Monthly Archives: November 2013

A special day!

Once in a while my lifestyle/food/wine blog gets more egocentric and personal, and today is one of those days –it is my birthday!

This is what it looked like in the morning when I woke up: Parisian apartment

The first thing I received in the morning was this beautiful bouquet my husband got me. It is on the fire place in the living room next to some Finnish design objects. Parisian bouquet of flowers

Then we paid a visit to Edouard Nahoum who sells excellent and elegant jewellery with friendly service…. and I got to visit his atelier!

Then, as I arrived at home a while ago, this box full of oysters from Cancale was waiting for me in front of our apartment’s door. Merci beaucoup dear Parisian friends!! What a lovely gesture!!Cancale oysters

Indeed, une belle journée and it is not even finished yet. We are now heading to a restaurant but I have no idea which one. I have been trying to guess but my husband’s lips are sealed. I guess I will find out soon enough, and you dear followers will know some time next week, too. Until then, have a lovely evening and preferably with some champagne! 

 

Maison Lorgeril from Languedoc-Roussillon

Le salon des vins des Vignerons Indépendants (Wine Exhibition of Independent Winemakers) begun in Paris on Thursday. All wine lovers, don’t you just love this photo? Wines from eleven regions of France, and all you have to do is choose where to start! Les salons des vins des Vignerons Indépendants

Our time was quite limited, but oh so rewarding! We were particularly interested in producers coming from Languedoc-Roussillon because of our recent trip in the region. As you may know, Languedoc-Roussillon is the world’s largest wine-growing area, possessing very interesting geographical and climate conditions: it is between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, surrounded by the mountains, and its burning sun is cooled down by strong winds. The grapes often grow in the altitude.  Maison Lorgeril depuis 1620

We found Maison Lorgeril and had an informative, pleasant talk about their wine making.  We learned that the owners, count and countess de Lorgeril live in Château de Pennautier, which has been owned by the same family since 1620. The castle is located near Carcassonne in Languedoc-Roussillon; the region between Rhône and Pyrénées in the southern part of France. The castle is considered the heart of their wine production, and its wines include AOC Cabardès, Vins de Pays d’Oc and Vins de Pays de la Cité de Carcassone. In addition, Maison Lorgeril has five other estates where grapes are grown, totaling in nine different AOC.Lorgeril carte vignoble After tasting two whites, three reds and a white dessert wine, we left the stand  with a heavy bag full of wines we will serve at Christmas… nice! We love buying directly from producers, and especially from those ones who have the kindness to share their knowledge and wine-making stories!

Maison Lorgeril: http://www.lorgeril.com/ (the map was copied from this website)

Le salon des vins des Vignerons Indépendants: http://www.vigneron-independant.com/ (until Monday) and Wine tasting at Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants

L’Alcôve: finest meat of Paris

Do not look further, the finest meat restaurant in Paris has been identified!

Last Friday we returned to LAlcôve, which is located in the southern part of the 14th arrondissement. The owner, originally Algerian, is a former butcher and knows where to buy meat of the highest quality and how to age the meat to improve its tastiness.  The first time I tasted his meat I knew it has nothing to do with most other restaurants offer.

We shared mechouia (salad of rosted pepper and tomatoes) for the starter, which is the best mechouia I have ever had yet quite spicy. salad mechouiaDuring our previous visit my husband had ordered a veal steak. I tasted it, and it was the first time ever in my life when I truly loved veal. So, this time we both ordered a big chunk of veal, grilled over a real fire, and it was simply divine.  I absolutely loved my veal, and could only wish that the culinary experience never ends…. veal steakAlgerian red wine Cuvée du Président brought just enough pungency to our dinner, and we finished the bottle while having an enlightening discussion with the owner about the food culture in France and how things are evolving.

It was such a delightful night. My husband even joked and said afterwards that I am finally quite a simple woman: all I need is good food and wine to be happy!

LAlcôve: 46 Rue Didot, 75014 Paris, France ‎ +33-1-45459202. Metro: Plaisance and Pernety.

Review by Le Fooding: http://www.lefooding.com/restaurant/restaurant-l-alcove-paris.html

***

Previous posts about eating North African food in Paris are:

Algerian restaurant l’Atlantide in Paris (excellent couscous and tajine)
L’Homme Bleu: Berber hospitality in the center of Paris (reputable couscous and tajine restaurant but I was disappointed during my last visit)
Le Tipaza: refined Moroccan food (a good address near the Eiffel Tower)

Wine Fair ticket to give away!

