My 3rd day of the Grands Jours Bourgogne featured a tasting spotlighting Mercurey producers and another featuring Young Talent. It’s also the day that features the best lunch by far, put on by Chef Didier Denis and his team. A … Continue reading
“The building does not resemble any known shape because it’s an evocation. Not of wine itself, but of the soul of wine,” explain architects Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazieres from French firm X-TU. When fully unveiled in 2016, the eco-building … Continue reading
Paige Donner, journalist, blogger, eco-activist, actor/filmmaker and more, returns to the show from Paris to discuss her passion for local food and wine. Donner became more interested in the marriage of regional wines and local food when she was in … Continue reading
So many good champagnes…So little time… All photos by Paige Donner c. 2013 – See FULL SLIDESHOW HERE It’s hard knowing that I’m the envy of all my wine enthusiast friends and colleagues Stateside and in Canada. My only … Continue reading
by Paige Donner This title actually began as a chapter heading for my journal entry about my visit to Champagne Louis Roederer in Reims. But I liked it so much that I’m using it here, too. It just works so beautifully. It … Continue reading
With Spring just around the corner, the itch to get outdoors is growing stronger day by day. It’s easy to imagine how the grapevines must be feeling ’round about now… ready to burst forth and get busy bathing their buds … Continue reading
Explore more than 150 wines from 40 Paso Robles wineries. Paso Robles is California’s third largest and fastest growing wine region, so come taste a new vintage from your favorite winery or discover new ones! Wineries from Paso Robles will … Continue reading
THE U.S. CONFIRMS ITS LEADERSHIP IN THE WORLD WINE MARKET In 2011, Americans consumed 4.5% more wine than in 2010, which was record growth in one year. Having consumed 317.87 million 9-liter cases (or 3.814 billion bottles), the market exceeded … Continue reading
As a Thank You we’re offering you a Bonus Perk. We’re optimistic that we’ll reach our film production fundraising goal for Wine & Climate Change, but we can’t do it without people like you. Word-of-mouth and shared links have really … Continue reading
by Paige Donner Corton Grand Cru – Charlotte Dumay Recently I was privileged to taste some of the great Hospices de Beaune (Burgundy) wines. These were the 2012 vintages, so not only are they “babies,” they are still infants. Which … Continue reading
Oct. 26th is Global Champagne Day!!! ♥♥♥♥♥♥Chérie Du Vin – You will LOVE my wine picks! The French Wine Society earns mention within the pages of a murder-mystery written by award-winning author J. Michael Orenduff. [Re-posted from The French Wine Society– visit their … Continue reading
[From Press Release] The prestigious annual Cognac Awards were presented before the auction, going to two Americans. Ann Tuennerman, Founder of Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, was presented with “Cognac Personality of the Year Award”, and acclaimed spirits … Continue reading
Announcement from Gerard Bertrand, CHATEAU L’HOSPITALET
We have the pleasure to announce you that Gérard Bertrand has been awarded on Tuesday “Red Winemaker of the Year” by the International Wine Challenge after winning 46 awards and three trophies for its wines.
With 10,000 wines from around the world tasted by the jury of experts the International Wine Challenge is one of the most prestigious wine competitions in the world.
We are really honored to dedicate this Trophy to you (Gérard Bertrand is at 5’20”).
by Paige Donner [First Published on Technorati] Just released is the new 2012 Saint-Emilion Classification which ranks 82 of the most respected chateaux and wineries of Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux. Four made it into the Premier Grand Cru Classé A rank: … Continue reading
by Paige Donner
There are two new exciting developments at Gosset Champagne. The first is its “new” cellars and the second is its brand new eco-friendly bottle labels.
Gosset Champagne Epernay Cellars
For the “oldest wine house” (est. 1584) in Champagne to expand much of their operations to Epernay from Aÿ, is no small feat. It’s also not as if there are exquisite champagne cellars up for sale every day in Epernay. Most of the cellars in this quaint little Capitale du Champagne have been inhabited for centuries and mostly by the really big boys, you know the ones, the household name champagnes. Continue reading
Join the California Wine Institute and Girl Meets Grape at The Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills on Thursday, September 6th from 6-9 pm and taste your way around the state (70+ wineries! – see below) as we kick off California Wine Month 2012.
Valet parking is included with ticket price and tickets are extremely limited. Do not miss this opportunity to celebrate California wine without leaving LA!
