Moby Chimes In With Hollywood Food Voices

by Paige Donner Check out this new video, just dropped today, West Coast time, by Moby and Hollywood Food Voices: “We Need Our Bees A Lot More Than They Need Us” – Moby paraphrasing Einstein “If the bees go, we’re … Continue reading

Chilled Avocado Soup

The Avocado tree is native to Mexico and Central America… The vitamins and minerals contained in this recipe can do everything from speeding cell turnover (to reveal healthier skin underneath) to protecting skin from the sun’s damaging rays. Get plenty of moisturizing vitamin … Continue reading

Fast Food Solution

by Paige Donner What better time than summer to 1. Eat Healthier 2. Spend less time in the kitchen 3. Transform your body to Fantastically Fabulous With these three goals in mind, is it any wonder then that Fast Food … Continue reading

Le Baron Rouge

by Paige Donner

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

Le Baron Rouge, Local Food And Wine Culinary Tastings

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

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

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

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Monaco Royal Wedding Chooses Local Cuisine

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Vegas Uncork’d ‘Toques Off to Paul Bocuse’ May 7

Vegas Uncork'd on Local Food And WineLAS VEGAS (April 2011) – Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit today released new details regarding “Toques Off to Paul Bocuse,” the lavish, multi-course dinner to be held Saturday, May 7, at MGM Grand. Joining previously announced chefs, Alain Ducasse, Hubert Keller, Joël Robuchon and Julian Serrano, will be Jean-Philippe Maury, Michael Mina, Bradley Ogden, Roland Passot, André Renard, Jacques Torres and J. Joho, all of whom will prepare delectable courses for this unforgettable evening.

Collectively, this group represents the brightest constellation of award-winning chefs gathered to prepare a formal meal. In honor of Bocuse and his giving spirit, Southern Nevada charity partners have been named as beneficiaries of the evening: Keep Memory Alive (the non-profit organization that supports Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, founded by Larry Ruvo, senior managing director of Southern Wine & Spirits) and the Wirtz Beverage Group’s culinary programs and scholarships at the College of Southern Nevada.

“This unprecedented event makes an important statement about Las Vegas as a culinary destination and Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit’s appeal not only to food lovers, but to the world’s greatest chefs themselves,” said Adam Rapoport, editor-in-chief, Bon Appétit. Uniting this stellar group of chefs is a shared admiration and appreciation for legendary chef Paul Bocuse. Creator of the Bocuse d’Or—the world’s most prestigious international culinary competition held annually in Lyon, France—Chef Bocuse has influenced generations of chefs around the world and multitudes of gastronomes they serve.

Vegas Uncork'd on Local Food And Wine

The evening’s program promises “Toques Off” attendees a momentous culinary experience set amidst evocative surroundings reminiscent of Paul Bocuse’s landmark French restaurants. Upon arrival at 7 p.m., guests will be greeted by an exceptional cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception featuring stations helmed personally by chefs J. Joho, Hubert Keller, Shawn McClain, Bradley Ogden and Julian Serrano. At 8 p.m., the doors to an elegantly appointed ballroom will open, where a meticulously conceived and prepared, four-course dinner, prepared by an impressive array of superstar chef pairings, awaits.

Chef duos already announced include Alain Ducasse and Joël Robuchon, who will prepare a cold appetizer, and Michael Mina and Roland Passot, who will present the entrée. Created exclusively for the evening’s program, a retrospective of Paul Bocuse’s life and illustrious career will be complemented by in-person anecdotes shared by his colleagues and friends. Concluding the evening, an elaborate dessert reception by renowned pâtissiers Jean-Philippe Maury and André Renard, as well as chocolatier Jacques Torres, will delight guests, leaving them with sweet memories of an evening spent in the company of culinary royalty.

Rob O’Keefe, executive director, Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit, adds, “Only the most exciting culinary destination in the world would dream of pulling off a tribute of this scale. We’re honored to pay homage to this icon of international gastronomy and delighted to be able to do so here in Las Vegas.” ABOUT VEGAS UNCORK’D BY BON APPÉTIT: Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit is a unique, four-day culinary extravaganza featuring 25 intimate luncheons, dinners, tastings and other immersive and entertaining culinary experiences.

Year after year, Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit draws gourmands, luxury travelers and extraordinary chefs from around the globe to Las Vegas, all lured by the prospect of partaking in this epic foodie extravaganza. Its five partner resorts include Bellagio, Caesars Palace, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay and Wynn | Encore; the event is made possible by its title sponsor, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, major sponsors Travelocity, Infiniti and other national brands. Among the famous names joining Bon Appétit magazine Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport at this year’s events are chefs Paul Bartolotta, Tom Colicchio, Alain Ducasse, Hubert Keller, Michael Mina, Rick Moonen, Bradley Ogden, Francois Payard, Joël Robuchon, Guy Savoy, Julian Serrano, Alex Stratta and many more. To purchase tickets, visitwww.VegasUncorked.com.

