a flask of Chateau Haut-Brion wine

by Paige Donner (all photos copyright 2017 Paige Donner) As Bordeaux’s very first wine château, is it any wonder that Haut-Brion still ranks with such stature in the world’s profile of wines and wine estates? Well, a measured answer would … Continue reading

Saint Mont AOC Celebrates 60 Years

by Paige Donner Saint Mont is one of France’s newer appellations, created in 1957, but one that harbors some of the world’s oldest known vines of near-extinct grape varietals. photos by Paige Donner copyright 2017    In 2013 Saint Mont’s … Continue reading

Gérard Bertrand Wines – Good With Everything

by Paige Donner Sure, many of them are organic, some are even natural wine. And yes, they consistently offer rich tastes and aromas, balanced with nice acidity where they’re supposed to be. And, OK, the packaging is attractive, easy to … Continue reading

Three French Wines For Thanksgiving: Fixin, Fat Bastard and Colombelle

Thanksgiving is here and it’s time for feasting. As a nation, we have surely earned it this year with all the election stress. Now it’s time to relax with loved ones over the long weekend and enjoy good food,  home … Continue reading

Tasting – Le Grand Auxerrois à Paris

Held at the restaurant that Wine Spec recently named Paris’ best, Les Climats (Paris’ 7th arr), this tasting showcased gorgeous Burgundian wines that often don’t get enough attention… I’m talking Irancy, Saint-Bris, Chitry, Epineuil, Coulanges-la-Vineuse, Tonnerre, Aligoté and Vézelay. These … Continue reading

Chateau Mouton Rothschild – The New Museum and Cellars

Château Mouton Rothschild, June 16, 2013 Pauillac, Bordeaux by Paige Donner Photos by Paige Donner (and one by Anonymous Pirate Photographer) c. Paige Donner 2013   L’Art et L’Etiquette This is the title of the current exhibit at the new … Continue reading

Yannick Alléno’s * 1947 * At Cheval Blanc, Courchevel France

WHEN: December 12, 2012  until April 7, 2013 Where:  1947, Yannick Alléno’s new Pop-Up Gastronomic artistic culinary odyssey of a restaurant at Cheval Blanc in magical winter playground Courchevel, France Please find here excerpts from the Press Release with my … Continue reading

Support The Film!… Win A Wine Vacation

As a Thank You we’re offering you a Bonus Perk.  We’re optimistic that we’ll reach our film production fundraising goal for Wine & Climate Change, but we can’t do it without people like you.  Word-of-mouth and shared links have really … Continue reading

De Vinis Illustribus, Paris

by Paige Donner

Tucked practically underneath Paris’s Pantheon is the 17th c. cellar and mythical wine shop, De Vinis Illustribus.  When current owners, husband and wife Lionel and Dominique Michelin, took over the cellars in 1994 from the legendary Jean-Baptiste Besse, a wine lover and connoisseur who welcomed the likes of Papa Hemingway to his shop back in the day, it looked nothing like it does now.

Read my Review on BlackBook City Guides HERE

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Notes From Burgundy

[From Bourgogne Newsletter]

BURGUNDY WINE SCHOOL

BURGUNDY_WINE_SCHOOL

BURGUNDY WINE SCHOOL
For full details see ecoledesvins-bourgogne.comThe Wine School’s programme

The Burgundy Wine School has launched its 2012 programme. This year is likely to be a full one, as it includes three new features: sessions on food and wine pairing with Burgundy wines; sessions in English in September and October and the organisation of a 3-day programme (in English) as part of the Hospices de Beaune wine auction.

These new offerings will be added to the rich catalogue of around sixty training courses aimed at the general public, not to mention the “Coaching” and “Tailor-made services” (from 3 hours to several days) set up by the School.

The Wine School also manages the Aroma Cellars, with around fifty exhibitions per year. In 2011, 2,550 people attended training courses at the Burgundy Wine School and gave it an average score of 17.6 out of 20.

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♥Chérie Du Vin  Continue reading

Le Cordon Bleu And Le Grand Tasting

[From Le Cordon Bleu]

The Grand Tasting took place on December 2nd and 3rd at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris. Twenty one Wine and Management Diploma students, representing 9 countries, were responsible for serving wine for the “Master Class” and “Master Class Prestige” tastings.*Editor’s Note: Including the Ruinart Master Class Tasting that featured a 1998 Ruinart and an almost caramel-colored 1988 vintage paired with pan-seared fois gras.
The Grand Tasting brings together the best producers of wine, from International personalities to young talented winemakers. During the Master Class the best wines are unveiled and tasted. The following were amongst the esteemed producers who were present:Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Château Ausone, Domaine Ponsot, Maison Cazes, Domaine Weinbach, Domaine Jean Louis Chave, Domaine de la Chevalerie, Champagne Joseph Perrier, Champagne Taittinger, and other well-known brands.  Continue reading

Wine And Climate Change In The International Herald Tribune

Dear Readers and Wine Lovers: Please have a look at my recent article which originally appeared in the International Herald Tribune. It is also online at NYTimes.com with full LINK HERE.

by Paige Donner

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Bordeaux – Left Bank, Right Bank

By Paige Donner For most of us wine lovers, the word Bordeaux evokes Mecca-like dreams and memories of some of the world’s best and most prestigious wines. For the Bordelais, there is a pronounced distinction between “Left Bank” and “Right … Continue reading

Clos Lanson Champagne Harvest

by Paige Donner 

After nearly 40 years with the House of Champagne Lanson, Reims, winemaker Jean Paul Gandon is not afraid of innovation. That is, innovation when it stays within the context of tradition. Gandon and Champagne Lanson enjoy a singularly unique relationship in Champagne insofar as next year, when he celebrates his 40th year with the house, it will be the longest standing winemaker-to-winery relationship in this very exclusive region of France.

Jean Paul Gandon, Clos Lanson [Far Left]Jean Paul Gandon, Clos Lanson - Local Food And Wine

Gandon, Far Left

Gandon, Enguerrand Lanson Tasting Room, Reims - Local Food And Wine

Gandon, Enguerrand Baijot - Lanson Tasting Room, Reims - Local Food And Wine

Clos Lanson is one enclosed hectare of Chardonnay vines that grows grapes bursting with fruit and juice, if this past weekend’s harvest in Reims offers any evidence. The Clos is also singularly unique in Reims as it is the only enclosed hectare of vines growing within the city center. Beyond its walls are straight views onto the Reims Cathedral and the Stadium.

Harvest at Clos Lanson, Reims - Local Food And Wine

Harvest at Clos Lanson, Reims - Local Food And Wine

During one day each year family members, employees and friends of Lanson Champagne assemble for a spectacular day of convivial harvesting and celebration of what will be the most exclusive of Lanson Champagne cuvées, the Clos Lanson. This celebratory harvest and Cuvée of no more than 8,500 bottles was  the brain child of Gandon and one of the owners of Lanson International, Philippe Baijot, 6 years ago. This year will mark the first that the champagne will be available to taste and to drink.

Philippe Baijot, Champagne Lanson, - Local Food And Wine

Philippe Baijot, Champagne Lanson, - Local Food And Wine

Lanson Champagne Cave - Local Food And Wine

Lanson Champagne Cave - Local Food And Wine

Champagne Lanson is most well-known for its power of the Pinot Noir grape, its blocking of malolactic fermentation during its vinification and its cellaring of at least 36 months prior to release. (AOC Champagne regulations require 15 mos. minimum). Wine connoisseurs speak of keeping the Black Label Lanson for 10 years. In other words, this is not a “pop and pour” champagne.

Champagne Lanson was founded in 1760 by Francois Delamotte which makes it the fourth oldest house in the world. During its changing of hands in the last several decades, “…vintages of Lanson remained of high quality… Much of this success in the face of adversity must be down to Gandon.”

Launched in 2011 is Lanson’s L’Académie de Lanson  and its Little Black Book of Champagne. The House believes strongly in viewing champagne as a wine and not purely as a label. The Lanson Academy was developed to engage and enlighten all champagne drinkers.  –    ♥Chérie Du Vin

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Obernai, Its Le Parc And Its Vineyards

By Paige Donner

Obernai is the exquisite gem of a village on the famous Alsace Wine Road. If you have two days in which to explore Alsace, I recommend that you hop on the TGV from Paris, do a quick change in Strasbourg and continue onto Obernai on one of the regional trains for another 30 minutes.

Obernai from Above - Local Food And Wine photo by Paige Donner c. 2011

Obernai from Above - Local Food And Wine photo by Paige Donner c. 2011

Obernai and its Vineyards - Local Food And Wine photo by Paige Donner c. 2011

Obernai and its Vineyards - Local Food And Wine photo by Paige Donner c. 2011

Disembark in Obernai and then park yourself at the 4-Star Le Parc Hotel, the haven of VIP service and quiet tranquility that awaits you at the top of the village. If you are so predisposed, you needn’t budge from this spot as the resort has an indoor and an outdoor pool, two restaurants, both gastronomic quality, a cigar and rum lounge, a stylish bar, a bowling alley, a breakfast room and one of the best spas – the Asiane Spa – not just in Alsace but in France. There’s even a winery right next door that sells cold bottles of Gewürztraminer, Cremant d’Alsace and Riesling, as well as regional specialties like Kirschwasser, Salted Caramel Liqueur and fine regional patés.

Le Parc Hotel Obernai, Alsace - Local Food And Wine photo by Paige Donner c. 2011

Le Parc Hotel Obernai, Alsace - Local Food And Wine photo by Paige Donner c. 2011

l'Hotel Le Parc Obernai, Restaurant La Stub - photo courtesy Le Parc Obernai

l'Hotel Le Parc Obernai, Restaurant La Stub - photo courtesy Le Parc Obernai

Hotel Le Parc's Obernai (****) Rum and Cigar Lounge, Alsace - photo by Paige Donner c. 2011

Hotel Le Parc's Obernai (****) Rum and Cigar Lounge, Alsace - photo by Paige Donner c. 2011

Vineyards of Obernai

But if you do feel like venturing farther, an early morning walk, when the air is still fresh and cool, up Mt. St. Odile through the Schenkenberg, will have you walking through vineyards of Pinot Gris and Riesling. You will be rewarded with a magnificent view over Obernai that stretches all the way to several of the neighboring towns on the Wine Route.

