Monday, July 07, 2014

Abbaye de Cluny

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After our fiasco at St Amour on the Beaujolais trail, we went northwards into the neighboring region of Bourgogne or Burgundy, which kicks off a couple of miles after St Amour. Nope, not on the Burgundy wine trail, but a safer historical trail this time. We ran into Abbaye de Cluny, or Cluny Abbey -- a Benedictine abbey dating all the way back to the year 910 -- in its time the biggest and richest Benedictine order. Its monks became known for their luxurious lifestyle and avoiding physical labor. Given that a frugal life and hard work is the bedrock of the Benedictine credo, this naturally led to sarcastic comments from other Benedictine orders. The Cluny monks riposted they made up for it by singing psalms all day. Singing is hard work, they said. And so what if they ate roast chicken? Chewing chicken is hard work too. I dunno about you, but I tend to agree with those Cluny monks.

Here are some pics of the abbey.

Later, we lunched at the nearby town of Cluny, in this charming restaurant on the banks of the river Rhone. Lots of flowers and stuff, stone terrace, overlooking the Rhone sidling by... It was one of the finest meals I've ever had in France. I don't remember what I ordered -- I believe it was a roast pork of some sort. But there were lots and lots of interesting accompaniments like an aubergine paste thing and a zucchini thing. It was one of those experimental bio places, you see. The difference being that the experiments were actually quite palatable. What I do remember is the beer. It was an artisanal beer brewed locally, and it took the top of head off. Amazing stuff. I finished it all off with a chocolate fondant -- something between a chocolate mousse and a chocolate cake. It was gooey, crunchy, dreamy, buttery... I thought I'd died and been reborn as a Cluny monk.

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