It is the return of Le salon des vins des Vignerons Indépendants in Paris next weekend. The wine fair begins on Thursday morning and ends on Sunday evening. Independent winemakers from all over France gather together to present their products and the buyers happily stroll from one stand to another. A fantastic, joyful wine event not to be missed I say!!champagneI will be going to the event most probably on Thursday evening, but I have an extra ticket to give away. As I have no idea how many of you would be interested in acquiring the ticket, I suggest the following:

  • Like Pearlspotting on Facebook and write on the wall what your favorite wine (French or foreign) is
  • Respond before the midnight on Monday (Paris time)
  • If I only one person responds, this person will naturally have the ticket
  • Should there be several interested ones, I will organize a raffle on internet
  • When the winner is identified, I will announce his/her name on Facebook and send the ticket to the winner (in France or abroad, does not matter!)

Sounds fair? I hope so!

PS The ticket is for two people and valid any day during the wine fair.

To read more about this wine fair, see Wine tasting at Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants or http://www.vigneron-independant.com/auxsalons/

Weekend in Copenhagen

My last visit to Copenhagen was back in the 80’s and I only remember two things about that trip: Tivoli and the Little Mermaid. So, when I knew I would spend a long weekend in this Danish capital in the end of August, I was naturally curious. And what I found was a true cosmopolitan city: quirky, fashionable and grand yet minimalistic!Church in Copenhagen

These are my personal highlights of that weekend (in no particular order):

1. That famous Little Mermaid. We happened to be in Copenhagen when this landmark celebrated its 100th birthday. If you happen to be in Copenhagen on August 23, then find out what celebrations take place that day. We witnessed 100 human mermaids jump to the sea to swim near the statue. To see the video about this event, go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EX8xIsKgVz4the little mermaid

2. Boat cruising. Water is present everywhere in Copenhagen, and the city and the sea live in harmony. A good way to get an idea of this is to buy a one-hour ticket to metro, bus or train, which also includes hopping onto boats called Havnebus. I loved doing this and it is such an excellent way to get a glimpse of Copenhagen’s mentality! boat cruising in Copenhagen

I also loved the boat stops:boat cruising in Copenhagen

3. Architecture. Have you heard of Arne Jacobsen? How about Jørn Oberg Utzon, the name behind Sydney Opera House? They both come from Denmark and have paved the way for new Danish architects that keep emerging year after year. The list of buildings to see in Copenhagen is next to endless, but this gives you some idea: http://www.visitcopenhagen.com/copenhagen/architecture/top-10-architecture Danish architecture

The main elements of the Danish architecture (water, light, sustainability and space) were present wherever I looked, and personally I appreciated how the docks have been converted into restaurant, galleries, museums, art schools and architectural bureaus.the docks in Copenhagen

This lighthouse (?) is one of my favorite architectural masterpieces and it put such a smile on my face!lighthouse in Copenhagen

4. Design. The Nordic countries are known for their design and Denmark is no less important than its neighbors. It has produced its fair share of names that are recognized all over the world and the Danes are proud of this for a good reason. Danish Design Center

Design is everywhere you go, and it combines style,  minimalism and practicality. When walking, look around and you will see esthetic objects all over. design object

5. Food. To see what young chefs are capable of creating, make a dinner reservation at Mielcke & Hurtigkarl: Danish gourmet at its best  but make sure to arrive early to visit the romantic Frederiksberg Have park.  For lunch, head to the inside food market called Torvehallerne, which has a wide selection of highest-quality food shops and restaurants (http://www.visitcopenhagen.com/copenhagen/gastronomy/torvehallerne). Sushi Lovers, an award-winning Japanese  restaurant, as well as Palæo, Denmark’s first restaurant serving stone-age food, are located here. Torvehallerne, Paleo-restaurant

We opted for Hallernes Smørrebrød, because I really wanted to eat herrings. They have an excellent selection of delicious small rye breads with different toppings, but in order to benefit from the wide selection, arrive early! smørrebrød

Final words: some other “obvious things” one should do are walking along Nyhavn (and stop for a waffle at Vaffelbageren!), spending an evening at Tivoli, renting a bike, etc., but this is something every guide book will tell you. I hope that I managed to portray a slightly different image of Copenhagen and helped you to choose your next weekend-trip destination!