Obernai's Oldest Butcher Shop, Alsace - Local Food And Wine photo by Paige Donner c. 2011

Obernai's Oldest Butcher Shop, Alsace - Local Food And Wine photo by Paige Donner c. 2011

Winery and Wine Shop next to Le Parc Hotel, Obernai, Alsace - Local Food And Wine photo by Paige Donner c. 2011

Winery and Wine Shop next to Le Parc Hotel, Obernai, Alsace - Local Food And Wine photo by Paige Donner c. 2011

For Oenotourists, you have several options: Either let the extraordinarily gracious staff at l’Hotel Le Parc (****) make a few phone calls to their winery friends to set up tasting appointments for you – recommended if you have your own car or a rented one. Or you can wander over towards the Tourism Office where you will find a sign that maps the wineries right in Obernai, all within walking distance.  You can stop by for a tasting and pick up some of that Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer before heading back to your hotel for an afternoon lazing by the pool and drinking outstanding Alsacian wine. Top your day off with a gastronomic dinner at Le Parc’s La Table accompanied by haute cuisine service. Paradise found…in Alsace.

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Gerard Bertrand’s Jazz Fest Weekend, Sud de France [Slideshow]

All photos by Paige Donner c. 2011.

The Gérard Bertrand annual Jazz Fest took place August 4th – 8th this summer at Château l’Hospitalet just outside Narbonne.  These photos are taken at Château l’Hospitalet in Languedoc-Roussillon, “Sud de France.”

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To read more about Gérard Bertrand wines, his annual summer Jazz Fest and his L’Art de Vivre Les Vins Du Sud, click on Gerard-Bertrand.com.

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Interview With Rothschild S.A.’s Adrien Laurent, USA-Mexico Export Manager

Interview by Paige Donner, Editor, Local Food And Wine

Contact Local Food And Wine for our Culinary Tours and Rates.

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Le Baron Rouge

by Paige Donner

As wine bars in Paris go, this is both authentic and on the beaten path.  For years, whenever you’d search out wine bars and Paris, it is this one that would come up. It is nestled right next to the famous (and super cheap!) Marché d’Aligre.

Le Baron Rouge, Local Food And Wine Culinary Tastings

Which is a good thing. Because after – or before – you buy your fresh cheeses, your ripe fruits, and your roasted chicken, you can buy your wine by the liter and enjoy a glass of it while doing so.  And yes, you buy your liter of wine straight from the barrel.

Le Baron Rouge. It’s a bit on the beaten track but every bit worthy of a drop-in.  Plus, what better way to start off a Sunday morning but with a glass of good, country, French wine?

Contact Local Food And Wine for our Culinary Tours and Rates.

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The Men of Vinexpo, France’s Biannual Wine Bonanza

By Paige Donner Read Complete Article on Black Book Magazine A biannual affair, France’s monumental, just-wrapped Vinexpo Bordeaux has, once again, firmly established itself as the world’s leading exhibition for the wine industry. A few numbers: there were approximately 50,000 … Continue reading

Siptea in Santa Monica

 

Last night siptea made 3 tea cocktails for the Grand Opening Party. The most popular was the Mojito, or Mo-tea-to, then the Pina Chai-lada and a Lapsang Souchong Whiskey Sour. 

Mojito

Day before put green tea (I used organic Gunpowder green tea) in Vodka to infuse, use approx. 6-8 Tbsp. per 1.75L of vodka
Make a pot of double strength Mint tisane (herbal tea)
Add sugar to Mint tea to taste 

Combine
1 part Green Tea Vodka
3 parts sweetened Organic Mint tisane
1/2 part lime juice
pour in glass with ice
garnish with fresh mint 

Pina Chai-lada 

Day before put Chai (I used organic Masala Chai black tea) in rum to infuse, use appox. 6-8 Tbsp. per 1.75 L this infuses quickly, so could be done a few hours before.
Make a pot of double strength organic Coconut green tea
Add sugar to Coconut green tea 

Combine
1 part Chai spiced rum
2 parts Coconut Green tea
1 part fresh pineapple
Blend well
pour over ice
garnish with pineapple slice or umbrella 

Lapsang Souchong Sour

Day before put Lapsang Souchong (I used organic Lapsang Souchong) in Marker’s Mark, use approx. 6-8 Tbsp. per 1.75 L. This makes a great smoky whiskey, it actually resembles a aged peety, smoky scotch whisky when finished infusing & can be enjoy neat in a glass too. 

Combine
1 part Lapsang Souchong infused Maker’s Mark (or other whiskey)
3 parts sour mix (you can make your own, I used the mix for the party)
pour over ice
garnish with maraschino cherry 

Enjoy & let me know if you have any tea infused cocktails you want to share!


siptea is OPEN in Santa Monica

 


Well we have been open a week. Still trying to get things in order & get more stock in. We are open but the Grand Opening will be in June. We did a soft open for the Montana Ave. Sidewalk Sale. Had a nice turnout & are trying to settle into the space. Things still need to be streamlined & figured out. This week we should get our shipment of Eva Solo tea products. They are very stylish & well designed. Look for more products to be coming in every week. We are also going to expand our 40 teas, to include more flavored teas and blends. Looking forward to having classes where we teach about what you can do with tea. We have redesigned the labels & also are updating the website. Stop by Monday thru Saturday from 10am – 5pm, Sunday 12pm – 5pm. We are located at 1627 Montana Ave in the back. And as always keep sipping tea…


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Monaco Royal Wedding Chooses Local Cuisine

2010-11-19-14-19-47-2-prince-albert-ii-of-monaco-and-lady-charlene-witts

It was in the kitchens of the Louis XV in the Hôtel de Paris, along with the executive chef of the kitchens of the hotel, Franck Cerutti, that Alain Ducasse received the confirmation from the Palace.

«H.S.H Prince Albert IIand Miss Wittstock’s decision honours me. It honours also Mediterranean cuisine,a sincere and fair cuisine that pays tribute to a rich and generous land. A cuisine that is respectful of its environment. Prince Albert and his future wife have thus expressed their attachment to nature and to the attentive work of the men and women who wisely nurture it. On this very special day, I cannot help myself remembering with emotion the tasty moments the Prince spent with his family at our table.

Monegasque since 2008, it was in 1987 that Alain Ducasse discovered Monaco,when Prince Rainier III called upon him to take over the direction of the kitchens of the Hôtel de Paris, Monte-Carlo SBM’s prestigious establishment, with the mission to make the Louis XV the first hotel restaurant awarded three Michelin stars, a distinction that was granted in 1990. Located between Nice and Liguria, it is at the Louis XV that Alain Ducasse brings cachet to Mediterranean cuisine. A cuisine of freedom, of emotions and of passion but also of rigor, sobriety and method; it gives the best role to each ingredient -from the modest vegetable garden plant to the most sumptuous crustacean- for the greater pleasure of the senses. At the very heart of this Mediterranean soil that so inspires him, he has found, in twenty-five years of professional partnership and personal implication, a staunch support. Today, Monaco is the essential anchor point in his profession as chef-creator. From the Louis XV, he trains most of his chefs, the very same ones who then carry his work across the globe.

The Princely wedding dinner, held on the terraces of the Salle Garnier, will be executed from the kitchens of the Louis XV at the Hotel de Paris, with the support of a temporary kitchen located on the site. As for the theme of the dinner, Alain Ducasse simply states that he will work along side his team in the highest respect of a nature that today, we realise is weakened. It will combine the essence of taste -with emphasis on local produce- with the sober elegance of the tableware. On this subject, he notes with a smile, that the garden and the cows of Rocagel, Prince Albert’s property, will be involved in the menu. Indeed, the former will supply the vegetables, while the latter will provide milk for the dessert. The dinner prepared by Alain Ducasse with the full commitment of the employees of Monte-Carlo SBM establishments, will contribute in making the event a simple and warm moment for all the guests, as was requested by H.S.H Prince Albert II and Miss Wittstock. [Press Release]

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Château HAUT-BRION Hosts Dinner, Conseil des Grand Crus Classés of 1855

Château Haut-Brion’s Prince Robert of Luxembourg, Alain Juppé, Mayor of Bordeaux and Philippe Castéja, President of the Conseil des Grand Crus Classés of 1855 (Médoc & Sauternes), Alain PASSARD (L’Arpège, Paris), Anne-Sophie PIC (Maison Pic, Valence), and Yannick ALLENO (Le Meurice, Paris) … Continue reading

Bordeaux Nibbles And Fresh Markets

by Paige Donner Bordeaux is the ideal-sized city to just wander around. In this sense, it is a bite-sized city that still offers enough funky and charming little neighborhoods to give you the feeling that you are exploring. Chartrons is the … Continue reading

L’Avant Comptoir, Odéon, Paris

L'Avant Comptoir, Paris, Local Food And Wine by Paige Donner

 

 

By Paige Donner

Small plates are a Spanish thing. They’re known as Tapas and they’re a great way to share a meal with friends. It’s also a great way to do wine tastings when you can share the bottles with a group or taste by the glass.

French “small plates” dining wasn’t heard of in Paris until L’Avant Comptoir opened its doors next to Le Comptoir du Relais, a restaurant that boasts a 6-month waiting list for reservations. But no reservations are needed here at L’Avant Comptoir. It’s the place to come before lunch or dinner to get an “appetizer.”

Hors d’oeuvres, however, is not what I would call these small plates. Out of respect for Chef and Proprietor Yves Camdeborde, I won’t call them French Tapas but I do think of them that way.

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When I’m in Paris on assignment, there’s often no time to sit down to a meal. So I’ve gotten into the habit of popping into the closet-sized, standing-room-only boudoir of a Basque-and Bearnais -inspired deliciousness where I can eat a couple plates like seared fois gras on a skewer, a wooden cutting board covered with amazing Carpaccio de Boeuf, wash it all down with a glass of Saint Chinian – or whatever the chef recommends to me that day – and am out the door in under 10 Euro and less than 20 minutes. (I even ate Boudin there once – and liked it!)

Of course, when I had a friend visiting recently, a pal who can’t pronounce Si’il Vous Plait to save his life but knows good food and has the charm to get what he wants, always, I had to drag him there. Compared to several sit-down, expensive meals, after an evening spent eating at L’Avant Comptoir, squashed between the elbows of our fellow gourmands-on-a-budget and up against the long pewter counter laden with fresh bread and the best butter in Paris, my Food Dude buddy couldn’t stop raving. We would have been back there for lunch and dinner and snacks every day if he had had his way. Every day!

The great thing, too, for Non-French speakers is that there are pictures of all the small plates hanging right above your head, in addition to the day’s specials, that you can mutely point to and you’re still sure to get what you want.

A Franco-American we chatted up there one evening confessed that L’Avant Comptoir is his favorite place in Paris because it’s the only place, he said, where people will talk to you openly and unreservedly.

This place just plain rocks. Once you go there, you will keep coming back AND it will always be on your Top 5 Paris Picks. Bon appetit!

L’Avant Comptoir, 9 carrefour de l’Odéon, 75006, Paris; 011-33-8-2610-1087. No reservations. Open daily.

