Tuesday, July 8, 2008

France Blogging: St. Emilion

We're less than two weeks away from the Tried, Tested and True II deadline. We'd really like to see a good showing of health-promoting recipes and our e-mail inbox is starting to feel a bit dejected. The more of you who post about the event on your blog and the cause of organ donation, the wider the audience we can get to in order to promote the cause! Please click on the ribbon for more details.

Please don't be overwhelmed by the details of the event! Just post a tried, tested and true recipe that incorporates healthier options. We've got three great prize packages to be won (and we'll send them anywhere)!


Now - to return to my report about France. I know I'm kind of leading away from the food blogging path with these posts. Selfishly, I just want a written account of what we did. Plus, it's a great way to share my trip with my mother dearest, Giz (and, of course, you guys).

Following our first evening in Puisseguin, we started our day with a breakfast at the B&B. You can't tell from the picture, but I've got "big" plans to highlight a local dish we were introduced to at the B&B (there is a smallish hint of it in the picture).

Our hosts were definitely morning people. Unfortunately, my brain is slow to get moving in the morning and it wasn't until breakfast was nearly over that I could start communicating coherently in French.

I really like the exposed beam trend you see in France. It really warms the room up.

After breakfast, we headed to St. Emilion, a UNESCO village that is the main draw for the area.

With good reason too - the village is beautiful. You can read about the history of the village here. Also check out FX Cuisine's experience touring a winery and the region here.

I may be making this up...but I seem to recall reading somewhere that there is one wine store for every eight people living in St. Emilion. Judging by the number of wine stores I saw there, I'd believe it.

Here's part of one of the stores we walked in to. Before even looking at a couple of bottles, the man had poured us some wine and was talking a mile a minute about wine. St. Emilion is pretty sheltered from the rougher times other wine producers have been going through. From what I gather, most of the wine coming out of the region is already accounted for several years in advance. This isn't to say that you can't purchase wine in the region. The range of cost for wine is massive. As you can see in FX Cuisine's post, some bottles go for as much as 500 Euros each. Now, when asking what accounts for the expense, when other wines in the region are much cheaper, no one could really give me a straight answer. Wine producers set their own prices based on whatever value they feel their wine is worth. I guess supply and demand - if someone wants to pay for it.

Even if you don't like wine, the village itself is beautiful to visit. We took most of the photos of the village from the top of the clocktower, which can be accessed by obtaining a key from the tourist office.

R is always looking for stairs to climb when we're travelling. For once, it was actually enjoyable to climb a clocktower. I didn't have to deal with anyone's butt in my face. With only two keys to access the tower, there's really no competition for getting a good view.

Click on the panoramics for a better view of the city:

Here's another very typical view in the area:

Although I couldn't take pictures of it, we also took a tour of the monolithic church, catacombs and Emilion's (the monk the city was named after) quarters. Despite damage during the French Revolution, the city is very well preserved.

After spending the day in St. Emilion, we returned to the B&B for a bit of a rest before heading out for dinner.

We went to this restaurant:

The restaurant was very pretty, but it was somewhat uncomfortable to be the only two people in the restaurant. I expected it to be somewhat empty, given that it was the night of the European World Cup final, but not like this:

It wouldn't have been a big deal, but the waiter was clearly not interested in having customers either. When I asked for more time to decide, he stood there staring at me and said, "quickly". Lovely...

The food was good. We drank this:

I ordered the seafood risotto:

R ordered the brochette:

I felt that the price was high, for what we got. My meal was 15 Euros and R's was 18 Euros. The idea of getting one skewer of meat for what is probably about $30 Canadian was not particularly good value for money.

So, although the food may have tasted better than the previous night's, I enjoyed the other meal more.

We drove home in time to catch a great sunset. My camera (or perhaps camera skills) made capturing the sunset and the vinyards together quite difficult.

One last thought - I don't mean to come off like a complainer in my posts. I'd just rather be upfront about what was good and what wasn't to give an honest depiction of the experience. I wouldn't want to give glowing recommendations about somewhere just for the sake of being positive when it could mean that I've led someone astray. StumbleUpon


noble pig said...

I have to get my entry in!

Elle said...

Stunning photos!

Dee said...

Not to worry, I'm in. Just need to write up my post :)

St Emilion looks beautiful; I'm well and truly jealous! By the way, when you have a moment, I have something for you on my blog.

Katie's blog said...

Terrific photos. I know what you mean about documenting your trip. I did the same thing when we went on vacation.

glamah16 said...

I cant wait for the roundup. I just love these posts from France. Thanks for sharing.

Tartelette said...

You have just experienced the fundamental difference between waitstaff in France and in Noth America. Since there is no tip to drive their effot, waiters don't usually make an effort and I think it sucks for travelers. On the other hand I am so happy you guys experienced the countryside of this region.

Ivy said...

Lovely post and photos. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Bellini Valli said...

No need to be concerned everyone procratinates and gets their entries in at the last minute.Thanks for the virtual jaunt through St. Emilion..it has me dreaming:D

Ben said...

I don't know why I had the impression that I had missed this event. My life is off by a month, it seems. I have the perfect dish for this, and great pictures!

Grace said...

i've got an entry in the works right now!
meanwhile, what a picturesque area! it's beautiful and just begging to be visited. thanks for sharing your photos of land and food. :)

That Girl said...

I'm totally smirking at the description of the waiter. I can just picture it ;-)

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

Wow that kitchen is so cute I could squeal!

Lori Lynn said...

Very interesting.
I like your refreshing honesty.

Kevin said...

Nice photos!