La Comtesse of Chateau St. Martin

This gallery contains 12 photos.

Originally posted on Chérie Du Vin:
by Paige Donner Wines by the Comtesse Adeline de Barry of Chateau de St. Martin in France’s Var, Provence. Bubbly:  Bulles de Rosé – the color of pink raspberries you’ll find this sparkling…

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

Plaza Athénée’s Alpine Pop-Up Restaurant

From the 28th of February to 10th March, Paris’s Hotel Plaza Athénée invites you to experience their Alpine-inspired Pop-Up restaurant.

Cuisine is inspired by the Rhone-Alpe region of France known as the Haut-Savoie with its Savoyarde regional cuisine. Think hearty, mountain cooking for cold nights and white winters!

Welcoming cocktail of warm wine and flammenkuche at 9:00 p.m.

Dinner follows and  is served Continue reading

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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The Men of Vinexpo, France’s Biannual Wine Bonanza

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

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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Vinexpo Bordeaux 2011

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

La Revue du Vin de France Paris Salon 2011

By Paige Donner

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

Le Salon LRVDF May 2011 c. Local Food And Wine

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

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

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

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

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

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

Le Salon LRVDF May 2011 c. Local Food And Wine

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Pique-nique at French Independent Wineries June 12 & 13

By Paige Donner

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

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

Copy_of_pique_nique_vigneron_independent

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

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

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

You bring your own picnic lunch, of course!  

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

Jacques-legros-cap

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

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


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Paris en Scene’s Local Cuisine

Paris En Scene’s Local Cuisine

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.

Mont Blanc, Chef Tateru Yoshino

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

Paris en Scene, Seine River ParisEiffel Tower from Paris en SceneEiffel Tower from Paris en Scene

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Le Jour Du Macaron

Le Jour Du Macaron

by Paige Donner

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

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

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

Some addresses in Paris to get you started:

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

For more addresses go to: Jour du Macaron

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San Francisco Sustainable Foods Summit Calls For Greater Transparency

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

Sustainable Foods Summit, San Francisco

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

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

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

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

Sustainable Foods Summit, San Francisco

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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La Garde Robe

by Paige Donner

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

Paris 75001, La Garde Robe offers Organic Wines

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

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

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

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

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

Café de l’Homme

By Paige Donner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Paris Food And Wine Gossip: Blake Lively Does Gastronomy!

BLAKE LIVELY AT LE CORDON BLEU PARIS

Blake Lively Blake Lively, dynamic actress, and one of the young emerging Hollywood stars, is also passionate about gastronomy: recently a tailor-made workshop was held for her and her guests at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. Chef Franck Poupard demonstrated French culinary techniques by preparing the following dishes: 

Guinea fowl baked in a sealed casserole, sautéed winter root vegetables Soft centered chocolate fondant, orange compote

Blake was delighted with her course, she tells us about her experience: “My dream as a passionate cook has been to go to Le Cordon Bleu. Never could my most incredible dream have lived up to the experience. The food, the lesson, the chef, the ingredients –all the best of the best. I see why Le Cordon Bleu is world renowned. Now I only dream to have more time to go back to Le Cordon Bleu and spend months learning from the gods of food!!

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Blake Lively does Gastronomy – Local Food And Wine/ Paris

Blake Lively star of Gossip Girl, Goes For Gastronomy in Paris
Photos: Fabrice Danelle

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Bettane & Desseauve’s Festival of Wine

By Paige Donner

Le Grand Tasting, Paris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WATCH VIDEO HERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Caviar Kaspia, Paris

by Paige Donner

Caviar Kaspia: Amour, Passion, Folie

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

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

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

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

Private Dining On Place de la Madeleine

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

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

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

Beluga Caviar with Russian Baked Potato, Caviar Kaspia, Paris

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

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

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

Caviar Etiquette

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

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

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

The world is indeed full of treasures!

Caviar Kaspia, 17 Place de la Madeleine, Paris 75008

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Le Cordon Bleu News

Partnership with Slow Food
Returning to the source 

Slow Food is an international association with over 100 000 members worldwide, dedicated to preserving taste – promoting traditional food products within local ecosystems, educating on food issues, and lobbying against undesirable food practices. Slow Food and Le Cordon Bleu have frequently associated on various projects and events; recently for the Festival Cinemaligre.

