Fact #37: life tastes better with Champagne. Scientifically proven.
Recently, I got plenty of opportunity to validate these important scientific findings. I don't know if I mentioned this before, but Jean and I got married about a month ago in Epernay, in the heart of the Champagne region in France. I know, a dream come true, still squealing with excitement inside!
Every year in September, weather permitting, the grapes are picked by hand, crushed, and stored, beginning a process that changes depending on each Champagne house, and whether they're creating Brut non vintage, or other varieties like rosé, vintages, or prestige vintages.
Thousands of seasonal workers flock to Champagne from all over Europe for the 'vendanges', which last for about 3 weeks. Some of them stay in tents, others in caravans, motels or boarding houses. They work pretty hard during the day, starting early in the morning. And one of the 'traditions' of vendanges is that each Champagne house has to provide daily lunch to all the seasonal workers who work for them.
And that traditional 'vendanges' lunch, my friends, is quite a sight, let me tell you. Think long communal tables with all the workers and 'vignerons', a glass of red, homemade pates, slow-cooking regional dishes, baguettes and cheese aplenty, and yummy tarts. Oh, and Champagne aperitif of course.
Established in 1822, Bauget-Jouette is a fantastic family-owned Champagne house based in Epernay. They're still using a traditional press and have some of the best vineyards in the region - hence a most excellent champagne.
On the Monday just after our wedding, Jean and I were lucky enough to be invited to share the 'vendanges' lunch at Champagne Bauget-Jouette, owned and managed by friends of Jean's parents.
And Oh-my-God, the lunch was delicious - and just the perfect way to unwind after the wedding!! The sun was shining high that day too, we couldn't have asked for more...
On the menu that day: home-made terrine, marinated herring, tuna salad with cucumber and tomatoes from the kitchen garden, and the most delicious slow-cooked rabbit dish (which, I know, is a bit controversial talking to Aussies).
This was a family recipe by owner (and cook for the day) Béatrice Bauget Jouette, using cinnamon, clove, honey, pepper and all-spice loaf or "pain d'épices". So, so tasty...
The lovely Béatrice Bauget Jouette serving us her signature homemade potato mash. Béatrice and her friends Regina (on the right, who helped with the cooking) and Mina (on the left, Jean's mother).
After the rabbit dish, we got to enjoy a really nice regional cheese platter served with baguettes, followed by a plum tart to die for... Pure bliss!
We could have stayed there all afternoon but unfortunately, we had to drive back to Paris the same day. So we drank our sorrows away... with a glass of Champagne as soon as we arrived home. Just another confirmation for us of scientific fact #38: Champagne tastes just a bit better in Paris.
For more information on Champagne Bauget Jouette, visit www.bauget-jouette.fr. And we strongly recommend the Epernay Tourist Office website if you're interested in visiting the region - lots of info on cellar doors.