Vacances de Noël Recap #3: Beaune, France

I was fortunate enough to be able to return to Beaune for part of the Vacances de Noël and ring in the New Year with the same family I stayed with last time I was out there (you can find that recap post here). Given that I spent so much of my time in Beaune just relaxing, hanging out, and eating (I honestly couldn’t even tell you how much time I spent in the kitchen/around the table when I was there!), I am going to construct this vacation recap post a bit differently than most. I was able to spend five days in Beaune, so here are five things that happened while I was there that made me feel oh, so French.

Frenchy Moment #1: À la Cassissium

On my second day in Beaune, I had the unique opportunity to visit the Cassissium just a few towns over from Beaune. You may be thinking, “What the heck is a ‘Cassissium’?”. I’m happy you asked!

The Cassissium is a museum and distillery located in Nuits-Saint-George, France that produces a classic, Burgundy alcohol called crème de cassis, a blackcurrant liquor. Evidently, blackcurrant is not a popular taste or flavor in the United States, but it is something I was introduced to back in October during my first trip to Beaune. Traditionally, you mix the crème de cassis with white wine (like a Bourgogne Aligoté), creating a popular French cocktail called a Kir. Something I learned during the guided distillery tour is that there are tons of variations of the Kir: there is the Kir Royal (with champagne instead of white wine), the Cider Royale (with hard apple cider and apple brandy instead of white wine), or the Pink Russian (made with milk instead of wine), just to name a few.

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We had about 25 minutes to explore the museum and watch a short movie about the history behind cassis before the distillery tour started. The tour itself was pretty interesting and, despite it being the afternoon of December 31st, there was a relatively large group of people on the tour with us. After the 20-minute tour taking us through the distillery and the guide explaining the process of making crème de cassis, we had a dégustation (a tasting). I’d previously had crème de cassis as a Kir, but this was my first time trying it sans vin.

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I enjoy the taste of cassis but it is unbelievably sweet, so after trying two or three different kinds, I had to tap out, not due to the alcohol but because of the sugar.  Overall, I would call my visit to the Cassissium a success!

Frenchy Moment #2: La Nouvelle Année

As I said on Facebook: “On this day last year if someone would have told me I’d be ringing in 2018 in a small town in France, surrounded by love, joy and being oh, so fulfilled, I don’t think I would have believed them. Praise God for this crazy, beautiful, life-changing journey.”

New Year’s Eve is one of my favorite holidays (tied for first place with Thanksgiving!) so I was really looking forward to celebrating the holiday in France. I spent the evening with the sons of the family and all their friends/spouses/girlfriends, and it was a very enjoyable evening. It definitely wasn’t the NYE I am used to—we couldn’t get the radio to work, so we missed the countdown!—but it was still really nice to spend the evening with so many nice, lovely people.

Frenchy Moment #3: Le vin

The one thing I am sure of every time I go to Beaune is that I will be drinking a plethora of wine (honestly, you can’t go to the heart of wine country and not!). For the New Year’s Day lunch, we had a super long, traditional, French lunch: 6 courses, 6 different types of wine—the whole shebang!

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For the cheese course, we had this beauty pictured above and sometimes, you just have to document when you drink a (delicious) red wine that is nearly as old as you are.

Frenchy Moment #4: À la moutarderie

Beaune is home to the last independent, family-run mustard mills in Burgundy—Fallot Mustard Mill opened its doors in 1840 and has been producing award-winning mustard ever since! If you, like myself, are at all a fan of mustard, I would highly recommend taking the tour. We got a tour of the facility, an explanation of the process of producing the many varieties of mustard that Fallot produces, and the whole thing ended with a tasting.

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In addition, each person receives a “parting gift” of a small set-of-four mustards, which was a cool and unexpected surprise at the end of the tour. You aren’t allowed to take pictures in the facility, but trust me when I say it was a fascinating place and the tour was wonderful!

Frenchy Moment #5: Galette de rois

I had my first authentic galette de rois and I was the one who had one of the two figurines in my piece of cake—in this case, I ended up with Dumbledore! The person who ended up with the king in her piece gave the king figurine to me as well as a little souvenir of my first galette de rois.

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Thanks for reading and check back next week for more!

Until next time,

Michaela

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