Le Cordon Bleu and “Chefs without Borders”
World Association of Chef’s Societies 

The World Association of Chef’s Societies (WACS) launched the association “Chefs without Borders” in collaboration with Le Cordon Bleu. This humanitarian aid program is pivotal to the history of the fight against hunger. The ceremony held at the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry was presided over by Hervé Novelli, the French Secretary of State. The Ambassador of Iceland in France, his excellency Mr. Thorir Ibsen was also present. Le Cordon Bleu was asked to participate by organizing the cocktail at the official opening ceremony.

 

Le Cordon Bleu entertains Chilean President
The Ultimate Accolade 

Le Cordon Bleu recently had the honour of entertaining Chilean President, Sebastiàn Piñera serving canapés prepared with products from Chile. These products were promoted in the SIAL fair. Chef Terrien, Chef Pablo Galvez from Chile, and a team of students prepared over 1500 canapés, which were served during the official cocktail at the Embassy of Chile.

The 2011 Rugby World Cup
Cooking Match: New Zealand ‘v’ France 

Our network is expanding into New Zealand next year, we are opening a school in Wellington – the same year the country hosts the 2011 Rugby world cup – their national sport. The first “culinary rugby match” was held on 18 October in Paris. Two teams comprising of Chefs and rugby men competed to make recipes using authentic New Zealand ingredients. International rugby stars Chris Masoe and Dimitri Szarzewski participated in this event.

Read more

Hautes Etudes de Goût
“Note à Note” dinner by Le Cordon Bleu Chefs 

Hautes Etudes du Goût is a program designed to cover all aspects of “Taste” studies. This specialized intensive course is only held once a year – this year’s participants were entertained to a unique “note à note” menu prepared by the Chefs from our faculty in collaboration with Hervé This.

Watch the video.

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Today’s Special

TODAY’S SPECIAL is a heartwarming comedy with a culinary flavor starring Aasif Mandvi (Daily Show with Jon StewartThe Last Airbender), and renowned Indian actress and best selling cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey.

Samir (Mandvi) is a sous chef who dreams of becoming the head chef at an upscale Manhattan restaurant. When he is passed over for a promotion he impulsively quits and lets his co-worker Carrie (Jess Weixler, TEETH) know that he intends to go to Paris and apprentice under a master French chef.  Dreams must be put aside though after his father Hakim (Harish Patel, RUN FAT BOY RUN) has a heart attack and Samir is forced to take over Tandoori Palace, the nearly bankrupt family restaurant in Jackson Heights.  Samir’s relationship with his parents and his heritage is immediately put to the test. He has been estranged from his father since the death of his older brother, and his mother Farrida, (played by legendary cookbook writer and actor, Madhur Jaffrey), is consumed with finding a wife for her remaining son.

While Samir is being forced to forsake his dreams, he is desperately trying to master Indian cooking to salvage the family business. Luckily, he crosses paths with Akbar, a taxi driver, passionate chef, and worldly raconteur (portrayed by the icon of Indian cinema, Naseeruddin Shah, MONSOON WEDDING). Akbar inspires Samir and teaches him to trust his senses more than recipes; to stop measuring his life, and to start truly living it. With Akbar’s guidance, Samir has a chance to rediscover his heritage and his passion for life through the enchanting art of cooking Indian food.

TODAY’S SPECIAL is produced by Nimitt Mankad’s Inimitable Pictures and Lillian LaSalle’s Sweet 180 (Loggerheads, Sweetland).  The film is directed by Sundance alumni David Kaplan (Year of the Fish) and is written by Aasif Mandvi and Jonathan Bines (Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel).

Rating: R. Running Time: 99 minutes.

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Gilles Goujon, Chef of The Year 2010

Gilles Goujon, Chef of The Year, 2010

Gilles Goujon is France’s top chef for 2010. He was voted Chef of The Year by 6,000 of his peers, a group comprised of the nation’s top chefs, sommeliers and patissiers.  Goujon’s trademark is his talent of combining “radiant, inventive yet traditional cuisine based on seasonal produce.”

