Category Food & Wine

Twelve Great Bordeaux Chateaux to visit: wine, food, art and more

Chateau Margaux is one of the most prestigious chateaux in Bordeaux

Chateau Margaux

Wine touring in Bordeaux is a bit more formal than in the New World. You don’t just rock on up for a tasting and maybe an alfresco lunch. You generally have to make an appointment (which can often be done on-line) and wine tasting will include a winery tour.  But Bordeaux is certainly jumping on the bandwagon of welcoming visitors. The chateaux listed here are particularly interesting to visit because they offer something extra including blending workshops, wine and food pairing, great art, architecture and more.  Remember, though, in France only a few chateaux are open on weekends.

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Six of Melbourne’s Coolest Bars

Melbourne's Coolest Bars

Hihou Bar. Photo by Paul Philipson

Baby, it’s hot out there. As Melbourne struggles with soaring summer temperatures, the city’s many cool bars are some of the best places to hang out. You may have to search for them down tiny laneways or on the city’s rooftops, but that is all part of the Melbourne appeal.

Here is a selection to help you chill out while you discover your inner hipster.

Hihou

Enter through a large door with a tiny sign and head upstairs to Hihou, which means secret treasure in Japanese, and you immediately feel like you’ve stepped into a dimly-lit Tokyo bar, except for the view across to the trees of the Treasury Gardens. Hihou’s staff could have been beamed in from Tokyo’s Golden Gai bar district. There is a choice of seating: a long black communal marble table, candlelit low stone tables, or the bar, where you can watch the bartender meticulously make seasonal fruit ‘surprise’ cocktails...

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A Guide to Telluride: North America’s Coolest Ski Resort

Telluride mfp

Tucked away at the end of a box canyon in Southern Colorado, Telluride – or “to Hell You Ride” – is drop-dead gorgeous and has a terrific personality to boot.

Telluride is not just a spectacular ski resort surrounded by four 14,000 foot peaks (Colorado’s famed ‘fourteeners’), it is also an old silver mining town with a Wild West streak; home to the very first bank Butch Cassidy robbed, right on Main Street.

It’s Aspen without the pretense.

Put simply, Telluride is the whole package, offering a real sense of place in the heart of the San Juan Mountains, fabulous food and wine, and some of the finest skiing and snowboarding in North America.

The Town:

Located on the valley floor, t...

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Alain Ducasse’s classic Provencale Inn: La Bastide de Moustiers

La Bastide de Moustiers MFP

The terrace of La Bastide de Moustiers

It is a tradition in Provence that landlords who plant three cypress trees near the entrance to their properties welcome visitors for a drink, a meal and a bed.  French chef Alain Ducasse has a small army of these pencil-thin emblems of Provence lining the driveway to La Bastide de Moustiers.  They are a fitting symbol for this classic Provencale Inn which is a labor of love by the founder of a multi-starred restaurant empire spanning three continents.

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Photo Friday: Three-Michelin-star Michel Bras’ famous flower and vegetable dish

michel bras ff

The three-Michelin-starred Michel Bras restaurant in the small village of Laguoile in the heart of Central France is renowned for its contemporary interpretation of the Gargouillou, the traditional Aubrac dish of ham, potatoes and vegetables.

I photographed this dish recently during a revelatory meal there.

“We have a very simple principle of respecting raw materials and following the seasons,” said Sebastien Bras, son of the founder Michel Bras, who recently retired. “We particularly rely on vegetables and plants using all sorts of flowers, herbs and seeds in our creations.”

The restaurant sources more than 230 cultivated vegetables, herbs and flowers in addition to foraging for hundreds more…wild thyme, fennel and flowers with names like queen of the fields, melilot and liveche… in the hills and valleys around Aubrac.

“Our technique is always used to accentuate the taste of the raw material, never the reverse,” Sebastian explained...

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Luang Prabang Highlights: monks, markets and the Mekong

Orange-clad monks at the dawn alms giving ritual in Luang Prabang

Monks at dawn in Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is one of last authentic cities in Indochina. This is the place people expect when they fantasize about South East Asia. What makes it so special is that you don’t have to run around checking off a bunch of tourist sites. It is wonderful to just ‘be’ and enjoy the soul of the city.

