Category Archives: 2shotsaway

Drinking adventures around the world

L’art du partage (The Art of Sharing)

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Anthony Bourdain once said in his Paris episode of The Layover, the biggest mistake anyone could make (and a surefire way to have a terrible Parisian holiday) is to over-schedule. I made that blunder several times before, which admittedly caused me to fall out of love with the city.

My first trip was in 2012 when I was wide-eyed and touristy, forcing myself to accomplish all the “must-do in Paris” items from a stereotypical guidebook (I climbed the Eiffel Tower and saw the Mona Lisa in the Louvre). It made for great photos, but it was a “meh” experience. I had a succeeding trip that I called “disastrous”, which happened when I over-scheduled my itinerary in a similar fashion. My third trip was equally catastrophic, because we decided to cram two days’ worth of activities in one day.

That’s when I gave up. I got tired of Paris. I enjoyed the vineyards (and the people) in the wine regions of France, bien sûr, and saw Paris as just a means to get there. In fact, when I got invited to join one of my culinary BFFs/occasional client/partner in crime for all things gastronomy in Paris to do “research”, I looked at is as simply that: Research. Work.

Oddly enough, that’s when I fell in love with Paris all over again.

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Restaurant de Philippe et Jean Pierre, 7 Rue de Boccador, Paris 8e (photo courtesy of Chef Jonas Ng)

It happened like this: Given that my friend would spend most of his time working in one of the best Parisian restaurants, Restaurant de Philippe et Jean Pierre, I had most of my days free.

That’s when I decided to truly embrace Bourdain’s advice and do as little as possible in Paris.

Oh, and eat and drink my way through the city.

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But first, a café (near the Butte Chaumont park) to spend a few hours like a flâneur

Paris offers endless possibilities to fully immerse oneself in their food and beverage culture: One can live like a flâneur in cafés that have been around for hundreds of years, explore markets for amazing food and wine paring options, or sample endless amounts of epicurean delights…

But what is the key to understanding Paris’ love affair with food and beverage? Is it through immersing oneself in their rich culinary history that somehow seamlessly blends with an eagerness to push the envelope? Is it through the appreciation of their amazing technical and artistic skills? Is it through accessing beautiful fresh ingredients and authentic, regional wines, found anywhere from a neighbourhood Carrefour to an artisanal cheesemonger?

Personally, I think the answer lies somewhere in the art of sharing. As with everything else, the French have a lovely translation for the act of sharing that just rolls off the tongue: “Partager”.

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A carefe of Cahors and a Magret de canard from Chez Papa (our favourite branches are in Madeleine and in Bastille)

I came up with this theory after re-evaluating all my favourite moments in my Parisian trip… There was a time when I took my friend to one of our family’s best-loved restaurants for French comfort food (and thus letting him in on our little Parisian secret): Chez Papa. We split escargot, tripe, and their signature magret de canard with a carafe of Cahors (an appellation in southwest France famous for strong, red wines).

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Truffles and Champagne and Rose, oh my! Maison de la Truffe, 14 Rue Marbeuf, Paris 8e

 

We also shared this discovery: A restaurant that served different interpretations of truffle, Maison de la Truffe. We had a risotto with truffles, and the richest, prettiest foie gras terrine. We paired them a rosé (as a nod to the warm weather), and their house champagne… Then left room for dessert in the form of truffle ice cream. Granted, in books, none of these are classic food and wine pairings, but it all turned out so good. Afterwards, as a welcome respite, we decided to treat ourselves to ice cold Martini cocktails along the Seine.

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Yup, it’s possible to drink along the Seine

On our way to a house party, we saw the tail end of an event along the street. It wasn’t like anything I’ve ever seen: We saw locals having a blast sitting along the road, doling out glasses of impeccable white wine and shells upon shells of oysters to their friends.

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…or along the road. 

