Tag Archives: wine bar

Discover New Restaurants by Les Heures Heureuses

For the third consecutive year, the City of Paris organized Les Heures Heureuses in the end of May. This successful food event has become very popular and it is about new discoveries: to make Parisians break their usual habits by visiting new bars and restaurants.

And sure, there is a lot to discover! This year, more than 280 restaurants in different parts of Paris were selling small tapas at only 2€ and most places offered wine at 2€ per glass to go with. We participated only on Friday night (and missed Thursday and Saturday), and made some excellent new discoveries.

 les Heures Heureuses

Our first we stop was La Cave Mavrommatis, the famous Greek wine bar and shop. Our food tour started well with a complimentary, full-scale wine tasting of white, rosé and red from Domaine Kir Yanni from the northern part of Greece. The moment we tasted the mini pitta filled with Graviera cheese, our next holiday destination was chosen…

Tip: If you have not yet eaten at Mavrommatis (42 rue Daubenton), hurry up! One of the best pigeons I have ever eaten.

Les Nautes

Our second stop, Les Nautes, continued on the Mediterranean side: veal meatballs in tomato sauce. Yummy! And excellent rosé.

Tip: Looking for a terrace by the Seine this summer? Think of . During Paris Plages there won’t be any cars.

Allo Sushi

From the Seine we moved to the heart of Marais for marinated salmon with herbs and edamame. Allo Sushi was previously unknown to us and we made a decision to make it our new Japanese cantine.

Tip: Every morning a seven-kilo Scottish salmon is delivered to Allo Sushi… with Le Label Rouge guarantee of excellency!

Le Thé des Écrivains

Our fourth stop was a book shop with a cafe –again a place we did not know about. Le Thé des Écrivains served a delicious Thai cake made of tako flower and coconut milk, and we had a cup of tea with it. A delightful address worth returning to!

Tip: More than a book shop! Cultural activities every week. Check Le Thé des Ecrivains for program.

L'Embuscade

Energy level up, we walked from the Marais to the 11th arrondissement. Our fifth stop was L’Embuscade, a lively bar in the trendy Oberkampf area. We had homemade Berber couscous and enjoyed friendly service and lively atmosphere.

Tip: Free couscous every Friday!!

Pierre Sang

Next and last stop was in Oberkampf, too. Run by a Top-Chef finalist of the same name, Pierre-Sang has been making buzz in Paris since 2012. We had two cheese tartines that were served with some unidentifiable (but delicious!) sauce. Will return very soon.

Tip: No reservations, no telephone, so arrive at the opening (7 o’clock in the evening) and preferably a bit earlier!

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It was my first time to take part in Les Heures Heureuses and I would not want to miss it next year! We made many new discoveries at the cost of 40€ for two wine included. Who would not be happy?

Les Heures Heureuses: http://lesheuresheureuses.paris.fr

Addresses we tried:

Mavrommatis (group of restaurants and shops): http://www.mavrommatis.com
Les Nautes: http://www.lesnautes.com
Allo Sushi: http://www.allosushi.com (ALLO SUSHI)
Le Thé des Écrivains: http://www.thedesecrivains.com
L’Embuscade: L’Embuscade
Pierre-Sang: http://pierresangboyer.com

Helsinki by Food

So much has happened on the Helsinki food scene since the ’90s that some call it a revolution.

All current Michelin-star restaurants in Helsinki have been created since 2003 and none of the current Bib Gourmand restaurants existed before 2009. In addition to Russian, Tex-Mex and Mediterranean restaurants, which were some of the first international cuisines to arrive in Helsinki, choices keep growing. There is now a Kosher deli. A Peruvian restaurant opened earlier this year. Two young chefs mix Korean, Japanese and North-Chinese flavors. Hakaniemi neighborhood has turned into a bazaar of ethnic grocery shops. The Restaurant Day concept, born in Helsinki in 2011, has now spread to more than 30 countries. The first street food event was organized in March this year. And the list goes on. Indeed, Helsinki has never been as welcoming to foodies as it is today!

As someone who left Helsinki in the mid-’90s, I am intrigued by the latest food scene developments of my old hometown. During my last visit to Helsinki in May this year I took this passion even further and spent an entire day touring the Finnish capital with a professional food guide. Read further to see why this day was fantastic!

