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December 5, 2010

This is why I'm fat

My cousin Kiki is currently visiting, and she's rekindled my desire to eat my way through this country. The girl is fearless, and as such in the last week we have sampled fare not for the faint of heart. (Literally. This food is so rich it would kill you if you had a faint heart.)

Without further ado, this is why I'm fat:

Lunch at Le Relais des Canalous, Digoin
Entrées: Tartine de chèvre chaud et pesto sur saladine, demi-douzaine d'escargots
Plats: Joue de boeuf confite à la Bourguignoone, Cuisses de grenouilles à la persillade
Fromage: Roblochon with mustard seed, Brie de Meaux, Stinky goat
Dessert: Profiteroles au chocolat, Tiramasu

A blizzard hit Digoin Thursday night, dumping a whole five inches on the town by the next morning. As a result, the buses weren't running, and I had only a handful of kids in each class. Kiki and I had hoped to go to Beaune that afternoon to sample some of their world-class vino, but the roads were impassable so we had to stay in Diggy instead.

In order to make the best of our predicament, I suggested we get Burgundized at a nice restaurant. Like a rockstar, Kiki was all about getting the fixed price menu with escargots and frogs' legs. Unlike the none-too-appetizing specimens I'd encountered in Paray-le-Monial a few months back, these were served piping hot and drowning in a delicious parsley-garlic-butter sauce.

The frogs' legs were pan-fried and looked like chicken wings. They were to be eaten by hand, and were, "so garlicky and good and delicious!" quoth Kiki. I sampled one, and was shocked by how many itty bitty bones there were to eat around. What do frogs need so many bones for, I ask you? There's a joke in here somewhere about "jumping your bones," but I'm carb crashing and can't find it.

No matter. My beef cheeks were unbelievably tender, and accompanied by crisp, thick frites and vegatables. Next up was the cheese course. I've been trying really hard to get excited about cheese despite my mild lactose intolerance. But sometimes stinky cheese is just stinky, with no redeeming qualities. There was a representative from this genus of fromage-dom on the plate, but there was also a lovely roblochon with a spicy mustard seed exterior that I got friendly with.

Dessert was to die for. My tiramasu was the lightest, creamiest slice of heaven on earth. The chocolate sauce on the profiteroles were sinful, dark, and daring. Clearly, I could write a romance novel about this.

Dinner at Le Merle Blanc, Digoin
Entrées: Filets de bar superposés en duxelles de champignons et escargots, Oeufs en meurette à la bourguignonne
Plats: Canard confit avec purée de pommes de terre, Faux-filet de charolais et sa garniture
Fromage: Fromage blanc
Dessert: Ile flottante avec pralines rosés, Crumble aux pommes et aux noix en caramel laitier
Wine: Domaine Michel-Andreotti Montagny 2009 1er Cru Chardonnay de Bourgogne, Michel Sarrazin 2008 Givry Sous La Roche

Suzanne picked us up on Thursday night and took us back to her house, where Christian had been watching their two grandchildren. The boy approached me and looked like he wanted to tell me a secret so I knelt down. He planted a quick kiss on my cheek, and then went up to Kiki to do the same. The 4-year-old girl was next, and removed her pacifier to give me a bisou. It was the cutest thing, possibly ever.

We braved the icy roads and went to Le Merle Blanc, which Suzanne had deemed the best quality food for the price in all of Digoin. After our meal I'm inclined to agree. My entrée was delicious skewers of mushrooms and escargots on toasts, with a gratinéed cheese topping. Kiki sampled the local specialty oeufs en meurettes, eggs in a red wine sauce with lardons. She said it's the best thing she's eaten in France so far (she's had Ladurée macarons, so that's really saying something).

The next course brought me deliciously rich duck confit, made from the same beast used to produce foie gras. The creamy mashed potatoes made the perfect complement. Kiki's Charolais steak (another local specialty) had a chunk of herb butter melting on top, and was flanked by chestnuts and cabbage. She was already getting incredibly full, and could only finish about half of what was on her plate. France, please get doggy bags already.

She was the only one with a cheese course ,and had to really psych herself up to be able to stand even a spoonful on such a full belly. But, like I said, she's a rockstar. She liberally sprinkled sugar on her fromage blanc-- very fresh cheese that almost has a yogurt consistency. Christian informed us that he prefers to eat it with salt, pepper, and garlic.

All the while, we were downing the excellent Burgundy wines that Christian had selected-- a very floral red from Givry and an impeccable Chardonnay from Saint Vallerin. Myam.

I must admit, I was more enamored with Kiki's dessert than my own. She got an apple cobbler in a divine caramel sauce. I was lucky enough to get a bite, and had to restrain myself from grabbing the rest and running away to savor it in private. I had wanted to try the Ile Flottante, meringue in an anise-flavored English cream. It was alright, but not really my bag.

Chez Couch Surfing Host, Strasbourg
Entrée: Sauerkraut topped with sliced magrette (smoked duck breast)
Plat: Chicken sausage, andouille (blood) sausage, apple sauce, chestnuts
Dessert: Tarte flambée

We arrived in Strasbourg on Friday afternoon for a weekend of Christmas marketing. After dropping our stuff off at our host's apartment, we braved the frigid temperatures to go back in the city and enjoy the lights, gift displays, and vin chaud. We were pretty frozen solid by the time we returned a few hours later, and we were more than ready for some hearty Alsatian fare.

Both Kiki and I adore sauerkraut, and were delighted by the flavor combination of the pungent cabbage with the flavorful duck. She was brave enough to try the blood sausage, but I opted instead for the infinitely more Kosher chicken. The healthy portions of chestnuts and homemade apple sauce left me full to bursting, but I of course squeezed in a slice of pie.

So when they have to roll me down the aisle at my nups, you'll know why.

*One more food-related revelation from the weekend: hot orange juice with honey. Try it. You're welcome.*


  1. Not a good thing to read while on Weight Watchers. I'm salivating.