France celebrated its first Fête de la Gastronomie on Friday, September 23. In Paris there were many special events to celebrate this day including a “2 for 1” offer in some of Paris’ top restaurants (during the week of September 19-25), cheese tastings, chocolate tastings, and more!
I chose to attend three events, two of which were organized around the theme of coffee. I will report on these at another time. The third was an event that took place on a boat called Six-Huit that was docked at quai Montebello across the river from Notre-Dame Cathedral. Here, from 7:30 p.m. until who knows what time the party broke up, a number of artisanal beer brewers from all over France came to pour their brews for beer enthusiasts. For the price of 21€, one had the right to taste four beers and a platter of either cheese or charcuterie. It was a good price for the privilege of sipping suds while meeting some of the movers and shakers of the micro-brewery industry in France and while standing on a péniche with an incredible view of the cathedral.
I met Laurent Mousson, beer aficionado and vice-president of the European Beer Consumers Union, who told me that artisanal micro-brewers were advised that the French would never accept the naturally bitter beers that they wanted to produce. They pressed ahead anyway, and according to the manifesto posted (in French) on their Web site, the industry is experiencing healthy growth.
I met Marjorie Jacobi, a brewer from Blainville-sur-l’Eau in the Lorraine region (in eastern France) whose California lager that she calls La Véronique Lucienne was a pleasure to drink. It was dry and slightly sweet at the same time, with notes of bitter orange. When I told her that I was from California, she was especially pleased to learn that I liked her beer.
I met Nathalie, a Parisian who brews her own beers.
I met a group of beer lovers from an association called Amis de la Bière – Ile de France. They love to talk about beer and drink it at social occasions that they organize in the Ile de France region.
And I met Cyril Lalloum, who organizes social events around beer that he and his partner Laurent Cicurel call Les Soirées Maltées. It was they who organized that night’s event.
Around 10:00 p.m. I noted the marvelous effect that beer has upon a person who begins his evening on an almost imperceptibly rocking boat. Although I had drunk only four gavroches (a glass with a capacity of 12.5cl), I had the very real sensation that the boat was rocking even more! Fearing that more drinking might cause the boat to capsize, I set my glass down, bade farewell to new friends, and set off into the Paris night.
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