I met my lovely guide Veera in front of the Hietalahti Market Hall, which was our first stop. According to an urban legend, this 110-year-old covered market was used as a horse stable during the Russian rule.As visiting Finland is nothing without discovering local fish, our first stop was Fish Shop Marja Nätti. We had a chance to run into Petri, Marja’s son, who proudly explained to us that the sandwich we are eating is their newest recipe: cold-smoked salmon and asparagus on malt bread topped with caviar-infused Hollandaise sauce. Wow. It was as delicious as it sounds like and yes, it was eco-friendly caviar grown in the heart of Finland’s lake district.

Indeed, respecting the ecosystem, traditions and small fishermen were the words that kept appearing in Petri’s talk. He revealed that this summer Marja Nätti will co-run a fish and chips restaurant at the entrance (outside) of the Hietalahti Market Hall. One of the items on the menu will be a fish burger made of those Finnish fish (roach, pike, etc.) that have been ignored for a long time by chefs.fish skinJust as we were leaving, Petri grinned and asked “are you adventurous“? Curious as we are, Veera and I responded yes and Petri brought us another new product: fried salmon skin, a Finnish delicacy from the ’60s and the ’70s. I was a bit skeptical before tasting it, mainly because I am not a big fan of fried food, but it was lighter than I thought. And very tasty. My guests in Paris, are you ready for fish skin starters?

Our second and third stops were chosen by Veera because they are true representatives of the classic Helsinki: Lasipalatsi and Fazer. She explained to me that in spite of all sorts of exotic tendencies that hug Helsinki at the moment, these two places have maintained the market position thanks to their excellent, traditional products and loyal customers. At times when so much new comes to the market every week, people like to return to the roots from time to time, she added.

Lasipalatsi is an architectural masterpiece, a perfect example of Finnish Functionalist architectural style from the ’30s. Originally built as a temporary office building, Lasipalatsi is today one of the main landmarks of Helsinki and home to a well-known retro restaurant and a busy cafe, as well as other businesses.LasipalatsiThe best cafes of Helsinki are located in the residential neighborhoods but Café Lasipalatsi in the heart of Helsinki is one of the rare exceptions” Veera told me. She continued to explain that helsinkiläiset (residents of Helsinki) are very fond of this institution, making Café Lasipalatsi a meeting point of different generations. As we were walking out, I snapped some quick photos that in my opinion portray well that particular atmosphere (very Kaurismäki some may say).Cafe LasipalatsiOur third stop, Fazer, needs no introduction to Finnish readers. To my foreign readers, let me start by saying that Fazer is a confectionery and food company, created in 1891. Whenever there is a ranking of the most-loved Finnish brands, Fazer and its products are on the top of the list. For example, if you ask a Finn living abroad what she misses about Finland, she/he will probably tell you “Fazerin Sininen” (Fazer’s most popular milk chocolate).Fazerin SininenWe stopped for a cup of coffee but Veera reminded me that I should try to come back to enjoy Fazer’s famous brunch. Apparently reservations are sometimes needed a month in advance but this seemed understandable to me. Who would not salivate over these sandwiches? FazerFrom the city center we moved to a charming neighborhood called Kruununhaka, and this is where I got a little bit lost. I know Helsinki very well, and could have guessed the previous stops, but suddenly I had no idea where I was walking. Suspense!Anton & AntonAnton & Anton, where we stopped, is a lovely grocery store created out of love. The founders, previously unknown to each other, met and decided to create a super market that specializes in personalized service and sells the kind of food they would want to eat themselves. Conveniently, they both had a son called Anton, and that resolved the problem about the shop name. Cute, isn’t it!Anton&AntonWhile we were tasting different types of cheese (with fantastic fig and rhubarb jam!), I learned more about the everyday business of Anton & Anton. Veera told me that the idea of Anton & Anton is not to sell exclusively organic food, but simply good food: seasonal products, handpicked artisan products, food that comes from respected origin, grown by passionate small farmers, etc. Some products come from Finland –many from the Åland Islands I noticed– but there are products from abroad, too. Before we left Anton & Anton I made a note to self: fill your picnic basket here next summer.