Heitz – Ovid – Baldacci – Trefethen – Viader – Kenefick Ranch – Kenwood Vineyards – Wrath – Bernardus – Pianetta – J. Lohr – Noble Vines – Ventana Vineyards – McCay Cellars – Machhia – Borra Vineyards – Talley – Saucelito Canyon – Laetitia – Ancient Peaks – Tangent – Zocker – Santa Cruz Mountain – Cooper-Garrod – Bargetto – Beauregard Vineyards – Silver Mountain – Woodside – Villa Creek – Adelaida – Eberle – Hope Family – Justin – Tablas Creek – Villa Creek – Brewer-Clifton – Foxen – Margerum – Buttonwood Farm – Grassini Family – Riverbench Vineyard & Winery – Balletto – Davis Bynum – Alexander Valley Vineyards – Chateau St Jean – Landmark – Quivara – Etude – J Vineyards and Winery – The Lucas Winery – Heritage Oak Winery – Michael David Winery – St. Amant Winery – Joel Gott – Rosa d’Oro – Six Sigma – The Steven Kent Winery – Mitchell Katz – Wente – Cedar Mountain – Concannon Winery – Fenestra Winery – Baily – Palumbo Family – Monte de Oro – Robert Renzoni – South Coast – Wilson Creek – Bonterra – Beringer Vineyards – Robert Mondavi Winery
by Paige Donner
First published as Philipponnat Champagne’s Clos des Goisses on Technorati.
Very few families, even in France’s historic Champagne region, can date their ancestral roots in the region as far back as 500 years. The family of Philipponnat, namesake of the champagne, is one of these rarities. Not only are they still in the region where their ancestors settled in 1522, they are still in the small village of Mareuil-sur-Ay. It’s also how they came up with their prestige cuvées name “1522.” A few vinification traditions this house respects that have great bearing on their champagnes:
- Philipponnat uses only the first press juice for vinification
- Moderate dosage
- Mostly Pinot Noir grapes during blending
- Barrel-fermented wines (which is not the total amount of the must) do not undergo malolactic fermentation
- Slightly delayed harvests for their Pinot Noir grapes to achieve optimal maturity Continue reading
by Paige Donner
A few interesting facts set the champagne brand of Nicolas Feuillatte apart from the others.
For one, it’s a champagne house that is cooperatively owned. Just outside of the champagne capital of Épernay in France, in the little village of Chouilly, the modern and sleek facilities whose cellars are both above and beneath the ground, ferment, disgorge and age 300,000 hectoliters of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Petit Meunier destined to become top-selling champagne every year. That translates into 21.9 million bottles of champagne in 2011.
[From Bourgogne Newsletter]
BURGUNDY WINE SCHOOL
BURGUNDY WINE SCHOOL
For full details see ecoledesvins-bourgogne.comThe Wine School’s programme
The Burgundy Wine School has launched its 2012 programme. This year is likely to be a full one, as it includes three new features: sessions on food and wine pairing with Burgundy wines; sessions in English in September and October and the organisation of a 3-day programme (in English) as part of the Hospices de Beaune wine auction.
These new offerings will be added to the rich catalogue of around sixty training courses aimed at the general public, not to mention the “Coaching” and “Tailor-made services” (from 3 hours to several days) set up by the School.
The Wine School also manages the Aroma Cellars, with around fifty exhibitions per year. In 2011, 2,550 people attended training courses at the Burgundy Wine School and gave it an average score of 17.6 out of 20.
Coming in at a sexy just 30 Euros is Champagne Piper Heidsieck’s new limited edition bottle wrapped in its own crocodile skin bodyguard. Think a lipstick red croc Kelly bag for your champagne. Makes a chic gift and the red latex imprint will pair nicely with your holiday heels or even your (naughty) red Santa Suit! Champagne is a blend of several vintages, with a dominance of Pinot Noir. Available at select Travel Retail outlets such as CDG Paris Airport store Aelia.
