by Paige Donner Ever wondered how Parisians really eat? A recent study released by the Mayor’s office of Paris breaks it down by the numbers. Here are some interesting stats to chew on. (Sorry! couldn’t resist that one…) 13,800 Restaurants … Continue reading
For those of us throwing parties this weekend and into Tuesday for America’s bumfuzzling ’16 Presidential Election, this recipe, lifted off the New England Today food page, ought to set your course straight back to hearth and home (after stopping … Continue reading
by Paige Donner La Freizh, La Freizh!! A young, impassioned wild strawberry producer – gariguette in French – named Julien Héliès has launched a limited production of White Strawberries. Did you know strawberries were originally WHITE?! You might not have … Continue reading
by Paige Donner Few things say Winter Holidays like the appetizing aroma of roasting chestnuts on an open fire. I remember, several years ago now, as I walked into the Tuileries from the Place de la Concorde entrance, buying a … Continue reading
by Paige Donner
Paris, the ultimate city of foodies, is, as I write this, gripped with Food Truck Fever.
Yes, believe it! In exemplary fashion of how it takes several months to a few years for trends to cross the Atlantic (and it goes both ways!)… Since December, when Paris got its first Food Truck, aptly named Le Camion Qui Fume (transl. “The Smoking Truck,”) to now, mid-April when Paris can boast its second Food Truck as of April 1st – Cantine California – to feed the fevered frenzy for French Fries, we can now confidently say that food trucks have firmly taken hold of the Parisian Foodie Scene. Continue reading
Excerpted from From Le Figaro (English)
Monsanto must pay for French farmer’s pesticide injuries
A French tribunal found Monsanto, the leading producer of agro chemicals, responsible for serious neurological effects suffered by a French farmer after his exposure to poisonous pesticides. Monsanto must pay for all damages suffered by the farmer.
This win may set a precedent for other cases. The MSA (mutuelle sociale agricole), the French mutual insurance system for agricultural workers, reported that they receive about 200 files a year from agriculturalists who confirm being poisoned by pesticides.
Thousands of people across America call for healthy, affordable, sustainable food ahead of the first ever National Food Day.
WASHINGTON, DC – Thousands of people are demanding sustainable food in their local communities ahead of the first ever Food Day by starting and joining campaigns on Change.org, the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change.
Tens of thousands of individuals and organizations have already begun supporting sustainable food through campaigns on Change.org. Healthy Child, Healthy World, a food-focused nonprofit, launched an online campaign urging Campbell’s Soup to phase out the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) from its packaging; a Texas animal rescuer created a campaign asking Governor Rick Perry to save struggling ranchers and starving horses by using state resources to bring hay to Texas; and a Maryland farmer started an online campaign to prevent his 31-year-old organic farm from being turned into private soccer fields.
Foreword from the Minister
The Fête de la Gastronomie is a festival that is not to be missed, and it will be taking place on the first day of autumn [Sept 23rd]. It will also have its own theme, uniting all the different events and initiatives taking place throughout the country. This year we have chosen Our Earth, because it generously allows us to work it, harvest its fruits, and use them for our food. Because man and earth are inseparable. More INFO
Everywhere you look there is something to do with gastronomy: in the media, in the increasingly imaginative dishes available in our restaurants…as though the whole idea were something new, whereas in fact it is no more than a tradition in a constant state of renewal, very much alive, and one that makes the most of our country’s dynamism, the foods we produce, and what we do with them. Continue reading
by Paige Donner
After nearly 40 years with the House of Champagne Lanson, Reims, winemaker Jean Paul Gandon is not afraid of innovation. That is, innovation when it stays within the context of tradition. Gandon and Champagne Lanson enjoy a singularly unique relationship in Champagne insofar as next year, when he celebrates his 40th year with the house, it will be the longest standing winemaker-to-winery relationship in this very exclusive region of France.
Clos Lanson is one enclosed hectare of Chardonnay vines that grows grapes bursting with fruit and juice, if this past weekend’s harvest in Reims offers any evidence. The Clos is also singularly unique in Reims as it is the only enclosed hectare of vines growing within the city center. Beyond its walls are straight views onto the Reims Cathedral and the Stadium.
During one day each year family members, employees and friends of Lanson Champagne assemble for a spectacular day of convivial harvesting and celebration of what will be the most exclusive of Lanson Champagne cuvées, the Clos Lanson. This celebratory harvest and Cuvée of no more than 8,500 bottles was the brain child of Gandon and one of the owners of Lanson International, Philippe Baijot, 6 years ago. This year will mark the first that the champagne will be available to taste and to drink.
Champagne Lanson is most well-known for its power of the Pinot Noir grape, its blocking of malolactic fermentation during its vinification and its cellaring of at least 36 months prior to release. (AOC Champagne regulations require 15 mos. minimum). Wine connoisseurs speak of keeping the Black Label Lanson for 10 years. In other words, this is not a “pop and pour” champagne.
Champagne Lanson was founded in 1760 by Francois Delamotte which makes it the fourth oldest house in the world. During its changing of hands in the last several decades, “…vintages of Lanson remained of high quality… Much of this success in the face of adversity must be down to Gandon.”
Launched in 2011 is Lanson’s L’Académie de Lanson and its Little Black Book of Champagne. The House believes strongly in viewing champagne as a wine and not purely as a label. The Lanson Academy was developed to engage and enlighten all champagne drinkers. – ♥Chérie Du Vin
Bio-dynamic gardeners, followers of the principles of Rudolf Steiner, believe that the movements of all theheavenly bodies, moon, planets and stars have an influence on the growth and development of all plants. So the time you chose to sow, plant or even weed your plants will affect their progress. The moon, the stars and the planets all affect the development of our plants.
At first glance the idea that the stars affect our garden seems quite crazy. But then we do know that the moon can move millions of gallons of water from one side of the ocean to the other every day. We do know also that all living things, including plants and ourselves contain water. So perhaps the idea is not so far fetched? Anyway judging by the number of horoscopes in newspapers and magazines, it seems that many people accept that the movement of heavenly bodies can affect their lives. So why not on plants?
The auspicious time for flowering plants is on ‘flower days’ when the ascending moon is in, Libra, Gemini or Aquarius. And for plants that are grown for their seed or fruit such as beans, tomatoes or courgettes, the best yields will be had by planting on ‘fruit days’ when the ascending moon is in Leo, Sagittarius or Aries.
By now, many readers have probably put these ideas into the ‘interesting, but far too much trouble’ category. And they may be forgiven for wondering if they are being asked to spend all their precious gardening time gazing at the sky before they can venture out to sow their new packet of seeds? But just as you don’t have to be an astronomer to read your stars in the newspaper, neither do you have to be one to plant by them.
Maria Thun publishes a calendar every year for interested gardeners and farmers. In it are marked all the suitable days for planting and sowing for the year. Few bio-dynamic gardeners bother themselves with the complexities of the cosmos, they merely organise their sowing and planting times around the calendar.