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It’s better to drink with good food (photo courtesy of Chef Jonas Ng)…

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…and with good company (photo courtesy of Chef Jonas Ng)

The house party we went to was hosted by people my friend met in Manila. It was an awesome night where opinions on culinary philosophies, tastes in music (where I learned about Wintergatan, a Swedish folktronica band), food, and wine were exchanged. I knew I was in the ultimate spot in Paris because that’s where I had some of the best home cooked vegetarian food I’ve ever had in my life (I’m not too fond of vegetables, but the way they prepared and cooked the food was amazing). We had wine (as one should in France) paired very casually (with none of the frills of making sure they paired accurately with the food). Plates were cleared to make way for delicious cheese… Followed by artistic and delectable pastries from one of the evening’s guests, famous pastry chef Gaétan Husson.

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Versailles Market

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The feast we prepared from our Versailles Market finds

Speaking of people my friend met in Manila, we also spent one morning in the Versailles market, where we were shown how to shop in a real French marché. I know I’m not talking about Paris anymore, but amazingly, it only takes less than an hour away via train from Paris to get to Versailles… It’s totally worth the travel to purchase some of the freshest produce, the best cheese and charcuterie, and to choose from a large selection of regional wine. We decided to grab some roast, figs, cheese, cold cuts, and a Monbazillac (my cheap alternative to a Sauternes for really strong cheese).

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A feast of thick, juicy steak, paired with a bottle of Pavillon du Glana Saint-Julien, Le Flamboire, 54 Rue Blanche, Paris

Cheese is so ingrained in French culture that they even have an expression for the appropriate consumption: “Pas de bon repas sans fromage”, which roughly translates to, “It’s not a good meal without cheese”. This is something I learned over dinner in Le Flamboire with someone my teacher (and friend) told me to seek out in Paris. Over some of the best, well-cooked steak I’ve ever had (thick as the side of a dinner fork), a bottle of Saint-Julien (in celebration of my return from Bordeaux), and delectable desserts, we swapped stories about how one’s mother’s cooking (whether it’s mousse au chocolat or kare-kare) is universally the best. He also taught me the “correct” way of eating crème brûlée (one should daintily break the crust first before taking a small bite).

 

“They are friendly, the French. They surround you with a civilised atmosphere, and they leave you inside of you, completely to yourself.” – Gertrude Stein, Paris France (1940)

So, what is the secret to understanding French gastronomy? Ask the French, they are more than willing to share it with anyone keen to understand and appreciate. Find someone to share a meal with you and talk about it… Or even listen to a vendeuse as she explains her charcuterie to you (she will most likely let you taste some). The key is to slow down and indulge your senses… In doing so, I discovered, not only did I fall in love with Paris all over again, but with life as well.


Special Thanks:

  • My buddy, Chef Jonas, for sharing Paris, photos, and friends with me (see him on the Lifestyle Channel in his show Chef Next Door, or spot him around his restaurant, Le Jardin, in Fort BGC)
  • Babette Isidro of Jeron Travel
  • Renato S. Dollete, Food and Beverage Manager of Etihad Airways
  • Tim and Justine for opening their home to us
  • Claire for showing us around her hometown
  • Eméric for sharing a beautiful meal with me 
  • Chia for taking me on an epic Parisian adventure

Lupang Hinirang, Bordeaux Style

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I’m fully aware (based on stats from the blog) that we get readers from different parts of the world.

That being said, I’m positive that most readers know I’m a Filipina wino who loves good wine… And I would never shy away from going to the ends of the earth (as long as it’s feasible) to get my fill.

For those who want to have a little insight of Filipino culture, I have a treat.

I would like to present something that is truly close to our hearts, our national anthem.

I’ll do one better: Courtesy of our wonderful friends from the legendary Château Angelus, here is our national anthem, as played by their bells all the way from Bordeaux, France.

 

 

That patriotic introduction aside, let it be known that this was one of the most outstanding experiences in my life as a wine specialist. I will never forget this memorable welcome especially for me by Château Angelus for as long as I live… I’m deeply humbled and moved (yes, that was my voice in the background gushing like a fangirl).

I’m still in France, and I’ve finally begun the vacation leg of my trip. This very short article is my own way of giving people a sneak peek into the upcoming French-related articles.

That, and I still owe readers the edited version of my interview with GNN.

How’s that for a teaser. 😉 Cheers!

*Château Angelus is available in Wine Story branches. Price available upon request. Special thanks to the people of Wine Story for making this possible, especially to Ms. Carla Santos and Ms. Jo-Ann Ramos.

