Café en Capitale from Yannick Alléno

by Paige Donner For this year, his Christmas gateaux (cakes) have taken on the role of representing, in delicately edible patisserie form, several of the great monuments of Paris. Continue reading

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Christmas Yule Logs And Paris – A Sweet Tradition

by Paige Donner (all photos copyright Paige Donner) Every year about this time, as the leaves turn their gold, yellow, orange and red, a sweet tradition overtakes Paris. That tradition is the annual presentation by France’s superstar chefs of their … Continue reading

Dallet’s Tropical Fruit Macarons – Chef Demo

by Paige Donner All photos and media c. Paige Donner, Local Food And Wine ’13.           Vincent Dallet is one of the not-to-miss patisseries and chocolatiers in the Champagne region. With shops in both Épernay and … Continue reading

Suchard & Local Food And Wine Chocolate Christmas Giveaway

Christmas is right around the corner, once again, welcoming all the gourmet treat lovers with its festive sweets.   Suchard has on offer this season a gift box sure to please you and every chocolate lover on your Gift List … Continue reading

Chocolate Pumpkins and The Halloween Salon

Every year, right around Halloween, Paris hosts the Salon du Chocolat. It’s a four day extravaganza of the best chocolate makers scoured and gathered from across the globe. For a city who, technically, doesn’t celebrate Halloween, the Salon du Chocolat … Continue reading

Finally – Deliciously Good News Delivered Right To Your Doorstep

Delivered straight to your Mailbox… the box of gourmet treats that will inspire your taste buds… and your culinary kitchen prowess too! Brand new in France – Sign up for your Easter Treats La BonneBox now. Click on the link … Continue reading

Valentine’s a la Paris

The Hôtel de Crillon invites you to celebrate love in the heart of Paris in its exceptional and romantic setting.Love is In the Air at the Winter Garden From Thursday 14 to Sunday 17 February, 2013 The historic and sumptuous … Continue reading

AB 1616 The California Homemade Food Act

For the longest time, in fact, up until just a week or two ago, folks in California were committing a crime when they made bread or apple sauce, say, at home and took it to the market to sell. It … Continue reading

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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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

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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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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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

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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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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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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Spanish Win Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie

Coupe du Monde of Desserts and Pastries, Lyon 2011 All Photos Courtesy Francis Mainard

By Paige Donner

The twelfth annual Coupe du monde de la Pâtisserie saw the Spanish team take home this year’s trophy. On January 24th in Lyon, France,  Jordi Bordas Santacreu, Joseph Maria Guerola and Julien Alvare won first place as the world’s best patissiers. These new “virtuosos of dessert” succeed last year’s French Team as #1 in the world in the realm of Pâtisserie.

World's Best Patissiers, Lyon, France 2011

Coming in second place this year is the Italian team: Davide Comaschi, Domenico Longo and Emmanuele Forcon. In third place are the Belgian team of Dieter Charels, Marjin Coertjens and Pascal De Deyn.

Each team from the 19 countries competing for the title of World Champion de la Pâtisserie had to vie in the categories of chocolatier, ice cream and pastry. The professionals spent 10 hours to whip up three chocolate creations, three sugar-iced fruits and twelve additional desserts that were reflective of the team’s country’s traditions and customs. The showing had to include an artistic piece in sugar, one artistic chocolate presentation and one sculpted ice piece.

Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie, Lyon, 2011

Under the Honorary Presidency of Mitsuo Hara and Kazuaki Takaï, each presidents of the two most important professional culinary associations in Japan, the jury judged the quality of the marriage between the textures and tastes as well as the work’s artistry and esthetique.  Read More On Local Food And Wine.

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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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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

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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 our collective conscience as are certain brands of champagne, we forget that they started out as people who decided to build a business out of the grape. So, sit back, relax, pour yourself a flute or a “sacred cup” of the festive drink, and come with us on our succinct tour de force of Champagne and a Sauternes for a sweet finish:

La Maison Perrier-Jouët gets its names from a husband and a wife, respectively. Famous and easily recognizable as the bottle with the beautifully painted flowers – Japanese anemones – on its glass, the house was established first in 1811 when Pierre-Nicolas Perrier, estate owner, married Adèle Jouët. Their joined names went on the Champagne Estate’s marquee and now 200 years, and only seven Cellar Masters later, the exquisite champagne is world-reknowned.

If you are in the mood to celebrate with the best of the best, Perrier-Jouët’s Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs is the choice. It’s a vintage that is sourced from a singular terroir, a singular year and a singular varietal. Only two parcels of Grands Crus Chardonnay were harvested  to create this champagne, “one of the most rare and exclusive in the world.”

Perrier-Jouët, 28 Avenue de Champagne, Epernay, France

Piper Heidsieck Champagne and Louboutin Shoe Flute

Piper-Heidsieck

You may be most familiar with Piper-Heidsieck as the champagne you drink from a lady’s shoe – especially designed for the champagne house by Christian Louboutin. Or perhaps you know them best as one of the first and still main supporters of the Cannes Film Festival. But what you might not have known, is that back in 1785, at Versailles, Florens-Louis Heidsieck presented Marie-Antoinette herself his special champagne vintage.  A hundred years later, Fabergé decorated the bottle in gold, diamonds and lapis-lazuli.

And Marilyn Monroe? She said she went to sleep with a dab of Chanel No. 5 at her ear and awoke with a glass of Piper-Heidsieck champagne in her hand.

