Bordeaux – Château Smith Haut Lafitte

IMG_5185This tour came by way of a recommendation from the concierge at the Mercure after learning that Chateau Carbonnieux was booked for the afternoon.  Again, I found a connection.  SHL was founded by a Scotsman, George Smith.  I guess I was meant to go here too!

IMG_5170Again, the official dog of Pessac-Léognan, the yellow lab


Quite the nifty clockIMG_5197 IMG_5203 IMG_5213

They just finished installing new oak fermentation tanks
The red wine cellarIMG_5225 SHL is one of 4 wineries in Bordeaux that makes its own barrels… very impressive!IMG_5232 IMG_5236 IMG_5239 IMG_5242 With a flair for the dramatic, the tour guide opened a secret trap door in the floor of the tasting room:IMG_5245 Some modern art in the library cellar – and end table with a mirrored bottom and a one way glass top.  So a reflection of a reflection really does go on to infinity… I always wondered…IMG_5252 The oldest bottles on displayIMG_5256 The display table of the library cellarIMG_5260This tour felt like a spare no expense upgrade project.  The owners certainly want to do everything they can to make the best wine possible.

Bordeaux – Château Carbonnieux

IMG_5077With just a few afternoon hours of free time, I managed two winery tours in the Pessac-Léognan appellation of the Graves region.  The first was at the recommendation of Caroline, our customer host(ess).  After a quick read, I was excited about touring Chateaux Carbonnieux because it was founded in the 13th century by Benedictine monks of Sainte-Croix Abbey.  Grandpa Gareiss used to sip Benedictine (the liqueur) and I use it to spike my cider, so I was excited about a winery with a similar connection.  When I called to make a reservation, however, they were booked.  I scheduled a tour at Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte for later in the day and thought I’d take my chances with a stop at Chateau Carbonnieux without an appointment.  Turns out by booked, they meant they were expecting a bunch of old folks on a cruise excursion.  And they were late.  And the tour guide, Melanie, was nice enough to let me walk around on my own and then follow the cruise group around on their tour.  She was a delightful young lady about to finish her MBA in food and wine marketing.  I should have gotten an MBA like that… Anyway, here are some photos of the visit:

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Both wineries I visited were “guarded” by yellow labs…
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It was harvest time for the white wine.  I was about 2 weeks early for the red wine harvest.

Stainless steel fermenting tanks

Red wine cellar

White wine cellar

The library cellar
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Great experience thanks to Melanie and a couple bottles of red in the cellar to enjoy in 2022 to reminisce.


The Louvre was the king’s palace until it wasn’t stylish to be in downtown Paris and until the Louvre just wasn’t big enough.  Versailles became the new king’s residence.  Dan and I made a quick trip before heading south to Bordeaux.

Not a bad front gate if you’re into enormous gold gates… just imagine the sunrise reflecting off of all that gold.


“Hey, mom… I’ll stab the scary lizard thingy while you fix your dress”IMG_4971 The view from behind the palace… imagine the sun setting behind the reflecting pool.IMG_4989_HDRAs he tells the story, he’s a god.  Turns out he was a gahd in east coast speak aka offensive guard in college.  There was an empty statue pedestal, and he just couldn’t resist.
IMG_5005 The fountain in front of the reflecting pool:IMG_5014_HDR


We didn’t have time to fight the crowd and actually go in the palace.  Next time…

The Louvre

Picking up where I left off with the photo of the entrance of the museum.  It was neat to see the pyramid after reading about it in The DaVinci Code, but I wasn’t a fan of the new fangled stuff mixed in with the historic.

IMG_4719_HDRHighlights from inside the museum…

Venus de Milo, one of the masterpieces displayed by The Louvre:


Being a butcher was sculpture-worthy once upon a time:

IMG_4753I will never again think crown molding is pretentious.

I liked the light through the window on the angel’s wings.
A little shout out to Spencer with a wrestling plaque.IMG_4788


The Apollo Gallery was quite the impressive hall.  The view from the far end by the case with the crown jewels:


Louis XIV, the Sun King, is the man behind much of the glamour of historic France.  He is also the king played by Leonardo DiCaprio in The Man in the Iron Mask, just in case you need a pop culture reference point.


