Category Archives: Paris

Paris: Three Restaurants, Two Wine Stores, Eating and Drinking

Paris is such an enchanting city that Michele and I try to go there every year. Last year in November, we rented an apartment in the Marais for a week and the weather could not have been better. Michele wanted to try some new (to us) restaurants, and we returned two of my favorite wine stores.

l’Ambassade D “Auvergne

This is a classic French bistro 22 rue du Grenier Saint-Lazare Paris 3 +33142723122   http://www.ambassade-auvergne.com

I started with a specialty of the Auvergne region, swiss chard torte with salad. It was very good.IMG_6423

For the main course I had plump, rare cooked magret de canard-duck breast, served with a thick and creamy aligot –a potato puree laced with fresh local cow’s milk cheese. It was whipped at the table and was piled on my plate, hot and delicious.  For dessert we had a wonderful chocolate mousse –a large portion was served and they left the serving bowl on the table so you could eat as much as you wanted. For the quality, it was very reasonably priced.IMG_6419

We drank a Bandol 2009 Domaine de Terrebrune made from 85% Mourvèdre 10% Grenache and 5% Cinsault . The average age of the vines is 25 years. The soil is characterized on the surface by limestone gravel in brown clay so characteristic that it inspired the name of the Domaine. There is total destemming and fermentation is for 15 to 20 days in a closed vessel, maceration is achieved by pumping over. The wine is aged in oak barrels 50 to 60 hectoliters for 18 months. The Domaine is certified organic. This is a wine that can age. The wine went very well with the food. Service was very pleasant and friendly. I enjoyed the whole experience and look forward to returning.

 L’Ami Jean- 27 rue Malar Paris 7 +33147058689 http://www.amjean.euIMG_6441

Michele wanted to try this place the last time we were in Paris but we could not get a reservation. It is a small crowded restaurant and you can watch the chef, Stèphane Jègo, preparing the dishes. He screams, he pleads, he shouts loud enough to make you jump, he is in his own world but what he produces is fantastic. We had the 5 course tasting chef’s choice menu.IMG_6430

A fish dish was so good and so light that I wished there was more, a venison steak with a touch of caramel was without a doubt the best I had ever eaten, and for dessert, a rich rice pudding. It came with toasted walnuts and a salty caramel cream but it did not need any of it. I could not stop eating until it was all gone. It was without doubt the best rice pudding I have ever had in a restaurant. Michele makes an excellent rice pudding.

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We drank another Bandol that day. Bandol 2006 Domaine Ray- Jean Made from 90% Mourvedre, 5% Cinsault and 5% Grenache. Each variety is vinified separately. The vines are old and not staked. Fermentation lasts for 20 days and malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine is aged for 2 years in 40hl barrels. It is a balanced wine with hints of blackberries and other fruits and spice with a nice aftertaste and long finish. This is a wine that can age for many years.

Bistroy Les Papilles   30 Rue Gay Lussac

Stepping into this small cozy restaurant one cannot help but notice shelves filled with wine. There is no wine list so if you want a bottle of wine you just take it off the shelves and bring it to your table. The wine is also for sale retail and if you drink the wine in the restaurant there is a 7 Euro charge above the retail price on the wine. In the evening there is a four course menu set by the chef Ulric Claude (known as Tom). The menu changes everyday. There were six of us so we had the large table in the back of the restaurant, which was very comfortable. We made a number of trips to the shelves to pick wine for each course.

IMG_6500_2We started with some delicious charcuterie and pate, followed by an excellent beef stew with mushrooms and potatoes, a cheese course and dessert. The food was very good and the stew alone was worth the trip.