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La Table du Lavoir

by Paige Donner [Read Full Article on Bordeaux Food And Wine] La Table du Lavoir is built on the 19th c. site of an old vineyard wash house the wives of the vineyard workmen would use on laundry days. It has … Continue reading

Beka’s 100% Chef Eco Logic

Local Food And Wine 100% Eco-Logic Chef

by: Paige Donner

 After taking a series of cooking classes in Paris last Winter, I realized that it was time to have some dinner parties chez moi to show off my new masterful (!) cooking skills. So when I realized that my one pan large enough to fry one egg in wouldn’t suffice for my dinner guests, I went shopping for new pots and pans.

The first thing I noticed was that since I’d last scoured the market, a whole new line of cookware had made its presence known on the store shelves. The most intriguing of these are the ceramic-lined cookware. I first did some window shopping in various department and specialty cooking stores and then placed my order with Beka whose Eco Beka line of 100% “Chef Eco-logic” line of ceramic-lined pots and pans had merited the 2009 prestigious Design Plus Award.

Local Food And Wine Eco Beka Crepe Pan

To really test the efficacy of the both products, I ordered one pan the identical size of the one pan I already had. My old pan was teflon-lined steel – not a cheap version but just last generation pan. The new shiny white pan from Eco Beka came lined with a beautiful slate gray ceramic.

It heats super fast, the hollow handle, metal, stays cool when cooking, I use a tiny drop of oil for non-stick and to steam vegetables I only use a 1/3 of the water.

What makes Eco Beka so efficient not to mention aesthetic?

  • 100% environmentally friendly and worldwide exclusive treatment of eco hardened aluminum surfaces.
  • PTFE and PFOA-free thanks to the water-based ceramic coating.
  • No release of toxic substances – neither in production, nor when overheating.
  • Natural color of the pan is preserved: no chemical dyes used
  • Hollow, thermal handle: Fewer materials used which benefits the environment (this keeps the handle cool, unless used in the oven).
  • Beka makes a whole range of Eco Beka. Take a look at the line of pots, pans and casseroles online.  

And two more things:  Super easy cleanup of the nonstick surface. Also, I swear that the fact that they sponsor the Top Chef  TV show had no bearing on my decision to purchase Chef Eco-logic 100%. After all, I’m not a Top Chef, I just pretend to be one when I’m cooking at home.

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Bordeaux’s Musée du Vin et Du Négoce

By Paige Donner Read Full Article on Bordeaux Food And Wine Bordeaux’s Musée du Vin et Du Négoce is resplendent in its devotion to the history of this region’s cause celèbre; it is humble in its presentation; and it is welcoming … Continue reading

Château Smith Haut Lafitte – Bordeaux

By Paige Donner Read Complete Article on Bordeaux Food And Wine  Château Smith Haut Lafitte is one of those wineries in Bordeaux that has its own helipad. Likely, it’s one of the only wineries in Bordeaux that has its own helipad, … Continue reading

Vinexpo Bordeaux 2011

BORDEAUX VINEXPO FROM 19 TO 23 JUNE 2011 Champagne Louis Roederer, Concha y Toro and Baron Philippe de Rothschild are among just some of the world-class wines that will be represented at this year’s Vinexpo, Bordeaux. Alongside these major groups, large numbers of vigorous … Continue reading

La Revue du Vin de France Paris Salon 2011

By Paige Donner

La Revue du Vin de France held its wine salon this past weekend in Paris at the “ancien Bourse” which is the old stock exchange of Paris. As you can see here, it’s a beautiful building. It’s spacious and airy and the perfect place for wine tasting on a sunny Spring Sunday afternoon in May.

Le Salon LRVDF May 2011 c. Local Food And Wine

Honestly, if I have one recommendation to make to visitors to France, it’s that you really must coordinate your travels with these wine salons. For a few Euro, you get to not only see the interior of a national monument, you get to drink and taste your way through the wines of France.

Le Salon LRVDF May 2011 c. Local Food And WineI was so pre-occupied with tasting wines from Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Loire and Provence that I had to remind myself to sip a few drops of champagne every so often – just to clean the palate, you know.

So many wonderful wines. It will take the rest of the month to wade through all my tasting notes.

Le Salon LRVDF May 2011 c. Local Food And WineAnd the crowd was super friendly. Maybe it’s the sunny weather in Paris in Spring or perhaps it’s simply that good French wine brings  out that “conviviality” that the French speak so glowingly of when discussing their wines. Whatever it was, the LRVF crowd was super friendly, very forthcoming with anecdotes about the wines they were pouring and the wines they were tasting and just plain, well, welcoming.

Le Salon LRVDF May 2011 c. Local Food And WineIf there is only one little note I might give it’s that the Spanish wines were much too hard to find. Certainly, once I found my way upstairs, I loved the private room where the Spanish winemakers had stashed themselves, with the old stock exchange board that featured handwritten company signage such as Printemps and Paribas on it… But they were much too isolated up there. Since it’s the first time the salon has welcomed foreign wines amongst its midst in its 5 year history, perhaps affording them more accessibility would be a gesture of convivial diplomacy.

By the time I left, it was with a full glass of Spanish red liqueur wine. So sweet and rich and nothing like “ice wine.” I’ll definitely have some words to share about that and about the Priorat wines I discovered at the Paris Stock Exchange.

Le Salon LRVDF May 2011 c. Local Food And Wine

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Pique-nique at French Independent Wineries June 12 & 13

By Paige Donner

For the first time this year Independent Wineries all across France will throw open their doors and uncork their bottles to welcome visitors and oenophiles to their wineries for two days of Picknicking in the vineyards.

June 12 and 13, a holiday weekend in France, has been designated the days of Pique-nique by the French Vignerons Independant association. Already a remarkably successful yearly event in Alsace, where it has been drawing 10,000 picnicking participants during the designated weekend for the past 17 years, this year the Association is taking it nationwide.

Copy_of_pique_nique_vigneron_independent

Participating regions include Champagne, Provence, Bordeaux and everywhere inbetween – a grand total of 550 wineries, 12000 hectares and 31 counties in France are participating.

Why this is a bonanza for amateurs and oenotourists? For one, the wine will be “offered” for your picnic meal and many of the wineries even greet their guests with a glass of champagne or other aperitif such as Muscat (“offered” in French means free).

The real value, however, is in the fact that the winemakers and winery owners have set these two days aside to welcome people from all walks and levels of knowledge, degrees of enthusiasm into their world of wine. This includes winery tours, vineyard walks, in-depth tastings, explanations of what it is to be a winemaker or run a vineyard and more. The doors of the vineyards will be swung wide open, literally and figuratively, to all who wish to stop by on June 12 and June 13, 2011.

You bring your own picnic lunch, of course!  

It’s also suggested to bring a dessert that you can share, if you wish, with the other gathered guests and families who have chosen that winery to spend their pique-nique at that day. As you wish…

Jacques-legros-cap

As Jacques Legros, of French main television channel TF1 explained at the recent press conference, Wine is like a treasure. It is at the heart of French culture. We are very proud for people to discover our wines.

The website devoted particularly to this event is easy to navigate and when you hover over the numbered indications on the map, all the contact info of the wineries pops up. Check it out here:  http://pique-nique.vigneron-independant.com.


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Winemaker Diaries

CHILE AND ARGENTINA
Motorcycle Diaries

[From Laughingstock.ca]

What do we do in the winter? When the vineyard is covered in snow and wine is aging in barrel, adventures begin. This year, David went adventure motorcycling in Chile and Argentina with Paul Gardner, from Pentage Winery.

While no revolutions were started, much wine drinking was done of South American Tannat (brooding, dark and high tannins), Torrentes (floral, rose petal and fresh) and some rockin’ Malbecs (lush, intense and full). Back to spring winemaking realities now of blending decisions and bottling schedules (with some inspiration from Che).


Director’s Blend Wines

SOON AVAILABLE AT TOP TABLE RESTAURANTS

Blending is more art than science, and this year the Wine Directors of 4 of the leading restaurants in Vancouver and Whistler joined us to create a proprietary blend series — available exclusively in each of these restaurants later this spring. Sarah McCauley of CinCin, Andrea Vescovi of Blue Water Café, Samantha Rahn of Araxi and Owen Knowlton of West came up a number of times to the Naramata Bench to create deeply pleasing red and white blends that are true to the Okanagan. Congrats to Owen for being named “Sommelier of the Year” at this year’s Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival.

It is better to spend money like there’s no tomorrow than to spend tonight like there’s no money. 
P. J. O’Rourke


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Terroirs De Femmes

This May’s Salon Saveur is doing something unique – it is recogizing the essential contributions of French women to their cusine, the cuisine of French terroir.

“Creators, muses, accomplices…the Salon Saveurs des Plaisirs Gourmands is honoring the – women – producers and artisans who are exhibiting in the salon. Singled out for recognition are the owners and directors of the companies, yes, and also the wives, mothers, sisters and collaborators who dynamically participate in the running and establishment of a ‘Grand Maison.’ Some of the women and their creations you can expect to meet at the May 13 – 16th salon taking place in Paris are:

Saffron

Valerie Galy,

a former flight attendant, she has since created her domain of saffron based on her father’s agricultural heritage. Situated in Cadeilhan in the Gers region she has creatively concocted products such as saffron aperitif which is a sweet white wine served with saffron garnishments, also a saffron honey and a “verrine” of melon and saffron.  You can read more HERE and below. Parlez Vous Francais? 

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Quebec Independent Winegrowers Joins European Confederation

Cevi-logo

The Association Independent winegrowers of Quebec

(VIQ)officially joined CEVI, the European Confederation of Independent Winegrowers, on the occasion of the General Meeting of April 20, 2011. This widening of CEVI beyond the borders of Europe reinforces the influence of the profession of  the independent winegrower and its values, and allows the network of CEVI to get richer through experience sharing. 

ADVVQ was founded in 2006 by a group of vinegrowers and winemakers in the aim of gathering the producers of the areas of Quebec and of supporting the spreading of the know-how of this production in emergence. Accordingly, the ADVVQ supports the organisation of regional and interregional meetings in order to exchange on the characteristics of the production in Quebec. Since 2010, the association changed its name for Vignerons Indépendants du Québec (Quebec Independent Winegrowers).

The goal of the association is to promote the elaboration of wines made from grapes entirely grown on the Quebec terroir, by proscribing any addition of raw material coming from outside Quebec (grapes, juice and concentrates), except for alcohols required to the making of fortified wines, according to an exclusively artisanal and nonindustrial transformation. 

The association gathers 51 members, representing approximately 35 to 40% of the production of wine in Quebec. In Quebec, more than 630 hectares of vines are in production. There are 4 main regions: Estrie, Montérégie, Lanaudière and Chaudières the Appalachian Mountains (regions of the South-Quebec). The type of vines which are cultivated there are mainly rustic and semi-rustic hybrid type of vines.

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Secret Paris Picnics

by Paige Donner

Paris is catching on to a wildly popular UK dining custom called “Secret Dinners.” In certain parts of the U.S., such as L.A. and NYC, they are popular, too. Essentially, they are moveable feasts where the people, the food and, most importantly, the locales are never the same.

