Monday, April 13, 2009

Melon con Prosciutto Ousteau de Beaumaniere

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Overlooking one of the most beautiful villages in the world, sits one of the best restaurants in France, Ousteau de Beaumaniere, owned and run by Jean Andre Charial and his wife, Genevieve. The restaurant and the inn are both members of the Relais & Chateaux group. The village of Les Baux is surrounded by a half eroded citadel on top of a cliff that is lit every night and can be seen from the restaurant and every room at the inn. It is, indeed, a magical experience.

The first time I had a glass of Muscat de Beaumes de Venise was at Ousteau de Beaumaniere. Most people spend the night at l'ousteau after a glorious dinner at the restaurant. I got to spend a week. I was in the middle of a very difficult assignment, driving a client through France, staying at the best hotels, eating at the best restaurants and getting paid for it. On or about the fourth day of my stay, I couldn't entertain the idea of another superb lunch or dinner, so I ordered melon with prosciutto as a light snack. What I got was no ordinary melon and no ordinary prosciutto. At that time, the melons from nearby Cavaillon were in season and they were like honey, and I'm sure the prosciutto that accompanied it was the best Parma had to offer. But what was unforgettable was the small glass of a sweet wine that was offered in a silver tray as an accompaniment to the melon and prosciutto. Not being one to turn anything down, especially wine or food, I accepted. I have never forgotten the moment when that nectar flowed down my throat. I was utterly speechless. My heart stopped..my pulse raced... all the usual things happened. Days later, upon my return to the States, I couldn't wait to have a luncheon and impress my friends with this fantastic combination. The result..there is always a small bottle of Muscat de Beaumes de Venise in my wine rack, waiting for a good melon. As luck would have it, this afternoon was it. Our cantaloupes are now in season and even though they may not taste exactly like the ones from Cavaillon, they still merit a bottle of Muscat de Beaumes de Venice. This makes for a beautiful and simple starter for a lunch party, especially one by the pool. You can find the wine at any good wine store in your area. Make sure it is well chilled.


I also recommend that with prosciutto at $25/lb, you go to Costco and buy it there for half the price. Believe me, it won't go to waste. Think of paninis with prosciutto and whatever cheese strikes your imagination.


I have returned to Baumaniere only once since that experience. Even though I only stayed for lunch and the melons from Cavaillon where not in season, it was still a magical experience.

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