When thinking of Reims with its Northern French architecture and 600 year old cathedral that is second only to the great Notre Dame de Paris in terms of beauty in the whole of France; cuisine probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. Undoubtedly it is all about the miles and miles of chalk caves filled with re-fermenting wines made from flat lifeless vineyards and waiting to be popped and poured with some sparklers at a fiendishly horrible club in Mayfair.
Without ever visiting the Champagne region, this sort of image would be a reasonable assumption, but a short trip shows that this is a serious drinks producing area with a cuisine and culture to match. Some of the views overlooking Epernay from the nearby Montagne de Reims and Vallee de la Marne are simply stunning, showing the undulations and forests that make vineyards in sunshine wonderfully relaxing places to be and take away the many stresses of everyday life.
The town of Epernay is a beautiful one, and the cathedral in Reims is breathtaking, although there will probably not be another light show on the cathedral until the 700th anniversary, but the real star here is the unknown cuisine. Much of the region is forest, and there are plenty of pigs and wild boars to provide wonderful dishes, with Jambon du Reims being particularly sweet and flavoursome. Saumon Fume is another speciality, although the Salmon isn’t native, the way of smoking it is and gives a unique taste very different to that of Gradvalax or Scottish smoked salmon.
The real star of the show in Reims however is the group of restaurants of Chateau des Crayeres. The main Chateau is a two Michelin starred affair of great acclaim, all very classic and French in its execution. However, they also have a sister restaurant, Brasserie Le Jardin, nestled unsurprisingly in the garden of the Chateau through some woodland and out of view from prying Michelin eyes.
More down to earth and relaxed in style, the food is still of a quality that one would become accustomed to if all one did was read the Michelin guide. Delicate, perfumed and beautifully matched to the local tipple. What’s more this famous beverage is most certainly not treated as a celebratory drink but as a fine white wine that just happens to have a spritz to it.
The Positive were treated to local asparagus, wonderfully matched to a delicate Rose, with a creamy sauce that was beautiful in texture and not heavy due to the drink pairing. Some smoked salmon of the region that was a delight with a 100% Chardonnay, and local pork that melted in the mouth when attaching itself to a 100% Pinot Noir. The real beauty here is that one can relax and enjoy the unique versatility of Champagne, the region, Champagne, the beverage and Champagne, the cuisine.
Avenue Général Giraud 51100 REIMS
Tel. : +33 (0)3 26 24 90 90
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Web : www.lescrayeres.com
Regular trains from Paris Est are non-stop to Reims
By car from Calais follow signs to Reims/Epernay