Tag Archives: Anthony Bourdain

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

Heroes and a Bottle

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A melange of things that remind me of my heroes

I’ve been MIA for a week now (so much for that target of hammering out an article at least 2x a week, eheh), but as people close to me know, my calendar has just erupted like one of those Dr. Pimple Popper videos… Out of control and messy (I’m sorry for the graphic analogy!).

Think four wine events right before I fly off to Europe for work/research, followed by travel plans once a month until the end of the year.

Professional wino problems.

That being said, I’ve mostly used my laptop for research, RSVPs, email, homework, and admittedly, entertainment.

One of the entertaining things I came across involved people talking about what they’d like to eat and discuss with their heroes (living or dead)… Then, I thought to myself:

What would I drink with my heroes?

So, my imagination on overdrive, I decided to compile a list and share it here.

 

Ernest Hemingway

“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”Ernest Hemingway

Why: He had one of the wildest lives I’ve ever read about, and I admire his writing style. His time in Paris was so epic; I did an “homage to Hemingway” walk and hung out in his Parisian haunts when I last visited the city. One of my all-time favourite books is “A Moveable Feast”, which chronicles some of his adventures.
What to Drink: Bourbon. The man loved his alcohol… The stronger, the better. While he was known to drown himself in some of the best French wines during his time, I feel like Bourbon is a little more like him: Masculine, rough, and earthy.

Edith Piaf

“Quand il me prend dans ses bras, il me parle tout bras, je voie la vie en rose (When he takes me in his arms, and speaks to me softly, I see the world in rose-coloured glasses)”Edith Piaf, La Vie En Rose

Why: Môme Piaf’s agitated, powerful, and heartbreaking voice was a reflection of her tragic life. Whenever I get melancholic and miss Paris, I listen to one of her songs and I’m transported to the beautiful but grimy streets of the city.
What to Drink: Champagne. Oh, the woman could down a bottle like it’s nobody’s business. I also loved that she lived during a time when drinking Champagne out of a coupé was considered très chic.

Anthony Bourdain

“When dealing with complex transportation issues, the best thing to do is pull up with a cold beer and let somebody else figure it out.” – Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown (Peru)

Why: The man is one of my culinary idols. While I decided not to pursue a career in the kitchen, his irreverent take on haute cuisine (and his colorful vocabulary) has consistently inspired me to be as unconventional and cheekily verbose as I could when dealing with wine. Also, it has to be said that he has fantastic taste in vino.
What to Drink: San Miguel Pale Pilsen (with Sisig!). The man loves the pig, which we Pinoys have perfected in the form of heart-attack inducing dishes, like Bourdain’s Filipino favourite, the sisig. Nothing on earth goes better with sisig than an ice-cold beer. To truly be Pinoy, San Miguel is the ultimate, decent brew to go with our greasy bar chow.

Audrey Hepburn

“The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters.” – Audrey Hepburn

Why: The woman personified grace, fashion, elegance, and everything a true lady aspires to be. Her iconic films, such as “Roman Holiday” and “Sabrina”, showcase her poise, diction (to this day, I couldn’t believe a chauffer’s daughter or a high-class call girl could speak like that), and Givenchy’s 1960’s creations.
What to Drink: Cognac. A little known fact about Hepburn is that she drank a glass of cognac after dinner every night as a digestif. For me, there’s something incredibly stylish about swirling a shot of cognac in a snifter.

Natalie MacLean

“The question I’m asked most often: ‘What’s your favorite wine?’ My answer: ‘The one someone else pays for.'”Natalie MacLean, Unquenchable

Why: I’ve always loved her wine writing style, which is humorous, light, and approachable. Wine novices and hardcore winos always appreciate her work (I still use them as reference).
What to Drink: Romanée-Conti 1979. I’d love to share one of my favourite Burgundy vintages over stories of her meeting the Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy.

