Archive for ‘Food and Wine’

September 10, 2017

The wines of La Mancha, Castilla La Mancha that is !

I like to make my small contribution to the wines of La Mancha, and a bit story on wines of Spain in general.

My first ever taste of wine was by my maternal grandmother at my tender age of 8, and of course , it was Spanish wine from Tenerife. Ever since, my love for the drink has increase exponentially to the point of taken professional courses from the ICEX commercial office of Spain, and SOPEXA Food and Wine from France government entities over the years. I have tried tasted it wines from many countries and even arrive of having my own small cellars averaging 50-100 bottles in the cave or basement cellar of my home as I write.

Wines are part of us, part of our culture ,and accompany with food of any kind they are always sublime, even on a hot day a glass of white or rosé is very good. Studies have repeatedly shown that the anti oxidant in red wines especially is good for your health, of course in moderation.

Spain has a strong old tradition on wines going back especially to the Romans. The wine business developed slowly with small families and the quality shows deficiency. However, as the country move up the ladder and investments came in, and more technically educated families began to get involved the quality has increase exponentially. Now the wines of Spain are all over the world even here in France my wine merchant has Spanish wines! And we buy them too!!!

My recollection of Castilla La Mancha was of very high alcohol content wines, cheaply made and quantity prime. As the years went by ,and my visits to the region increase, my tasting grew to the point that now there are several properties worthy of me buying and can recommend very good to all.

La Mancha is a Denominacion de Origen or DO area , an area designated to be of quality wines and you can see on the bottles the grayish black label on the back.  The areas are Toledo, Albacete, Cuenca, and Ciudad Real.  Going irrigated by the rivers Guadiana, Tajo, and Jucar ,and you have the biggest vineyards in the world with  about 400-600 000 hectares of grapes of which about 170 000 are under the DO La Mancha denomination. This makes it into the biggest vineyard area in Spain ,and it is known as the winery of  Europe or  “La Bodega de Europa”.  There are about 182 towns and more than 250 bodegas in it ,some with huge sizes. It is ,also, the biggest Spanish exporter of wine with 22% of their production exported.

You have them as in Spain in general the reds or Tintos  (we do not say red tinto comes from how we name the grape tinto del pais ! that here it is call tempranillo ::)) . You have them jovenes or youngs, 60 days of ageing minimum, and crianza with 6 months ageing minimum, and reserva with 12 months of ageing minimum and gran reserva with 18 months ageing as minimum.  Of course, also, rosé or rosados, white or blancos, sparkling or espumosos, naturalmente dulces or naturally sweets. The region uses many kinds of grapes such as the whites: Airén, Macabeo, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo, Moscatel, Pedro Ximénez, Parellada, Torrontés, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, and Viognier. The Reds or tintos such as Tempranillo, Garnacha, Moravia, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlo, Petit Verdot, Graciano, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. The last few years the harvest have been great and very good wines were produced, such as 2010 (Very Good) 2011 (Excellent), 2012 (Excellent); 2013 (Good) 2014 (Excellent) and 2015 (Very Good).

The official wine regulation DO webpage is here in English: http://lamanchawines.com/en/

Some of the pioneers of this region and the most famous is the Marqués de Griñon ,Carlos Falcó. Here is a brief story:  There is about 43 years ago that he planted the first grape in the area; it was a cabernet sauvignon that he hidden in his apples as at the time it was illegal to bring foreign grapes into Spain. Within the olives and flower trees of Toledo he set up the winery in the farm call  Pagos de Familia Marqués de Griñón, an extension of his family since 1292. The denomination of  Valdepusa, as his wines are label for the first simple wines bottled in Spain and today export to the world.  More here in English: http://www.pagosdefamilia.es/html_en/home.html

There is the cooperative or Cooperativa Virgen de las Viñas, the biggest in Europe and maybe the world, presided by Rafael Torres.  In the bodega of Tomesollo, (Ciudad Real) built in 1961 with 17 farmers and 300K kg of grape, following year 6M kg and now more than 200M kg of grape!  Managing an area with 3000 farmer associates and about 7000 families in  Castilla-La Mancha. More here in Spanish: http://cooperativarua.com/

An anecdote, the wine labels  Oristan Crianza , and  Marqués de Toledo Reserva  from the Bodegas Lozano, were prized with double gold and silver at the  Sakura Wine Awards 2017,the most important wine competition in Japan and Asia with a jury all of women; they tasted almost 5000 wines!! More here: http://bodegas-lozano.com/

However, these are some of the more famous. We drank the local La Mancha wines that were superb! all purchase in Cuenca at the La Licoreria store here: http://www.lalicoreria.es/index.asp

There is a wholesale store just entering Cuenca by the bottle or box, we purchased there, and there is a regular liquor store of them in city center Cuenca.

We tasted/purchased  a bottle of Finca La Estacada, from the Uclés area year 2014 red tempranillo Crianza 5,57€!  this was great yummy full and crafted in an old farm belonging to the descendants of queen Maria Cristina of Spain and widow of king Fernando VII. Acquired by the current owners in the mid 20C the family Cantarero Rodríguez ,winery from 2001. The complex now has bodega, hotel ,and restaurant. The wine like said is heavy powerful red full with raspberries and vanilla, light fruity tannins in mouth full body , great yummy in the end. Excellent price: quality value to grab by the case! The webpage is here in English: http://www.fincalaestacada.com/bodega/13_vinos

The, we attack the Finca Antigua recommended by the rental house owners.  This winery is part of the great Spanish winegrowers Martinez Bujanda, very well known to me. The wines of Finca Antigua were first time tasted and we got several bottles due to the knowledge of the winemaker and the local recommendation. The winery is in the town of Los Hinojosos practically in the border of the provinces of Cuenca and Toledo in Castilla La Mancha of course. We first tried the Finca Antigua Cabernet Sauvignon Crianza 2014 and it was a bit light for our tastes; mineral hints from the cabernet but with nuances of dairy and undergrowth, indicating the freshness we obtain due to the altitude of the estate; grapes from Las Mejias lot. However, only 5,12€! worth it for the price.

We moved up to the Finca Antigua Unico Crianza 2011, with cabernet sauvignon ,syrah, tempranillo, and merlot grapes.  This one was much better for our tastes. Highly intense dairy hints of yoghurt, toasty character with woodland hints oak spicy nutmeg clove and tobacco and slight toasted sensation. smooth creamy on the mouth, full bodied and rounded, well integrated acidity/alcohol and very balanced, long creamy finish, very fresh . Just fantastic at only 6,38€ to grab by the case!

Finally, we have drank the Finca Antigua Reserva 2010 cabernet sauvignon, syrah, and merlot.  Very intense, delightful sensations of fallen leaves with fresh mint, thyme, eucalyptus to the front. Touches of vanilla and dairy ,oak well integrated with the fruit hints of tobacco, leaf, juniper, aniseed, very elegant complex suggestive. The taste full and powerful great body with backbone very rich and pleasant, great for rich cuisine. We love it, and only 10,24€ to grab by the case!!

More on Finca Antigua direct link in English here: http://www.fincaantigua.com/en/

Then, we drank the unique Alejandro Fernandez  (Grupo Pesquera) a winemaker very well known to me and have met him, this was again a first time drink on the El Vinculo 2011 Tempranillo red. The winery is near the windmills of Campo de Criptana (of Don Quijote fame) that was purchase a manchego typical house that was modernized into the winery or bodega in 1999.  The name of the wine is to make it close to the original bodega of the family in the Duero region ; El Vinculo= the tie end or link.

