The city of Dijon is known mostly for its mustard (moutard), but in our precious few days there the Devil Dog found a fascinating outpost of culinary joy, a lovely capital of the Burgandy region where the Ducal Palace is an imposing reminder of Burgandy's former glory as a province with greater power than the King of France, and a cool university town with a lively night life, for the wandering wayfarer who is so inclined.
Our day began in a drizzle at a small cafe where we met American expatriot Alex Miles, an accomplished chef and cooking instructor who has made Dijon his personal crockpot. We spent a marvelous morning at the extremely large covered market, a cornucopia of local food and produce that gives new meaning to the term farmers market. Stalls with every conceivable form of vegetable, fish, yogurt, meat, poultry or fromage (cheese) stood brimming with the days fresh wonders, as we moved from one end of the pavillion to the other gathering the ingrediants for a feast of celebration. Fresh onions, celery root, basil as dark as the inner forest, jars of fresh runny yogurt, a particular type of potato, a wide selection of local cheeses, and a fine cut of whole rabbit. Alex Miles is more than a chef, he is a presence, being constantly interupted with greetings by stall owners and local friends in the culinary community. It was like following the pope thru the Vatican market (if there were one), an attentive group in tow, elderly stall keepers greeting him with ebullient smiles.
BUT then.....we took those bags of carefully selected ingrediants and retired to a beautiful apartment behind the Ducal Palce and prepared a rabbit in mustard sauce with three side dishes and a freshly layered desert washed down with a seemingly endless supply of perfectly acceptable white and red wine. Alex is a breath of multi cultural fresh air, a fabulous chef, and a force of nature for Dijon and the culinary arts, particularly with his 4/14 Festival scheduled for next July (09) bringing together great chefs, eclectic music and a feast for the ages in a celebration of all that is creatively culinary in Dijon....pass the moutard.
The night before we had set the Devil Dog loose on the streets of Dijon, with harmonicas in pocket, in search of a legendary blues and soul club somewhere near Plaza de la Republic. I'm not sure how I found it, because in the process I got turned around, but there it was. Appropriately, one of the songs I wailed on was "Further on Up the road". Thanks to Bobby Johnson and the band for letting the Devil Dog sit in. It was surrounded by a cluster of other clubs nearby servicing the local college crowd (it was, after all, Friday night in Dijon).... and in the end it was a cozy wander home about 2:30 in the morning....but I got lost again, and was veering by instinct before a group of reveling college students steered me down the next street, and there was the hotel, the historic La Cloche (a Sofitel), looming large by the park and the gateway arch at the center of town, 200 yards ahead on the corner.