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Paris’ Best Cooking Schools For The Hungry Tourist

By Paige Donner

Read Complete Article on Black Book Magazine

Paris’ Best Amateur Cooking Schools for the Hungry Tourist

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

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

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

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

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

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Poule au Pot, Le Meurice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Max Bordeaux, When Only The Best Will Do

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

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

 

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

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


WINE PROFESSIONAL CHALLENGE

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

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

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

QUADY DESSERT COMPETITION

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

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

WINE LIST AWARDS

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

Blue Water Café + raw bar
West Restaurant


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

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

Gold

RimRock Cafe Whistler

Silver
Araxi Restaurant + Bar

Honourable Mention
Ric’s Grill

VANCOUVER ISLAND AND GULF ISLANDS

Silver
The Pacific Restaurant (Victoria)

Bronze
Nautical Nellies Restaurant

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

BC INTERIOR

Silver
La Bussola (Kelowna)

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

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

Gold

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

Silver

Cilantro (Calgary)

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

Honourable Mention
Taste (Calgary)
Ric’s Grill S

teakhouse (Grande Prairie)


ABOUT THE PLAYHOUSE WINE FESTIVAL

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

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

 

 

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Le Jour Du Macaron

Le Jour Du Macaron

by Paige Donner

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

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

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

Some addresses in Paris to get you started:

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

For more addresses go to: Jour du Macaron

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


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

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

DIVA(S) AT THE MET

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

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

THE LEGACY OF A SPANISH VISIONARY: MIGUEL TORRES

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

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

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

GOOD GRACIOUS GRENACHE!

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

MEET YOUR MATCH

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

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

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

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

ABOUT THE PLAYHOUSE WINE FESTIVAL

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

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

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Beverly Hills Wine Festival

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

Where:
2025 Avenue of the Stars
Los Angeles CA

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

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

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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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Cahors, Malbec From France’s Black Wine Region

by Paige Donner

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

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

Eleanor of Aquitaine helped elevate Malbec Wine from Cahors

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

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

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

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

The nose you’ll get with Cahors Malbec are:

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

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

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

Cassis – with notes of blackberries and blueberries

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Some Bubbly And A Sauternes

by Paige Donner

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

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

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

Of course what’s always fun is to learn the backstories of these gastronomic names of legend. When something becomes so lodged in our collective conscience as are certain brands of champagne, we forget that they started out as people who decided to build a business out of the grape. So, sit back, relax, pour yourself a flute or a “sacred cup” of the festive drink, and come with us on our succinct tour de force of Champagne and a Sauternes for a sweet finish:

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

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

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

Piper Heidsieck Champagne and Louboutin Shoe Flute

Piper-Heidsieck

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

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

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

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

Bruno Paillard Champagne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill Cuvee'

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gosset Champagne Gift Boxes

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

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

Perrier Joseph Champagne

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

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

Moet et Chandon, Vintage Champagne

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

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

Sauternes, Sweet Bordeaux

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

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

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

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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!!

Read More About Paris Culinary Tours and

Cooking Classes

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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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Hôtel Fouquet’s Barrière Benefit Wine Auction For Reforestation

Dedicated Staff from Hôtel Fouquet’s Barrière at this year’s Vendanges in Bordeaux. Proceeds from the harvest, earned at auction, go toward reforestation and also biodiversity research.- Local Food And Wine Continue reading

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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How To Cook Turkey

Sent in from a Vancouver Food And Wine Reader...Thanks Chris!

TURKEY RECIPE

I thought this sounded good! Here is a turkey recipe that also includes the use of popcorn as a stuffing ingredient — imagine that.
When I found this recipe, I thought it was perfect for people like me, who just are not sure how to tell when turkey is thoroughly cooked, but not dried out.

Give this a try.

8 – 15 lb. turkey
1 cup melted butter
1 cup stuffing (Pepperidge Farm is Good)
1 cup un-popped popcorn (ORVILLE REDENBACHER’S LOW FAT IS BEST)
Salt/pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Brush turkey well with melted butter, salt, and pepper. Fill cavity
with stuffing and popcorn. Place in baking pan making sure the neck  end is toward the front of the oven, not the back.
After about 4 hours listen for the popping sounds. When the turkey’s
ass blows the oven door open and the bird flies across the room,….it’s done.

And, you thought I didn’t cook…

Also…some Tips for A Healthy Holiday Kitchen:

Click here to read Jane’s Holiday Kitchen Tips and learn how easy it is to create a healthy and environmentally friendly kitchen for the holidays.

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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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Thanksgiving Is About Gratitude…And Food!

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

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

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

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

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

Help for the Holidays

Basket of Vegetables

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


21st Annual Malibu Pie Festival 

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

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

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San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival

When luxurious cuisine meets with luscious wine, you know it’s time for the return of the 7th Annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival. This November join the wave of epicureans taking over America’s Finest City in a week-long experience your tastebuds will never forget. November 17 -21.

