Hobbit Lessons


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June 27th 2015
Published: September 30th 2017
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In a former life, I once called Middle Earth home - it was a tough time, as I was an outcast because I was so tiny. I was a hobo, aimlessly wandering across the land, from Mordor to Gondor to Rivendell, and finally, to the Shire. Luckily for me, the Hobbits took pity on me and took me in because I was sort of close to their size, and me and a young Hobbit named Frodo became tight like brothers.

Oh, the crap we used to get into with Samwise, Merry, and Pip ... and when we thought things couldn't get any more insane, Gandalf the Grey would show up with his pipe and ... well, let's just say that it was rarely tobacco that he was smoking! Too bad we all had a falling out when he became Gandalf the White, and thought he was too cool for us - but that's a story for another time ...

We used to hike up Mount Doom all the time, picnicking along the way, and stopping for tea at the top with Sauron. Don't be surprised by that, and don't believe all that you hear about Sauron - he's a
Chez Jean Mi ...Chez Jean Mi ...Chez Jean Mi ...

... breakfast #2 - oysters and wine!
bit like the Lindsay Lohan of Middle Earth, vilified and ruined by the media and the paparazzi. He's actually a pretty cool guy, but just a bit misunderstood ...

None of it was his fault, because we all would have ended up like that, had our home been ruined. You see, Mount Doom used to be a paradise, and the number one tourist attraction in Middle Earth - a lot like Banff is to Albertans. But just like Banff, it all went to hell, when it got overrun by evil - in the form of massive Asian tour groups! So what if Sauron flipped out and killed a bunch of them? You know how annoying those tour groups can be! Who can blame him?

But I digress ... back to the point of my Hobbit anecdotes - it was on these many treks up Mount Doom that they taught me the two most important of life's lessons. The first was second breakfast. And the second was third breakfast. And that's the knowledge that I imparted on the boys today, at Bordeaux's killer Marche des Capucins, the best possible cure for our jet lag-induced hangover.

The sights and sounds of a legit European
Phenomenal-Looking Tarts ...Phenomenal-Looking Tarts ...Phenomenal-Looking Tarts ...

... we never got to sample these at this patisserie, only some disappointing croissants and pains au chocolat.
market - a legit FRENCH market - are second to none. Everything on display was the best of the best, the freshest of the fresh, the tastiest of the tasty - it's where we had a first breakfast of killer galettes and cafe cremes, served up by a veritable master of the crepe stone.

The guy was actually disabled, and had only the use of one hand to prepare all four of our meals, but was like a magician in the kitchen, whipping out galettes better than most could turn out with the four hands. There may not be a more quintessentially French breakfast than what we had this morning, but that was still only a prelude to our second breakfast ...

... oysters with wine! Though we were all stuffed from the first breakfast, we couldn't turn down what was our true target at the market. Again, the oysters weren't properly separated from the shell, leading us to believe that this happens to be the local style. They were far brinier than last night's, and much tastier, though far from the best that any of us have had before. But you can't beat the price - 6 Euros for
Prelude to a Kiss ...Prelude to a Kiss ...Prelude to a Kiss ...

... from the loveliest Spanish senorita named Pintxo, the sexiest and most desirable in all of Spain. She's everywhere in San Sebastian, the Basque version of the tapa - everybody was supremely tempted by this display at Marche des Capucins, but we cautioned them against sampling any. Though surely delicious, this could never compare to the gourmet delights to be found in San Sebastian's pintxo bars - best to wait for the real thing that would come in a few days time.
a half dozen with a glass of wine? We felt like we robbed the restaurant!

Perhaps the oysters were better today because of one important ingredient that was missing from last night - Tabasco sauce! It was comical watching John try to ask for the ultimate oyster enhancer, first querying about the availability of hot sauce, which was only met with puzzled looks from the waitstaff. After much gesturing and discussion, in a last ditch attempt, John threw out the word "Tabasco".

"Tah bah skoh? Ah! Tah bah skoh!!!", in an a-ha moment of Newtonian proportions, a bottle of Tabasco sauce fell on our heads, drizzled itself all over our oysters, and ended up in our satisfied bellies. So you'd think that after a galette, a cafe creme, six oysters, a glass of wine, and some market samples, that we'd be done, right? Hell, no! Like the Hobbits taught us, this was all only a prelude to ... third breakfast!

