Domaine de RocheVille, Loire, France

by Paige Donner Le Page, Le Prince, Le Roi, La Dame et La Favorite – names that evoke pages from French history, a past steeped in aristocracy – Princes, Kings, and favored ladies from the nobility. The Loire Valley was … Continue reading

Les Délices de Tokyo – Go See The Film!

One of the most poetic films to come along in a long time…   Dorayakis are a sort of Japanese cake. It is two small pancakes filled with the traditional Japanese treat, sweet red bean paste, in the middle. This … 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

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

Umamicatessen and SiLo Vodka and Slider Bar New In Downtown L.A.

[Via Bringing Back Broadway.org]
As you may have noticed while walking past, tables are in, the sign is up and we’re pleased to inform you that Umamicatessen at 846 S. Broadway will be open soon!
The official grand opening & ribbon cutting with Bringing Back Broadway will be in a few weeks (stay tuned for details) but they will begin limited service and hours (a soft open) on Saturday March 3 to get things just right before the official grand opening.

Thousands Demand Sustainable Food

Pig_local_food_and_wine

Thousands of people across America call for healthy, affordable, sustainable food ahead of the first ever National Food Day.

WASHINGTON, DC – Thousands of people are demanding sustainable food in their local communities ahead of the first ever Food Day by starting and joining campaigns on Change.org, the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change.

Tens of thousands of individuals and organizations have already begun supporting sustainable food through campaigns on Change.org. Healthy Child, Healthy World, a food-focused nonprofit, launched an online campaign urging Campbell’s Soup to phase out the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) from its packaging; a Texas animal rescuer created a campaign asking Governor Rick Perry to save struggling ranchers and starving horses by using state resources to bring hay to Texas; and a Maryland farmer started an online campaign to prevent his 31-year-old organic farm from being turned into private soccer fields.

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Fête de la Gastronomie

fete-de-la-gastronomie   Local Food And Wine

Foreword from the Minister

The Fête de la Gastronomie is a festival that is not to be missed, and it will be taking place on the first day of autumn [Sept 23rd]. It will also have its own theme, uniting all the different events and initiatives taking place throughout the country. This year we have chosen Our Earth, because it generously allows us to work it, harvest its fruits, and use them for our food. Because man and earth are inseparable. More INFO

Foreword from the MinisterEverywhere you look there is something to do with gastronomy: in the media, in the increasingly imaginative dishes available in our restaurants…as though the whole idea were something new, whereas in fact it is no more than a tradition in a constant state of renewal, very much alive, and one that makes the most of our country’s dynamism, the foods we produce, and what we do with them. Continue reading

Today Is Biodynamic Flower Day

Courtesy of Organic Matters, Ireland’s Organic Magazine

Bio-dynamic gardening

Bio-dynamic gardeners, followers of the principles of Rudolf Steiner, believe that the movements of all theheavenly bodies, moon, planets and stars have an influence on the growth and development of all plants. So the time you chose to sow, plant or even weed your plants will affect their progress. The moon, the stars and the planets all affect the development of our plants.

At first glance the idea that the stars affect our garden seems quite crazy. But then we do know that the moon can move millions of gallons of water from one side of the ocean to the other every day. We do know also that all living things, including plants and ourselves contain water. So perhaps the idea is not so far fetched? Anyway judging by the number of horoscopes in newspapers and magazines, it seems that many people accept that the movement of heavenly bodies can affect their lives. So why not on plants?

Flower and fruit

The auspicious time for flowering plants is on ‘flower days’ when the ascending moon is in, Libra, Gemini or Aquarius. And for plants that are grown for their seed or fruit such as beans, tomatoes or courgettes, the best yields will be had by planting on ‘fruit days’ when the ascending moon is in Leo, Sagittarius or Aries.

By now, many readers have probably put these ideas into the ‘interesting, but far too much trouble’ category. And they may be forgiven for wondering if they are being asked to spend all their precious gardening time gazing at the sky before they can venture out to sow their new packet of seeds? But just as you don’t have to be an astronomer to read your stars in the newspaper, neither do you have to be one to plant by them.

Bio-dynamic calendar

Maria Thun publishes a calendar every year for interested gardeners and farmers. In it are marked all the suitable days for planting and sowing for the year. Few bio-dynamic gardeners bother themselves with the complexities of the cosmos, they merely organise their sowing and planting times around the calendar.

Another interesting aspect of bio-dynamic theory is that crops harvested on favourable days will keep better than when picked at other times. Thus, lettuce cut on a leaf day will stay fresher for longer than heads picked at other times. Equally gardeners who store their carrots over the winter are advised to harvest them on root days.

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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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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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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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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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Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen

Jon Bon Jovi Foundation Soul Kitchen on Local Food And WineJon Bon Jovi's Soul Kitchen on Local Food And Wine

Read More and Sign UP For the Community Kitchen HERE

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Chateaubriand

posted by Paige Donner

TOP TEN OF WORLD’S BEST RESTAURANTS, 2011

This year Chef Inaki Aizpitarte’s Le Chateaubriand made it into the Top Ten of the World’s 50 Best list.

