Your Pets Will Dig This Organic Food From Recycled Bags

(sponsored post) Canadian dog food brand, Open Farm, to recycle ALL of their packaging. Also, for every empty bag sent in, they will make a donation to the sender’s favorite animal charity or rescue organization. As of this week, I … Continue reading

Kale vs. Watercress

Just when we were all getting comfortable with kale… along comes watercress to mix everything up. So what is all this fuss about watercress packing more of a nutritional punch than kale? Based on a study carried out by researchers … Continue reading

Chilled Avocado Soup

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

Fast Food Solution

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

White Strawberries – the Originals

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

Moët’s Pop-Up Restaurant With Yannick Alléno

by Paige Donner On a recent round-up of Paris interviews, I succeeded in doing the near-impossible – catching up with the man-in-motion, the chef who never stops, Mr. Yannick Alléno, 3* Michelin chef and champion of local-sourced ingredients for his … Continue reading

Luxury Travel For Pets

for the most demanding clients ´pets : private jets, limos , hairdressers, five star hotels , dog psychology … Everything is possible for animal lovers… sponsored post   Next Stop Spain is the benchmark for the VIP clients in arranging their … Continue reading

Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire, It’s A Wonderful Life

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

Suchard & Local Food And Wine Chocolate Christmas Giveaway

Christmas is right around the corner, once again, welcoming all the gourmet treat lovers with its festive sweets.   Suchard has on offer this season a gift box sure to please you and every chocolate lover on your Gift List … Continue reading

Sirius XM Satellite’s Green Is Good Radio Features Paige Donner, Founder Local Food And Wine

Paige Donner, journalist, blogger, eco-activist, actor/filmmaker and more, returns to the show from Paris to discuss her passion for local food and wine. Donner became more interested in the marriage of regional wines and local food when she was in … Continue reading

Panda Bears And The Climactic Re-zoning of Wine Regions

by Paige Donner What do panda bears and wine have to do with one another? Now that’s a question I never imagined I’d be posing here on myLocal Food And Wine blog. But, according to the recently released (April 8th, … Continue reading

Les Meilleurs Vins du Canada by LARVF

Be sure to pick up February’s issue of La Revue du Vin de France… British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario wines and wineries are featured in a multiple-page spread. For the Okanagan some beautiful highlights of Osoyoos Larose and also Quail’s … Continue reading

Saint-Emilion Wines 2012 Classification

by Paige Donner   [First Published on Technorati] Just released is the new 2012 Saint-Emilion Classification which ranks 82 of the most respected chateaux and wineries of Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux. Four made it into the Premier Grand Cru Classé A rank: … Continue reading

GMO Labeling Initiative Heading to California Ballot!

Hi LA friends, I wanted to let you know about this event taking place in LA next week to celebrate the good news that Californians will get to decide in November whether we have the right to know if the food we eat is made with genetically engineered ingredients. Continue reading

The Wine Yacht

“We wanted to put our own unique spin on traditional food and wine pairing concepts” says Chef Natasha Harris. “Clients who book the yacht will be able to show their guests Vancouver from a new perspective, while learning about interesting wine and food combinations using local ingredients. It’s a great opportunity to showcase our city and what we are privileged to have here.” 

Created by Sunset Bay’s ISG accredited Executive Chef Natasha Harris, The Wine Yacht’s interactive group tasting sessions are designed to provide clients with an informative and unique custom tasting event while on board the “Sunset Bay II” private yacht. Each tasting station features premium wine varietals from BC and around the world, paired with small plates inspired by the corresponding wine’s region.

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Today Is Biodynamic Flower Day

Courtesy of Organic Matters, Ireland’s Organic Magazine

Bio-dynamic gardening

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

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

Flower and fruit

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

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

Bio-dynamic calendar

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

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

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Bordeaux Nibbles And Fresh Markets

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

La Table du Lavoir

by Paige Donner [Read Full Article on Bordeaux Food And Wine] La Table du Lavoir is built on the 19th c. site of an old vineyard wash house the wives of the vineyard workmen would use on laundry days. It has … Continue reading

Bordeaux’s Musée du Vin et Du Négoce

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

Quebec Independent Winegrowers Joins European Confederation

Cevi-logo

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.

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

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

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

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

Vegas Uncork'd on Local Food And Wine

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

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

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

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

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Secret Paris Picnics

by Paige Donner

Paris is catching on to a wildly popular UK dining custom called “Secret Dinners.” In certain parts of the U.S., such as L.A. and NYC, they are popular, too. Essentially, they are moveable feasts where the people, the food and, most importantly, the locales are never the same.

Secret Picnic - Local Food And WineParisian foodies will nod and smile and confess that they have no idea why the Secret Dinner trend hasn’t quite taken hold in their city. It might be partly because when you do a search on the internet under Paris Secret Dinners this huge article of a catacomb tribe who held seances (not really, much tamer than that, but it’s fun to spread these blasphemous rumors, isn’t it!?) in the secret tunnels below the Trocadero surfaces.

Local Food And Wine - picnicIn Paris there are a few who are carrying on the UK tradition of Secret Dinners and Secret Lunches. One goes by the name New Friends Table and another by the name Miss Lunch. Neither wanted their photos published or even too much written about them, given that it’s all, well, you know, Secret!

The concept is a good one for travelers or transplants to a new city. Anyone can eat out at a restaurant, but how often do you get the chance to be invited to someone’s home where you can share a meal, meet other people, talk to locals, and generally get an authentic glimpse into how people live in a given city. Well, you might, if you have an old college roommate or a cousin living in a foreign city, but if you’re off for a romantic weekend or on business overseas for a week, you likely won’t get that opportunity.

As a single woman, it provoked some thought to agree to attend a Secret Dinner where an address isn’t provided until a few hours before the start time and where you must swear to secrecy about the identity of the people putting on the dinner.

Local Food And wine - Paris PicnicsSo when a Secret Picnic was alternately proposed, I felt confident that this was the better choice. Sunshine and spring weather on a Saturday afternoon in a Paris park is paradise on Earth. Add to that a picnic basket filled with some of the best delights Paris has to offer, in the form of cheeses, bread, wine, olives, chocolate, traiteur salads and cold dishes, and a couple of outrageously decadent desserts all delicately spread out on a colorful flower tablecloth on the grass and you’ve got yourself a Picnic a la gourmand…secret or not.

Sightseeing is tiring. And while shopping for cheese and wine can be fun, you might not know where to get the best stuff when you’re in Paris for 72 hours. It’s also time consuming to make the pilgrimages to the various arrondissements to gather the truly famous goods.