PS If you like this article, why not to follow Pearlspotting also on Facebook?

Mielcke & Hurtigkarl: Danish gourmet at its best

A sunny, rather hot Saturday in August. It could have been like any other Scandinavian summer night when the sun never seems to set, except that it was not. It was special, because it was the wedding day of my brother.

The wedding dinner was organized at the Mielcke & Hurtigkarl restaurant, which is highly praised by critics from all over the world. For example, Condé Nast Traveller reckons this restaurant is one of the 25 reasons to visit Copenhagen. Others say Mielcke & Hurtigkarl has earned its place in the league of emerging creative and contemporary chefs of Denmark –a country whose food scene was until recently mainly known by Noma. Mielcke & Hurtigkarl

As I am sure you can imagine, living in Paris can make one obnoxious about food. I confess that at times I fall into that category and therefore I admit my expectations were very high regarding the dinner. And now, please listen to me. For your next weekend trip, book tickets to Copenhagen and reserve a table at Mielcke & Hurtigkarl. Yes, it is THAT outstanding, and the following photos will prove my statement.

Shrimp amuse-bouche: starter with shrimps

Cucumber amuse-bouche: cucumber amuse-bouche

The amuse-bouche were served with an excellent crémant from Bourgogne (France), which proved that a high-quality crémant can be as good as champagne (or even better!).

After the garden we moved inside and begun with the first starter: a terrine of hake, rolled in A.O. Nori seaweed and served with compressed cucumber, pea crumble, green vinaigrette, herb oil and pea sprouts, accompanied with Portuguese white Regueiro Alvarinho Minho from 2011.hake terrine

For the second starter we had a smoked mackerel with small new potatoes braised with summer truffle, radish and herbs from the garden, and wild garlic sauce. As each dish had its own wine, we were now served an excellent French white Saint Veran Bourgogne from 2011. _MKJ8548

For the main course we were spoiled by a braised veal breast rolled in fried onions
and ash, served with garlic-flavored celery fondant and red wine sauce of smoked marrow and cranberries. The accompanying red wine was Spanish Oliver Conti Catalunya from 1999. veal tenderloin

Instead of a traditional wedding cake we had a very creative and delicious yogurt sponge cake with cocoa crumble, fresh berries and berry preserve, which was served with French sweet wine Chartreuse de Coutet Sauternes (2007).Yogurt sponge cake,

I could not have imagined a more fantastic restaurant choice. Everything was simply perfect, beautiful and delicious. Just as the dream wedding dinner is supposed to be! If you have a chance, make a stop here the next time you are in Copenhagen:

Mielcke & Hurtigkarl:
Frederiksberg Runddel 1, 2000 Frederiksberg
Reservation: +45 3834 8436 or booking@mhcph.com
http://www.mhcph.com/

PS These wonderful photos were taken by the official wedding photographer Lina Ahnoff. Talking about talent! In addition she is a well-humored, kind woman who loves people and glimpses of life. Highly recommended! http://linaahnoff.com/

What to expect to eat in Roussillon?

Earlier this month I was in the region called Languedoc-Roussillon and specifically in the southern part of it, Roussillon. This area of France is truly interesting food-wise: it is very Mediterranean but the mountains lurk in the horizon, it borders Spain and it is considered part of Catalonia. It has a strong culture of jambon, sausages, different types of seafood, snails, rabbit, cod, anchovies and tapas plates etc., and one should not forget the local wine and cheese making!

Roussillon wine

This blog post is about sharing my culinary experiences during the recent five-day trip in Roussillon, and to show you what to expect to see and taste both at restaurants and at markets. Enjoy!

Beautiful garlic! After all, it is the Mediterranean!
garlic in Collioure

Cheese! (mixture of cow and sheep):
cow-sheep cheese

Roquefort-flavored sausage:
soubressade and local sausages

Sea urchins! Salvador Dali liked them… do you?
sea urchin

Catalan snails in tomato-jambon sauce:catalan snails

Warm goat cheese salad: warm goat cheese salad

Mussels with aïoli and grilled cuttlefish:
mussels with aïoli

Mushroom with Balearic spicy sausage called soubressade on a toast:Sobrassada

Duck legs: duck legs

Beefsteak: a beefsteak

Razor shells (my all-time favorite!!): razor shells

“Small tapas assortment”: tapas assortment

My only regret is that we did not have a chance to taste the local oysters, but one always needs to keep a reason to return!