Secret Picnic - Local Food And WineParisian foodies will nod and smile and confess that they have no idea why the Secret Dinner trend hasn’t quite taken hold in their city. It might be partly because when you do a search on the internet under Paris Secret Dinners this huge article of a catacomb tribe who held seances (not really, much tamer than that, but it’s fun to spread these blasphemous rumors, isn’t it!?) in the secret tunnels below the Trocadero surfaces.

Local Food And Wine - picnicIn Paris there are a few who are carrying on the UK tradition of Secret Dinners and Secret Lunches. One goes by the name New Friends Table and another by the name Miss Lunch. Neither wanted their photos published or even too much written about them, given that it’s all, well, you know, Secret!

The concept is a good one for travelers or transplants to a new city. Anyone can eat out at a restaurant, but how often do you get the chance to be invited to someone’s home where you can share a meal, meet other people, talk to locals, and generally get an authentic glimpse into how people live in a given city. Well, you might, if you have an old college roommate or a cousin living in a foreign city, but if you’re off for a romantic weekend or on business overseas for a week, you likely won’t get that opportunity.

As a single woman, it provoked some thought to agree to attend a Secret Dinner where an address isn’t provided until a few hours before the start time and where you must swear to secrecy about the identity of the people putting on the dinner.

Local Food And wine - Paris PicnicsSo when a Secret Picnic was alternately proposed, I felt confident that this was the better choice. Sunshine and spring weather on a Saturday afternoon in a Paris park is paradise on Earth. Add to that a picnic basket filled with some of the best delights Paris has to offer, in the form of cheeses, bread, wine, olives, chocolate, traiteur salads and cold dishes, and a couple of outrageously decadent desserts all delicately spread out on a colorful flower tablecloth on the grass and you’ve got yourself a Picnic a la gourmand…secret or not.

Sightseeing is tiring. And while shopping for cheese and wine can be fun, you might not know where to get the best stuff when you’re in Paris for 72 hours. It’s also time consuming to make the pilgrimages to the various arrondissements to gather the truly famous goods.

You have the option of either joining in on a Secret Picnic already planned or you can order your private picnic for two, as you desire. Now you’ll just have to try to figure out who the Secret Picnic people are. Good LUCK!  Hint: they arenot in the catacombs under the Trocadero.

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Tesla and Jetsetter Present the Ultimate Green Weekend

Jetsetter

{sponsored post}


In honor of Earth Day, Tesla is partnering with luxury vacation company Jetsetter to offer thoroughly green luxury weekend getaways. Vacationers are invited to stay for a full weekend at one of three top-tier, eco-friendly hotels in North America: The Loden in Vancouver, The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, or the Bardessono in Napa Valley. During their stay, they will get total access to an electric Tesla Roadster for two days. This is the first time Tesla has offered an opportunity like this!

The weekend packages go on sale at noon EDT today, Earth Day, Friday, April 22 at http://www.jetsetter.com/tesla.

Jetsetter operates very similarly to Gilt Groupe. It’s an online community that provides members with insider access, expert knowledge and exclusive deals on the world’s greatest vacations. Sales are valid for a limited time only, and are first come first serve. Those who sign up with Jetsetter to take advantage of the Tesla deal will receive a $50 credit.


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Noma World’s #1 Restaurant – Again!

Chef René Redzepi’s Noma once again tops the Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant list.

Take a look at this video interview to hear what he has to say about being named the Best Restaurant In The World, two years running.

And, in case you missed it, International Herald Tribune/ NY Times columnist Roger Cohen wrote a lyrical piece about Noma recently, foraging deep into the chef’s local food philosophy.

ROGER COHEN ON NOMA IN THE NEW YORK TIMES.

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Paris’ Best Cooking Schools For The Hungry Tourist

By Paige Donner

Read Complete Article on Black Book Magazine

Paris’ Best Amateur Cooking Schools for the Hungry Tourist

Now that French Cuisine has been declared a World Cultural Heritage Listing by UNESCO, how could you dream of planning a trip to Paris and not penciling in time for an amateur cooking class? (Trust us: They’re not all like the onion-chopping nightmare in Julie & Julia.) Here’s a sampling of a few of the city’s top kitchen destinations to consider on you next journey to the City of Light — and Food.

Ecole Ritz Escoffier – 15 Place Vendôme, 75001 
If you have a lunch hour to spend at a cooking school in Paris, Ecole Ritz Escoffier is your gig. First of all, it’s effortlessly easy to find, at 15 Place Vendôme. It’s posh, it’s excellent and the classes are given in both English and French.

Ecole Ritz Escoffier kitchens are located in the basement of Ritz Paris Vendôme Hotel, right next to the hotel’s working kitchens where they create all of the meals for the entire hotel. It is also, as legend goes, the inspiration for the kitchens seen in the celebrated Pixar film, Ratatouille.

But in spite of all the international outreach and friendliness (the school is also partnered with the Tokyo School, Vantana) it remains very much an iconic bastion of French Culinary Tradition. Executive Head Chef is the larger-than-life Michel Roth, the ninth Executive Chef the hotel has known in its 110 years of existence. His teaching team at the Escoffier Ecole is both accomplished and easygoing.

My class was scheduled for a Thursday afternoon from 1:00 – 2:00 pm. On the menu was:…Read Complete Article on Black Book Magazine.

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Poule au Pot, Le Meurice

*****************************************************************

posted by Paige Donner [On Local Food And Wine – Paris]

La Poule au Pot, by Camille Lesecq at Le Meurice, Paris Food And Wine

Le Meurice, the original Parisian Palace hotel, story reflects the history of France as well as Paris’cultural and gastronomic heritage…In 2009, Le Meurice’s 3 Michelin-starred Executive Chef Yannick Alléno launched his new “Terroir Parisian” menu, where all the ingredients are sourced locally, paying tribute the Ile-de-France region and its supplier.

Camille Lesecq, Patissier, Le Meurice, Paris - Local Food And Wine Today it is now the turn of Camille Lesecq, voted Pastry Chef of the Year, to honour the Parisian roots with a delicious and original unique idea to celebrate Easter; the “Poule au Pot”! The “Poule au Pot” was originally instituted as the national dish of France by French King Henry IVwho wished that even the most humble of french families in his kingdom could at least have a’Poule-au-Pot’ on Sundays.

The pot was a large dish hanging above the fireplace, in which families would cook whatever came into their hands, “at the luck of the pot.” This chicken, which possible originally came from the Gâtinais area of France, now appears in theprestigious kitchens of 228 Rue de Rivoli and has been given back its glamour thanks to the talented Camille Lesecq.

Colourful, imaginative and amusing; the chicken’s plump beak is an invitation to taste! The body ismade from white chocolate and is decorated with vegetables made from almond paste, which inspires lovers of French tradition as well as delights and surprises children with its playful, creative design.

Through his passion for deserts, Camille Lesecq transmits the conviviality and authenticity of french cuisine and adds a touch of subtlety, humour and glamour. The “Poule au Pot” will be available at Le Dali restaurant from Monday 18 April until 25 April 2011, priced at 29 euros.

Reservations can be made at: 0033 1 44 58 10 44. The Poule au Pot by Camille Lesecq.

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Château Haut-Lagrange, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux

Château Haut-Lagrange “It is always the adventurous who accomplish great things” Charles de Montesquieu By Paige Donner Read Full Article on Local Food And Wine One early Spring afternoon on a recent trip to the Pessac-Leognan region of Bordeaux, I … Continue reading

Max Bordeaux, When Only The Best Will Do

Max Bordeaux When Only The Best Will Do by Paige Donner   Max Bordeaux Wine Gallery & Cellar, Bordeaux, Photo by Paige Donner for Local Food And Wine When your wine tastes will be satisfied only by the best, Bordeaux has … Continue reading

Bar á Vin, Bordeaux

Bar á Vin, THE wine bar in Bordeaux, is shamelessly easy to find and as user-friendly as an iPod app. If you’re even a little bit like me, Bordeaux is, well, it’s intimidating. It is the heart and epicenter of … Continue reading

Spring Coupe du Vin 75001

Springboutiquetaste

Le Spring Coupe de Vin

Spring Coupe du Vin
Starting Thursday March 10
Thursdays
10€ to play
Spring Boutique, 52 Rue de l’Arbre Sec, 75001 Paris
8 wines. 5 weeks. Two winners – the favorite wine and you!
Sidebetting, Oddsmaking, and Matchfixing highly encouraged.
Keep up to date on the blog www.springparis.blogspot.com

30€ and Under Red League:

 

Groupe A:
Côtes des Francs, Chateau le Puy, 2005 (14.50€)
Nuits-Saints-Georges ‘Les Terrasses des Vallerots’, Machard de Gramont 2008 (28€)
Ribeira Sacra ‘Lalama’, Do Bibei 2006 (25€)
Cahors ‘La Haute Pièce’, Parlange & Illouz 2008 (19.50€)
Groupe B:
Morgon ‘Cote du Py’, Foillard 2009 (20€)
Chinon ‘Saint Louands’, Breton 2007 (22€)
Alsace Pinot Noir ‘Les Terrasses’, Pierre Frick 2004 (21€)
Vacqueyras ‘Cuvée Floureto’, Sang de Cailloux 2007 (16.50€)
Semaine 1, 10/3: Group A
Semaine 2, 17/3: Group B

 

Semaine 3: 24/3: Demi finales: Top 2 from Group A
Semaine 4: 31/3: Demi finales: Top 2 from Group B

Semaine 5: 7/4  :  Finales

www.springparis.blogspot.com
A tasting of 6 artisanal French wines in the 16th century Spring wine cellar with special afternoon snacks from the Spring Kitchen.

 

Spring Address 6 rue bailleul Paris 75001

Website
http://www.springparis.fr

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Vancouver Int’l. Playhouse Wine Festival – 8th Annual Awards Lunch Winners

 

PLAYHOUSE WINE FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES 2011 TRADE COMPETITION AWARD WINNERS
Vancouver, BC, April 1st, 2011 – The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival announced this year’s trade competition winners at the 8th Annual Awards Lunch on Friday, April 1st, 2011. “The trade competitions give the Festival an opportunity to honour and celebrate those professionals who have developed and enhanced the extraordinary wine and food culture of our region,” says Festival Executive Director Harry Hertscheg. In honour of the awards, guests enjoyed lunch prepared by culinary talent Blair Rasmussen, Executive Chef to the VCC, and toasted winners with wines from Spain, this year’s Festival theme region.
SPIRITED INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL (SIP) AWARD The Spirited Industry Professional Award annually honours an individual who has made a significant contribution to the sales, service or promotion of wine in British Columbia. The sixth annual SIP Award goes to internationally acclaimed food and wine critic, Jurgen Gothe. Gothe has seen his columns run in over 100 publications over the past few decades, and is currently the weekly wine columnist for the Georgia Straight. After 23 years hosting CBC Radio Two’s DiscDrive, Gothe retired as the station’s only double-gold-medal winning program host. Today, he does weekly spots for CBC on everything oenophilic, and can also be found on The Peak FM airwaves commenting on BC’s local flavours.
SOMMELIER OF THE YEAR AWARD

The 11th annual Sommelier of the Year Award recognizes outstanding wine knowledge and wine service. This year’s award goes to Owen Knowlton for his 500+ wine list at West restaurant, which also took one of the most coveted accolades in the trade competition: the Platinum Wine List Award. Driven to provide West guests wine that is high in value and quality (with a splash of boutique bottles and sommelier favorites), Knowlton has been sipping, spitting, and perfecting his wine knowledge over the last decade. The Sommelier of the Year is awarded based on votes by key members in the industry and is also included in the May Restaurant issue of Vancouver Magazine.