THE SAN DIEGO BAY WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL

Chef Roy Yamaguchi, Chef Jon Sloan, Chef Celestino Drago, Chef Nico Chessa, Chef Katsuya Fukushima, Chef Kenny Gilbert, and Chef Ron Oliver design a six-course menu for the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival’s Celebrity Chef Luncheon

SAN DIEGO, CA (October 18, 2010) – The San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival is pleased to announce its line-up of celebrity chefs appearing at the November 21st Celebrity Chef Luncheon, Presented by Wine Spectator, which includes Chef Roy Yamaguchi and Chef Jon Sloan of Roy’s, Chef Celestino Drago of Drago Ristorante, Chef Nico Chessa of Valentino, Chef Katsuya Fukushima of José Andrés Catering by Ridgewell’s, Chef Kenny Gilbert of Bravo TV’s Top ChefSeason 7, and Chef Ron Oliver of The Marine Room La Jolla.

The luncheon is the culmination of a weeklong series of festivities, where nationally acclaimed chefs and legendary wineries come together to prepare a six-course meal paired with wines.  Each table features a different winemaker or winery representative pouring a selection of fine wines from their portfolio.  The prestigious list includes Domaine Serene, JUSTIN Vineyard & Winery, L’Aventure, Robert Biale Vineyards, Spring Mountain Vineyards, Laird Family Estates, Martinelli Winery, Wines of the Loire Valley, and others.  Following the luncheon is the American Institute of Wine & Food’s Big Bottle Auction, a live auction that raises funds for the AIWF’s Culinary and Enology Scholarship Program.

“We’re very excited to have such a talented line-up of chefs for this year’s Celebrity Chef Luncheon,” said Michelle Metter, co-producer of the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival.

“The luncheon serves as a great platform for bringing together chefs from all over the U.S. to showcase their culinary skills at the food and wine festival.  Most importantly, however, the chefs are helping support the education of future chefs and wine experts.” – Read More on Local Food And Wine

The Wine Spectator Celebrity Chef Luncheon & AIWF Big Bottle Auction takes place on Sunday, November 21 from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at Roy’s San Diego Waterfront.  Celebrity Artist Christopher M. serves as host and emcee for the afternoon, while Master Sommelier Joseph Spellman will be on-hand to provide commentary during the live auction. Following the six-course food and wine pairing, the AIWF Big Bottle Auction begins, giving attendees the opportunity to bid on an array of items such as jet-setting vacation packages, large format bottles, and one-of-a-kind items that are perfect for the food and wine enthusiast.

For a complete schedule of events for the November 17-21 San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, visit www.worldofwineevents.com.

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Eliance Restaurant Orsay

By Paige Donner
Le Restaurant Eliance, Musee d’Orsay, Paris

What’s better than eating your way through Paris…while taking in the requisite tourist sites and scenery? (Ummm…we’re waiting…!)

You can get it all in, it’s just knowing your choices. The following two restaurant cafe’s each sit on some of the most prized, beautiful, famous real estate the world over.  And though it might seem that they would be good for nothing than to see and be seen, each offers solid culinary choices that are sure to satisfy after taking in an afternoon of sites and national treasures.

Of course everyone heads to the Louvre when they first visit Paris, but I’ve long found the Musée d’Orsay to be the star attraction and not just because the waiting time to get in is much shorter. The building itself is a masterwork of reclaimed urban heritage sites and shows French design aesthetic off to its best light.

Artwork by Michael Leu. Le Temps d’une Pause, Musee d’Orsay, Paris.

But after partaking of a full repast of Van Gogh, Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec, it’s easy to work up an appetite.

Le Restaurant Musée d’Orsay offers a Le Temps d’une Pause mid-afternoon light menu that perfectly hits the spot. It’s often misleading to think that museum cafes and restaurants will be overpriced. In the case of Restaurant Eliance (Le Restaurant) at the Musée d’Orsay, this isn’t at all the case. My total bill for a cup of carrot cream soup with a hint of orange and coriander served with a piece of carrot cake came to a total of 7 Euros.

Le Restaurant at The Musee d’Orsay, Paris. Perfect place for a pause and a light repast.

It was just perfect to take that “piqued” feeling away that can descend on you after you’ve overgorged on a few too many national-treasure-quality pieces of art in one sitting. Other choices on the menu included Marbled Terrine of Foie Gras and Chicken served with Fig Jam, a slice of aubergine and Tomato Confiture Garnish.

I’m always a salmon fan and their Smoked Salmon tartine is served, in fact, on a pita bread, a change from the ubiquitous baguette, with a side of aioli; Twelve Euros.  Also on offer is a Tartine Pôilane, or cured ham “sandwich” though of course their tartines/ sandwiches are openfaced.

You have choices, too, if you want to go in the direction of sweet. They make an American-sized icecream sundae with whipped cream. You can also go for the Pastry selection and hot drink, which includes Max Havelaar – Fair Trade – coffee and teas. Their Spice Cake is a must try.  It tastes especially delightful as you dine and take in the sweeping views of the Seine, of the Concorde, the portrait of Napoleon outdoors and the waving French Flag over the courtyard.

1, rue de la Legion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris   Musée d’Orsay

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Wine For Gen Y

After a stint in Australia, Bear Flag's winemaker won't use anything but Stelvin closures, otherwise known as "screw" caps.