CONTACT

129 avenue Parmentier 75011 Paris

+33 (0) 143574595
Google map

Chef Inaki Aizpitarte, Chateaubriand - Paris Food And Wine

The dinner choice is Prix Fixe and no one has ever complained. If you have one restaurant to try when you are in Paris, this is a Winner!

Chateaubriand - Paris Food And Wine

In 2010 Le Chateaubriand was #11. In 2011 Le Chateaubriand is #10 on the 50 Best Restaurants in the world list.

Chateaubriand 2010 Paris Food And Wine

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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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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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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

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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B.C. Shellfish Festival


B.C. Shellfish Festival

Posted by Mathew Wright

Comox, BC – Shellfish lovers have the chance at winning one of two getaway contests to the BC Shellfish Festival this June in the seaside town of Comox to enjoy all the sights, sounds andflavours at the largest shellfish festival on the West Coast.

Contest#1 – Not open to residents of Vancouver IslandTwo return tickets on Harbour Air from downtown Vancouver direct to Comox on June17, 2011, returning June 19, 2011 (45 min flight)Two night’s accommodation in a one-bedroom suite with jacuzzi at the Crown Isle Golf& Resort Community, June 17-18, 2011 Two tickets to the Chefs’ Dinner on June 17, 2011 featuring chefs Robert Clark of CRestaurant in Vancouver; Andrew Springett of Black Rock Oceanside Resort in Ucluelet; Andrew Stigant of Crown Isle Golf & Resort Community; Garrett Schack of Vista 18 in Victoria; Richard Verhagen of Market Street Grill on Salt Spring Island and Belinda Jonesof Gatehouse Bistro in Cumberland Two tickets to the BCSF Festival Day event at Comox Marina Park, Saturday, June 18,2011 featuring cooking demos, live bands, the BC Oyster Shucking Championship, localfood and more

Deadline to enter is May 1, 2011 Entry details at:

http://www.bcshellfishfestival.ca/BCSF/weekendgetawaydetails.htmlContest#2

– Open to allTwo night’s accommodation at the Crown Isle Golf & Resort Community, June 17-18,2011Two tickets to the Chefs’ Dinner on June 17, 2011Two tickets to the BCSF Festival Day event at Comox Marina Park, Saturday, June 18,2011 featuring cooking demos, live bands, the BC Oyster Shucking Championship, localfood and more

Deadline to enter is May 16, 2011Entry details at: http://www.discovercomoxvalley.com/promotions/contests.htmMore information about the festival and all the events taking place can be found on ourwebsite at www.bcshellfishfestival.ca and our FB Page at <a href=”http://www.facebook.com/BCShellfishFestival.

http://www.facebook.com/BCShellfishFestival.</p&gt;

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Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen Featuring Chef Marcel Vigneron

 

Cooking meets Chemistry tonight as the amazing Chef Marcel Vigneron premieres his show Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen on Syfy at 10pm

 

Marcel’s was on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and it was AMAZING!

 

 

Watch TONIGHT!!!!

 

Marcel's Quantum Kitchen

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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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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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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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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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Corsica – L’île de Beauté

Cape Corsica.

By Paige Donner

Corsica, off the French south coast, produces delicious dry white and subtle rosé wines that are best drunk chilled, young and fresh as an aperitif or to accompany light meals of seafood, salads, tapas.

Wine of Corsica is the common appellation to all the wines of Corsica, with the following AOC classifications related to either the soils or the villages in which the vineyards are grown: Ajaccio, Calvi, Coteaux du Cap Corse et Muscat du Cap Corse, Figari Patrimonio, Porto-Vecchio, Sartène.

While Corsica is definitely “south of France,” it does not fall under the newly minted branding of “Sud de France,” a term that is being used by the region of Languedoc-Roussillon as they voyage forth once again onto the world export stage with their wines and other agricultural products.

Corsican wines are one of those “well-kept secrets.” The island, which the French call “L’île de Beauté,” produces some great wines but they aren’t exported much overseas…yet. Set in the Mediterranean Sea, many of the island’s wines originate from Italy.  The sun’s reflection on both  white rocks and the Mediterranean brings even more energy to the vine which, combined with low yields, will eventually produce a very concentrated grape.

Typical Corsican Village. Perched between the mountains and the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Cap Corse Wine This white wine is pretty rare and much appreciated by winelovers. Many agree that it is the best white wine in Corsica.
  • Sartene Wine This is an excellent wine, and the red San Michele is definitely a must-taste. These are fruity and warm Corsican wines.
  • Patrimonio This wine is as famous as the classic Corsican appellation and its quality is constantly growing.  Corsican reds and whites are increasingly famous even out of the island. Patrimonio rosé wines are also fine wines. Patrimonio wines have a pretty strong character that originate from the soil, which is composed mostly of clay and limestone. This Corsican wine is full-bodied but still light and fruity.
  • Ajaccio The Ajaccio French wine boasts the distinction of being the most elevated wine region in France. Most of its vineyards are located 500 m and above. This Corsica wine benefits from the warm weather, and the sea air provides it with a very particular flavor too. This French wine fully benefits from the Corsican environment thus it is light coloured, fruity and has a pronounced pepper flavor in the mouth. The Ajaccio soil is mostly granite.

They also have excellent beaches in Corsica!

Corsican Beaches.

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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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Green New Zealand’s Pinot Noir And Gewurz


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