The house of Piper-Heidsieck just released their “Rare” 2002 Vintage only three months ago.  “Le Rare” is aged seven years in the cellar and made primarily from Chardonnay grapes with some Pinot Noir. Its subtle minerality plays as an hommage to Mount Reims. The bottle is beautifully designed with a filligreed gold dress. Girls like to wear it as a Tiara. Champagne fit for a Princess, or a Queen. “Le Rare,” has only been made in the years 1988, 1998 and 2002 (just released.)

Piper-Heidsick, Reims, France  www.piper-heidsieck.com

Bruno Paillard Champagne

Bruno Paillard is a champagne that you have likely not yet had the chance to drink. Too bad for you. It is the youngest of the champagne houses, established in 1981 by then 27-year-old Bruno Paillard. In a region where champagne houses had existed for centuries already, Mssr. Paillard decided to sell his Jaguar MK2 and buy a vineyard with the capital he raised.

Today the Domain produces about 500,000 bottles (for comparison, Moët produces about 5 million) and he exports about 70% of his champagne to Asia, North America and the rest of Europe.

Blanc de Blancs Réserve Privée, 100 % Chardonnay, is a “fresh, bright sparkler,” says Parker who gives it 90 points.  Its bouquet is grapefruit and white flowers, its mouth is white pepper, lemon, lime. Wonderful as an aperitif and also can be paired with food.

Bruno Paillard, Avenue de Champagne, 51100 Reims, France   http://www.champagnebrunopaillard.com

Louis Roederer Cristal ChampagneLouis Roederer’s future was set when Tsar Alexander II, already a devotee of the champagne, ordered his personal sommelier one day in 1876 to see to it that the bottles served in his court should be markedly distinguished from all others. Hence the birth of “Cristal.” After the Russian Revolution of 1917, only then was Cristal allowed to be sold the world over.

The Louis Roederer house was first established in 1776 and has been in the same family since 1819. Today it can boast of being still one of the largest Champagne domains independently owned. They produce approximately 3 million bottles per year and sell in approximately 80 countries.

Champagne Louis Roederer, 51100 Reims, France http://www.champagne-roederer.com

Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill Cuvee'

Pol Roger has, for a long time, had friends in high places. During a dinner in Paris, the English Ambassador, Duff Cooper, introduced Sir Winston Churchill to Odette Pol-Roger. At that time, 1945, Sir Winston Churchill was already a man who had marked history. He was fond of saying that Pol Roger (Odette? the champagne?) incarnated all that was well and beautiful of France.

Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill; Its composition is a jealously guarded secret. It is a robust and mature champagne, one with characteristic power and refinement.

Pol Roger   1, rue Henri Le Large 51200 Epernay   http://www.polroger.com

Vve Fourny et Fils Champagne, VertusSince taking it over not too many years ago,brothers Henry and Emmanuel Fourny have transformed their family domain nestled in the traditional geographic are of Vertus in Champagne. They do something unusual with their Chardonnay, they cultivate it as if it were a Pinot Noir. Why? It has to do with their vineyards’ South-South East exposure.

Vve Fourny et Fils Champagne Rose Premier Cru Vertus Brut has notes of rose and delicate, soft notes of hyacinth.  This vintage comes exclusively from the Domain’s terroir, “Les Gilottes 1er Cru.” Refined, velvety bubbles.

Champagne Veuve Fourny  5, rue du Mesnil, Vertus, France http://www.champagne-veuve-fourny.com

Gosset Champagne Gift Boxes

Gosset Champagne makes not just delicious champagne but also packages it in wonderful ready-to-gift packs. The Gosset Grand Reserve, 750 ml., is sold with a portable isothermic bottle keeper and a replaceable cork.  The house also sells cognac, which they make in the cognac region of France.  Another choice for their champagne is the “Excellence Brut” sold in 1500ml. bottles.

Champagne Gosset, 12 Rue Godart Roger, Epernay, 51200 http://www.champagne-gosset.com

Perrier Joseph Champagne

Joseph Perrier makes a beautiful gift bottle called the Glamour Josephine. It comes packaged in a red velvet-lined box. The ornate bottle is sure to please any discerning Diva-Luxe in your life who also knows good champagne.

Joseph Perrier Champagne  69 Av. de Paris, 51016 Châlons-en-Champagne France   http://www.josephperrier.com

Moet et Chandon, Vintage Champagne

Moët et Chandon. Who in the civilized world has not heard of Moët et Chandon? As noted earlier, producer of 5 million bottles per year, they can truthfully say they have a hold on a large portion of the world’s market of champagne. That’s a lot of New Year’s Toasts!

Still, if you ever get the chance to go to the Domain it is well worth it. Why? Not only will you get the chance to tour the cellars, but you might just get the opportunity to taste their Grand Cru 1975.  Hint: it’s  a champagne to drink on more occasions than just New Year’s Eve!

Sauternes, Sweet Bordeaux

Now…as promised…A Sauternes. Chateau Bastor-LaMontagne. This Sauternes is a classic, class act. It is in fact a Grand Cru Classe’. Its pale, light acidity is a dessert in a drink, an aperitif that leads delightfully into the pop of a champagne cork. Delicate, refined, white blossom, pear and ginger.

I might even be tempted to create a champagne cocktail out of the two. Hello 2011!

www.sauternes-barsac.com *  www.sweetbordeaux.com

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Bettane & Desseauve’s Festival of Wine

By Paige Donner

Le Grand Tasting, Paris

On a recent weekend in Paris, I found myself underneath the glass pyramid of the Louvre, in the grand marble Agora Exhibit Hall, spitting out champagne. And not just any champagne, the best champagne in the world:  Louis Roederer, Bollinger, Veuve Fourny et Fils, Piper Heidsieck, Perrier- Jouët, G. H. Mumm, Nicolas Feuillatte, Veuve Clicquot PonsardinMoët et Chandon…When Moët poured me their 1975 Reserve Vintage, that’s when I started drinking. It would have been a sacrilege to spit that out.

