Trip Start Aug 02, 2012
Trip End Aug 02, 2013

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What I did

Flag of France  , Burgundy,
Thursday, November 15, 2012

We headed in to Beaune which was only ten minutes or so from our campsite. We weren't sure if we were going to visit the mustard factory or not so we decided to walk by and see what we thought. After some contemplating we decided that it would be interesting to visit and signed up for the tour at 10:30 am. We headed in to the centre of town to read a few menus so that we knew where we wanted to go for lunch when the tour was over. We found a place that had lots of menus posted and quite a few that looked tasty. We decided that we would return there and continued walking around town for a bit. I picked up a chausson pomme for a treat and Anoop had "le big" (a really big pain chocolat) which was about double the size of a regular one! The chrysanthemum displays were amazing and we spent lots of time admiring them. We then headed back to the mustard factory for our tour.

The Faillot mustard factory is the only one left in the Burgundy region to still use stone grinders for their mustard. We got to see the stone up close and you could see all the grooves that had been cut into it to crush the seeds. We were the only ones at first and the lady leading the tour was explaining things in English. However, a few more people arrived late as we were talking about all the buildings so she switched to French. There was a French couple and 3 Italians who were all very friendly and chatted away in a mix of French and English. We learned that 90% of the mustard seed in French mustard comes from Canada (Saskatchewan and Manitoba to be precise). Previously, all the mustard seed was grown in France on land used by “charbonniers”, charcoal burners. The chemical balance in the soil was perfect for growing the seed. However, as charcoal burning became rarer and rarer, so did mustard seed growing. Since most of the land is now used for grapes they had to find somewhere else to get the seed from. They used to import the seed from many countries but the quality of the seed differed and they had troubles creating a standard product. Since WWII, Canada has been the sole source of mustard seed as they were able to grow the quantity required and of the right quality. However, as Dijon mustard is not necessarily from Dijon, the French decided that they would like to apply for an AOC designation on their mustard. To obtain a designation, the mustard seed has to be grown in Burgundy. Now, about 10% of the mustard produced in the region has an AOC designation and is 100% from Burgundy. When reading the label, the ingredients actually mention that the mustard is from Burgundy. If it doesn’t specify, it is Canadian! We did taste the two and there was a slight difference in flavour; the Canadian mustard was a bit stronger and more “piquant” than the somewhat milder French one. We continued on inside and Anoop ground some seeds of his own and added some verjus (previously juice from a particular variety of grape and now a mixture). We then headed upstairs to see the equipment which was used for making mustard before it was mechanised and listen to information on the process. We also watched a video on how it is currently made in the factory. Then we headed back downstairs for a sampling and tasted 4 different types of mustard with different snacks. We had regular Dijon, with tarragon, with currants, and with gingerbread spice mixture. Each one was supposedly better with a different snack so we had carrots, jambon persillé from the region (ham with parsley), chicken aspic, and sweet soft cookies. I tried them all despite not being a huge mustard fan and they weren’t bad. I think the regular Dijon would still be the one I would use. We bought a small jar to take with us and we also got two small samplers as part of the tour, which was a nice bonus. It was a very interesting tour and we were definitely glad we had gone.

We then wandered back in to the centre of town and decided it was time to go for lunch. We returned to the restaurant we had liked earlier and got a table. It was quite busy, but we noticed how quiet it was; we were sitting quite close to the tables on either side of us yet you couldn’t hear their conversation. It made a nice change from some of the restaurants in Vancouver where you can barely hear the person across the table from you at times. I decided to go for three courses while Anoop decided on four. We both started with a salad - I had a green salad with ham, cheese and egg while Anoop went for the escargot salad in parsley butter. Mine was very tasty, but Anoop’s was delicious! I guess it is hard to go wrong with anything involving parsley butter! I then had rabbit in mushroom sauce and Anoop had chicken in a creamy tarragon sauce. I had a break to digest for a bit while Anoop had a selection of 3 cheeses. Then I finished off with an apple pie with vanilla sauce and Anoop had a chocolate and orange slice that sort of looked like a Nanaimo bar. All of it was incredibly delicious and we walked out feeling stuffed but very satisfied.

We walked around and did some window shopping for a bit, particularly enjoying the kitchen shops. We found a set of espresso mugs which we quite liked, but found a bit pricey. We then headed over to the Hospice de Beaune to visit the museum. The Hospice was founded by a couple in 1443 who decided to set up a hospital where people who couldn’t afford medical care could go. There was a wing for non-paying patients and another one for paying patients which helped fund the hospital. They also fund the hospital from wine sales from their own vineyards. In fact, as we were touring, they were setting up for the annual auction that weekend. The Hotel Dieu is no longer used as a hospital and has instead moved to a modern building. We visited the patient’s rooms, chapel, kitchen, and pharmacy which were quite well laid out and explained in the audioguide. The roofs of the Hospice are probably the best recognized feature as they are done in incredible tiles of different colours. The side facing the street is done in slate tiles which are also quite impressive.

Afterwards we walked back to the car and drove back to camp. When we got back, Anoop noticed that his sandal for the showers was missing. Having spent so much time trying to track down a pair that fit, he had quite a hunt to try to find it. However, he had no luck and decided it must have fallen out in the parking lot. So back we went in to Beaune and sure enough, there it was! 
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Mike J on

A theme about missing sandals all over Europe is slowly emerging.... :-)

Keith on

Anoop: I think "le big" is the best idea I have ever heard of. I hope it was as good in practice as it sounds in theory. :-)

MYL on

.....the SANDAL oh what a scandal that would have been if you lost that one :)

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