We had now been in France almost 24 hours, and had yet to sample a flaky, heavenly croissant or pain au chocolat. This could not continue any longer, so we had to hit up a patisserie, only to be ... supremely disappointed.
Bright Red Funky Tomatoes ...Bright Red Funky Tomatoes ...Bright Red Funky Tomatoes ...

... the tomatoes on display at the market looked supremely tasty, including this slightly unusual variety. We never did get to sample this kind, only the more common types available, which weren't quite as delicious as their appearance suggested.
In France, the odds of having a crappy tart like we did last night, and a crappy pain au chocolat like we did today, only hours apart, is infinitesimally small. But it happened! WTF??!!!??

The food in Bordeaux has been a bit bizarre, so far - in the land of France, it's virtually impossible to have a subpar meal outside of the touristy areas, and very difficult to not have almost every meal be mind-blowingly good. But that somehow happened today after lunch at La Pie Colette, our second mediocre meal in the past 24 hours. It appears that we have stepped through a portal to a dimension of pure evil, where fantastic French cuisine is not to be found on every street corner. Oh, the horror!!!

Fortunately for us, we managed to eventually find a way out of the culinary equivalent of Superman's Phantom Zone, where, instead of hurtling through space and time while stuck inside of a shard of crystal, we were trapped inside of a soggy, chewy mediocre pain au chocolat! Our escape was to the town of Bouliac, to Le Saint James to sample one of Bordeaux's numerous Michelin-starred restaurants.

After dinner, yet another evening passed out without
Bright Orange Chicken Breasts ...Bright Orange Chicken Breasts ...Bright Orange Chicken Breasts ...

... positively vibrant in comparison to what we get back home. It almost makes you think there is something wrong with it, but the truth is that this is probably far superior to what you would find at your local North American supermarket.
us hitting up the clubs. I'll cut Justin some slack since he had just arrived today from Canada, and called it an early night. But these other pansies ... I'll only cut them a bit of slack because we at least spent the remainder of the night drinking beer and smoking cigars on Bordeaux's riverfront!

Peace out,

Lil B


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Freaky But Tasty ...Freaky But Tasty ...
Freaky But Tasty ...

... skinned rabbits might be scary, but are guaranteed to be delicious!
View From Saint James de Bouliac ...View From Saint James de Bouliac ...
View From Saint James de Bouliac ...

... it was far more impressive in person, though still not too shabby in photos.
Beer at 9:00 AM ...Beer at 9:00 AM ...
Beer at 9:00 AM ...

... the others mocked John for having a beer so early in the morning, but I give him props for being the only non-sissy so far. There may be hope for these guys yet ...
Hard to Tell ...Hard to Tell ...
Hard to Tell ...

... but Justin is actually the guy that looks most lively and awake out of everyone, even though he was the one who had just stepped off a transatlantic flight only a few hours before. Despite traffic chaos in Paris due to a massive taxi driver protest against Uber, and the subsequent missed flight, Justin managed to make it to dinner at Saint James. Instead of the original plan of meeting us at the apartment early afternoon, followed by the opportunity to freshen up and nap prior to dinner, he came here straight from the Bordeaux airport.
King of Crepes ...King of Crepes ...
King of Crepes ...

... emmental, mushroom, and some surprisingly awesome and juicy ham, topped with a cracked egg whose rich yolk became the most luscious of sauces. I almost drowned as I dove head first into the yolk, but luckily, the boys pulled me out before my last breath. Perfect with a cafe crème.
La Pie Colette ...La Pie Colette ...
La Pie Colette ...

... a plain and disappointing ceviche.
Perhaps the Best Dish at Lunch ...Perhaps the Best Dish at Lunch ...
Perhaps the Best Dish at Lunch ...

... fatty BBQ pork rib, with a light salad and baked potato with creme fraiche.
Another Disappointment ...Another Disappointment ...
Another Disappointment ...

... the frites were good, but the mussels were terribly bland, not tasting of any significant amount of curry or coconut milk.
Surprise Starters ...Surprise Starters ...
Surprise Starters ...