Another interesting aspect of bio-dynamic theory is that crops harvested on favourable days will keep better than when picked at other times. Thus, lettuce cut on a leaf day will stay fresher for longer than heads picked at other times. Equally gardeners who store their carrots over the winter are advised to harvest them on root days.
By Paige Donner
Obernai is the exquisite gem of a village on the famous Alsace Wine Road. If you have two days in which to explore Alsace, I recommend that you hop on the TGV from Paris, do a quick change in Strasbourg and continue onto Obernai on one of the regional trains for another 30 minutes.
Disembark in Obernai and then park yourself at the 4-Star Le Parc Hotel, the haven of VIP service and quiet tranquility that awaits you at the top of the village. If you are so predisposed, you needn’t budge from this spot as the resort has an indoor and an outdoor pool, two restaurants, both gastronomic quality, a cigar and rum lounge, a stylish bar, a bowling alley, a breakfast room and one of the best spas – the Asiane Spa – not just in Alsace but in France. There’s even a winery right next door that sells cold bottles of Gewürztraminer, Cremant d’Alsace and Riesling, as well as regional specialties like Kirschwasser, Salted Caramel Liqueur and fine regional patés.
Vineyards of Obernai
But if you do feel like venturing farther, an early morning walk, when the air is still fresh and cool, up Mt. St. Odile through the Schenkenberg, will have you walking through vineyards of Pinot Gris and Riesling. You will be rewarded with a magnificent view over Obernai that stretches all the way to several of the neighboring towns on the Wine Route.
For Oenotourists, you have several options: Either let the extraordinarily gracious staff at l’Hotel Le Parc (****) make a few phone calls to their winery friends to set up tasting appointments for you – recommended if you have your own car or a rented one. Or you can wander over towards the Tourism Office where you will find a sign that maps the wineries right in Obernai, all within walking distance. You can stop by for a tasting and pick up some of that Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer before heading back to your hotel for an afternoon lazing by the pool and drinking outstanding Alsacian wine. Top your day off with a gastronomic dinner at Le Parc’s La Table accompanied by haute cuisine service. Paradise found…in Alsace.
All photos by Paige Donner c. 2011.
The Gérard Bertrand annual Jazz Fest took place August 4th – 8th this summer at Château l’Hospitalet just outside Narbonne. These photos are taken at Château l’Hospitalet in Languedoc-Roussillon, “Sud de France.”
To read more about Gérard Bertrand wines, his annual summer Jazz Fest and his L’Art de Vivre Les Vins Du Sud, click on Gerard-Bertrand.com.
By Paige Donner
Jaillance produces the only sparkling wine from France’s Rhône Valley. They call it their “Clairette de Die” and its 7% alcohol content makes it a festive choice for most all occasions. Their rosé, the Cuvée de l’Abbaye, is made from 100% merlot and their “Cremant de Bordeaux” is 70% semillon and 30% cabernet franc.
Jaillance committed to organic farming in 1989 and has more than 200 growers in their winegrowers’ “cooperatif.” They take their commitment to sustainable winemaking seriously… far beyond simply changing out their bottles to the lighter 775gr. from the heavier 830 gr. champagne bottle. Take their cork recycling initiative for instance…
Did You Know?
- 12 billion corks are manufactured every year. 3 billion of those are destined for France alone!
- The cork oak tree does not die when its bark is harvested. The bark gradually grows back, like shedding its skin.
- Cork Oak trees can get up to 300 years old and grow a thick new layer of bark every nine years.
- 100% of harvested cork is used.
- Cork oak forests have great ecological value, sustaining a rich level of biodiversity and protecting many species of fauna and flora.
- A harvested cork oak tree absorbs 2 1/2 to 4 times as much CO2 as one not harvested.
Jaillance’s Cork Recycling Initiative: How It Works
Starting this summer Jaillance is calling on their consumers to save and collect their corks and bring them back to designated collection points. These collection points La Cave de Die Jaillance, Jaillance sales outlets and all Gamm Vert Shops (France).
These used corks will be sold back to to the cork industry, and the money sent to the Institut Mediterranéen du Liège (Mediterranean Cork Institute). The Institute will use the funds to plant more cork oaks in the Eastern Pyrenees forests.
Once the wine corks have been collected, the wine corks are taken to a recycling plant to be transformed into floor coverings, decorative items, components for the aerospace and automobile industries – or even into electrical power.
Cork is 100% natural and 100% recyclable. It is one of nature’s treasures.
by Paige Donner
As wine bars in Paris go, this is both authentic and on the beaten path. For years, whenever you’d search out wine bars and Paris, it is this one that would come up. It is nestled right next to the famous (and super cheap!) Marché d’Aligre.
Which is a good thing. Because after – or before – you buy your fresh cheeses, your ripe fruits, and your roasted chicken, you can buy your wine by the liter and enjoy a glass of it while doing so. And yes, you buy your liter of wine straight from the barrel.
Le Baron Rouge. It’s a bit on the beaten track but every bit worthy of a drop-in. Plus, what better way to start off a Sunday morning but with a glass of good, country, French wine?
Day before put green tea (I used organic Gunpowder green tea) in Vodka to infuse, use approx. 6-8 Tbsp. per 1.75L of vodka
Make a pot of double strength Mint tisane (herbal tea)
Add sugar to Mint tea to taste
1 part Green Tea Vodka
3 parts sweetened Organic Mint tisane
1/2 part lime juice
pour in glass with ice
garnish with fresh mint
Day before put Chai (I used organic Masala Chai black tea) in rum to infuse, use appox. 6-8 Tbsp. per 1.75 L this infuses quickly, so could be done a few hours before.
Make a pot of double strength organic Coconut green tea
Add sugar to Coconut green tea
1 part Chai spiced rum
2 parts Coconut Green tea
1 part fresh pineapple
pour over ice
garnish with pineapple slice or umbrella
Lapsang Souchong Sour
Day before put Lapsang Souchong (I used organic Lapsang Souchong) in Marker’s Mark, use approx. 6-8 Tbsp. per 1.75 L. This makes a great smoky whiskey, it actually resembles a aged peety, smoky scotch whisky when finished infusing & can be enjoy neat in a glass too.
1 part Lapsang Souchong infused Maker’s Mark (or other whiskey)
3 parts sour mix (you can make your own, I used the mix for the party)
pour over ice
garnish with maraschino cherry
Enjoy & let me know if you have any tea infused cocktails you want to share!
Well we have been open a week. Still trying to get things in order & get more stock in. We are open but the Grand Opening will be in June. We did a soft open for the Montana Ave. Sidewalk Sale. Had a nice turnout & are trying to settle into the space. Things still need to be streamlined & figured out. This week we should get our shipment of Eva Solo tea products. They are very stylish & well designed. Look for more products to be coming in every week. We are also going to expand our 40 teas, to include more flavored teas and blends. Looking forward to having classes where we teach about what you can do with tea. We have redesigned the labels & also are updating the website. Stop by Monday thru Saturday from 10am – 5pm, Sunday 12pm – 5pm. We are located at 1627 Montana Ave in the back. And as always keep sipping tea…
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]
by Paige Donner Bordeaux is the ideal-sized city to just wander around. In this sense, it is a bite-sized city that still offers enough funky and charming little neighborhoods to give you the feeling that you are exploring. Chartrons is the … Continue reading
By Paige Donner
Small plates are a Spanish thing. They’re known as Tapas and they’re a great way to share a meal with friends. It’s also a great way to do wine tastings when you can share the bottles with a group or taste by the glass.