Our friends Nicole Serle and Travis Scott, owners of Turtledove wine store in NYC, chose the wines. They picked from the shelves wines that were rare and difficult to find in NYC. It was an excellent selection and all the wines went very well with the food.IMG_6495_2

We started with Champagne “Substance” 100% Chardonnay Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Jacques Selosse. Low yields; organic viniculture and terroir are a hallmark of Mr. Selosse’s wines. He has all Grand Cru holdings in Avize, Cramant and Oger. He uses indigenous yeasts for fermentation and ages the wine in barrels, 20% new oak. The wine is left on the fine lees for an extended period. Dosage is kept to an absolute minimum. “Substance” is a solar Champagne created by Mr. Selosse in 1986, by marrying some 20 vintages in order to avoid vintage variation and allowing the terroir to speak on its own. This is full-bodied Champagne with good fruit, hints of orange peel and spice with good minerality.IMG_6492_2

Bussion Renar 2004 D. Dagueneau made from 100% organically grown Sauvignon Blanc. The soil is clay and flint and the vineyard is mid-slope on the Southwest side of Saint Andelain, the highest village in the Pouilly Fume appellation. The wine is barrel fermented and aged in almost neutral 450 to 600 liter barrels. It is a very balanced wine with hints of grapefruit, lime, herbs, good acidity and a touch of flint.

Clos Rougerad is an organic winery owned by the Foucault brothers. There are low yields, wild yeast is used and there is a long soft maceration with some new oak. The wines are vinified in barrel and bubble for a few years (18 to 24 months) depending on the vintage. The wine is stored in a glacially cold cellar and are bottled without filtration.IMG_6498_2

 Clos Rougeard “Breze” Saumur Blanc 2009 The wine is made from rare, old vines of Chenin Blanc from the Foucault’s own vineyards. The wine may be bottled as sec or demi-sec, depending on the vintage. The wine is golden-hued, with complex notes of dried fruits and nuts, a touch of honey and excellent acidity. The version we had was sec (dry). IMG_6503

Clos Rougeard Poyeux Saumur-Champigny Rouge Saumur-Champigny is a red wine appellation of Saumur in the central Loire valley. 100% Cabernet Franc. Juice from 40-60 year-old vines is fermented in a mix of oak barrels. Half of the wine is fermented in new Allier barrels; the other half i in 1-year old barrels purchased from Ch. Margaux and Ch. Haut-Brion. Poyeux’s bouquet displays hints of tobacco mingled with red fruit aromas. On the palate, red fruits flavors are rich and full. Tannins, though present, are remarkably integrated with a long finish returning with aromas of sweet, cherry tobacco. A very impressive wine.

Winestores

There are many wine stores in Paris but these are the two which I go to the most.

Bossetti 34 Rue des Archives 01 48 04 07 77 www.Bossetti.fr  They have a large selection Burgundy and Rhone Valley Wines and are famous for their Chartreuse collection. Look for older bottles from the Loire Valley going back to the 1950’s and not that expensive.

Le Vinis Illustribus 48 rue de la Montagne-Sainte-Genevieve   +33 1 43 36 12 12 http://www.devinis.fr

If you are looking for old wine this is the place to go. Linonel Michelin, the owner, loves to talk about wine, especially older wines. When we were there he was doing a tasting for a group of young Japanese women and told us they were the leading wine bloggers in Japan.IMG_6740

I purchased a 1964 Crozes Hermitage, Andre, which I drank and it was excellent. It was his last bottle. I also purchased a bottle of Hermitage “La Chapelle” Jaboulet 1980, 1983 Clos des Papes and a 1942 Bourgogne Patriarche. I opened the ‘83 and it was drinking like a young wine. The 1942 and the 1980 are resting at a friend’s house for a special wine dinner next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Bandol Terrebrune winery, Bandol- Ray-Jean, Bistroy Les Papilles, Bossetti- wine store, Buisson Renard D. Dagueneau, Champagne Substance Jacques Selosse, Clos Rougeard Breze, Clos Rougeard Les Poyeux, French Red, French Sparkling Wine, French White Wine, French Wine, L'Ami Jean, Le Vinis Illustribus, Paris, Restaurant l'ambassade d'auvergne, Uncategorized

Eating and Drinking in Paris

There is something about Paris that makes it special, even in the snow. Our flight landed at 8:20 AM the day after the snowstorm and we did not leave the airport until 11:00 AM. Turns out they were unprepared for snow. The taxi driver got lost trying to find the hotel, not because of the snow but because he did not his way around Paris. By the time we got to the hotel we were tired and cold and the streets were full of slush and ice.

