Cognac For ♥ Valentine’s Day

Cognac for the most important ♥ holiday of the year!? Yes! And not just for your fella, but for your Lady (love) as well. 

Scenes from Cognac

 all photos by and c. Paige Donner 2012 

Click Here for Slideshow Hennessy, Courvoisier, Remy Martin and Paul Giraud (in that order)

Women love things that are smooth, warm, that glide just the right way and yet still have that appropriate touch of femininity. You might think that I’m describing lovely lingerie. But, No! I’m talking about cognac. That’s right!  Cognac can be YOUR dreamy passport to love and pleasure this Valentine’s Day!

On a recent trip to Cognac, I was tasked with spitting out X.O. and Paradis…From all the best makers… Some that you’ve no doubt heard of and some that you’ll only hear about and get to taste if you venture into the quaint and cordial hinterland of France that is Cognac.

Click Here for Slideshow Hennessy, Courvoisier, Remy Martin and Paul Giraud (in that order)  Continue reading

Clos Lanson Champagne Harvest

by Paige Donner 

After nearly 40 years with the House of Champagne Lanson, Reims, winemaker Jean Paul Gandon is not afraid of innovation. That is, innovation when it stays within the context of tradition. Gandon and Champagne Lanson enjoy a singularly unique relationship in Champagne insofar as next year, when he celebrates his 40th year with the house, it will be the longest standing winemaker-to-winery relationship in this very exclusive region of France.

Jean Paul Gandon, Clos Lanson [Far Left]Jean Paul Gandon, Clos Lanson - Local Food And Wine

Gandon, Far Left

Gandon, Enguerrand Lanson Tasting Room, Reims - Local Food And Wine

Gandon, Enguerrand Baijot - Lanson Tasting Room, Reims - Local Food And Wine

Clos Lanson is one enclosed hectare of Chardonnay vines that grows grapes bursting with fruit and juice, if this past weekend’s harvest in Reims offers any evidence. The Clos is also singularly unique in Reims as it is the only enclosed hectare of vines growing within the city center. Beyond its walls are straight views onto the Reims Cathedral and the Stadium.

Harvest at Clos Lanson, Reims - Local Food And Wine

Harvest at Clos Lanson, Reims - Local Food And Wine

During one day each year family members, employees and friends of Lanson Champagne assemble for a spectacular day of convivial harvesting and celebration of what will be the most exclusive of Lanson Champagne cuvées, the Clos Lanson. This celebratory harvest and Cuvée of no more than 8,500 bottles was  the brain child of Gandon and one of the owners of Lanson International, Philippe Baijot, 6 years ago. This year will mark the first that the champagne will be available to taste and to drink.

Philippe Baijot, Champagne Lanson, - Local Food And Wine

Philippe Baijot, Champagne Lanson, - Local Food And Wine

Lanson Champagne Cave - Local Food And Wine

Lanson Champagne Cave - Local Food And Wine

Champagne Lanson is most well-known for its power of the Pinot Noir grape, its blocking of malolactic fermentation during its vinification and its cellaring of at least 36 months prior to release. (AOC Champagne regulations require 15 mos. minimum). Wine connoisseurs speak of keeping the Black Label Lanson for 10 years. In other words, this is not a “pop and pour” champagne.

Champagne Lanson was founded in 1760 by Francois Delamotte which makes it the fourth oldest house in the world. During its changing of hands in the last several decades, “…vintages of Lanson remained of high quality… Much of this success in the face of adversity must be down to Gandon.”

Launched in 2011 is Lanson’s L’Académie de Lanson  and its Little Black Book of Champagne. The House believes strongly in viewing champagne as a wine and not purely as a label. The Lanson Academy was developed to engage and enlighten all champagne drinkers.  –    ♥Chérie Du Vin

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Gerard Bertrand’s Jazz Fest Weekend, Sud de France [Slideshow]

All photos by Paige Donner c. 2011.

The Gérard Bertrand annual Jazz Fest took place August 4th – 8th this summer at Château l’Hospitalet just outside Narbonne.  These photos are taken at Château l’Hospitalet in Languedoc-Roussillon, “Sud de France.”

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To read more about Gérard Bertrand wines, his annual summer Jazz Fest and his L’Art de Vivre Les Vins Du Sud, click on Gerard-Bertrand.com.

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Jaillance Cork Recycling Initiative

By Paige Donner

Jaillance produces the only sparkling wine from France’s Rhône Valley. They call it their “Clairette de Die” and its 7% alcohol content makes it a festive choice for most all occasions. Their rosé, the Cuvée de l’Abbaye, is made from 100% merlot and their “Cremant de Bordeaux” is 70% semillon and 30% cabernet franc.

Jaillance - Local Food And Wine

Jaillance committed to organic farming in 1989 and has more than 200 growers in their winegrowers’ “cooperatif.” They take their commitment to sustainable winemaking seriously… far beyond simply changing out their bottles to the lighter 775gr. from the heavier 830 gr. champagne bottle. Take their cork recycling initiative for instance…

Did You Know?

  • 12 billion corks are manufactured every year. 3 billion of those are destined for France alone!
  • The cork oak tree does not die when its bark is harvested. The bark gradually grows back, like shedding its skin.
  • Cork Oak trees can get up to 300 years old and grow a thick new layer of bark every nine years.
  • 100% of harvested cork is used.
  • Cork oak forests have great ecological value, sustaining a rich level of biodiversity and protecting many species of fauna and flora.
  • A harvested cork oak tree absorbs 2 1/2 to 4 times as much CO2 as one not harvested.