French “small plates” dining wasn’t heard of in Paris until L’Avant Comptoir opened its doors next to Le Comptoir du Relais, a restaurant that boasts a 6-month waiting list for reservations. But no reservations are needed here at L’Avant Comptoir. It’s the place to come before lunch or dinner to get an “appetizer.”
Hors d’oeuvres, however, is not what I would call these small plates. Out of respect for Chef and Proprietor Yves Camdeborde, I won’t call them French Tapas but I do think of them that way.
When I’m in Paris on assignment, there’s often no time to sit down to a meal. So I’ve gotten into the habit of popping into the closet-sized, standing-room-only boudoir of a Basque-and Bearnais -inspired deliciousness where I can eat a couple plates like seared fois gras on a skewer, a wooden cutting board covered with amazing Carpaccio de Boeuf, wash it all down with a glass of Saint Chinian – or whatever the chef recommends to me that day – and am out the door in under 10 Euro and less than 20 minutes. (I even ate Boudin there once – and liked it!)
Of course, when I had a friend visiting recently, a pal who can’t pronounce Si’il Vous Plait to save his life but knows good food and has the charm to get what he wants, always, I had to drag him there. Compared to several sit-down, expensive meals, after an evening spent eating at L’Avant Comptoir, squashed between the elbows of our fellow gourmands-on-a-budget and up against the long pewter counter laden with fresh bread and the best butter in Paris, my Food Dude buddy couldn’t stop raving. We would have been back there for lunch and dinner and snacks every day if he had had his way. Every day!
The great thing, too, for Non-French speakers is that there are pictures of all the small plates hanging right above your head, in addition to the day’s specials, that you can mutely point to and you’re still sure to get what you want.
A Franco-American we chatted up there one evening confessed that L’Avant Comptoir is his favorite place in Paris because it’s the only place, he said, where people will talk to you openly and unreservedly.
This place just plain rocks. Once you go there, you will keep coming back AND it will always be on your Top 5 Paris Picks. Bon appetit!
L’Avant Comptoir, 9 carrefour de l’Odéon, 75006, Paris; 011-33-8-2610-1087. No reservations. Open daily.
by: Paige Donner
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.
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.
By Paige Donner Read Full Article on Bordeaux Food And Wine Bordeaux’s Musée du Vin et Du Négoce is resplendent in its devotion to the history of this region’s cause celèbre; it is humble in its presentation; and it is welcoming … Continue reading
By Paige Donner Read Complete Article on Bordeaux Food And Wine Château Smith Haut Lafitte is one of those wineries in Bordeaux that has its own helipad. Likely, it’s one of the only wineries in Bordeaux that has its own helipad, … Continue reading
The Association Independent winegrowers of Quebec
(VIQ)officially joined CEVI, the European Confederation of Independent Winegrowers, on the occasion of the General Meeting of April 20, 2011. This widening of CEVI beyond the borders of Europe reinforces the influence of the profession of the independent winegrower and its values, and allows the network of CEVI to get richer through experience sharing.
ADVVQ was founded in 2006 by a group of vinegrowers and winemakers in the aim of gathering the producers of the areas of Quebec and of supporting the spreading of the know-how of this production in emergence. Accordingly, the ADVVQ supports the organisation of regional and interregional meetings in order to exchange on the characteristics of the production in Quebec. Since 2010, the association changed its name for Vignerons Indépendants du Québec (Quebec Independent Winegrowers).
The goal of the association is to promote the elaboration of wines made from grapes entirely grown on the Quebec terroir, by proscribing any addition of raw material coming from outside Quebec (grapes, juice and concentrates), except for alcohols required to the making of fortified wines, according to an exclusively artisanal and nonindustrial transformation.
The association gathers 51 members, representing approximately 35 to 40% of the production of wine in Quebec. In Quebec, more than 630 hectares of vines are in production. There are 4 main regions: Estrie, Montérégie, Lanaudière and Chaudières the Appalachian Mountains (regions of the South-Quebec). The type of vines which are cultivated there are mainly rustic and semi-rustic hybrid type of vines.
by Paige Donner
Paris is catching on to a wildly popular UK dining custom called “Secret Dinners.” In certain parts of the U.S., such as L.A. and NYC, they are popular, too. Essentially, they are moveable feasts where the people, the food and, most importantly, the locales are never the same.
Parisian foodies will nod and smile and confess that they have no idea why the Secret Dinner trend hasn’t quite taken hold in their city. It might be partly because when you do a search on the internet under Paris Secret Dinners this huge article of a catacomb tribe who held seances (not really, much tamer than that, but it’s fun to spread these blasphemous rumors, isn’t it!?) in the secret tunnels below the Trocadero surfaces.
In Paris there are a few who are carrying on the UK tradition of Secret Dinners and Secret Lunches. One goes by the name New Friends Table and another by the name Miss Lunch. Neither wanted their photos published or even too much written about them, given that it’s all, well, you know, Secret!
The concept is a good one for travelers or transplants to a new city. Anyone can eat out at a restaurant, but how often do you get the chance to be invited to someone’s home where you can share a meal, meet other people, talk to locals, and generally get an authentic glimpse into how people live in a given city. Well, you might, if you have an old college roommate or a cousin living in a foreign city, but if you’re off for a romantic weekend or on business overseas for a week, you likely won’t get that opportunity.
As a single woman, it provoked some thought to agree to attend a Secret Dinner where an address isn’t provided until a few hours before the start time and where you must swear to secrecy about the identity of the people putting on the dinner.
So when a Secret Picnic was alternately proposed, I felt confident that this was the better choice. Sunshine and spring weather on a Saturday afternoon in a Paris park is paradise on Earth. Add to that a picnic basket filled with some of the best delights Paris has to offer, in the form of cheeses, bread, wine, olives, chocolate, traiteur salads and cold dishes, and a couple of outrageously decadent desserts all delicately spread out on a colorful flower tablecloth on the grass and you’ve got yourself a Picnic a la gourmand…secret or not.
Sightseeing is tiring. And while shopping for cheese and wine can be fun, you might not know where to get the best stuff when you’re in Paris for 72 hours. It’s also time consuming to make the pilgrimages to the various arrondissements to gather the truly famous goods.
You have the option of either joining in on a Secret Picnic already planned or you can order your private picnic for two, as you desire. Now you’ll just have to try to figure out who the Secret Picnic people are. Good LUCK! Hint: they arenot in the catacombs under the Trocadero.
Take a look at this video interview to hear what he has to say about being named the Best Restaurant In The World, two years running.
