Nadine accepted to go hen to the Saint Vincent's banquet with Catherine because none of Nadine’s "gentleman friends" had offered. Nadine swallowed the slight with the head and stomach medicines that she took to prepare for the night. If her "services" were not worth 95 euros and seven vintage wines … well, perhaps she needed to find other "gentlemen" who would know to value her better.
The sight of Catherine calmed her. She was strictly dressed in a black pantsuit. A stem of white blossomed out of it into a turtle-neck.
"It's the warmest suit I have," Catherine said, catching Nadine's glance. "I suspect it'll be cold in there."
It was. Nadine shivered in her silver lamé top, long-sleeved but thin, lying in low-slung folds across her ample breasts. Once the Mayor and the banquet organizer had made their speeches and the gougères and bubbly crémant had been served, she walked slowly among the tables in the stone hall with its vaulted ceiling, chatting with different men who seemed alone. Not always, she discovered.
She returned to their table as the staff served the duck and lentil soup and poured the vivid yellow Domaine de la Cras 2008 (a superb, slightly candyish côtes dijonnaises). Catherine was in intense conversation with a handsome, well-dressed man sitting next to her. Nadine listened long enough to hear the thick ladling of politics, then concentrated on the tenderness of the thin strips of duck and the rich, fine broth. Another turn around the room brought her abruptly against the mayor.
"A thousand pardons, Mr. Mayor!" Nadine exclaimed with a disarming smile. The mayor smiled back, more suavely.
"I hope you are enjoying the banquet," he said, voice as smooth as kir.
"Oh, yes, but the hall, less. It is rather frigid."
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. But the meal, the wine, the song will perhaps warm you? The escargot-and-foie-gras cannelloni, perhaps?"
"I'll try that, certainly," Nadine answered, and walked on as the folk group struck up a tune: “Qui veut chasser une migraine …”
Through the succulent cannelloni and the Marsannay 2009, the perch with artichoke purée and Fixin premier cru 2007, the palate-cleansing cassis-blossom-and-ratafia sorbet, Catherine and her neighbor enthusiastically restructured the municipal taxes. Nadine savored and wandered. The mayor extolled the delicate sauce for the fish.
"Quand je bois du vin clairet, m'ami, tout tourne, tourne, tourne, tourne … "
By the time they came to the suckling pig with celery purée and the Morey-St Denis 2007, the stunning cheeses – creamy, sweet, Brillat-Savarin; solid, monkish Citteaux; smooth, full-flavored Epoisses – and the accompanying Gevrey-Chambertin 1993, Catherine and company had regulated the public services and Nadine felt a stimulating warmth. The mayor commended the frothiness of the Brillat. The chocolate mousse with tart amarena cherries on a pear compote base with fruit pastes and truffles awaited the return of a Nadine perfectly heated.
"Joyeux enfants de la Bourgogne …"
Catherine left with three wine glasses in her bag. Nadine left with the mayor.
published 7 March 2012