I’m off to Bordeaux! It’s a pilgrimage of sorts. I was an exchange student in Bordeaux the Fall after I graduated from college and although I did stages (or internships) with several companies in the surrounding region, I spent a considerable amount of time in Bordeaux proper on weekends, hanging around with the students at the university that sponsored my exchange.
Since then, my visits to Bordeaux have consisted of “quick strike” visits for meals or hotel stays with the lion’s share of my sojourns in the region concentrated on the vineyards—as they should be. The Bordeaux of my youth was a businesslike city—a bit austere and gray. Imagine my surprise when the city was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007—and then my shock when it topped the list of European Best Destinations in 2015 (so named by the eponymous European Best Destinations not-for-profit). Clearly, I had to check this out!
So, I’m on my way.
Let’s be clear. Bordeaux is where I learned to drink red wine. In fact, the first red wine I ever drank was Bordeaux—not a bad way to start. One of my co-workers at Arrowine used to laugh because when we tasted red Bordeaux and people were searching for descriptors (as wine folks are wont to do), I always said, “It tastes like red wine.” Bordeaux is where I cultivated a love for the rustic cooking of the Southwest of France, with duck confit, pork rillettes, pâté and a simple sauté of cèpes (that’s porcini to you Italophiles) topping the list.
These are the foods my Bordelais winemaker friends have served me on subsequent visits. It’s the kind of food they like to eat with their wines. Could they go to Michelin-starred restaurants? Sure. Is that where they take their “in-the-know” clients? No.
So, I’m eschewing visits to any Etoilés (Michelin-starred restaurants). I’m going to search out the rustic, the local, the heart-felt cuisine of the Southwest. It’ll be like going home—and after all these years, I can’t wait.