Paris, France | 2010 – I hadn’t seen Geraldine since my first trip to France, 9 years earlier. She was family, yet I didn’t really know her. As soon as we sat down to dinner, however, I felt as if I had known her and her companion Patrick forever. I attribute our immediate connection to a combination of old, family stories, told in a mishmash of French and English, the wonderful meal that Patrick prepared, and his selection of red wine.
A beautiful cantaloupe, juicy pork tenderloin stuffed with prunes, golden, roasted potatoes, a cheese plate featuring aged chevre and brie, and a molten chocolate-hazelnut tarte from a local pâtisserie. But the most interesting part of the meal was the wine. Having only started drinking wine after arriving in Dijon a month earlier, I wasn’t a big fan of red at the start of dinner. I told them as much, yet every time I looked away, someone would refill my glass. (I liked it more and more as the night progressed.) But what amazed me was that the taste of the wine could change between the meat and the salad and the cheese courses. When we got to the cheese, Patrick opened a new bottle and poured it, being sure to hide the label from me. I commented that it was much better than the first bottle. He showed me the label. Same wine. Mind blown.
Everything I ate that night was something I would have ordered at a restaurant and could have been served at a quality bistro in Paris. But it was the setting, the people, and a wonderful discovery that vaulted that meal into the rafters.