Tuesday, April 13, 2010
an afternoon in Saint-Émilion
This is it... my final full day in France. The day was planned: depart Eymet, head for Saint- Émilion, hopefully not get lost, depart Saint-Émilion for Bordeaux, again, hopefully not get lost. You see, much of my week was spent in the car, attempting to read a map (I still can't) and direct Julie in the right direction. Thanks to properly marked roundabouts (my new favourite thing) we found our way quite easily most of time... but venturing out on an adventure knowing you are likely to get lost adds a little bit of stress to the upcoming ride. But back to my final adventure; Saint-Émilion.
Saint-Émilion is absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful. A world heritage site, we park the car at the bottom of the hill and climb up the steep and narrow streets until we reach the top and look into the horizon; the views of the countryside and vineyards surrounding Saint-Émilion was well worth the exertion. That, and the prospect of tasting some good, local wine.
I think Julie and I expected our wine tasting experience in Saint-Émilion to be similar to the evening before (as hosted by Mitch); experimental and fun. That was not the case... it seems that the wine merchants actually expect you to (1) enjoy whatever wine you sample, and (2) buy the bottle... no matter what the price point is. Have you sensed that our expectations and the merchants expectations didn't quite a-line? Needless to say, other than entering a couple of wine shops and sampling a few wines; Julie and I spent the majority of the day giggling over a horrible lunch (2 patrons required 4 servers... I kid you not), walking around the town and ... discovering the greatest little delicatessen shop ever!!!
We were greeted at the door by the merchant; a welcoming smile on her face followed by a pleasant conversation. While we chatted, I looked around the shop and was drawn to the shelf that contained cookies. You see, they resembled my gâteau basques! Quelle chance! I asked if they were anything alike and was informed that these palets normands were actually better: sounds like a challenge to me! I bought a bag of 5 cookies, another bag of mini cookies that resembled madeleines and then grabbed a couple pounds of fresh Normandy butter (one for Charlotte and one for me).
We'd made it halfway back to the car before I sampled my first palet normand... at which point I asked Julie if we could go back so that I could purchase some more... they taste like a really moist shortbread. Seriously, the French know how to bake. Crispy on the outside, moist on the inside... perfect for a cookie.
Although I still believe that my gâteau basques are the better of the two, I am certainly ok with the fact that I now have a box of 30 palets normands... I'll be passing them around in the office and sharing the love :0)