Jaillance’s Cork Recycling Initiative: How It Works

Jaillance Clairette de Die - Local Food And WineStarting this summer Jaillance is calling on their consumers to save and collect their corks and bring them back to designated collection points. These collection points La Cave de Die Jaillance, Jaillance sales outlets and all Gamm Vert Shops (France).

These used corks will be sold back to to the cork industry, and the money sent to the Institut Mediterranéen du Liège (Mediterranean Cork Institute). The Institute will use the funds to plant more cork oaks in the Eastern Pyrenees forests.

Once the wine corks have been collected, the wine corks are taken to a recycling plant to be transformed into floor coverings, decorative items, components for the aerospace and automobile industries – or even into electrical power.

Cork is 100% natural and 100% recyclable.  It is one of nature’s treasures.

To Read More about Jaillance and their Sustainability programs, including their Solar Panel Initiative, Click Here…

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Le Baron Rouge

by Paige Donner

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

Le Baron Rouge, Local Food And Wine Culinary Tastings

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

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

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

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The Men of Vinexpo, France’s Biannual Wine Bonanza

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

Monaco Royal Wedding Chooses Local Cuisine

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

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

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

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

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

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Château HAUT-BRION Hosts Dinner, Conseil des Grand Crus Classés of 1855

Château Haut-Brion’s Prince Robert of Luxembourg, Alain Juppé, Mayor of Bordeaux and Philippe Castéja, President of the Conseil des Grand Crus Classés of 1855 (Médoc & Sauternes), Alain PASSARD (L’Arpège, Paris), Anne-Sophie PIC (Maison Pic, Valence), and Yannick ALLENO (Le Meurice, Paris) … 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

La Revue du Vin de France Paris Salon 2011

By Paige Donner

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

Le Salon LRVDF May 2011 c. Local Food And Wine

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

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

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

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

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

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

Le Salon LRVDF May 2011 c. Local Food And Wine

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Pique-nique at French Independent Wineries June 12 & 13

By Paige Donner

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

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

Copy_of_pique_nique_vigneron_independent

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

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

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

You bring your own picnic lunch, of course!  

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

Jacques-legros-cap

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

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


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Terroirs De Femmes

This May’s Salon Saveur is doing something unique – it is recogizing the essential contributions of French women to their cusine, the cuisine of French terroir.

“Creators, muses, accomplices…the Salon Saveurs des Plaisirs Gourmands is honoring the – women – producers and artisans who are exhibiting in the salon. Singled out for recognition are the owners and directors of the companies, yes, and also the wives, mothers, sisters and collaborators who dynamically participate in the running and establishment of a ‘Grand Maison.’ Some of the women and their creations you can expect to meet at the May 13 – 16th salon taking place in Paris are:

Saffron

Valerie Galy,

a former flight attendant, she has since created her domain of saffron based on her father’s agricultural heritage. Situated in Cadeilhan in the Gers region she has creatively concocted products such as saffron aperitif which is a sweet white wine served with saffron garnishments, also a saffron honey and a “verrine” of melon and saffron.  You can read more HERE and below. Parlez Vous Francais? 

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Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen

Jon Bon Jovi Foundation Soul Kitchen on Local Food And WineJon Bon Jovi's Soul Kitchen on Local Food And Wine

Read More and Sign UP For the Community Kitchen HERE

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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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Chateaubriand

posted by Paige Donner

TOP TEN OF WORLD’S BEST RESTAURANTS, 2011

This year Chef Inaki Aizpitarte’s Le Chateaubriand made it into the Top Ten of the World’s 50 Best list.

CONTACT

129 avenue Parmentier 75011 Paris

+33 (0) 143574595
Google map

Chef Inaki Aizpitarte, Chateaubriand - Paris Food And Wine

The dinner choice is Prix Fixe and no one has ever complained. If you have one restaurant to try when you are in Paris, this is a Winner!

Chateaubriand - Paris Food And Wine

In 2010 Le Chateaubriand was #11. In 2011 Le Chateaubriand is #10 on the 50 Best Restaurants in the world list.

Chateaubriand 2010 Paris Food And Wine

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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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Paris’ Best Cooking Schools For The Hungry Tourist

By Paige Donner

Read Complete Article on Black Book Magazine

Paris’ Best Amateur Cooking Schools for the Hungry Tourist

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

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

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

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

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

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Poule au Pot, Le Meurice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Paris en Scene’s Local Cuisine

Paris En Scene’s Local Cuisine

There’s a new dining experience on the Seine in Paris and it’s all about Local Cuisine and Local Spectacular Sights. Starred Chef Tateru Yoshino follows the rhythm of the seasons and sources his vegetables from organic, local producers to provide his guests with a menu that is completely “terroir” while staying true to his Japanese heritage.

 

Olivier Jamey (left), Owner of La Compagnie de la Seine, pictured with Master Chef Tateru Yoshino, Michelin Star

Every Sunday evening, for an hour and a half, Paris lovers and Lovers of Paris can indulge in a gourmet meal while taking in the breathtakingly beautiful sights along the River Seine: Le Grand Palais, Assembleé Nationale, Eiffel Tower… and everything along the way and inbetween.

The Paris en Scene boat is configured a little differently than its predecessors: It’s intimate seating for two, four or small groups; Its leather, elegant chairs and its floor-to-roof glass walls are all conducive to fine dining and romance. All for the very reasonable price of 50 Euro per person. And the departure is from St. Michel, just steps from the Notre Dame, which makes it unique among the Dinner Cruises along the Seine. They have also partnered with local businesses so that after your 1 and 30 minute dinner cruise, for an extra Euro or two you can take in a movie in the area or a theater show. Be sure to ask about what’s on offer when you make your reservations.