You have the option of either joining in on a Secret Picnic already planned or you can order your private picnic for two, as you desire. Now you’ll just have to try to figure out who the Secret Picnic people are. Good LUCK!  Hint: they arenot in the catacombs under the Trocadero.

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Tesla and Jetsetter Present the Ultimate Green Weekend

Jetsetter

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In honor of Earth Day, Tesla is partnering with luxury vacation company Jetsetter to offer thoroughly green luxury weekend getaways. Vacationers are invited to stay for a full weekend at one of three top-tier, eco-friendly hotels in North America: The Loden in Vancouver, The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, or the Bardessono in Napa Valley. During their stay, they will get total access to an electric Tesla Roadster for two days. This is the first time Tesla has offered an opportunity like this!

The weekend packages go on sale at noon EDT today, Earth Day, Friday, April 22 at http://www.jetsetter.com/tesla.

Jetsetter operates very similarly to Gilt Groupe. It’s an online community that provides members with insider access, expert knowledge and exclusive deals on the world’s greatest vacations. Sales are valid for a limited time only, and are first come first serve. Those who sign up with Jetsetter to take advantage of the Tesla deal will receive a $50 credit.


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Paris’ Best Cooking Schools For The Hungry Tourist

By Paige Donner

Read Complete Article on Black Book Magazine

Paris’ Best Amateur Cooking Schools for the Hungry Tourist

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

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

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

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

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

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Sharing Dreams to Build Connections Between People

Mission Hill Family Estate Winery Commissions First
Canadian Sculptural Exhibition by French Artist Nathalie Decoster

West Kelowna, British Columbia (April 13, 2011) – Mission Hill Family Estate Proprietor Anthony von Mandl announces a collaboration with renowned French artist Nathalie Decoster.

Her first Canadian solo exhibition, to be held at the Okanagan winery June – October, follows recent installations in Paris, France at Avenue des Champs-Elysées, Luxembourg Gardens, and the Bagatelle Gardens. Internationally, Decoster installations are located in a range of settings from London and Vienna to Brazil and Venice.

Nathalie_decoster

Over Fifty Decoster installations will be featured on award-winning Okanagan winery grounds

Von Mandl first encountered these magnificent works of art more than eight years ago when he visited an exhibition at Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte winery in Bordeaux’s Graves appellation. Since that time, he has held a strong belief that an exhibition at Mission Hill would be a memorable event for winery guests, the Okanagan Valley and the Canadian arts community.

“What immediately struck me about Mrs. Decoster’s art were the curved hoops that cradle her human forms to create a strong visual connection between the art and the outside world,” says von Mandl. “These curved hoops are akin to the metal hoops that hold together the precious barrels that age our wines and are essential to crafting exceptional wines.”

Over the years, von Mandl and Decoster have been in regular contact planning the timing of her Canadian debut and the winery’s first exhibition of this magnitude. This year, Over 50 sculptures installed throughout the winery grounds will be enjoyed by guests who stroll the property, visit the wine cellars and taste the various vintages. The Decoster Sculpture Exhibition will be open to the public at no additional charge. The permanent installation of one significant sculpture ensures a lasting legacy for all who visit the winery.

“We hope Mrs. Decoster’s work resonates with visitors as she plays with the notion of sharing dreams to build connections between people,” says von Mandl. “We believe this same connection speaks to what we are trying to accomplish as winemakers. The parallels are undeniable and we invite art lovers, or the merely curious, to visit Mission Hill to discover the magnificent work of sculptress Nathalie Decoster.”

Von Mandl’s passion for the arts traces back to his European roots and earliest, fondest memories of his parents who fostered in him a love of arts, music, cuisine and learning. Mission Hill is a family-owned winery with a dedicated staff who shares its founder’s passion for wine, food and the arts. Their dedication to wine excellence is coupled with a long-term commitment to support the visual and performing arts, essential components of the Mission Hill guest experience.

About Nathalie Decoster
Decoster lives and works in her converted factory studio in Paris. Her early work with decorative art studios led her to perfect her sculpting technique with an old-school master and the development of personal creations with new skills and materials. The essential mediums of her work include steel, bronze, aluminum, stainless steel and concrete. She employs vocabulary recognizably her own. An “art brut” figure is her messenger represented in minimalist geometric structures which convey philosophical messages about the human condition. With a dash of humour, she makes us conscious of the absurdities in our modern human lives. Helping us identify with these themes presents a password to serenity. Visit nathaliedecoster.com for more information.

About Mission Hill Family Estate
Mission Hill Family Estate is world renowned for its award-winning wines, stunning setting, architecture, and Cuisine du Terroir-influenced Terrace Restaurant. The winery’s vineyards are located in five distinct growing regions of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. Reflective of the origin and unique character of the Valley and meticulous ‘Vine to Bottle’ program, Oculus, its signature Bordeaux-inspired wine, represents the pinnacle in premium winemaking. Proprietor Anthony von Mandl and winemaker John Simes produce elegant internationally acclaimed wines with New World flavours and Old World refinement from this incomparable wine valley. Visit missionhillwinery.com for more information and follow Mission Hill Family Estate on Twitter @missionhillwine.


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

 

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

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


WINE PROFESSIONAL CHALLENGE

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

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

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

QUADY DESSERT COMPETITION

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

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

WINE LIST AWARDS

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

Blue Water Café + raw bar
West Restaurant


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

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

Gold

RimRock Cafe Whistler

Silver
Araxi Restaurant + Bar

Honourable Mention
Ric’s Grill

VANCOUVER ISLAND AND GULF ISLANDS

Silver
The Pacific Restaurant (Victoria)

Bronze
Nautical Nellies Restaurant

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

BC INTERIOR

Silver
La Bussola (Kelowna)

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

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

Gold

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

Silver

Cilantro (Calgary)

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

Honourable Mention
Taste (Calgary)
Ric’s Grill S

teakhouse (Grande Prairie)


ABOUT THE PLAYHOUSE WINE FESTIVAL

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

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

 

 

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B.C. Shellfish Festival


B.C. Shellfish Festival

Posted by Mathew Wright

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Le Jour Du Macaron

Le Jour Du Macaron

by Paige Donner

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

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

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

Some addresses in Paris to get you started:

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

For more addresses go to: Jour du Macaron

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


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

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

DIVA(S) AT THE MET

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

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

THE LEGACY OF A SPANISH VISIONARY: MIGUEL TORRES

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

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

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

GOOD GRACIOUS GRENACHE!