Bonjour Bordeaux!

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Bonjour from Bordeaux!

I’m currently having a blast (and getting infinitely starstruck) with the places, people, and wine I’ve seen/met/had here in Bordeaux. My mind has been blown away by my experiences and I’m eager to scribble them down at the soonest… It’s just not currently possible as of the moment. I am, however, keeping the Instagram account updated (as much as I could), so my adventures can be seen there in real time.

Will post something more concise as soon as I could.

Meanwhile, I’d like to thank once again the lovely people of Wine Story for helping put this together… To experience Bordeaux in Manila, people can purchase bottles from their stores in Rockwell, Serendra, and Shangri-La Mall.

Better yet, they have awesome classes available for all levels of wine enthusiasts.

Cheers!

 

Sundays in Paris

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Hi everyone!

I’m in beautiful Paris right now eating and drinking my way through the city doing research, so I won’t be writing as much.

That being said, I’m constantly updating the blog’s Instagram account, so follow my adventures there!

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Follow us on Instagram: @2shotsandapintofficial

I’ll be visiting legendary Bordeaux Châteaux next week, and I’m way too excited for that. Look forward to an article when I get back.

Off to redefine “Market Research” in a bit. Cheers and Santé!

*Special thanks to: Carla Perez Santos and Jo Ramos of Wine Story for making one of this lowly wine writer’s dreams come true

Vinexpo 2016 – Part 1

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One of my ultimate #lifegoals was to go to Vinexpo, the biggest wine event participated by different wine producers and buyers from all over the world.

I say “ultimate” because, having been around since 1981, this event has grown so large and has developed a massive network of participants that it is regarded as one of the best venues to learn about wines and spirits… From Bordeaux powerhouses, to obscure but ethereal Greek wines, to trendy whiskies and sakes.

That being said, when I was invited by my Hong Kong client Sun Shui Fung International to source wines for them (with allowances to go around and learn by myself), I was there. I consider Hong Kong my second home, and Vinexpo only happens in that part of the world every other year (alternating with Bordeaux for the other years). It’s too close (just an hour and a half away from Manila by plane), and I was sponsored a ticket… It would have been criminal to pass that up.

As I sat down and tried my best to summarize and turn my Vinexpo experience into digestible pieces, I realized that it was impossible… I had so many wonderful experiences in the event that I couldn’t fit it in one entry. So, I did what any non-writer would do: Organize, outline, and divide the entire piece into different parts.

 

Vinexpo Highlights Part 1 – Reunited with Drinks so Good

 

I knew that I’ve gone to a few wine expos prior to this one, plus a number of wine tours in different parts of the world… But I didn’t realise how many friends I’ve made, and how small the world actually is.

Here are some of the friends I’ve reunited with during the event:

Chateau Ste Michelle

I met (and bonded with) David Andrews about a year ago during an event held by Wine Depot. We hit it off with our mutual love of wine, and a casual (yet still professional, I promise!) approach to it.

I couldn’t help but pass by his booth and, after seeing that his signature triangular soul patch is alive and well, I decided to bend his ear a little bit.

Classic David (a popular fixture in events like these) had to run around and network, leaving me with bottles of Intrinsic lined up in a row.

I did what any normal woman would do in my situation: make an artsy shot by lining up three bottles in an effort to be artistic:

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The three intrinsically artsy ladies of the bottle

When David got back to me, I showed him the photo I took (which I immediately posted on the blog’s Instagram account). David then took off with my phone, looking for Brett Scallan, Vice President of Marketing.

I know it seems like the beginning of an article on mugging, but that’s one of the best things I appreciate about the people of Chateau Ste Michelle: There’s so much love, humour, stories, and attention to detail that it translates into their wines.

Take Intrinsic, for example. This gorgeous wine got its name for being the ultimate showcase of what “intrinsically” makes a Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes that went into Intrinsic enjoyed optimum conditions that allowed a beautiful, truthful illustration of its essence.

It also helped that at the helm of its winemaking process is multi-awarded Argentine winemaker Juan Muñoz-Oca, who was inspired by street artists (and their ability to work with whatever environment they are dealt with to create works of art).