Through her unique style of winemaking, Beth Cutler hopes to bring obscure grape varieties out of the underground, making them more wildly recognized and respected by both winemakers and consumers alike. Where some might use varietals like Touriga Nacional and Alicante Bouchet in small proportions for blending, Bear Flag allocates a hearty 20% of the bottle.

Shephard Fairey is a Fan!


The bottles’ artwork is another distinct touch that sets Bear Flag apart from the rest. The colorful cartoonish collage put together by Argentinean artist Eduardo Bertone has an eclectic punk rock aesthetic that perfectly illustrates Bear Flag’s mission, and Cutler’s style of winemaking.   Read MORE on BRAND X…

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Mas de Daumas Gassac

“One of the 10 best wines in the world.” – Michael Broadbent

“A Lafite in Languedoc.” – Gault et Millau

Daumas Gassac vineyards planted amidst the Languedocian garrigue and protected forestlands, Aniane, France.

By Paige Donner

My father once told me the tale about a Stradivarius. There was a Stradivarius that sat in the dusty folds of a shelf in the back of an obscure violin shop. People came and bought violins from the shopkeeper, for themselves, for their children, but the few who stumbled upon the dusty, old instrument quickly overlooked it, assuming that it couldn’t possibly be an instrument of any worth. Until one day, a master violinist stumbled into the store and like a mother to its child, was at once drawn to the exquisite instrument and knew it instantly for what it was. In his hands, beautiful music once again flowed forth from the Stradivarius.

This story came to mind as I drove away from Mas de Daumas Gassac, the 50 hectare Languedocian vineyard estate just outside of Aniane. This region, the Midi, is, of course the Languedoc-Roussillon, the region that produces the most wine not just in France but in the world. The region is, in every sense of the phrase, Sud de France.

 

Daumas Gassac vineyards and aromatic Mediterranean garrigue, Aniane.

What the region was not known for in 1970 was its quality wine. Flanked by Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Loire and Rhone Valleys, the Languedoc has long been known as the area that makes table wines or vins de table, the better ones just squeaking by with a vin de pays classification – or so goes the common perception. But not all wines need a classification in order to be good. Excellent, even. Indeed, in the case of Mas de Daumas Gassac, as much notoriety as this wine has attracted, it still eschews classification, its winemakers saying a polite “no thanks” to an AOC label.

Rooted In The Languedoc

Flash back to 1970 when a husband and wife team, Aime’ and Veronique Guibert, were in one of those life transitional phases and decided to buy a farm. What they found was this old rundown farm just outside of Aniane, situated in the middle of the Forest of Arboussas, that was still owned by two old spinster sisters of the Daumas family. It was also nestled next to the Gassac River and, in fact, was an old mill or “moulin.”

 

Mas de Daumas Gassac. Estate, Winery, Vineyards, Tasting Room.

Tout ce qui brille n’est pas d’Or.

“Everything that glitters is not gold.”

…And, conversely, all that is gold does not glitter. In what has played out over the last 40 years since the Guibert family has grown their grapes and harvested their wines at the vineyard they planted around that old dilapidated mill, now the Mas de Daumas Gassac, is nothing short of an uncovering of a long-forgotten treasure. The treasure, arguably an unofficial Tresor de France, is the terroir of the Gassac Valley.

 

Daumas Gassac red, glacial soils. A terroir specific to the estate.

50 Hectares of Vineyards Surrounded by 100 Hectares of Mediterranean Woodland

The 50 hectares that Mas de Daumas Gassac rests on are home to the first wines ever produced in the Gassac Valley. Those wines were made for Charlemagne, the first King of France ca. 780 A.D. In fact, it was St. Benoit d’Aniane, one of Charlemagne’s counsellors and an Abbey, who created the first vineyard in the “magical” valley of Gassac some 1,200 years ago.

The magic is the microclimate. The terroir was rediscovered in 1971 by Henri Enjalbert a Professor of Geology at Bordeaux University. Veronique, also a PhD (in ethnology) and husband Aime’ Guibert were successful in getting Professor Enjalbert out to the Mas to check out not just the unusual red soil, which was found to be glacial soil, the calceous limestone (for the white varietals), but also to explore the cool microclimate that is derived from multiple factors: the Gassac River, several natural springs on the property, and the cool night air that descends from the Larzac mountains throughout the valley cooling the air surrounding the vines in August and September by about 5 to 10 degrees.

 

Pere and Freres Guibert, Mas de Daumas Gassac.

It was this same Prof. Enjalbert who declared to the Guiberts that they were sitting on “the ideal and unique terroir to produce a Grand Cru wine.”

Mas de Daumas Gassac Estate Today

 

A Guibert with his grapes.

Today it is the brothers Samuel, Gael, Amelien, Roman and Basile who take care of the estate. The Mas de Daumas Gassac label, with its sister label of Moulin de Gassac, produces about 150,000 to 200,000 bottles every year.