And, in case you missed it, International Herald Tribune/ NY Times columnist Roger Cohen wrote a lyrical piece about Noma recently, foraging deep into the chef’s local food philosophy.
By Paige Donner
Now that French Cuisine has been declared a World Cultural Heritage Listing by UNESCO, how could you dream of planning a trip to Paris and not penciling in time for an amateur cooking class? (Trust us: They’re not all like the onion-chopping nightmare in Julie & Julia.) Here’s a sampling of a few of the city’s top kitchen destinations to consider on you next journey to the City of Light — and Food.
Ecole Ritz Escoffier – 15 Place Vendôme, 75001
If you have a lunch hour to spend at a cooking school in Paris, Ecole Ritz Escoffier is your gig. First of all, it’s effortlessly easy to find, at 15 Place Vendôme. It’s posh, it’s excellent and the classes are given in both English and French.
Ecole Ritz Escoffier kitchens are located in the basement of Ritz Paris Vendôme Hotel, right next to the hotel’s working kitchens where they create all of the meals for the entire hotel. It is also, as legend goes, the inspiration for the kitchens seen in the celebrated Pixar film, Ratatouille.
But in spite of all the international outreach and friendliness (the school is also partnered with the Tokyo School, Vantana) it remains very much an iconic bastion of French Culinary Tradition. Executive Head Chef is the larger-than-life Michel Roth, the ninth Executive Chef the hotel has known in its 110 years of existence. His teaching team at the Escoffier Ecole is both accomplished and easygoing.
My class was scheduled for a Thursday afternoon from 1:00 – 2:00 pm. On the menu was:…Read Complete Article on Black Book Magazine.
posted by Paige Donner [On Local Food And Wine – Paris]
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.
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.
Château Haut-Lagrange “It is always the adventurous who accomplish great things” Charles de Montesquieu By Paige Donner Read Full Article on Local Food And Wine One early Spring afternoon on a recent trip to the Pessac-Leognan region of Bordeaux, I … Continue reading
There’s a new dining experience on the Seine in Paris and it’s all about Local Cuisine and Local Spectacular Sights. Starred Chef Tateru Yoshino follows the rhythm of the seasons and sources his vegetables from organic, local producers to provide his guests with a menu that is completely “terroir” while staying true to his Japanese heritage.
Olivier Jamey (left), Owner of La Compagnie de la Seine, pictured with Master Chef Tateru Yoshino, Michelin Star
Every Sunday evening, for an hour and a half, Paris lovers and Lovers of Paris can indulge in a gourmet meal while taking in the breathtakingly beautiful sights along the River Seine: Le Grand Palais, Assembleé Nationale, Eiffel Tower… and everything along the way and inbetween.
The Paris en Scene boat is configured a little differently than its predecessors: It’s intimate seating for two, four or small groups; Its leather, elegant chairs and its floor-to-roof glass walls are all conducive to fine dining and romance. All for the very reasonable price of 50 Euro per person. And the departure is from St. Michel, just steps from the Notre Dame, which makes it unique among the Dinner Cruises along the Seine. They have also partnered with local businesses so that after your 1 and 30 minute dinner cruise, for an extra Euro or two you can take in a movie in the area or a theater show. Be sure to ask about what’s on offer when you make your reservations.
For Spring the menu that Master Yoshino proposes is:
Richelieu en croûte, médaillon de foie gras, – A humble starter for what follows
Saumon « Stella Maris » mi cuit sans peau, – This salmon melts in your mouth. It is salmon cooked so perfectly that your mouth doesn’t know if it’s sashimi or if it’s simply heaven.
crêpe de Vonnas & tomates au thym, – little cherry tomato pops of herb flavors a la Provence
Mont Blanc « maison », crème de marron & glace – if your only reference to Mont Blanc is Angelina’s this will leave you gasping. So light, so flavorful, so classic and innovative all at once.
And while the food is amazing it is the landscape that will have you continuously turning away from your dinner companion. The 6:30 dinner cruise is timed just perfectly to catch the Eiffel Tower when it lights up in twinkling sparkles. For reservations: www.paris-en-scene.com
Posted By Paige Donner
Several of Paris’s Starwood Group Hotels, in addition to independently-owned restaurants and cafes have dedicated their Spring menus to using exceptional, locally Ile-de-France sourced ingredients. Local here is defined as originating no farther than 200 km. outside of Paris. This both supports Ile-de-France regional growers and eliminates much of the negative environmental impact that long-distance transportation of food products requires.
At the Paris restaurants: L’Orénoc duMéridien Étoile, the First at the Westin Paris-Vendôme and the Étoiles at the Sheraton Paris-Charles de Gaulle, you will find these specially crafted “Local” gastronomic menus that are being served in their main dining rooms, for room service and even for conferences and meetings.
In addition, at Le Meurice, the triple-Michelin-starred Chef Yannick Alléno has created a “mythical and savory” menu which he has dubbed « Terroir Parisien® » that he is serving for his lunch time guests. A range of products he has sourced from nearby Ile-de-France villages including mint from la Forêt (52 km).
Similarly the new trendy Lafayette Organic on Grands Boulevards is featuring all organic produce and products from Ile de France. And if you choose to dine at the restaurant, Chez Bruno, you will have the chance to enjoy artisan coldcuts from Michel Ballereau, of Sceaux (14 km), farm-raised chicken from Pouligny à Jouy in Morin (76 km), and fresh cheeses from the 30 Arpents Farm in Favières (41 km). And that’s not all, you will also get to try local honey from beekeeper Rémy Vanbremeersch and Carl Marletti’s artisanale pâtisseries. And when you find yourself in the Denfert Rochereau quarter with an appetite for some local flavor, stop in at Ghislaine Arabian’s restaurant, Les Petites Sorcières, where she is spotlighting the local produce of Claude and Catherine Gallienne from Neuville (67 km), and the fresh-baked breads of Parisien Jean-Luc Poujauran.
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.
(London) January 28, 2011 – The North American edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit (www.sustainablefoodssummit.com) drew to a successful close last week, with many participants calling for greater transparency and accountability from the food industry.
Organized by Organic Monitor, the summit brought together about 200 executives at theRitz-Carlton in San Francisco on 18-19th January 2011. New horizons for eco-labels and sustainability were the focal theme of the 2-day summit.The summit explored the evolution of eco-labels – such as Organic, Fair Trade andRainforest Alliance – in an increasingly global food industry.
The advent of international supply chains is leading many consumers to become disconnected from agriculture andfood production methods. Scott Exo, executive director of Food Alliance, echoed the general sentiment at the summit, calling for the ‘de-commoditization’ of food products byproviding greater traceability to consumers. Seth Goldman, co-founder and president of Honest Tea, opened the summit with his keynote on the triple bottom line. By using the example of tea plantations in China, he showed how modernization does not always contribute to sustainability. Since its launchin 1999, Honest Tea has become one of the fastest growing ethical beverage brands in the US.