WINE PROFESSIONAL CHALLENGE

The Wine Professional Challenge gives sommeliers and wine professionals a chance to compete for the coveted Puddifoot Award. Currently in its sixth year, competitors were required to rotate around 5 judging stations and speak for 3 minutes on topics related to technical and varietal distinctions, flight tasting and customer service. This year, the challenge winner was Jay Whiteley of Hawkswort

h Restaurant. The Wine Professional Challenge is sponsored by Puddifoot.FETZER GREAT BEGINNINGS WINE & APPETIZER CHALLENGE

Vancouver’s top chefs vied for gold on Wednesday night at Fetzer Great Beginnings, Flavours of the City. Chefs from Bearfoot Bistro, One Hundred Nights at OPUS Hotel Vancouver, Cibo Trattoria, DiVino Wine Bar, Sandbar, Diva at the Met, Prestons, Terminal City Club, and Uli’s Restaurant all vied for top prize from a panel of judges that included the city’s top food and wine journalists. This year’s award for best food and wine pairing went to Diva at the Met Executive Sous Chef Jeff Kang.

QUADY DESSERT COMPETITION

The Quady Winery of Madera California hosted the 23rd Annual Quady Dessert Competition, inviting British Columbia’s top pastry chefs, cooks and students to complement their orange muscat dessert wine, Essensia. At stake was a Grand Prize trip for two to California, as well as Silver and Bronze Prizes and C

ertificates of Merit for the top 10 competitors. First Place went to Lisa Ip of the Four Seasons Hotel, Second Place and Top Student from the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts went to Maria Darquier, while Michael Gelinas of Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates & Patisserie took Third. Competitors were judged on taste, wine pairing with Essensia, technique, presentation, and practicality by a respected panel of pastry chefs, executive chefs, sommeliers and food and wine media.

WINE LIST AWARDS

Celebrating the best food and wine pairings in the business, restaurants in Metro Vancouver, Whistler, Vancouver Island, the Interior and Alberta have all been recognized for creating wine lists that complement their establishment’s unique menu and concept. Candidates submitted their wine and menu lists, and were then visited by judges who reviewed their programs. The top restaurants were awarded Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze, or commended with an Honourable Mention. The Wine List Awards are sponsored by Vancouver Magazine.METRO VANCOUVER
Platinum

Blue Water Café + raw bar
West Restaurant


Gold
C Restaurant
Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca
CinCin
Wine Room at Joey Bentall One
L’Abattoir
Au Petit Chavignol
Salt Tasting RoomSilver
Cactus Club Cafe
Provence Marinaside
The Observatory
The Salmon House
Zest Japanese Cuisine
Chambar
Bronze
ShuRaku Sake Bar & Bistro
Poor Italian Ristorante
Lift Bar Grill View
Yew Restaurant + Bar
Raincity Grill
Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House

Honourable Mention
Goldfish Pacific Kitchen
Gramercy Grill
Joey Restaurants
Hart House Restaurant (Burnaby)
WHISTLER

Gold

RimRock Cafe Whistler

Silver
Araxi Restaurant + Bar

Honourable Mention
Ric’s Grill

VANCOUVER ISLAND AND GULF ISLANDS

Silver
The Pacific Restaurant (Victoria)

Bronze
Nautical Nellies Restaurant

(Victoria)
Stage Small Plates Wine Bar (Victoria)
Veneto (Victoria)Honourable Mention
The Landing West Coast Grill (Nanoose Bay)
The Marina Restaurant (Victoria)

BC INTERIOR

Silver
La Bussola (Kelowna)

Honourable Mention
Emerald Lake Lodge (Field)
Local Lounge . Grille (Summerland)
The Restau

rant at Painted Boat (Madiera Park)
Whitetooth Mountain Bistro (Golden)ALBERTA

Gold

Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro (Calgary)
River Café (Calgary)
Vin Room (Calgary)

Silver

Cilantro (Calgary)

Bronze
The Ranche Restaurant (Calgary)
Ric’s Lounge and Grill (Calgary)

Honourable Mention
Taste (Calgary)
Ric’s Grill S

teakhouse (Grande Prairie)


ABOUT THE PLAYHOUSE WINE FESTIVAL

The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, Canada’s premier wine show, runs from March 28th to April 3rd, 2011. The Playhouse Wine Festival is one of the biggest and oldest wine festival events in the world. In 2011, the theme region will be Spain and the global focus, Fortified Wine. The Festival features a week of special events including the Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction, wine seminars, wine minglers, winery dinners, and lunches and brunches at fine restaurants and hotels. The Playhouse Wine Festival is produced by the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival Society, which has three mandates: provide an informative, educational and entertaining wine experience for public and trade; be a premier marketing opportunity for the wine industry and Festival partners; and raise funds for the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company. Since its inception in 1979,

the Festival has raised over $7.2 million to enable Western Canada’s leading theatre company to mount 223 productions and develop extensive community outreach and educational programs.The Shore Club generously presents the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival.

 

 

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Paris Cook Book Fair: Swedish book wins “World’s Best Wine Book for Professionals”

Francepariscooking-with-words-

Swedish book wins “World’s Best Wine Book for Professionals”: The Creation of a Wine by BKWine

Paris, March 15, 2011

The Swedish wine book “The Creation of a Wine” was awarded the prize “World’s Best Wine Book for Professionals 2010” in the international book competition Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2011. The Creation of a Wine is written by Britt Karlsson, with photography by Per Karlsson, published by Carlsson Publishing (Stockholm). The award ceremony took place at Folies Bergères in Paris on March 3. The book is an in-depth description of vineyard vine growing and wine making in the cellar. The book is not yet translated into any foreign language. Britt and Per are Swedish wine journalists based in Paris and also operate a wine travel business called BKWine Tours.

Britt Karlsson, the author, comments: “It’s fantastic! I never thought we would win. I knew we were nominated, but in competition with books from Italy, Spain, China… Imagine, a small country like Sweden, where we barely make wine, can win a prize on how to make wine! But it is quite an unusual book. It is written for those who want to know more about vine growing and winemaking, without being winemakers themselves: the wine trade, sommeliers, wine educators etc. But it is also a book for the dedicated ‘amateur’ wine enthusiast.”

Britt explains the idea with the book: “The book is the result of the thousands of winemakers we have met. It explains in detail everything from the planting of a vine, to terroir, to fermentation, bottling and aging – everything on how a wine is made. But it is different in two ways from virtually all other books on the subject. First, we explain a lot of issues and technologies that are seldom talked about: flash pasteurisation, enzymes, vine diseases and etc, and illustrate it with photos. The second thing is that we explain the complexities in winemaking – most texts simplify too much and say ‘this is the way it is!’ But that is rarely true. Making a wine has to do with nuances, philosophies, and personal choices by the winemaker. There are rarely absolute truths! We explain how the winemakers reason, and why; as an example, one producer can swear by stainless steel fermentation tanks while the neighbour is convinced that the only good choice is concrete vats. All through the book we let hundreds of winemakers explain what they do and why they do it.”

The book has previously been awarded the prize “Best Wine Book in Sweden 2010”.

Facts:
Original Swedish Title
: Ett Vin Blir Till – arbetet i vingården och i vinkällaren (English translation: The Creation of a Wine, the work in the vineyard and in the wine cellar)

On the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards:http://www.cookbookfair.com/

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Paris Chefs Embrace Local Food

Chef Yannick Alleno, Le Meurice, Triple Michelin Starred

Posted By Paige Donner

Several of Paris’s Starwood Group Hotels, in addition to independently-owned restaurants and cafes have dedicated their Spring menus to using exceptional, locally Ile-de-France sourced ingredients. Local here is defined as originating no farther than 200 km. outside of Paris. This both supports Ile-de-France regional growers and eliminates much of the negative environmental impact that long-distance transportation of food products requires.

At the Paris restaurants: L’Orénoc duMéridien Étoile,  the First at the Westin Paris-Vendôme and the Étoiles at the Sheraton Paris-Charles de Gaulle, you will find these specially crafted “Local” gastronomic menus that are being served in their main dining rooms, for room service and even for conferences and meetings.

In addition, at Le Meurice, the triple-Michelin-starred Chef Yannick Alléno has created a “mythical and savory” menu which he has dubbed « Terroir Parisien® » that he is serving for his lunch time guests.  A range of products he has sourced from nearby Ile-de-France villages including mint from la Forêt (52 km).

Similarly the new trendy Lafayette Organic on Grands Boulevards is featuring all organic produce and products from Ile de France. And if you choose to dine at the restaurant, Chez Bruno, you will have the chance to enjoy artisan coldcuts from Michel Ballereau,  of Sceaux (14 km), farm-raised chicken from Pouligny à Jouy in Morin (76 km), and fresh cheeses from the 30 Arpents Farm in Favières (41 km). And that’s not all, you will also get to try local honey from beekeeper Rémy Vanbremeersch and Carl Marletti’s artisanale pâtisseries. And when you find yourself in the Denfert Rochereau quarter with an appetite for some local flavor, stop in at Ghislaine Arabian’s restaurant, Les Petites Sorcières, where she is spotlighting the local produce of Claude and Catherine Gallienne from Neuville (67 km), and the fresh-baked breads of Parisien Jean-Luc Poujauran.

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Le Jour Du Macaron

Le Jour Du Macaron

by Paige Donner

March 20th is Macaron Day in France where famed patissiers such as founder of Macaron Day, Pierre Hermé, are giving out samples of the flavorful crispy/soft cookie-dessert of choice of French gourmets all throughout the city and even in his Tokyo locations.

All the members of Relais Desserts participate in this joyous and delicious celebration of the arrival of Spring, hosting tastings and sample giveaways in their confectionaries and bakeries not just in France but also in Belgium, Luxembourg and even as far away as Japan and the U.S. The day benefits the rare disease charity dedicated to those who suffer from the Williams and Beuren syndrome.