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

MEET YOUR MATCH

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

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

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

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

ABOUT THE PLAYHOUSE WINE FESTIVAL

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

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

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Beverly Hills Wine Festival

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

Where:
2025 Avenue of the Stars
Los Angeles CA

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

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

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Mad Men And Cocktails – A Vintage Comeback

Cocktails in Paris at Le Royal Parc Monceau

Vintage spirits and forgotten cocktails are quaffed anew. In a nod to tradition and technology, AMC’s Mad Men Cocktail Culture smart phone app helps users master the forgotten art of cocktail mixing.

And in a campaign throwback, Mr. Peanut, the iconic Planters Peanuts character, has begun to talk (the voice of Robert Downey Jr.) for the first time in the 94 years since he was first introduced with the hope of “charming” consumers.

Vintage consumption is flourishing online and off. Call it the renaissance of retro, from once-passé décor aesthetics, to traditional barbershops for classic haircuts, to old fashioned sweets appealing to our inner child. Even the colors of yesteryear are back. Honeysuckle pink, specifically Pantone 18-2120 TCX, is the new-crowned hue of 2011. It recalls the lipstick our mothers wore, or maybe the tile in our ‘50s bathrooms. Crops of new restaurants pay homage to American culinary classics.

Tapping revived interest in forgotten fruits, veggies and animal breeds, “heirloom” businesses offer rare vintage produce. Lost Nation Orchard in New Hampshire offers orchard shares of Russian apples that arrived in the U.S. back in the 19th century. Chatham Marketplace, a food co-op in North Carolina, sells vintage varieties labeled with histories of their origins. Meanwhile, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello holds an annual Heritage Harvest Festival, bringing back old-fashioned gardening, local food and preservation of heritage plants.

Nostalgic travelers are ringing cash registers where happy memories were once made. Beset with budget cuts, the U.S. National Park Service hopes to inspire nostalgia with historic park brochures on its website, including a vintage 1913 one from Crater Lake National Park. Officials hope to evoke childhood memories of family vacations long past, when mom and dad might “see the USA in a Chevrolet” on a cross-country jaunt when gas was a quarter a gallon. Read MORE on KWE


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Le Comptoir de Tunisie

Le Comptoir de Tunisie, Paris

On a snowy, wintry day in December, a friend invited me for lunch. The address he gave was in the Palais Royal quarter of Paris, which is one of my favorites and also easy to get to. Normally. Not so easy, in fact, when snow has halted Paris’s bus service and sent all and sundry scurrying to the city’s connecting arteries, otherwise known as the Metro.

His description of Le Comptoir de Tunisie, could not have been more intriguing…nor enticing. Always one to be drawn to what might be a “Secret Garden” experience, the upstairs semi-private dining area of this spice shop, sounded like it was not just centrally located and exotic, but also off the beaten path.

Le Comptoir de Tunisie is indeed a secret garden that perches there on its white-cushioned and sofa decorated second storey, overlooking rue de Richelieu. It’s a taste of Tunisie in the heart of the Palais Royal/Louvre district of Paris.

There’s  no need for any translation of the menu, there is one dish offered for the noonday meal, the only meal the cosy dining room offers. On the day I dined with my friend, our meal started with a subtle and delicately spiced pumpkin soup. Watching the big fluffy snowflakes float down onto rue de Richelieu on that cold wintry Paris day, there wasn’t anything else in the world I would rather have been eating at that moment.

Equally as comforting was the fish that followed on its plate of couscous. The cook, a native Tunisian who didn’t seem to speak much French or English, explained through the Parisienne proprietress (whose daughter-in-law and granddaughter are Tunisienne) that she cooks the same meals that she used to for her family back home.

Wine is served with the meal. A delightful fruitcup flavored with orange blossoms and anise provides just the accent for the apres-repas. Though, if your hostess takes a fancy to you, she just might serve the dark, rich strong coffee with a plate of assorted Tunisian sweets, authentic and lightly epicee’.  Meal costs 15 Euro, before tax and tip.

Le Comptoir de Tunisie,  30 rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris www.lecomptoirdetunisie.com

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Spanish Win Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie

Coupe du Monde of Desserts and Pastries, Lyon 2011 All Photos Courtesy Francis Mainard

By Paige Donner

The twelfth annual Coupe du monde de la Pâtisserie saw the Spanish team take home this year’s trophy. On January 24th in Lyon, France,  Jordi Bordas Santacreu, Joseph Maria Guerola and Julien Alvare won first place as the world’s best patissiers. These new “virtuosos of dessert” succeed last year’s French Team as #1 in the world in the realm of Pâtisserie.

World's Best Patissiers, Lyon, France 2011

Coming in second place this year is the Italian team: Davide Comaschi, Domenico Longo and Emmanuele Forcon. In third place are the Belgian team of Dieter Charels, Marjin Coertjens and Pascal De Deyn.

Each team from the 19 countries competing for the title of World Champion de la Pâtisserie had to vie in the categories of chocolatier, ice cream and pastry. The professionals spent 10 hours to whip up three chocolate creations, three sugar-iced fruits and twelve additional desserts that were reflective of the team’s country’s traditions and customs. The showing had to include an artistic piece in sugar, one artistic chocolate presentation and one sculpted ice piece.

Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie, Lyon, 2011

Under the Honorary Presidency of Mitsuo Hara and Kazuaki Takaï, each presidents of the two most important professional culinary associations in Japan, the jury judged the quality of the marriage between the textures and tastes as well as the work’s artistry and esthetique.  Read More On Local Food And Wine.

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Cahors, Malbec From France’s Black Wine Region

by Paige Donner

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

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

Eleanor of Aquitaine helped elevate Malbec Wine from Cahors

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

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

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

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

The nose you’ll get with Cahors Malbec are:

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

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

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

Cassis – with notes of blackberries and blueberries

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

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

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

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

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

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Cooklette

by Paige Donner

The cutest, funnest, hippest cooking class in Paris is not easy to get into. Not easy at all. Which runs directly contrary to the vibe once you’re in. Amongst a citizenry that takes its food seriously (UNESCO! cultural heritage designation!)  cooking classes among youngfolk have become the thing to do.

It’s almost replaced hanging out at cafes and smoking cigarettes all afternoon discussing the tortures of romantic love as the thing to do when you’re young, single (or in a couple) and looking for some social activity. Well, scratch that. It has replaced it.

There are increasingly more chef “ateliers” springing up and those that have always been around and are now being rediscovered. What the French have found is that a cooking class is 1) Fun  2) a great ice-breaker 3) a level playing field 4) a learning experience and 5) a great way to enjoy a meal or a dessert.

The Super Hip “concept” store, Colette, which is located at 213 rue St. Honoré is the location for Cooklette. The store has such a following that the cutest boys in Paris hang outside of it 5 minutes after closing pleading with the bouncer/doorman to let them in for just another 10 minutes so they can find a last-minute gift for their girlfriends. The 7 ft. tall bouncers invariably say, “No.” Explanation is that it happens every day. But that’s what Colette has become: The trendy Parisian club of concept stores.