|The Grand Tasting took place on December 2nd and 3rd at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris. Twenty one Wine and Management Diploma students, representing 9 countries, were responsible for serving wine for the “Master Class” and “Master Class Prestige” tastings.*Editor’s Note: Including the Ruinart Master Class Tasting that featured a 1998 Ruinart and an almost caramel-colored 1988 vintage paired with pan-seared fois gras.|
|The Grand Tasting brings together the best producers of wine, from International personalities to young talented winemakers. During the Master Class the best wines are unveiled and tasted. The following were amongst the esteemed producers who were present:Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Château Ausone, Domaine Ponsot, Maison Cazes, Domaine Weinbach, Domaine Jean Louis Chave, Domaine de la Chevalerie, Champagne Joseph Perrier, Champagne Taittinger, and other well-known brands. Continue reading|
[Press Release] Bordeaux, September 2011 January- June 2012 The 11th event of the “20 sur vin” Wine Tasting Competition for international wine clubs of leading business schools, higher education establishments and universities. After the great success in 2011 with the presence of the United … Continue reading
By Paige Donner For most of us wine lovers, the word Bordeaux evokes Mecca-like dreams and memories of some of the world’s best and most prestigious wines. For the Bordelais, there is a pronounced distinction between “Left Bank” and “Right … Continue reading
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
Everywhere 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
by Paige Donner
After nearly 40 years with the House of Champagne Lanson, Reims, winemaker Jean Paul Gandon is not afraid of innovation. That is, innovation when it stays within the context of tradition. Gandon and Champagne Lanson enjoy a singularly unique relationship in Champagne insofar as next year, when he celebrates his 40th year with the house, it will be the longest standing winemaker-to-winery relationship in this very exclusive region of France.
Clos Lanson is one enclosed hectare of Chardonnay vines that grows grapes bursting with fruit and juice, if this past weekend’s harvest in Reims offers any evidence. The Clos is also singularly unique in Reims as it is the only enclosed hectare of vines growing within the city center. Beyond its walls are straight views onto the Reims Cathedral and the Stadium.
During one day each year family members, employees and friends of Lanson Champagne assemble for a spectacular day of convivial harvesting and celebration of what will be the most exclusive of Lanson Champagne cuvées, the Clos Lanson. This celebratory harvest and Cuvée of no more than 8,500 bottles was the brain child of Gandon and one of the owners of Lanson International, Philippe Baijot, 6 years ago. This year will mark the first that the champagne will be available to taste and to drink.
Champagne Lanson is most well-known for its power of the Pinot Noir grape, its blocking of malolactic fermentation during its vinification and its cellaring of at least 36 months prior to release. (AOC Champagne regulations require 15 mos. minimum). Wine connoisseurs speak of keeping the Black Label Lanson for 10 years. In other words, this is not a “pop and pour” champagne.
Champagne Lanson was founded in 1760 by Francois Delamotte which makes it the fourth oldest house in the world. During its changing of hands in the last several decades, “…vintages of Lanson remained of high quality… Much of this success in the face of adversity must be down to Gandon.”
Launched in 2011 is Lanson’s L’Académie de Lanson and its Little Black Book of Champagne. The House believes strongly in viewing champagne as a wine and not purely as a label. The Lanson Academy was developed to engage and enlighten all champagne drinkers. – ♥Chérie Du Vin
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?
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.
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.
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.”
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.
By Paige Donner
Jaillance produces the only sparkling wine from France’s Rhône Valley. They call it their “Clairette de Die” and its 7% alcohol content makes it a festive choice for most all occasions. Their rosé, the Cuvée de l’Abbaye, is made from 100% merlot and their “Cremant de Bordeaux” is 70% semillon and 30% cabernet franc.
Jaillance committed to organic farming in 1989 and has more than 200 growers in their winegrowers’ “cooperatif.” They take their commitment to sustainable winemaking seriously… far beyond simply changing out their bottles to the lighter 775gr. from the heavier 830 gr. champagne bottle. Take their cork recycling initiative for instance…
Did You Know?
- 12 billion corks are manufactured every year. 3 billion of those are destined for France alone!
- The cork oak tree does not die when its bark is harvested. The bark gradually grows back, like shedding its skin.
- Cork Oak trees can get up to 300 years old and grow a thick new layer of bark every nine years.
- 100% of harvested cork is used.
- Cork oak forests have great ecological value, sustaining a rich level of biodiversity and protecting many species of fauna and flora.
- A harvested cork oak tree absorbs 2 1/2 to 4 times as much CO2 as one not harvested.
Jaillance’s Cork Recycling Initiative: How It Works
Starting this summer Jaillance is calling on their consumers to save and collect their corks and bring them back to designated collection points. These collection points La Cave de Die Jaillance, Jaillance sales outlets and all Gamm Vert Shops (France).
