Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 552 : Welcome to Etoges

After two flights and some quality waiting time at Charles De Gaulle airport, we set out on the first leg of our journey. Don't be fooled, just because France's highway system is worlds better and more advanced than the rural roads of Corsica, that doesn't mean there were not multiple occasions for us to get lost today -- whether it was the faulty gaps in Google Maps' directions or the lack of signage indicating which direction certain small country roads went, we managed to go in quite a few circles, but fret not, we made it! We passed through a variety of towns that if you blinked, you might miss, and maybe because it's a holiday or maybe because these towns were so small, we just simply did not come across many people, restaurants, markets, shops, etc over the course of our drive. Picturesque quintessential French landscape that was a definite!

When we did finally stop for lunch, it was at this small auberge hotel with a restaurant called Le Cheval Blanc. Notable aspects of the town -- it is where the roads divide -- one way takes you to Etoges, the tiny village where we are staying in and the other way towards Epernay, easily the biggest town we passed through after leaving Paris. Sitting down to lunch, we each ordered their house salad consisting of lettuce, haricots vert, white asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs and some smoked salmon. A fresh, delectable and satisfyingly simple lunch after a long night and morning of travel. We had to split their cheese plate didn't we?! After all, it was our first lunch in France, why not dive in head first?! And at this small country restaurant, we got an excellently broad selection of cheeses -- livarot, Chevre, a classic washed rind tomme, a stinky blue, chaource, a Brie with a home nut infusion in the center, a Camembert style cheese, a semi-firm cow's milk cheese and homemade fig paste. This cheese plate had something for every palate, that's for sure! Gosh, cheese in France just awakens the senses and brings you to life!

Moving right along from lunch to our first and only stop of the day at a small champagne house that does not export to the US, located on the Route de Champagne in Epernay -- A Bergere. A welcoming modern chateau with an elegantly simple tasting room, small and cozy with a warm environment, this was not a place where you felt like you were just another tourist. We tasted three of their champagnes -- their Brut (50% Chardonnay grapes, 50% Pinot Noir), their Blanc de Blanc (100% chardonnay grapes) and their Rose brut (80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir). Each champagne had an excellent depth of flavor and elegant nuances in each sip. Welcome to Champagne Fromagical readers! Stay tuned for more bubbly adventures. My run this afternoon even took me through the local vines.

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