22 August 2013

n.d.p. in champagne: restaurant l'étoile, troyes

It was perhaps unfair of me, in discussing cave-à-manger pioneer Aux Crieurs de Vin, to refer to Troyes as a one-bistrot town. For the wine-indifferent, there are probably many decent places to eat.

For instance, I have very fond memories of a lunch at Restaurant L'Etoile, a crowingly unpretentious, down-homey bistrot situated just off the square of the Marché des Halles. On its big broad terrace or in its two undesigned dining rooms, a traveler can experience one of those unexpectedly B-plus meals whose afterglow extends well beyond an afternoon.

If, while in Troyes for a weekend, you'd seek anything more for lunch than a perfect andouillette au Chaource and a glass of high-pitched Coteaux Champenois Rouge, well then I don't know what you want.

It's true that both these things I mention might be defined as acquired tastes. And that, to tell the truth, acquisition of said tastes really just means taking a mildly masochistic pleasure in the colonic funk of pig intestine and the acidic screech of rustic northerly Pinot Noir.

On the day I visited L'Etoile with the Native Companion and her sister I had actually sought to try a Côteaux Champenois rosé the restaurant had listed on its wine list. But that the restaurant was out of the wine in question was even less of a biggie than under normal circumstances, given that the Aube, like the Jura, is a region where the borders between rosés and reds are unusually indistinct.

The Baslique Saint Urbain, Troyes
The Hotel de Ville de Troyes, under construction last year.

The principal source of confusion is the Rosé des Riceys appellation, just a 40km southwest of Troyes. The trickle of rosés made there are typically aged several years before release, and are, for all intents and purposes, very light red wines. They are to most rosés what cardigans are to swimwear. The general profile of these wines, therefore, is very little distinguishable from the region's other reds, those of the Coteaux Champenois appellation, which - no surprise - also tend to be very light red wines.

The most well-regarded estate producing Rosé des Riceys is probably Domaine Horiot, who also produce cuvées of Coteaux Champenois of more or less the same weight as their rosé.

The Cristian Senez Côteaux Champenois Rouge we drank with lunch was a brisk, sour-cherried taser of a conventional Pinot Noir. There are, of course, a panoply of purer expressions of the grape available for better prices in the Paris natural wine market. I'd still like to see more places stocking Coteaux Champenois Rouge for geek value and variety's sake. (Though not as much as I'd like to see more natural Coteaux Champenois.) Champagne Senez is a conventionally-farmed négociant-manipulant Aubois estate of 30ha; an additional 34ha's harvest is purchased from other growers.

What better, anyway, to cut the fondue-like pool of Chaource surrounding a well-sourced andouillette? I enjoy the marriage of andouillette and Chaource enough to wish it were an option even well outside of Troyes, in any of those other regions not adjacent to Chaource that lay claim to a long tradition of andouillette production. (I.e. almost everywhere in France.)

If despite it all one still can't stomach andouillette, there remains Restaurant L'Etoile proprietors Carole et Didier Mazier's primary specialty: a lovingly prepared tête de veau.

Restaurant L'Étoile
11, rue Pithou
10000 TROYES
Tel: 03 25 73 12 65

Related Links: 

A good 2013 interview with Olivier Horiot about Rosé des Riceys at Louis/Dressner

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