These used corks will be sold back to to the cork industry, and the money sent to the Institut Mediterranéen du Liège (Mediterranean Cork Institute). The Institute will use the funds to plant more cork oaks in the Eastern Pyrenees forests.
Once the wine corks have been collected, the wine corks are taken to a recycling plant to be transformed into floor coverings, decorative items, components for the aerospace and automobile industries – or even into electrical power.
Cork is 100% natural and 100% recyclable. It is one of nature’s treasures.
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.
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?
By Paige Donner Read Complete Article on Black Book Magazine A biannual affair, France’s monumental, just-wrapped Vinexpo Bordeaux has, once again, firmly established itself as the world’s leading exhibition for the wine industry. A few numbers: there were approximately 50,000 … Continue reading
It was in the kitchens of the Louis XV in the Hôtel de Paris, along with the executive chef of the kitchens of the hotel, Franck Cerutti, that Alain Ducasse received the confirmation from the Palace.
«H.S.H Prince Albert IIand Miss Wittstock’s decision honours me. It honours also Mediterranean cuisine,a sincere and fair cuisine that pays tribute to a rich and generous land. A cuisine that is respectful of its environment. Prince Albert and his future wife have thus expressed their attachment to nature and to the attentive work of the men and women who wisely nurture it. On this very special day, I cannot help myself remembering with emotion the tasty moments the Prince spent with his family at our table.
Monegasque since 2008, it was in 1987 that Alain Ducasse discovered Monaco,when Prince Rainier III called upon him to take over the direction of the kitchens of the Hôtel de Paris, Monte-Carlo SBM’s prestigious establishment, with the mission to make the Louis XV the first hotel restaurant awarded three Michelin stars, a distinction that was granted in 1990. Located between Nice and Liguria, it is at the Louis XV that Alain Ducasse brings cachet to Mediterranean cuisine. A cuisine of freedom, of emotions and of passion but also of rigor, sobriety and method; it gives the best role to each ingredient -from the modest vegetable garden plant to the most sumptuous crustacean- for the greater pleasure of the senses. At the very heart of this Mediterranean soil that so inspires him, he has found, in twenty-five years of professional partnership and personal implication, a staunch support. Today, Monaco is the essential anchor point in his profession as chef-creator. From the Louis XV, he trains most of his chefs, the very same ones who then carry his work across the globe.
The Princely wedding dinner, held on the terraces of the Salle Garnier, will be executed from the kitchens of the Louis XV at the Hotel de Paris, with the support of a temporary kitchen located on the site. As for the theme of the dinner, Alain Ducasse simply states that he will work along side his team in the highest respect of a nature that today, we realise is weakened. It will combine the essence of taste -with emphasis on local produce- with the sober elegance of the tableware. On this subject, he notes with a smile, that the garden and the cows of Rocagel, Prince Albert’s property, will be involved in the menu. Indeed, the former will supply the vegetables, while the latter will provide milk for the dessert. The dinner prepared by Alain Ducasse with the full commitment of the employees of Monte-Carlo SBM establishments, will contribute in making the event a simple and warm moment for all the guests, as was requested by H.S.H Prince Albert II and Miss Wittstock. [Press Release]
Gwyneth Paltrow’s book of recipes for “Family and Friends” was released by Marabout Books in May. It is a delightful book filled with basic dishes, healthy and flavorful, that will gather your friends around you as you putter in the kitchen.
The dishes are good go-to recipes for “Mothers of The Family,” as well, as there are no refined sugars used. Following the foreward by Mario Batali, Paltrow lists two full pages of essential ingredients to have on hand and stocked in the refrigerator. These include: Dark Agave Syrup, Light Agave Syrup, Brown Rice Syrup, Maple Syrup, Honey…
Illustrations include beautifully photographed prepared dishes alongwith family photos of Gwyneth as a child and a baby, and then as a mother herself with her own children. Wonderful summer dessert recipes await you at the end of the book such as Seasonal Fruit Crumble and Fresh Red Fruits With Caramelised Cream.
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.
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.
by Paige Donner [Read Full Article on Bordeaux Food And Wine] La Table du Lavoir is built on the 19th c. site of an old vineyard wash house the wives of the vineyard workmen would use on laundry days. It has … Continue reading
By Paige Donner Read Full Article on Bordeaux Food And Wine Bordeaux’s Musée du Vin et Du Négoce is resplendent in its devotion to the history of this region’s cause celèbre; it is humble in its presentation; and it is welcoming … Continue reading
By Paige Donner
La Revue du Vin de France held its wine salon this past weekend in Paris at the “ancien Bourse” which is the old stock exchange of Paris. As you can see here, it’s a beautiful building. It’s spacious and airy and the perfect place for wine tasting on a sunny Spring Sunday afternoon in May.
