Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Honeymoon, Part 3: Culinary Adventures

Note: This blog entry has been written by Jamie, with photo captions by Jen.

On Monday, We rose at around 6am (ugh) to make the trip to Bordeaux. We decided to pack our backpacks with enough for the next two days and ditch our 20+ kg suitcases in luggage lockers at the train station... and Jen subsequently spent a considerable amount of time babbling about how relieved she was to be rid of them. :) Lugging them around has certainly been challenging, so it's nice to travel light for a few days.

Upon arriving in Bordeaux, we ended up walking to our hotel, as it wasn't that long a walk and turned out to be far easier than trying to find a cab or figuring out public transport. Along the way, we grabbed a bite to eat at a place which served a set three course menu for €12.50. We've found this to be a common trend here; a lot of places serve a set menu for an incredibly good price and often even provide some small choice of dishes. We were greeted with complimentary glasses of port. Yum! We only ordered one meal, as I wasn't feeling particularly hungry due to my stupid cold, which made me sad. (Dad, I'm sure you can understand.) Amusingly enough, I ended up eating a substantial amount of Jen's anyway. The meal was delicious!

Continuing our journey, we noticed that there seem to be a rather insane number of vehicles with sirens which either passed us by or made themselves heard from a distance. We've been able to hear these from our hotel as well. There seems to be at least one every 5 minutes! Even if there is some sort of police/ambulance/fire HQ nearby, they must always approach with sirens blaring. I had fears that my sleep would be terrorised by nightmares of A natural and B natural tones alternating at 60 bpm, complete with doppler effect pitch alterations. Thankfully, my fears were not realised. As it is, I'm sometimes not sure whether I'm actually hearing them from a distance or whether they're just in my head...

Our accommodation here is a serviced apartment. Upon entering, we discovered a big lounge room, but were a bit concerned when we couldn't find the bedroom. Thankfully, we discovered that the couch folds out into a rather large, comfortable bed. There is a tiny kitchenette, although it's not really large or well equipped enough to cook much. This is also the first place we've stayed that has provided free internet access, which is fantastic.

We both very much like Bordeaux, probably more than Paris. It is a smaller, quieter, perhaps quaint place. Many of the buildings are very old with big wooden doors. As we walked down one street in the evening, I kept hearing these doors being closed, reminding me of movies/audio dramas of older times. It is a rather stark contrast to the modern, often automated doors that I usually encounter.

On Monday evening we decided to find another restaurant offering a cheap three course set menu. This is where the adventure truly began. None of the staff spoke a word of English and there was no English menu, so we decided to... make educated guesses/order at random. We had a choice of four starters and four mains.

The menu.

We ensured that we ordered different dishes for each to increase the chance of satisfaction. For the starters, I ordered "Charcuterie" at random, while Jen ordered "Salade au Roquefort", knowing that "Roquefort" was some kind of cheese. For the mains, I ordered "Pave de Bouef", knowing that it was beef, and Jen ordered "Pave de Saunoiy" at random. The beef had a "Roquefort" sauce, so we knew it was some kind of cheese sauce. I raised the objection that perhaps this meant blue cheese (which I don't like much), but Jen smugly pointed out that they'd just say gorgonzola or the like in that case. I theorised that Jen's dish ("Saunoiy") was probably salmon, but Jen smugly retorted that "poisson" was the French word for fish, so it probably wasn't.

So, the starters arrived. Mine was a rather tasty assortment of cold meats, salad, pickled vegetables and paté (I think of it as the French equivalent of antipasto).



Jen's was... a blue cheese salad.


Oops.

Both of us very much enjoyed our dishes, but I now knew that my beef would be smothered in a blue cheese sauce. We still didn't know what the other main would be.

Eventually, the mains arrived. Mine was as expected, and after Jen scraped off most of the sauce, I quite enjoyed it, although it was a little tough in places.


Jen's turned out to be... salmon.


Oops again.



All of a sudden, Jamie became the smug one...


But at least he took it in good humour.



Very good humour.


Amusingly, we had little trouble discerning the meaning of most of the desserts and they were both utterly delicious.


This one had the words 'citron' and 'meringue' in the title.

And this one had something to do with chocolate and fondant.


All in all, the experience was hilariously enjoyable, helped along by a bottle of gorgeous local red wine.

Thankfully, we know how to say "red wine" in French.

Of course, now that I've had some success at guess-work interpretation of French menu items, I'll probably completely fail from now on.


Au Revoir!

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