I am among the many who travel widely who believe in the oft-quoted maxim that “every man has two countries — his own and France.” That’s why my wife and I make the 14th of July somewhat special in our home.
We have had our days joining the throngs along the Champs Elysee for magnificent parades and splendid fireworks and gathering in lesser cities for home-spun festivals and celebrations, so we are content to relax on our terrace and reminisce over a glass of Cremant d’Alsace. Alsace, because, not only is that provincial Cremant the next best sparkling wine after Champagne, but also because Alsace is where we spent a considerable part of our professional life. This refreshing blend of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and a bit of Pinot Noir crafted in exactly the same style as its famous sparkler further west is an ideal aperitif and makes a perfect launch to our reminiscences.
Dinner is — what could be more French – steak-frites. Toss a little salad and pour a red wine and you are transported almost anywhere in the French Republic. Our red wine choice this Jour de Bastille was a Corbieres by Luc Pirlet. The Corbieres is that most wild, rocky Pyrenean wine region of the Roussillon, another province where we spent considerable time in the years we maintained a beach-front condo in Argeles-sur-Mer. Pirlet’s Corbieres is only 13% in alcoholic strength, has a bit of Syrah robustness (20%), some softening from Grenache (30%), and fruitiness from Carignan (50%).
It even liked the Camembert with which we finished our observance meal. Camembert from Normandy, birthplace of our daughter, so our dinner reflected the French provinces with which we most identify. I should also add that perhaps we started our celebration last night by dining on truite aux aumonds, fresh trout pan-fried in almond butter in the style of our favorite Lorraine restaurant when we worked in Nancy. The wine with the trout, of course was a Riesling from Alsace. And I confess to a wee draft of Normandy Calvados at the end.
All the above without a single worry about a parking place or a crowded Metro stop.