think wine here has less alcohol in it because it never seemed to affect our head. There’s no science to that… it just seems that way. The food was adventurous, but to me, the chocolate was love.

A visit to the chocolatier
Our visit to the chocolatier.

What day is it?

Day zero, by Kasey.

Spoiler alert, there is only one mention of food on this first post. However, there are harrowing events, gratitude, and a celebration of togetherness.

Background: Kelly is living in Bordeaux to immerse herself in the language and the cuisine, When she came home for Christmas, her stories of the wine and the food, along with her invitation to join her there, were too much to resist. So we say au revoir to Portland and we’re off to Bordeaux, along with our dear friend Karen, who was up for an adventure like us!

Anticipating great food and time with Kelly!

Our journey to Kelly started with sliding to the airport along roads that were just like skating rinks. Portland was hit with an ice storm that kept most people at home – except us. Stephanie, with her excellent driving skills honed on Mt Hood, got there on time!

In Denver, our travel luck took a turn for the worse. The flight was delayed due to maintenance, a passenger who chose to leave the plane (jetway returns, luggage to be retrieved, etc). Finally, as our plane was seconds from touching down in Newark, the pilot pulled up straight to the sky… apparently, there was a plane sitting in our runway and we nearly collided. Thank GOD he uses his eyes to land (not just trusting air traffic control). Enough said. We sprinted to the gate, only to be denied access to the flight to Paris because they cannot re-open the doors they had closed moments before.  

We reroute to London. Make massive train reservations then realize it’s unsafe to spend so much time in train stations (another story for another day). Cancel, take a flight instead. Thanks to the amazing customer service at United in London, we actually get one!

In Paris, we hop on a train to Bordeaux. It’s the last leg and of course we cut it close because I forgot to consider rush hour in Paris. What an aggressive, charming french cab driver that got us to the train with only 2 minutes before it begins to move. Relieved and happy to be in first class, we grab a power nap after a quick sip of wine and crisps (possibly some snoring and drooling were involved).

We arrive in stunning Bordeaux. Exhausted.

But we arrive to Kelly. And that’s where our story turns. Kelly, in a lovely apartment, and a beautiful meal. She greets us with the wine she has chose for our arrival and her famous Hungarian Mushroom Soup.

Food. Is. Love.

Each day, we’re posting highlights from Bordeaux. Each post will be written by a different person, so you can experience the different perspectives we bring to the conversation.