Walking through the Daumas Gassac vineyards is not just a walk through the vines but also a walk through the Forest of Arboussas, the Languedocien garrigue and, on this sweet summer day in June, a walk through veils of frolicking white and yellow butterflies. The ladybugs are there, too, when you stop and look closely.

 

Winemaker Samuel Guibert, Mas de Daumas Gassac.

Samuel Guibert, the estate’s winemaker who spent ten years in New Zealand before coming home to help run the family business, matter-of-factly explains that no chemicals, no fertilizers, nothing of the sort has ever touched this soil. “It’s virgin land,” he says. The family themselves source their drinking water from the freshwater springs on the property, so they are not about to poison themselves – or their vines. Their approach to land is “to preserve nature’s balance.”

What’s really unique about this estate, however, in addition to the glacial red soil and everything else…is that the 63 vineyard parcels are all planted interspersed throughout the property, fully integrated with the garrigue and the 3,000 hectares of protected forestland.

When you look up the translation for garrigue, the English is “scrubbrush” or just “garrigue.” What it is in fact is clusters of lavendar, mint, thyme growing wild since the millennia. This is the real Mediterranean. Aromatic, fragrant. So like hidden gardens of fruit nestled within aromatic parcels of herbs, the vineyards are planted throughout this preserved and untouched forestland of fragrant garrigue.

 

Mas de Daumas Gassac barrel cellar. French oak used not to influence taste but to enhance age-ability.

The Cellar

When the grapes are harvested by hand, they are then deposited via gravity into the underground fermentation cellar via a trapdoor which is up top at ground level. The fermentation cellar used to be an underwater tank. “We took what existed and made the best of it,” says Guibert, emphasizing that the whole process from sorting to destemming to macerating is all moved along purely by gravity and all done by hand.

 

Fermentation cellar at Mas de Daumas Gassac. Was once an underground water tank.

This is a process not often seen any longer anywhere, including France. Some of the vineyards in Bordeaux used to use this gravity-fed process but most have since switched to automated. The difference being, explains Samuel, that the less the grapes are manipulated or handled, the better.

Similarly natural and using the resources at hand, the river next to the cellar helps to maintain the cellar at a cool 13-14 degrees C. in Winter and about 17-18 C. in summer with about 70% humidity. “It’s perfect temperatures for cellaring our wines,” says Samuel Guibert.

They only use about 5% new oak. “We don’t use oak to influence the taste of the wine, rather to enhance the capacity to age,” explains Guibert. You will often hear that a Mas de Daumas Gassac – red or white – has an ease of ability to age. “They are wines that can age, I like to say,” says Guibert, noting that the red that you drink and enjoy today will be a different wine from the one you cellar for 10, 15 and even 25 years. Different and perhaps equally enjoyable.

They blend for complex wine. The Guiberts only planted old strains of vines used before cloning, “to ensure traditional flavors and low yields.”Some of the planted vines are pre phyllaxera era and some are grafted onto American root stock. Oenologues refer to the Daumas Gassac vineyard as a “living museum” of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Manseng – a varietal that really only thrives in the south west region of France, – Viognier and also a “panoply” of 10% varietals that originate from “Biblical” Mediterranean vines – Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Armenia.

As for the vines that St. Benoit of Aniane planted for the Abbey and Charlemagne, “The existing vineyard that my parents found when they arrived at Mas Daumas in 1970 was indeed extremely ancient but no one can prove if it was the exact same vines as when St Benoit d’Aniane arrived,” says Guibert.

Emile Peynaud, the revered modern genius of oenology, told Mssr. Guibert back at the start of this quest for treasure that he had never been attendant at the birth of a Grand Cru. Forty years later, and we get to enjoy the fruits of that treasure quest.

Mas de Daumas Gassac Haute Vallée Du Gassac 34150 Aniane, France www.daumas-gassac.com

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Seghesio Family Vineyards, Sonoma

Seghesio Family Vineyards, Sonoma County

Seghesio Family Vineyards, Sonoma

The Seghesio Story begins in 1886 when Edoardo Seghesio departed his family’s vineyards in Piedmonte, Italy for a new life in America. Like so many immigrants, he was drawn to Northern Sonoma County and the Italian Swiss Colony, to follow his passion for winemaking.

Because Zinfandel was the first vine that Edoardo planted, the Seghesios maintain their commitment to the varietal they are most known for. The Sonoma Zinfandel and the Cortina Zinfandel is full of complex, concentrated berries. From their Home Ranch and San Lorenzo vineyards, Seghesio also produces single-vineyard zinfandels. The Old Vines Zinfandel is made from the three single vineyard sites.  Seghesio also produces two Italian white varietals from their Keyhole Ranch estate in the Russian River Valley, an Arneis and a Pinot Grigio.

Angela Vasconi and Edoardo were married in 1893. In 1895, they purchased a modest home in northern Alexander Valley, less for the home than the surrounding 56 acres Edoardo recognized as ideal vineyard land. They planted the “Home Ranch” that year to what has become our family’s lifeline – Zinfandel.

Seghesio Zinfandel, Homegrown Californian

Edoardo remained at the Colony while building his own winery in the evenings after work. Upon its completion in 1902, the young couple began Seghesio Winery while raising their five children.