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“What’s your sign?”IMG_4828

The grape harvest in September
IMG_4832 A few of the famous paintings…


Check out that bald reflection in the lower right 😉IMG_4863 IMG_4872 IMG_4877

And a few more sculptures…

IMG_4881 IMG_4882 IMG_4889The dining room in the King’s apartments:

IMG_4895I’m pretty sure The Louvre warrants several days’ exploration, but I made the most of my few hours.

Paris Photo Walk

I had a little over 24 hours between the train ride after SRS and the plane ride to my next customer visit for a whirlwind visit to Paris.  I stayed close to the Arc d’ Triumph and walked from there to the Louvre, on to Notre Dame, and finally to the Latin quarter for a late dinner.

Sights on the walk to the Louvre:

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I’ll share my Louvre photos for another post.  After an afternoon in the museum, I walked to Notre Dame for the sunset.


IMG_2459IMG_2457I enjoyed my first duck confit in a casual restaurant in the Latin quarter.  Surprisingly, they had raclette on the menu.  I enjoyed a moment of fond memories of a raclette dinner in Schaffhausen with Tirza’s brother and his family and their parents.

IMG_2462I saw the Eiffel Tower from a few different vantage points both during the day and at night, but never made the trip to the site to go up in the tower.  Next time…



L’Auberge de l’ île

L’Auberge de l’ île is a Michelin 2 Star restaurant on the Ile Barbe Island, on the Saone river in Lyon, France.  An absolutely wonderful experience for the ambience, the food, the conversation with a great customer, and my first Michelin starred restaurant experience.  An aerial view (I didn’t take this picture) of the island with it’s relatively few buildings:


Dinner was after a surgeon reception that was part of the SRS Annual Meeting.  We arrived after dark to lighted trees and patio furniture where we enjoyed amuse-bouche and champagne while the staff prepared our menu.  In layman’s terms, we sat down on couches and enjoyed three little finger food bites with our champagne while one of the many waiters reviewed the menu options and our selections.  The view of the front of the restaurant from my patio seat:

IMG_2412The hors d’oeuvres options were: (1) creamy crab tart with garden herbs, red bell pepper and raspberry sorbet, (2) langoustines, creamy avocado, shaked watermelon gaspacho,  or (3) red tuna like a tartare, beetroot, vodka sorbet & caviar oscietre royal.  Ryan and I chose the langoustines and Mariusz and Carol chose the tuna.


There was an optional second hors d’oeuvres special of blue lobster in thai flavoured sauce, so we ordered two of those and had them split for sharing.  There was an extra carrot in there to balance the presentation, but I got excited and ate it before I remembered to take the picture.

IMG_2416The main course options were: (1) alpine char on its crispy skin from the Oron River, chantrelles butter, (2) line caught seabass roasted on its skin, artichokes, fingerling potatoes and summer truffle, (3) bourbonnais saddle of lamb, stuffed ‘a la royale’ like it was served in Versailles for the Gala of the World Heritage Unesco diner, or (4) exceptional piece of Aubrac beef, souffles potatoes, beaubernaise sauce.  Ryan and I chose the lamb and Mariusz and Carol chose the seabass.  Before serving the course, they brought out an enameled dutch oven, removed the lid and presented the uncut lamb roast on a bed of grasses where lamb was roasted.

IMG_2417The soup course was ceps mushroom veloute, just like a cappuccino, steamed foie gras.  In layman’s terms, cream of porcini mushroom soup with foam over a piece of foie gras.

IMG_2418The cheese course was one of the most entertaining as it was incredibly indulgent and required audience participation for the table side service.  The cheese was presented on three carts surrounding the table – one each for the goat, sheep and cow’s milk cheeses.

