Tag Archives: champagne

A Season in France by the Conran Shop

Last Thursday night I was invited to a soirée privée to celebrate the launch of the Conran Shop‘s spring/summer 2014 collection called “A Season in France”. A Season in France, Conran Shop, Paris

It was a fantastic evening full of sinfully enjoyable Billecart-Salmon champagne, mouthwatering amuse-bouches and eccentric characters approaching us with more soirée privée invitations. Very Parisian indeed!A Season in France, Conran Shop ParisThe collection was stylish and cheerful. It really seemed as if the objects had been chosen for the purpose of making gardening, cooking, playing, cleaning etc. an enjoyable moment!

Indeed, the colors and the presentation of the collection put me in such a good mood that I returned again yesterday afternoon to absorb more energy from this lovely, happy collection. A Season in France, Conran Shop, ParisWhat do you think, does it get any more French and Parisian than this?

PS During two more days, benefit from a 15% discount on selected items! Where? Here: http://www.conranshop.fr/ How? Use this promotional code: LOVEFRANCE


Pampered in Bombay

Friday afternoon we flew SpiceJet from Trivandrum to Bombay, so it hasn’t even been 48 hours in this charming city and already we have done so much!BombayStraight from the airport, still carrying sand from the Indian Ocean in our shoes, we were taken to meet an art collector. Afterwards we were treated to amazing homemade parsi food (google parsis if you have never heard about them!). On Saturday we went on a shopping spree: Anokhi and FabIndia, and afterwards tasted super delicious Gujarati thali at Golden Star. In the evening drinks at one of the most exclusive private clubs of Bombay and a fabulous, mouthwatering kebab dinner at Neel, enjoyed with excellent Indian sparkling rosé Chandon and most perfect company… I don’t think even Louis Vuitton City Guide could do better!!

Let’s see what today brings to us! 

GOLDEN START THALI: http://www.goldenstarthali.com/
NEEL AT TOTE ON THE TURF: http://travel.cnn.com/mumbai/eat/neel-tote
CHANDON: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5HOEXFNpyU (launched by Moët Hennessy)
ANOKHI: http://www.anokhi.com/
FABINDIA: http://www.fabindia.com/


Wine Exhibition of Independent Winegrowers is back!

Is your wine cellar empty? Good, because the Wine Exhibition of Independent Winegrowers returns to Paris this weekend! More than 1000 winemakers from all over France will present their products, often organic and biodynamic, and always of high quality. It is a dream event of all wine lovers and not to be missed! wines of FranceAs previously, I have an extra ticket and happy to send it to someone interested in participating the exhibition between March 28-31. It is for two people and includes complimentary wine tasting glasses.

The rules are the same: like Pearlspotting on Facebook, or if you prefer, become my blog’s follower by inserting your email address into the box available on the front page of my blog (https://pearlspotting.wordpress.com). Please write a comment or a brief story about your most memorable wine experience. Do not forget to mention the name of the wine the story involves (if you remember). Can be from anywhere in the world.

At midnight Wednesday (Paris time) I will pick up the winner (call it Internet lottery) and contact this person. Next day I will send the ticket to the address of the winner.

I am looking forward to your wine stories, and meanwhile, my previous posts about this wine exhibition are to be read here: Wine tasting at Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants and Maison Lorgeril from Languedoc-Roussillon.

EXHIBITION WEBSITE: http://www.france-independent-winegrowers.com/index2.php

Lao Lane Xang 2: simply the best

I have been a loyal customer of Lao Lane Xang 2 ever since it was created. It is my number one choice in the Southeast Asian food category in Paris, and in fact, I could not imagine my life without this divine restaurant, owned by half Laotian, half Vietnamese brothers.

The restaurant is always full and reservations are recommended. However, if you are just two and willing to wait for 15-30 minutes, you usually get a table. But try to call at least one day in advance.

The menu consists of dishes from Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. Even if the prices were increased a little bit in early January, they remain very reasonable. For example, we usually order more than enough food, champagne & beer for aperitif and wine with food, and the bill has never exceeded 75€ (for two).

Some of my favorite dishes are the following:

1. Ped Lad Prik (tamarind duck 13€). This is the house special and the most popular dish. It is simply from heaven. Number L43 in the menu (I know the numbers by heart!).Ped Lad Prik

2. Lap Neua (minced beef meat 9€50). This is the famous Laotian raw or semi-raw dish, which exists also in duck at Lao Lane Xang 2. It is one of my favorite dishes in the world (One more time, one more laap) and nothing beats a well-made lap, I reckon. I even learned how to make it in Laos (Cooking class in Luang Prabang).lap neuaI believe that the version made by Lao Lane Xang 2 is as close as it gets to any lap made in Laos and if you like raw or semi-raw meat, go for it! (Tip: I order lap even during summer months and I have never been sick at Lao Lane Xang 2. But if you hesitate, ask them to cook it more for you)