The first session explored sustainability initiatives in the food industry, with many speakers raising the question, ‘how do you measure sustainability?’ The use of metrics in sustainability performance was explored by Joseph McIntyre from AG InnovationNetwork. Albert Straus, founder of the Straus Family Creamery, shared his company’sapproaches to measuring the carbon footprint of its dairy operations. The importance of offsetting carbon emission was also highlighted by Theresa Marquez from OrganicValley who showed the role of organic agriculture in carbon sequestering. Sustainability in foodservice was covered by Bon Appetit Management Company, which is sourcing locally from small farmers.
Also in the morning session, Kenneth Ross from Global ID discussed future trends in eco-labels. His paper stressed the importance of IT in combating food fraud and providing traceability to consumers. Convergence of mobile and internet technologies is expected to allow consumers to get ecological and social footprints of their food products. The session ended with a lively debate on sustainability indicators and measurement.The second session honed in on ethical sourcing and sustainable ingredients. The opening papers examined the role of Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade standards in lowering social and ecological impacts of food products.
Nasser Abufara from Canaan Fairtrade explained how social enterprise can improve lives of marginalized growers.Using case studies of three of the most traded food commodities, sustainable sourcing was discussed by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Theo Chocolate and Givaudan.
Marketing & distribution innovations were the subject of the third summit session. Leading retailers – Fresh & Easy and Safeway – shared some of their ethical trading and marketing initiatives. Alex Petrov from Safeway showed how its O Organics label had transcended the boundaries of a private label without cannibalizing manufacturer brands.Fresh & Easy, a subsidiary of the global retailer Tesco, explained how it was raising the bar by implementing new ethical codes of conduct. Ellen W. Feeney from Whitewave Foods shared her experiences in developing brands to meet consumers’ needs for healthy and ecological products with the ‘planetary health’ initiative.
The last session of the summit – organic plus strategies – began with an update on theglobal organic products market. Amarjit Sahota, President of Organic Monitor, showed how pioneering organic food companies were integrating sustainability into their corporate ethos and how some eco-labels were converging. Proceeding papers gave case studies of such developments. Equal Exchange stated how companies could intertwine organic and fair trade practices, whilst the Brazilian company Native Organic Products shared its raft of sustainability actions.
Using wine as a case study, the potential of biodynamic foods was explored by Demeter USA and Fetzer-Bonterra Vineyards. Chad Smith from Earthbound Farms closed the session with an interactive discussion onecological packaging for sustainable food products.The third edition of the executive summit raised many questions about sustainability inthe food industry: Will an eco-label ever fully represent sustainability? What ecological and social parameters are most important in such a standard? What are the most efficient methods to measure sustainability? Where is the line between green marketing and greenwashing? How can companies become more sustainable in distribution andpackaging?
The next editions of the Sustainable Foods Summit aim to address such questions. About the Sustainable Foods Summit Organized by Organic Monitor, the aim of the Sustainable Foods Summit is to discussand debate the major issues the food industry faces concerning concerning sustainability and eco-labels. The proceedings of the North American summit (San Francisco, 18-19th January 2011) are available for a small professional fee. More information is available at: www.sustainablefoodssummit.com
Organic Monitor has announced the dates of the next editions of the Sustainable FoodsSummit as…European edition Amsterdam (23-24 June 2011) North American edition San Francisco (17-18 January 2012)
In 2011, Organic Monitor is celebrating 10 years ofencouraging sustainable development. Since 2001, we have been providing a range of business services to operators in high-growth ethical & sustainable industries.www.organicmonitor.com
On a snowy, wintry day in December, a friend invited me for lunch. The address he gave was in the Palais Royal quarter of Paris, which is one of my favorites and also easy to get to. Normally. Not so easy, in fact, when snow has halted Paris’s bus service and sent all and sundry scurrying to the city’s connecting arteries, otherwise known as the Metro.
His description of Le Comptoir de Tunisie, could not have been more intriguing…nor enticing. Always one to be drawn to what might be a “Secret Garden” experience, the upstairs semi-private dining area of this spice shop, sounded like it was not just centrally located and exotic, but also off the beaten path.
Le Comptoir de Tunisie is indeed a secret garden that perches there on its white-cushioned and sofa decorated second storey, overlooking rue de Richelieu. It’s a taste of Tunisie in the heart of the Palais Royal/Louvre district of Paris.
There’s no need for any translation of the menu, there is one dish offered for the noonday meal, the only meal the cosy dining room offers. On the day I dined with my friend, our meal started with a subtle and delicately spiced pumpkin soup. Watching the big fluffy snowflakes float down onto rue de Richelieu on that cold wintry Paris day, there wasn’t anything else in the world I would rather have been eating at that moment.
Equally as comforting was the fish that followed on its plate of couscous. The cook, a native Tunisian who didn’t seem to speak much French or English, explained through the Parisienne proprietress (whose daughter-in-law and granddaughter are Tunisienne) that she cooks the same meals that she used to for her family back home.
Wine is served with the meal. A delightful fruitcup flavored with orange blossoms and anise provides just the accent for the apres-repas. Though, if your hostess takes a fancy to you, she just might serve the dark, rich strong coffee with a plate of assorted Tunisian sweets, authentic and lightly epicee’. Meal costs 15 Euro, before tax and tip.
Le Comptoir de Tunisie, 30 rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris www.lecomptoirdetunisie.com
The winner of the Bocuse d’Or 2011 is Rasmus KOFOED – Denmark
Read More on Local Food And Wine
(23-24 January 2011) Lyon, France Rasmus KOFOED, representing DENMARK, has won the Bocuse d’Or 2011 trophy and €20,000 in prize money.
Second place, Bocuse d’Argent : Tommy MYLLYMÄKI, representing SWEDEN, won the Silver Bocuse trophy 2011 and €15,000 in prize money.
Third place, Bocuse de Bronze : Gunnar HVARNES, representing NORWAY, won the Bronze Bocuse trophy 2011 and €10,000 in prize money.
Several special prizes were also awarded: – Prize for the ‘Best Commis’, awarded by the Bocuse d’Or Winner’s Academy: Kinari KOYAMA, Commis to Tatsuo NAKASU, JAPAN – Special ‘Fish’ prize: Franck GIOVANNINI, SWITZERLAND – Special ‘Meat’ prize: Jérôme JAEGLE, FRANCE – Prize for the best promotional campaign: GUATEMALA – Prize for the best Poster, as selected by visitors via the internet website:
SPAIN As part of the Sirha 2011 trade exhibition, performing in dedicated contest kitchens facing the public at the heart of the brand new Paul Bocuse hall, 24 chefs from all regions of the planet took up a major challenge: that of preparing within 5.35 hours, during an extraordinary show, two perfect dishes using the official products of the Bocuse d’Or 2011: Scottish lamb for the meat dish and Monkfish, Crab and Scottish Langoustine for the fish dish.
All Photos Courtesy of Francis Mainard/ Bocuse d’Or/ Sirha.
