Crème de Cassis with Suze
Suze, the bitter aperitif, fought back against the sometimes cloying nature of the cassis, but the fruit flavor persevered, and two together made for an intriguing beverage. The competing soft sweetness of the cassis and aggressive bitterness of the Suze brought to mind the old Quilted Northern commercial with the “Soft/Strong” song.
Local Red Rice Beer
After tasting the mellow rice-driven flavor that made this beer a day-drinking star, an inevitable let-down washed over me, as I realized just how local this beer was. It was nowhere to be found just one town over. Certainly I should have bought at least two—they were so smooth and so sessionable.
Muscat de Beaumes de Venise V.D.N.
The old saying might invite you to eat dessert first, but with a mid-day glass of Muscat de Beaumes de Venise V.D.N, it’s worth drinking dessert first. The fortified wine was remarkably light and bright.
The owner of our hotel explained to me that Aqualanca, shown here, was the most local version of pastis. A wonderful herbaceousness—think mint and warm spring breezes—had a welcome mellowing effect on the anise flavor of the drink.
Marc de Châteauneauf-du-Pape
Like nose-to-tail eating to chefs, Marc is a type of brandy that keeps winemakers from wasting any part of the grape. Distilled from what’s left over after crushing the grapes for wine (skins, seeds, pulp, stems), it is aged in oak, giving it a lovely light orange hue, and a smoothness that is hard to reconcile with the rough materials from which it comes.