Friday, September 18, 2009
HOSTELLERIE de LEVERNOIS - 'BEAUNE" APPETIT
Summer is over but many Americans are still traveling in Europe on vacation. If you happen to be anywhere near Beaune, it's so worth a visit. Beaune, the last walled-in city in France is truly out of an Alexander Dumas novel with worn cobble-stone streets and courtyards. Definitely worth a sleepover. Richard and I had the opportunity to be there not long ago when he produced some specials for the Food Network and I got to tag along. The city is enchanting and I half-expected to see the Three Musketeers come flying off one of the geranium-covered balconies.
Much to our delight the network splurged and we (including the 4 man crew) were booked at the Hostellerie de Levernois just outside the walled city. We drove onto wooden bridge over a storybook brook to enter the property that was nestled in acres of gardens. I immediately wanted to move in. The rooms, decorated in country French florals, were set apart from the main building that housed the check-in desk and its multi-star restaurant. Each room had a lovely terrace overlooking those gardens and, unlike any of our other hotels in Europe, this one had wash cloths. We made a reservation at the restaurant.
As our reservation witching hour approached we strolled to dinner through the gardens and over the expansive front lawn.
The restaurant didn’t disappoint in upscale elegance and amazing food. Richard had the five course tasting menu that included sweetbreads. He had never before tried sweetbreads and wasn’t all that excited to see them included as one of his courses. Innards! Shiver! But in the spirit of this Food Network adventure, he tasted them. He liked them. He really liked them.
One crew member had Bresse chicken with a sauce reduction that must have taken hours. Another had a three course dinner that included red mullet sautéed with Provencal herbs. My dinner was baby rack of lamb for one and included a foie gras appetizer that I yearn for every time I see a slab of liverwurst. The director, who had barely been out of Tennessee before, ventured out of his shoe-leather-meat comfort zone and tried a filet of sole dinner which contained no food or ingredient that he hadn’t eaten in some way, shape or form back home in Knoxville.
The wines: Burgogne and Sancerre.
Desserts ran the gamut from chocolate delights to fruit pastries. But as delicious at it was, what I remember most about the meal was the cheese tray… though ‘tray’ is a gross understatement. It was a cheese cart. A big cheese cart. Two tiers! Filled with nearly every imaginable French cheese. I realized that when the waiter asked me what cheeses I’d like to try I was suppose to select three or four – perhaps five at the most, but nooooooooo. I wasn’t going to be dining there again any time soon, if ever, so I went for it and asked to taste everything… I was in cheese heaven. All-in-all the restaurant, considered one of France’s greatest, lived up to its reputation, so if you’re wandering around France and find yourself in Beaune and want a fantastic meal, walk, don’t run, to the restaurant in the Hostellerie de Levernois .