In the soft grey light of early morning, we sit quietly on a bamboo mat, wicker baskets of sticky rice beside us, across from a shuttered colonial mansion heavy with bougainvillea.

Around a corner, dozens of barefoot monks appear in a swish of saffron, golden bowls hanging from orange shoulder straps.  Locals show us how to earn merit.  Men adorned with scarves over one shoulder as a mark of respect and kneeling women in traditional shawls put fistfuls of rice into the monks’ bowls.

As in a dream, just as the rising sun gilds the ceramic-tiled temple roofs, the stream of gold vanishes and the monks return inside...

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What to Do in Cebu in the Philippines

Cebu has warm water and great underwater life to explore on day trips such as to Nalasuan Island

Cebu is oldest city in the Philippines and now a thriving port and manufacturing center. Cebu is the country’s epicenter of Christianity and a gateway to more than 160 white-sand-rimmed islands and islets. For visitors, it offers a heady mix of Spanish-inspired culture, fabulous food, and interesting design stores as well as access to terrific snorkeling and diving.

Here are 12 must-do adventures in this friendly Queen City of the South.

  1. Eat suckling pig. Anthony Bourdain followed his taste buds to Cebu and pronounced that they make the best lechon (Spanish for “suckling pig”) in the world on his television show No Reservations. His lechon consultant was Cebu native Joel Abueca Binamica, a retired banker who writes the Market Manila blog. After the broadcast, people begged Binamica to sell his lechon commercially and now he has five bright red and white Zubuchon restaurants...
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Kasbah de Toubkal is an Authentic Berber Lodge in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains

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The Kasbah de Toubkal is a beautifully restored stone and thatched-roof village compound that offers guests an insider’s experience of Berber life in the heart of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains.

I love hotels that help you engage with the locals while still enjoying a touch of luxe. National Geographic Traveler writer Daisann McLane captured the sentiment perfectly when she wrote a piece about her favorite South American hotels. “A hotel is a threshold to an unfamiliar culture…Good hotels have a strong sense of place.” The Kasbah de Toubkal in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco is a perfect example. And to emphasize this fact, it isn’t even called a hotel but rather ‘a Berber hospitality center.”

Re-imagined by British adventure guide Mike McHugo and his friend and fellow guide from Morocco, Hajj Maurice, who grew up in these mountains, the Kasbah de Toubkal was a crumbling fortified village at the top of the Imlil Valley, which at the time had no electricity...

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Ten Napa Wineries with Great Visitor Experiences

Napa is a short trip from San Francisco

California’s Napa Valley is a Holy Grail for wine lovers yet it can be hard to figure out how to enjoy the best wine touring. Here is the low down on ten wineries with great visitor experiences as well a guerilla guide to making the most of a Napa visit with tips on how to avoid the crowds and engage with the locals.

A guerilla guide to understanding Napa

Just over an hour’s drive north of San Francisco, Napa is tiny…just eight kilometers wide and 48 kilometers long….yet it is home to more than 450 wineries.

Napa is Cabernet country. All the experts agree that it produces the world’s best big, elegant, full-bodied Cabernets with plenty of structure and age-ability. Chardonnay is the second most planted variety, especially in the Los Carneros region. Other grapes include Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc (the classic Bordeaux blending varieties) as well as Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and even the occasional Pinot Noir.

The Napa produce...

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Eric Frechon’s Three-Michelin-starred Epicure Restaurant in Paris

In the heart of the fashion district of Faubourg Saint Honore across from the official residence of the President of the French Republic, the five-star Palace Hotel Bristol exudes the very essence of French elegance. This family-owned hotel may be grand but it is not stuffy. Two beautiful Burmese cats, Fa-Raon and Kleopatre, are the official welcoming committee and always enjoy a gentle stroke wherever you may find them.

We walk through the spacious flower-filled lobby to be welcomed warmly at Eric Frechon’s three-Michelin-star Epicure Restaurant. It is named for Epicurus, the Greek philosopher who believed that pleasure without excess is the surest path to happiness and wisdom.

The light and airy dining room opens out through French doors to Le Bristol’s fragrant courtyard garden with its towering magnolia trees. Floor-length floral curtains and bowls of fresh flowers bring the garden inside as do the crystal butterflies that are found on each table...

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