Yesterday was le 15 août – Assumption Day, and my family’s one year, two day anniversary in France. I cannot believe that it has been a year already. Last year I was told, tongue-in-cheek that the day was meant as a rest day, to prepare people for the rentrée after the summer vacances. No, it’s a religious holiday. We decided to honour our anniversary with a trip to Fontainebleau.
That time of the year again – bidding farewell to friends who are moving on. I had a farewell brunch with a friend at Mariage Frères yesterday. Mariage Frères is a tea house, purveyors of international teas, and a restaurant that serves delectable salads and fish dishes with flavours enhanced with their teas.
After the past week’s gastronomic hedonism, I am running every morning to let my body know that we’re home now – holiday’s over. Halfway through my run today, my thoughts turned to how great a burger would taste after. Yes, I am a hopeless case – the thought of food always creeps into my thoughts somehow. So I got everyone out of the apartment and we scooted off to the food truck that’s been getting rave reviews in Paris – Le Camion Qui Fume.
We got good food and service at Le Roi de la Lune. It was nestled between other restaurants, that looked just as good. It was the name that drew us; The Little King of the Moon. Prawns, scallops, a lamb and penne pasta with ham, topped with goat cheese. Rounded it off with a tarte tatin.
We walked around the city, taking in the festive atmosphere at the Place de Ducs de Bourgoyne. Ahh summer…something about the good weather that turns the French into overly friendly and positive people. Savouring every moment of this rare bonhomie. After all the wandering, we settled for a late dinner at Le Petit Roi de la Lune. No disappointment there either. Ended the gastronomic tour with yet another great meal.
With Milan behind us we made our way to Dijon. From Chamonix to Milan, then Milan to Dijon I alternated between being the driver and passenger, so there are some interesting images taken on the way. The steppes on the hills with vineyards in Italy; the beautiful Mont Blanc mountains again; and then the rolling vineyards as we entered to Burgundy region. Although we were staying in Dijon for just two days, we decided on a day trip to Beaune after being regaled with tales of the tastes of Beaune – by the locals, yet again.
Faced with restaurant menus for four days, my kids zoned right in for the simplest Italian fare; pizza and pasta, and each time it was the best pizza or pasta ever! One restaurant that came recommended by friends, who had lived in Milan for four years, was Cantina della Vetra. Again that old adage that local knowledge trumps all. Cantina della Vetra is slightly off the tourist trail. We’d made reservations for a late dinner and were greeted by the friendly owner and given a very well-appointed table. From then on we were plied with everything from the cold meats platter, cheeses, fried gnocchi – then a spaghetti with cheese, ham and black pepper, tortellini with ham, perfectly grilled pork with apple and ginger sauce and creamy pea risotto. Verdict: We did not put a foot wrong when it came to food choices in Milan. Glad to be leaving, while I can still fit into my clothes – just barely.
Housed in the Armani Hotel, it’s all minimalistic chic, lounge music and beautiful people. Tripadvisor ranks it at around 300 out of 2300 restaurants reviewed in Milan. So went with relatively-managed expectations. It is Nobu though, so that raises expectations somewhat. It was our night out without the kids, and we wanted to try something other than Italian cuisine. Started our evening with drinks in their lounge bar then moved upstairs to the restaurant.
A mere 40km north-east of Milan, the old city of Begamo is nestled atop a steep hill with narrow, cobble-stoned pathways. It feels ancient. It is just the bustling tourists and ubiquitous Vespa motorcycles that remind one that it is a 17th century city still standing in the 21st century. We sat to have pizza some non-descript little pizzeria. We were lucky enough that they were even serving lunch, or late lunch, as we discovered that most places close after 2pm and only re-opne for dinner from around 7pm. Again, best pizza ever! Then we walked around the ancient city.
We walked in without reservations, and were fortunate enough to beat the lunch time crowd. Minutes after we were seated, the restaurant had filled up. Without reservations, lunch on the terrace was a far-fetched dream. It’s no wonder, the view from the restaurant’s terrace is stunning. It felt like another world as residents (or perhaps tourists with rented boats) drove up with their boats, moored them below the restaurant and came upstairs for lunch.