Our next and last destination required catching Helsinki’s funky orange metro. It was a nice ride by the sea and this time I knew where we were going: Teurastamo alias the Abattoir. Yes, this lovely ’30s building made of brick was indeed a place of blood until the early ’90s. The Abattoir HelsinkiVeera was taking me around the Abattoir complex but I had to stop her to confess something. “Veera, I do not understand what the Abattoir is about. It seems to be work in progress but where is it heading to?“, I asked her. Veera laughed and said it was well said. She continued that indeed the Abattoir is an urban concept still looking for its identity, but that basically its role is to provide premises for different activities (often ad hoc) including city gardening, food-related lectures and festivals, flea market, concerts, exhibitions, etc. One can also book a sauna (of course, after all we are in Finland!) or simply use the premises for a private barbecue party. The main guideline of the Abattoir is to keep it easily accessible and available to everyone.

In addition to aforementioned activities, there are a wholesale market and some restaurant-bars. We visited Jädelino, an ice-cream bar run by a Finno-Italian couple. JädelinoValerio, the Italian side of the love story, served us amazing pistachio and divine chocolate ice cream. He explained that he has no previous experience in ice cream making but that a kind man in his home town taught him all the tricks. Last November Valerio was ready and Jädelino opened its doors to serve ice cream and sorbet of Finnish and other flavors. When Valerio mentioned that some customers come from really far away just for his ice cream I was not surprised –I will return from Paris for his pistachio! And I will definitely return to the Abattoir. For me, it is one of the most interesting things happening on the Helsinki food scene at the moment.

My guide: 

Veera Teppola
Facebook: Helsinki Bites / Blog: http://food-fetish.com / Email: helsinkibites@gmail.com
Visits are tailor made and languages spoken include Finnish and English.
Highly recommended!

… places visited during the tour:

The Hietalahti Market Hall: http://www.hietalahdenkauppahalli.fi
Fish Shop Marja Nätti: http://www.kalaliikemarjanatti.fi
Lasipalatsi Restaurant: http://www.ravintolalasipalatsi.fi
Café Lasipalatsi: http://cafelasipalatsi.fi
Karl Fazer Café: http://www.fazer.fi/kahvilat-ja-leipomot/kahvilat–ravintolat/karl-fazer-cafe/karl-fazer-cafe/
Anton & Anton: http://www.antonanton.fi
Teurastamo (The Abattoir): http://www.teurastamo.com
Jädelino: http://www.jadelino.fi

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/

 

Les Nautes: newcomer by the Seine

Les Nautes is one of the latest additions to the Parisian restaurant scene. Located right by the Seine and in front of the Île Saint-Louis, this old customs house has an industrial feel to it. I loved its unusual entrance. Once inside, I admired beautiful wooden tables, 13 pendant Alvar Aalto lamps (golden, like we have at home!) and art pieces (sculpture and paintings) by young artists. Bravo for the original decoration! Les NautesRecommended by Le Fooding, our food bible to eating in Paris, Les Nautes had been on our list since its opening last October (the bar opened one year earlier). We live a five-minute walk away from the restaurant and believe it is important to support the neighborhood restaurants –that’s how the arrondissements of Paris stay vivant (alive)!

We had the corner table by the window and enjoyed watching touristic boats cruise along the Seine. Bread, butter and Poisson Rouge arrived, and we got to taste this curious, organic white wine from Lanquedoc-Roussillon that actually is red by color! It tasted fruity and had I closed my eyes, I probably wouldn’t have tasted its “color”. It was the most perfect pairing with oysters and our main courses: fish and meat. oysters at Les NautesFor starters, we shared six oysters from the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel, Britanny, and they were the best oysters I have eaten for a long time. In fact, as this oyster season (which started last September) has been very mild, I find that oysters have not been at their best this winter. And if you follow my blog, you may remember that I regularly eat these seafood delicacies…Les NautesFor the main course, my husband ate tuna and I had entrecôte. Both dishes were succulent, and the taste of the fish and meat proved that the restaurant goes out of its way to find only the best products. The only regret we had was that the side dishes for both of us was the same (rather ordinary-tasting courgettes with cream).