Downstairs, in the Water Bar, on the first Friday evening each month, they stage “Cooklette” which is their free cooking class. How do you get in? You have to be one of the first twelve to sign up on their website as soon as they announce the date in their newsletter.

January’s class was devoted to making Galette des Rois. These are the flat round tarts filled with almond paste that the French eat for the New Year. Custom has it that the cake must be cut into as many parts as there are people present, plus one.

It is also always baked with a tiny feve which is a small porcelain figurine or button that designates the recipient the “King” or “Queen”for a day. Another custom, which Cooklette faithfully practiced, is that the youngest in the group sits under the table and chooses who gets the pieces of cake and when. This is so that the person who cooked the cake can’t choose who gets the feve. Égalité, Fraternité, Degousté!

The La Galette Colette class was taught by Catherine Kluger who is famous among Parisian gourmands for her Tartes. Her Tartes Klugerare at 6 rue du Forez in the 3rd. She does sweet and savory tartes: Zuchini, Tomato, Mozzarella;  Ham, Parmesan, a touch of Bechamel with some Bacon Crispies on top. Sweet tartes include: Tarte au Cafe’ with grains of coffee and chocolate; Tarte a La Mousse au Chocolat Noire; Rhubarb and Milky Rice.

A very self-effacing chef, Catherine approached the class as if she were teaching a group of friends in her own kitchen.  She used her own recipe which rendered a simple but flavorful frangipane galette that was moist, flavorful and flaky.

According to Anais Sidali, Cooklette is just something that Colette does because they want to offer a fun activity for their customers to participate in. The downstairs Water Bar is an ideal location. They just pushed some of the center tables together and Voila’ we had a cooking atelier.  Diners were welcomed to stay and observe at the booths that hug the walls of the 20-cover or so blue and white simple diner. A Marseille-based blogger, So Food So Good, did just that

To my left was Stephane Bureaux, the author of Design Culinaire, a book full of fantastic photos and food ideas. Colette sells the book and still has a few copies left. You can’t miss it: It has a carrot and a fork on its cover. As far as culinary concepts go, Design Culinaire is to food what haute couture is to fashion.

To my right were a couple of young ladies who had, after three attempts, finally gotten lucky enough to get the reservation for the course. According to Sidali, they don’t take reservations months in advance, just the first ones to sign up that month get to come. It attracts the most passionate foodistas: The girls were raving about their intended brunch that Sunday at Chloe S.

Our advice: Subscribe to the Colette Newsletter;  Sign up for Cooklette the second it’s announced; Get Ready for some Culinary Fun ‘cuz it’s a nice cooking class if you can get it.

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La Garde Robe

by Paige Donner

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

Paris 75001, La Garde Robe offers Organic Wines

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

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

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

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

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

Café de l’Homme

By Paige Donner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Some Bubbly And A Sauternes

by Paige Donner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Piper Heidsieck Champagne and Louboutin Shoe Flute

Piper-Heidsieck

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

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

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

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

Bruno Paillard Champagne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill Cuvee'

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gosset Champagne Gift Boxes

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

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

Perrier Joseph Champagne

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

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

Moet et Chandon, Vintage Champagne

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

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

Sauternes, Sweet Bordeaux

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

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

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

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Paris Food And Wine Gossip: Blake Lively Does Gastronomy!

BLAKE LIVELY AT LE CORDON BLEU PARIS

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

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

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

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Blake Lively does Gastronomy – Local Food And Wine/ Paris

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

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Bettane & Desseauve’s Festival of Wine

By Paige Donner

Le Grand Tasting, Paris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WATCH VIDEO HERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Caviar Kaspia, Paris

by Paige Donner

Caviar Kaspia: Amour, Passion, Folie

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

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

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

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

Private Dining On Place de la Madeleine

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

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

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

Beluga Caviar with Russian Baked Potato, Caviar Kaspia, Paris

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

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

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

Caviar Etiquette

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

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

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

The world is indeed full of treasures!

Caviar Kaspia, 17 Place de la Madeleine, Paris 75008

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L’étoile d’Or {chocolat} Boutique

Post by Eric Tenin of Paris Daily Photo

Denise owns the Etoile d’Or chocolate shop in Paris, just next to the Moulin Rouge!

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…

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Independent Winemakers’ Salon – France

by Paige Donner

Rarely do you get such a glimpse of how basic an element wine is to French culture than at something like the Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants.  At an event like this one, you really get the feel of how wine is actually a basic food group for the French. It’s not a luxury or something that needs to be “mastered” but rather as elementary to daily life and basic needs as is water.

Salon des Vins des Vignerons Independants Photos copyright Thomas Millet

As a tourist or even as a resident foreigner, this Wine Salon is something I plan trips around and mark on the calendar months in advance.  Held this past weekend at the ginormous Expo center that is Porte de Versailles in Paris, I had the chance to sip and taste new and just released vintages from over 250 independent wineries and winemakers from all the regions of France. The question was not a matter of access (entry cost 6 Euro) or accessibility (all the wineries were pouring). The question was whether I had the stamina to last a whole day.  If I were a real pro, I would have gone over the course of each of the consecutive five days and prolonged the learning and the enjoyment, the listening and the tasting, stretching it out for every last drop.

Vigneron-Vigneron

The Salon des Vins des Vignerons Independants is something that everyone even remotely interested in wine must attend at some time. As a window onto wine and French culture, it’s unsurpassed. It’s also no-frills. And it’s held twice a year – in the Fall and in the Spring. The only people I envied as I roamed the alphabetized aisles, were those who were savvy enough to have come with their rolling suitcases which they packed full of bottles and cases of France’s most excellent and affordable wines.

Here’s a sampling:

Wine Tastings, France. Photo Copyright Laurent Hardhuin.

Champagne Philippe Martin

They are located right in the heart of Champagne just between Reims and Epernay in Cumieres. They grow their chardonnay and pinot noir grapes on 10 hectares and produce 6 crus.

Cuvée de Réserve Brut – dry, frothy bubbly. At 14.40 Euro per bottle at the Salon it stands up to any of the internationally known brands.

Millésime 2002 – aged and made with pinot noir grapes as well as chardonnay, the richer, fruitier grape is detectable as soon as the elixir hits your tongue. At 22 Euro per bottle, you can see why I wish I’d had my rolling suitcase with me.

Alsace

Domaine Gerard Metz “The power of harmony”

The Salon tipplers tended toward the Alsatian wines, I noticed. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Paris had just seen its first snowfall of the season this weekend.  It’s easy to think of a spicy Gewurztraminer and heavy spaetzle and sausages when it gets cold outside – all things that come from Alsace.