Some flavors to try: passion fruit, rose, orange blossom, chocolate, foie gras with fig filling…and so many more!

Some addresses in Paris to get you started:

Sadaharu Aoki
56, bd de Port Royal – 5e ardt – Tel : 01 45 35 36 80
35, rue de Vaugirard – 6e ardt – Tel : 01 45 44 48 90
Laurent Duchêne
2, rue Wurtz – 13e ardt- Tel : 01 45 65 00 77
238, rue de la Convention – 15e ardt- Tel : 01 45 33 85 09
Pierre Hermé (also in his boutiques in Japan)
4, rue Cambon – 1er ardt – Tel : 01 43 54 47 77
39, av de l’Opéra – 2nd ardt – Tel : 01 43 54 47 77
72, rue Bonaparte – 6e ardt – Tel : 01 43 54 47 77
Publicisdrugstore – 133, av des Champs Elysées – 8e ardt – Tel : 01 43 54 47 77
Galeries Lafayette (espace Luxe et espace Souliers) – 40, bd Haussmann – 9e ardt
185, rue de Vaugirard – 15e ardt – Tel : 01 47 83 89 96
58, av Paul Doumer – 16e ardt – Tel : 01 43 54 47 77
Jean-Paul Hévin ( 19 march)
3, rue Vavin – 6e ardt – Tel : 01 43 54 09 85
231, rue St Honoré – 1er ardt – Tel : 01 55 35 35 96
23 bis, av de la Motte Picquet – 7e ardt – Tel : 01 45 51 77 48
Lafayette Gourmet – 48, bd Haussmann – 9e ardt
Arnaud Larher
53, rue Caulaincourt – 18e ardt – Tel : 01 42 57 68 08
57, rue Damrémont – 18e ardt – Tel : 01 42 55 57 97

For more addresses go to: Jour du Macaron

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Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival March 28th to April 3rd


VINESTARS OF WINE CELEBRATE 33 YEARS AT PLAYHOUSE WINE FESTIVAL
Meet the industry’s top international trendsetters and principal vintners

Vancouver, BC, February 21, 2011 – To mark its 33rd year the 2011 Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival will welcome some of the most progressive winemakers and winery leaders in the world. From pouring at the International Festival Tasting to hosting events, these vin-pioneers are set to satisfy curious neophytes and seasoned oenophiles with personal, one-on-one meet and greets. Appearances from the following wine world celebrities are just a few reasons to partake in the weeklong festivities.

DIVA(S) AT THE MET

What’s it like to be a woman in the grape trade? Vancouver-based sommelier and Playhouse Wine Festival host Daenna Van Mulligen(alias WineDiva), who has a decade-long list of wine tasting critiques in her purse, will be introducing an international group of female winemakers, proprietors and industry headmistresses at Diva(s) at the Met. Speakers include Ann Sperling, of British Columbia’s 86-year-old Sperling Vineyards; Mary Ann Yewen, Director of Freixenet, one of the top selling sparkling wines on the planet; and Mariola Varona, the North American Export Director of the multi-award-winning Bodegas Martín Códax, specializing in the Albariño grape. Among other dignitaries, these wine queens will dish on the coveted wines they represent, as well as the stories behind their successes as principal businesswomen in a traditionally male dominated industry.

With direction from the biggest wine diva of them all, attendees will also enjoy a selection of small bites prepared by Diva at the Met’s Executive Chef Quang Dang. Join this inspirational group of women on Tuesday, March 29th at the Metropolitan Hotel Vancouver, 645 Howe Street, from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.

THE LEGACY OF A SPANISH VISIONARY: MIGUEL TORRES

When it comes to describing Spanish wine icon Miguel A. Torres, “legendary” is an understatement. Arguably one of the most important families in the history of Spanish wine, Legacy of a Visionary is thepièce de résistance of Festival week. Miguel is the fourth generation of Torres to preside over the acclaimed and centuries-old Miguel Torres Winery, a published author several times over, Decantermagazine’s 2002 Man of the Year and Wine International magazine’s 2005 Personality of the Year.

Moderator Anthony Gismondi will be discussing Miguel’s influence and the Penedès region winery, whileguests are guided through a rare and diverse selection of wines from the Torres wineries in Spain, Chile and California.

One of the most anticipated events of the Festival, Legacy of a Visionary will held on Thursday, March 31stat VCC East, meeting room 8, 999 Canada Place Way, from 5:00 – 6:45 pm.

GOOD GRACIOUS GRENACHE!

Join house wine’s Michelle Bouffard and Michaela Morris as they explore the grandeur and the many guises of Grenache. This lesser known, but surprisingly common grape, was baptized as “Garnacha” by the Spaniards and has ties to cheerful rosés, fuller-bodied reds (think: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Priorato and Rioja), and lusciously sweet elixirs. Prepare to taste some of its finest expressions hailing from Spain, France, California and Australia. Good Gracious Grenache! will be held on Saturday, April 2nd, at VCC East, meeting room 1, 999 Canada Place Way, from 3:00 – 4:45 pm.

MEET YOUR MATCH

Finding the perfect wine is like finding the perfect partner, it takes the right introduction at the right time. Oeno-enthusiasts are promised that proverbial “spark” at this year’s much anticipated, Meet Your Matchevent. Chaperoned by master wine matchmaker and acclaimed wine writer, Anthony Gismondi, sippers will be invited to get up close and personal with the vinestars of the wine biz. These fascinating international winery principals are set to lead tasters first-hand through the intimate secrets of some of the world’s most outstanding wines and wineries. Presented in a format that allows small groups direct and personal interaction with Festival celebrities, each group will have about 6 minutes to taste the producer’s wine, hear their story and ask questions.

Included in the VIP list is proprietor Telmo Rodriguez, one of Spain’s most celebrated and animated winemakers. Telmo sought out forgotten vineyards for the purpose of recovery and cultivation of abandoned indigenous vines to rave reviews, consistently scoring 90+ points. Alvaro Palacios, widely considered to be propelling Spanish wine into the modern era, acquired his first vineyard, Finca Dofí, in 1990, and will be pouring cellared wines for Meet Your Match guests.

Known for his outstanding Syrahs and Cabernets, South African winemaker Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof will be returning to the Festival with his much lauded The Journeyman Franschhoek 2005. David Guimaraens, a sixth generation to Portugal’s Taylor Fladgate and Fonseca, is considered something of a winemaking genius at the international table. In December 2010, David released one of the world’s oldest ports, SCION, to a limited group of collectors and connoisseurs, which at 155 years old, may be one of the only wines to have survived the pre-Phylloxera era.

If these wine experts haven’t already satiated your taste buds, the event will also see Stefano Leone, International Export Director of Antinori; Louis Moreau, owner and winemaker of France’s Domaine Louis Moreau; British Colombia’s own Anthony von Mandl of Mission Hill Family Estate; Cristiano Van Zeller of Portugal’s Quinta do Vale Dona Maria; Californian winemaker Rick Sayre of Rodney Strong; Rupert Symington, Joint Managing Director of Symington Graham’s Port; and David Paterson of BC’s Tantalus Vineyards. Meet Your Match is scheduled on Saturday, April 2nd at VCC East, meeting room 8, 999 Canada Place Way, from 5:00 – 6:45 pm.

ABOUT THE PLAYHOUSE WINE FESTIVAL

The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, Canada’s premier wine show, runs from March 28thto April 3rd, 2011. The Playhouse Wine Festival is one of the biggest and oldest wine festival events in the world. In 2011, the theme region will be Spain and the global focus, Fortified Wine. The Festival features a week of special events including the Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction, wine seminars, wine minglers, winery dinners, and lunches and brunches at fine restaurants and hotels. The Playhouse Wine Festival is produced by the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival Society, which has three mandates: provide an informative, educational and entertaining wine experience for public and trade; be a premier marketing opportunity for the wine industry and Festival partners; and raise funds for the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company. Since its inception in 1979, the Festival has raised over $7.2 million to enable Western Canada’s leading theatre company to mount 223 productions and develop extensive community outreach and educational programs.

The Shore Club generously presents the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival.

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Beverly Hills Wine Festival

When: February 27, 2011 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Where:
2025 Avenue of the Stars
Los Angeles CA

The Beverly Hills Wine Festival is bringing the best wines from around the world to one location for Southern California’s tasting pleasure!  Presented by ABM Medical, Tiffany & Co., Aston Martin, and Lamborghini of Beverly Hills. Over 100 wineries, breweries and spirits are participating to showcase their select varieties at the newly remodeled and ultra luxurious Hyatt Regency at Beverly Hills. Net proceeds benefit the Fran Drescher’s Cancer Schmancer Movement.

A wine lover’s dream come true, the event is hand picking some of our favorite wine selections from around the world to present to our guests.  Guests will enhance the wines’ flavors with exquisite pairings such as cheeses from Cabot Cheeses and caviar from Beverly Hills Caviar.
The event honors Vin Scully–the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The mayor will be in attendance to present Mr. Scully with a lifetime achievement award and a city certificate honoring Mr. Scully’s life time achievements, dedication and contributions to Los Angeles. www.BeverlyHillsWineFestival.com

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Mad Men And Cocktails – A Vintage Comeback

Cocktails in Paris at Le Royal Parc Monceau

Vintage spirits and forgotten cocktails are quaffed anew. In a nod to tradition and technology, AMC’s Mad Men Cocktail Culture smart phone app helps users master the forgotten art of cocktail mixing.

And in a campaign throwback, Mr. Peanut, the iconic Planters Peanuts character, has begun to talk (the voice of Robert Downey Jr.) for the first time in the 94 years since he was first introduced with the hope of “charming” consumers.

Vintage consumption is flourishing online and off. Call it the renaissance of retro, from once-passé décor aesthetics, to traditional barbershops for classic haircuts, to old fashioned sweets appealing to our inner child. Even the colors of yesteryear are back. Honeysuckle pink, specifically Pantone 18-2120 TCX, is the new-crowned hue of 2011. It recalls the lipstick our mothers wore, or maybe the tile in our ‘50s bathrooms. Crops of new restaurants pay homage to American culinary classics.

Tapping revived interest in forgotten fruits, veggies and animal breeds, “heirloom” businesses offer rare vintage produce. Lost Nation Orchard in New Hampshire offers orchard shares of Russian apples that arrived in the U.S. back in the 19th century. Chatham Marketplace, a food co-op in North Carolina, sells vintage varieties labeled with histories of their origins. Meanwhile, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello holds an annual Heritage Harvest Festival, bringing back old-fashioned gardening, local food and preservation of heritage plants.