Croque Madame

Croque Madame

 But it was Paris, so we made our way to Café de Flore, 26 rue Benoit/Sain Germain-Des-Pres. I had the La Jockey (Croque Madame) and Michele had quiche.  This is a very popular place both with the French and tourists and there are so many interesting people to watch.

By the next day the snow was gone and we went for a walk toward Les Halles. We passed a small restaurant that resembled an old Parisian Bistro and I looked in the window. The décor was old fashioned and kind of shabby and the menu on the chalkboard outside looked great, plus it was inexpensive. We kept it in mind and a few days later we went for lunch. Le Gros Minet 1Rue Prouvaires (+33 1 42 33) is a family run restaurant.  The food is simple in the style of Southwest France but very good and the bread is excellent. The staff is friendly and the service is attentive. There is a choice of house wines. I ordered a Cote Du Rhone and I could not believe how good it was, though I never did find out the name!  I had kidneys in a mustard sauce and Michele had a salad with foie gras.IMG_2921

When the taxi arrived at Taillevent, 15 rue Lamennais (www.taillevent.com), two men opened the doors and  escorted us into the restaurant. Inside there was a gracious welcome.  We were escorted to a very comfortable table and settled in with a glass of champagne. I do not have any pictures because one does not take pictures at Taillevent! The food was excellent as was the wine and the service.  The menu at lunch changes every two weeks, so I will not write about what we ate. But for dessert it was Paris Brest, basically a cream puff pastry with hazelnut filling.  It was so delicious. The meal ended with a glass of Armagnac.  The meal was expensive but I have paid more in restaurants in NYC that were not as good.  This was a very special experience.

Confit of Duck

Confit of Duck

One chilly and rainy night we made our way to Restaurant Chez Paul at 13 rue de Charonne.(+33 1 47 00 34 57). This is a traditional Bistro, very cozy and very crowded. Michele had made a reservation on line but when we got there the gentleman at the desk said they did not have the reservation. After a few awkward moments, he smiled and seated us at a table close to the bar. From now on we will always confirm our reservation that we make on line by phone when we arrive in Paris. I had an excellent confit of duck with apples and garlic and Michele had Steak au Poivre. For dessert Dèlicieuse poire au vin èpice et vanillè. It was, as it name says, delicious and it is the house specialty.IMG_2934 We drank the Domaine Milan Les Baux de Provence Clos Milan Rouge 2005 made from 75% Grenache, 20% Shiraz (Syrah) and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes come from vines that are at least 40 years old that grow in quaternary sands and gravels. The grapes are destemmed and fermented in cement tanks for about three weeks and then aged in old barriques for a further 12 months.

Poire

Poire

La Regalade now has two locations. The original at– 49 Jean Moulin and the other at 123 Rue Saint Honore (+33 1 42 21 92 40).   Both locations start you off with a large terrine of pate de campagne and a crock of cornichons with bread that is toasted and crunchy. It is almost a meal in itself and delicious.

Pate de Champagne

Pate de Champagne

The first night we went to the one on Rue Saint Honore because it was close to the hotel. The food was good but the pigeon I ordered was covered with FOAM. This was completely unnecessary, did not add anything to the dish, in fact it distracted from it. We had a nice bottle of Cahors 2009 Château du Cadre.Made from 90% Malbec, 5% Merlot and 5% Tannat Fermentation is between 30 and 35 days with with pumping down at the beginning of fermentation. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barrels. Aging for 22 months in oak barrels (Troncais) of different ages. The wine is not filtered.  It has black fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of spice.