The bill came to 77€ for two, including a shared starter, two main courses and a bottle of wine (19€). Very reasonable for such great quality I consider, and we will definitely return!

PS: First of all, Les Nautes recently changed the chef, so I would not count too much on the older Tripadvisor reviews. Secondly, Les Nautes also has a bar by the river, and I bet it will be one of the hottest terraces in Paris this summer! Especially during the Paris Plage when the cars cannot circulate nearby.

Restaurant (http://www.lesnautes.com): 1 Quai des Célestins, 75004 Paris. Tel. 01-42745953. Metro: Sully Morland or Pont Marie

Le Fooding review: http://lefooding.com/en/restaurants/restaurant-les-nautes-paris

Wine: http://www.vins-bios.fr/domaine-de-clairac-coteaux-d-enserune-languedoc/471-poisson-rouge-2010-domaine-de-clairac-coteaux-d-enserune-.html

Lamps: Alvar Aalto bell lamps from 1937 find a new home in Paris

Where to dine in Venice?

Being in a foreign city trying to find a good, honest restaurant can be tough. Of course there are some countries where it feels like anything you eat will be delicious, but still, I do argue that finding a cosy, fine restaurant with a decent price-quality ratio is not an easy task! Or is it just me and the years of living in Paris that have turned me obsessed about food…

Anyway, I am hereby going to list typical, bistrot-type Venetians restaurants that we came across during our visits in late 2011 and early 2014. This is by no means a comprehensive list (and in no particular order either!), but hopefully gives some idea to other travelers searching beyond the usual and the most touristic recommendations. Some restaurants we obviously liked more than others, so follow your feeling (or ask me for more details)!

1. Osteria da Alberto (http://www.osteriadaalberto.it/) near the hospital. Address: Calle Giacinto Gallina, Cannaregio. Osteria Da AlbertoWe visited this restaurant for lunch in 2011 and again in 2014. The prices have gone up a bit (normal), but it is still very reasonable and in our top three. Osteria da Alberto+ Honest and delicious home-cooking with fresh ingredients (including octopus!) in a lovely setting
+ Friendly, professional service
+ Perfect for watching locals (English and French spoken)
+ Excellent and very affordable house wine by carafe
+ Heavenly house dessert

2. Osteria Ai 40 Ladroni (http://www.ristorantivenezia.net/osteriai40ladroni.htm) in the north-western part of Canareggio. Address: Fondamenta della Sensa 3253, Cannareggio. Ai 40 Ladroni+ Delicious cuttlefish in ink served with polenta
+ Many seafood options
+ Tables in the lovely garden/courtyard
– Service was not the friendliest and in fact a bit odd…

3. Osteria alla Bifora. Address: Campo Santa Margherita, Dorsoduro. Osteria alla Bifora+ Very romantic, candles on the table
+ Open late
– Grilled vegetables very bland. Food in general not the tastiest I have had in Venice…
– Wine only by bottle and fairly expensive

4. Osteria Ai 4 Feri. Address: Calle Lunga, Dorsoduro. Osteria ai 4 Feri
+ Lovely atmosphere
+ Full of locals
+ The best cuttlefish spaghetti I have had in Venice
+ Excellent house wine by carafe
+ Heavenly house dessert

5. Pizzeria Ai Sportivi. Address: Campo Santa Margherita, Dorsoduro. Pizzeria Ai Sportivi+ Good enough pizza
– Seems a bit too touristic…

6. Trattoria Ca D’Oro (also known as Alla Vedova). Address: Calle del Pistor 3912, Cannareggio.Alla Vedova+ Sarde in Saor (sweet and sour sardines) very good
– Extremely long wait
– Unfriendly service
– Disappointing dishes
– Atmosphere looks warm but does not feel like cosy

Should you try any of these restaurants, please let me know what you think. Furthermore, do not forget to reveal your hidden and favorite pearl in Venice so that I can try it during my next visit….

Easy breakfast and lunch snacks in Venice

This is the first post about what and where to eat in Venice. I thought that for the simplicity, it would make sense to separate the quick snack options from dinner options, so here you go. Your guide to filling the stomach from the early morning to late afternoon!