If there is a metaphor for the Festival of Wines that Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve have organized for 5 years now, it is this: Your cup runneth over.

le Grand Tasting, Paris, 2010 - Local Food And Wine

At the festival, named Le Grand Tasting, I found myself in an earthly paradise filled with many of the world’s best wines, from mythical vintages to ones barely known outside of their own appellations, and most all of them from France. This year, 2010, as an exception, there was a side exhibit of Italian wines also featured.

As a local explained to me, Bettane & Desseauve are more than just a couple of France’s most celebrated and respected wine journalists, they are even more than simply the authors of Le Grand Guide des Vins de France, they are the “Robert Parkers of France and French wines.”

Bettane & Desseauve on Local Food And WineAnd they are exceptionally approachable people. You will not find Wine Snob here.

This year’s event was held over the Friday and Saturday of December 10th and 11th at Paris’s Le Carrousel du Louvre, which is the underground shopping center/ exhibit hall that is right underneath the Louvre. For a mere 25 Euros you could taste your way through more than 2000 wines and 350 individual producers from France and a small representation from Italy.

“We have Festivals of Film, we have Festivals of Litterature, but until Le Grand Tasting we haven’t had a Festival of Wine…Every wine, like a book or a film, tells its own story. It is the story of the winemaker, of the creator, and sometimes, of genius…” said Thierry Desseauve who, with Michel Bettane, is the co-founder of Le Grand Tasting.

WATCH VIDEO HERE

Desseauve and Bettane, according to Desseauve, have plans to take their show on the road to English-speaking countries. Their highly successful Hong Kong Festival of Wine earlier this year has injected them with enthusiasm and they are starting to eye the U.S. and Canada. Their Grand Guide des Vins de France will be published in English in 2011 by Abrams Books.

When asked how was it to take the Festival of Wines to Hong Kong, Desseauve replied that he enjoyed the Chinese habit of embracing fast-paced development and he also noted that as Europeans, they are accustomed to dealing with significantly different cultures and languages. He pointed out that Germany, Italy, Spain are just as different from French culture as is the Chinese culture, in many respects.  Both Bettane and Desseauve invested many years as journalist and wine critic at La Revue du Vin de France until it was bought by the Marie Claire publishing group five years ago, which is the same time they founded Le Grand Tasting.

According to Bernadette Vizioz, press liaison for the event, 10,000 people attended Le Grand Tasting over the course of two days. It’s not hard for them to keep count, the price of admission includes a glass for the wine tastings, supplied by Riedel. The attendees on average were surprisingly young and very much the trendsetting crowd. I’ve heard mention a few times that the regional wine syndicates are actively promoting their wines particularly among the French whose consumption of their native juice is down significant percentage points in recent decades.

Le Grand Tasting does its part to elevate wine drinking to its proper podium among Gen Y in France. And the event is doing so in ways that present the people who make the wine as people who are just like you and me, except they spend their days in grape vineyards and in fermenting cellars. What sold out in advance were the special courses, such as the Master Class, that took place simultaneously in the rooms adjacent to the Hall Agora. The standout of these courses was, according  to French site iDealwine « Le Génie du Vin ».

The ‘Genius of Wine’ class, included Cuvée René Lalou by Mumm (1998 Vintage), Chateau Angélus 2000, Chateau Gruaud Larose 2000, Clos de La Roche GC (2004) from Domaine Dujac,  Châteauneuf du Pape (1998 Domaine duVieux Télégraphe,  château Climens 1989, Ridge Monte Bello represents California and finally riesling Clos Ste Hune 2000 by Trimbach.

Another sold out course offering, of which there were 20 separate classes, was l’Ecole des Terroirs. I managed to bump into a few Americans while I roamed the airy, well-lit, elegant and wonderfully climatised hall – underneath the Louvre! – who were thrilled to have just accidentally happened upon the festival last year.

This husband and wife marvelled at the feast of wines they were getting to taste, all for a mere 25 Euro entrance fee. They loved last year’s event so much that they actually planned their trip around the Festival this year. We North Americans couldn’t help but compare Napa’s $25 average cost per wine tasting flight/ per winery to the 25 Euro entrance fee which put 2000 wines, including the best champagnes in the world, at your fingertips and lips. The only limitation to your wine tasting is the hours in a day and your stamina for how many tastings you can fit in.

Le Grand Tasting marked a few firsts this year,  notably in the category of positioning themselves more internationally. To that effect their Italian space welcomed 2000 visitors in a relatively small area of 90sq. meters located towards the back of one of the main halls.

In addition, this was the first year that they invited notable European wine critics:  José Penin (Espagne, Penin), Neil Beckett (Grande-Bretagne, World Of Fine Wine), Armin Diel (Allemagne), Marco Sabellico (Italie, Gambero Rosso), Enzo Vizzari (Italie,L’Espresso)!

An elegant, hip, affordable, culturally illuminating wine tasting event,  Le Grand Tasting’s Festival of Wine is not to be missed.

Read More Here: Guy Savoy and Thierry Desseauve discuss holiday food + wine pairings.

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Caviar Kaspia, Paris

by Paige Donner

Caviar Kaspia: Amour, Passion, Folie

After the opening private reception for BVLGARI at the Grand Palais, where else would one dine than at Caviar Kaspia, Pl. Madeleine?