3. Yam Lao Lane Xang (prawn and cuttlefish salad 10€40). This vinegar-based salad is another favorite of mine. It is refreshing and contains raw red onions, cashew nuts, salad, fried prawns and dried cuttlefish slices. Delicious!!Yam Lao Lane Xang

4. Khung (fried prawns in red coconut curry 12€40). My husband loves this dish but since I usually don’t eat fried food, I find it slightly less appealing. Do not get me wrong; it IS very tasty, but one has to like fried food to like it (well, stating the obvious now…). I usually have a little bit, but I could not eat the entire dish alone.Khung

The menu is long and I have tasted at least one third of the dishes. They are all very good, but these four have become my favorite ones over the years. If you are a group of people, then order many dishes and share: the best way to explore Asian cuisine!

As to the wine, we usually have wine by carafe (50cl 10€) and find it of rather high quality. A glass of champagne (Philipponnat) costs 8€50 and it is a wonderful choice of champagne.

I love going to Lao Lane Xang 2 and find the service excellent and fast. Highly recommended!!

Lao Lane Xang 2:

102 avenue d’Ivry, 75013


Telephone. +33 (0)1 58 89 00 00
Metro: Tolbiac, Place d’Italie
Closed on Wednesdays!


PS Come and meet Pearlspotting on Facebook, too!

What to drink with foie gras?

To pair food and wine is not always straightforward. Even if my principle is “pair it as you like, what you personally prefer”, there are some foods that are trickier than others and deserve more thinking. Foie gras is one of them.

We served foie gras yesterday with toasted pain d’épices (sweet, spicy bread) and coarse salt (sea salt). I had prepared a tomato-onion salad to go with.foie gras and wine

We enjoyed the foie gras with Loupiac (AOC), Château Martillac 2012, and considered it was a successful match (7.80€ the bottle).Loupiac 2012

However, one does have many choices apart from Loupiac, and below you have a list of my favorite foie gras & wine pairing options. I have tried to mention wines that are fairly easily available, too.

1. Champagne: the emperor of the drinks, goes with everything, anytime! If you don’t like sweet wines (the rest are sweet and white), then opt for champagne.

2. Sweet Jurançon: Located in the southwestern part of France, near the Pyrenees, this AOC is probably my favorite among sweet wines. In addition, it has an interesting history: “Jurançon wine occupies an auspicious place in French history. As the story goes, when the future King Henry IV was christened in 1553, his infant lips were touched with a drop of Jurançon wine, which was said to give him lifelong vigor. This practice is repeated to this day at many local christenings.” (http://www.winesofsouthwestfrance.com)

3. Sweet Côtes de Gascogne (IGP): Located in the same region as Jurançon, but a little bit more north, this is another excellent, slightly less-known wine-producing zone.

4. Sweet Monbazillac (AOC): 100 km east from Bordeaux, this is another excellent sweet wine.

5. Sweet Sauternes (AOC): very near Bordeaux, this is probably the most common sweet wine to go with foie gras.

The list is obviously not exhaustive and of course there are many other great wines like for example Le Rêve de Pennautier, “Vendanges d’Après” Vin de France by Maison Lorgeril from Languedoc-Roussillon that I enjoyed over Christmas. This said, what you serve with your foie gras?

PS A tip for the non-French: if you want sweet wine, look for the word vin moelleux in the bottle.

Shan Goût: not your usual Chinese restaurant

To celebrate the beginning of the Year of the Horse, we ate at Shan Goût yesterday. This small restaurant near the Marché d’Aligre is recommended by Le Fooding and since our criterion was to find something a bit upscale, the choice seemed perfect. We reserved one week in advance.Shan GoûtUpon arrival, we were given a table sort of in the middle of everyone: there was a group of guys a few centimeters to our left and a bigger group to our right. It felt like sitting in the middle of a corridor. And it surely did not seem fair that reserving one week ahead does not guarantee a nice table. 

Second negative-ish point. No champagne by glass. Ok, call me a snob but we are in Paris. And champagne belongs to the new year…


One has to order a fix menu, and we opted for two starters and two main courses (22€ per person plus 3€ extra per person because of the dishes we chose).

We begun with steamed cabbage with crab meat and a taro soup. Cabbage had a refined taste but did not compare to the taro soup, which was divine and velvety. taro soupeShan Goût

For the main course we opted for a duck leg served with lentils and greens. It did not taste particularly Asian, and came in a gelatin-like sauce. It was not bad, not at all, but it was not at all what we expected either. Very fusion, to say the least.Shan GoûtThe second main course we shared was sea bass. It reminded us of tastes of Laos, Malaysia…. and it was fantastic!!! Shan Goût


We had a carafe of red wine from the Avignon region but my husband liked less than I did. Otherwise, the wine list seemed interesting: for example, Maison Casez from Languedoc-Roussillon makes excellent natural and even biodynamic wine, and would be our next choice should we return to Shan Goût.