Honestly, if I have one recommendation to make to visitors to France, it’s that you really must coordinate your travels with these wine salons. For a few Euro, you get to not only see the interior of a national monument, you get to drink and taste your way through the wines of France.
So many wonderful wines. It will take the rest of the month to wade through all my tasting notes.
And the crowd was super friendly. Maybe it’s the sunny weather in Paris in Spring or perhaps it’s simply that good French wine brings out that “conviviality” that the French speak so glowingly of when discussing their wines. Whatever it was, the LRVF crowd was super friendly, very forthcoming with anecdotes about the wines they were pouring and the wines they were tasting and just plain, well, welcoming.
If there is only one little note I might give it’s that the Spanish wines were much too hard to find. Certainly, once I found my way upstairs, I loved the private room where the Spanish winemakers had stashed themselves, with the old stock exchange board that featured handwritten company signage such as Printemps and Paribas on it… But they were much too isolated up there. Since it’s the first time the salon has welcomed foreign wines amongst its midst in its 5 year history, perhaps affording them more accessibility would be a gesture of convivial diplomacy.
By the time I left, it was with a full glass of Spanish red liqueur wine. So sweet and rich and nothing like “ice wine.” I’ll definitely have some words to share about that and about the Priorat wines I discovered at the Paris Stock Exchange.
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.
129 avenue Parmentier 75011 Paris
+33 (0) 143574595
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!
In 2010 Le Chateaubriand was #11. In 2011 Le Chateaubriand is #10 on the 50 Best Restaurants in the world list.
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.
Parisian 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.
In 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.
So 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.
In honor of Earth Day, Tesla is partnering with luxury vacation company Jetsetter to offer thoroughly green luxury weekend getaways. Vacationers are invited to stay for a full weekend at one of three top-tier, eco-friendly hotels in North America: The Loden in Vancouver, The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, or the Bardessono in Napa Valley. During their stay, they will get total access to an electric Tesla Roadster for two days. This is the first time Tesla has offered an opportunity like this!
The weekend packages go on sale at noon EDT today, Earth Day, Friday, April 22 at http://www.jetsetter.com/tesla.
Jetsetter operates very similarly to Gilt Groupe. It’s an online community that provides members with insider access, expert knowledge and exclusive deals on the world’s greatest vacations. Sales are valid for a limited time only, and are first come first serve. Those who sign up with Jetsetter to take advantage of the Tesla deal will receive a $50 credit.
By Paige Donner
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.
Max Bordeaux When Only The Best Will Do by Paige Donner Max Bordeaux Wine Gallery & Cellar, Bordeaux, Photo by Paige Donner for Local Food And Wine When your wine tastes will be satisfied only by the best, Bordeaux has … Continue reading
Bar á Vin, THE wine bar in Bordeaux, is shamelessly easy to find and as user-friendly as an iPod app. If you’re even a little bit like me, Bordeaux is, well, it’s intimidating. It is the heart and epicenter of … Continue reading
Starting Thursday March 10
10€ to play
Spring Boutique, 52 Rue de l’Arbre Sec, 75001 Paris
30€ and Under Red League:
Semaine 5: 7/4 : Finales
A tasting of 6 artisanal French wines in the 16th century Spring wine cellar with special afternoon snacks from the Spring Kitchen.
Vancouver, BC, April 1st, 2011 – The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival announced this year’s trade competition winners at the 8th Annual Awards Lunch on Friday, April 1st, 2011. “The trade competitions give the Festival an opportunity to honour and celebrate those professionals who have developed and enhanced the extraordinary wine and food culture of our region,” says Festival Executive Director Harry Hertscheg. In honour of the awards, guests enjoyed lunch prepared by culinary talent Blair Rasmussen, Executive Chef to the VCC, and toasted winners with wines from Spain, this year’s Festival theme region.