In 2010, Goujon’s out-of-the way restaurant nestled 50km. outside of Perpignan in the Languedoc Roussillon region received its 3rd Michelin Star. This is a very exclusive circle and one reserved for the highest achieving chefs as is the Chef of The Year distinction, an award created by Le Chef magazine back in 1987 and reserved for top gastronomic distinction. Gault & Millau also awarded Goujon 5 chef hats this year, their highest award.

Fontjoncouse, Corbieres region, Languedoc Roussillon.

Auberge du Vieux Puits (The Old Well Inn)

It was in 1992 when Goujon opened his “real adventure,” the Auberge du Vieux Puits, a modest out-of-the way inn located between vineyards and the garrigue scrubland in the 137-inhabitant village of Fontjoncouse, 50km. outside of Perpignan in the Corbières region. This little inn has earned a worldwide reputation, attracting connoisseurs from far, far  afield who wish to delight in his inventive, with a Mediterranean touch, cuisine.

Born in 1961, Gilles Goujon worked with Chefs of such prestige as the Rouquette brothers in Ragueneau (Béziers), Roger Vergé at the Moulin de Mougins, Jean-Paul Passédat at the Petit Nice in Marseille and then with Gérard Clor at l’Escale in Carry-le-Rouet before opening up his own inn in the middle of the sweet-smellig, sage-filled garrigue. It was then, in 1997, that he earned his first Michelin star and the distinction of Meilleur Ouvrier de France. In 2001 he won his second star, recognized for his innovation. And now in 2010 he has his third Michelin star.

Goujon has spent part of his Autumn in Paris, on the Champs Elysees where he has been the guest chef at the time-honored Fouquet’s. In October he and resident chef Jean-Yves Leuranguer put on a “Diner 4 Mains” for lucky and delighted gastronomy guests. Seasonal ingredients and innovative cuisine are Chef Goujon’s signature and that’s what you were treated to if you were able to catch him for the fleeting moments when he stepped off his vineyards and into the haute urban setting to share his starry talents with Parisian diners.

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Salon Papilles et Les Crus du Rhône

A.O.C. Chateauneuf du Pape, Chateau du Mourre du Tendre

By Paige Donner

At Paris’s port de la Villette on a recent weekend I had the good fortune to meet over 250 producers of French gastronomic delights. They were all direct from the countryside, having brought their specialties to the big city for a wonderful public celebration of French Food and Wine.

Safran de St. Hilaire

One of the more unique “farmers” I met was a woman who runs a Saffron farm with her family about 2 hours outside of Paris. It’s a little known sector of agriculture in France and one that once thrived but has since been mostly outsourced.

Still, this woman labors over her fields of purple saffron flowers, Safran de St. Hilaire, with her husband, Thierry Parde’ and their children, to produce some of the finest saffron available on the market. Each flower produces only three, at most, pistils of saffron that must be hand plucked ever so gently and guarded for safe-keeping until it can be put in small glass vials and spice jars. It is stunning to think that such an industry still exists anywhere in the entire world, let alone in France. Mind you, when you taste a crème bruleé á la safran, you’ll understand the rhyme and reason behind all the fuss.                                    Mr. Parde’ Thierry/ Les Migeons/ 45320 Chantecoq/ 33 02 38 94 21 36

Celebration of Tastebuds

Papilles,” means tastebuds in French. So it was the “Celebration of Tastebuds,” and just in time to start stocking up on holiday gift shopping. Most all the wine regions of France were represented, including small and mid-sized producers of Champagne.

Salon de Papilles en Fete, Paris

The Inter Rhône, the Rhone Valley’s wine syndicate,  was a sponsor of the event so the wonderful wines from Côtes du Rhône were on hand for daily on-the-hour wine tastings.  www.vins-rhone.com

Les Crus des Côtes du Rhône

The signature of the Côtes du Rhône are its Grand Crus. They are known throughout the world: the rolling hills of the l’Hermitage and the hillside vineyards of Gigondas.  Each of the distinct terroirs has been studied intensely by the experts before being awarded such supreme distinction. Have you ever experienced the power of a Côte Rôtie or a Cornas? Have you had the good fortune to drink of the finesse of a St.-Joseph or the smoothness of a Condrieu? These are all definite entries on the Top Ten list of things to do when in France.