The wine El Vinculo 2011 red tempranillo was aged for 18 months in American oak barrel and 6 months in the bottle. In the mouth has sweet tannins mark with a mature fruit and an explosion of cherries, blackberries and blueberries. Wonderful and price at 10,16€ is a bargain to grab by the case! More on it in Spanish here: http://www.grupopesquera.com/index.php/es/bodegas/el-vinculo/k2-categories

Well as I finish this post, my sneaky sons already had the  Calzadilla Classic 2010 out for drinking and we did!  This is the property we tried to visit twice in last two years and always closed in August even if we did call ahead to see it. Well , we purchase the bottles at La Licoreria and try today the red wine.  Their site tells us in Spanish and I translated, the Bodega under the name of Bodega Familiar Uribes Madero is born in 1980 and the first bottle under Calzadilla does not come than in 1992. Today at  PAGO CALZADILLA  you have 26 hectares of which 20 are dedicated to the vineyard with a production of 100K kg of grape to produce the tintos or reds.   The Calzadilla Classic 2010 is done with Tempranillo 60%, Cabernet-Sauvignon 20%,  Syrah 10%, and Garnacha 10%. Harvest from land parcels name Fogón,   Aldehuela, Bildorado, Chocilla del Vinagre, and Viña Olivos.  The taste is of the lighter variety,not our favorite on this bottle but nice nevertheless.  The color is deep red with aromas of prune, raspberries, and white fruits like pear. You see the eucalyptus and tobacco, vanilla, and glycerine. Fruity sensation by the mouth from beginning to end Round  , balance with good acidity , long and expressive final. I just need to add was light texture with hints of wood, and high tannins still in it. Price at 12,71€ is ok but can do better cheaper.  More on the webpage here in Spanish:http://www.pagocalzadilla.com/web/es/nuestros-vinos/calzadilla-classic.html

Of course, all these wines were purchase and brought home !!! and we are not yet done drinking them all lol!! But we have still in bottle (if you care to stop by hurry up ::)) Wines from Cuenca, La Mancha area Dominio de Valdepusa Cabernet (Marqués de Griñon ), Pago Calzadilla Allegro 2007, and from other regions the Viña Real crianza, Ramon Bilbao Edicion etc. We do buy here Jumilla area the Petit Clos Taja that are about 6-7 euros and when they come to our store Nicolas in Vannes we scoop all the bottles!!! own by Frenchmen Mahler Besse of Bordeaux fame ::)

Again, all these wines are great to buy and drink, the price/quality ratio is huge, and bargains of gastronomic proportions; La Mancha is it, and Spain is stepping out. Drink with moderation but drink wines is good for you too. Enjoy your Sunday y’all, Cheers!!!

Cuenca

 Cuenca  Cuenca  Cuenca  Cuenca  Cuenca

 

May 30, 2017

The medieval wonderful Krakow Poland or Cracovie Pologne!

I heard about Krakow from a group of travelers once, and almost made it, but decided  elsewhere. Too bad ,but that is the art of travel, never enough time. You never know where you will be next, and after over 40 years of doing so and 79 countries, visiting one more is always an exciting moment indeed. The food was great with a wonderful quality/price ratio to envy.

This was the case of Krakow, Poland or Cracovie, Pologne, this past mid May 2017.  I was there for a short 4 days but enough to make it one destination to dream of come back to it. Krakow is nice, more on the tourist sites here:

http://www.krakow.pl/english/visit_krakow/2601,glowna.html

http://visitkrakow.com/

http://www.krakow-info.com/information.htm

http://www.staypoland.com/about_krakow.htm

My stay consisted of arriving at Krakow airport and taken a taxi to the Sheraton Grand Hotel.

http://www.krakowairport.pl/en/

http://www.sheratongrandkrakow.com/

While there had time off to see the main areas of the city in the old town. Krakow is compact and very nice indeed in the center.

The main thing is not to missed the Wawel castle, which I did as the tour would have taken too long for my time and on a first visit wanted to touch as many places as possible to better understand the city and hopefully be back for in depth look later on with the family. The castle is wonderful bordering the Vistula river or wisla. Again, plan to see it, the major place to see here. More on the castle here: http://www.wawel.krakow.pl/en/

In the Saint Mary Madeleine square where the existence dates from 1257 ; see the imposing façade of the Church of St Peter and Saint Paul as well as the statue of abbot Piotr Skarga the principal representative of the counter reformation in Poland, writer and preacher in the court of king Sigismond III Vasa ; Piotr Skarga is resting in the Church. The Church itself was built between 1597 and 1619 in baroque style, and it has the 12 apostles statues outside dating from the 18C.

There are many wonderful historical Churches and Monasteries  in and around Krakow, the renown town of Pope John Paul II (Saint John Paul II since 2014);such as the Wawel Cathedral, Corpus Christi, St Mary’s Basilica ,and many to name here. It certainly will take you more than 4 days to see them all ::)

The Wawel Cathedral and the museum of John Paul II are another must to see here time permitting. The museum info is here : http://www.museums.krakow.travel/en/muzea/id,243,title,the-cathedral-museum.html

and the Cathedral site is here: http://www.katedra-wawelska.pl/en/

The Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) is another must see right in the main Grand square or Rynek Glowny. wonderful line up of paintings and gorgeous architecture again for more time on it. More here: http://mnk.pl/branch/gallery-of-the-19th-century-polish-art-the-sukiennice-the-cloth-hall

There are wonderful horse drawn carriages in the city center with beautiful mounts and decorated , a nice ride in the city to make up time for it. Much more info here in English: http://guide-krakow.com/krakow-from-the-horse-drawn-carriage/

the bustle and hustle of Mariacki Square is wonderful with great ambiance, there were demonstrations of all kinds very peaceful and colorful even in the rain when I was there.

The St Mary’s Basilica is another gem to visit while in the city. Goes back to 1222 and many historical moments of the city took place here ; more here: http://www.krakow.pl/english/instcbi/36882,inst,12407,1241,instcbi.html

You can take a look at St Andrew’s Church, from the 11C with Romanesque architecture, Baroque interior of the 17C.  More here: http://www.krakow.pl/english/instcbi/18303,inst,12708,1381,instcbi.html

There is a wonderful Town Hall Tower in the middle of Rynek Glowny or Grand Square. 70 meters high tower leaning 55 cm due to strong winds in a 1703 Storm. Built of stone and brick at end of 13C with the first mechanical clock done in 1524. A wonderful unique site ;more here: http://www.krakow-info.com/tower.htm

The Holy Trinity Church and Monastery is another nice place to visit and it looks good surrounded by quaint streets of great ambiance. More here: http://www.krakow.pl/english/6293,artykul,church_of_the_holy_trinity_and_dominican_monastery_.html

Of course food and drinks are my main points in any city and did have time to try some such as:*

The Biala Roza Restaurant; this is a traditional Polish restaurant of great renown in the city and the food was fantastic. Smoked pork  fatback, Duck breast, and Strawberries macaroons with red wine from the Loire of France! sublime. A must for a nice dinner for two or even the whole family. More here:  http://www.restauracjabialaroza.pl/en/restauracja/

Then, for lunch I went for the classic international of Hard Rock Café in the Grand square corner with Market(Mariacki)  Square ,where the classic rock posters and paintings couple with a great burger and huge jar of beer was the setting for longer walks in the city lol! Hickory Barbecue Bacon Cheeseburger, and the local Polish beer of  Zywiec. More here: http://www.hardrock.com/cafes/krakow/

I did try the Sheraton hotel Taras terrace top floor city view place and the Olive Restaurant that are good on a rainy day in the hotel as I was; the grilled Polish beef tenderloins are good deal and more great well this time try the Valpolicella Italian red wine ,not bad… More here: http://www.theolive.sheraton.pl/en

the top roof terrace is here: http://www.taras-loungebar.pl/en

This was great at the top and wonderful views . To top it off, another night went to a delightful wonderful friendly place I will be back; this is the Pod Nosem restaurant.  This is at the ground floor of the hotel  Kanonicza 22. It is an old vault cellar with a twisted stair to dine above,and then you can come down to the cellar below ,where there is a glass floor you can see it from your table. At the cellar there are goodies to drink of the best of Poland; again will be back .  Here I had the  Lamb Chump with young cabbage and potato puree, the local dessert Pavlova with Strawberries and Tokaj Szamorodni, and coffee expresso., all wash down with Polish red wine cannot recall the name…. More here: http://www.kanonicza22.com/en/restauracja-3

In all a wonderful introduction to a new city in Europe and one that will be remembered for a long time. Enjoy Krakow or Cracovie in Poland or Pologne. Cheers

Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow Krakow

 

April 23, 2017

My new home of Pluvigner in the Morbihan Breton XVI

And yes this is family Sunday in lovely Morbihan Breton department 56 of Brittany or Bretagne or Breizh in la belle France. Today cool and sunny, a great walk in town indeed.