Mont Blanc, Chef Tateru Yoshino

For Spring the menu that Master Yoshino proposes is:

Richelieu en croûte, médaillon de foie gras, – A humble starter for what follows

Saumon « Stella Maris » mi cuit sans peau, – This salmon melts in your mouth. It is salmon cooked so perfectly that your mouth doesn’t know if it’s sashimi or if it’s simply heaven.

crêpe de Vonnas & tomates au thym, – little cherry tomato pops of herb flavors a la Provence

Mont Blanc « maison », crème de marron & glace – if your only reference to Mont Blanc is Angelina’s this will leave you gasping. So light, so flavorful, so classic and innovative all at once.

And while the food is amazing it is the landscape that will have you continuously turning away from your dinner companion. The 6:30 dinner cruise is timed just perfectly to catch the Eiffel Tower when it lights up in twinkling sparkles. For reservations: www.paris-en-scene.com

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

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Le Jour Du Macaron

Le Jour Du Macaron

by Paige Donner

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

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

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

Some addresses in Paris to get you started:

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

For more addresses go to: Jour du Macaron

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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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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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Spanish Win Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie

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

By Paige Donner

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

World's Best Patissiers, Lyon, France 2011

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

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

Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie, Lyon, 2011

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

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Chefdance at The 2011 Sundance Film Festival

2011 Confirmed Chef Line-Up

Friday, January 21 – Brian Malarkey, Season 3 Top Chef

Saturday, January 22 – Jared Van Camp, Quality Social in Chicago, James Beard Nominee

Sunday, January 23 – Kerry Simon, Palms Palace in Las Vegas

Monday, January 24 – Michael Chow, Mr. Chow (receiving ChefDance Legend Award 2011)

Tuesday, January 25 – Jared Young, Winner of Iron Chef

Chefdance was started in 2004 and coincides with the Sundance Film Festival every year to provide the perfect marriage of fine food with film for a culinary experience unlike any other.  Chefdance’s acclaimed chefs bring their culinary expertise, passion, and life story to your table.  I hope you are able to join us in this unique and memorable experience!  For more information on Chefdance, please visit http://chefdance.com/.

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Cooklette

by Paige Donner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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La Garde Robe

by Paige Donner

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

Paris 75001, La Garde Robe offers Organic Wines

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

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

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

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

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

Café de l’Homme

By Paige Donner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Cooking Classes

Local Food And Wine

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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Hôtel Fouquet’s Barrière Benefit Wine Auction For Reforestation

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

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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Gilles Goujon, Chef of The Year 2010

Gilles Goujon, Chef of The Year, 2010

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

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

Fontjoncouse, Corbieres region, Languedoc Roussillon.

Auberge du Vieux Puits (The Old Well Inn)

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

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

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

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Salon Papilles et Les Crus du Rhône

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

By Paige Donner

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

Safran de St. Hilaire

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

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

Celebration of Tastebuds

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

Salon de Papilles en Fete, Paris

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

Les Crus des Côtes du Rhône

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

Did You Know?

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

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

Château du Mourre du Tendre

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

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

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

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

California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance

California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance

Winner: Governor’s Environmental And Economic Leadership Award

California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (San Francisco County)

  • The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance’s program has provided a Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices Workbook to the industry.  They have conducted more than 200 self-assessment workshops with more than 1,500 vintners and growers who have assessed their operations against 277 sustainable winegrowing criteria.

“These companies are true leaders,” said California Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Linda Adams. “They prove that we can make the move to a thriving green economy and that going green is good for the pocketbook and the environment.”

Awards are given based on strength in eight specific areas: results, transferability, environmental impact, resource conservation, economic progress, innovation and uniqueness, pollution prevention and environmental justice.

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Plan a SWP Wine Tour

If you would like to plan a winery tour to visit Sustainable Winegrowing Program Participants please visit www.discovercaliforniawine.com. Click on Create your own wine tour. You can search for SWP Participants under the “Amenities” search feature.

Wineries

Wine By One

by Paige Donner

Wine By One, Place Vendôme

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Accessible

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

Affordable

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

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

Appealing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Salon du Chocolat

by Paige Donner

Salon du Chocolat, Paris – The Green Show

 

Jacques Bellanger et ModaFusion et Delphine Mac Carty. Fashion show at the 2010 Salon du Chocolat held at Porte de Versailles in Paris, France on October 27, 2010. Photo © Hel-Khayat/Pix'Hel.

Five straight days’ celebrating nothing but chocolate and the only coherent thought left in my brain is that the people who thought of, and then carried out, the Salon du Chocolat are brilliance personified.

“Five days of chocolate madness,” is what they call it and they are absolutely right! That they graciously scheduled the chocolate extravorgasma over Halloween weekend, in France, a country that doesn’t celebrate our American sugar-and-ghouls-day, was just, well, awfully sweet of them! (okay…frightful pun!)

Their names are Sylvie Douce and François Jeantet and they dedicated this year’s Paris show to Fair Trade chocolate, naming it The Green Show.

 

Sylvie Douce and François Jeantet, Founders of the Salon du Chocolat.

In fact the 2010 Salon du Chocolat was the event for the

organically minded.

The event has historically represented a link between cocoa-producing countries and chocolate consumers. It  has long provided a platform for people to meet and exchange views. Alter Eco, the Fair Trade chocolate brand and importer with offices all over Europe and also in the U.S., was a big sponsor this year, as was Max Havelaar, the French arm of the Fair Trade coalition.