IMG_2420 IMG_2421 IMG_2422Each plate was prepared with our individual selections and arranged from mild to strong for our cheesy pleasure.  My plate:

IMG_2423The dessert options were: (1) salted butter soufflé, green apple sorbet, (2) chocolate raspberry truffier, (3) crispy cannellono with red and black fruits, verbena sorbet, or (4) liquorice ice cream, almond milk and gingerbread.  Carol and I had the soufflé and Mariusz and Ryan had the truffier.

IMG_2427We had at least 6 different staff members serving us throughout the meal.  As dessert was wrapping up, the table next to us had gone outside between dinner and dessert and no staff was in the room with us.  I goaded Ryan into not wasting even the slightest bit of his raspberry sorbet:

IMG_2429Who doesn’t want to lick their plate after a meal like that?!?  So that was my first Michelin starred restaurant experience… I think I should break out my Ratatouille DVD and enjoy a great Disney movie all over again with my new found perspective.










Lyon, France

I spent several days in Lyon while attending the SRS Annual Meeting.  My first day there allowed for a little bit of a photo walk on the way to dinner.

2013-09-18_13795228272013-09-18_1379530577The first photo is part of a rail bridge support.  The second photo is the outside of the amphitheater at the Lyon convention center.

I am in the middle of another great food book, The Mushroom Hunters, and this influenced by dinner selection for my first meal in Lyon.

The chef’s special was Risotto Arborio aux Cèpes aka porcini risotto.  This plate was absolutely delicious… lick your plate like an American with no sense of cultural sensibilities delicious!

IMG_2374One of my lunches had this rather interesting lasagna-esque stack of bread with a cake-like texture, pesto and raw salmon… tasty and beautiful all at the same time.

IMG_2391I took an evening photo walk before a late night dinner in Lyon.  A gorgeous sunset lighting view over the Rhône River:


An HDR shot of the fountain in Place des Terreaux in downtown Lyon:

The cruiser and scarved and bespectacled young man seemed to capture the essence of France…IMG_4623 IMG_4655

Lyon city hall lit after sunset:


Dinner after the photo walk included a curious silverware statue in the hallway en route to the restroom.


My appetizer was a nifty pate inside a loaf of bread.

The chef’s special was a pork loin wrapped in pork skin, roasted and carved table side.


Dessert was a velvety custard.
IMG_2402My next meal in Lyon warrants its own post… stay tuned…





Grenoble, France

Stop #2 was in Grenoble, France at the foot of the Alps.  I snapped a nice photo with my phone while driving to a customer visit.


I was surprised to see carpaccio on the menu as an entree instead of an appetizer and couldn’t resist.



I order this as an appetizer quite often, and it usually comes with a mustard sauce and capers with shaved parmesan.  This version was a little lighter with grated parmesan and just a hint of lemon juice and olive oil.  Oh… and I didn’t have to share… it was all mine!

Tuttlingen, Germany

Time to catch up on my world travels… I spent a little over a week in Europe and have lots of photos, meals and stories to share.  This trip was sort of like Man vs Food meets Planes, Trains and Automobiles.  I visited 5 cities in 8 days while enjoying great food and all 3 modes of transportation.

My first stop was in Tuttlingen, Germany to visit the Fetzers and our Instrumed International facility with Ryan and Dan, another engineer and one of our sales managers.  We were greeted by a rainbow on our first day.



Pete and Bernd were busy setting up equipment in the new facility.  The Willemin cell was up and running smoothly.

IMG_4523The roof of the building is open to walk on like a patio and is covered with plants for a literal and figurative green roof.  From the roof, I had a great view of the forrest behind the building and the Tuttlingen cityscape in front of the building.

IMG_4491_HDRIMG_4517_HDRThe building is surrounded by a number of retaining walls since it is built into a hillside.  The walls are steel mesh cages filled with rock.  The rock gives the wall strength to act as a retaining wall and the use of mesh cages rather than mortar allow water to flow through preventing erosion of the wall.  Simple yet ingenious.


I managed to sneak in a great meal at the Hirsch Brewery Monday night, as well.  No photos but I did get to enjoy a few glasses of Zwickl while practicing my stink eye prost!