Did You Know?

Tavel is the only wholly rosé Cru and the first rosé in France that is classified in the category of “gastronomy.”

AOC Château Grillet: This is one of the “biggest” white wines from France that you’ll ever get to drink. Its terroir, a whole 3,5 hectares, is the smallest apellation designation in the entire Côtes du Rhône.

Château du Mourre du Tendre

Further south is the famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Displaying country humility, the Château du Mourre du Tendre attended the Salon Papilles en famille, meaning father, mother, son. They made the journey up to Paris from Courthézon, where the domaine is located.

Speaking with Mme. Paumel and her winemaker husband, is what buying wine in France is all about. Families like this represent the living history of the vine and the tradition. Nevermind that Parker gives them a 92 – consistently – on his yearly trips to the region. One sip and you know you are drinking wine in a class all its own.

When Mssr. and Mme. Paumel explained to me they do no barrel aging, I was surprised. “The wine is just right as it is. There’s no need to smooth it out with any oak,” is how they explained it to me.  Their wine wisdom is a cumulative 4 generations, so it’s probably safe to say that they know how to make good wine.

It’s also an incredible buy:  Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2002 Cuvée Tradition, 22 Euro.  Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2005 Cuvée Prestige, 33 Euro. Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2006 Cuvée Prestige 31 Euro.   You won’t find them selling any newer vintages. They know that good wine is worth waiting for.  www.chateaudumourredutendre.com Courthézon, France

French Cuisine at Unesco

French Cuisine As Cultural Heritage of Humanity

French Cuisine at Unesco! [Courtesy Paris Daily Photo]


You probably noticed it if you came to France, food plays a really large role in our culture. Everyone knows how to cook – at least a little – and when you go to any restaurant you expect the food to be good! Of course things have changed (a lot of restaurants use ready made dishes now), but the demand for quality is still there. So I guess it’s no that surprising that, as you may have heard, Unesco officials just declared “French cuisine” as part of the “intangible cultural heritage of humanity” (read more on the NYT)! It’s probably a little far fetched, but it’s good for our nation self esteem. And to illustrated this, here are some zucchini roulés. What’s good, must also look good 😉

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Wine By One

by Paige Donner

Wine By One, Place Vendôme

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Accessible

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

Affordable

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

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

Appealing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Confrérie des Vignerons des Côtes du Ventoux

Ventoux AOC Wine Region in Provence, France. During Crush, winemakers all sport the tell-tale sign of deeply purple tinted hands. Photo courtesy YR.

By Paige Donner

Confrérie des Vignerons des Côtes du Ventoux roughly translates to the Brotherhood of Ventoux Winemakers. Vignerons is one of those wonderful French words. The word itself sounds like Patron and Vine combined. It evokes the associative alliteration of “patron of the vines.” And what is a winemaker, a vigneron, if not a patron of the vines? Someone who cultivates,  nurtures, tends and harvests fruits brought forth from deep-rooted vines.

And what is wine, if not an art?

AOC Ventoux is the wine region right next to the celebrated Châteauneuf du Pape. Not as famous as its neighbor, the area’s wineries nonetheless produce outstanding wines. “We just have to say that we’re next to Châteauneuf du Pape for people to recognize what we produce. It’s the same terroir. The same vines,” explained the proprietor and winemaker André Berthet-Rayne of Domaine Berthet-Rayne in Cairanne. He gestured to his fields of Bourboulenc, Grenache, Roussane and Clairette with the deeply tinted purple hands that are the tell-tale signs of the winemaker during crush.

Castel Mereio by Domaine Berthet-Rayne, Cairanne, comes in both red and white.

He also produces AOC Côtes du Rhônes wines including a Domaine Berthet-Rayne Castel Mireio 2008 from old vines, approximately 40 years old. This red has top notes of mushrooms, offers a waft of musky and finishes with a balanced acid, fullness in the mouth. It also comes in a white. Vignerons-Cairanne.