The more wisdom (?) I accrue, the more I realize that the world is but one big treasure. The key is to intuit the map that allows you to decipher the secret passages that guide you to the soft, exquisite, and often delicious, hidden treasures.

For the most part, the “hidden” treasures are hidden in plain sight. Paris is full of these. One of the most famous is Caviar Kaspia.

Caviar Kaspia sits discreetly and prominently, on the Place de la Madeleine and has done since 1953. When he founded his business in Paris in 1927, Russian immigrant Arcady Fixon simply wanted to share the culinary best his country had to offer with the city’s glitterati. In those days, when Paris was  comfortably settling into its own as the world capital of haute couture, of arts and letters,  of the ballet and opera…Caviar Kaspia instantly appealed not just to the Russian artistocracy who were flocking to the city, but also to the elegant society as they retired from their evenings at the Opera or Comèdie Française, to the dancers from the visiting Russian Ballet of Monte Carlo…indeed Caviar Kaspar quickly became the place to dine for Paris’s privileged society.

Private Dining On Place de la Madeleine

Walking up the narrow wooden stairs on the left as you enter the 8eme’s Caviar shop, you begin to feel like you have just fallen down the rabbit hole. For the upstairs dining room is sumptuousness itself. On a cold wintry December night, sipping Cuvée Kaspia champagne, swallowing dollops of Beluga Caviar, and washing it all down with velvety, fiery, iced Russian vodka…well, does it get any better? Oh yes, imagine having the chance to talk to the Bulgari jewels exhibit designer for the Grand Palais Paris show during dinner. Ok, now, can it possibly get any better?

But it does. The service at Caviar Kaspar is the kind that is impossible to train for. Either a person understands graciousness and has the gift of anticipatory intuitiveness, or they don’t. At Caviar Kaspar, the waiters are not just handsome, they are gracious, discreet, present, and anticipate all your desires even if it’s simply to replace your slightly warmed glass of champagne with a fresh, exquisitely chilled one.

The iconic restaurant creates seasonal special menus. Click HERE kaspia_sylvestre for the Menu de la Saint-Sylvestre 2010.Their classic appetizer is the raw smoked salmon served with blinis. But if your palate is searching for lighter and flavorful, the crabe royal du Kamchatka salad is divinity expressed on a dinner plate.

Beluga Caviar with Russian Baked Potato, Caviar Kaspia, Paris

Caviar served on a baked potato is one of the Kaspia signatures. Honestly, it is so easy to forget one’s good breeding when you see something like that in front of you. The impulse is to dive in. Thank the sea gods that they serve the dish with a small flat spoon that is perfectly designed to lift the caviar off the top of the potato and savor it all on its own.

They offer two categories of caviar: wild or “caviars sauvage” and cultivated or “caviars d’elevage.” Of the former category you can try these varieties: Beluga, Oscietre, Sevruga and caviar pressé.

Or you can try: Oscietre Tradition, Caviar d’Esturgeon Blanc, Caviar Impérial Baeri,  Caviar de l’Empereur, Caviar de Printemps.

Caviar Etiquette

As the Parisian purveyors of caviar, they follow a few rules of etiquette for serving and tasting caviar. These are designed to release the fullest flavor and experience of caviar’s subtle tastes.

They allow the caviar to “decant,” or aerate for at least 15 minutes before serving on a small mountain of ice.  Avoid allowing the tiny grains of caviar to have contact with anything metallic, which is why it is always served at Caviar Kaspar with the small spoon made of either porcelain, glass, or mother of pearl. Always allow yourself the time to roll the small eggs around in your mouth before biting into them to help release their fullest flavor. Always serve with neutral accompaniments such as blinis or baked potato. The drink to pair the meal with is champagne or chilled Russian vodka.

The small dining room that accommodates up to 18 people that is just off to the left of the main dining room has a hidden cache of pictures of top models dancing on its table tops. Which is a good reminder that although caviar is a serious gastronomic delight, we needn’t be so serious about it that we forget to delight in the sheer raw exquisite pleasure of the experience. Snow. Place Madeleine, Paris. Bulgari jewels. Grand Palais. Caviar Kaspia. Champagne. Delightful company. Gracious service.

The world is indeed full of treasures!

Caviar Kaspia, 17 Place de la Madeleine, Paris 75008

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L’étoile d’Or {chocolat} Boutique

Post by Eric Tenin of Paris Daily Photo

Denise owns the Etoile d’Or chocolate shop in Paris, just next to the Moulin Rouge!

Yesterday I had lunch at rue Lepic, with Grazia, an Italian friend of mine who lives in Paris and knows it like the back of her hand. When she asked “what’s going to be you PDP photo today?” I replied. “Er… I don’t know yet”. She said “follow me I have the perfect idea for you…” Then she dragged me into Denise’s A l’étoile d’or boutique, the chocolate lovers’ den,  at rue Fontaine (a few feet away from the Moulin Rouge). Oh my! What a gas. Not only is Denise an extraordinary character, but on top of that she really knows what she’s talking about when it comes to chocolate. You HAVE  to visit this place if you come to Paris. No wonder David Lebovitz (the Paris chocolate master, among other things) spotted her a long time ago already…

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California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance

California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance

Winner: Governor’s Environmental And Economic Leadership Award

California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (San Francisco County)

  • The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance’s program has provided a Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices Workbook to the industry.  They have conducted more than 200 self-assessment workshops with more than 1,500 vintners and growers who have assessed their operations against 277 sustainable winegrowing criteria.