We had our usual errands from yesterday, we had to stop by upon returning from our escapes in the neighborly Finistére, to pick up some plants in our favorite garden shop, the Pepiniére de Penhouet, in Ploeren near Vannes. Right off the expressway N165 Nantes-Brest.

http://www.pepinieredepenhouet.com/

It is huge, all along the expressway, and great friendly expert service. We buy all our plants, trees, dirt from them and very good results so says my other half…. I just the transport guy lol!

We got Three more plants, to cover our desert Breton style garden with lots of stone gravel tiny like stones. We just found our house when it was for sale, and wow looking at it now we sure done a lot work ,yes we did,do, but to see the old picture and compare it to now is awesome. I will put the old picture here.ok.

Then, today it is Sunday April 23rd 2017. This is the first round of the  French presidential elections pitting 11 candidates from all sorts of thinking. I did my civic duty and voted, will see the results. There is a second round with the two top winners from today, and the 2nd round will be Sunday May 7th. Just before another great 3 day weekend on May 8 is Victory 1945 Day here.

My place of voting is on the other side of town about 18 minutes walking from our house which we enjoy doing and did walk over to vote. The place is the Salle Marie-Josèphe LE BORGNE, a big complex for events and sports as well, a picture and more here: http://www.pluvigner.fr/la-salle-marie-josephe-le-borgne/

Of course, we could not go into city center/downtown without picking something like the Euro Millions lotto ticket and a good smelling looking roasted farm chicken from our local supermarket Proxi. Sunday meal is been prepared ::) They are one of the brands of Carrefour on small towns off the beaten path. http://www.franchise-proximite.carrefour.com/nos-enseignes/franchise-proxi/commerce-alimentaire-proxi/

If care to know more about the elections ,and can read French, this is my town webpage: http://www.pluvigner.fr/elections-3/

There is, also, some of the local newspaper take on the elections too.

the Telegramme newspaper: http://agenda.letelegramme.fr/pluvigner-elections-presidentielles/360415

the Ouest-France newspaper: http://www.ouest-france.fr/elections/resultats/morbihan/pluvigner-56330/

We won’t know the results until about 20h and later tonite. See you around Pluvigner ! Enjoy your Sunday wherever you are! Cheers

And me will be off the waves for a week until the next holiday period of Labor Day May 1st. I can’t wait to be back in my lovely Spain and especially a day in Madrid. Hasta pronto !

 Ploeren  Ploeren  Ploeren  Ploeren  Ploeren  Ploeren  Pluvigner  Pluvigner  Pluvigner  Pluvigner

 

 

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March 29, 2017

Some news from Spain XL

Well here I am again on my Spain…. First Spain beat France on a friendly football/soccer match last night 0X2 played at St Denis stade de France. For the first time a VAR or video action recorder was used and indeed welcome to football. To call this match friendly is a misused of the word, as there was a lot of prestige on the line and Spain clearly dominated the game. Now on to more serious games to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Here in my neck of the woods is a mild quasi sunny day of 15C or about 58F ;Tomorrow more of the same going up to 64F or about 18C. In my Madrid, now is 65F and tomorrow higher to 71F with the sun showing up.

The choices of Spaniards to go out on trips is mostly within Spain at 90,9% and only 9,1% outside. This is from a survey of Turismo de Residentes (ERT/Familitur) done for the INE (sp. statistical institute). On costs 68% was done in Spain while outside expenditures came to 32%; the average expenses were median of 44€ in and 96€ out. No wonder with the beauty of Spain who wants to go outside !

Something outside of Spain near me now in the belle France but was created by a Spaniard, the Castle of Villandry. This transformation of the castle was done by Joaquin Cavballo from Extremadura who in the first half of the 20C created a garden in the castle with tulips, persil, asparagus, ornamental herbs and flowers that now attracts over 400K persons each year. During a century the castle went thru several owners until Joaquin, a brilliant university graduate born in Don Benito, Badajoz arrived. He married Ann Coleman and search for a home far from the crowds until they found this semi abandoned castle. They paid 120K French Francs (about 18K€ ) to a old pharmacist. They study the history of Villandry, read books on gardens, purchase furniture and works of arts from Spanish origins to embellish what others have try to let rot; and this how Villandry was reborn to what we see today, a masterpiece, must see. More on the castle here: http://www.chateauvillandry.fr/en/

Hilario García made wine to satisfied the national needs hardly any was exported. Then, in 1990, he took the bodega and modernized while keeping the wine tradition like French oak for fermentation and ageing on those same barrels. Then, we need it to find the bottle and was done in gold or silver done by the jewerlers of Prototecnia and numbered each bottle.  The bottle  AurumRed serie oro or gold series produces only 300 bottles per year from the tempranillo grapes of more than 100 years old and been the most expensive Spanish wine at 17 000 €. The same wine on the silver or  serie plata goes for 12000€ and produces 6K bottles per year. And there is the white wine with about 3000 bottles per year of the sauvignon blanc grape. You can’t be more exclusive here. More info on this wine here: http://www.aurumwine.com/body/aurum-series/gold-serie/

Going now to something close to me as my ancestors family from grandparents back comes from Tenerife.

My Tenerife ,can claim a wonderful astronomic observatory that gave the name to many lunar mountains and a fantastic record , the biggest shadow in the world projected on the ocean !  The island inclination and closeness to the great TEIDE mountains and volcano makes it so that when the sun is rising or goes down the volcanic umbra on the water becomes the biggest triangle of shadow on Earth. More on the observatory and Teide here:

http://www.webtenerife.co.uk/tenerife/the-island/astronomy/observatorio+del+teide.htm?_ga=1.261119693.1119486785.1490809692

http://www.webtenerife.co.uk/what-see/teide-national-park/?tab=1

You guys like to walk well this is heavens territory , go see the Acantilado de Los Gigantes , where vertical walls go from 300 meters to 600 meters. From the municipality of Santiago del Teide you have a nice view to the heights of Teide at 3 718 meters. More here:

http://www.webtenerife.co.uk/what-see/outdoor-attractions/acantilados+de+los+gigantes.htm?_ga=1.202929745.1119486785.1490809692

http://www.webtenerife.co.uk/tenerife/the-island/municipalities/santiago-teide/?_ga=1.227103325.1119486785.1490809692&tab=1

You can go to the top of the crater in the volcano with a guide. Other goodies in mother nature are the Parque Nacional de las Cañadas del Teide, and visiting the quaint towns of Garachico and Masca  as well as the municipality of Icod de los Vinos.  In this latter one you find the  drago milenario, a tree and a natural attraction on the island.  This tree is almost 20 meters high and is between 800 to 1000 years old. If you are older, you might remember this tree was feature on the corners of the old 1000 pesetas bill (Spain’s money before the Euro). More on them here:

http://www.webtenerife.co.uk/what-see/gardens-and-parks/parque+del+drago.htm

http://www.webtenerife.co.uk/tenerife/the-island/municipalities/garachico/?_ga=1.261824205.1119486785.1490809692&tab=1

http://www.webtenerife.co.uk/what-see/towns-hamlets/masca.htm

You can’t leave without tasting the local cuisine guanche.  One must is the mojo and the papas arrugás. These are cook potatoes without peeling and a lot of salt serve with the mojo. The mojo is a sauce that can be hot spicy or mojo picon or not and is made from garlic, olive oil and vinager.