The Paris Salon du Chocolat featured a daily chocolate fashion show where all garments were designed by prestige chocolatiers and made out of chocolate. It featured musical entertainment, the “chocolate trends” parade, photographic exhibitions, a chocolate sculpture competition and more to showcase all the event’s “green”initiatives, which were designed to raise awareness of sustainable development and ethical consumption.

Fair Trade Farmer, Max Havelaar France And Chocolatier Bonnat

One of the more interesting breakout seminars I sat in on was all about Fair Trade and direct from farmer sourcing of cacao.  The speakers, a Fair Trade farmer from Peru who spoke in Spanish which was translated by the moderator, Marie-Amélie Ormières of Max Havelaar France, and 4th generation chocolatier Stéphane Bonnat featured a lively discussion about how cacao provides a healthy means of livelihood to farmers who are paid a fair trade wage.

“Cacao for Coca,” is a successful initiative in Peru where coca plantations are being replaced by Cacao plantations farmed under Fair Trade policies. Within five years of re-planting, said the Peruvian cacao farmer, families are able to replace what they earned from coca with their Cacao crops.  He also pointed out that the cacao are all mixed with reforestation programs i.e. the cacao plantations are all mixed with tree plantations. Mexico has the oldest cacao plantations cultivated by man.

It was a lucky seminar to sit in on…Master Chocolatier Mssr. Bonnat passed out rounds of his trademark, pure grade cacao artisanal chocolates  – several times! – and the Peruvian farmer broke open an actual cacao fruit and had those of us who would, take the cacao seeds from inside and chew on it.  It’s the first time I had seen a cacao fruit up close and certainly the first time I’d eaten a raw cacao nut. Bonnat asked us if we could taste the pure essence of the chocolate in the nut. I must say that I did and could understand why it’s considered such a complete food, the “food of the Gods.”

“You can live on chocolate. Chocolate, a little bread and beer. All you’d be missing is calcium,” explained Stéphane Bonnat .

 

Pierre Marcolini et Ekyog et Marie-Amélie Seigner. Photo © Hel-Khayat/Pix'Hel.

Chocolaterie Stéphane Bonnat et Valérie Pache et Ariane Brodier. Photo © Hel-Khayat/Pix'Hel.

 

Encouraging the development of chocolate businesses, Entrepreneur Magazine tells us that chocolate consumption has gone from “sinful to unstoppable.” Joan Steuer, founder and president of Chocolate Marketing LLC, a Los Angeles consulting firm, notes a 40% increase in chocolate sales along with a strong interest in “dark, artisanal, organic, socially responsible and nutraceutically enhanced chocolates.” AIWF

Researching the field of sustainability, it is important to recognize that this area focuses on any environmental factor that sustains, maintains, or improves the quality of our life. While being an obvious component of the sustainable system, food nurtures our basic needs for survival and for remaining well. So, does eating chocolate fit into this sustainable explanation?

 

Arnaud Larher et Johanna Riplinger et Karima Charni. Photo © Hel-Khayat/Pix'Hel.

 

Christophe Michalak (Le Plaza Athénée) & Taïg Khris

New York’s Salon du Chocolat is coming up!

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San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival

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

THE SAN DIEGO BAY WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Eliance Restaurant Orsay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Vendanges!

La saison des vendanges commence! [Transl. = Wine Harvest is Here!] TWITTER.COM/LOCALFOODWINE  FACEBOOK/LOCALFOODANDWINE 

La Note Rouge, Paris

La Note Rouge, “Wine Buying Made Simple”

Wine Buying for Dummies.  If there were a book with this title – there probably is! – it would be my Bible. Let’s face it, when you’re on the spot, standing in a wine shop or a grocery store at the end of the day when it’s time to buy that nice bottle of wine to bring to a friend’s house for dinner, or share with your loved one on a quiet, cozy night at home… all too often all the fantastic Domaines, Crus, Mas, Vintages and Wineries you’ve so painstakingly committed to memory on dozens of wine tasting trips and hours spent pouring over Robert Parker…suddenly all dribble away like last year’s headlines and all you have left is 5 minutes to buy your bottle and get on your way.

La Note Rouge wine shop, in Paris, specializes in smaller, hard to find, French wine producers.

Enter La Note Rouge.

It’s not just a Wine Shop, it’s a Concept Store. Leave it to the French to figure out how to add a good dose of pleasure to buying wine. Even when you’ve left Robert Parker behind at home, you can still feel on safe ground in Paris’s La Note Rouge in the 3eme arrondissement.

Brainstorm of brothers Yann and Romain Remacle, these two young, handsome, Parisian men decided to take the pomp out of both Parisian and, even, out of buying wine. And just in time. It wasn’t too long ago that I wandered into one of the French chain wine shops and asked the salesclerk on duty what adjectives he would use to describe wines from the Sud Ouest. He responded with that look that indicates, albeit very politely, that you’ve just asked a really stupid question.

At La Note Rouge, this won’t happen. It won’t happen for two reasons: 1) Yann and Romain are far too accommodating and charming to ever leave one of their customers lacking for knowledge and 2) If, for example, you are like many of us and feel at times intimidated to ask questions about a wine, these two 30-somethings have outfitted their sleek and chic wine shop with computer touch screens mounted to the exposed stone walls programmed with a picture and detailed descriptions about each of the wines they keep stocked in their shop. Touch, and the information, like a cup, runneth over…

Modern Concept Wine Shop, La Note Rouge, near Les Halles, Paris.