... served to us on Saint James' lovely patio, where he had our first bottle of wine of the evening, a plain white from Saint Estephe. A ball of avocado mousse topped with shrimp, some kind of cake that had an interesting combo of egg, nuts, and fish, and a small bit of salmon studded with dill, fennel, and a tiny little egg.
Another Surprise Starter ...Another Surprise Starter ...
Another Surprise Starter ...

... bacon and peas with a blob of carrot foam and onion cream. Interesting and kinda tasty, but sometimes this avant-garde nouveau type of cuisine can be a bit too much.
Assortment of Incredible Bread ...Assortment of Incredible Bread ...
Assortment of Incredible Bread ...

... the baguette was sublime, so crispy but chewy and moist inside. The corn bread managed to top even that, with a hint of spice. But the best of them all? The chorizo bread. Chorizo friggin' bread!!! Want to take the most delicious bread and kick it up 1000 notches? Stick some sausage in it! So moist, it was almost cake-like - in fact, it was so soft and warm that I hollowed it out and crawled inside for a quick nap before the first course arrived. The bread isn't made in house, but comes from the nearby Basque country from a bakery in Espelette - unfortunately, they only sell to commercial operations and not to individuals. Otherwise we'd hit it up and get some more when we head that way in a couple of days.
Fantastic Foie ...Fantastic Foie ...
Fantastic Foie ...

... by far the best course of the night, nothing beats a healthy portion of foie gras. The grill marks were beautiful, and almost seemed as if the foie gras was actually branded for that effect - I can't imagine how they were able to grill foie gras without having it melt and fall between the grates. The foie was quite firm, unusual when compared to other foie gras that has more of a creamy texture. A very unique interpretation of foie gras was the "candy" - wrapped inside an edible wrapper was some kind of acidic foie gras paste. So heavenly that when I die, I want to be wrapped inside one of those for eternity ... or at least, until I'm reincarnated as something even tastier. Some beetroot and rhubarb was included to cut through the foie's richness, but to be honest, it was all just background noise alongside the sublime symphony played out by the foie gras. There were a few caramelized crunchy wafers of sugar, almost like shards of glass, that provided a nice textural counterpoint to the dish.
Stolen Shrimp ...Stolen Shrimp ...
Stolen Shrimp ...

... while these fools were too busy yakking away, I dashed across the table and devoured one of John's shrimps, without him even noticing. I learned such stealthy moves in a previous incarnation as a Japanese ninja! The red leg prawns were crisp and caramelized but still slightly raw inside, giving it an almost perfect balance of sashimi meets cooked seafood. Served with allymis flowers, melon, cucumber sorbet, and green anise - I'm just repeating the menu description so that I can simultaneously sound like a wannabe pretentious gourmand (kinda like Pat is), even though I don't really know what was what on the plate.
Lamb Too Many Ways ...Lamb Too Many Ways ...
Lamb Too Many Ways ...

... perhaps they went too far with this dish, with an incredibly tender chop, a nice piece of thinly-sliced loin, and some good merguez. There appeared to be some pork belly that had a bit of a spongy texture, lowering the overall score of the dish. The inclusion of lamb liver was completely unnecessary and left a nasty aftertaste. I haven't had so much lamb at once since a previous life when I dated this girl named Mary. She had a little lamb. At least, until I killed it and ate it bahahaha! They overdid the peas, too - in addition to the peas scattered about the dish, there was a big kind of pea jelly ball. There were also peas inside of the merguez, which was a tad strange.
Palate Cleanser ...Palate Cleanser ...
Palate Cleanser ...

... some cucumber sorbet and some kind of foam.
Strawberry Clery ...Strawberry Clery ...
Strawberry Clery ...

... a little strawberry tarragon sorbet, and strawberries atop an interesting concoction of a coconut cream/custard with a crunchy salted chocolate shortbread.
Cute Sugar ...Cute Sugar ...
Cute Sugar ...

... of course, Bordeaux is famous for its caneles, so even the sugar here was molded into that shape.
Bonus Dessert ...Bonus Dessert ...
Bonus Dessert ...

... a canele, along with some kind of marshmallow-like thing. These two were a bit forgettable, but we were also pigs for cracking open a box that was meant to be a to-go gift.
Another Bonus Dessert ...Another Bonus Dessert ...
Another Bonus Dessert ...

... simple but interesting - raspberries with whipped cream, pistachios, and pistachio jelly that was pretty awesome.


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