To judge the 24 candidates, the jury was composed of 24 influential chefs who are emblematic of each country represented, under the aegis of 3 exceptional presidents: Paul Bocuse, President Founder, Yannick Alleno, Honorary President (3* Chef at the Meurice, Silver Bocuse 1999) and Geir Skeie, President of the International Jury (Bocuse d’Or 2009)
By Paige Donner
The twelfth annual Coupe du monde de la Pâtisserie saw the Spanish team take home this year’s trophy. On January 24th in Lyon, France, Jordi Bordas Santacreu, Joseph Maria Guerola and Julien Alvare won first place as the world’s best patissiers. These new “virtuosos of dessert” succeed last year’s French Team as #1 in the world in the realm of Pâtisserie.
Coming in second place this year is the Italian team: Davide Comaschi, Domenico Longo and Emmanuele Forcon. In third place are the Belgian team of Dieter Charels, Marjin Coertjens and Pascal De Deyn.
Each team from the 19 countries competing for the title of World Champion de la Pâtisserie had to vie in the categories of chocolatier, ice cream and pastry. The professionals spent 10 hours to whip up three chocolate creations, three sugar-iced fruits and twelve additional desserts that were reflective of the team’s country’s traditions and customs. The showing had to include an artistic piece in sugar, one artistic chocolate presentation and one sculpted ice piece.
Under the Honorary Presidency of Mitsuo Hara and Kazuaki Takaï, each presidents of the two most important professional culinary associations in Japan, the jury judged the quality of the marriage between the textures and tastes as well as the work’s artistry and esthetique. Read More On Local Food And Wine.
by Paige Donner
Malbec from Cahors region in France has a history. Yes, it’s true, Malbec from Argentina has been getting all the attention of late, but there’s another region, the Cahors region in France,whose history with Malbec dates back millennium.
With the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to England’s King Henry II in the 12th century, the vines of Cahors first won favor among Europe’s nobility. It was, even in those days, referred to as “Vin Noir” or “Black Wine” because of the deep, rich color its Malbec grapes give. It became so well-liked that by the 13th century Cahors Vin Noir represented nearly 50% of the wine exports out of Bordeaux.
Argentina’s most popular Malbec region, Mendoza, was, in fact, planted with Cahors Malbec vines during the 1800s. In 1971 France’s then President Georges Pompidou decreed that the wineries of Cahors would be classified as AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée).
Malbec is the emblematic grape of Cahors. The region hugs the River Lot, along 60 Km. and 30 km spanning either side. The regions’ nine distinct terroirs span from 100-300 meters high. The picturesque region just East of Bordeaux is equal distance from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean to the Pyrenees. The area is considered one of the best in the world to cultivate Le Grand Vins, or Grand Cru “statut de Falerne,” in particular from Malbec grapes. The region is the “Burgundy of Malbec.”
According to vintner Bernard Bouyssou of Château Armandière, it is also one of the prettiest little areas in France. And if it is somewhat overlooked due to its famous neighbor, Bordeaux, and Argentina’s comeuppance in Malbec wines, all the better for those who love the black wine from Cahors. There are definitely deals to be had!
The regions’ vineyard production averages out like this: Cuvees Tradition, round and structured, 70 – 85% malbec, about 7 Euros, can save for approximately 5 years. Cuvees Prestige is 85 – 100% malbec grapes and you’ll find this class of wine to be full-bodied and appealing to the gourmand palate. These bottles you can save 5 – 10 years and can find in the 7 Euro to 14 Euro price range. The Cuvees Speciales is 100% Malbec, is regarded as intense and complex. These wines can be kept for 10 years and more and often start at about 14 Euros.
The nose you’ll get with Cahors Malbec are:
Violet – this is the signature aroma of wines whose grapes were raised in “grands terroirs”
Menthol – this fresh note sets the Cahors Malbec apart from Argentina’s and also from the other South West wines from France. It borders on hints of eucalyptus.
Truffle – this bouquet is the height of the Cahors Malbec. The region has a strong truffle and foie gras culture during the late fall season. It stands to reason that the terroir would yield a mushroomy, woody nose to its wines. It enhances after 5, 10, 15 years.
Cassis – with notes of blackberries and blueberries
Cerise – cherry, dark red, that evolves into plummy notes
Licorice – more than an aroma, the licorice bouquet can at times be reminiscent of a nice savory piece of licorice floating around on your tongue
Vanilla – the signature note of the Cahors Malbec raised along the Lot
If you’d like to read up on the region before visiting, perhaps a novel is the way to delve into the culture: The Novel of The Black Wine, by Jean-Charles Chapuzet. You can find it on Feret.com.
For more information about Cahors AOC and French Malbec wines, Click Here.
2011 Confirmed Chef Line-Up
Friday, January 21 – Brian Malarkey, Season 3 Top Chef
Saturday, January 22 – Jared Van Camp, Quality Social in Chicago, James Beard Nominee
Sunday, January 23 – Kerry Simon, Palms Palace in Las Vegas
Monday, January 24 – Michael Chow, Mr. Chow (receiving ChefDance Legend Award 2011)
Tuesday, January 25 – Jared Young, Winner of Iron Chef
Chefdance was started in 2004 and coincides with the Sundance Film Festival every year to provide the perfect marriage of fine food with film for a culinary experience unlike any other. Chefdance’s acclaimed chefs bring their culinary expertise, passion, and life story to your table. I hope you are able to join us in this unique and memorable experience! For more information on Chefdance, please visit http://chefdance.com/.
by Paige Donner
The cutest, funnest, hippest cooking class in Paris is not easy to get into. Not easy at all. Which runs directly contrary to the vibe once you’re in. Amongst a citizenry that takes its food seriously (UNESCO! cultural heritage designation!) cooking classes among youngfolk have become the thing to do.
It’s almost replaced hanging out at cafes and smoking cigarettes all afternoon discussing the tortures of romantic love as the thing to do when you’re young, single (or in a couple) and looking for some social activity. Well, scratch that. It has replaced it.
There are increasingly more chef “ateliers” springing up and those that have always been around and are now being rediscovered. What the French have found is that a cooking class is 1) Fun 2) a great ice-breaker 3) a level playing field 4) a learning experience and 5) a great way to enjoy a meal or a dessert.
The Super Hip “concept” store, Colette, which is located at 213 rue St. Honoré is the location for Cooklette. The store has such a following that the cutest boys in Paris hang outside of it 5 minutes after closing pleading with the bouncer/doorman to let them in for just another 10 minutes so they can find a last-minute gift for their girlfriends. The 7 ft. tall bouncers invariably say, “No.” Explanation is that it happens every day. But that’s what Colette has become: The trendy Parisian club of concept stores.
Downstairs, in the Water Bar, on the first Friday evening each month, they stage “Cooklette” which is their free cooking class. How do you get in? You have to be one of the first twelve to sign up on their website as soon as they announce the date in their newsletter.
January’s class was devoted to making Galette des Rois. These are the flat round tarts filled with almond paste that the French eat for the New Year. Custom has it that the cake must be cut into as many parts as there are people present, plus one.
