Food: Michelin Stars, France: Aubrac

Restaurants: Bras: Glorious greens, in the French countryside.

Though you don’t hear a lot about Michel Bras in the U.S. (or, at least, I hadn’t), he’s really one of the founding fathers of the movement to eat only what you can grow and/or gather from the land around you. While Jay and I were driving the four hours it took us along steep, windy country roads to reach his restaurant, Bras, in Laguiole (pronounced “lah-yol”) in the Aubrac region of France (really, the middle of nowhere, east of the Dordogne and west of the Northern Rhone), I remarked that we were really making a foodie pilgrimage, and that the trip had better be worth the effort it took to tear ourselves away from Provence, where we could have been lounging all day by the pool.

Food: Michelin Stars, France: Lyon

Restaurants: Pic: Ultimately, more excited to meet the chef than to eat her creations.

Valence, France / July 14, 2009 / dinner

Winederlust Rating (details below): 6.75 out of 10 / Winederlust Worthy: No

We were looking forward to eating here because Anne-Sophie Pic was the only female chef in France to crack the male-dominated French chef culture and be awarded three Michelin stars. (Plus she’s young – 39 – and petite, like me.) But we were also scared because when we looked up her tasting menu online the night before we visited, it said it was 395 euros.Per person.

Food: Michelin Stars, France: Rhone

Restaurants: Troisgros: And finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint.

Since it was lunch and we’d need to drive back to Lyon afterward (plus we were hoping to hit some wineries in Beaujolais and were still pretty jet-lagged and not feeling 100 percent), we opted for a half bottle of the 2005 Yann Chave Crozes-Hermitage, a red from an up-and-coming producer in the Northern Rhone, to go along with our tasting menu of 147 euros each, not very creatively titled “Impressions d’été” (impressions of summer). As we would come to realize was commonplace at these types of restaurants in France, Jay was given the menu with prices while I, the innocent female, received the one without. (Jay also thought that the waiters, all men, didn’t look me in the eye while describing or presenting the dishes, but I honestly didn’t notice. If so, it was more subtle than when we went to India last year!)

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