With a last minute change of location for the first leg of our little European tour, we ended up in Annecy, France instead of Grenoble for a few different reasons, but the decision was a good one. The place really is spectacular. Canals all around, crystal clear lake, snow-capped mountains surrounding the lake, amazing food, nice people, huge outdoors scene, lot’s of beer drinking, wine (Rhone)… I really could go on and will.
After a 9 hour drive from Schwelm, the first thing we did was throw on a change of clothes so we could walk into old town, look around and have a glass of wine. Instead of wine, it was a cool beer joint called Beer o’Clock. One of those beer enotech bars where we can chose from different taps. This was the first little hint that Annecy was a lot like Asheville. Not only because of the beer but also the way people were dressing; North Face, Columbia, etc. We fit in, very much unlike Germany. Next stop was dinner where we learned that Dwight apparently likes organ meat. I had to order some fois gras which was a great and then Dwight ordered sweetbreads only because I thought he was ordering some sort of veal stew, which he was, but just a stew of veal pancreas. Oops! Luckily it turned out he really liked it so I didn’t screw up to bad!
For our first full day there, I wanted to head out on the bikes. We had thought we had picked out this awesome route. We were going to go down the west side of the lake and then cut over and go up the D12 behind La Tournette. By some sort of blind luck we ended up at this cool little bagel shop and ran into some cyclists. Turns out that we had picked out a route that had a cat 1 climb for 14km and several cat 2 & 3’s that were 10k plus. Let’s file that under another oops. Luckily they told us of the way to get to Semonez that wasn’t crazy steep with an option to cut out and turn around if we wanted to. It was a gorgeous ride and not really bad. We climbed maybe 2000 feet at a 5-6% or so grade and then cut on back. The mountains were engulfed in some clouds. The views of the lake descending were beautiful. It was a great excuse to put on the brakes on the way down.
Later that night we went to this tiny tiny tiny wine bar that his friend Laurent had recommended. We had a few glasses of wine and a great terrine (absolutely no idea what type of meat was in it but it was good) we headed off to a restaurant that was recommended to us called Aromatik. The chef had trained under a 3 star Michelan cheff in Paris and it showed. We ended up with the 3 course menu and each ordered something different so we could taste it all. The amuse bouche was an amazing cauliflower and I think potato bisque that I’m going to give a try when we get back to Asheville. I ended up with the fois gras ravioli that had (what I think) was a duck consome and miso broth. A French, Italian and Asian combination that worked perfectly. Amazing! Dwight got some sort of salmon, crème frache, mustard thing. It was really good, just not thinking outside the box like the ravioli. I ordered the local white fish with a citrus foam and some chive potatoes that were every bit the French version and perfectly silky. For some reason, chefs in the US just don’t do it that way and I find that just plain dumb. Dwight had boneless braised short ribs with a gorgeous bordelaise reduction. For dessert he got the cheese plate where I ended up with a chocolate, pear, crème anglaise torte. It was, again, amazing!!! We waddled on back to the apartment to pass out for the night.
The next morning was a surprise because we were supposed to be stuck inside all day because of rain, but it was sunny!!! So off to the market we went. There was everything imaginable that was in season. Purple artichokes, white asparagus, spring onions, etc etc etc. I ended up getting some carrots, white asparagus, tomato, small spring potatoes, lemon and a rabbit to cook for dinner. Next stop was hiking up in the mountains to waterfalls and white horses. Not joking. It doesn’t even take one of the Grimm Bothers to put a story together about that.
It was a fantastic trip that ended with a beautiful 1,45 ride around the lake on Monday morning before heading over to Alba, Italy for a few days.