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France Day 1: Surviving the Night

We arrived at the small Armagnac village of Montreal around 7:30 PM.  An hour and a half drive from the Bordeaux airport through dark country roads and a winding backwoods, Montreal is where Charles Neal was married.  His wife grew up here and her family still resides in the town center.  Charle's brother-in-law operates one of the finest restaurants in the region and that is our destination tonight.  But first - we must visit a local winemaker who is sampling some of his very special selections with close friends.

At the back of a small racking warehouse we met local winemaker Dominique Andrian, a man who is making wines somewhere in between Lopez de Heredia and Sherry.  Oxidized, all bio-dynamic, and delicious as hell.  Some of these wines were the most exciting wines I've tasted in over a year.  We talked shop while we sipped, but it soon became apparent that we needed some food to pair with these amazing specimen.

By the time we walked over to the restaurant, Charles's brother-in-law Bernard was already there slicing the jamón.  Thin pieces that melted on our tongues.  Good God!  What were we in for after already braving 30 straight hours of sleep-deprived travel time?

The ham.  It was so soft and tender.  Oh God.......

Homemade rabbit terrine with a delicious savory sparkling wine.  We took this down fast.

Artichokes with a truffle butter sauce!  Paired with an oxidized rose that tasted of truffles!  Dip your bread in that!

Foie gras ravioli in a pumpkin cream sauce.  Are you kidding me?  I about died right there.

I didn't get a picture of the beef sandwiches with the tangy pickle sauce, but I had to snap these fois gros sliders with carrot and celery.  There were two more courses still on the way - duck confit and veal with mushrooms - before I excused myself and headed back to the hotel.  David OG is still out with them as they plan on driving over to a local distiller and drinking until God knows when.  I am far too spent for that.  DOG managed to sleep on the plane, so he's refreshed and ready.  I, however, need 10 hours sleep and a good walk in the morning.  I'm exhausted.  But I'm well fed, that's for sure.  Tomorrow is Armagnac - five appointments with the best farmers/distillers.  More after we get back.

-David Driscoll