Gewurztraminer Vielles Vignes  2009 at 9 Euro per bottle this tending toward almost sweet gewurz tasted of the grape. In the sense that I almost felt like I had popped a whole grape into my mouth and was drinking of it, and a splash of alcohol.

Gewurztraminer “Cuvée Mégane” 2009 This guy was just shy of a late harvest wine. Its gold color spoke of its autumn, rich flavors even before it made itself known in the mouth. It sells for 13.50Euro per bottle.

Bourgogne – Chablis

It’s just too novel when you come to the realization that these wines you’ve long loved come from an actual place. In this case, Chablis.

Moreau Naudet at 5, rue des Fosses, Chablis offered Petit Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru and Chablis Grand Cru on offer. He ages his white wine for 24 mos. in barrel.

Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 2007 was smooth and classy; its light golden color reminded me of summer in California. 26 Euro

Chablis 1er Cru Montmains 2008 had lively acid playing throughout the mouth. Well-balanced and a white you can keep for a few years and still enjoy. 26 Euro

Domaine Millet “Intensement Chablis”

The winery is in Tonnerre, still within Bourgogne. The Petit Chablis L’Angelus and Petit Chablis were noteworthy, all 2009. They also had their Chablis Vieilles Vignes and Chablis 1er Cru Vaucoupin for sale and to taste. The maturity of the old vines tend to be the wines I gravitate towards. www.chablis-millet.com

Côte du Rhône, St. Joseph

Domaine du Mortier, Saint Joseph by Didier Crouzet. What’s a wine tasting if you don’t indulge in a bit of the sacred St. Joseph? Part of the geography of Côte Rôtie, a St. Joseph can take good care of you through the Winter. On 10.5 acres Mssr. Crouzet cultivates his vines of character.

Domaine du Mortier, St. Joseph, 2008 A little light. Not often found in this wine or appellation, it can offer a more drinkable alternative to what is usually paired with a good steak or winter roast.

Domaine du Mortier, St. Joseph, 2009 is a considerably more powerful wine. 2009 vintages, like the 2010 harvest, will have legs for years to come. Dark fruit, some wood, wine with a backbone.

Bourgogne, Pouilly-Fuisse

In this cluster were three domains that are run by the same winemakers and which are all independent. The majority they’ve brought to market this year have won a medal or an award or even a “coup de coeur” from the Guide Hachette des Vins 2011.

Domaine de Fussiacus   Pouilly-Vinzelles 2008. These grapes are from 30-40 year old vines. This lovely tinted yellow gold nectar won the Medaille d’Or Paris et Macon 2010. It was selling for a mere 10.30 Euro.

Domaine Chateau de Chaintre Bourgogne Blanc 2008 is the one which you’ll find in the Guide Hachettes des Vins 2011 listed as the Coup de Coeur. It is burgundy chardonnay and its well-balanced, proper notes and aromas make it a perfect choice for a dinner with family and friends.

Domaine de Fussiacus Vielles Vignes Pouilly-Fuisse 2008 had a nose of citrus and a delicious mouth of calcaire and mineral hints.  Another one of those wines I wish I’d bought a case of. 15.10 Euro per bottle.

Corbières

From this region down near Perpignan which is still part of Languedoc-Roussillon you will find wines that have the garrigue in their molecules.

Abbaye de Fontfroide

A husband and wife winemaking team, Nicolas de Chevron Villette married his wife, Laure d’Andoque de Seriege, whose family has owned the Abbaye de Fontfroide and the vines that surround it for centuries. They have a tasting room, a restaurant and they offer vacation stays. It is also just 15 km. away from the region’s only 3 Michelin star restaurant run by France’s Best Chef 2010.

Abbaye de Fontfroide Cuvée Deo Gratias 2007 A finessed red wine that speaks of the region and the terroir. The nose is aromatic, the mouth hints of the garrigue.

Abbaye de Fontfroide Cuvée Oculus 2009 Though this is a white, it boasts a nutty mouth and an aromatic nose. At 7.10Euro a bottle, it is an elegant wine to serve at table with roasted poultry and new potatoes for example.

Abbaye de Fontfroide Cuvée Deo Gratias 2009 The grapes are Roussanne, Marsanne predominantly and the juice is new barrel aged. 12.90 per bottle. www.fontfroide.com

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Le Cordon Bleu News

Partnership with Slow Food
Returning to the source 

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

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

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

 

Le Cordon Bleu entertains Chilean President
The Ultimate Accolade 

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

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

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

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

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

Watch the video.

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Today’s Special

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

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

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

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

Rating: R. Running Time: 99 minutes.

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Gilles Goujon, Chef of The Year 2010

Gilles Goujon, Chef of The Year, 2010

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

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

Fontjoncouse, Corbieres region, Languedoc Roussillon.

Auberge du Vieux Puits (The Old Well Inn)

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

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

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

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How To Cook Turkey

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

TURKEY RECIPE

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

Give this a try.

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

And, you thought I didn’t cook…

Also…some Tips for A Healthy Holiday Kitchen:

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

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French Cuisine at Unesco

French Cuisine As Cultural Heritage of Humanity

French Cuisine at Unesco! [Courtesy Paris Daily Photo]


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

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Thanksgiving Is About Gratitude…And Food!

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

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

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

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

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

Help for the Holidays

Basket of Vegetables

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


21st Annual Malibu Pie Festival 

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

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

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San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival

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

THE SAN DIEGO BAY WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Corsica – L’île de Beauté

Cape Corsica.

By Paige Donner

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

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

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

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

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

They also have excellent beaches in Corsica!

Corsican Beaches.

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Cuisine Concepts

New takes on common concepts:  Lobster on the fly; Guest-cheffing; apple pie a la derriere; and Patty’s Pizza takes its cue from Koji Bbq…

Paris's Le Troisieme Lieu

1. LE TROISIEME LIEU — Stealing a tradition from music and comedy clubs, Paris bar Le Troisième Lieu has declared Mondays as ‘open kitchen nights’: any aspiring chef can register to be the venue’s cook for the evening. All meals cost EUR 12.

2. PUBLIC PIE — Dutch mobile kitchen Public Pie features ovens that are integrated into the outdoor benching that is provided for patrons, meaning customers get exactly what is promised by the company motto: ‘Fresh apple pie with a hot butt’.

3. PATTY’S PIZZA — Santa Monica pizza maker Patty’s has done away with its brick-and-mortar eatery altogether, and moved its retail operation entirely online. On top of that, customers can choose to have their gourmet pizzas delivered baked or par-baked, giving them the option of completing the process their own oven.