It is also always baked with a tiny feve which is a small porcelain figurine or button that designates the recipient the “King” or “Queen”for a day. Another custom, which Cooklette faithfully practiced, is that the youngest in the group sits under the table and chooses who gets the pieces of cake and when. This is so that the person who cooked the cake can’t choose who gets the feve. Égalité, Fraternité, Degousté!
The La Galette Colette class was taught by Catherine Kluger who is famous among Parisian gourmands for her Tartes. Her Tartes Klugerare at 6 rue du Forez in the 3rd. She does sweet and savory tartes: Zuchini, Tomato, Mozzarella; Ham, Parmesan, a touch of Bechamel with some Bacon Crispies on top. Sweet tartes include: Tarte au Cafe’ with grains of coffee and chocolate; Tarte a La Mousse au Chocolat Noire; Rhubarb and Milky Rice.
A very self-effacing chef, Catherine approached the class as if she were teaching a group of friends in her own kitchen. She used her own recipe which rendered a simple but flavorful frangipane galette that was moist, flavorful and flaky.
According to Anais Sidali, Cooklette is just something that Colette does because they want to offer a fun activity for their customers to participate in. The downstairs Water Bar is an ideal location. They just pushed some of the center tables together and Voila’ we had a cooking atelier. Diners were welcomed to stay and observe at the booths that hug the walls of the 20-cover or so blue and white simple diner. A Marseille-based blogger, So Food So Good, did just that
To my left was Stephane Bureaux, the author of Design Culinaire, a book full of fantastic photos and food ideas. Colette sells the book and still has a few copies left. You can’t miss it: It has a carrot and a fork on its cover. As far as culinary concepts go, Design Culinaire is to food what haute couture is to fashion.
To my right were a couple of young ladies who had, after three attempts, finally gotten lucky enough to get the reservation for the course. According to Sidali, they don’t take reservations months in advance, just the first ones to sign up that month get to come. It attracts the most passionate foodistas: The girls were raving about their intended brunch that Sunday at Chloe S.
Our advice: Subscribe to the Colette Newsletter; Sign up for Cooklette the second it’s announced; Get Ready for some Culinary Fun ‘cuz it’s a nice cooking class if you can get it.
by Paige Donner
“La Garde Robe,” is a closet. Which is about the size of this snuggly little wine bar just off the rue de Rivoli, a hop and a skip from the Louvre.
Wandering in late one night after a meal with friends, there were just enough stools at the bar to accommodate the few of us. The high tables and the low tables towards the back, were all full of revelers who had the appearance of having spent the entire night at the comfy little “closet” swilling vins naturel and chomping on made-to-order plates of cheeses and thinly sliced meats.
La Garde Robe ha a loyal following and locals will name it as one of Paris’s top wine bars. You can get a good glass of red for anywhere between Euro 3,50 and 7,00. Come with a sense of adventure, ready to try something you haven’t before. It might be within a recognizable apellation, but likely you’ll find producers you haven’t yet tried.
Or just come for the ambiance. It’s one of those exquisite central Paris hole-in-the-wall wine bars that you’d never know was there until you purposefully set out to look for it. And on these cold winter evenings when a lighted window friendly beckons you to come in from the cold, well, if there’s still room for you to squeeze inside, you’ll be glad you did especially once you’ve tried a few things you may not have before. This is Paris, after all! You can also buy your bottles to go.
La Garde Robe, 41, rue de l’Arbre-Sec (rue de Rivoli) 75001
by Paige Donner
Pol Roger, Perrier-Jouët, Piper-Heidsieck, Louis Roederer,Gosset,…these are some of the most exclusive names in the coveted appellation of France’s Champagne region. And now it’s their time to shine in the New Year spotlight.
Bubbly and New Year’s Eve. They go together like caviar and blinis, oysters and aphrodisiacs.
And, as we all know, champagne comes only from the well-designated, well-demarcated geographical area East of Paris. It claims the cities of Epernay and Reims as its own. Everything else might be bubbly, but it can never be champagne.
Of course what’s always fun is to learn the backstories of these gastronomic names of legend. When something becomes so lodged in our collective conscience as are certain brands of champagne, we forget that they started out as people who decided to build a business out of the grape. So, sit back, relax, pour yourself a flute or a “sacred cup” of the festive drink, and come with us on our succinct tour de force of Champagne and a Sauternes for a sweet finish:
La Maison Perrier-Jouët gets its names from a husband and a wife, respectively. Famous and easily recognizable as the bottle with the beautifully painted flowers – Japanese anemones – on its glass, the house was established first in 1811 when Pierre-Nicolas Perrier, estate owner, married Adèle Jouët. Their joined names went on the Champagne Estate’s marquee and now 200 years, and only seven Cellar Masters later, the exquisite champagne is world-reknowned.
If you are in the mood to celebrate with the best of the best, Perrier-Jouët’s Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs is the choice. It’s a vintage that is sourced from a singular terroir, a singular year and a singular varietal. Only two parcels of Grands Crus Chardonnay were harvested to create this champagne, “one of the most rare and exclusive in the world.”
Perrier-Jouët, 28 Avenue de Champagne, Epernay, France
You may be most familiar with Piper-Heidsieck as the champagne you drink from a lady’s shoe – especially designed for the champagne house by Christian Louboutin. Or perhaps you know them best as one of the first and still main supporters of the Cannes Film Festival. But what you might not have known, is that back in 1785, at Versailles, Florens-Louis Heidsieck presented Marie-Antoinette herself his special champagne vintage. A hundred years later, Fabergé decorated the bottle in gold, diamonds and lapis-lazuli.
And Marilyn Monroe? She said she went to sleep with a dab of Chanel No. 5 at her ear and awoke with a glass of Piper-Heidsieck champagne in her hand.
The house of Piper-Heidsieck just released their “Rare” 2002 Vintage only three months ago. “Le Rare” is aged seven years in the cellar and made primarily from Chardonnay grapes with some Pinot Noir. Its subtle minerality plays as an hommage to Mount Reims. The bottle is beautifully designed with a filligreed gold dress. Girls like to wear it as a Tiara. Champagne fit for a Princess, or a Queen. “Le Rare,” has only been made in the years 1988, 1998 and 2002 (just released.)
Piper-Heidsick, Reims, France www.piper-heidsieck.com
Bruno Paillard is a champagne that you have likely not yet had the chance to drink. Too bad for you. It is the youngest of the champagne houses, established in 1981 by then 27-year-old Bruno Paillard. In a region where champagne houses had existed for centuries already, Mssr. Paillard decided to sell his Jaguar MK2 and buy a vineyard with the capital he raised.
Today the Domain produces about 500,000 bottles (for comparison, Moët produces about 5 million) and he exports about 70% of his champagne to Asia, North America and the rest of Europe.
Blanc de Blancs Réserve Privée, 100 % Chardonnay, is a “fresh, bright sparkler,” says Parker who gives it 90 points. Its bouquet is grapefruit and white flowers, its mouth is white pepper, lemon, lime. Wonderful as an aperitif and also can be paired with food.