Seghesio produced jug wine before and after Prohibition, and produced wine for other wineries from World War II until 1983. They began producing wines under their own label, which ended up being mostly mediocre Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Then, in the early 1990s, the IRS knocked on their door and delivered a $4 million bill for back taxes, forcing the Seghesios to make some difficult decisions.

After a considerable amount of soul searching, the Seghesios realized they were building a brand that simply wasn’t sustainable. Pete Jr. reflected, “Ted and I were tired of making cheap wine. But, we had a tough time getting the older generation to believe in us. They produced jug wine their entire lives – it’s all they knew. Then one day Uncle Ed said, ‘We’re going to be the Jordan of Zinfandels,’ and I knew that he got it.

By 1993, the Seghesio brand had grown to 130,000 cases of not only the family’s zinfandel and Italian varietals, but also Chardonnay, Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc and both red and white table wine.  It was in that year that control of the winery shifted to the younger generation.  They turned their focus to the vineyards and eliminated all but the wines they grow reducing production to 30,000 cases.

Today, they are proud to passionately produce almost exclusively estate wines, some from those same vineyards Edoardo and Angela first planted in the late 1800s.

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Brooks Winery 2007 ‘Ara’ Willamette Valley Riesling

By: The Wine Spies

Mission Codename: The Wisest of All

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Revisit Brooks Winery and secure an allocation of their prized ‘Ara’ Riesling.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Brooks Winery

Wine Subject: 2007 ‘Ara’ Willamette Valley Riesling

Winemaker: Chris Williams

Backgrounder: Oregon’s Willamette Valley, just south of Portland and along the Willamette River is well known for Pinot Noir and other Burgundian varietals but the Alsatian varietal Riesling also thrives here. Its deep and fertile volcanic soil, cooler climate most directly effect viticulture. Most of the vineyards in this area are planted in the valley’s and hillsides along the river. Today’s wine comes from a unique winery – with a unique heritage.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Pale and clear straw yellow that becomes almost watery clear along the meniscus. When swirled, randomly spaced legs start off wide and thin as they glide down to the wine below.

Smell – Medium in intensity with bright aromas of tart grapefruit and lime citrus as well as green apple. A touch of white flower, light minerality and subtle sweet exotic spice emerges as this wine opens.

Feel – Medium-bodied and smooth with a nearly dry, mineral texture that is framed by its bright and crisp acidity.

Taste – Layers of fresh grapefruit, lemon and lime along with tart green apple meld with notes of exotic and sweet baking spice, slate minerality, a touch of grassy herb and a tiny hint of classic petrol.

Finish – Medium in length and extremely clean with crisp and bright acidity longing the citrus and green tree fruit that fades leaving a tangy tart zest on the palate that invites another sip.

Conclusion – The 2007 Brooks Winery ‘Ara’ Willamette Valley Riesling is a delicious, fresh and crisp wine that will find itself the perfect accompaniment to a variety of foods, including the zestiest and spiciest creations from your kitchen or local Thai delivery. Bright and fresh with balance between its fruit and other classic aromas and flavors. We paired this lovely wine with pulled pork barbecue sandwiches

Mission Report:

WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER

SUBJECT: Chris Williams

WINE EDUCATION: Hands-on

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF:none

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY:I think it’s very important to always show the vintage as part of Terrior.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: Eat, Drink, and be merry!

FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: Brooks is 1998 Willamette Valley Riesling, Chris Williams’ 2004 Ara Riesling


Below is a recent interview conducted by Agent Red when we featured the delicious Janus Pinot Noir.

WINEMAKER INTERVIEW

AGENT RED: Greetings, Chris. We are thrilled to be showing your wine today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

CHRIS: And thank you, it’s always a pleasure to find a new audience to show my wine to.

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

CHRIS: It was really more about a friendship I formed with Jimi Brooks that lead me into the business. From there my appreciation for wine grew quickly.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

CHRIS: That would have to be Jimi. I learned everything from him including to always encourage yourself to try new things.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

CHRIS: Myself, but always with a consumer in mind!

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

CHRIS: the 2007 Janus is a wine I’m very proud of. I feel it was a standout in the vintage for me with perfumed aromatics, a very elegant mouthfeel, and finishing with nice soft tannins. A wine that will stand the test of time!

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

CHRIS: I recently had it with a beef cheek Reuben and it was fantastic!

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Willamette Valley so special?

CHRIS: For me it’s really about the people, the sense of community really shows through!

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

CHRIS: Just finished bottling my 2009 whites and now I’m tending to the Pinots.

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

CHRIS: A lot like life, you have to always be open to new things to really find your true pleasures.

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

CHRIS: Just……….ENJOY!

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Brooks Winery in Oregon’s Willamette Valley can be seen in this satellite photo.

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Food Down The Road – Summer Reading And References

Want to dig deeper into the issues of food and farming? Click on the links below to find more information relating to sustainable local food systems. Enjoy!  Read More on Food Down The Road, Kingston and Countryside.

