Thursday, March 19, 2015

Reims dreams

Can you believe last week was my one-year anniversary with Jules? Me, who looked most likely to die alone eaten by Bobby (the cat)? I know, me neither. It's been a great year, although obviously complicated by my moving to another country two plus hours away. Which sucks, but has some upsides. Like, with summer around the corner, I've decided to pretend that weekends in Luxembourg are me going to my rural retreat (it helps that Jules's apartment is awesome and has a huge terrace I'm dying to be served cocktails on). Who doesn't want to be cool enough to have a little pied à terre in an exotic European country? I can merrily pretend to be rich enough to be engaging in a little light tax evasion in my Luxembourgish pad, much fun.

So we decided to celebrate this milestone in style with a trip to that most festive of regions, Champagne. We took Friday off work and made a beeline from Luxembourg to Reims on a beautiful sunny day, to have an anniversary lunch at Le Foch, the restaurant I dined in with my sister when we visited back in 2011. In fact, Le Foch was really why we stayed a night in Reims - I had initially thought of doing two nights in Epernay, but I wanted to have lunch there and I didn't want Jules to have to worry about driving afterwards. It turned out pretty well, since there's not all that much to see in Epernay other than champagne houses (which are pretty cool) and we also had a nice drive between the two cities - but more on that next time.
In front of an unfortunately-scaffolded Reims cathedral - not a cloud in the sky

A row of different animal gargoyles

Beautiful arches recede into the distance inside the cathedral


I don't have anything appropriate to say about this. Let's just say you wouldn't get into a white van with this on the side (it says "Don't be afraid" by the way)
We had a more modest five courses this time (plus amuse-bouches and petits fours - there was also a cheese course but I didn't put a photo of that because it just looked like cheese), as opposed to the seven or eight of the full dégustation I did with my sister.
Amuses-bouche: foie gras and apple pannacotta, parmesan sablé and the most delicious tuna (? tasted like hamburger but I think he said tuna) with a pickle gêlée on top

Rabbit cannelloni - weirdly tasted nothing like rabbit, more like tuna (tuna confusion all round) but tasty

Red mullet

Venison with puree and acidic turnips - you wouldn't think a turnip would be so delicious, Baldrick would have a field day

Chocolate feuilletine with spun sugar: soooo good and crunchily delicious

After the cheese course, a pear wine smoothie

Not looking awkward
Lunch lasted about three hours, then we still had some time to walk around Reims a bit and visit Le Vergeur museum.

Le Vergeur museum
This 13th-16th century building houses the collections of Hugues Krafft, the rich scion of a champagne-cultivating family who owned the house in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was a keen traveller, photographer and artist who was passionate about both preserving Reims history (he salavaged many pieces from the ruins after WWI) and collecting items from his travels in central and east Asia. Surprisingly, from the limited number of his own works on display in the house, he was also quite a gifted photographer. I suppose you always think these types will be a bit dilettantish and do these things because they have the leisure and money to, not because of any particular talent, but I was impressed. The house was left more or less as it was in his lifetime, at his request, so it offers a different perspective than your traditional museum. It's accessible (I think) only by guided tour. We were the only ones on the tour, which was nice, and our guide was very informative and knowledgeable.

AND there's a collection of some 50 original Dürer woodcuts and engravings. My favourites, the Apocalypse series, were taken from a book printed in 1511, but which was subsequently unbound so that you can see all of the woodcuts at once. It was incredible that these were 500 years old but looked just like new, and they were actually presented in a normally-lit room, not the semi-darkness you often find with old books and manuscripts. They reminded me a lot of the Apocalypse tapestries at Angers. No photos were allowed inside the museum, especially of the woodcuts of course, but there's some photos on the website here and I would recommend checking it out if you're in Reims - not too big either, so you don't get exhausted!

PS I know "Reims dreams" only rhymes if you mispronounce Reims. Or dreams.

13 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Oh, not congrats, it's not like a difficult achievement

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  2. JP II - be very afraid!

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    Replies
    1. He definitely looks like he's up to a spot of luring

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  3. Do you know you could string a wire from the top of reims cathedral to ely cathedral and there's nothing higher in between?

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    1. I did not! I don't know where Ely is exactly, but cool fact

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  4. I'm very happy for you! I'm sure Bobby is too.

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    1. Thanks, yes Bob likes him too!

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  5. I'm going to pretend I haven't read the other comments and say congratulations to. Because you know what I mean!

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    Replies
    1. Ha, vindicated, thank you!

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    2. Ha ha, thanks and you've made my mum happy as well

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  6. Happy anniversary! Sounds like you had a great time with some delicious food!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, it was a nice little weekend break :)

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