Nostalgic travelers are ringing cash registers where happy memories were once made. Beset with budget cuts, the U.S. National Park Service hopes to inspire nostalgia with historic park brochures on its website, including a vintage 1913 one from Crater Lake National Park. Officials hope to evoke childhood memories of family vacations long past, when mom and dad might “see the USA in a Chevrolet” on a cross-country jaunt when gas was a quarter a gallon. Read MORE on KWE


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San Francisco Sustainable Foods Summit Calls For Greater Transparency

Sustainable Foods Summit San Francisco, click HERE for FULL Story and Pictures

Sustainable Foods Summit, San Francisco

(London) January 28, 2011 – The North American edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit (www.sustainablefoodssummit.com) drew to a successful close last week, with many participants calling for greater transparency and accountability from the food industry.

Organized by Organic Monitor, the summit brought together about 200 executives at theRitz-Carlton in San Francisco on 18-19th January 2011. New horizons for eco-labels and sustainability were the focal theme of the 2-day summit.The summit explored the evolution of eco-labels – such as Organic, Fair Trade andRainforest Alliance – in an increasingly global food industry.

The advent of international supply chains is leading many consumers to become disconnected from agriculture andfood production methods. Scott Exo, executive director of Food Alliance, echoed the general sentiment at the summit, calling for the ‘de-commoditization’ of food products byproviding greater traceability to consumers. Seth Goldman, co-founder and president of Honest Tea, opened the summit with his keynote on the triple bottom line. By using the example of tea plantations in China, he showed how modernization does not always contribute to sustainability. Since its launchin 1999, Honest Tea has become one of the fastest growing ethical beverage brands in the US.

The first session explored sustainability initiatives in the food industry, with many speakers raising the question, ‘how do you measure sustainability?’ The use of metrics in sustainability performance was explored by Joseph McIntyre from AG InnovationNetwork. Albert Straus, founder of the Straus Family Creamery, shared his company’sapproaches to measuring the carbon footprint of its dairy operations. The importance of offsetting carbon emission was also highlighted by Theresa Marquez from OrganicValley who showed the role of organic agriculture in carbon sequestering. Sustainability in foodservice was covered by Bon Appetit Management Company, which is sourcing locally from small farmers.

Sustainable Foods Summit, San Francisco

Also in the morning session, Kenneth Ross from Global ID discussed future trends in eco-labels. His paper stressed the importance of IT in combating food fraud and providing traceability to consumers. Convergence of mobile and internet technologies is expected to allow consumers to get ecological and social footprints of their food products. The session ended with a lively debate on sustainability indicators and measurement.The second session honed in on ethical sourcing and sustainable ingredients. The opening papers examined the role of Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade standards in lowering social and ecological impacts of food products.

Sustainable Foods Summit, San Francisco
Sustainable Foods Summit, San Francisco

Nasser Abufara from Canaan Fairtrade explained how social enterprise can improve lives of marginalized growers.Using case studies of three of the most traded food commodities, sustainable sourcing was discussed by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Theo Chocolate and Givaudan.

Marketing & distribution innovations were the subject of the third summit session. Leading retailers – Fresh & Easy and Safeway – shared some of their ethical trading and marketing initiatives. Alex Petrov from Safeway showed how its O Organics label had transcended the boundaries of a private label without cannibalizing manufacturer brands.Fresh & Easy, a subsidiary of the global retailer Tesco, explained how it was raising the bar by implementing new ethical codes of conduct. Ellen W. Feeney from Whitewave Foods shared her experiences in developing brands to meet consumers’ needs for healthy and ecological products with the ‘planetary health’ initiative.

The last session of the summit – organic plus strategies – began with an update on theglobal organic products market. Amarjit Sahota, President of Organic Monitor, showed how pioneering organic food companies were integrating sustainability into their corporate ethos and how some eco-labels were converging. Proceeding papers gave case studies of such developments. Equal Exchange stated how companies could intertwine organic and fair trade practices, whilst the Brazilian company Native Organic Products shared its raft of sustainability actions.

Using wine as a case study, the potential of biodynamic foods was explored by Demeter USA and Fetzer-Bonterra Vineyards. Chad Smith from Earthbound Farms closed the session with an interactive discussion onecological packaging for sustainable food products.The third edition of the executive summit raised many questions about sustainability inthe food industry: Will an eco-label ever fully represent sustainability? What ecological and social parameters are most important in such a standard? What are the most efficient methods to measure sustainability? Where is the line between green marketing and greenwashing? How can companies become more sustainable in distribution andpackaging?

The next editions of the Sustainable Foods Summit aim to address such questions. About the Sustainable Foods Summit Organized by Organic Monitor, the aim of the Sustainable Foods Summit is to discussand debate the major issues the food industry faces concerning concerning sustainability and eco-labels. The proceedings of the North American summit (San Francisco, 18-19th January 2011) are available for a small professional fee. More information is available at: www.sustainablefoodssummit.com

Organic Monitor has announced the dates of the next editions of the Sustainable FoodsSummit as…European edition Amsterdam (23-24 June 2011) North American edition San Francisco (17-18 January 2012)

In 2011, Organic Monitor is celebrating 10 years ofencouraging sustainable development. Since 2001, we have been providing a range of business services to operators in high-growth ethical & sustainable industries.www.organicmonitor.com

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Le Comptoir de Tunisie

Le Comptoir de Tunisie, Paris

On a snowy, wintry day in December, a friend invited me for lunch. The address he gave was in the Palais Royal quarter of Paris, which is one of my favorites and also easy to get to. Normally. Not so easy, in fact, when snow has halted Paris’s bus service and sent all and sundry scurrying to the city’s connecting arteries, otherwise known as the Metro.

His description of Le Comptoir de Tunisie, could not have been more intriguing…nor enticing. Always one to be drawn to what might be a “Secret Garden” experience, the upstairs semi-private dining area of this spice shop, sounded like it was not just centrally located and exotic, but also off the beaten path.

Le Comptoir de Tunisie is indeed a secret garden that perches there on its white-cushioned and sofa decorated second storey, overlooking rue de Richelieu. It’s a taste of Tunisie in the heart of the Palais Royal/Louvre district of Paris.

There’s  no need for any translation of the menu, there is one dish offered for the noonday meal, the only meal the cosy dining room offers. On the day I dined with my friend, our meal started with a subtle and delicately spiced pumpkin soup. Watching the big fluffy snowflakes float down onto rue de Richelieu on that cold wintry Paris day, there wasn’t anything else in the world I would rather have been eating at that moment.

Equally as comforting was the fish that followed on its plate of couscous. The cook, a native Tunisian who didn’t seem to speak much French or English, explained through the Parisienne proprietress (whose daughter-in-law and granddaughter are Tunisienne) that she cooks the same meals that she used to for her family back home.

Wine is served with the meal. A delightful fruitcup flavored with orange blossoms and anise provides just the accent for the apres-repas. Though, if your hostess takes a fancy to you, she just might serve the dark, rich strong coffee with a plate of assorted Tunisian sweets, authentic and lightly epicee’.  Meal costs 15 Euro, before tax and tip.

Le Comptoir de Tunisie,  30 rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris www.lecomptoirdetunisie.com

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Bocuse d’Or Winner 2011 is Rasmus KOFOED – Denmark

The winner of the Bocuse d’Or 2011 is  Rasmus KOFOED – Denmark

2011 Winner of Bocuse d'Or

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(23-24 January 2011) Lyon, France  Rasmus KOFOED, representing DENMARK, has won the Bocuse d’Or 2011 trophy and €20,000 in prize money.

Second place, Bocuse d’Argent  : Tommy MYLLYMÄKI, representing SWEDEN, won the Silver  Bocuse trophy 2011 and €15,000 in prize money.

Third place, Bocuse de Bronze : Gunnar HVARNES, representing NORWAY, won the Bronze Bocuse trophy 2011 and €10,000 in prize money.

Competing entry at 2011 Bocuse d'Or Competition.

Several special prizes were also awarded: – Prize for the ‘Best Commis’, awarded by the Bocuse d’Or Winner’s Academy: Kinari KOYAMA, Commis to Tatsuo NAKASU, JAPAN  – Special ‘Fish’ prize: Franck GIOVANNINI, SWITZERLAND – Special ‘Meat’ prize: Jérôme JAEGLE, FRANCE – Prize for the best promotional campaign: GUATEMALA – Prize for the best Poster, as selected by visitors via the internet website:

SPAIN As part of the Sirha 2011 trade exhibition, performing in dedicated contest kitchens facing the public at the heart of the brand new Paul Bocuse hall, 24 chefs from all regions of the planet took up a major challenge: that of preparing within 5.35 hours, during an extraordinary show, two perfect dishes using the official products of the Bocuse d’Or 2011: Scottish lamb for the meat dish and Monkfish, Crab and Scottish Langoustine for the fish dish.

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All Photos Courtesy of Francis Mainard/ Bocuse d’Or/ Sirha.

To judge the 24 candidates, the jury was composed of 24 influential chefs who are emblematic of each country represented, under the aegis of 3 exceptional presidents:  Paul Bocuse, President Founder, Yannick Alleno, Honorary President (3* Chef at the Meurice, Silver Bocuse 1999) and  Geir Skeie, President of the International Jury (Bocuse d’Or 2009)

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Cahors, Malbec From France’s Black Wine Region

by Paige Donner

Malbec from Cahors region in France has a history. Yes, it’s true, Malbec from Argentina has been getting all the attention of late, but there’s another region, the Cahors region in France,whose history with Malbec dates back millennium.

With the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to England’s King Henry II in the 12th century, the vines of Cahors first won favor among Europe’s nobility. It was, even in those days, referred to as “Vin Noir” or “Black Wine” because of the deep, rich color its Malbec grapes give.  It became so well-liked that by the 13th century Cahors Vin Noir represented nearly 50% of the wine exports out of Bordeaux.

Eleanor of Aquitaine helped elevate Malbec Wine from Cahors

Argentina’s most popular Malbec region, Mendoza, was, in fact, planted with Cahors Malbec vines during the 1800s. In 1971 France’s then President Georges Pompidou decreed that the wineries of Cahors would be classified as AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée).

Malbec is the emblematic grape of Cahors. The region hugs the River Lot, along 60 Km. and 30 km spanning either side. The regions’ nine distinct terroirs span from 100-300 meters high. The picturesque region just East of Bordeaux is equal distance from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean to the Pyrenees. The area is considered one of the best in the world to cultivate Le Grand Vins, or Grand Cru “statut de Falerne,” in particular from Malbec grapes. The region is the “Burgundy of Malbec.”

According to vintner Bernard Bouyssou of Château Armandière, it is also one of the prettiest little areas in France. And if it is somewhat overlooked due to its famous neighbor, Bordeaux, and Argentina’s comeuppance in Malbec wines, all the better for those who love the black wine from Cahors. There are definitely deals to be had!