Another unique characteristic about La Note Rouge is that they stock wines only from small producers from all over France. “We buy wines from French wine producers who cultivate anywhere from 5 – 35 hectares of vines,” explained Yann Remacle, whose passion for wine led him to open up this shop in one of Paris’s trendiest districts. “I’m not a Sommelier but I know what I like.”

And he’s betting you’ll like it too. Indeed on a recent evening of wine tasting, the shop was non-stop with regulars, tourists and the curious all stopping by to pick up just that perfectly right bottle of wine. Located just a couple blocks up from Les Halles, the decor of the shop is very un-traditional for France, but at the same time very Parisian, with bottles displayed by region. They even stock a French organic brand of vodka distilled from Quinoa, along with a few select bottles of Whiskey.

Notes: Vain du Rû, Dominique Andiron – white, biodynamic, full-bodied, aperitif;  Les Grandes Costes, Musardises, a Rosé from Pic St. Loup, fruity with notes of spice; Le Villain P’tit Rouge, Vincent Ricard, Apellation Touraine Contrôlée – at La Note Rouge, with Frères Remacle, should you drink anything else?

P.S. La Note Rouge was a name inspired by Blue Note. Particularly fitting as what goes better together than Jazz and Wine and Paris? And, when you’re really nice – or naughty – I hear that the brothers might even play you a tune or two on that piano they keep in the back cellar…

Recommend: Dinner around the corner at Ambassade d’Auvergne. Fantastically French and authentically country.

La Note Rouge 212 rue Saint-Martin 75003 Paris

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Saint-Chinian

St.-Chinian, AOC

by Paige Donner

Just north of the ancient town of Béziers, where Molière and his band of Troubadours once spent a winter (ca. 1656), is the lovely AOC Saint Chinian. The area which envelopes 20 some villages and 3,300 hectares from the foot of the mountains Espinouse and Caroux, also includes the sub-appellations of Berlou and Roquebrun. It is one of the earliest appellations in the Languedoc to receive that distinction, designated in 1982, and produces both reds and rosés under AOC St. Chinian, with the area’s vignerons producing whites under the AOC St. Chinian (blanc) since 2005 and also frequently under a Vins de Pays d’Oc label.

The climate, – sunny Sud de France – and the soils, primarily schistes, clay, calcareous and limestone, are typical of this Mediterranean zone and is one of the important elements that has lent itself to building this appellation’s “grand” reputation. The average temperature is a cool 14° C. The varietals used for the red blends in St. Chinian are Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Lladoner Pelut. For the most part a St. Chinian red can be expected to be rich and generous with the rosés a bit more delicate giving off their hints of red berry fruits.

Red wines dominate in this appellation, which is true of the region, with 89% of the production going towards them, while just 1% ends up as white wine and a decent 10% being produced as rosés. To visit all the wineries of St. Chinian, allow for some time. There are 100 private wineries and 8 cooperative cellars (caves coopératives) with a total of approximately 350 producers.

Saint-Chinian Roquebrun, Languedoc Roussillon, Sud de France

A Bit of History

The name St. Chinian is derived from the name of the monk, Sanch Anhan, who founded the monastery in the year 794 on the left bank of the River Vernazobre one of two rivers that run through the terrain. The Benedictine monk, beatified in 1102, became known as St. Chinian. St. Chinian is a delightful area in which to play tourist while you taste wines and stock up your cellar. You can meander along the ancient Roman road that connected Narbonne to the upper Languedoc and then all the way onto Italy – the road that Molière and the Troubadours would have travelled. Or you can drive through the Orb Valley where orange trees an eucalyptus trees flourish alongside the river gorge, and where the little jewel of a village Roquebrun nestles. Be sure to pause along the wine route to take some of the heritage walks through the vineyards.

Domaine La Grange Léon, AOC Saint-Chinian, Berlou

Joël and Véronique Fernandez named their vineyard after Joel’s great-grandfather, Leon, who himself came from a long line of vineyard managers and winemakers originating from this Languedocien patch of land not all that far from the Spanish border and Pays Basque. It was Léon who was one of the founding member of the “caves coopérative” of Berlou, credited with uplifting the quality and reputation of St. Chinian wines. Since he was 16 years old, Joël dreamed of being the owner-operator of his own vineyards and winery. He immersed himself in the seasonal rhythms of the vines, in the harvests and dedicated himself to learning the mastery of the “alchemy” of winemaking.

La Grange Leon, Saint-Chinian, Rouge “l’Audacieux”

Voilá

In 2008 Joël and Véronique established their own winery. They harvest their grapes only by hand and are rigorously attentive about the quality of the grapes they allow into the cellar. The Domaine’s vineyards are primarily schiste soils and because they’ve invested so much of themselves into their winery, they are fond of declaring that their wines are “a bit of the terroir and a bit of ourselves.”

La Grange de  Léon – Vintage Selection

La Rose de Laury, AOC Saint-Chinian Rosé This rosé has delicate fuchsia reflections with notes of strawberries and cherries. 60% Cinsault, 20% Syrah, 20% Mourvèdre.

Viognier, Vins d Pays d’Oc Blanc Sold out. Only the proprietor has a few bottles on reserve. Uncharacteristically made from 100% Viognier. [The French make blends from the appellation’s designated varietals, Americans tend toward single varietal vintages.] Notes of passion fruit, pineapple, apricot. Aromas of verveine.

