Tag Archives: france

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

Weather, Weather Part 1: Coming Up Rosés

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Is it just me, or did the weather in Manila become more schizophrenic than usual?

We’ve had scorching, sunny mornings that last until the stifling, humid afternoons followed by wet, slightly cooler, rainy evenings.

As a proponent of drinking according to the weather, I was confused as to what to drink (and write) about. I mean, normally I would recommend a nice, rich red wine for a cold, damp night; and a crisp, cold beer during a hot day…

But that’s boring.

So I thought… If I were to reverse it, what wine would I have during a warm weather day, and what beer would I have on a rainy one?

 

Rosé in the Heat

 

One of the most underrated wines in the Philippines is the Rosé. Most iterations pair well with Asian food (we had a successful experiment pairing a light rosé with Vigan Longganisa over the weekend), but are good enough to drink on their own, by the beach or the side of the pool*.

Admittedly, I prefer Provence rosés because every bottle takes me back to our first trip to France.

Cue flashback…

Initially, I had this misconception that the French are all about red wines… But I eventually discovered that it’s not true during the summer. Chad and I marvelled at fashionable Parisian women, cigarette in one hand, gossiping the afternoon away over bottles of pretty pink wine.

Being the cheapskate newlyweds we were, however, we decided to get a couple of these bottles (and some charcuterie) from a nearby Carrefour and down it in our tiny hotel… It was as heavenly as it looked.

Fast forward to the present…

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Whispering Angel by Chateau d’Escalans (with many thanks to Premier Wine)

In Manila, one of my favourites has got to be Whispering Angel from Chateau d’Escalans. I did an event on Provence wines with Le Jardin Manila** featuring this baby a few weeks ago and was thrilled because, even before doing a proper tasting evaluation on it, I was sold with this fact: Some of my wine heroes raved about it.

 

Jancis Robinson: “It’s more palate grabbing by far from the Provencal Pink norm”

James Suckling: “Always delicious”

Steven Spurrier: “Very clear and clean and will gain flavours during the year”

 

Enough said. 🙂

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Domaine des Aspras beauties: Les Trois Frères and À Lisa

Other Provence favourites of mine include a couple of rosés coming from a boutique winery called Domaine des Aspras:

  • Trois Frères (Grenache, Cinsault, and Rolle) – Named after the three brothers and third generation of the Latz family currently running the vineyard, Trois Frères Rosé is a beautiful pale pink wine with notes of strawberry, raspberry, mint, peach, and white flowers. It’s fresh, rounded, and fruity on the mouth, with soft textures balancing out a great intensity.
  • À Lisa (Grenache and Cinsault) – The wine was named after the matriarch of the house, Lisa Lutz. I’d say that this is a great benchmark for quality rosés, with its deeper, borderline salmon color, and intense floral notes, with hints of ripe fruit.

 

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Sospechoso, available in Barcino’s

If Provence rosés seem intimidating, the Sospechoso from Barcino’s is a simple, eye-catching rosé with its irreverent bottle design (there are six to choose from!), guaranteed to be a hit in any party. Made from Tempranillo and Bobal, this pale salmon wine has notes of meaty stone fruit on the nose, and is reminiscent of roses on the mouth. Perfect with tapas.

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Cute pink Hoegaarden Rosée (available in Booze Shop, Bel-Air)

Wildcard: A “rosé” beer from one of my favorite Belgian wheat beer makers, Hoegaarden, the Hoegaarden Rosée. This fruity, chic looking pink beer is light and sweet, with prominent flavors of raspberry, and a very low alcohol content at 3%. This has got to be the girliest looking beer I’ve ever had, but no complaints here… Pink is my favourite colour after all. 😉

 

That being said, which refreshing pink drink do you prefer? I’ll see you in the next article, where I’ll be exploring the dark side of the rain (through drinks, of course). Cheers!

 


*Drink Responsibly: Do not drink excessively and swim and/or go sunbathing. It can cause drowning, severe dehydration, and/or sunburn (from falling asleep under the sun).

**By insistent popular demand, Provence Night in Le Jardin Manila will have a Part Two! Please inquire through +639178176584 for the schedule, which should be finalized soon.

 

 

For the Love of the French

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Please excuse my absence for the past few weeks, all of which will be answered in a different article featuring Korean beverages.

I had an article that I was supposed to come out last Friday in time for Bastille Day… The introduction was such that I was hoping my absence could be forgiven.

Then, Nice happened.

The article (and its introduction) just seemed inappropriate.