“These companies are true leaders,” said California Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Linda Adams. “They prove that we can make the move to a thriving green economy and that going green is good for the pocketbook and the environment.”

Awards are given based on strength in eight specific areas: results, transferability, environmental impact, resource conservation, economic progress, innovation and uniqueness, pollution prevention and environmental justice.

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Plan a SWP Wine Tour

If you would like to plan a winery tour to visit Sustainable Winegrowing Program Participants please visit www.discovercaliforniawine.com. Click on Create your own wine tour. You can search for SWP Participants under the “Amenities” search feature.

Wineries

Thanksgiving Is About Gratitude…And Food!

Everywhere where Thanksgiving is celebrated, we have a favorite recipe that each of us takes out, dusts off, – often from our Grandmother’s recipe book – and cooks up each year to share with our friends and loved ones.

Thanksgiving. What was your grandma's favorite Turkey Day recipe?

And while  Thanksgiving has become a Food Fest for most of us, it is firstly a celebration of gratitude. With gratitude as the cornerstone ingredient for manifesting abundance, this is, then, a powerful recipe:  Thankfulness + Good Food = Abundance.

Thanksgiving is also a time of sharing. Back on Plymouth Rock, it is significant to remember that the Mayflower Pilgrims would not have survived that first winter had it not been for the Native Americans sharing their knowledge and abundance of the land and native foods such as corn and beer. (Yes, beer!)

So, yes, Thanksgiving is a time for families and food. It is also a time of sharing and gratitude.  So…what was your grandmother’s favorite recipe?  Mine was whipped yams baked with mini marshmallows.  I think I’ll start practice cooking it now again in preparation for the big day…!

Help for the Holidays

Basket of Vegetables

If your family is one of the many struggling this holiday season I would urge you to research the non-profits in your area that can help meet your needs. I have listed just a few of the many valuable organizations serving the residents of the 23rd Senate District.


21st Annual Malibu Pie Festival 

Senator Pavley participates in the groundbreaking of the 9-11 Memorial
Kara Seward with her pie entry for Malibu Pie Festival, October.

The Malibu United Methodist Church hosted their 21st Annual Malibu Pie Festival last month. The proceeds from pie sales and silent auction items went to support the church’s youth and family programs and service projects. I am proud to announce that my staffer for the Malibu area, Kara Seward, entered her family’s blueberry pie recipe and won third place in the Fruit Pie category. Congratulations to all the entries!

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Wine By One

by Paige Donner

Wine By One, Place Vendôme

Stephane Girard was the first non-American president of the Wharton School of Business Wine Club.  He’s come a long leap across “the pond” from when he organized tastings for that 700-member club to opening up his first, and a first- of-its-kind, Wine Bar, Wine Shop and Tasting Room in Paris, just off the Place Vendôme. This all-in-one -on-tap -bar and shop is called Wine by One.

Wine by One, Paris, 75001. Photo courtesy Mathieu Garcon.

“We offer a 100 different kind of wines by the glass. We are the only wine bar in the world to have so many different wines on offer at any given time,” explained Girard at a recent wine tasting.

The key to his success – and the wine bar, if measured by the number of people sipping wine and nibbling on appetizers on any given evening, is certainly already a success!  – is the wine pouring/preservation machine that he uses to automate the pouring of the wine tastings.

Girard, a Frenchman, refers to his machine as caves á vins, which houses 8 bottles of wine each and keeps each wine at its ideal temperature and conditions of service and preservation.  He didn’t invent this machine. In fact he saw it used by an entrepreneurial sommelier when he was still back in the States getting his MBA. What he did pioneer for Paris is the business model that allows him to offer wines to people in ways that are accessible, affordable and appealing.

“At Wine by One, people have the chance to taste a Grand Wine without ruining the wine or having to buy the whole bottle.”

Wine By One, wine shop and tasting bar. Paris, 75001.                                Photo by Mathieu Garcon.

Accessible

The wines are set up in their groups of eight in their respective caves á vins for pouring a Tasting (Impression, 3cl), a Tentation (half a glass, 6cl) and a Sensation (a whole glass, 12 cl).  What’s great about this is that you can commit to the wine a little or a lot, depending on how much you like it. It’s also a great playground for training your wine palate where you have 100 different bottles from all the world’s regions on hand.  They add 5-10 new wines each month, on a rotation method.  The machines are set up as self-serve as well, so you almost have the feeling of it being a 7-11 set up – for top-notch wine!

Affordable

Wine by One promotes itself as being a very affordable way to try new wines and also great wines. This is true, for the most part. Some of the wine tastings do start at about 2 Euro or even a little less.  But it’s altogether too easy to want to try the 5 and 6 Euro tastings. Also, the tastings give you slightly more than one sip.  So you are more likely to go for the half glass which is easily in the 4 to 8 Euro range for some of the names that you’ve only ever read about.  And, of course, when I saw that Wine By One had Les Sorcières du Clos  des Fées d’Hervé Bizeul…on tap!…well, of course I had to go for the glass, (11 Euros).

The long and the short of it, then, is that, yes, you can do tastings for a few Euros but likely you will be tempted by other wines.  Expect to spend at least 25 to 30 Euro per head, and that’s not even including any food or bottles of wine purchased to take home with you.

Appealing

Two of the additionally seductive factors of Wine by One are that you can order food and you can buy the bottle you just tasted to take with you and enjoy for later.