D’une main à l’autre, AOC Saint-Chinian – Berlou Rouge Only available in 2010 – so get it now. Plums on the nose, black cherries; mandarin, vanilla, pepper on the tongue. Round, full, long in the mouth. For steaks on the grill in summer, Entrecôte in the winter. Also: L’insolent, AOC Saint-Chinian Rouge; L’Audacieux, AOC Saint-Chinian Rouge Visit the Maison des Vins in Saint-Chinian on the Grand Rue to start off your wine tasting of the region. Ask for Henri Miquel, the President or Nelly Belot, Director. And be sure to stop in at the Syndicat du Cru AOC Saint Chinian at 1 Rue de la Promenade, St. Chinian.

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Château Capion

By Paige Donner

In this Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France, once owned by Sir Lancelot, there rests a 16th c. Castle, Château Capion, tranquilly nestled along the riverbanks of the Gassac.

Château Capion

On the Château Capion’s 75 hectares are planted approximately 48 hectares of vines, mostly of what has become the regional classics: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault for the reds and Viognier, Chardonnay, Roussanne for the whites.

Château Capion Vineyards overlooking Mt. Baudile.

They have also planted the Bordeaux varietals of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab Franc, all which thrive in the unique l’argile bleue terroir – red, volcanic clay/soil – of this micro-climate situated in the sweetspot between Aniane and Gignac, not far from the Medieval village of St. Guilhem le Desert, just 30 km from the Mediterranean Sea on France’s southern coast. This l’argile bleue is similar to what can be found in Bordeaux and has proved to be quite a singular discovery for this vineyard as well as the neighboring vineyard.

Château Capion Vineyards

Limestone is what is predominantly found on the vineyards with these sections of interspersed red clay soil found only in concentrated deposits, where they’ve planted the Cab Sauvs and Cab Francs, who thrive on their scattered patches of argile bleue, especially, too, because the only water source used for the vines is the natural source to be found deep, about 100 m. under the ground. This pure, natural water source keeps the vines hydrated. They use no irrigation on the vineyards, relying just on this natural water source and rainfall in the Autumn, which varies significantly between as much as 400mm to 1000mm per year.

In the Gassac Valley where St. Aniane first planted vineyards, Sud de France.

For the Syrah, this is paradise. Château Capion’s calcareous sandstone and limestone soils differ in the size of the rocks from large stones you can pick up three at a time with your hand to very large stones that you need two hands to hold. Château Capion’s award-winning winemaker Jérémy Chanson explains that they use a vinification process more reminiscent of Côtes du Rhône du Nord. Their Syrah vines, mostly 30 years old, with some vines pushing 80 years and more, offer the raw stuffs for good tannins. “We feel it in the cellar, the difference between the old and young vines. The tannins and the color…,” says Chanson, a native Languedocien whose grandparents, one branch of which came from le Pays Basque, worked in vineyards in their day. He’ll also tell you that from “Corsica to Perpignan, there are no Syrah vines like ours here at Château Capion. She gives where she lives. That is Syrah.”

Working in the cellar at Château Capion, Sud de France.

Their prize vineyard, the Triangle of Le Juge, are the grapes he presses for their Le Juge vintage, and what has earned the Château, along with their Capion vintage, the award of “Best French Winemaker 2008” in London as well as high marks from Decanter MagazineGuide Parker(Robert Parker’s wine guide to France) and Andrew Jefford’s, The New France. In the cellar he uses gravity for processing the grapes and hand stirs for the “pigeur;” in the vineyards they practice eco-friendly viticulture. There is garrigue all around – sage, fennel, lavendar, thyme – but it is husbanded to a degree that lends a subtler, elegant taste to their wines when compared to the wines from the regional terroir.

For wine enthusiasts, a visit to the Château is imperative. Frédéric Kast, Winemaker, delights in sharing their wines, declaring that each wine has a distinctive personality, “just like you and I do.” The tasting room is suggestive of a Chapel Sanctuary; the heavy marble dais and the stained glass windows add both light and depth to a cheerful room fully refurbished, as is the original XVI c. castle, with taste and modern comfort. They have also manicured a tour of the vineyard with stopping points for an explanation of the terroir, of the view of the terrain which looks out onto Mt. Baudile, of the vines, of the flora of the garrigue… For those looking to absorb even more from this Southern French terroir, the Château offers suites you can rent on the property for short stays, including the new “Troubadour Room” which is in the castle itself. The immediate property surrounding the main house features an English garden, a French garden and a Japanese garden all nestled up against the Gassac River, with views of Mt. Baudile and the Gassac Valley.

16th c. Château Capion, Languedoc-Roussillon

The Swiss Buhrer family who purchased the property and vineyards in the mid-90’s have raised their five children there. The label on their prestige single-vineyard white, Le Colombier, is that of a dovecot, which they chose as it is the symbol used throughout history of love, peace, hope and the presence of the Holy Spirit. When this part-Sound of Music, part-Swiss Family Robinson acquired the property in ’96 they inscribed on the outdoor solar clock what became the guiding principle for their family, their wines, their vineyards: “C’est le temps de l’Amour.”

Collection Cardinal

“The Heart of the Terroir”

Le Colombier: Blanc, A.O.P. Coteaux du Languedoc;     This Roussanne (40%) and Viognier (60%) blend is a soft golden color with a brilliant shine telling of its fine acidity and balance. Floral notes of white roses, full and long in the mouth. To pair with white meats, grilled fish. 12 Euros

Le Juge: Rouge, A.O.P. Terrasses du Larzac;   Primarily Syrah (70%) from vines that are grown in ideal conditions for syrah, with Grenache and Mourvèdre (15% each) blended in for balance and acidity. This “honor of Capion” has fine, subtle hints of garrigue, elegance and refined tannins and its je ne sais quoi is what sets it apart from the wines of the surrounding area and puts it in league withLa Pèira en Daimasela wines, though altogether different. It is aged in new barrels for 12 months. Aromatic whispers of “framboise,” during vinification. 12 Euros

From 2007 and on this wine will continue to be remarkable. To drink now or to save. Can be enjoyed in the summer with grilled meats as well as in the winter with heartier meals.

