Tuesday, 12 June 2012


The first stop on our damn glam drive through Italy was, in fact, in France.

We chose Beaune, not so much for its position between Paris and Portofino but because Monsieur has been banging on about Burgundy for as long as I remember.
Just 3 hours from home (with a further 6.5 to Portofino) we found ourselves following the driveway that leads through the lawns of Hostellerie de Levernois, a 5 star Relais + Chateaux just 5kms from Beaune's town centre. The hotel is owned and run by Jean-Louis and Suzanne Bottigliero, a dynamic duo who's passion for what they do is richly evident in the property's service and details.

After a warm welcome, they set us on our way to discover Beaune, beginning with lunch at the Bistro de l'Hotel.

Beaune is a gorgeous little town; even its industrial estates seem manicured.  On our amble over to the restaurant, we caught the closing minutes of its postcard-perfect market.

Burgundy isn't just wine country; it's a foodie fantasyland, studded with towns that read like a menu, including Dijon (as in mustard), Bresse (the famous chicken) and Epoisses (a traditional cheese).  As you can imagine, we were expecting to find fairly good fare in Beaune.  What we weren't expecting was the exceptional quality on offer at Bistro de l'Hotel, conceived by its owner, not a Frenchman but a Swede.  

This is what was left of an entree of poached tomatoes before I had the presence of mind to take a photo of what was possibly the most mouthwatering yet simple starter I ever tasted.

And that is a Swedish chef.

You will notice that he isn't wearing a big chef's hat, nor does he have a big hairy mustache.  But that hurdy-grudy Muppets song was, I'm ashamed to admit, playing loudly and clearly in my head while our chicken was being carved.  (Uum bort bort bort!)

Among other accompaniments, our Bresse chicken was served with french fries worthy of a legion d'honneur.  

In an effort to digest our amazing meal, Monsieur and I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around town, taking in the sights such as Beaune's famous Hospice, which had been a hospital for the poor since the 15th century and continued to be a medical centre until recently.

The first day of our vacation ended with a short strawberry picking session with Jean-Louis back at the Hostellerie de Levenois, a Chardonnay tasting on the terrace and another awesome meal, this time at the hotel's casual Bistro Bord de l'Eau.

How I am going to get through this holiday in the same dress size is anybody's guess.

Style File Followers Take Note:
1. More about the Hostellerie de Levernois can be found here.
2. More about the Bistro de l'Hotel can be found there.
3. I was wearing an Agnes B black and white gingham dress and cardigan.  If you want to cross reference my packing list, that's dress 2.  (Off plan already.)
4. Umm bort bort bort! 
5. I have no idea what happened to the font.  I'm upgrading to Wordpress as soon as I can.

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