4. LOBSTER PUSHER — How to make a sandwich more exciting to consumers? The Lobster Pusher’s answer is to make the act of buying one emulate a drug deal. Customers interested in The Merchandise—a lobster bun—must first become a member of a Facebook group. Orders for product are conducted by SMS, and handovers take place surreptitiously on street corners.

Thanks to: Food Inspiration

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Rock Creek Trading Post Organic Coffee

Rock Creek Trading Post, about 35 miles East of Osoyoos, is the first – and practically only – contemporary coffee shop you’ll find “in” Osoyoos. If you’re visiting or on holiday from somewhere like Vancouver or Seattle and accustomed to finding a coffee shop where you can grab a flavorful cup o’joe, a relaxing mug of hot tea, an organic pastry or gluten-free snack and check your emails, you’ll have to drive to Rock Creek to do so.

And when you get there, you’ll be glad you did. Follow your nose, literally, and you’ll find it. The roasting coffee beans, an aromatic activity they do daily on the front porch of the Trading Post, leads you straight to the steaming cup of coffee that either Denise or Kent will brew up for you on the spot.

The Rock Creek Trading Post, sits right in the cross-hairs of this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it little town that is quintessential “old hippies” B.C. Funny thing is, it’s one of the best coffee shops, if not the best coffee shop, you’ll find in the Okanagan. Owners Denise and Kent Blaker are former goat farmers who love to travel and have cultivated a firm belief in Fair Trade. “We were farmers. We know what it’s like to be on the front lines and doing all the work and receiving the least amount for it,” explains Denise when she talks about how she and her husband Kent came to the practice of serving only Fair Trade coffee.

Fair Trade also means you get a better bean. “We saw 2-3 year old kids sorting beans. They would sort the yellow, green and red beans from a blanket harvest,” explains Kent, describing one of his and Denise’s trips to Guatemala. “The Fair Trade co-ops wait and only harvest the ripe beans.” Which means that only the ripe beans are picked. This, ultimately, is what gives you the better cup of coffee.

The open patio of the Rock Creek Trading Post invites you to set yourself down at the picnic table, next to the coffee roaster, and plug in your laptop. They charge a – minimal – fee for internet use. The lunch crowd gets fairly busy, especially on a Saturday when people coming and going between Kelowna and Osoyoos stop en route for a fresh-made bowl of soup, Denise’s handmade hummus and Pita plate or her guacamole, salsa and chips and fresh fruit smoothies. They use local and organic ingredients whenever possible, though they do admit that sometimes in the winter that can be a challenge.

So many of us these days are gluten-intolerant, so you’ll be pleased to see that many of the Trading Post’s pastries are made with gluten-free ingredients and they even sell things like coconut flour and hemp seed flour. Denise’s carrot cake is a local favorite, likely because she laces the cream cheese frosting with just the right amount of fresh lemon juice, to give it that tart-and-sweet balance.

You’ll see the garden just off to the side of the patio. Denise maintains it simply for the love of gardening. “If someone is off to a wedding or in a pinch to bring a loved one flowers, I may sell them some of my flowers, but really, the garden is mostly just for my own enjoyment,” she says.

They don’t regret giving up farming. In fact, they’ve let their fields revert to their natural state, allowing nature to reclaim its land on their former goat farm. What Kent and Denise enjoy doing now is traveling to South America in the winters and during the beautiful British Columbia summers, preparing top-quality foods that are good for you and enjoyable to eat for their regular customers who come into the Rock Creek Trading Post for breakfast and lunch…And brewing the freshest, most aromatic cup of coffee you’ll find that side of the Okanagan.

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Laughing Along The Bench

May long weekend was one of those where the sun cooperated with the clouds and both were in harmonic concert with the calendar. Which is to say, May long weekend was spectacular for wine tasting afternoons.

The Naramata Bench always invites,…perhaps it’s the lake views, the easy meandering route – in via one road, out via the same road – or, just maybe, it’s the wines themselves that consistently beckon.

A quick easy snack of Eggers at The Bench specialty market and cafe’ as I started my journey provided fortification for the enjoyably foreseen alcohol consumption. Most days I spit, today I had decided to swirl. There’s something grand about being on vacation in wine territory and not the designated driver…

The few outdoor tables at The Bench Market hosted clusters of Gelato lickers and some chowing down on their more substantial wraps and sandwiches. The little specialty cafe’ that sits at the doorway to the Naramata Bench is such a fun place to poke around. I love looking through their tray of Naramata Handmade Seeds and imagine what it would be like to plant some Cape Gooseberry, perhaps some Togo Trefle, or even some Gigantesque or Ste. Lucie. All the seeds are “open-pollinated, grown in Naramata by natural chemical-free methods.” At $3.00 per packet, they make great gifts and garden projects. You can also find Okanagan Harvest Cake here. It comes vacuum-packed so you can take this deliciousness home for savoring later if you wish (and if willpower permits).

The Naramata Bench can be as much a treasure treat hunt as it is a wine tasting trail. With this thought, the first stop was in at Poplar Grove where they make, and sell, cheese and wine. The ever popular Poplar Grove boasted a packed tasting counter. The clamor for cheese could be heard even above the soft patter of the wine sippers. Fairly early in the day still, there were only three rounds of their Naramata Bench Blue cheese left. Fortune smiled on me that day as I was handed one of the precious rounds. Seems their 20% off sale on the cheese had precipitated a cheese run throughout the day.

But, first things first, so I made my way through their tasting flight. Outstanding is their Cabernet Franc ’06. They hold their wines longer than anyone in the valley and this Cab Franc lives up to its, “Black Forest Cake In A Bottle,” reputation. Ripe, red fruits, silky cocoa. Their Ogopogo label also caught my eye from a design perspective but once you taste their ’06 Cab Franc it’s kind of hard (sorry!) to remember what came before that. As I worked through my purchases, I was delighted to see that the cheese came out to only $6. That was the deal of the day.

Back out on the main road I saw that the Marichel Vineyards’ sign was proclaiming they were open. I had been wanting to stop in for some time, even just to take in the iconic Okanagan Lake views from their patio. Funny, but the definitive pictures you mostly see of the Okanagan are actually of Vaseux Lake and not the Okanagan.

Twice in the course of an afternoon, fortune blessed me as the sun was high overhead and the views from Marichel Vineyards patio were, well, iconic Lake Okanagan. Marichel’s exquisitely trimmed vineyards that sit on the “Bench,” or bluff right there delight tribes of quail. It would be easy enough to spend a whole afternoon just watching the quail and their little quail babies weave through the manicured vines and talk to Richard and Elizabeth Roskell, Marichel Vineyard owners and winemakers.

