Friday, September 23, 2016

Three Spectacular Meals in Bordeaux

(Sept 2016) In addition to the excellent dinners I had most every evening in Bordeaux at Chez Sylvie’s – the gourmet chef who opened her home to language students, I also had three other spectacular meals.

There are Hundreds of Charming Restaurants in Bordeaux

Le Bordeaux Gordon Ramsay Brasserie at the Grand Hotel

This Gordon Ramsay restaurant just opened in June of 2016, and we were very pleased with our experience here. I went with three other students who were attending my language school. We arrived around 1pm on a Thursday and had no trouble getting a table inside. The outside terrace was full, but we craved the air-conditioning of the inside of the restaurant, which is beautifully decorated.

Fish with Grilled Lettuce at Gordon Ramsay's Brasserie

We ordered the lunch menu, which is 39 euros, and with wine ended up costing us each 52 euros. The food was beautifully presented – like a work of art – and even more tasty.  I started with the foie gras, then had an exceptionally fresh local fish for the main course, which was served with an innovative grilled lettuce.  For dessert I indulged in the flaming Baked Alaska with gooseberries.

Flaming Baked Alaska with Gooseberries

The next evening, we returned to share a bottle of wine at the rooftop bar, and on the way up stopped to tour the one-Michelen star Le Pressoir de’ Argent Gordon Ramsay restaurant on an upper floor. It is only open for dinner. Very impressive and serious looking, with a menu set at 165 euros – a bit spendy, I thought for a one-Michelen star, when there are several in Napa and Sonoma for far less.

Our Group at Gordon Ramsay's Brasserie in Bordeaux

Latour and Steak Grilled on GrapeVines at Chez Christian & Malou

The meal that eclipsed all meals, however, occurred at the house of my good friends, Christian and Malou. I have known them for 8 years, and consider Christian to be one of my mentors for the MW. He taught me so much about Bordeaux wines, and wine evaluation.

As the former winemaker at Chateau Latour, he has an amazing collection, and was kind enough to share a bottle of 1990 Latour with us for dinner. Malou, not to be outdone, opened a bottle of 1989 Chateau Lynch Bages, an estate where she has worked for years. Thus began one of the top ten dinners of my life, all served on the terrace overlooking the pool and garden. 

The Poolside Terrace with the Oyster Course
  1. First course: Foie Gras and Champagne
  2. Second course: Oysters from Cap Ferret and 2011 Chateau Carbonnieux
  3. Third course: Entrecote steaks grilled over a fire made with grapevines, with sides of legumes and potatoes – served with 1990 Chateau Latour
  4. Fourth course: Mixed plate of local cheeses served with 1989 Lynch Bages
  5. Fifth course: Fresh fruit and chocolates with coffee or tea
The Barbeque with the Grapevines to Grill the Steaks

Oysters and Bubbles at the Sunday Morning Farmer’s Market on Marche des Quais

The other great culinary experience for me in Bordeaux was quite simple, but very tasty and memorable.  Sylvie told me that there was a cute little farmer’s market every Sunday morning along the Garonne River Quay just north of Quinconces (often referred to as the Marche des Quais). So on Sunday morning after the usual French breakfast of coffee and toast with jam, I put on shorts, a T-shirt, and tennis shoes for a brisk walk along the quay.

One of the Cheese Stands at the Sunday Bordeaux Farmer's Market

The morning was already warm and humid, a precursor of another 95 F degree-day in Bordeaux.  However, it was still fresh around 10am when I arrived on the quay to an amazing scene.  It seemed as if everyone in Bordeaux had decided to walk or jog along the quay on Sunday morning.  I passed people with dogs, children in strollers, skateboarders, and many joggers. On the river, boats chugged along, and it was a happy, buoyant, colorful scene for the senses.

Seafood Paella at Bordeaux Farmer's Market

Suddenly I saw signs for oysters, and realized I had come to the farmer’s market.  It was very colorful, and filled not only with oysters, but stands with fresh flowers, large pans of paella, fresh breads, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, and many other delicious local items.  I even stumbled upon a beer stand.  Who knew they made beer in Bordeaux?

My Oyster Feast at Bordeaux Sunday Morning Farmer's Market

After wandering around awhile and making sure I got in enough steps for the day,  I headed back to one of the many oyster stands and for only ten euros was given a platter of seven fresh oysters, lemons, a basket of bread, and a plastic glass of Bordeaux bubbly. I settled down at a small wooden table with a perfect view of the quay and all of the people jogging, walking, strolling, and promenading along the river.  It was a sublime moment, and a perfect memory of a Sunday morning in Bordeaux.

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