And I move to something familiar as well and one will be visiting again this coming summer, this is Guadalajara. Here even after civil wars and succession wars the city still is wonderful. You must see these:

Palacio del infantado, a wonderful palace from the 15C well preserve and wonderful frescos paintings of the renaissance where you will find the museum or Museo Provincial. More here: http://www.guadalajara.es/en/Palace-of-El-Infantado-

Palacio de mendoza , it has been going thru a vast renovation and many uses such as provincial museum, prison, provincial government and schools now still the high school or  Liceo Caracense.  At the same time, it is the convent or  Convento de la Piedad. More here: http://www.guadalajara.es/en/Convent-of-La-Piedad-

Palacio de la Cotilla, this is another palace and from the 16C that houses the museum dedicated to the dramaturgic Buero Vallejo. It has a very interesting salon de thé/tea of El salón de té of the marqueses of  Villamejor, decorated in rice paper and painted in China and Japan in the 18C, indeed unique. More here : http://www.guadalajara.es/en/Palace-La-Cotilla-Chinese-Room

The wonderful Capilla Luis de Lucena. belonging to the now gone church or Iglesia de San Miguel where the painter Romulo Cincinato created a small sixtine chapel or Capilla Sixtina.  The chapel preserve the remaining decoration of the Churches of San Gil. More here: http://www.guadalajara.es/en/Chapel-Luis-de-Lucena

The magnificent Torreón De Alvar Fáñez  takes its name from a chavalier gentlemen and battle friend of the great El  Cid.  Here a leyend is preserve and currently it houses the Centro de Interpretación del Escudo de Armas; or interpretation center of the coat of arms. From 2004 ; it ,also a center of interpretation of the ramparts of  Guadalajara. More here: http://www.guadalajara.es/en/Tower-Alvar-Fanez

See the Church or co-Cathedral or Iglesia or Co-Catedral de Santa Maria , the origins goes back to the moors or mudéjar period as evidence on the doors and décor that hides underneath the chalk of the baroque period that you can see with permission in advance.  It has a nice retable on the altar from 1624. More here: http://www.guadalajara.es/en/Co-cathedral-of-Santa-Maria-

Another beauty is the Church or Iglesia de San Francisco. It has been destroyed and rebuilt on many occasions, now on a gothic style you will find the pantheon of the Mendoza family done similar to that in the El  Escorial monastery.  It is connected to the altar of the Church. More here: http://www.guadalajara.es/en/Church-Crypt-San-Francisco

You have the beautiful Palacio de la Condesa de la Vega del Pozo, or it’s gorgeous pantheon as well as its foundation  share the same architecture style of the 19C from the same architect( Ricardo Velázquez Bosco) that did the Palacio de Cristal, Casón del Buen Retiro,  Palacio de Velázquez. etc. More here: http://www.guadalajara.es/en/Foundation-of-the-Countess-of-La-Vega-del-Pozo-

http://www.guadalajara.es/en/Mausoleum-of-the-Countess-of-La-Vega-del-Pozo

http://www.guadalajara.es/en/Palace-of-the-Countess-of-La-Vega-del-Pozo

Do not forget to try the local sweet delicacy or bizcochos borrachos, (liquor soaked cake) at the pastelería Hernando , Calle Mayor, 32; and especially at pasteleria  Guajardo, calle Miguel Fluiters 35, opened in 1880.   another local specialty is the  albóndigas en dulce, (or meatballs in sweet sauce sugary) done with cottage cheese, eggs and sugar. Direction here: http://www.pastelerias-pastel.es/pasteleria-guajardo/

These are my favorite of a wonderful city in Castilla La Mancha region. Guadalajara.

And as Holy Week or Semana Santa is coming, here are some nice ones outside of Andalucía:

Tamborrada de Calanda, Teruel here hundreds of drums and drumming sound off on Holy Friday and Saturday  to put a tragic note on the Holy Week celebration. It is a sounding off noisy promenade in town of old rites  reaching a climax on the hour that Christ died which according to the bible an earthquake shook Jerusalén.  April 15 at 12h midday. More here in Spanish: http://www.semanasantaencalanda.com/

Cofradia de la Santa Vera Cruz de los Disciplinantes, La Rioja. The rite of the Los Picaos is a form of penitence very popular all over.  It consist of an self-flagellation of the back by a group of persons as an act of faith and voluntary known as the disciplinarians  by which a hit with a wooden item is done.  The voluntaries need to fulfill these requirements, adults , male, and that a priest attest the fact that they are Christian and of good faith.  At all moment, the anonymous condition of the voluntary is kept. More in Spanish here: http://www.sanvicentedelasonsierra.org/Los-Picaos.1392.0.html

Danza de la Muerte de Verges, Gerona. the only town that preserves the dance of death as celebrating ancient rites of the dead. This dance tells the passage of time where the skeletons dance to the sound of a kettledrum to remember that nobody is exempt to end its days in this world. More in Spanish here: http://www.laprocesso.cat/esp/index.html

Los  empalaos de Valverde de la Vera, Càceres,  This is a promise done to God that means the beginning of the Via Cruxis by the streets of the city in which all penitents are anonymous.  On this route the empalao(stiff numb person) walks without shoes with a plow beam on his/her shoulder tied with a cord around his/her chest.  A white blouse cover him/her from the waist down and on the head there a white veil with a crown of thorns. The main moment comes when the procession passes by the crossing of two empalados and kneel as a symbol of respect. More in Spanish here: http://turismoextremadura.com/viajar/turismo/es/explora/Los-Empalaos/

Coming along the Holy Week and its delicacies ,here is some more of my beautiful Spain:

Spanish pastry work reaches its highest moment during this period of lent and the chosen sweets are the torrijas, buñuelos, pestiños ,etc, that mound like armories in the window front of many pastry shops to receive the Holy Week.  One such pastry shop very nice and well known by me and many is the La Duquesita at Calle Fernando VI, 2,open from 8h30 to 20h30 (closed Sundays afternoons) ; this is a century old pastry shop in Madrid that is led today by master chocolatier Oriol Balaguer. The main sweets in this period are the Monas de Pascua.

From its beginnings in the 18C this traditional bread has revolutionize until becoming the complex structures of chocolate that follows the children fashion of our time.  Here, it has created a tree of chocolate of more than 1,5 meters done exclusively with black ,white and milk chocolate that dresses one of the windows of La Duquesita.  In Spain, this is a tradition to go to the pastry shop to see the latest creation of the pastry chef.  A month before Holy Week, most pastry shops had a giant piece in their windows. The sculpture rises on a base of chocolate of more than a square meter ,and from its leaves you see beans of different colors surrounded by some Easter eggs that will be on sale in the form of a rooster, fish or clown. You can, also, find these goodies in the Boutique Oriol Balaguer(also in Barcelona) , calle José Ortega y Gasset, 44 where different sizes are on order with different motifs with the main ingredient the Cacao Grand Cru. Oriol Balaguer has created for the La Duquesita two offerings of  torrijas: traditional anisette (4,50€) ,and toasted pastry cream (5€). Both come from a brioche done on site with English cream and sugar. More here: http://laduquesita.es/

and his boutiques here: http://www.oriolbalaguer.com/eng/OBboutiques

Now, there you have it, enjoy Spain, everything under the Sun !!! Cheers

 

 

 

 

March 6, 2017

Salon des Vins et de la Gastronomie , Vannes 2017

Here I just came back in time on Sunday to go to this wonderful event in my area and in many other places…in France. The Salon des Vins et de la Gastronomie is wonderful with the best real producer of the la vie en France.