I started being aware of France in relation to Paris. During our trips to France, however, I found myself falling in love with the countryside much more than I ever fell in love with Paris.

I understand that this sentiment is bizarre coming from a full-fledged city woman like myself, but who cannot fall in love with gorgeous nature, regionally faithful food, numerous tangible traces of history (from medieval France to evidence of both world wars), accessible regional wines…

Then, there’s the people.

One of the biggest misconceptions about the French is that they’re… Well, snobby.

Having said that, given the idea that wines are a great reflection of the people from the region it comes from, one could imagine how French wines are perceived.

In fact, before I had to scrap my article, I went around and asked non-winos about how they see French wines:

  • It’s the most esteemed/coveted wine in the world.
  • The best wines of the world come from France.
  • You can’t possibly separate a Frenchman and his wine.
  • Some of the most luxurious wine brands come from France (top answers include famous Champagne brands, like Dom Perignon and Veuve Cliquot).
  • They’re probably going to be good and expensive since they’re French, but for reasons unknown beyond the fact that they’re French.

As I take this time to thank some of my friends for gamely giving their opinions on French wine (some more eloquent than others, but all shall remain nameless), let me also use this as an opportunity to debunk some of them (before I get to the point).

Personally, I think that the aspect of being the most esteemed/coveted/the best can be subjective (search for “Paris Wine Tasting of 1976” or “Judgment of Paris” online, watch the film “Bottle Shock”, or read my article on Stag’s Leap).

Ask a Frenchman (especially the ones who grew up in the wine regions), and they’d probably tell you that there’s more to their wines than the price/luxury (in fact, one of our non-wino French friends told me about how the wines in their supermarkets offer good, affordable options for wine novices).

It’s not all about the labels, either… Granted, I wouldn’t say no to a bottle of Romanée-Conti or a Petrus (preferably in my birth year), but there are a multitude of beautiful options out there that are not necessarily bank-breaking powerhouse names.

I know I’m taking too long to make a point, but here goes: Contrary to how they are perceived, I find that there are more friendly French people out there. I’ve seen many barriers broken by a proper salutation (with apologies for speaking broken French), and a glass of wine. The connections I’ve made (whether professional or personal) are still strong (and the sporadic emails I get consistently touch me to no end).

Here are some of my recent favorites (and their wines):

 

Joseph Cattin

Alsace has a reputation for being the ultimate source of sweet but elegant white wines. Located near the border of Germany (and whose territory has been passed back and forth between France and Germany during wars), the two countries share similar winemaking procedures and grapes… So it’s not surprising to find the very German-sounding Gewürztraminer grapes in their wines, or the wide use of Alsatian bottles (skinny, tall, dark green ones that I love to call “the ramp model of wine bottles”) in Germany.

The thing is, as with anything mass-produced, some of the easily-accessible Alsace wines can be pretty… Well, boring. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still great (and go famously with Asian food), but they tend to be so homogenous.

Enter Joseph Cattin. I met Jacques Cattin Jr. and his wife, Anaïs Sirop duing the Vinexpo. They specialize in gorgeous, elegant, boutique Alsatian wines.

The beautiful thing about boutique wines is that the production is so small, winemakers can pay attention to every little detail that goes into their winemaking. Such is the case for Joseph Cattin wines. Their wines consistently retain a gorgeous elegance that keeps their wines sophisticated.

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Jacques Cattin and Anaïs Sirop of Joseph Cattin Wines

Must-Try:

Muscat Grand Cru Hatschbourg – Talk about crossing borders, this appellation (geographical origin) is located in the region that shares borders with France, Germany, and Switzerland. The vineyards of Hatschbourg are located on mountainous slopes, which allow ample sunshine and protection from the mountains. Translation: not too ripe but not too unripe grapes, which gives wine the necessary astringency to keep the wine from being too sweet. This particular Muscat has wonderful floral notes typical of the grape, but with enough complimentary acidity.

Riesling and Gewürztraminer Vendanges Tardives (late harvest) from the Les Cuvées d’Exception collection – Most wines using the noble rot method (allowing fungus to drill holes on the skin of the grape and letting water evaporate, leaving the grape with residual sugar) have a tendency to be saccharine sweet. The wines from the Les Cuvées d’Exception selection, however, are acerbic enough to keep it from being boring.

 

Domaine Gérard Tremblay

I (shyly) met Vincent Tremblay, president of Domaine Gérard Tremblay in one of the smaller booths during the Expo.