Pigeon with Foam

Pigeon with Foam

We went to the original La Regalade a few nights later with a French friend who lives in NYC but is working in Paris for the next six months. We went by Metro and she carried her dog in a cloth basket on the train and brought it  into the restaurant. The dog was very well behaved and was given some water by the waitress. The food was good but again the FOAM, this time on my pork.

Egg on a Bed of Asparagus

Egg on a Bed of Asparagus

Michele had a perfectly cooked egg on a bed of asparagus topped with a thin slice of cheese wich she really liked.IMG_2925

We drank a bottle of Bandol 2006 Domaine Ray-Jane.  I believe the principal grape is Mourevdre and it went very well with the food.

We stayed at the Hotel Molière, 21 Rue Molière(+33 1 42 96 22 01) on the right bank. This is a quiet family run establishment with very nice rooms. The highlight however was the bathroom; it had a large walk in shower, a big bathtub, a long trough-like sink and more light than any bathroom I have ever been in before. The hotel was in a good location because it was in walking distance of many of our favorite restaurants.

Just a few blocks away was Chez Georges- located at 1 Rue du Mail (01 42 60 07 11)

Calf's Liver

Calf’s Liver

Michele really enjoys the atmosphere of this classic Parisian bistro.  Usually we order the same dishes each time we go but this time we ordered foie gras to start instead of the Salade Frisee aux Lardons we usually get.  Once again we ordered calf’s liver al anglaise fried in butter with a big thick slab of bacon on top, and frites. Since it was our last night we added a cheese course. For dessert, as usual we ordered the Tarte Tartin, an upside down apple tart accompanied by a large bowl of extra thick crème fraiche.

Crozes- Hermitage 2010Domaine Saint-Clair 100% Syrah. This was a lovely red wine that went very well with the food.

Chestnut Souffle

Chestnut Souffle

L’Ardoise 28 Rue due Mont Thabor (+33 I 42 96 28 18) We had a very nice meal here but the food came out too quickly and the place is small and cramped. The most memorable dishes were the desserts, a chestnut soufflé and a lemon meringue tartlet.  IMG_2931

Jaques Genin 133 Rue Turenne.   It was cold in Paris and what better way to spend part of the afternoon than in a beautiful place enjoying a hot chocolate. We drank hot chocolate and munched on bite sized chocolates and caramels. The caramels are expensive but well worth it-they are indescribably delicious!

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Filed under Cafe de Flore, Chez Georges, Chez Paul, French Red, French Wine, Jaques Genin, L'Ardoise, La Regalade, Le Gros Minet, Paris, Paris Hotels, Paris Restaurants, Taillevent

Wine Buys in Paris

In Feburary Michele and I stayed in an apartment around the corner from the Church of St Denis in the Marais. We were the highest bider on an apartment as an item in a charity event for Cancer Care for Kids.

It was a great apartment and we would often eat lunch there. One afternoon I brought a bottle of Crozes Hermitage Vieilles Vignes 1996 from Paul Jaboulet Aine. It was all leather and cherry and was a perfect combination with the paté de lapin with cognac, bread and sheep milk’s cheese that we brought at the market.

One of the best buys in wine today is Crozes-Hermitage. They can also last a very long time. There is a wine store that had magnums of the ’79 from Jaboulet. It took me three trips to Paris but I bought all that he had. I drank them all. On the last two trips I brought the last of the magnums of the 1989 and am looking forward to drinking them.

De Vins Illustribus is a wine store that specializes in old wines. The owner Lionel Michelin speaks English and is very knowledgeable about older vintages. I purchased two bottles of 1985 Hermitage from Captiour and one bottle on Chateauneuf-du-Pape 1998 from Clos Pope. I asked him if he had an wines from 1942, my birth year. He showed me a 1942 wine from Algeria but it was 500 Euros!

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Paris In The Winter

The first time I saw Paris was in the summer of 1972. It was very hot and even back then there were a lot of tourists. We have gone to Paris six times in the last eight years either in January or February. There are less crowds but it is rainy and cold. Michele likes to think of it as” good eating weather.”