PS Why not to follow Pearlspotting also on Facebook?

Apéritif hour at Le Baron Rouge

After running errands in Chinatown this afternoon, only two tasks remained: to buy wine and to buy oysters. Direction: Le Baron Rouge!

I really like going to Le Baron Rouge in the late afternoon when the crowds have not yet filled the space. It is nice watching the clients and the life of the barmen. It feels like the time has stopped. And there are those traditional huge oak barrels waiting for customers to choose which wine to take home. Le Baron Rouge

We purchased some Côtes du Rhône (to go with the cheese after the oysters) and had an apéritif at the bar. One of those moments when you say to yourself Vive la France!

Atelier Maître Albert: classy and playful

If you have been following my blog, you know that we are very happy eating out at bistros, and that we quite rarely spend extravagant amounts of money at restaurants (we also think that Paris has so many excellent, affordable bistros that hurting your wallet isn’t necessary!). However, this summer we did a bit of splurging and enjoyed a dinner with an other couple at Atelier Maître Albert.

It was a beautiful summer evening and the sun was shining at our table. A family sitting next to us was leaving and suggested we finish their half-full bottle of rosé wine. What a nice gesture we thought!

We had king prawns with orange salad and poached egg with asparagus as starters. There was one thing we all agreed on: coupe de champagne rosé everyone!king prawnsPresentation of the starters was so beautiful that we almost did not dare to eat them… Both starters received ten points. poached egg

Our friend, who is a regular at Atelier Maître Albert, ordered his favorite bottle of red: Chambolle Musigny from Burgundy (fyi: if you have 130€ extra euros to spend, your money will be well spent on this one!).

Since the specialty of the restaurant is roasted meat, we had to try it! Three of us had a slice of roasted beef and I had lamb chops. My husband commented that his slice of beef was “une belle piece” (a beautiful slice); juicy, tasty and copious.slice of roasted beef

The gratin potatoes that came with the beef were served in a cute Staub mini cocotte. When my husband stopped eating his potatoes, the waiter came over encouraging him to finish his mini cocotte. At the moment I thought this was a rather risky move, but in fact it suited that situation: it brought some lightness to the overall feeling, which can often be quite stiff at restaurant of this level. In fact, ten points again to the creativity and human touch! gratin potatoes

After the main course, my husband and I shared a delicious goat cheese plate: goat cheese plate

…and afterwards we shared a grapefruit terrine that I absolutely loved: grapefruit terrine

As I mention in the title of this post, two words that best describe this high-end restaurant of the famous chef Guy Savoy are “classy” and “playful”. These are also the words that describe well my first-ever visit to Atelier Maître Albert back in the early 2000: I went in alone to have just a main course and a glass of wine, and the restaurant offered me a starter and a dessert. Classy and playful, what else?

Atelier Maître Albert (http://www.ateliermaitrealbert.com/): 1 Rue Maître Albert, 75005 Paris. Tel. +33-1-56 81 30 01

PS In case you are wondering, the bill came to 571€10.

 

 

Travel fever

Since returning to Paris on Monday my “travel-advisory-services company” has received a bunch of inquiries from different people about traveling.  Some examples:

  • my brother has already been to Zanzibar, but asked me about Lamu in Kenya
  • someone else wanted to know about driving to Oman from Dubai
  • a blogger friend from Sydney is coming to Paris and asked for bistro recommendations
  • my husband asked me to check out “what to do around Colmar” in Alsace (his work trip just got confirmed there and I may join him)
  • and then before I noticed, I got caught up in a discussion about means of travel to reach the Aral Sea! (I have actually been there! out of all the places, yes!)

All of these discussions brought up memories, so I went to see some old photos and found this photo I took in 2003 in Mombasa, Kenya. It is one of my favorite photos ever.

Mombasa

PS Have you checked Pearlspotting’s Facebook page? It has a bit more updates on what is happening in Paris!