Our timing for the drive to the train station was good. With a 12 noon train, we missed the rush hour traffic and made it to Brussels with plenty of time to find the Car Rental return and get our seats on the train. This was no ordinary train. It was a high-speed TGV that traveled at speeds of nearly 200 miles per hour as verified by my GPS system. The countryside was a blur! We were in Lyon by 3:30PM.We walked from the Gare Part II to our apartment on Cours Gambetta. Once again, we got very lucky with our apartment. It was well situated right on a Metro stop and was well appointed and quite comfortable. At this point, we were quite hungry. Adjacent to our apartment was a Charcuterie shop and on the other side a boulangerie. We availed ourselves of some products from each and had a tasty snack of a couple of terrines and some fresh baguette. Life was good and we were finally feeling 100% back to normal.
The evening was one of the loveliest of the trip. We spent it with my friend Lucy and her family. She invited us for a marvelous home cooked dinner. You can read about it here. Well fortified, we walked back to our apartment for a short, but sweet sleep.
We would spend the bulk of the next day at SIRHA, the extensive Food show, and the first day of competition of the Bocuse d’Or, but only after another invitation from Lucy. She invited us to dinner again for that night, but first we would go to the market to pick out what we would like to eat and she would prepare it. Her friend and house guest visiting for the Patisserie Coupe de Monde, award-winning baker Peter Yuen, would join us.
The open air market at Croux Rousse was extensive, running for blocks on end. It was a heavenly stroll through stalls of chickens roasting on rotisseries, fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese mongers, meat sellers, fish sellers and on and on. Temptations were everywhere, but we settled on sweetbreads, beef cheeks, cardoons, salsify and apples and pears.
We left Lucy at the market and Peter, LJ and I headed out to Eurexpo for SIRHA and the Bocuse d’Or. This was the first time the new tram that went all the way out to the Eurexpo was operational. We had hoped that it would have still been a secret, but alas, it was not. A bit more direct and faster than the old way of tram followed by a shuttle bus, it was no less crowded. We crammed into the tram at the Grange Blanche Metro station and were delivered to our destination.
SIRHA is huge, filling football fields of space with all sorts of vendors including restaurant equipment, foods from around the world and supplies of all kinds. It is impossible to take in in one day, let alone the duration of the show, but we did our best to see and experience as much as possible. After a quick visit to check out the first day of competition of the Bocuse we made our way around the show seeing some familiar faces at Cuisine Solutions, PolyScience and elsewhere. We managed to eat well all around, tasting a variety of items including some outstanding 3 & 4 year old oysters from the Atlantic coast of France and sensational Cecina – “beef ham” – from the Basque region of Spain. This ham is made from aged beeves and rivals the very finest pork hams in the world. We made friends with the person at the booth, who fed us our fill of this marvelous treat.
A visit to Lyon would not be complete without some chocolate and a visit to Bernachon, the legendary Lyonais chocolatier, so we left SIRHA a little early. We took the Metro to Foch for the pilgrimage arriving not long before closing time. We were still able to buy some chocolate to bring home and sit for a hot chocolate in the cafe. Thinner than the hot chocolate at San Gines, it was nevertheless delicious and glorious.
We made it back to our apartment to clean up and rest a few moments before heading back to Lucy’s for dinner. This ws a dinner like one might find in heaven. We started by snacking on the Gesu, while Peter worked on a Tarte Tartine and Lucy fried the veal sweetbreads that she had soaked through the day. These came to the table hot and fantastic, accented with a salad of watercress and arugula and lemon juice. Sweetbreads or any food, for that matter, don’t get more delicious or satisfying than these were. Washed down with a Chablis, this could not have been a more perfect course. This was followed by the equally sinful braised cardoons and salsify and a stew of beef cheeks in wine that would have made Julia Child blush with envy. A cheese plate with delights from around France would have been enough to end this meal on a great note, but somehow, the greatness continued with Peter’s sensational tarte tartine. With great company, nice wines and fantastic food in a hospitable setting, dinner does not get more enjoyable than this meal. Too tired to walk, L.J. And I took the Metro back and sank into our beds for too too short a night.
This was the day that our trip had been formed around – It was the second and final day of the Bocuse d’Or. It was also the day that The United States team would compete with very high hopes of a podium finish. On my first visit to the Bocuse four years ago, I accompanied the team to the competition. This time, the crowd around the team had grown considerably and I no longer had the need nor the desire to get up that early to be there from the beginning. L.J. And I arrived around 9am, which was plenty of time to visit with the team before they started competing. We spent the morning on the floor observing the competitors cook. Even with incredible access to view the proceedings, it is difficult o fully get a handle on how things proceed. Ironically, my early impression of Thibaut Ruggeri, the French candidate, was that he was careening wildly and was a bit out of control.It turned out that his pace was required to complete the sensational plates and platter that he and his female commis ultimately produced. They only went on to win the Gold! For more on this competition please click here.
Exhausted by the end of the Bocuse, L.J. And I slipped back to our apartment to pack and grab a simple doner kebab at a nearby stand – a bit of an anti-climax to an exciting, but poorly fed day.