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George & Rose's adventures in France & Italy 2015

Day 5. Fromagerie Laviron. Fort de Joux. Switzerland. Haute-Savoie.

 

Leaving La Forge d'Isidore on a frosty, sunny Friday morning, we wandered deep into the Jura mountains, stumbling across Fromagerie Laviron at 9am, just in time to witness the slinging of the Comté curds into the pressing molds.  Perched in the middle of the village of Laviron, this cooperative produces about 30 wheels of Comté per day from fresh, raw cow's milk, each weighing 40 kilos (88 pounds).  The cheesemakers were very kind, taking time out of their busy schedule to lead us through their operation and aging cellar.  We tasted the fresh curds, and then they vacuum packed some of their 18 month reserve which we will be serving at our next Farm Dinner!  Be sure to join us!

From Laviron, we followed the twisting alpine roads into Switzerland, enjoying a brief visit to the Fort de Joux, soaring above the French-Swiss border.  Here the terrain is increasingly alpine, with all of the grasses and flowers shyly emerging from their wintry cloaks.  Patches of snow lied melting in shaded valleys, and alpine flowers peeked through tufts of green-brown grass.  We continued along the lac Léman, sampling wine and enjoying a delightful lunch above a vineyard of Pinot Noir and Gamay overlooking the lake.  With the afternoon sun rendering the alpine slopes a glittering golden hue, we arrived at la Ferme de Mont Charvin in time to view the evening milking of the Abbondance cows, whose milk is rendered into Beaufort, Tomme de Savoie, Reblochon and Morbier, classic mountain cheeses of the Haute-Savoie.

Day 4. La Forge d'Isidore

Picking daffodils in the oak meadows of the Jura.  

On Thursday evening, we found ourselves at "La Forge d'Isidore", a rustic farmhouse inn, nestled between the Vosges and Jura mountain ranges.  'La Forge' is home to a herd of 60 Montbeliard cows, milked twice a day by Daniel, an old-school French dairy farmer who limps along with arthritic hips, but continues to tend to the daily milking in his late seventies.  Following an invigorating walk through the meadows of freshly-sprouted daffodils and oak tree garnished hillsides, we returned to find Daniel's wife Colette preparing dinner.  We cozied up to a long, wooden farm table in a dark, smoky room which was home to an ancient stone grain mill, a soot-stained forge and a jolly group of 20 German women who were walking the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in the northwestern corner of Spain.  Some of them had been walking for 4 weeks, and the entire journey would continue for another 5 months!  An epic journey indeed! They were a fascinating group, full of mirth, song and good cheer.  It was a magical evening, during which we enjoyed simple, hearty mountain-farm food, several bottles of the deliciously drinkable, light-bodied Jura wines and tipsy, lilting conversation, bantering between French, German & English.

It's becoming apparent to us that we are traveling higher into the mountains, and much of the countryside has just recently emerged from snow cover.  The weather is pleasantly warm, with frosty evenings and clear, sunny days.  We've chosen a great time to be exploring this part of the world!  Tomorrow we'll head higher into the mountains in search of some of the great mountain cheeses of the Jura and Savoie.

Day 3. Saligney, Franche-Comté, Le département du Jura, France

 

On Wednesday evening, after picking up our rental car and loading our booty from E. Dehillerin, we braved the horrific Parisian rush hour traffic and made our way east into the Burgundian countryside.  Skirting around Dijon as dusk fell, we were only able to glimpse a bit of Burgundy.  We entered the adjoining Départment du Jura and made our way to the village of Saligney where our host Antoinette warmly greeted us even though it was 10pm!  We awoke to a stunning view of the countryside from our lovely room, and were presented with a typical petit dejeuner, replete with homemade marmalades, farm-pressed cider, local cheeses, tender brioche and gracious French hospitality.