SPIRITED INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL (SIP) AWARD The Spirited Industry Professional Award annually honours an individual who has made a significant contribution to the sales, service or promotion of wine in British Columbia. The sixth annual SIP Award goes to internationally acclaimed food and wine critic, Jurgen Gothe. Gothe has seen his columns run in over 100 publications over the past few decades, and is currently the weekly wine columnist for the Georgia Straight. After 23 years hosting CBC Radio Two’s DiscDrive, Gothe retired as the station’s only double-gold-medal winning program host. Today, he does weekly spots for CBC on everything oenophilic, and can also be found on The Peak FM airwaves commenting on BC’s local flavours.
SOMMELIER OF THE YEAR AWARD
The 11th annual Sommelier of the Year Award recognizes outstanding wine knowledge and wine service. This year’s award goes to Owen Knowlton for his 500+ wine list at West restaurant, which also took one of the most coveted accolades in the trade competition: the Platinum Wine List Award. Driven to provide West guests wine that is high in value and quality (with a splash of boutique bottles and sommelier favorites), Knowlton has been sipping, spitting, and perfecting his wine knowledge over the last decade. The Sommelier of the Year is awarded based on votes by key members in the industry and is also included in the May Restaurant issue of Vancouver Magazine.
WINE PROFESSIONAL CHALLENGE
The Wine Professional Challenge gives sommeliers and wine professionals a chance to compete for the coveted Puddifoot Award. Currently in its sixth year, competitors were required to rotate around 5 judging stations and speak for 3 minutes on topics related to technical and varietal distinctions, flight tasting and customer service. This year, the challenge winner was Jay Whiteley of Hawkswort
Vancouver’s top chefs vied for gold on Wednesday night at Fetzer Great Beginnings, Flavours of the City. Chefs from Bearfoot Bistro, One Hundred Nights at OPUS Hotel Vancouver, Cibo Trattoria, DiVino Wine Bar, Sandbar, Diva at the Met, Prestons, Terminal City Club, and Uli’s Restaurant all vied for top prize from a panel of judges that included the city’s top food and wine journalists. This year’s award for best food and wine pairing went to Diva at the Met Executive Sous Chef Jeff Kang.
QUADY DESSERT COMPETITION
The Quady Winery of Madera California hosted the 23rd Annual Quady Dessert Competition, inviting British Columbia’s top pastry chefs, cooks and students to complement their orange muscat dessert wine, Essensia. At stake was a Grand Prize trip for two to California, as well as Silver and Bronze Prizes and C
WINE LIST AWARDS
Celebrating the best food and wine pairings in the business, restaurants in Metro Vancouver, Whistler, Vancouver Island, the Interior and Alberta have all been recognized for creating wine lists that complement their establishment’s unique menu and concept. Candidates submitted their wine and menu lists, and were then visited by judges who reviewed their programs. The top restaurants were awarded Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze, or commended with an Honourable Mention. The Wine List Awards are sponsored by Vancouver Magazine.METRO VANCOUVER
Blue Water Café + raw bar
Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca
Wine Room at Joey Bentall One
Au Petit Chavignol
Salt Tasting RoomSilver
Cactus Club Cafe
The Salmon House
Zest Japanese Cuisine
ShuRaku Sake Bar & Bistro
Poor Italian Ristorante
Lift Bar Grill View
Yew Restaurant + Bar
Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House
Goldfish Pacific Kitchen
Hart House Restaurant (Burnaby)
RimRock Cafe Whistler
Araxi Restaurant + Bar
VANCOUVER ISLAND AND GULF ISLANDS
The Pacific Restaurant (Victoria)
Nautical Nellies Restaurant
Stage Small Plates Wine Bar (Victoria)
Veneto (Victoria)Honourable Mention
The Landing West Coast Grill (Nanoose Bay)
The Marina Restaurant (Victoria)
La Bussola (Kelowna)
Emerald Lake Lodge (Field)
Local Lounge . Grille (Summerland)
Whitetooth Mountain Bistro (Golden)ALBERTA
Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro (Calgary)
River Café (Calgary)
Vin Room (Calgary)
The Ranche Restaurant (Calgary)
Ric’s Lounge and Grill (Calgary)
Ric’s Grill S
ABOUT THE PLAYHOUSE WINE FESTIVAL
The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, Canada’s premier wine show, runs from March 28th to April 3rd, 2011. The Playhouse Wine Festival is one of the biggest and oldest wine festival events in the world. In 2011, the theme region will be Spain and the global focus, Fortified Wine. The Festival features a week of special events including the Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction, wine seminars, wine minglers, winery dinners, and lunches and brunches at fine restaurants and hotels. The Playhouse Wine Festival is produced by the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival Society, which has three mandates: provide an informative, educational and entertaining wine experience for public and trade; be a premier marketing opportunity for the wine industry and Festival partners; and raise funds for the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company. Since its inception in 1979,
There’s a new dining experience on the Seine in Paris and it’s all about Local Cuisine and Local Spectacular Sights. Starred Chef Tateru Yoshino follows the rhythm of the seasons and sources his vegetables from organic, local producers to provide his guests with a menu that is completely “terroir” while staying true to his Japanese heritage.
