24 February 2012

n.d.p. in burgundy: le bar à vins, gevrey-chambertin

I like towns small enough for things not to have names. The Post Office, the train station, the wine bar. Probably not great for your Google Search results, but without any local competition, who cares?

When we settled upon lunch at Le Bar à Vins, my friend J and I were still greyfaced and wasted from the previous night at Beaune's Bar du Square, our condition compounded somewhat by the two tastings of magnificent tightly-allocated wines we'd already endured enjoyed that morning. When traveling in wine towns I usually feel pressure to Make Every Meal Count, but at that point we both felt it would be a success merely to hold food down. Additionally we'd remarked that Le Bar à Vins was pouring Thomas Pico's (Domaine Pattes Loup) soaringly great Chablis by the glass. What was such a wonderful not-quite-local wine doing at a nameless bar à vins? Could it be indicative of a greater culinary sophistication than we would have otherwise supposed, given the bar's general pokiness and grandmotherly décor?

No, in the end it was not indicative of anything. But I gained a new appreciation for the bland, placeless rural blah that one gets served in this type of establishment: it's like restorative energy with nothing attached, not even salt, or flavor.

I have never understood the various crude ways in which non-Italian cultures use pasta. (See: Cincinatti Chili.) In France it is almost always an implicit admission, on the part of whoever's cooking, that they were looking to save time and money. It will sometimes arrive with neither sauce nor explanation beside a steak in its jus, like a bale of hay, adding nothing in terms of flavor or texture or even visual interest. At Le Bar à Vins in Gevrey-Chambertin, the placeholder du jour was fusilli, which asborbed most of a wan splash of chicken and cream and lardons.

This being France, it is entirely possible there is some sort of legal minimum carbohydrate requirement for lunch menus, and flavorless undressed pasta is a way for restaurateurs to fulfill this obligation while also protesting its idiocy.

The alphabet, printed in fancy font at bottom - for reference, presumably.

Then again, it is also possible that I'm the only one who cares about this sort of thing, and everyone else at lunch just wants something filling. At Le Bar à Vins that day, I could, for once, empathize with this latter position.

The plate manufacturer evidently considered this gnomic list of colours an improvement to the usual  blank white.

Someone collected chickens. Or all of someone's friends and relatives thought that person collected chickens, and inundated him or her with decorative chickens, to same effect.

Le Bar A Vins
7 Rue Richebourg
21220 Gevrey-Chambertin
Tel: 03 80 34 17 62 ‎

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