Leaving London, I took the chunnel to Paris, ready to begin my “virtual” journey through France. I plan to go from Paris to the Champagne region, then to Burgundy and beyond. I am looking forward to this leg of my journey as it includes more bubbly (you can probably tell by now it is my favorite) and some new cuisine.
I went to Paris in the spring of 2004 with my mother and grandmother. My “arrival” in Paris was great cause to open my photo albums and relive my trip – the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Montmartre and Versailles. It was a wonderful girls trip and produced many fond memories. I hope to someday go back to Paris and hopefully be able to bring my daughter with me, to experience its rich history and charm.
And now for some Champagne –
The Champagne region is about an hour and a half outside of Paris and is the Northern most wine region in France. The main grapes grown there are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, Champagne is usually a mixture of these grapes. The soil is chalky and the weather is fairly mild – in the 50’s and 60’s most of the time. There are many different sub-regions within the Champagne region, but all growers abide by the Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne (CIVC), an organization that sets down all the rules and regulations when it comes to making Champagne wine – including the law that Champagne wine, can only be called Champagne, if it is from this region.
I, however, opted for a bottle of Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut.
Perrier-Jouet started in 1811 and has survived 7 generations. It owns about 266 acres of grapes in the Champagne region, and offers many different types of Champagne. To be honest, what caught my eye about the Grand Brut was that the bottle looks pretty cool, and I got two champagne flutes with my purchase (score – I love free gifts with purchase).
The food in the Champagne region is very rich and includes items such as andouille sausage and soft cheeses. Being not a fan of andouille sausage and my lactose intolerance not meshing well with soft cheeses, I opted for dessert to go with my champagne.
That is when I learned of the Biscuit rose de Reims, a lovely pink biscuit that is customarily dipped into champagne. Anything pink is always good by my book, so I set out on my quest to find these cookies. Turns out to be a bit harder than it looks. Apparently, Mason Fossier is the only company that makes these biscuits, and any recipe I could find for something remotely similar did not sound like they would produce anything at all that looked like the pictures of these mystical cookies.
God bless the internet – after some surfing, I found the Paris Grocery Seattle had the Biscuit rose de Reims and the store was not to far from my work. Score! The store is great, by the way – many wonderful French goodies and wines. I also bought my champagne there.
With champagne and biscuits in hand, I met with my original Paris travel companions, and the three of us spent a few hours sipping champagne and eating our cookies.
The Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut was a very light yellow and had a very slight citrus nose. The wine tasted of pears and citrus, and when I dipped my biscuit in to my glass, it made the most wonderful fizzing sound. I cannot explain the taste of the champagne soaked biscuit, except that it was just wonderful, sweet and floral – I made sure to indulge a bit in both the wine and the cookies. We only live once, right?
I think what made the experience even more wonderful was that I was enjoying the wine with my mother and grandmother. The two most wonderful women in the world. We were able to reminisce about our trip to Paris, laugh about our adventures and dream of future trips. It was a fun afternoon and very inspiring.