This said, yes, I am still puzzled as to what to think. 50% of what we ate was delicious, but the other half left us a bit empty. There was the issue with our table. The service was not particularly friendly. Not rude, but nothing too smiley either. Hmmm. The restaurant aims high: Shan Goût is considered high-end and the price proves it (almost 100€ for two), but I would suggest they work a bit more on the presentation and the service.

Will I return –probably yes because I don’t like having puzzled feelings about something!

Le Fooding review: http://lefooding.com/fr/restaurants/restaurant-shan-gout-paris

Wine: http://www.cazes-rivesaltes.com/vente-vins-de-rivesaltes-muscat-rivesaltes-rivesaltes/?page=shop_home

Franco-Finnish Christmas meal

Last year we spent Christmas in Paris with my parents who flew over from Finland. Traditional Finnish Christmas meal includes ham but I do not eat ham and my parents were curious to eat like the French, so this is what our Franco-Finnish Christmas meal looked like and consisted of:

1. Champagne for apéritif! My father was responsible for opening the bottle and my mother was ready with her glass (Finnish design, naturally). champagne for aperitif

2. We begun with an Elegant amuse-bouche recipe for Christmas that included Russian caviar and scallops tarama:elegant amuse-bouche

3. And continued with oysters from Cancale  (oysters are an integral part of French Christmas): oysters from Cancale

4. From oysters we moved onto foie gras (another integral part of French Christmas!): foie gras at ChristmasUntil now we had been drinking champagne but this is when we switched to sweet white wine by Maison Lorgeril from Languedoc-Roussillon: Le Rêve de Pennautier, “Vendanges d’Après” Vin de France (BLANC MOELLEUX). An excellent choice, a sublime wine!!

5. After the oysters we enjoyed some Finnish smoked salmon….smoked salmon from Finland

6. …before moving to our already very famous French Christmas meal: stuffed goose from Les Provincesstuffed gooseWe also opened another fantastic bottle of Maison Lorgeril from Languedoc-Roussillon: Mas des Montagnes, “Terroirs d’Altitude”,  AOC Côtes du Roussillon Villages. This extraordinary red went so well with the goose that we could only say “wow”. And continue eating.

7. After the goose it was finally time to dig into cheese and there is no better time to eat Mont d’Or than Christmas: mont d'or cheese(Unfortunately the wine (red Irancy) was not the most perfect choice to go with the cheese; especially after the previous wine)

8. If you now think we could not eat any more, you are wrong… For dessert, we had marron glacé and calissons: Marron glacé

with some chocolate and vin chaudChristmas chocolate and vin chaud

Our Christmas was merry and delicious, and I hope yours was too!

If you want to know more about our cooking ingredients etc., have a look at this post too: Christmas meal essentials!

And to learn more about the wines, please go here:

PS If you liked this post, you may want to check out Pearlspotting’s Facebook page! Especially since I am flying to Venice tonight and will be updating from there too.

King Cake traditions

Yesterday we were invited to eat Galette des Rois and cheer the new year with Canard-Duchêne roséchampagne at my husband’s family. The hosts had ordered this huge cake from a famous bakery and it came with kings’ and queens’ crowns. It had lots of marzipan, so I was a very happy guest!galette des rois

Following the tradition, the youngest child of the family placed herself under the table and informed the person in charge of cutting the cake who gets which slice. This is particularly important because there is a trinket, la fève, inside the cake that everyone wants to have (but as our cake was so big, there were several trinkets inside). The tradition also says that whoever get the trinket will become the king or the queen, hence crowned. 

a trinket of the king cake

In a religious sense, the cake is said to “draw the kings” to the Epiphany. Remember, those kings; wise men who visited Jesus in Bethlehem on the 12th day of Christmas? Today, there are slight variations of the King Cake tradition across the world and even the trinket is not always baked inside the cake for the safety reasons. But if you are traveling in the Catholic world around this time of the year, check out the local bakery to see if they offer the King Cake! 

Importance of the new year

The first day of a new year; new opportunities, new beginnings. To make promises or not to make? Continue to wish for a better life? My wish to everyone including myself is very simple: make sure you begin this new year with things you love. Doing things that bring you happiness will make this year a good one!!

After taking my parents to the airport, I prepared a small tapas dinner of ingredients that I love (Russian caviar, French champagne, artichokes, salmon etc.) and I am now going to enjoy it with my husband. Happy new year once more to all of you!!new year in Paris

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Happy new year dear everyone!

Champagne in Paris! Big Indian dinner waiting for us at the table!

Happiest new year to all of you and your loved ones!!

champagne new year paris