The regions’ vineyard production averages out like this:  Cuvees Tradition, round and structured, 70 – 85% malbec, about 7 Euros, can save for approximately 5 years.  Cuvees Prestige is 85 – 100% malbec grapes and you’ll find this class of wine to be full-bodied and appealing to the gourmand palate. These bottles you can save 5 – 10 years and can find in the 7 Euro to 14 Euro price range.  The Cuvees Speciales is 100% Malbec, is regarded as intense and complex. These wines can be kept for 10 years and more and often start at about 14 Euros.

The nose you’ll get with Cahors Malbec are:

Violet – this is the signature aroma of wines whose grapes were raised in “grands terroirs”

Menthol – this fresh note sets the Cahors Malbec apart from Argentina’s and also from the other South West wines from France. It borders on hints of eucalyptus.

Truffle – this bouquet is the height of the Cahors Malbec. The region has a strong truffle and foie gras culture during the late fall season. It stands to reason that the terroir would yield a mushroomy, woody nose to its wines. It enhances after 5, 10, 15 years.

Cassis – with notes of blackberries and blueberries

Cerise – cherry, dark red, that evolves into plummy notes

Licorice – more than an aroma, the licorice bouquet can at times be reminiscent of a nice savory piece of licorice floating around on your tongue

Vanilla – the signature note of the Cahors Malbec raised along the Lot

If you’d like to read up on the region before visiting, perhaps a novel is the way to delve into the culture: The Novel of The Black Wine, by Jean-Charles Chapuzet. You can find it on Feret.com.

For more information about Cahors AOC and French Malbec wines, Click Here.

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Chefdance at The 2011 Sundance Film Festival

2011 Confirmed Chef Line-Up

Friday, January 21 – Brian Malarkey, Season 3 Top Chef

Saturday, January 22 – Jared Van Camp, Quality Social in Chicago, James Beard Nominee

Sunday, January 23 – Kerry Simon, Palms Palace in Las Vegas

Monday, January 24 – Michael Chow, Mr. Chow (receiving ChefDance Legend Award 2011)

Tuesday, January 25 – Jared Young, Winner of Iron Chef

Chefdance was started in 2004 and coincides with the Sundance Film Festival every year to provide the perfect marriage of fine food with film for a culinary experience unlike any other.  Chefdance’s acclaimed chefs bring their culinary expertise, passion, and life story to your table.  I hope you are able to join us in this unique and memorable experience!  For more information on Chefdance, please visit http://chefdance.com/.

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Cooklette

by Paige Donner

The cutest, funnest, hippest cooking class in Paris is not easy to get into. Not easy at all. Which runs directly contrary to the vibe once you’re in. Amongst a citizenry that takes its food seriously (UNESCO! cultural heritage designation!)  cooking classes among youngfolk have become the thing to do.

It’s almost replaced hanging out at cafes and smoking cigarettes all afternoon discussing the tortures of romantic love as the thing to do when you’re young, single (or in a couple) and looking for some social activity. Well, scratch that. It has replaced it.

There are increasingly more chef “ateliers” springing up and those that have always been around and are now being rediscovered. What the French have found is that a cooking class is 1) Fun  2) a great ice-breaker 3) a level playing field 4) a learning experience and 5) a great way to enjoy a meal or a dessert.

The Super Hip “concept” store, Colette, which is located at 213 rue St. Honoré is the location for Cooklette. The store has such a following that the cutest boys in Paris hang outside of it 5 minutes after closing pleading with the bouncer/doorman to let them in for just another 10 minutes so they can find a last-minute gift for their girlfriends. The 7 ft. tall bouncers invariably say, “No.” Explanation is that it happens every day. But that’s what Colette has become: The trendy Parisian club of concept stores.

Downstairs, in the Water Bar, on the first Friday evening each month, they stage “Cooklette” which is their free cooking class. How do you get in? You have to be one of the first twelve to sign up on their website as soon as they announce the date in their newsletter.

January’s class was devoted to making Galette des Rois. These are the flat round tarts filled with almond paste that the French eat for the New Year. Custom has it that the cake must be cut into as many parts as there are people present, plus one.

It is also always baked with a tiny feve which is a small porcelain figurine or button that designates the recipient the “King” or “Queen”for a day. Another custom, which Cooklette faithfully practiced, is that the youngest in the group sits under the table and chooses who gets the pieces of cake and when. This is so that the person who cooked the cake can’t choose who gets the feve. Égalité, Fraternité, Degousté!

The La Galette Colette class was taught by Catherine Kluger who is famous among Parisian gourmands for her Tartes. Her Tartes Klugerare at 6 rue du Forez in the 3rd. She does sweet and savory tartes: Zuchini, Tomato, Mozzarella;  Ham, Parmesan, a touch of Bechamel with some Bacon Crispies on top. Sweet tartes include: Tarte au Cafe’ with grains of coffee and chocolate; Tarte a La Mousse au Chocolat Noire; Rhubarb and Milky Rice.

A very self-effacing chef, Catherine approached the class as if she were teaching a group of friends in her own kitchen.  She used her own recipe which rendered a simple but flavorful frangipane galette that was moist, flavorful and flaky.

According to Anais Sidali, Cooklette is just something that Colette does because they want to offer a fun activity for their customers to participate in. The downstairs Water Bar is an ideal location. They just pushed some of the center tables together and Voila’ we had a cooking atelier.  Diners were welcomed to stay and observe at the booths that hug the walls of the 20-cover or so blue and white simple diner. A Marseille-based blogger, So Food So Good, did just that

To my left was Stephane Bureaux, the author of Design Culinaire, a book full of fantastic photos and food ideas. Colette sells the book and still has a few copies left. You can’t miss it: It has a carrot and a fork on its cover. As far as culinary concepts go, Design Culinaire is to food what haute couture is to fashion.

To my right were a couple of young ladies who had, after three attempts, finally gotten lucky enough to get the reservation for the course. According to Sidali, they don’t take reservations months in advance, just the first ones to sign up that month get to come. It attracts the most passionate foodistas: The girls were raving about their intended brunch that Sunday at Chloe S.

Our advice: Subscribe to the Colette Newsletter;  Sign up for Cooklette the second it’s announced; Get Ready for some Culinary Fun ‘cuz it’s a nice cooking class if you can get it.

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La Garde Robe

by Paige Donner

“La Garde Robe,” is a closet. Which is about the size of this snuggly little wine bar just off the rue de Rivoli, a hop and a skip from the Louvre.

Paris 75001, La Garde Robe offers Organic Wines

Wandering in late one night after a meal with friends, there were just enough stools at the bar to accommodate the few of us. The high tables and the low tables towards the back, were all full of revelers who had the appearance of having spent the entire night at the comfy little “closet” swilling vins naturel and chomping on made-to-order plates of cheeses and thinly sliced meats.

La Garde Robe ha a loyal following and locals will name it as one of Paris’s top wine bars.  You can get a good glass of red for anywhere between Euro 3,50 and 7,00. Come with a sense of adventure, ready to try something you haven’t before. It might be within a recognizable apellation, but likely you’ll find producers you haven’t yet tried.

Or just come for the ambiance. It’s one of those exquisite central Paris hole-in-the-wall wine bars that you’d never know was there until you purposefully set out to look for it. And on these cold winter evenings when a lighted window friendly beckons you to come in from the cold, well, if there’s still room for you to squeeze inside, you’ll be glad you did especially once you’ve tried a few things you may not have before.  This is Paris, after all! You can also buy your bottles to go.

La Garde Robe, 41, rue de l’Arbre-Sec (rue de Rivoli) 75001

Transit: Pont Neuf, Louvre-Rivoli  www.legarde-robe.com

Café de l’Homme

By Paige Donner

There are 6360 restaurants in Paris. But there is only one that lays claim to the throne of the Trocadéro. There, seated at the right hand of arguably the most recognizable monument in the world, is the Café de l’Homme.

It would be easy to choose to stop in at the Cafe to warm up or cool down, depending on the season, after a session of sightseeing. But it’s not really that kind of cafe. Indeed, it’s not at all a cafe, not even in the French “brasserie” sort of way. It’s a full-on restaurant.

Just slightly at arm’s length, despite its famous address, it is a restaurant that is easily overlooked. You reach the Café de l’Homme by entering through the same monumentally sized doors as you do for the Musée de l’Homme. This is probably why it took me a bit of time to brave the experience.

But once inside, I realized that the Cafe’ is completely independent from the Museum and neither are places that are even remotely intimidating. The Café de l’Homme’s actual entrance is shielded by a floor length dark olive velvet curtain that the Butler/Coat Checker and the Maitre d’ keep firmly shut to keep in the warmth.

Once through the olive emerald veil, the red warmth with tones of leather couches and sparkling wine glasses, greets you. That’s if you can peel your eyes away from the straight-shot view of the Eiffel Tower.

It would be lovely to be able to order a drink at the bar as you await your dinner mates, but, alas, the Maitre d’ will fussily try to seat you straightaway or usher you back outside into the cold hallway to wait. Not exactly overabundant in the art of graciousness. There is a couch-loungey seated area off to the far left of the dining room where you can share drinks with friends. It seats one group. Only.

All snootiness is forgotten however once your meal is served. Appetizers include choices of Riquette salad with parmesan shavings and pine nut kernels; Tuna belly with Basque Country lettuce hearts; and even King Crab salad.

For the main dish the Grilled Iberico Pluma (pig) marinated in ginger is tender, sweet and spicy; the roast French Rack of Lamb with Terragon sauce is a classic; and if you want steak, they serve a 200 gr. Fillet. It’s not cheap: the main courses start at 23 Euros, and quickly average at around 32 Euros.

Remember, you are paying for the view. When you think about it, those across the river who are dining at Jules Verne and looking down at you don’t even have the view that you do. And you didn’t even have to take an elevator to get where you are.

Reservations are definitely recommended. The dining room might have some empty seats at 7:30 but by 8:00 they will all be filled. Leave room for dessert. They do the chocolate molten cake pretty well, but their Strawberry soup with Sichuan pepper and organic vanilla cream is interesting enough of a blend of flavors to have to try. They also serve a satisfying plate of A.O.C. cheeses.

Café de l’Homme. Come for the view. Stay for the food!

Restaurant Café de l’Homme17 Place du Trocadéro, Musée de l’Homme – Paris XVIe – Tel : +00 33 (0)1 44 05 30 15

TWITTER.COM/LOCALFOODWINE

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Some Bubbly And A Sauternes

by Paige Donner

Pol Roger, Perrier-Jouët, Piper-Heidsieck, Louis Roederer,Gosset,…these are some of the most exclusive names in the coveted appellation of France’s Champagne region. And now it’s their time to shine in the New Year spotlight.

Bubbly and New Year’s Eve. They go together like caviar and blinis, oysters and aphrodisiacs.

And, as we all know, champagne comes only from the well-designated, well-demarcated geographical area East of Paris. It claims the cities of Epernay and Reims as its own. Everything else might be bubbly, but it can never be champagne.

Of course what’s always fun is to learn the backstories of these gastronomic names of legend. When something becomes so lodged in