Jane Austen

“There is not the hundredth part of the wine consumed in this kingdom that there ought to be. Our foggy climate wants to help.”Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Why: I think girls who dream of getting swept off their feet (by a man with “10,000 a year”) read an Austen novel at one point in their lives. Her famous works are light, fast-paced, and a guide on marrying well in Regency-era England.
What to Drink: English Breakfast Tea. Honestly, it’s because all three words make me think of Austen… Having tea during a bright, sunny morning in a cottage overlooking fields of wild flowers, gossiping about suitors and marriages. Of course, proper frou-frou teacups are a must!

Adele

The focus on my appearance has really surprised me. I’ve always been a size 14 to 16, I don’t care about clothes, I’d rather spend my money on cigarettes and booze.” – Adele

Why: Plus-sized women need an enormous amount of confidence and talent to be successful… Both of which Adele has. Add to that her unique brand of sass, and we’ve got a heroine everybody could relate to (from heartaches, to moving on, to having her H&M card declined), all packaged with a set of pipes that could make the undead quiver.
What to Drink: Right Bank Bordeaux. I found out from some of her interviews that she likes a glass of wine… Red wines from the right bank of Bordeaux are both powerful and silky, just like Adele’s voice.

Iris Apfel

“You have to try it. You only have one trip. You’ve got to remember that.”Iris Apfel

Why: Talk about longevity. This woman is 94 years old and can accessorise outfits like it’s nobody’s business. I’m amazed at the fact that she’s still relevant in the world of fashion and lifestyle after so many decades. She had one of the longest marriages in the public eye, spending 67 years with her husband, Carl Apfel, until he died in 2015.
What to Drink: Manhattan. A proper Manhattan involves Canadian whisky, Angosturra bitters, sweet vermouth, and a maraschino, served in an incredibly chic cocktail glass. Added bonus, the name is a nice way to honour her New York roots.

Oz Clarke

“The ritual observed by professionals is not just showing off: there is a purpose to every stage, and it can help you to get maximum pleasure from a bottle of wine. Wine can be complex stuff, and if you just knock it back you could be missing out on a wonderful sensory experience. Instead, take a few moments to discover a little about a wine’s background, appreciate its colour, and savour its scents and range of flavours.”Oz Clarke

Why: He’s irreverent, entertaining, knowledgeable, and has an enviably no-nonsense palate when it comes to wine. I’ve always admired and respected him for his approach on wines and writing… He manages to inject his dry humour while beautifully utilising the English language, without losing essential information that allows winos to truly learn something. One of my favourite wine shows is “Oz and James’ Big Wine Adventure”, and I use his book “Grapes and Wines” often… Confession: One of my life goals is to meet him one day.
What to Drink: Anarchy from Cypher Winery, Paso Robles. I loved learning about how Anarchy truly captured the rebellious nature of these Paso Robles winemakers during an episode with James May… What can I say, I like people (and my wine) out of the box (no pun intended). I especially loved Clarke’s apprehension as he rode on the back of a hog to get to the winery.

General Antonio Luna

“Mas madali pang pagkasunduin ang langit at lupa kaysa dalawang Pilipino tungkol
sa kahit na anong bagay. (It’s easier to get heaven and earth to agree versus two Filipinos on anything.)” – Antonio Luna (the character), Heneral Luna

Why: Admittedly, my mind wandered off during history class when I was a kid (I honestly blame the deep Tagalog our teachers used to teach the subject), so I never really looked into General Luna’s life story until the film “Heneral Luna” came out. Through the movie, I learned about his passion for the country, disdain for dissension, and stubbornness to inculcate a national pride amongst the Filipinos of the time.
What to Drink: Ribera del Duero Tempranillo. Honestly, because p*ny*t@ it’s good s**t from Spain. 

I realise that my eclectic list of “heroes” includes famous people, but anyone can be a hero, including us everyday folk… As long as we’re courageous and noble in our own way.