Not many wine shops in Paris have the permitting required to be able to sell food. Girard has a unique position for his wine shop, then, in that people can order small bites and nibbles as they’re tasting. You can also stop in midday for lunch which is the French style sandwich, tartine, toasted and with a generous amount of gourmet spread, then finished off with a specialty coffee and all for about 10 Euro.

The leather lounge seats by the window, and the rue des Capucines location just off of Place Vendôme make it a great choice, and one that is slightly updated from the regular Bistro, while still being very French.

Just off the Place Vendome, Wine by One is open for lunch, too. Photo courtesy Mathieu Garcon.

Anyone who knows anything about opening up a shop in Paris will quickly recognize that this rue des Capucines real estate is prime and strategic.  Girard’s only comment was that he had a good friend who was doing the real estate scouting for an unnamed American coffee franchise who dominates the market with their green goddess icon and storefronts on every U.S. corner.  When her client didn’t take the shop that morning, Girard was there with his pot of gold and a pen ready to sign by that afternoon…

Another appealing characteristic of the Wine by One biz model is that Girard has engineered a way to make Wine by One feel like a club.  When you arrive, you must sign up for a card that you use to purchase your wine and tastings. Think along the lines of a Kinko’s card. Except that here, they ask you for 2 Euro before they give you the card and you have the option of it being personalized with your name.

More good things:  There’s a Water Bar or Bar á Eaux which offers a dozen different kinds of water from all over the world.  And they offer complimentary WiFi.

Wine by One, 9 rue des Capucines, 75001 Paris,  www.WinebyOne.com

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Salon du Chocolat

by Paige Donner

Salon du Chocolat, Paris – The Green Show

 

Jacques Bellanger et ModaFusion et Delphine Mac Carty. Fashion show at the 2010 Salon du Chocolat held at Porte de Versailles in Paris, France on October 27, 2010. Photo © Hel-Khayat/Pix'Hel.

Five straight days’ celebrating nothing but chocolate and the only coherent thought left in my brain is that the people who thought of, and then carried out, the Salon du Chocolat are brilliance personified.

“Five days of chocolate madness,” is what they call it and they are absolutely right! That they graciously scheduled the chocolate extravorgasma over Halloween weekend, in France, a country that doesn’t celebrate our American sugar-and-ghouls-day, was just, well, awfully sweet of them! (okay…frightful pun!)

Their names are Sylvie Douce and François Jeantet and they dedicated this year’s Paris show to Fair Trade chocolate, naming it The Green Show.

 

Sylvie Douce and François Jeantet, Founders of the Salon du Chocolat.

In fact the 2010 Salon du Chocolat was the event for the

organically minded.

The event has historically represented a link between cocoa-producing countries and chocolate consumers. It  has long provided a platform for people to meet and exchange views. Alter Eco, the Fair Trade chocolate brand and importer with offices all over Europe and also in the U.S., was a big sponsor this year, as was Max Havelaar, the French arm of the Fair Trade coalition.

The Paris Salon du Chocolat featured a daily chocolate fashion show where all garments were designed by prestige chocolatiers and made out of chocolate. It featured musical entertainment, the “chocolate trends” parade, photographic exhibitions, a chocolate sculpture competition and more to showcase all the event’s “green”initiatives, which were designed to raise awareness of sustainable development and ethical consumption.

Fair Trade Farmer, Max Havelaar France And Chocolatier Bonnat

One of the more interesting breakout seminars I sat in on was all about Fair Trade and direct from farmer sourcing of cacao.  The speakers, a Fair Trade farmer from Peru who spoke in Spanish which was translated by the moderator, Marie-Amélie Ormières of Max Havelaar France, and 4th generation chocolatier Stéphane Bonnat featured a lively discussion about how cacao provides a healthy means of livelihood to farmers who are paid a fair trade wage.

“Cacao for Coca,” is a successful initiative in Peru where coca plantations are being replaced by Cacao plantations farmed under Fair Trade policies. Within five years of re-planting, said the Peruvian cacao farmer, families are able to replace what they earned from coca with their Cacao crops.  He also pointed out that the cacao are all mixed with reforestation programs i.e. the cacao plantations are all mixed with tree plantations. Mexico has the oldest cacao plantations cultivated by man.

It was a lucky seminar to sit in on…Master Chocolatier Mssr. Bonnat passed out rounds of his trademark, pure grade cacao artisanal chocolates  – several times! – and the Peruvian farmer broke open an actual cacao fruit and had those of us who would, take the cacao seeds from inside and chew on it.  It’s the first time I had seen a cacao fruit up close and certainly the first time I’d eaten a raw cacao nut. Bonnat asked us if we could taste the pure essence of the chocolate in the nut. I must say that I did and could understand why it’s considered such a complete food, the “food of the Gods.”

“You can live on chocolate. Chocolate, a little bread and beer. All you’d be missing is calcium,” explained Stéphane Bonnat .

 

Pierre Marcolini et Ekyog et Marie-Amélie Seigner. Photo © Hel-Khayat/Pix'Hel.

Chocolaterie Stéphane Bonnat et Valérie Pache et Ariane Brodier. Photo © Hel-Khayat/Pix'Hel.

 

Encouraging the development of chocolate businesses, Entrepreneur Magazine tells us that chocolate consumption has gone from “sinful to unstoppable.” Joan Steuer, founder and president of Chocolate Marketing LLC, a Los Angeles consulting firm, notes a 40% increase in chocolate sales along with a strong interest in “dark, artisanal, organic, socially responsible and nutraceutically enhanced chocolates.” AIWF

Researching the field of sustainability, it is important to recognize that this area focuses on any environmental factor that sustains, maintains, or improves the quality of our life. While being an obvious component of the sustainable system, food nurtures our basic needs for survival and for remaining well. So, does eating chocolate fit into this sustainable explanation?