I wrote on it back on the 2014 edition, here: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2014/11/30/salon-de-la-gastronomie-vannes-2014/

The latest one it shows the salon has grown and is full of success.  This year it was held on March 3-6, and at the same spot on the Parc Expo Chorus in our Parc du Golfe, Vannes.  this is it with all the events and how to get there; http://www.lechorus.com/infos-pratiques

There were many activities schedule from March 4 like tasting a tarte au citron meringuée, or a lemon tart with meringue. Crêpes, vegetables cooking, and recipes by Alain Chartier the chocolat men here. It showcase the first site for vegan or vegetarians call VegOresto and the site is http://www.vegoresto.fr

There were a big space for a food court to try the oysters, cold cuts, crêpes, mushrooms omelettes, and the Gambrinus restaurant. Also, big chalets on how to better cook and eat with cutlery stands, plastics containers, and the Ets Radigue on pots and pans and utensils we purchase; one pot and one pan with cover all French made both for 140 euros. Genuine stuff for the real cooker in you ::) You can only find them in fairs like this one, they are at 1, Lot. De la Ratonnerie – Le Bignon 45210 FERRIERES FRANCE Tél : +33 238909630.

On the gastronomie side we were pleasantly surprise to find our favorite Basques here! the Maison Castellou from Saint Jean Pied du Port were here! and we got it all, and gifts given to us too. Not to leave out the Les Saveurs Catalans for their wonderful sausages, the L’Oliveraie with its olives and tapenades , the local honeys and soaps from honey of the Miellerie de Huelgoat with 18 different kinds of honey! ,Atout Fruit Sec with all fruits in dry form or gelly, and of course many many more.

There were cocktails, spirits presentation of many kinds including the local Chouchen honey base drink.  Then, you had the wines oh la la la!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There were producers from Alsace such as Domaine Fleischer, Beaujolais (where we met a wonderful couple of Le Bourlay Patrick and Odile) we purchase Juliénas and Brouilly. The big daddy Bordeaux from Chateau Dillon,and La Rose Pauillac(!had it) Chateau Mercier, etc. Moving on to Bourgogne, with the same couple as above and several more stands, Champagne was here with some local producers such as Robert-Allait, and Godmé Sabine (we had!); Charentes region with its cognacs, Languedoc-Roussillon with the Banyuls and Mas Amiel and many others.

We went down to Provence and Corse, with the Bandol of L’Oliveraie. My favorite Sud-Ouest region with Domaine Lamothe wonderful Gaillac (we had and on my wife’s father side home turf); the Vallée du Rhône had its many with the Condrieu and Côte Rotie of Domaine de Boisseyt-Chol,and the Châteauneuf du pape of Clos Val Seille.

And we end up in our now backyard with the wines of the Vallée de la Loire. You have the Vouvrays of the Caves Rougebec Vouvray (we had), and Earl Bergers Fréres with the wonderful whites of Montlouis-sur-Loire ,and by now our friends of Earl Cousseau Boireau vignobles de la Roudaie and its Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil reds and rosés! All magical.

More on this one and the others coming up all over France check it out here in French bien sûr ::) http://www.salondelagastronomie.fr/

You should come by ,they are back in November this year same place. check it out, its all worth it.

Enjoy it ,la vie est belle en France ::) Salut!

Vannes Vannes Vannes Vannes Vannes Vannes Vannes Vannes

 

 

 

February 16, 2017

And more wines for 2017, Burgundy anyone….

Today, I saw an article about Burgundy  in Bloomberg, and decided to write a bit about this wonderful wine region and more…Bourgogne.

I have been drinking Burgundy wines since 1988 when I had the opportunity to meet  Pierre-Henri Gagey the President of Maison Jadot, Beaune who was stopping by for a tastings in Crown Wine Liquiors store in North Miami Beach Florida USA.  So old the store is no longer feature in the store webpage ,but it does has one other I have visited in Coral Gables, this is the webpage: https://www.crownwineandspirits.com/store-locations/

The experience was so good that when came to France to meet what is now my wife in 1990, I took a ride by Beaune , with a previous request to see him at Jadot,Beaune. He was not available but gave me his Sales Manager for Europe Marc Dupin to lead us into a wonderful tastings of the best of Jadot in their cellars at Beaune. The house is here: http://www.louisjadot.com/fr/

You know wine is one of my favorite subjects even if do not write enough on it. It goes that you mention wine and you know love is in the air, especially around special dates.  It breaks away shyness and opens up the social spectrum in a controlled way, easy for conversations of a cultured person. Maybe many take it to an extreme that make people shy away from it, but it should not be that way. I have a certificate from SOPEXA, the French food and wine export organization in knowledge of French wines, and proven articles in different magazines such as Decanter, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiasts etc over the pond and ICEX Spain food and wine organization as well as here from the Boutin Gourmand. However, I try to humanized it and keep it simple just to enjoy the wine that does not have to be expensive to be good.

The official Burgundy site for its wines is here in English : http://www.bourgogne-wines.com/

The region is long and narrow, starting in the north with Chablis and Yonne and coming down thru Côte de Nuits, Côtes de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise, Maçonnais, all 27 200 hectares representing 3% of the French AOC wine production! or 200 million bottles!!! The principals grapes are the Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Gamay, Aligoté, Pinot Gris, César, Sacy, and Melon de Bourgogne. The region has four levels of appellation or delimited areas which are Côte de Nuits like a Vosne-Romanée, Premiers Crus like a Meursault, Côte de Beaune like a Corton-Charlemangne.

The sub regions just to get you a bit more confusing à la Française are: Bourgogne, Bourgogne Clairet, Bourgogne Mousseux, Bourgogne Ordinaire, Bourgogne Ordinaire Clairet, Bourgogne Ordinaire Rosé, Bourgogne Passetoutgrain, Bourgogne Rosé, Bourgogne Aligoté, Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire, Bougogne Grand Ordinaire Rosé, Crémant de Bourgogne, Vin de pays de l’Yonne, Vin de pays de la Niévre, vin de pays de Sainte Marie La Blanche, Vin de pays de Saône et Loire, Vin de pays des Coteaux de l’Auxois.

The main thing as anywhere is to know who the producter is, if they do their wines well the area is not important and of course the quality/price ratio.  And I had the opportunity to drink very expensive good wines and very inexpensive good wines and vice versa over my life.

The towns for touristic reference as well as the wines, tops are: -Montrachet, Santenay, and Beaune with its famous Hospices de Beaune a charity Chablis, Chambertin, Morey Saint Denis, Chambolle-Musigny, Vougeot Vosne-Romanée, Nuits Saint Georges , Aloxe-Corton, Savigny, Pommard, Meursault, Chassagne hospital founded in 1443 and famous for its auction every November . Also, Mercurey, and Pouilly-Fuissé.

From the site of Beaune tourist office you can get plenty of information on Burgundy tastings and visits: http://www.beaune-tourism.com/tasting/wineries#!/page/1

So to be general and fair and talk about some well known producers here are some from the Bloomberg list: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-14/best-2015-burgundy-wine-under-100-a-bottle

And from my favorite chain store in France, Nicolas : http://www.nicolas.com/en/Wines/Burgundy-wines/c/0102/?q=%3Arelevance%3Aprice%3A0-50&text=

You won’t go wrong looking for the Domaine Bouchard, and all the Bouchard, Louis Jadot, Albert Bichot, Joseph Drouhin, Chateau de Pommard,Domaine Faivelay, and William Fevre to name a few.