What would you drink and talk about with your hero? Cheers!

Kapehan With An Old Kumpadre

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I was once again hit with a terrible bout of writer’s block (hence the absence). I ended up looking for inspiration from one of my all time favourite gourmands on the planet: Anthony Bourdain.

With the expectation of yet again capitalizing on another European beverage discovery, I decided to watch Bourdain’s No Reservations episode shot in Burgundy (featuring celebrity chef and Burgundy native, Chef Ludo).

The funny thing was, instead of finding a European inspiration, the overarching theme of the show resonated with me (I’m paraphrasing here): You really have to look to your roots to find inspiration.

I looked back at recent posts and realized that I have been featuring so many foreign beverages. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose… After all, one of the goals of this blog is to provide accessible content for Pinoys who want to learn about beverages in a safe, anti-snob environment.

The thing is, I feel I’ve let go of the other goal: Highlighting our wonderful indigenous products.

Next question was: What do I feature? Where can I find something truly Filipino and new?

I found answers from an unlikely source: A Christmas bazaar. Over the years, Christmas bazaars have exploded and have become part of the Filipino holiday tradition, so much so that many of these have popped up everywhere. St. James Bazaar is legendary for its size; the Noel Bazaar causes a bigger traffic jam than usual in Pasay with shoppers coming from all over… Of course, there’s the Rockwell Bazaar.

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Loving the #hashtag!

In Rockwell, I was particularly interested with a group of people who promised good coffee without the acidity (perfect for someone like me who has a tendency to drink copious amounts of wine), packaged in funky looking black bags with, of all things, an owl.

As I talked to Doctor (that’s right) Mitch Villafania, I found out that the owl was conceptualized because hardcore coffee drinkers have a tendency to share nocturnal qualities with an owl (excellent point made). They named the owl “Old Juancho”, which ended up becoming their catchy brand name (and mascot). Old Juancho is a collaboration between family and friends: Doctor Mitch, John (his younger brother), Jessica (his wife), and John’s former schoolmates Steve Cardona and Jan Michael Jose. This close-knit group is very hands-on with the production and sale of the coffee, making sure that each bag maintains impeccable quality.

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The wonderful team behind Old Juancho (L-R): John, JM, Jessica, and Doc Mitch (not in photo: Steve)

Before I go any further, a little coffee 101:

  • Coffee aficionados are probably familiar with the “big four”: Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsia. Old Juancho uses Liberica, the rarest of the four. The beans originated mainly from Libya (which gives an insight to the etymology of the name), and were brought to our shores around the 1800s.
  • Liberica is the most resilient of the four (pest resistant, and once upon a time, it outlasted Arabica crops during the “coffee rust epdemic” 0f 1890).
  • Proudly Pinoy fact: These beautiful, rare beans are mostly cultivated in Batangas. A familiar Pinoy coffee term is “barako”. Much as barako harkens thoughts of a muscle-bound dude (barako means “tough man”), there is more evidence that the “barako” are the men who climb Liberica trees (which could reach upto 30 feet high).
  • Liberica coffee is a dream for people who suffer heartburn because of its naturally low acidity (I can’t stress enough how happy this fact makes me).

Unfortunately, over the years, I’ve had a difficult time trying to find a good, affordable source of these gems in groceries or gourmet shops. Thank goodness for Old Juancho. A guarantee of quality: the coffee is sourced directly, and the process from roasting to grinding does not exceed three days.

Now, the all-important question remains: What is it like? Mitch says the taste is “initially smoky and a bit bold, which later shifts to a more subtle style with rich caramel tones”. I couldn’t agree more. In my opinion, though… It’s like a warm, fuzzy hug in the morning. 😉

Interested in having your own Old Juancho experience? Bags can be bought through:

Mobile: 0919-8014957 (John)

Email: oldjuanchos@gmail.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/oldjuanchos

Makes excellent stocking stuffers too. 🙂