This year, however, we experienced an early spring in Paris. The weather was perfect: not a cloud in the sky and temperatures between 50 & 60 degrees. We walked all over or took the Metro. Walking and taking the Metro made up for all the rich food we ate.

We decided to only eat in Bistros and to eat in as many long established ones as possible.

The first night we went to Au Tru Gason. This was the most expensive meal that we had but there was a lot of food. Michele had layered foie gras, Jerusalem artichokes and shredded black truffles to start. Next was a thigh and leg of goose confit with chanterelles and salad. I had sautéed foie gras with grape coriander. Cassoulet is a specialty here and it was one of the best I have ever had. I should have stopped here but when the waiter offered a special sheep’s milk (brebis) cheese to finish off the wine, how could I refuse. The cheese had a slight caramel flavor and was not too old. Wines from the southwest of France are featured here and we had a bottle of Madiran AOC, Chateau Bouscasse 1999 Vieilles – Vignes (old vines) which was 100% Tannat. For desert we had Gascon tart with torffe ice cream and chocolate ice cream with a meringue and cream cookie.

I was surprised to see my favorite Italian coffee, Illy Caffe, being served at Gascon. The caffe (espresso) was excellent. There are a number of other restaurants and cafes that feature Illy all around Paris. The meal was 211 Euros. The service was very friendly and professional. The tables were well spaced and the chairs comfortable. It was well lit and you could talk because there was no music and the French tend to speak softly

The next night we went to La Regalade my favorite restaurant in Paris. When we went here the first time I had duck in a fig sauce and almost came off my chair, it was that good. They send over a large tray of pork pate with bread when you come in. It is very good and you can almost make a meal of it. I ordered a glass of Pinot de Charentes to go with it and it was a perfect combination. For my first course I ordered soft scrambled eggs (they seemed to be floating) covered with black truffles. The aroma was to die for and the taste…! Michele ordered the same thing. I was glad she did; I did not want to share. We both had the breast of pork, crisp and tender with a salad on top with country mostarda and mashed potatoes. The 1998 Bandol from Domain Ray–Jean went very well. For desert we both had one of the lightest, tastiest souffle we have ever had. We finished with one of the best espressos in Paris, 160 Euros and worth every penny.

A few years ago, Frank Prial, who was the wine columnist for the New York Times, recommended s Sauseyrac for dinner. It was great and a lot of fun. We made the reservation through AMX and called to confirm when we got to Paris. As we approached the restaurant it did not look like we remembered it. In fact it was a different restaurant. We checked the address and it was correct. After much back and forth we realized that the new restaurant had kept the same phone number and something was lost in translation.

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Paris

Last May Michele and I were invited to a dinner and auction for Cancer Care for Kids. There was a silent auction and I was the highest bidder on a case of Chateau Musar 1998a red Boudeaux style wine from Lebanon. After dinner there was the regular auction and the items were very interesting. I bid on but lost on a weeks stay in an apartment in Rome. The next item was a weeks stay in an apartment in Paris,three nights in a Chateau with dinner and a car rental for those three days. As the bidding went up I looked at Michele to see if I should keep on bidding.However I did this without lowering my numbered paddle and the next thing I heard was the auctioneer saying my number and a thank you very much. On Feburary 4 we will be leaving for Paris.I will give a full report when I come back on the restaurants, winebars, food shops and markets We are saving the three nights in the Chateau for the summer.On March 5th, April 23 and June18 I will be teaching Italian wine classes at the Westchester Italian Cultural Center in Tuckahoe. www.wiccny.org 914-771-5900Take a look at my all Italian web-site on Food and Wine presented in connection with the John D. Calannda Italian -American Institute and the University of Rome. www.i-italy.org/blog/wine-and-food This spring we are doing a tour to Sicily with Tour de Forks. Michele does the food and culture and I do the wine and the history. The dates are from May 4th to May 14th. www.tourdeforks.com

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