Olivier Jamey (left), Owner of La Compagnie de la Seine, pictured with Master Chef Tateru Yoshino, Michelin Star
Every Sunday evening, for an hour and a half, Paris lovers and Lovers of Paris can indulge in a gourmet meal while taking in the breathtakingly beautiful sights along the River Seine: Le Grand Palais, Assembleé Nationale, Eiffel Tower… and everything along the way and inbetween.
The Paris en Scene boat is configured a little differently than its predecessors: It’s intimate seating for two, four or small groups; Its leather, elegant chairs and its floor-to-roof glass walls are all conducive to fine dining and romance. All for the very reasonable price of 50 Euro per person. And the departure is from St. Michel, just steps from the Notre Dame, which makes it unique among the Dinner Cruises along the Seine. They have also partnered with local businesses so that after your 1 and 30 minute dinner cruise, for an extra Euro or two you can take in a movie in the area or a theater show. Be sure to ask about what’s on offer when you make your reservations.
For Spring the menu that Master Yoshino proposes is:
Richelieu en croûte, médaillon de foie gras, – A humble starter for what follows
Saumon « Stella Maris » mi cuit sans peau, – This salmon melts in your mouth. It is salmon cooked so perfectly that your mouth doesn’t know if it’s sashimi or if it’s simply heaven.
crêpe de Vonnas & tomates au thym, – little cherry tomato pops of herb flavors a la Provence
Mont Blanc « maison », crème de marron & glace – if your only reference to Mont Blanc is Angelina’s this will leave you gasping. So light, so flavorful, so classic and innovative all at once.
And while the food is amazing it is the landscape that will have you continuously turning away from your dinner companion. The 6:30 dinner cruise is timed just perfectly to catch the Eiffel Tower when it lights up in twinkling sparkles. For reservations: www.paris-en-scene.com
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.
When: February 27, 2011 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM
2025 Avenue of the Stars
Los Angeles CA
The Beverly Hills Wine Festival is bringing the best wines from around the world to one location for Southern California’s tasting pleasure! Presented by ABM Medical, Tiffany & Co., Aston Martin, and Lamborghini of Beverly Hills. Over 100 wineries, breweries and spirits are participating to showcase their select varieties at the newly remodeled and ultra luxurious Hyatt Regency at Beverly Hills. Net proceeds benefit the Fran Drescher’s Cancer Schmancer Movement.
(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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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/.
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.
by Paige Donner
“La Garde Robe,” is a closet. Which is about the size of this snuggly little wine bar just off the rue de Rivoli, a hop and a skip from the Louvre.
Wandering in late one night after a meal with friends, there were just enough stools at the bar to accommodate the few of us. The high tables and the low tables towards the back, were all full of revelers who had the appearance of having spent the entire night at the comfy little “closet” swilling vins naturel and chomping on made-to-order plates of cheeses and thinly sliced meats.
La Garde Robe ha a loyal following and locals will name it as one of Paris’s top wine bars. You can get a good glass of red for anywhere between Euro 3,50 and 7,00. Come with a sense of adventure, ready to try something you haven’t before. It might be within a recognizable apellation, but likely you’ll find producers you haven’t yet tried.
Or just come for the ambiance. It’s one of those exquisite central Paris hole-in-the-wall wine bars that you’d never know was there until you purposefully set out to look for it. And on these cold winter evenings when a lighted window friendly beckons you to come in from the cold, well, if there’s still room for you to squeeze inside, you’ll be glad you did especially once you’ve tried a few things you may not have before. This is Paris, after all! You can also buy your bottles to go.
La Garde Robe, 41, rue de l’Arbre-Sec (rue de Rivoli) 75001
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’Homme – 17 Place du Trocadéro, Musée de l’Homme – Paris XVIe – Tel : +00 33 (0)1 44 05 30 15
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
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 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’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 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
Since 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 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
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
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!
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!