Fiction

Non-Fiction

Cookbooks

Periodicals & Reports

Films

Websites

For links to other relevant websites, please click on a following category:

Local Food Directories

Farmers’ Markets

Local Food Stores

Food Security

Local Food Programs Ontario

Canada

USA

New Farmer Training and Resources

Education Centres & Courses(for Farmers and Eaters alike)Ontario

Canada

USA

*  New England Small Farm Institute — www.smallfarm.org

Urban Agriculture & Growing Your Own Food

Kingston

Canada

Food Related Events Kingston

Ontario

Activist & Action Groups  Biotechnology

  • Canadian Biotechnology Action Network — www.cban.ca

Climate Change

Other – Kingston

Other – Ontario

Other – Canada

Other – USA & International

Preservation Initiatives Seed-Saving

Land Preservation

Animal Breeds

Research Initiatives

Organic Research Initiatives

Kingston Community Meal &Food Programs

Cooking with Local Food

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Green New Zealand’s Pinot Noir And Gewurz


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Cooking Local

Here’s all that a day of gathering cooking ingredients, locating a place in which to cook, and finding some regional cooking “advisors,” can be when you’re on The Island:

Book yourself into a farmstead that doubles as a B&B. We found Smith Lake Farms in the Comox Valley to be an ideal setting, especially if we had brought the children with us. Upon check-in we were handed two fresh eggs just gathered from the coop for our breakfast the next day.

Pattison's Organic - the stuff of legends!

Pattison Farms of Black Creek in Comox Valley, run by Gerry and Dagmar Pattison, is the stuff of legends. The certified organic farm keeps two gigantic greenhouses under year-round cultivation and grows three kinds of cauliflower, “but none of them are white,” Gerry will tell you. White cauliflower is too mundane for Pattison Farms purposes where Gerry has firmly established himself a niche of growing the absolute best varietals of spinach, tomatoes, heritage apple trees, blackberries and loads more for renowned B.C. Chefs such as Ronald St. Pierre of Locals and John Bishop of Bishop’s.  St. Pierre even features a picture of Pattison on the wall of his Courtenay flagship Locals Restaurant.

John Bishop's Cook Bible Book

Out on that quaint country road in Comox Valley it’s not surprising to hear Gerry talk about the farm stand he keeps open for most of the year right at the gate of his property that operates on the honor system. “The most we’ve ever had go missing is two heads of purple cabbage,” he says, clearly communicating that he doesn’t sweat the small stuff. What is surprising to hear is that this unassuming organic gourmand ingredient farmer hosted racks of news crews and a sit-down lunch on the patio and in his backyard/ farm fields when John Bishop launched his cookbook several years back. What you’ll find over and again in the Comox community is that people who know, know; and your best bet is to make friends with those people who are in the know.

Beaufort Estate Winemakers, Comox Valley

Some of those people you’d be lucky to know are the ones who run Beaufort Vineyards. They are an Island culinary destination and have focused their 27 plus years of wine making toward crafting vineyard and winery practices that are people, animal and environment-friendly.

Just a hop skip down the road and you’ll find yourself in Courtenay, the jewel of the Valley. Grab yourself a cup of coffee at Mudshark’s and be sure to pop in next door to Bramble’s Market. Opened last summer by husband and wife Angeline and James Street (www.bramblesmarket.ca) it is B.C.’s only grocery store stocked with 100% local food and products, promoting a “50 km diet” of eat local, something that is actually quite possible to do when you live in the Comox Valley.

The Comox Valley's 50-km Diet Can Be Achieved at Brambles Market In Courtenay

The notion of eat local is a popular one throughout the Island. However, as James and Angeline, hard working new business owners, will confide, “The people you would expect to come in and buy from us regularly…don’t. Our regulars are people who drive up in old beater cars but who really love good food. They’ll come for the meats, the cheeses, the breads and the other quality fresh ingredients we keep stocked because they just really love good food… and they know they can count on what they buy from us to taste great.” We stock up for our cooking class that we’ve scheduled for later, with informational assistance from Tourism Vancouver Island.

Little Qualicum Cheeseworks

On our drive South, we pass Wal-Mart, Thrifty Foods, which is locally owned and does stock some local foods, and Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, an artisanal cheesemaker who specializes in “squeaky cheese,” which is really a form of curds and which Canadians love to liberally sprinkle on hot french fries, slather in gravy and call “Poutine,” a veritable national dish. Little Qualicum Cheeseworks also makes a goat cheese that Tigh-Na-Mara’s chef is using for his April “Earth Month”-inspired 100-mile diet menu in the Cedar Room.

We pull up to the Painted Turtle Guesthouse just a block up from the harbor walk in Nanaimo with our appetites barely in check. We’ve heard about the Mon Petit Choux bakery that supposedly does croissants better than anyone this side of Paris. Lucky for us, it’s just adjacent to the Painted Turtle so we tuck into it for a quick pick-me-up and indulge in not just the coffee (fantastico!) and a butter croissant, but also a Brioche that’s filled with pastry crème and fresh blueberries. The organic bread, and in fact all the baked goods, are made using only local ingredients and the roomy interior invites you to hang your hat for awhile. Owner Linda Allen is a throughbred of the Island Foodie Tribe and her other venue, the Wesley Street Cafe’, was rated a top-five Vancouver Island restaurant by Vancouver Magazine.