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Terrasses du Larzac

by Paige Donner

Terrasses du Larzac

Terrasses du Larzac, Coteaux du Languedoc, AOC.

Terrasses du Larzac is a relatively new appellation – AOC status since the 2004 harvest– in the Hérault region of Languedoc-Roussillon in Southern France. In this sense it is absolutely reflective of the Coteaux du Languedoc’s re-establishment of the quality and prestige of its region’s vineyards, winemakers and especially its wines.

Top 100 Wines

The Domaine de la Sauvageonne’s 2006 ‘Les Ruffes’ wine was placed in the top 100 wines of 2008 in The Wine Spectator, the leading USA wine magazine. Not only a tribute to the Domaine and its Director, Gavin Crisfield, this is proof of the quality potential in the Terrasses du Larzac.

The Terrasses du Larzac is a V-shaped area spreading from the Pic Saint Baudile, its cliffs and benches, that graduates on downward to the point of the V towards Aniane and Lake Salagou. The area encompasses 32 communes (villages such as Saint Jean de la Blaquière, Puechabon, Lodève, St.-Jean-de-Fos…) and produces some 75,000 hectoliters of AOC Languedoc, and only 9000 hl of AOC Languedoc -Terrasses du Larzac, annually. While the highest points of the natural boundaries of the Terrasses du Larzac reach over 800m high, the only planted and permitted AOC zones are between 50m and 300m high on the foothills of the Causse.

READ MORE on Local Food And Wine – Sud de France

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Seghesio Family Vineyards, Sonoma

Seghesio Family Vineyards, Sonoma County

Seghesio Family Vineyards, Sonoma

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

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

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

Seghesio Zinfandel, Homegrown Californian

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

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

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

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

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

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Domaine de Saumarez

By Paige Donner

Just outside Murviel-les-Montpelliers, and not too far from St. Georges D’Orques, both villages in the heart of the Languedoc-Roussillon in Sud de France, perches Domaine de Saumarez on a pretty hillside whose sweeping views take in the Mediterranean Sea in the not-too-distant yonder.

Domaine de Saumarez "vignerons," winery proprietors.

In 2006, the winery’s top cuvee’, their “Aalenien, ’04” earned a full-bodied 92 points from Wine Spectator (Kim Marcus, 2006). “2009 is going to be another spectacular vintage,” says Williamson. Indeed, there’s not a soul in France today who isn’t singing the praises of the 2009 vintage year. As for 2010, “It was a hard winter but the vines seem to be quite happy now,” he says.

Domaine de Saumarez, Aalenien.

It was nearly a decade ago when Liz and Robin decided to shuck everything – him his banking career, her, accounting – and pursue their passion of wine. After repeated and extended wine tasting trips throughout the world and France, they settled on looking for a vineyard to call home in the region between the Spanish border and Nimes. This region, the “Midi,” or Languedoc-Roussillon, is the hub of wine making in France. It’s not its most celebrated, but it is its most voluminous.

“We looked at 30 domains from the Spanish border all the way to Nimes. This was number 30,” recounts the Williamsons who are raising their two young sons up on the vineyard. “The winery had potential, even though it was a wreck,” reminisces Robin, pointing out that there was no roof on what is now the cellar and tasting room when they bought the estate back in 2003. By 2004 they had produced their first vintage. They sold their first bottles in 2006.

“Aalenien,” is not just the name of Domaine de Saumarez’s top cuvee’, it is also the name of the type of soil to be found on the property. The rocky soils are made up of Jurassic limestone that have bands of quartz running through them. This soil, found in about a 10 sq. km radius, is particular to Murviel-les-Montpellier, the 2,500 year old Roman-Gallo village that the Domaine is situated in. At its height, Murviel had 15,000 inhabitants and was one of the main towns on the ancient route traveled between Spain and Italy.

The soil makes for minimal weed growth, hence little need for pesticides nor weed killers; it is good with heavy rains because the rocky limestone is very porous yet it retains moisture at about 1 to 2 meters below the soil surface, thus keeping the vines hydrated. The region’s 300 days of sunshine per year and tendency to get high winds dries out the vines.

Fleur de Liz, Domaine de Saumarez’s rose’.

The Languedoc region is also known for having numerous organically farmed vineyards and in fact the region as a whole is becoming specialized in organic. It has some of the highest concentrations of organic agriculture, and viticulture, in all of France. Domaine de Saumarez is no different and will be certified organic by 2012.

Robin Williamson is the type of vintner who likes to know what he’s talking about. And he does. Before he and wife Liz bought the farm, he spent two years taking courses in oenology in Brighton. He finished his studies at the level just one shy of Master in Oenology. He’ll gleefully talk to you about stirring the lees – “batonage” – and discuss with you the merits of using food-grade fiberglass fermentation tanks and square concrete ones for the reds and why they use mostly French oak barrels with only two American oak barrels thrown in the mix…But mostly he’ll tell you, “We’re farmers you know, no more or less, than farmers.”

He characterizes this as an “Old World” approach to winemaking. “In France the vigneron is still more Old World. We do it all. We’re farmers. We’re winemakers. We’re wine sellers.” He concedes that as a grape farmer and winemaker you need to remain philosophical about certain things, like the weather. “You have to always stay on the front foot,” he says, reverting to a cricket-ism.