Bruno Paillard, Avenue de Champagne, 51100 Reims, France http://www.champagnebrunopaillard.com
Louis Roederer’s future was set when Tsar Alexander II, already a devotee of the champagne, ordered his personal sommelier one day in 1876 to see to it that the bottles served in his court should be markedly distinguished from all others. Hence the birth of “Cristal.” After the Russian Revolution of 1917, only then was Cristal allowed to be sold the world over.
The Louis Roederer house was first established in 1776 and has been in the same family since 1819. Today it can boast of being still one of the largest Champagne domains independently owned. They produce approximately 3 million bottles per year and sell in approximately 80 countries.
Champagne Louis Roederer, 51100 Reims, France http://www.champagne-roederer.com
Pol Roger has, for a long time, had friends in high places. During a dinner in Paris, the English Ambassador, Duff Cooper, introduced Sir Winston Churchill to Odette Pol-Roger. At that time, 1945, Sir Winston Churchill was already a man who had marked history. He was fond of saying that Pol Roger (Odette? the champagne?) incarnated all that was well and beautiful of France.
Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill; Its composition is a jealously guarded secret. It is a robust and mature champagne, one with characteristic power and refinement.
Pol Roger 1, rue Henri Le Large 51200 Epernay http://www.polroger.com
Since taking it over not too many years ago,brothers Henry and Emmanuel Fourny have transformed their family domain nestled in the traditional geographic are of Vertus in Champagne. They do something unusual with their Chardonnay, they cultivate it as if it were a Pinot Noir. Why? It has to do with their vineyards’ South-South East exposure.
Vve Fourny et Fils Champagne Rose Premier Cru Vertus Brut has notes of rose and delicate, soft notes of hyacinth. This vintage comes exclusively from the Domain’s terroir, “Les Gilottes 1er Cru.” Refined, velvety bubbles.
Champagne Veuve Fourny 5, rue du Mesnil, Vertus, France http://www.champagne-veuve-fourny.com
Gosset Champagne makes not just delicious champagne but also packages it in wonderful ready-to-gift packs. The Gosset Grand Reserve, 750 ml., is sold with a portable isothermic bottle keeper and a replaceable cork. The house also sells cognac, which they make in the cognac region of France. Another choice for their champagne is the “Excellence Brut” sold in 1500ml. bottles.
Champagne Gosset, 12 Rue Godart Roger, Epernay, 51200 http://www.champagne-gosset.com
Joseph Perrier makes a beautiful gift bottle called the Glamour Josephine. It comes packaged in a red velvet-lined box. The ornate bottle is sure to please any discerning Diva-Luxe in your life who also knows good champagne.
Joseph Perrier Champagne 69 Av. de Paris, 51016 Châlons-en-Champagne France http://www.josephperrier.com
Moët et Chandon. Who in the civilized world has not heard of Moët et Chandon? As noted earlier, producer of 5 million bottles per year, they can truthfully say they have a hold on a large portion of the world’s market of champagne. That’s a lot of New Year’s Toasts!
Still, if you ever get the chance to go to the Domain it is well worth it. Why? Not only will you get the chance to tour the cellars, but you might just get the opportunity to taste their Grand Cru 1975. Hint: it’s a champagne to drink on more occasions than just New Year’s Eve!
Now…as promised…A Sauternes. Chateau Bastor-LaMontagne. This Sauternes is a classic, class act. It is in fact a Grand Cru Classe’. Its pale, light acidity is a dessert in a drink, an aperitif that leads delightfully into the pop of a champagne cork. Delicate, refined, white blossom, pear and ginger.
I might even be tempted to create a champagne cocktail out of the two. Hello 2011!
BLAKE LIVELY AT LE CORDON BLEU PARIS
|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!!”
Photos: Fabrice Danelle
By Paige Donner
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 Ponsardin, Moët 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.
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.”
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.
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.
by Paige Donner
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.
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.
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!
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
Yesterday I had lunch at rue Lepic, with Grazia, an Italian friend of mine who lives in Paris and knows it like the back of her hand. When she asked “what’s going to be you PDP photo today?” I replied. “Er… I don’t know yet”. She said “follow me I have the perfect idea for you…” Then she dragged me into Denise’s A l’étoile d’or boutique, the chocolate lovers’ den, at rue Fontaine (a few feet away from the Moulin Rouge). Oh my! What a gas. Not only is Denise an extraordinary character, but on top of that she really knows what she’s talking about when it comes to chocolate. You HAVE to visit this place if you come to Paris. No wonder David Lebovitz (the Paris chocolate master, among other things) spotted her a long time ago already…
TODAY’S SPECIAL is a heartwarming comedy with a culinary flavor starring Aasif Mandvi (Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The 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.
Gilles Goujon is France’s top chef for 2010. He was voted Chef of The Year by 6,000 of his peers, a group comprised of the nation’s top chefs, sommeliers and patissiers. Goujon’s trademark is his talent of combining “radiant, inventive yet traditional cuisine based on seasonal produce.”
In 2010, Goujon’s out-of-the way restaurant nestled 50km. outside of Perpignan in the Languedoc Roussillon region received its 3rd Michelin Star. This is a very exclusive circle and one reserved for the highest achieving chefs as is the Chef of The Year distinction, an award created by Le Chef magazine back in 1987 and reserved for top gastronomic distinction. Gault & Millau also awarded Goujon 5 chef hats this year, their highest award.
It was in 1992 when Goujon opened his “real adventure,” the Auberge du Vieux Puits, a modest out-of-the way inn located between vineyards and the garrigue scrubland in the 137-inhabitant village of Fontjoncouse, 50km. outside of Perpignan in the Corbières region. This little inn has earned a worldwide reputation, attracting connoisseurs from far, far afield who wish to delight in his inventive, with a Mediterranean touch, cuisine.
Born in 1961, Gilles Goujon worked with Chefs of such prestige as the Rouquette brothers in Ragueneau (Béziers), Roger Vergé at the Moulin de Mougins, Jean-Paul Passédat at the Petit Nice in Marseille and then with Gérard Clor at l’Escale in Carry-le-Rouet before opening up his own inn in the middle of the sweet-smellig, sage-filled garrigue. It was then, in 1997, that he earned his first Michelin star and the distinction of Meilleur Ouvrier de France. In 2001 he won his second star, recognized for his innovation. And now in 2010 he has his third Michelin star.
Goujon has spent part of his Autumn in Paris, on the Champs Elysees where he has been the guest chef at the time-honored Fouquet’s. In October he and resident chef Jean-Yves Leuranguer put on a “Diner 4 Mains” for lucky and delighted gastronomy guests. Seasonal ingredients and innovative cuisine are Chef Goujon’s signature and that’s what you were treated to if you were able to catch him for the fleeting moments when he stepped off his vineyards and into the haute urban setting to share his starry talents with Parisian diners.
Also…some Tips for A Healthy Holiday Kitchen:
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.
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.
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! [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 😉