Newsflash: They’ve come up with a new wine called “The Pundit”. This Syrah is a perfect blend of the power and spice typical of a new world Syrah, but rounded out by an elegant, smooth texture… Absolutely unique. Also, who wouldn’t want a photo of this mysterious looking owl in their cellar?

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Coming Soon: The Pundit

 

Cremaschi Furlotti

I love the Executive Oenology Director of Cremaschi Furlotti, Christian Cremaschi. I initially met him for an interview (graciously set up by the Embassy of Chile in Manila), then saw him in a previous HKDTC event, then saw him again in this year’s Vinexpo.

Our friendship over the years has reached a point where we could sit down, talk about flights, the Philippine wine market, his experiences in Asia, and food.

All of these conversations, of course, were done over some of his best wines.

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The legendary Christián Cremaschi of Cremaschi Furlotti

There were so many to choose from, but my two favourites were the Edición Limitada Carignan and the Edición Limitada de Familia. The Carignan is unusual… Admittedly, I had hesitations in trying out a predominantly Carignan red because normally, the grape is used for blending, and I’ve tried some from other wine makers that were incredibly off-balanced… So much so, that I promised myself never to write about them. Cremaschi Furlotti’s take, however, balanced it out with a little bit of power and a stronger texture, then anchored it with earthy, masculine, woody notes.

I was sold.

I really don’t need to talk about their Familia wines because it has won double medals in the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America for Best Blend of the Show.

Cremaschi Furlotti has garnered multiple awards over the years for their Single Vineyard Carmenere, Vénere, and other wines… Unsuprisingly. Christian, after all, has fabulous taste.

 

G.H. Martell & Co.

I got an invitation to this year’s Vinexpo from Rodolphe Le Pesant, who I’ve met in 2014. He’s a very funny guy, and was always willing to let me practice my basic (occasionally horrendous) French on him.

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Don’t be fooled by his humorous expression: Those are seriously good bottles of Champagne

His company, G.H. Martell, carries some of the most beautiful boutique Champagne I’ve ever tried. I was partial to the Château de Bligny Le Millesime, which “delightfully combines tropical fruit flavours that bring out all the sensuality of this unique champagne”, the even more unique Paul Louis Martin Le Bouzy Rouge – Millesime (made from 100% Pinot Noir… I’ve talked about the concept of Bouzy Rouge in a previous entry), and the funky bottled La Vielle line.

 

Quinta Das Apegadas

I met Cândida and António Amorin in my very first wine expo in 2013. I was going around the different Portuguese booths and I happened upon theirs, Quinta Das Apegadas.

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I actually got António to smile for this photo!

After my usual opening line (“Can you please tell me about your wines?”), I was shown their lovely Touriga Nacional, a powerful rustic red typical of Portuguese wines.

A particular bottle caught my eye, however, displayed in a different, evidently more special way.

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My own bottle of D 60… I was told the winemakers will never make this again, so I had to get one

I had to ask them about it.

António said that they made a very special vintage in celebration of their 60th anniversary, which they called simply Apegadas D 60.

It was what I fully expected of an unshakeable, long-lasting relationship: A strong, comfortable, intense combination of 50% Touriga Nacional, and 50% of “the oldest vines from Quinta Velha”. I truly felt that their passion and love (for each other and the wines) were truly expressed in the bottle.

In fact, it was so good, that it ended up winning awards as well: A silver medal at Mundis Vini 2012 in Germany.

I had to get myself one, and I refused to get it for free.

Hey, support true love and good wine, yes?

 

So, yes, I may seem to have a fantastic relationship with wine, but I’d like to think that it’s easy enough to do with amazing people behind them.

On that note, part 2 featuring the people behind some of my favourite wines in a next article. Cheers!

What I’m Working On…

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Best moments in Vinexpo 2016

A picture is worth a thousand words.

I couldn’t agree more.

When I decided to be OC about posting original photos and write about each photo, the “thousand words” multiplied exponentially.

That being the case, I admit that I’m working on consolidating (really, shortening should be a better word) my articles for Vinexpo.

Here are just some photos of the highlights. 🙂 Cheers!