Leaving Antoinette's airbnb, we wandered deeper into the Jura, seeking the elusive, unique wines of this region which are nearly impossible to find in the States.  This is one of the most appealing wine regions to me, and the winemaking style resonates deeply with that of Sea Breeze Farm.  We were fortunate to discover Zem and his beautiful wine shop-bar, La Cave Se Rebiffe,  where he and his daughter, Melanie were a treasure trove of wisdom on the wines of Jura and beyond.  We loaded the car with a definitive selection of Jura wines, ALL of which we are bringing back to share with YOU at our next couple of farm dinners!  Be sure to grab a seat at the Sunday, 26 April, Friday, 1 May or Saturday, 2 May events, as we will be enjoying these amazing wines with our local foods.  All 3 of these dates are partially sold out, so act quickly!  We can't wait to share our stories in person!

XOXO,  George & Rose

Buy your seats for our farm dinners here:  Spring Farm Dinners

Day 2. Paris. La boucherie, la fromagerie, la patisserie, la chocolaterie, E. Dehillerin

This Father-and-Son shop was steps away from our apartment. We were thrilled to see their 60-90 day dry-aged beef and were promptly escorted into the aging locker to admire the sights and aromas of the various loins and racks from their favorite producers. We also picked up some great tips on dry-aging techniques. Watch out, Seattle!

A stunning selection of cheeses, many of which found their way into our picnic bag!

We couldn't help ourselves here. Fortunately, we logged a good 10 miles of walking in Paris today!

Oops!  More sweets!

Black steel fry pans.  My favorite.

 

 

Our final stop in Paris, after picking up our rental car was E. Dehellirin, my favorite cooking supply shop on the planet. This was my first visit in many years, and quality has declined a fair bit, but it remains the best selection of the best quality, no-nonsense, ultra-practical cooking gear in the world. We loaded up on black steel pans, French knives and wicked-heavy, 3 millimeter thick tin-lined copper pans. Yum!  How are we going to get all of this on the airplane???

Day 1. Monday, 06 April 2015. Paris

98 Rue Doudeauville, Montmartre, 18th Arrondisement.

Our first few hours in Paris have been a delight.  Our flight was short and sweet.  At 17:00h we arrived in Montmartre, in the 18th Arrondissement with just enough time to enjoy a pleasant stroll to a nearby cafe while waiting for our rendezvous with Mathieu, the owner of our lovely rented flat on Rue Doudeauville.

Our first stop in Paris.  Café Le Haltes for a glass of bordeaux.

Perched at the top of the building, six floors (110 steps) up, we have a decent view of the city and surrounding neighborhood.

View from our rented flat.

For dinner this evening, we discovered Rococo, a sweet little bistro nearby.

Decadent, creamy, Fondue de Reblochon.

The highlights were the Fondue de Reblochon, a creamy, generous delight, and the veal tartare, a delicious, coarsely chopped presentation that landed somewhere between tartare, arugula salad and a ceviche.

Vanilla profiteroles for dessert at Rococo.

We wrapped up with a luscious bowl of vanilla profiteroles, then wandered up the hill to the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre to enjoy a stunning panoramic view of the city at night.

The steep climb to La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre.

We've stayed up late to reset our internal clocks to European time, but will be up bright and early tomorrow to explore this glorious city!

A bientôt!

George & Rose

Day 0. Easter Sunday. Flight BA0048 to Paris via London.

 

Easter Sunday market at Ballard was bustling!  The weather was gorgeous and we had such great connections with all of you wishing us farewells and good travels.  We are boarding our flight to Paris and will bring you up to date on our travels as soon as we land.

XOXO,  George & Rose

Day -1. Farm Dinner Send-off Celebration!

We had a great time celebrating with you all the night before our departure to Europe!  We look forward to returning full of inspiration, stories, photos, wine and cheese from our adventures in France & Italy.  Please continue to follow our blog for updates!

XOXO George & Rose

Day -2. We're off to France & Italy for a tour of artisan dairy farms!

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We've been planning this journey for 6 months!  To celebrate our departure, we are hosting a "Bon Voyage" farm dinner tomorrow, 4 April at the farmhouse.  We'll be sure to post photos from the dinner, and we promise to keep you updated during our travels.  We'll be at the markets this Easter weekend, but will be heading straight to Seatac airport following the Ballard Sunday market and boarding our British Airways flight at 19:15h!  So exciting!

 

xoxo,  George & Rose