Karen and Carrie, Local Food For Nanaimo's Heart & Soul

A sip, a chomp and we’re off. On the second floor of the Painted Turtle there is a spacious communal kitchen that is clean and bright and inviting. There is a comfortable sitting room adjacent to the open walled kitchen that looks out over the boutique-laden Bastion Street from airy corner windows that span from wall to wall.

Cooking Class Kitchen At The Painted Turtle, Nanaimo

Carrie and Karen, our cooking “advisors,” are a.k.a. Local Food For Nanaimo and are the resident Local Food Champions and experts. After just a few minutes of talking with them, it seems there’s nothing they don’t know about the local food scene on the Island, in particular in Nanaimo.

Here are some of the facts they readily shared and more can be found on: http://localfoodfornanaimo.blogspot.com

  • Nanaimo has 10% of the farmland within the Vancouver Island Health Authority
  • The majority of Nanaimo cropland is for grains and 72% of that grain goes to livestock feed.
  • The most commonly produced vegetables are sweet corn, pumpkins, broccoli, squash/zucchini, green beans and beets.
  • Most commonly produced fruits are grapes, apples, raspberries and blueberries.
  • In 2006 there were 41 hectares of fruit farms, 25 hectares of vegetable farms compared to 2,120 hectares of grain farms.
  • More Info: http://www.nanaimofoodshare.ca

They boast a wealth of knowledge about local food in the region which is a little surprising given that both young women are trained Marine Biologists and have undertaken extensive research assignments at prestigious facilities such as Rutgers University in the U.S.

But food is their passion and it’s never more apparent as when Karen’s face lights up as she describes to you the last poultry swap she went to which takes place every 1st Sunday of the month. Carrie is just as quick to jump in and tell you about Seedy Sundays where 300-400 people show up to swap seeds and talk to seed experts.

They’ll tell you all this, mind you, as they teach you how to prepare fresh Gnocchi flavored with “Nesto,” the Island Pesto made from Stinging Nettles. Both women regale you with the fun they’ve had teaching kids this recipe, as the youngsters especially enjoy rolling out the dough and splaying the little nubs with a fork. It’s a disarmingly simple recipe and is mostly potatoes, flour and an egg.

Karen and her beau have recently taken to farm living so she’ll tell you all about the over-abundance of potatoes they planted – and are still harvesting – this year and how they’ve learned more than they need to know about “headlamp farming,” (note: headlamp farming refers to farmers who hold down full time jobs and work a farm as a hobby. Meaning, after “work,” you put in your hours in the field. There have been times, she says, when she’s looked up and realized it has gotten pitch dark out somehow….). The Gnocchi is delicious, the Nesto a mild and sweet flavor, the Qualicum cheese salad with tender baby kale greens a fresh delight. The Painted Turtle Kitchen and “Great Room,” a perfect place in which to enjoy it all.

Nanaimo-style Dessert

Nanaimo-tini at Nanaimo's Modern Cafe

Unbelievably, we still have room for a bit more. So, since we’re in Nanaimo, we head out in search of a Nanaimo Bar. This is a chocolatey, creamy, coconutty bar that you see at nearly every coffee shop in Canada. No one really knows its origins for certain, but everyone knows and has eaten at some point, a Nanaimo Bar. We don’t have to wander far before we find ourselves in what feels like a Vancouver hipster joint, with exposed brick walls and trendy, large pieces of art hanging on the wall. We are in the Modern Cafe’ in downtown Nanaimo. We glance through the menu at the bar noting that the place is packed for an early dinner seating. And then, we spot it, the perfect top-off to our perfect Comox Valley/ Local Food Nanaimo Day: the Nanaimo-tini. And right at that moment, that’s perfectly local enough for us!

Www.tourismnanaimo.com * www.investcomoxvalley.com * www.bcculinarytourism.com

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Butter And Egg Days Parade

Everyone loves the Petaluma Butter & Egg Days Parade!

Petaluma’s Butter & Egg Days Parade and Celebration, now in its 29th year, has become a tradition in Downtown Petaluma, celebrating the region’s rich agricultural history as one of the premier dairy regions in the country.  The event typically draws over 25,000 attendees.

Together with The Petaluma River, eggs and dairy products created an economy that turned Petaluma into one of the most prosperous communities in the state in the early 1900’s.

The community parade showcases the best of Petaluma and Petaluma’s history. The parade features over 3,000 participants, more than a hundred volunteers and supports every aspect of community life.

Activities before, during and after the parade include four blocks of arts and crafts exhibitors, food vendors offering a wide variety of festival foods, sponsor booths, community and non-profit booths and a large area to entertain youngsters with inflatables, rides, and hands-on activities.  This is one of the North Bay’s largest events and one not to miss for young and old alike. After all, everyone loves a parade!

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