Bourgogne or Burgundy or Borgoña is a region to be reckoned with and one that has also tried to be copy ,adapted ,adjust all over the world ;but Burgundy rest unique, you can’t replace the dirt!

Cheers y’all!

Beaune ¨Pommard Savigny-les-Beaune Beaune Beaune

 

 

 

 

January 2, 2017

Something I like, wines,and for 2017

Ok so let’s talk about wine shall we; this is one of my favorite topics and the entry point for me into all things French many many years ago. If you read my old posts, worked at a liquor store in Florida when a lot younger and was responsible for the wine orders, sales of it to a upper class majority in Ormond Beach.  The wine thing began way back with my maternal grandmother and the Spanish wines, and then it grew into French wines. I still drink both but France wins….::)

What we will have for 2017, well many gurus have their opinions and from different sources; I like to pick my own views tergiversate with theirs.

There is wine from many regions of the world and many new to wine popularity, more to show wine is in always will be; it is the blood of our maker if you go way into religion.

The so called scientists call 2016 the hottest year in history helping the pinot noir grapes in Canada, and Germany (bear in mind it is a French grape….).  The craft beer boutique style is up 14,1% according to Beverage Information group, and cider is up 10%, and now flavored whiskey  wine will still be going strong in 2017.  So how is the world for 2017?

Sparkling wine is going up with Prosecco the Italian newcomer but Champagne the master is up 10% in the USA! Italy’s Franciacorta to Tasmania have begun to crack the Champagne code. Last year, the English fizz went global and now has nine brands in the U.S.  Two upcoming areas are Lambrusco from Italy and Spanish cava from the Catalunia region especially with their upscale denomination Cava de Paraje Calificado .

The Loire region, my house wine, went up 10% in sales in the US last year.  The wonderful cabernet franc and the popular gamay as well as stylish, complex, dry and sweet whites from chenin blanc and lively, zingy sauvignon blanc. You may know Chinon, but lesser-known Loire areas Touraine (my favorite), Anjou, Saumur, and Vouvray are set to shine. And a better quality price ratio than Burgundy or Rhone valley regions.

Rosés were good and still are, but the light cool reds are coming strong; see the above in the Loire region. Also, look for lively frappato from Sicily, tangy schiava and lagrein from northern Italy’s Alto Adige, pinot noir from Alsace, and zweigelt from Austria to hit by-the-glass lists in restaurants in the USA ,and soon the trend will follow elsewhere.

There is a trend upward on canned wines, but this is not for me sorry, the wine is in the bottle or nothing. Also ,there are wine fountain or jugs of wines from many regions and especially from Italy and Spain ,but again these are not for me.

Next, we will have salon Vinisud  from January 29-31 2017 and already 475 producers signed up for it, with the Languedoc-Roussillon region accounting for 180 of them. http://www.vinisud.com/en

Even in popular Facebook the pages the most research are Bordeaux, Vins d’Alsace, Beaujolais Nouveau, vins du Val de Loire, AOC Fitou, Bourgueil, Crozes-Hermitage wineries, Armagnac, Floc de Gascogne, and Côstiéres de Nîmes.

Meanwhile ,another wine guide is coming out this year Let Petit Ballon by Jean-Michel Deluc , former chef of the Ritz hotel, place Vendome ,Paris. http://www.lepetitballon.com/concept/

Milleniums drink wine 28% more ,and more folks are drinking wine at home, Portuguese wines are up 25% as well as Austrian and South African reds are getting popularity. So 2017 will be a year of getting to know some other parts of the world while staying close to the old traditional ones. Glad my Loire is right up there and Bordeaux still going strong!

Cheers and enjoy wines in 2017. I just had a bottle of old reliable Paul Jaboulet Ainé Côte de Rhone Parallel 45 red.60% Grenache ; 40% Syrah. And home made chorizo pizza with Il Piccante Italian genuine pizza sauce ! In vino veritas ::)

Pluvigner

 

November 10, 2016

Some news from France CXLVII

And here we are already with lower temps down to 2C this evening or about 35F, no snow here in lovely Brittany but the white one was fell in Paris and the île de France region. Of course not even in the Alps have too many 10-20 cm in most or about 4-8 inches! http://www.skiinfo.fr/france/bulletin-neige.html

However, back to the coast and lovely if cold weather in the Morbihan we will be up to 8C, http://www.meteo-bretagne.fr/previsions-56-morbihan

Some other things going on in France in no particular order are:

CDG express tax postponed to 2024. Closing the track Pompidou traject becomes double for businesses in the capital.

Monday, 7 November, in the morning, the inhabitants of ïle-de-France were surprised to discover the snow since dawn in the Paris area. These early flakes have to worry drivers. The “snow-ice Paris plan”, which aims to clear roads in the event of weather disturbance, starts officially on November 15. This may well do not facilitate traffic that already has a record of traffic jams on Monday: more than 540 kilometres of traffic jams blocked roads at 9h, 20 kilometers more than the last peak, identified a few days after the attacks on 13 November. Snow in island of France region includes Paris

http://www.leparisien.fr/Paris-75/en-images-la-neige-EST-Deja-arrivee-sur-l-Ile-de-France-07-11-2016-6298521.php

Vendée globe this time was installed quai Branly (7éme), at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Admission is free and during the almost three months of racing, the general public will be able to familiarize themselves with the offshore racing. Is open every day between 10h and 18h. Free admission.

Advertising in a giant scale. Huge. Such is the dome of more than 80 meters high  covering the Church of St. Augustin  now visible to the boulevard Malesherbes. About three years ago that the Church is hemmed in ugly scaffolding. La Madeleine (for restoration, during one year, the cornice, estimated to be 3 M€) and Church of Saint-Eustache (the façade and  garden scheduled up to the end of 2018 at a cost of 2.4 M€) gave their blessing for those who will be installed in the next few days. More here: http://www.saintaugustin.net/histoire-de-l-eglise/

The Carrousel du Louvre, with its elegant shopping gallery and its exhibitions and receptions shows just a revolution. This Tuesday night, it is a renovated commercial spaces that will be inaugurated.  At 99, rue de  Rivoli (1eme), first a new canopy which hosts thousands of visitors of this famous address. It replaces the old awning canvas a little dated. Viparis is a home of 1 300 m2 and a ceiling height of 4.8 meters. with its four other existing salons, these are 7125 m2 of rooms that open within the Louvre. What to deal with the fierce competition of events  spaces like the Palais Brongniart (2éme) or the all-new  Carré du  Temple (3éme). More here: http://carrouseldulouvre.com/

By 2021, the T10 tramway, declared of public utility by the prefect a few weeks ago, must link Antony to Clamart, Châtenay-Malabry and Le Plessis-Robinson. More in French here: http://www.tramway-t10.fr/

For the inauguration of the Museum Raymond Devos, established in the House he occupied in Saint-Rémy-les-Chevreuse,more here: http://raymond-devos.org/

Art comes to the airport Charles de Gaulle: for three weeks, 470 advertising screens scattered throughout the terminals will expose 80 images from the photographer Dominique Issermann, in the form of films. Do not miss this rare exposition of the French artist. Until 23 November. More here: http://www.parisaeroport.fr/en/passengers/services/news/expo-d-issermann

All at the beach: The cité of architecture and heritage takes us on vacation through a vast panorama of the history of the seaside cities in France and Europe. Architecture, urban planning, artwork and everyday objects tell the gradual conquest of the seaside . Until February 13.  More here: http://www.citechaillot.fr/fr/expositions/expositions_temporaires/26319-tous_a_la_plage.html