As evidenced in a lot of my articles in this blog, I have this predilection for boutique wines (wines with a small production), and I figured a formidable looking guy in a diminutive booth from a tiny appellation in one of the French powerhouse regions promised an excellent conversation.

I was right.

He shared his sentiment on how a lot of people over-complicate wines from his region (it’s a lot simpler than people think), his adventures while working in Argentina, the fact that he was the fifth generation winemaker in their family owned domain, and his passionate love of rugby (which explains his build).

“Where I come from, we just (casually) open a bottle of wine for dinner,” Vincent said during our discussion on why some people treat wine too seriously.

 

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Vincent Tremblay, President and Fifth Generation Winemaker of Domaine Gérard Tremblay

Must-Try:

Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume “Vieilles Vignes” – Honestly, I don’t know how anyone can go wrong with a Premier Cru from Chablis. Fourchaume as a region is close to the river Serein, which cools down the vineyards during an otherwise scorching summer. Translation: well-balanced grapes producing well-balanced wines. Add that to the fact that the grapes come from “Vieille Vignes” (old vines), and voila, a beautiful Chardonnay with just the right amount of acidity, character, and notes of honey and white flowers… Perfect with food or just lounging around a terrace with friends.

Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir – Vincent was actually hiding this baby in his booth… Given that there are very limited quantities to these bottles during production, I understood. As with most things rare, this was truly a gem and worthy of its classification, the highest in the region at Chablis Grand Cru. Located in Vaudésir, a tiny location also close to the Serein river, this location has the best Kimmeridgian soils that Chardonnay thrives on. This velvety Chardonnay with notes of honey and ripe fruits was truly breathtaking (and destroyed my palate for other Chardonnays).

 

Domaine Haute Perche

I never really read up on wines from the Anjou region… Frankly, we don’t have enough of them here to spark an interest.

In comes the effervescent Véronique Papin, Vigneronne of Domaine Haute Perche. Her energy was so much that I had to stop from going around the booths during the expo and have a couple of drinks with her (and she was sweet enough to teach me how to pronounce an element of their vineyard’s soil, schist, in a truly French way).

Anjou as a region is generally known for making sweet wines (although a decline in demand got winemakers from this part of the world to start producing dry wines), and being the only place in France that still produces Grolleau grapes (light, low in alcohol, earthy, dark grapes mostly used in rosé production).

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Véronique Papin (in action), Vigneronne of Domaine Haute Perche

 

Must-Try:

Anjou Blanc “Le Caractere” – A beautifully intense, floral white wine made from Chenin Blanc grapes, this is an excellent showcase of how beautiful white wines from Anjou are supposed to be: rich, with a touch of sweetness, and a fresh finish.

Cremant de Loire Rosé – This was an excellent application of two of the major red grapes of Anjou (Grolleau and Cabernet Franc) as a sparkling wine. It’s fruity but elegant, with notes reminiscent of ripe berries and flowers.

Cabernet d’Anjou – Deemed the best of what Anjou has to offer, as per appellation standards, the Cabernet d’Anjou is a medium-sweet style rosé made from Cabernet Franc and/or Cabernet Sauvignon. Domaine de Haute Perche’s take on this rosé highlights the organoleptic characteristics of the wine, complimented by notes of very ripe red berries.

 


 

I had a marginally different ending to this entry, which as I’ve mentioned, is unsuitable given the recent attacks.

So let me end things this way: Intolerance should stop. Intolerance can be as simple as being a wine snob, to generalizing an entire race (which leads to prejudice and hate), to murder en masse for (reasons). When I think of the old and new French friends I’ve made, the frequency of attacks in their beautiful country (and that they’re acts of terrorism) saddens me to no end.

That being said, let me post a message from the French Embassy in Manila for an event in Alliance Française today:

Following the deadly attack that struck Nice last July 14 and that put France in grieving during our National Day, the President of the French Republic has declared three days of national mourning (July 16, 17 and 18) to pay tribute to the victims. The flags of public buildings have been on half-mast since July 15.

A minute of silence will be observed on Monday, July 18 at 12:00pm all over France. To join this tribute to the victims of this tragedy in unity with the Nation, I invite all our compatriots in the Philippines to observe this minute of silence on July 18, 6:00pm (local time). A brief memorial ceremony will be organized at the Alliance Française de Manille. Those who wish to attend are invited to come to the following address: 209, Nicanor Garcia St., Bel Air II, Makati City, no later that 5:45pm.

Thierry Mathou, Ambassador of France to the Philippines