Confreries des Vignerons des Cotes du Ventoux

The Confrérie was revived in 1982 and today is the ambassador for Côtes du Ventoux wines.  It is made up of a small group of wine lovers who are expert on wine and the soils. Newly inducted members have to pass a tasting test, do some oath-taking and then they are allowed to receive the taste-vin engraved with the Poudadouïre, the symbol of the brotherhood.

Ventoux AOC Terroir

There are several distinctive soil types in the Ventoux wine region, a region that has more wineries than all of New Zealand combined, according to Morgan Williams. Williams is a New Zealand native and winemaker who currently works at Château Unang, a 9th century château and vineyard in the village of Malemort du Comtat. He will tell you straight up that none of the locals buy Châteauneuf wines. Not when you can get a Ventoux wine that’s just as good and not nearly as expensive.

Altered Safre is one of the Ventoux soil types and exhibits a light, sandy texture combined with pebbles.   Ochre sands, (red earth),  and gypsum, (white rock), are also to be found on the natural steps that form the “Comtat Terraces,” the geological formation between the plains and the Mont Ventoux mountain from which the AOC region takes its name. At the base of Mont Ventoux, in Bedoin, home to many noted wineries, the alluvial fan presents a variety of soils – brown, red and white -which lend themselves to growing the highly characteristic wines.

Mazan is a choice starting point for a journey of discovery of Ventoux wines, and not just because the Marquis de Sade, in 1772, held the first theater festival in Provence in the village of Mazan. [Nearby Avignon now holds its annual, world renowned theater festival during the summer]. It is also a wine heritage site with archeological digs unearthing wine storage amphorae from ca. 40BC, the Augustan era.

But most importantly, Mazan offers a number of outstanding and easy to access wineries and wine paths. Domaine des Cambades is a bit off the beaten path but still close to Mazan. Proprietor/winemaker Hervé Vincent will graciously meet you at the crossroads if you call in advance and tell him that you are coming by. Domaine des Cambades’ vintage, Il Etait Une Fois makes a stop at the winery, every bit worthwhile and an absolute must.

For some oenogeek activity, an afternoon at the Château Pesquié is one to put on the list. The winery, located in Mormoiron, offers a path around the lovely 18th century château itself which is a beautiful specimen of Provencal architecture. The path offers sweeping views over Mont Ventoux and Mormoiron, a charming local village.  Along the path you will see the AOC Ventoux grape varietals: Carignan, Cinsault, Syrah, and Grenache for the reds and rosés and Clairette and Roussanne for the whites. The path is about 1 km and takes approximately 45 minutes to walk.  The cellar also shows cross-sections of the estate’s soils.

Carignan is a grape very present in the Côtes du Ventoux appellation. It is Spanish in origin and is cultivated to produce low yields. Winemakers expect to get qualities of robustness, color, power and liveliness from the juice.

For three generations the family has been making wine at Domaine du Bon Remède.  Lucile and Frederic Delay say that 2010 will be a good year. They use 40-50 year old Grenache vines to blend with their 90% syrah, 10% Grenache Secret de Vincent vintage 2008. Their 2006 is all sold out and not even a wine cellar visit at the winery will get you a bottle, let alone a case. Their barrel and cask storehouse make the trek out to the winery still worthwhile.

Domaine de Fondrèche is another to mark down on your map. It’s at the intersection of two ancient Roman roads. And, of course, Domaine des Anges, at the top of Notre Dame des Anges hill, with its splendid views of Mont Ventoux, lend a Ventoux wine tasting trip its deep red, dark fruit flavor, perfect for crush and the Autumnal season.

*Editor’s Note: Truffle season, “Rabasse,” in Provencal, begins in November.

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Domaine Le Pointu, AOC Châteauneuf du Pape

Chateauneuf-du-Pape blanc. Domaine le Pointu.

By Paige Donner

Châteauneuf du Pape Is White It’s like a natural reflex, certain wines, varietals, regions make us think automatically of a color of the wine. Red, White, Rosé. This is one of the most gratifying symptoms of entering more deeply into the world of wine, learning that, for example, a brilliant Châteauneuf du Pape comes in a white as well. We’ve recognized it before and we’ll say it again, good winemakers are always the first to say that wine starts in the vineyard, on the vines.  After seeing and participating in several harvests and talking to dozens of winemakers and vineyard hands, I couldn’t agree more…with the caveat that the methods differ greatly from vineyard to vineyard with some focusing on vineyard farming as opposed to vine husbanding.