WHERE TO EAT BREAKFAST? If your hotel does not offer breakfast, head to a bakery. Or if you prefer savory breakfast, why not to start the morning with tramezzini, also called Venetian tea sandwich. These triangular sandwiches (starting 1.50€ per piece) come with many different fillings, making it fun to learn Italian. Tonno pomodori anyone? tramezzini

TRAMEZZINI AND DEEP-FRIED SNACKS AT ROSTICCERIA SAN BARTOLOMEO. If you are busy visiting museums and sites, grabbing a few more tramezzini for lunch can be an easy and cheap option. If you have a bit more time, but still not enough for a proper sit-down meal where you are served, try Rosticceria San Bartolomeo at Calle della Bissa (500 meters north from Piazza San Marco). This smallish cafe/restaurant seems popular among the locals and we saw one gondolier eat here every day. With a glass of wine, of course. Must be a good sign! Rosticceria San BartolomeoTIP: two people can eat for less than 10€ if ordering only tramezzini and deep-fried snacks. Simply go to the counter and explain what you would like to have, and bring the food yourself to the table. This is what we did the first day.

However, the second day we went to the other counter (located still on the ground floor), where fried fish, grilled vegetables, etc. are being displayed, and ordered two plates at the counter. For some reason our bill jumped to 40€, which we felt was no longer a decent price for a quick lunch. The food was tasty, but not worth that much.

Lastly, there is also an upstairs restaurant, but it did not look particular attractive (this is also where the restrooms are). You may as well save money and sit on the ground floor by the windows I suggest.Rosticceria San Bartolomeo

THE MOST OBVIOUS LUNCH CHOICE: PIZZA! During our previous visit to Venice we had pizza on the terrace every other day. It was autumn and pizza with some local wine was the perfect way to warm us up and boost the energy level. But, as soon as you sit down, the bill goes up, so it is not very economical! This time it was too cold to eat outside and we did not devote as much time for eating our lunch, but should you still fancy pizza, get a slice! LIke tramezzi, they are everywhere and come in many toppings.pizza slices in VeniceWho can resist these delicious slices -I cannot! So, pick your choice and say buon appetito!

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PS For dinner options, click here: Where to dine in Venice?

Cicchetti e l’ombra in Venice

Cicchetti e l’ombra is a Venetian tradition that includes a little bit of something to eat (=cicchetti) and something to drink (l’ombra), usually toward the late afternoon or early evening. Similar to enjoying tapas in Spain or apéritif in France before the real dinner, Aperitivo hour in Venice continues to fascinate both locals and tourists, and we certainly had our fair share of Cicchetti e l’ombra during our recent trip in Venice.cicchetti in VeniceCicchetti in Venicecicchetticicchetti

But what does this tradition really mean? In this case, the word Cicchetti refers to small appetizers ranging from prosciutto to baccala and aubergine slices on bread; basically anything that makes a tiny snack. L’ombra refers to a glass of wine, Aperol or other aperitif drink.

According to a common belief, l’ombra (which literally means the shade) refers to the drinking part because “the gondoliers used to snatch a glass in the shade away from the glare of the sun or the water” (DK Eyewitness Venice & the Veneto, 2012).

Cantine del Vino già SchiaviBy a pure coincidence, one of the most famous wine bars of Venice, Cantine del Vino già Schiavi, was located very near to our hotel. What was even more incredible is that we run into it just like that while returning to our hotel during our second evening. And what a fantastic world waited for us inside! Cantina del vino gia schiaviFor a few euros, we sipped prosecco, pinot grigio and local red while tasting dozens of types of cicchetti. These tiny breads were filled with pistachio mousse, dried flower petals, mushrooms, salted cod, cheese, salmon eggs, artichokes, grilled vegetables, sardines, anchovies, eggs with truffle, pumpkin puree, etc. –you name it! It was such a paradise and we kept returning every night…

When in Venice, try to look for these traditional wine bars that continue to respect the tradition of Cicchetti e l’ombra. In addition to our local pearl, Do Mori near Rialto is also very well known and appreciated by both locals and foreigners. Just do not arrive too late, as delicious cicchettis find mouths very fast!

Cantine del Vino gia Schiavi: Fondamenta Nani 992, Dorsoduro, Venise
Telephone : +39 041 523 00 34