Domaine de Saumarez makes four wines. Their top cuvee’ the Aalenien, a red. Notes of herbs, spices, minerals, olives and flowers. Their Domaine S’ red – supple, ripe, lush with a spicy edge – and their Domaine S’ white, – minerality and class, grapefruit, lemon peel that leads into a creamy width – all Coteaux du Languedoc AOC and a rose’, the Fleur de Liz, also AOC, vins de Pays de l’Herault. As a red wine with the Coteaux du Languedoc AOC classification, it will have some or all of only these varietals: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan, and Cinsault.

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Restaurant La Gare, Paris

There’s something to be said, eating lunch with a native Parisian. It’s not just that they’re bred for good taste in food – and other…things – nor is it just that they can help decipher the menu and translate what the waiter just sang to you in French of the day’s Plats du Jour.

Yes, all of these are fine reasons to lunch with a native Parisian, but what’s the most alluring is that they can recount to you stories of having waited on that very platform to board the train as a child, when the restaurant you are at the moment dining in was, indeed, an operating train station.

Such was the case recently when I dined with an old friend at Paris’s Restaurant La Gare. Locals remember it as, indeed, the Passy-La-Muette train station. A stone’s throw from Franck et Fils, the men’s clothing shop, it unabashedly sits ajutting out on the chaussée de la Muette.

I’m well aware of the haute food critics’ unspoken ethic of commenting only on a restaurant’s food, but, quite frankly, the atmosphere at Restaurant La Gare is so chic, so Parisian, so expansively stylish…well, for goodness’ sake, just walking into the place instantly transported me back to my Le Bain Douche days; days when I was much younger and much more carefree!

And if that doesn’t whet your appetite, then, well, mon cheri, I don’t know what will…

The Restaurant La Gare is to Parisian restaurants today what Le Bain Douche was to Parisian nightclubs a few years (ok, decades!) ago.

Now that summer is in full swing, the Terasse, which seats a generous 180 diners, is the place to be, especially for Sunday Brunch. At 33 Euros for brunch, it’s a good deal.

The airy 500 square meter establishment was designed by Francois Lamazerolles. The drama is descending from the cosy bar at the street-level entrance to the restaurant at the garden level below.

Ranked as one of Paris’s trendiest restaurants, it’s that kind of place where, if you sport a baseball cap with NY on it and a pair of sunglasses, people will mistake you for a movie star!

The food, of course, is delicious. As a North American, all food in France is delicious. But lest I be perceived as shirking from my food duties, I recommend the grilled scallops on a bed of creamy, roasted, mashed garlic potatoes. The salad of al dente green beans is light and fragrant. For dessert the three-part roasted pineapple, pineapple compote and fresh pineapple with pineapple sorbet is delightful for a sun-drenched afternoon.

Click on the site Restaurant La Gare for a 360 video view of the place.

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Edible Adventures – Paris Food And Wine

CLOTILDE DUSOULIER lives in Montmartre. Her award-winning blog, Chocolate & Zucchini, was launched in 2003.

by Clotilde DuSoulier

Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris is a book on Paris restaurants and food shops, in which I share recommendations for my favorite spots — everything from neo bistros and salons de thé to bakeries, outdoor markets, wine shops, and much, much more, as they say — plus all you need to know to navigate the City of Light and Good Food, plus a dozen recipes.

You can read more about the book, including reviews and excerpts, on the mini-site I’ve set up, and you should of course feel free to order your very own copy — no, really.

I’ve only just received finished copies myself, and although it is hardly surprising for a young mother to fawn over her newborn, I am particularly pleased with how this book turned out — the way it fits snugly in my hands, the slight grain of the cover, the chic layout, the color photos, and the rounded corners (rounded corners! you know you love them!). So pleased, in fact, that I’ve been tempted to keep a copy under my pillow, but Maxence said no.

The perpetual challenge for books that give real life recommendations is that real life stuff tends to shift and change over time. Thankfully, by the power and grace of the Internet, I will be able to maintain a list of updates, corrections, and bonus addresses on the above-mentioned mini-site — there’s even a “print before you go!” version to slip in the book and take with you to Paris.

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Paris Food And Wine: A Locavore Spirit

Court-circuiter la chaine alimentaire traditionnelle et changer d’agriculture est un projet politique

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En dehors des Jardins de Cocagne et des AMAP, d’autres structures oeuvrent aussi à la mise en place de circuits courts de vente directe des producteurs (produits frais) ou fabriquants (épicerie) aux consommateurs : de plus en plus de groupement d’achats se créent localement à l’initiative d’une poignée de familles, et certains de ces groupements commencent à s’organiser en réseau, comme par exemple Katao.

Toutes ces démarches ont en commun de remettre en cause l’ensemble de la chaîne alimentaire traditionnelle en orientant les modes de production, de distribution et de consommation vers de nouvelles pratiques, plus justes :

  • tant sur le plan environnemental (préservation de la bio-diversité, lutte contre le réchauffement climatique, réduction de la consommation pétrolière liée aux transports, aux pesticides et à la mécanisation agricole à outrance),
  • que sur le plan social (santé, mécanismes de solidarité, liens communautaires)
  • et sur le plan économique (équité du “prix juste” pour toutes les parties).

Les circuits-courts de production-distribution-consommation véhiculent  un nouveau projet de société, comme en témoignent l’engouement croissant suscité par deux démarches qui accordent un rôle moteur à la mise en place de circuits courts : – le mouvement des Locavores (dé