Tending AOC Chateauneuf-du-Pape vines through the seasons.

Vine Husbanding

After a mere 5 years in the heart of Provence’s Châteauneuf du Pape AOC, Patrick Coste, with wife Karine, has proven just what can be accomplished with vineyards and a cellar when good strong methods of vine husbanding are carried through from the vineyard to the fermentation tanks to the barrels and, finally, to the bottles.

Domaine Le Pointu. Cotes Rhone.

It was only in 2004 that the first harvest of Domaine le Pointu went into their vats.  “Le Pointu is the name of one of our vineyard plots planted with white grapes; it is located on a hillside near the wood of Château Rayas,” explained Mssr. Coste, the younger. Patrick’s father, Maurice, is the former President of the Courthézon Cooperative Cellar. Courthézon is where the winery of the 27- hectare, 5 year old Domaine is located.  Six hectares of vineyards are in the Châteauneuf du Pape appellation, 11 in the Côtes du Rhône appellation and 10 in Vin de Pays.

Significant terroir. The rocks transmit the warmth from the sun to the vines at night. This creates a special ripening process for these AOC Chateauneuf du Pape grapes.

Le Pointu vines from that plateau butt up against the the renowned vines of Beaucastel, signaling the same terroir. Still, it does come down to technique. And there’s quite a difference between farming and harvesting and husbanding and tending.  The signature terroir of these vines are large rocks that transmit the heat from the sunshine they absorb in the warm Provenςal days to the vines at night, thus aiding in the slow maturation and warm ripening of the grapes. The French term for this terroir is galets roulés.

Karine and Patrick Coste. Domaine Le Pointu.

Land of The Rising Sun

Success has come quickly for the husband and wife team who named two of their best vintages so far after their first two sons, Clément and Mathieu.

With a combination of marketing and good, solid, French countryside people skills, Patrick was able, straight out of the gate, to get the attention of Japan’s President of the Association of International Sommeliers, Kazuyoshi Kogai at Japan’s Foodex Salon 2007. A contract with a leading Japanese cosmetics company has fallen into place since then which has Domaine Le Pointu supplying gift boxes of wines for the company during holidays.

On your next trip through Provence, be sure to stop at Domaine Le Pointu.

Domaine Le Pointu will also be the wine supplier for Paris-Dakar for this year’s races.  Good vineyard practices, solid people skills and knowing when and who, to ask for advice seems to be the Coste’s winning recipe here. The reputed Bordeaux wine consultant, Christian Prud’Homme, has been advising Patrick Coste on the vinification process, notably the barrels he uses at Le Pointu, which are all Bordeaux barrels.

And the wines themselves? Well, they’ve already earned the attention of Bettane & Desseauve, Robert Parker, Andréas Larsson and Jancis Robinson.  Personally I would recommend anything from their 2007 run, whether it’s their Côtes du Rhône  – especially Cuvée Le Vieux Chêne – or Châteauneuf du Pape, particularly Cuvée Clément and Mathieu, both made from vines 90-105 years old with a production of 10000 and 8000 bottles respectively. Each are Grenache noir and Cinsault noir made from different vintage years.

But the wine that got me excited was Domaine le Pointu’s Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée Spéciale Feuilles d’Or (label pictured above). It is made with organically cultivated grapes, indeed the Domaine will be certified organic in 2011, from 90-year-old vines. This wine is made from the famous terroir of galets roulés. White Châteauneuf du Pape wines represent only 4% of the total production of the appellation.  It has a delicate bouquet, floral with a touch of fruit, citrus. It makes a nice aperitif when young but you can keep it 2-5 years and pair it with herb-encrusted fish, veal and fresh cheeses.  Total of 2000  (two thousand) bottles.

Domaine Le Pointu, 255 Chemin de la Grande Allee, 84350 Courthezon, France.  www.domaine-le-pointu.com

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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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