gourmet tagged posts

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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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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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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Lima’s Exciting Restaurant Scene

MFP new world food

The hottest restaurant destination in South America, Lima was once a mere launching pad for trips to Machu Picchu or the Amazon. Today this gourmet melting pot is luring the world’s foodies with its mind-boggling array of local seafood, potatoes, corn, grains, chillies and exotic tropical fruits enlivened by its melange of indigenous, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese cultures.

Mistura food festival

The Mistura food festival, which, appropriately, means mixture in Spanish, is held in Lima every September.  South America’s largest food festival, it has put Peru on the world food stage. When invited chefs like Rene Redzepi, Ferran Adria and Michel Bras get so excited about what is going on here the word spreads. Mistura takes a broad approach to food, which is why it is so much fun. It is a rich cultural feast with street food, farmers, celebrity chefs, folk dances, restaurants, artisanal products, even a chocolate market and a section dedicated to Pisco, Peru’s famed grape brandy...

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Sunshine Coast Hinterland Gourmet Hike

There's a jungle out there in the Sunshine Coast hinterland

Most people think the Sunny Coast is all about beaches and alfresco dining in Noosa, Mooloolaba and Caloundra but an entire alternative ecosystem is tucked into the folds of its ancient mountain ranges. In fact, there’s a whole jungle to explore in the Sunshine Coast hinterland…and some mighty fine raw materials for a gourmet getaway.

Black and white dairy cows graze on lime-green pastures. Avocado and macadamia trees burst out of the red earth. Ridge-top gardens peer over the Glasshouse Mountains to the blue Pacific and a family of distinctive villages beckons, each as idiosyncratic as other people’s children.

Two of the Great Walks of Queensland are here too. The 58-kilometer Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk and the 56-kilometer Conondale Range Great Walk rumble through the jungle to the evocative soundtrack of tropical birds and cicadas.

Narrows Escape Rainforest Lodge

Narrow Escape Rainforest Retreat partners with Off Beat Eco Tours to offer a gourmet hiking adventure

Hardy hikers bunk down in campsites along the way but for those of us who prefer our walking in the wild wi...

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Photo Friday: Wharekauhau New Zealand luxury lodge

Wharekauhau Luxury Lodge is on the southern tip of the North Island of New Zealand

I took this Photo Friday image on the way to one of New Zealand’s spectacular luxury lodges: Wharekauhau Country Estate.

Wharekauhau Country Estate

Driving 90 minutes from the nation’s capital of Wellington to Wharekauhau Country Estate, I zigzagged through the brooding Rimutaka Ranges and then followed country roads over rolling green hills. Everywhere I looked were gamboling long-tailed suckling lambs with their mothers. The whole landscape was Pure New Zealand, where sheep outnumber people twenty to one.

In the distance, nestled amongst hedgerows in a fold of emerald green pasture is Wharekauhau’s cream stucco Edwardian manor house with a steeply pitched roof dotted with large chimneys, its expansive bay windows overlooking a shimmering celadon sea...

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New York City Boutique Hotels: Soho, Midtown, Upper East Side

New York Hotels MFP

The lobby of the Chatwal Hotel

New York City: so much to do and see, so little time. The general idea is find a good base and sally forth but that almost misses the point. Even though Manhattan is home to 1.6 million people, the island is tiny, just 21.6 kilometers long and 3.7 kilometers wide. But it is far from homogenous and is really a series of small villages that are completely distinctive.

A cool way to explore the city is to base yourself in three interesting boutique hotels that each define their particular neighborhood for three completely different Manhattan experiences. Here is my guide to Soho staying at the Crosby Street Hotel, Midtown staying at the Chatwal, and the Upper East Side staying at The Surrey.

Th...

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Wine and long-held traditions in Victoria’s King Valley

Victoria's King Valley wine region has a strong Italian flavour

Victoria’s King Valley is a laid back wine region where you’ll not only meet the makers but you might also sit down with them over a few bottles of wine and a hearty family-style meal, much of which comes from their own veggie patches and orchards groaning with oranges, figs and apples.

Family is king in the King Valley whether it is Aussie settlers like fifth generation cattle farmers Anna Marie and Graham Forge or the Italian families, like the Pizzinis, Dal Zottos, and Politinis, who settled here after World War II. The Italians first grew tobacco but, at the encouragement of one of Australia’s oldest wine-growing families, the Brown Brothers in nearby Milawa, they became contract grape growers. In the last couple of decades, the grape growers became winemakers and today they are passionate about Italian varietals… Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Arneis, Barbera and, of course, Prosecco.

Packing Prosecco

The Forge family is the last remaining settler family on the King River

Anne Marie and Graham Forge are the last original settler family on the King ...

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