Marichel’s ’07 Syrah is melt in your mouth good. If Syrah could be a dark chocolate in a bottle, this is it.

Marichel’s tasting room is like one you’d find in Argentina. The comfortably-sized room opening up onto the outdoor veranda is furnished with a tasting table, a big wooden picnic table with benches that invites you to have a seat, take a moment, and enjoy the experience of tasting wine. The Roskells were the first on the bench to plant Viognier, so their vines now are 11 years old – and beautiful!

Their property features a gulch on it which serves to divide the acreage into “eight little different vineyard blocks, with different soils even,” explains Elizabeth. She remembers all too well when she and her husband Richard were out auguring the soil with a pickaxe to get the young vines in. She laughs and says that, yes, they are always open, it’s just that often they are in the vineyard working. But they enjoy very much meeting and hosting people for tastings; It’s just best to call ahead if you want to be sure to be greeted at the gate.

Their Syrah is well worth making the appointment for. Richard has planted six different Syrah blocks, and they expect each to be signature different. As you gaze out their veranda onto the golden afternoon sun-drenched lake you see a lone pine tree on the bluff, that is where they’ve planted their Sunset Block of Syrah.

On the afternoon I stopped in Elizabeth was pouring Marichel Syrah ’07. As she poured the dark berry hued wine into the full, stemless tasting glass I could already see that I was in for a treat. I cupped the glass in the warmth of my hand and swirled the ripe juice to aid its flavor release. I could almost feel it melting in the glass. Elizabeth was telling me how one of her pastimes is baking and that she makes a dark chocolate cake where she soaks the cherries in this Syrah before cooking them in the cake.

Time to taste: Marichel’s ’07 Syrah is melt in your mouth good. If Syrah could be a dark chocolate in a bottle, this is it. Its nose, ever so slightly brisk, belies the full-bodied maturity of the vintage, hints of leather, a whiff of Autumn leaves. The mouth is full, velvety, smooth, round, well-balanced, specialized, with red fruits and a Godiva dark chocolate finish.

A few moments at Marichal Vineyards and you’ve carved into memory indelible images of Naramata taste, sight and sunshine.

It’s said that laughter is the best therapy, so a must-stop was Laughingstock Vineyards. A table with crazy fun hats was on display to greet tasters. But really crazy hats, and big mirrors, to try them on and see which ones fit. Hats came in varietals like a WWII fighter pilot with goggles, Jimmi Hendrix afro wig, pointed Merlin’s hat, Argentine Bolero, a witch’s black hat, a chicken-o-your-head hat…and more.

“It’s to remind us not to take ourselves too seriously,” stated the lady pouring Laughing Stock’s tasting flight, explaining that it’s only for special occasions that they put out the hats.

Not to miss in their flight is their Portfolio ’07 which is a blend of 56% Merlot 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, 6% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot. Vines magazine calls it one of Canada’s “icon wines.”

Out in mid-June is their Pinot Noir ’09. Looking forward to trying it as they did not release a Pinot Noir for ’08. Also worth noting is their Syrah, with a Viognier blend, will be out soon. Now that sounds interesting…

Lunch on the patio at Hillside Estate Winery is a Bench landmark. Their new chef began back in April and even simple dishes of steamed mussels in a red sauce with some dipping bread can showcase why it’s so great to be alive.

Hillside Estate Winery is one of the only wineries in the Valley to do a Muscat. They are also the only winery in all of Canada to do a Muscat Ottonel. The original owner of Hillside Estate Winery brought her 6 vines of Ottonel over in her backpack from Czechoslovakia. “She probably would have gotten into trouble, had she been caught. But she wasn’t, so now we have this beautiful Muscat and thousands of Ottonel vines,” explained the tasting room pourer.

Kathy Malone is their winemaker and I wouldn’t leave Hillside without trying their, Muscat Ottonel ’09, ’07 Reserve Merlot and also their ’09 Gewurztraminer. The tasting room at Hillside Estate is always going to be full on weekends, so just hang in and press on ’til it’s your turn at the tasting bar. Then dig in and enjoy.

A day of laughter and wine wouldn’t be complete without a sojourn at Therapy Vineyards and Guesthouse. Therapy Vineyards’ winemaker, Steve Latchford, makes a Malbec that’s been getting people talking. He uses grapes grown down in Oliver. On the Naramata Bench, they have 7 acres under cultivation, though the property is so impressive, down there at the end of the Bench, that it’s easy to think they have vast more under cultivation. Their Malbec is the first wine in Canada to feature a hockey player on the label. Go figure!

People flock in for the Freudian Sip; Aged eight months in French Oak gives this Chardonnay a strong spine. Their “Pink Freud,” rose’ is also a crowd pleaser. Therapy Vineyards is one of the few wineries on the Bench that has a Guesthouse. It’s a tough choice between there and the Naramata Heritage Inn And Spa. On a sunny summer weekend, it’ll probably just come down to whoever has the first, or last remaining, opening.

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Brooks Winery 2007 ‘Ara’ Willamette Valley Riesling

By: The Wine Spies

Mission Codename: The Wisest of All

Operative: Agent White

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

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Brooks Winery

Wine Subject: 2007 ‘Ara’ Willamette Valley Riesling

Winemaker: Chris Williams

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

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mission Report:

WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER

SUBJECT: Chris Williams

WINE EDUCATION: Hands-on

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF:none

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

WINEMAKER QUOTE: Eat, Drink, and be merry!

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


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

WINEMAKER INTERVIEW

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

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

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

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

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

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

RED: Who do you make wine for?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHRIS: Just……….ENJOY!

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

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

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

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Food Down The Road – Summer Reading And References

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

Fiction

Non-Fiction

Cookbooks

Periodicals & Reports

Films

Websites

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

Local Food Directories

Farmers’ Markets

Local Food Stores

Food Security

Local Food Programs Ontario

Canada

USA

New Farmer Training and Resources

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

Canada

USA

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

Urban Agriculture & Growing Your Own Food

Kingston

Canada

Food Related Events Kingston

Ontario

Activist & Action Groups  Biotechnology

  • Canadian Biotechnology Action Network — www.cban.ca

Climate Change

Other – Kingston

Other – Ontario

Other – Canada

Other – USA & International

Preservation Initiatives Seed-Saving

Land Preservation

Animal Breeds

Research Initiatives

Organic Research Initiatives

Kingston Community Meal &Food Programs

Cooking with Local Food

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How To Love The Heartbreak Grape

by Paige Donner

How To Love The Heartbreak Grape

Pinot noir is a very fickle grape, requiring the utmost attention and respect in every phase of the winemaking process. Winemakers are the first to testify to this, claiming that grapes that have been handled too much can end up making wines that lack flavor and harmony.