 

Arnaud Larher et Johanna Riplinger et Karima Charni. Photo © Hel-Khayat/Pix'Hel.

 

Christophe Michalak (Le Plaza Athénée) & Taïg Khris

New York’s Salon du Chocolat is coming up!

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Restaurant La Gare, Paris

There’s something to be said, eating lunch with a native Parisian. It’s not just that they’re bred for good taste in food – and other…things – nor is it just that they can help decipher the menu and translate what the waiter just sang to you in French of the day’s Plats du Jour.

Yes, all of these are fine reasons to lunch with a native Parisian, but what’s the most alluring is that they can recount to you stories of having waited on that very platform to board the train as a child, when the restaurant you are at the moment dining in was, indeed, an operating train station.

Such was the case recently when I dined with an old friend at Paris’s Restaurant La Gare. Locals remember it as, indeed, the Passy-La-Muette train station. A stone’s throw from Franck et Fils, the men’s clothing shop, it unabashedly sits ajutting out on the chaussée de la Muette.

I’m well aware of the haute food critics’ unspoken ethic of commenting only on a restaurant’s food, but, quite frankly, the atmosphere at Restaurant La Gare is so chic, so Parisian, so expansively stylish…well, for goodness’ sake, just walking into the place instantly transported me back to my Le Bain Douche days; days when I was much younger and much more carefree!

And if that doesn’t whet your appetite, then, well, mon cheri, I don’t know what will…

The Restaurant La Gare is to Parisian restaurants today what Le Bain Douche was to Parisian nightclubs a few years (ok, decades!) ago.

Now that summer is in full swing, the Terasse, which seats a generous 180 diners, is the place to be, especially for Sunday Brunch. At 33 Euros for brunch, it’s a good deal.

The airy 500 square meter establishment was designed by Francois Lamazerolles. The drama is descending from the cosy bar at the street-level entrance to the restaurant at the garden level below.

Ranked as one of Paris’s trendiest restaurants, it’s that kind of place where, if you sport a baseball cap with NY on it and a pair of sunglasses, people will mistake you for a movie star!

The food, of course, is delicious. As a North American, all food in France is delicious. But lest I be perceived as shirking from my food duties, I recommend the grilled scallops on a bed of creamy, roasted, mashed garlic potatoes. The salad of al dente green beans is light and fragrant. For dessert the three-part roasted pineapple, pineapple compote and fresh pineapple with pineapple sorbet is delightful for a sun-drenched afternoon.

Click on the site Restaurant La Gare for a 360 video view of the place.

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Edible Adventures – Paris Food And Wine

CLOTILDE DUSOULIER lives in Montmartre. Her award-winning blog, Chocolate & Zucchini, was launched in 2003.

by Clotilde DuSoulier

Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris is a book on Paris restaurants and food shops, in which I share recommendations for my favorite spots — everything from neo bistros and salons de thé to bakeries, outdoor markets, wine shops, and much, much more, as they say — plus all you need to know to navigate the City of Light and Good Food, plus a dozen recipes.

You can read more about the book, including reviews and excerpts, on the mini-site I’ve set up, and you should of course feel free to order your very own copy — no, really.

I’ve only just received finished copies myself, and although it is hardly surprising for a young mother to fawn over her newborn, I am particularly pleased with how this book turned out — the way it fits snugly in my hands, the slight grain of the cover, the chic layout, the color photos, and the rounded corners (rounded corners! you know you love them!). So pleased, in fact, that I’ve been tempted to keep a copy under my pillow, but Maxence said no.

The perpetual challenge for books that give real life recommendations is that real life stuff tends to shift and change over time. Thankfully, by the power and grace of the Internet, I will be able to maintain a list of updates, corrections, and bonus addresses on the above-mentioned mini-site — there’s even a “print before you go!” version to slip in the book and take with you to Paris.

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Pommery Champagne, Chocolate Truffles, Bogart, Monroe and Chaplin

Succumb to the liveliness & finesse of Champagne Pommery Brut Royal from France..  in the presence of Felix Ghoul from the Champagne house in Reims..

Explore new vineyards & Terroirs with wines from the old & new worlds…  including California, Argentina, France, Austria..  cherry-picked from Colorado Wine Company‘s unique wine selection..

Indulge in the highest-quality delicacies with artisan cheeses from the four corners of the world by Nicole’s Gourmet Food..  You will experience tasty & harmonious couplings with each wine served..

Tantalize your senses with Yvan Valentin‘s chocolate truffles..  Just imagine a velvety chocolate ganache hand dipped in Valrhona Grand Cru Chocolate and..  delight the chocolate connoisseur in you!..  Chocolate Truffle Menu here:  4 flavors your taste buds can’t resist.

4 flavors that your taste buds can’t resist..

Dark Chocolate Truffle
“Old tradition” crunchy bitter sweet chocolate filled with a dark melting ganache.A classic simply exquisite.

Milk Chocolate Praline Truffle
Wonderful combination of creamy ganache and caramelized toasted hazelnut paste wrapped in a milk chocolate.

Ivory Cointreau Truffle
Delicious blend of chocolate, orange peel and Cointreau in a velvety smooth chocolate icing. A favorite for white chocolate lovers.

Cappuccino Truffle
Perfect blending of chocolate and cappuccino cream, coated with bittersweet chocolate and light cocoa.