The ambition of this exhibition is to exceed the images of Epinal and to study the personality, representations, the tastes and lifestyle of one of the greatest princes of the Grand Siècle. Until 30 September: every day and holidays from 10h to 18h. From October 1 to November 1: all the days and holidays except Tuesday from 10h to 18h ; From 3 November to 31 December: every day and holidays except Tuesday from 10h to 17h. From January 1 to January 2, 2017: Monday Sunday holidays from 10h to 17h. Admission 10€  Castle of Chantilly in the museum. More here: http://www.domainedechantilly.com/en/event/le-grand-conde/

And let’s do some wines with a French twist:  In 1880, a Finnish Gustav Niebaum, age 38, then at the head of a prosperous shipping company that he founded in San Francisco, offers his young wife to make wine in Bordeaux. But Susan refuses to leave his native California. And Gustav fells for the West slopes of the Napa, Rutherford, a bit South of Santa Helena. There, in the Valley of the Wild West, he built the first true great vineyards of California. Pioneer and visionary, Niebaum “invent”, at the end of the 19C, the selective sorting of the grapes at harvest, the reception by gravitation of the harvest, regulates the temperature of the winery… When, a century later, Francis Ford Coppola acquires Inglenook to make his summer home, it takes  only a few years to grasp the immense potential of this vineyard of 100 hectares. In the mid-80s, he launched a top cuvee range, which he called Rubicon.  Above all, faithful to the spirit of the Inglenook of Niebaum Coppola attaches to do the most French of the wines of the Napa. Not only by its grape varieties – cabernet sauvignon-, but also by a vinification and a farm dedicated to the finesse. Built on elegant, bright fruit after a first nose slightly peppered, the 2011 is very atypical of his region and vintage. This is more an attempt, it is a success. Rubicon 2011, Napa Valley, 175 EUR Inglenook. You can find here in St Emilion, http://www.lacavedourthe.com/13418-inglenook-rubicon/

At the Danton the contents of the dishes are at the height of the good chef that is Alexis Pouly, passed through the kitchen of the Grand Véfour and the George V in Paris. The number of places limited to 28. How much: 21 to 47 euros menu. Where is it: 8, Danton, 69003 Lyon Street. Tel +33 (0) 4 37 48 00 10.More here :http://restaurant.michelin.fr/restaurant/france/69003-lyon-03/danton/rz1fxba

Away from the very popular place de la  contrecarpe, almost incongruous in this corner of French Paris,Lilane ,offers  no frills but the products worked and presence of the dishes attest the wonderful soft-boiled eggs meurette, small Bacon and chanterelles; the supreme of pigeon in almond crust or the net of hake (perfectly cooked), risotto with chorizo and old Parmesan. Or even figs toast, crumble almond and ice yoghurt. A framework and a value that remind of friendly province gourmet tables ,just great . How much: Starter-main course-dessert at 35 euros the night. Where is it: graceful Street, 75005 Paris. Tel. +33 (0) 1 45 87 90 68.  More here: http://www.lilane.com/

The Moulin de la Galette, on the butte Montmartre, this is a kind of Parisian monument in front of which we can be all day. The old mill, built in the 17C, which was still producing flour and wine in the 19C, lived a thousand lives. Former property of Debray (that of Régis) family, it transformed into a tavern, then in the restaurant. Its recent history, he owes to Cédric Barbier, a digital  ex-entrepreneur  who bought and smartly renovated. Above the bar, thanks to a transparent ceiling, you can see the mill mechanism. When the weather is nice, the terrace opens its arms. As prices are more than reasonable, 50€ à la Carte, 23€  for the formula breakfast. We would like to live across the street. The Moulin de la Galette, 83, rue Lepic, Paris 18éme. Tel.+33 (0) 1 46 06 84 77.More here http://www.lemoulindelagalette.fr/

Charles Aznavour in concert on 21 December 2016 to December 28, 2016 at the Palais des sports – Paris. He who recently got finally and well deserve a star in Hollywood blvd CA USA. More here: http://www.ledomedeparis.com/events/charles-aznavour-2/

Lille , nearby home of family taken here and family recommended to go to this militant canteen-loft, of the capers of the bear garlic replace pepper, chicory steals the show at the cafe and it revels in blondes, redheads or Brunettes beers on some amazing pears samurais mackerel of Dunkirk or these Jerusalem artichokes, buckwheat seeds and malt syrup to fall. A wild, uncompromising, and wonderfully inventive kitchen that transcends the Flemish soil. Bloempot: 22rue des bouchers. Book 2 months in advance on the website. Open every day except Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evening, 12-14h, and 19-21h. Lunch 19,50€-25€ and tasting menu ‘the eyes closed”€34 – 40€-50€.  http://www.bloempot.fr/

This baroque sanctuary of the waffle with vanilla of Madagascar since 2008 has a gourmet restaurant. Nomadic and elegant, the kitchen of Maxime Schelstraete, young chef spent his time in England and Australia, if offers the luxury of working lobster or truffles between two flavours besides and merges wild squid and smoked salt, langoustines and zaatar Lebanese, a tradition in Lille, Meert: 27 rue Esquermoise, Tel +33 (0) 3 20 57 93 93. Open from Tuesday to Saturday, 12-14h and 19h30-22h, Sunday 11h – 14h. Menu of the market 29€-€35, Discovery Menu 45€-70€. More here: https://www.meert.fr/nos-adresses/lille.html

“Fou de Pain or Crazy bread” (which the bakery is considered to be the best of Lille) has built an artificial river to purify and energize its water, is passionate about the long fermentation, use organic flours and of trouble imitating human gesture. Result: cracking  unctuous honey  loaves guarantees 100% natural and a masterpiece, fine tart clementines chiselled to the knife in Japanese gold.  Alex Croquet: 66 rue Esquermoise, open every day except Sunday 7h30 – 19h30.  More soon here: http://www.alexcroquet.fr/index.html and more here from the tourist office; http://www.lilletourism.com/boulangeries-patisseries-vieux-lille/alex-croquet-lille.html

September 15, 2016

There are wine notes, tastings and then there is Parker

BordeauxWell it hit me saw an article on the last tastings rounds of a genius and prompted me to write this post. I love wines, I have been drinking it tasting it since birth, from my grandmother first at age 8 and then onwards to all the levels.

I tried them all, from obscure wine labels and lesser known countries such as Viñales from Cuba to the great ones of France and the Rothschilds. I used to work in a liquor store in Florida, and was in charge of the wine department ordering and replacing bottles, and attending the old fashioned income tax burning parties AND wine tastings.

From attending many wine tastings at different locations and have the privilege of meeting the best growers in the world from several countries most from France.  The pleasure of choosing France the mother of all wine tastings experts, knowledge, foundations. Where else would you see a French grape, or a French winemaker giving their expertise, or French investors on vineyards, or using French oak barrels for ageing, to using the same methods as in France, and then creating a wonderful bottle, à la French even if sometimes ego claims it to be better than the original French wine.

Now it hit me, Robert  Parker is retiring from wine tasting notes; oh mine. I was an original follower who signed up to his newsletters and purchase his books the moment it hit the bookstore; this was the genius of wine and especially French. What would Bordeaux becomes without him?

Robert Parker was a lawyer by profession born in  Monkton, Maryland, USA ;today he is 70 years old!!  He started writing his columns in the fame US magazine The Wine Advocate. He sold his empire to Singaporian investors many years ago.

