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Aug 06

France Made Easy — well, Easier

Last year I went to France. Specifically, the good folks at Planet Bordeaux sent me, and a group of other bloggers, to Bordeaux for an amazing week. In all seriousness, I can’t even explain how amazing.

I could use the fact that I was simply overwhelmed by France as an excuse for not writing about the trip for a year. However, the true excuse is that so many other real-world changes have been happening to me, writing about France was just low-priority.

As many of you know, I’m now living in San Francisco. In fact, as of a few weeks ago, I’m in the heart of the city. We live in Lower Pacific Heights (no, Michael Keaton is not nearby – but Danielle Steele is). We are in the middle of the rejuvenated Polk Street, the hipster Hayes Valley, the trendy Fillmore District, and the trendy AND hipster Marina (Union and Chestnut Streets). This means that there is simply too much to eat, drink, sample and experience than one could possibly imagine.

But back to France. On Sunday, after partaking in the San Francisco constant that is all-weekend-brunch-with-bottomless-mimosas-everywhere, I was walking along Union Street. Despite walking down this street constantly, I’d never noticed a tiny French delicatessen. Perhaps because my companion and I were out earlier than most weekend denizens of Union Street and there was no one around … regardless, I wandered in based on a sign: “French Wine Club – $20.”

The store is called Chez Berlue. While I’ve been obsessed with all things Paris for the last year, I’ve studiously avoided the rest of France. One step into Chez Berlue and I was taken back to Bordeaux last year. Of course I joined their wine club (although I chose a slightly higher level than $20), and I had a wonderful conversation with the young Frenchman behind the laptop. He just got back from China and while in San Francisco right now, is studying wine in Bordeaux. More exploring led me to discover the great French cookies, jams, TRUFFLES, meats and of course, CHEESE in the front of the store.

Chez Berlue Wine Club

Chez Berlue Wine Club (photo from Chez Berlue)

It’s the back of the store that’s a miracle of French wine, though. Filled to the brim with French wines of every price tag and from all over – Provence, Bordeaux, Loire Valley, Champagne – it’s all there. It turns out that two young French women own this lovely little store. They love San Francisco but opened the store because there are just certain things they miss about French foods (such as how I miss LaRosa’s Pizza Sauce and Four Roses Single Barrel from back home). One of these two young women was born and raised in a Bordeaux wine family, and she (Julie – the Berlue of the name) maintains the enjoyable wine collection.

My entrance into this store had two effects on me:

1 – I immediately left with two wine club reds and a white, which I’ll review tomorrow.

2 – I left with a renewed energy to write – both about my trip to France and all things wine and French related.

That means you’ll be getting a lot of France from me over the next few months, as I dive into French wines, my trip, and everything else remotely related. See, French wines often LOOK intimidating (blame those grand chateaus on the labels), but in truth, they’re amazingly approachable – and affordable – wines. My goal? To make French wine easier for all of us. I think that’s the goal at Chez Berlue too.

I’ve still got an occasional cocktail review I need to share (Fernet Branca, anyone?) and some occasional wine experiences out here in wine country. But there will be a lot of France. Hang on to your french fries …

Cheers, 

Michelle

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