Clearly, Pinot noir is a risky (and more expensive) proposition for the winegrower, the winemaker, and the wine drinker. But it is precisely this high-stakes gamble that makes pinot noir all the more alluring and rewarding.

There is much debate as to the origins of the variety, although one currently popular theory is that the Pinot noir grape is an offspring of Pinot meunier and Gewurztraminer. This union helps explain the characteristics behind the beloved Pinot noir. As author Stuart Pigot notes in Planet Wine, “Pinot meunier gave Pinot noir its bright, berry aromas and initial charm, while Gewurztraminer its silkiness, extravagance, nobility, and fickleness.”

Pinot Noir, the elegant, fickle, silky grape.

The name Pinot Noir is derived from the French words for “pine” and “black” in reference to the varietals’ tightly clustered dark purple cone-shaped bunches of grapes. Therefore, Pinot noir refers both to the grape varietal as well as the wine that it produces. The skin of the Pinot noir grape is relatively thin, making it a tricky, albeit rewarding, candidate for wine production.

As mentioned by Karen MacNeil in The Wine Bible, “Winemakers adopt a minimalist approach, and often a percentage of the grapes is not crushed. Instead, whole grapes are put directly into the fermenting tanks, which also helps maximize fruity flavors in the wine. To keep those fruit flavors dominant, many wine-makers are also extremely careful and sparing in their use of new oak for aging.”

Oregon, inspired by the similar climate characteristics of Burgundy, staked its reputation on Pinot noir with much success. Thanks to ocean fog, California has shown that it too has no shortage of spots cool enough to keep Pinot grapes on the vine as they develop fine fruity flavors and texture. Notable Pinot regions in California include Los Carneros, the Russian River Valley in Sonoma and Santa Maria north of Santa Barbara.

Pinot noir is what put Oregon on the map internationally, and is the most planted in the state by far. Wineries in Oregon tend to be small family affairs. Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot gris follow. Oregon has no such thing as cheap, bulk wine. The climate is distinctly cloudy and cool, especially in the Willamette Valley where most of the wineries are clustered. This gentle climate, which highly resembles that of Burgundy, allows for wines of good acidity and balance, moderate alcohol, and an ideal degree of flavor.

Love Pinot? Check out the International Pinot Noir Celebration!

Summer Wine Reads:  Johnson, Hugh. The World Atlas of Wine, Ed. 4. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994; MacNeil, Karen. The Wine Bible. New York: Workman Publishing, 2001; Pigott, Stuart. Planet Wine. London: Mitchell Beazley, 2004; Robinson, Jancis. Jancis Robinson’s Wine Course. London: BBC Books, 1995.

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Courtenay’s Heart And Local Soul

By Paige Donner

Chef Roland St. Pierre, Comox Valley

Chef Ronald St. Pierre, Locals’ “Pride and Joy”

A stay in Comox Valley, Vancouver Island would feel black and white, gray even, without dining out at least one meal – if not daily – at Locals Restaurant in Courtenay. Where the colors of nature greet you at every turn, this is a Valley bursting with vibrancy. If there’s one thing nature loves, it’s color: The eye-popping yellows and purples of Spring flowers, the deep greens of leafy vegetables, the dark reds of vine-ripened tomatoes, even the fleshy pinks of fresh salmon.

Comox Valley’s Pride And Joy

“Locals – Food From The Heart of the Island” is the pride and joy of Chef Ronald St. Pierre who, with his wife, have created a dining experience that represents the culinary best of Vancouver Island’s Comox Valley. To walk through Locals’ doors is like walking into an Island Chefs Collaborative Farmers Market turned restaurant.

The exterior is humble enough. In fact, the praises that were sung about the restaurant and Chef St. Pierre, his philosophy and his passion for fresh, local ingredients did not prepare me for finding the restaurant to be the cornerstone in a Courtenay strip mall. As a first-time visitor to the Island, at every turn I was struck by the quaintness and charm of old farms, wooden buildings, even Courtenay itself is a picturesque little town entirely walkable with cheerful cafes and shops that line 5th Street, its downtown core and the center of Comox Valley. But now I know why people had failed to mention the restaurant’s exterior – once you’ve eaten there, what’s outside doesn’t matter. The restaurant’s interior is tastefully appointed, with a second room that has large booths for a private dining experience. But truly, the only thing you remember is how good the food is!

Chef Roland St. Pierre is a pioneer in translating “locavorism” into the driving philosophy behind a successful restaurant. Mind you, on Vancouver Island, locavorism is the common mind-set and to do otherwise is, well, frankly absurd. The Comox Valley especially is an abundant bread, fruit, cheese, meat and seafood basket. It could easily be named “Valley of Plenty” so abundant is all the fresh quality fare within arm’s reach. The Locals’ website explains their philosophy and reasoning, such as, “Buying habits are shifting with ‘food currently tied with health as our 4th top spending priority.’” It’s definitely worth reading if you at all consider yourself a foodie. Or a greenie.

So Chef Roland and his wife got to talking with local farmers and growers and saw what could be directly sourced for their table. They create their seasonal menus around the ingredients available. Pattison Farms, for example, supplies their fresh greens such as baby spinach, heirloom tomatoes and spicy mustard greens. Beaufort Vineyards supplies them with wine, as do other local vineyards like Chase & Warren Estate Winery and Cabrea Vineyard & Winery as well as the many vineyards just a bit south in the Cowichan Valley.

As part decoration and as part tribute, Chef St. Pierre hangs his walls with portraits of the farm-to-table suppliers he sources his fresh, local ingredients from. If you are keen to do a tour of the Valley’s prime growers for ingredients ranging from pork to duck, tomatoes to broccoli florets, goat cheese to mussels to ancient method balsamic vinegars, take a look at Locals’ walls, jot down the names and then work your way down the “wall.” With this itinerary, curated by Locals’ Restaurateurs Chef and Mrs. St. Pierre, you are guaranteed to enjoy a thoroughly fresh and authentic introduction to some of the Island’s star growers and local farmers.

Local’s Market Sheet Menu

The price points are also exceedingly reasonable. More often than not Locals’ has a Prix-Fixe or Market Sheet menu to order from. Depending on the season, for $35 you can have a seared duck “prosciutto” appetizer, a main-course of Bison (or fresh caught salmon) and a medley of desserts including fresh off-the-farm raspberry mousse. Or you can order a’ la carte from the menu. Either way, you’ll leave exceedingly, freshly satisfied.

Reservations suggested.  384 8th Street  Courtenay, BC Canada Reservations 250-338-6493

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Green New Zealand’s Pinot Noir And Gewurz