Between April and June the most glorious of Bordeaux wines are presented to the tasters as each year , this time in 2016 Robert Parker is not there to taste the 2015 crop.  Bordeaux is orphan for the first time in many years; no more the 100 points scores.  I remember when the Château Pavie was given 100 and was helped to raised to premier Grand Cru Classé A of Saint Emilion, at the same level as Ausone, Cheval-Blanc or Angélus!!!

The great French consultant and winemaker of many Michel Rolland said of Parker « Si vous n’aimiez pas les vins qu’aimait Parker, vous n’aimiez pas grand-chose de bon ! » OR If you do not like the wines that Parker liked, you did not love nothing good! He had the world at his feet when announce a wine; such as Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafitte when in 2011 re evaluating the 2009’s he took the note from 98 to 100 , in one night he push the the sales of this wine by 3X the world over!

He has left some followers such as Neal Martin in The Wine Advocate magazine; and then James Suckling with a great following and after his depart from The Wine Advocate another takes his place such as James Molesworth .

With the retirement of  Robert Parker ,others takes or tried to take his place such as Antonio Galloni (USA) and even the French team of Michel Bettane et Thierry Desseauve . Others such as Tim Atkin, Jancis Robinson in the UK, Jacques Perrin in Switzerland, Jacques Dupont in France or even Decanter magazine, the most international of magazines from UK. But any arrives of combing world opinion on wines as did Robert Parker.

Now , it is not the explosion as before of reading a 100 by Parker as before .Even is some merits such in the 2015 vintage such as Pontet-Canet , Pauillac, Brane-Cantenac, Margaux, Haut-Bailly ,Pessac-Léognan, Pétrus,  Pomerol, Cheval-Blanc and Canon ,Saint-Émilion..etc.

Now, new horizons are happening in the expressway of Napa and Sonoma,  a boulevard of Bordeaux Crus opens up not only of the most prestigious labels but also of those of the Fronsadais or  côtes de Castillon , are founding their place in the Sun.

Saddened ,however, that Bordeaux has lost with the retirement of the guru, “the greatest Ambassador she‘s ever had”, an important trader of the place is difficult to turn the page. Bordeaux must forget Parker because it must. And regret because it‘s worth…Robert Parker.

The lessons are always remember , the memories of his newsletter full of love and energy will not be forgotten,this is my humble homage to a great wine guru of our time. Follow the wine, it is good for you and the soul. It is our blood.

Cheers and in Vino Veritas.

https://www.erobertparker.com/sitesearch/rparker.aspx

inspirational  source in French: http://www.lesechos.fr/week-end/gastronomie-et-vins/vins/0211263727310-les-bordeaux-apres-la-revolution-parker-2026127.php

September 11, 2016

Foire aux vins or wine fairs are on in France!!!

This is the moment we wait to buy wines in quantity and good prices; these are the Foire aux Vins going on all over France now. It will be going on from end August to mid October 2016 depending on the store and the region. A wonderful time of the year indeed ::)

There are over 30 fairs of wine in France just between September and October 2016 in France, offering real bargains as we can vouch for it.  More here on fairs of any kind  I have it for wines in France in English: http://www.tradefairdates.com/Wine-Trade-Shows-Y363-S1.html

All the leading hypermarkets here like E Leclerc, Giant Casino, Carrefour, Intermarché, Monoprix and Auchan have fairs on similar dates. The Sommeliers expert advice is to look for years 2005,2010,and 2015 as best years. Be careful of low prices from industrial wine growers, search well for prices, and the medal wine bottles as commercially manipulated. IN brief, you need to know who you buy from, both in store and from producers. I always have counted on producers if they are good their years will be good ,sure buy. Be aware that even if this is a national event, each regions has its choices so need to move about to find the best as a whole. One great wine in Provence may not be available in Bretagne and vice versa.

Some good events coming up that I have participated in the past are the Fête des Vendage de Montmartre Paris ,October 5-9,2016. This is going on since 1934!!! the best in Paris, More official page here: http://www.fetedesvendangesdemontmartre.com/

The other is the Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants , in porte de Versailles, Paris November 24-28 2016, a fantastic place from all over France. More info here: http://www2.vigneron-independant.com/38%C3%A8me-salon-des-vins-des-vignerons-ind%C3%A9pendants-paris

Salon des Vins d’Abbayes , is another jewel that this year has passed by but mark in your calendars for next year at Saint-Germain-des-Prés; Palais Abbatial 3 bis rue de l’Abbaye Paris 6éme. The wine began with the abbeys so come here to taste the ones still made today in them. You see others in France coming up here their official site that ,also, tells you about these wonderful abbeys such as see the site here: http://lesvinsdabbayes.com/visite-abbaye

The wines events are here : http://lesvinsdabbayes.com/evenements

Salon de la revue du vin de France is a magazine I have in my blogroll below posts and one that I have followed for many many years;the magazine and since their first event in Paris. They hold and event at the wonderful Palais de Brongniart or bourse every May with over 200 vignerons from all over France in a wonderful chic place.  Next one is the 11th edition on May 19-20 2017; more info here: http://salon.larvf.com/fr/

At the Carrousel du Louvre, November 25-26 2016 they will hold the Le Grand Tasting Under a great tasting team of France ,Bettane+Desseauve (they publish a wine guide )  ;over 300 producers and a cooking MasterChef class as well. More info here: https://www.grandtasting.com/

One newspaper I follow and best for comparisons is the Le Figaro . It provides available wines by region and store as well as prices so you are well arm when stepping into the stores. Is a must to read before going out shopping. It’s in French of course; The site not only gives you supermarkets but also specialize wine stores with a nice tri to look up prices and wine labels  régions etc; more here: http://avis-vin.lefigaro.fr/foire-aux-vins/prix

One smaller wine tasting I went for several years before moving to Bretagne is held by the Port de Suffren in Paris, at the Le Maxim’s boat own by Pierre Cardin; Saveurs et Vins , the next one will be November 18-20 2016, and we have made many friends we now follow all over France from the Loire to the Dordogne. More here in French: http://saveursetvins.lobstert.com/

And one that the organiser told me could not be held in July 2016 and waiting further for the 2017 but it has been fabulous in the Touraine-Amboise region of the loire, Centre region this is just north of Amboise.  Promenade Gourmande. A walk in the vineyards with local music, food and local wine tasting while while walking amongst the grapes. Of course, there are kiosks at 1 km intervals for you to eat and taste and keep walking, all fun to raise funds for the Lion International assoc of the Loire. More here: http://promenadegourmande.free.fr/

See a youtube video here of the 2015 event; https://youtu.be/tVGGjh01DDg

Other favorite stores of mine are Lavinia Paris (origin of Spain), Rue de la Madeleine by the Church same name. http://www.lavinia.fr/fr/pages/contactez-nous

Nicolas  (our top favorite) all over France and the main one in Paris same area of the Madeleine; http://www.nicolas.com/en/magasins/LA-MADELEINE/s/00002530.html

Millesima Bordeaux,: http://www.millesima.fr/

Denis Perret, Beaune: http://www.denisperret.fr/en/

We just came from visiting Nicolas Vannes where we load u a couple cases of wine to stock up ‘beefup’ our cellar at home. Very good wines at discounted prices, the way to go and Monday is my Birthday ::) so off from work and took Tuesday off too. La belle France is generous and we love it.

Enjoy the wines in moderation and keep up a tradition of centuries ,wine is good for you. France came down a bit on wine production last year at 42+ millions hl short of the 47 it did year before that. The quality so far is not good due to weather so  keep an eye out on the producers they wont get you wrong. The 2015 is very good thought.

In Vino Veritas ,enjoy your Sunday. Weather is cloudy cooler by 66F or 13C but no rain in our Bretagne. Need to put some photos so here are some personal ones on the roads of wines of France. Cheers.

Gan Bergerac Saint Julien Pauillac Pauillace

 

 

 

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