Discover & Learn through the passion and expertise of Champagne, fine wine & gourmet specialists who will guide and assist you throughout the soiree..  You are all taken care of!

Listen to a delicate mix of sultry crooning, tender melodies, and bittersweet lyrics from the Leftover Cuties who harken back to a simpler age when music was as likely to come from a soup-line or a smoke filled speakeasy as it was from a recording studio.. watch & listen to them

Can’t See The VIDEO? Click HERE

Relax & Mingle at really unique & irresistible Hollywood locations..  Live Classic at the Hollywood Tower.. or Live New at La Belle at Hollywood Tower..  an exceptional choice in one location!.. learn more

More Info at www.LAWineTasting.com

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How To Love The Heartbreak Grape

by Paige Donner

How To Love The Heartbreak Grape

Pinot noir is a very fickle grape, requiring the utmost attention and respect in every phase of the winemaking process. Winemakers are the first to testify to this, claiming that grapes that have been handled too much can end up making wines that lack flavor and harmony.

Clearly, Pinot noir is a risky (and more expensive) proposition for the winegrower, the winemaker, and the wine drinker. But it is precisely this high-stakes gamble that makes pinot noir all the more alluring and rewarding.

There is much debate as to the origins of the variety, although one currently popular theory is that the Pinot noir grape is an offspring of Pinot meunier and Gewurztraminer. This union helps explain the characteristics behind the beloved Pinot noir. As author Stuart Pigot notes in Planet Wine, “Pinot meunier gave Pinot noir its bright, berry aromas and initial charm, while Gewurztraminer its silkiness, extravagance, nobility, and fickleness.”

Pinot Noir, the elegant, fickle, silky grape.

The name Pinot Noir is derived from the French words for “pine” and “black” in reference to the varietals’ tightly clustered dark purple cone-shaped bunches of grapes. Therefore, Pinot noir refers both to the grape varietal as well as the wine that it produces. The skin of the Pinot noir grape is relatively thin, making it a tricky, albeit rewarding, candidate for wine production.

As mentioned by Karen MacNeil in The Wine Bible, “Winemakers adopt a minimalist approach, and often a percentage of the grapes is not crushed. Instead, whole grapes are put directly into the fermenting tanks, which also helps maximize fruity flavors in the wine. To keep those fruit flavors dominant, many wine-makers are also extremely careful and sparing in their use of new oak for aging.”

Oregon, inspired by the similar climate characteristics of Burgundy, staked its reputation on Pinot noir with much success. Thanks to ocean fog, California has shown that it too has no shortage of spots cool enough to keep Pinot grapes on the vine as they develop fine fruity flavors and texture. Notable Pinot regions in California include Los Carneros, the Russian River Valley in Sonoma and Santa Maria north of Santa Barbara.

Pinot noir is what put Oregon on the map internationally, and is the most planted in the state by far. Wineries in Oregon tend to be small family affairs. Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot gris follow. Oregon has no such thing as cheap, bulk wine. The climate is distinctly cloudy and cool, especially in the Willamette Valley where most of the wineries are clustered. This gentle climate, which highly resembles that of Burgundy, allows for wines of good acidity and balance, moderate alcohol, and an ideal degree of flavor.

Love Pinot? Check out the International Pinot Noir Celebration!

Summer Wine Reads:  Johnson, Hugh. The World Atlas of Wine, Ed. 4. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994; MacNeil, Karen. The Wine Bible. New York: Workman Publishing, 2001; Pigott, Stuart. Planet Wine. London: Mitchell Beazley, 2004; Robinson, Jancis. Jancis Robinson’s Wine Course. London: BBC Books, 1995.

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Wine And Chocolate, Today’s The Day!

Today - and Every Day! - is The Day for Wine and Chocolate!

Anette’s Chocolates of Napa Valley used to make the chocolate sauces for the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory. These are the sauces that are now made for over 100 different wineries across the US. Each winery’s particular wine is included in the making of the sauce, and then specially co-labeled.

When Anette took over this long-standing chocolate shop over 18 years ago, it was already a local anchor, having stood on the very same spot for some 40 years when it was previously called Patrick’s.  The current owners, Anette and her brother Brent and his wife, Mary, recall stopping off at the candy store on their way home from school.

When they first took over the candy shop, master candy maker Ed Ratcliff stayed on to teach Anette and her partners his 40 year craft of candy and chocolate making.  Most of their customers had been buying their candy from the shop since the 60s and 70s.

Brent and Anette made it a habit to ask their employees, most of whom they kept on when they took over the long-running business, what the assortment should be made up of.  Brent explains that the long-time employees are the watchdogs for some of the older candy flavors.

The dark chocolate they use and make themselves, is approximately 62%.  And Brent will readily tell you that their wine-infused sauces are actually made with a lot of wine. They count themselves blessed to be asked to participate in the many events around Napa and Sonoma including wine and chocolate pairings and wine auctions.

Wine Added To Chocolate For Anette's Chocolate Sauce

They focus mostly on truffles. Their boxed chocolates make elegantly beautiful gifts and memories for special occasions.  They have over 120 different kinds of candies and chocolates on offer. Anette’s rich burgundy boxes can be filled with as many as 30 pieces and come with gold satin hinges, vellum liners, all finished with a gold taffeta ribbon.

Looking for something tantatalizing?…how about Caramel Brandy Sauce?…Chocolate Martini Ganache?…Dark Chocolate Merlot Fudge?…or how about their signature Chocolate Wine and Liqueur Sauces.

Anette’s Chocolate by Brent

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