I was in Burgundy in central France researching the wines and food for an article. It was well past noon, and I was hungry. And thirsty. I had just visited the vineyard village of Vougeot, home of a parcel of vines hallowed throughout winedom: Clos Vougeot.
A castle floats in a sea of vines that are divided among many small owners. After visiting the tasting room of one of the larger owners, and enjoying the gustatory delights of the fruit grown just outside his door, I hit the road in search of a meal. Just a block away I noticed a short grizzled unshaven old man in a flannel shirt in a rickety old chair beside a barrel that was standing on end. On the head of the barrel was an open bottle, a single wine glass, and a sign: "Degustation." Tasting. I stopped.
This winemaker with the famous grapes had an unfamous name, but the wine was marvelous, better than the more famous vigneron from whom I had just come, and I bought a bottle for about $20.
I drove my rental Renault north seeking sustenance. I noticed a trailer, not much bigger than a minivan, parked beside the road. As I sped past I could smell them. Saucisse, French hot dogs, and pommes frites. French fries. I wheeled around and drove back. The trailer had a window with an awning, and a shelf for passing through the hot food. Fast food, French country style.
I was second in line behind a short grizzled unshaven old man in a flannel shirt. Through an open window in the trailer another short grizzled unshaven old man in a flannel shirt was mounting a freshly shaven potato into a grid of metal blades. He pulled down a handle and pushed the potato through a grid of blades extruding it into a bouquet of quarter inch shoestrings and propelling them directly into a cauldron of hot oil. Gurrrrrrglllllle. Hisssssss.
He then produced a long skinny baguette of crusty bread, cut off a 8" section, and impaled it lengthwise on a stainless steel hot poker, about the diameter of a fat finger. It went right up the center of the soft white bread, and toasted it golden.
He then turned around and with his bare fingers plucked a white sausage from a griddle. Holding it between thumb and forefinger he dipped it in a widemouth jar of mustard made just up the road in Dijon. He then wriggled the dog lubed with mustard into the holey bread, scooped out the frites, wrapped them all in brown butcher paper, and handed it the man in front of me. I ordered what he had.
Moments later I found myself sitting on a stone wall overlooking the great Chateau in Clos Vougeot, eating the world's best hot dog and fries made just over there, and drinking nectar from the neck of the bottle, made from the vines at my feet.
Title: Clos Vougeot
First released for sale: 5/7/01
Price: $250 for a signed 13 x 19"