Tag Archives: rose

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

An Excerpt from The Diary of an Alcohol Specialist (Part 1)

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Hello, my name is Gail and I’m a slasher.

Not the kind that gets locked up behind bars because of bloody violent tendencies… But the kind that, as an acquaintance pointed out, wears so many hats that my job title requires a lot of “slashes”.

Technically, I’m a beverage specialist/blogger/restaurant consultant/housewife/student. Explaining that to people I’ve just met normally requires a long story, so I decided to dedicate a couple of entries to taking an in-depth look into my life.

 


26 July 2016, Tuesday

Manic-edited and released article about Korean beverages. Felt the effect of my absence from the blog, my stats dipped slightly… But I think it was good to have taken a break. It has been a nutty few weeks, and taking my friend’s suggestion of just being a couch potato was great.

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This of course means that I have a backlog the size of Everest.

Edited my article on Rosés, but I have to go out tomorrow and buy that Hoegaarden Rosée I saw from a friend’s feed… It’s so pretty!

When I decided to avoid getting freebies to make sure my articles are 100% unbiased, I knew there was a hell of a price to pay to maintain some semblance of integrity. It was even worse when I decided to make sure that all the photos that come out in the blog either came from me, a friend (with permission), or any source with explicit consent.

With that in mind, I have to finish my dark beer shoot… Thank goodness our home/office has great lighting and windows. I’ve never had any lessons on photography or photo editing… I’m grateful for my Samsung Note’s camera and Fotor.

 

27 July 2016, Wednesday

Made a mad dash for Bottle Shop along Jupiter Street to get the bottle of Hoegaarden Rosée.

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Must tell the marketing manager about my thoughts (all positive!). Heaven forbid I forget, I’ll send him the link to the article (and blame it on the alcohol)*.

Thank goodness I left when I did, I think our yaya almost throttled the plumber for his incompetence.

I have to make sure I give her an extra hug when I see her again on Friday.

My business is practically a one-woman show, and I’ve been infinitely blessed with wonderful people who I get to work with on a regular basis (suppliers and clients alike)… However, I’m especially thankful for the people that work for us and keep me sane. Our yaya is indispensable (I call her a 5’1” bouncer), our driver is amazingly patient with my direction and schedule-challenged self (and would take a bullet for us), and our ironing lady is a fabulous mix of formidable and sweet (she gives me hugs and cries tears of joy whenever I do any favour for her).

Got inquiries for cheese suppliers… I honestly get mine from Rustan’s Marketplace. They have a wonderfully diverse, delicious selection of about 270 cheeses from different parts of the world.

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Kitty from the Park

Walked around the neighbourhood (need the exercise!) with Chad and met one of the sweetest street cats, which we named Kitty from the Park.

 

28 July 2016, Thursday

I had to do an intense, manic research on beer styles for the dark beer article. It took me about an hour and a half to find decent text on Russian Stout, and a lot of the literature I found emphasised the difficulty in producing this style of beer. It made me appreciate the guys of Baguio Craft Brewery even more for their ingenuity.

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Exhaustive Research!

Here’s the thing about my articles: I never, ever release any without research, preferably from books. I get practically obsessive in getting the details accurate… After all, the goal of the blog is to provide an entertaining resource. It isn’t a lifestyle blog (and I’d rather kill myself than spend 80% of an entry talking about myself and 20% on the beverage), although I do try to entertain (my French teacher, Olivia, says I should work on putting a bit more of myself in my articles).

Speaking of Olivia, I gotta finish my French homework.

 

29 July 2016, Friday

Released my Rosé article… I can’t get over the fact that the Sospechoso from Barcino’s worked well with the longganisa our friend, fashion designer and chef Ryan Madamba brought over.

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I love having friends over for dinner… It makes for excellent conversations, challenges my food and wine pairing and mixology skills, and… Food. Cooking is therapeutic for me.

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The gratin I made for friends during one epic dinner (over tons of alcohol and food!)

Speaking of friends, one of ours is in Korea… Her adventures are making me envious. Maybe it’s time to schedule a trip to Korea.

Olivia came over for my lessons. It was also her birthday! We gave her an H&M gift card, and had dinner with her.

People wonder why I’m still continuing my French lessons. Honestly, I need to know a Latin-based language to help me decipher wine terms, and I decided on French during the time when Chad was working for a French company (it was useful for both of us). I’m not a total pro at it, but the French winemakers I’ve met so far were kind enough to meet me halfway and correct me when needed.


 

End of Part One. The next article will showcase what normally happens when I have events. 🙂

Cheers!

*I eventually forgot, eheh…

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.