Friday, June 27, 2014

European Holiday Part 3 - Perfect Ending in Paris

After our 3 days in Beaune we took the train to Paris for the last leg of our trip.

We stayed at the Hotel Universite in Saint-Germain, a nice contrast to our last time in Paris in the Marais.

Lucky enough to have visited Paris a few times in my life, this time was all about finding those unique, non-touristy experiences in the city, visiting old favorites while also exploring new neighborhoods.  We walked, we shopped, of course we ate, and managed to find a brocante street market full of fun goodies!  A perfect end to a perfect trip.  I'm already scheming my next trip!

Can't believe a week later the bridge collapsed under the weight of all those locks!

We visited two vintage "brocantes" one at Porte Vanves, which occurs every Saturday and Sunday, and then we stumbled upon a seasonal brocante near Parc Monceau.  Lots of fun treasures for the finding!

Mr. and Mrs. Cookie

Total score!  The perfect vintage LV camera bag
Mom in her element!

All that shopping made us hungry, we paused in Parc Monceau for a perfect afternoon picnic and watched the Parisians take their exercise!  I was so happy to explore this new area, it was absolutely gorgeous!

A few food highlights……

Had to come back and visit my crepe guy at the Les Enfantes Rouge Market in the Marais!
Paris isn't complete without macarons!  We stayed away from Laduree now that we have that in NY and sampled some local places with fun flavors, blackberry basil and chocolate fig included!
One of my favorite finds of the trip - so good we went there twice!  The tapas bar at L'Avant Comptoir.  Next door to the popular bistro, this standing room only bar has amazing tapas, great wines, and perhaps the best bread and butter of the trip, and that's saying a lot! 
Salty butter on the counter for sharing, spoon please!
A perfect glass of Pico chablis, savory citrus macaron with fois gras and salmon croquette.

Our first dinner in Paris was at Chez Dumonet, a spot I had read about last time but we didn't make it to.  World renowned for their duck confit and Grand Mariner soufflé, I had to check it out this time around.  Mom used to make Grand Marnier soufflés at dinner parties in her 20s, we tried recreating it at Christmas but it was a bit of a flop so I couldn't wait to try the real thing.  While the service was poor at best (trip advisor reviews are accurate) the food truly was amazing.  

David Lebovitz mentioned Poilane as one of the best croissants in Paris, so I was happy to find that there was an outpost a short 5 minute walk from our hotel.  The croissants truly were amazing, light, flaky, and oh so buttery!

For Saturday night we originally had reservations at Bistro Paul Bert, I was dying for some steak frites and again according to DL this was the spot for some of the best, but we decided to stay close to home and stumbled upon Au Pied de Fouet.  With 3 locations throughout the city, the restaurant has been serving classic French dishes for over 150 years!  Alas they didn't have frites with their entrecôte so I decided I couldn't pass up another opportunity for duck confit, we also shared the steak tartar both with delicious crispy potatoes.  Reasonably priced, a gem of a find!

So crazy how it stays late until almost 10pm!
Not pictured was our last dinner at Semilla.  A farm to table concept with fresh takes on French classics and good, clean, food.  Honestly not my favorite and didn't live up to the hype/reviews.  That being said, we had been eating and drinking for 10 days straight at that point so maybe I was a bit over-exerted! 

A afternoon crepe for good measure in the Marais
We spent our last morning lingering over breakfast and the infamous hot chocolate at Angelina's.  I'd like to start every day with a cup of that creamy goodness!

And that's a wrap!  Now.....where to next??

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wine Wednesdays - 2012 St. Michael Eppan Pinot Grigio

Hi all, happy Wednesday!  For my first weekend out at the beach we picked up a "cheap and cheerful" white wine to accompany our dinner.  Little did I know that this pinot grigio would surprise me!  I typically pass over pinot grigio as I tend to find it underwhelming, overly acidic, and falls flat compared to other favorites.  However, this wine really stood out. 

St. Michel Eppan is located in the Alto Adige region in the northeast of Italy.  The winery is over 100 years old and is known for producing some of the best wines of the region.  This pinot grigio had a fresh nose of green apple, mineral notes, and slightly floral.  The taste was much fuller bodied than I would have expected; balanced acidity and structure lead to a round and lasting finish.  It paired quite well with our fresh grilled local mahi mahi and vegetables.  Why does everything taste better on the grill??!!

Wine:  2012 St. Michael Eppan Pinot Grigio
Purchased:  White's Liquor Store - Montauk, NY
Price: $16.00
Would buy again: Yes!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Bucket List 2014

With the official start to summer kicking off this weekend, time feels like it's flying!  June already??  Summer is over in a matter of weekends!  So, to ensure I take full advantage, I wanted to put together my first summer bucket list.  I'm hoping that by putting this out there I will take the time to check these off, and enjoy every minute of the long days, warm nights, fresh produce, and outdoor activities that come with summer!

1.  Cross a few beach reads off my list (Starting with this, this, and this)
2.  Attend an outdoor movie night
3.  Sample a new-to-me ice cream shop in NYC (I've never visited Cones which is literally 2 blocks from my apartment, but if I'm feeling ambitious, salted crack caramel is calling my name)
4.  Take a summer themed wine tasting class (maybe this one or this one)
5.  Jam something
6.  Attend an outdoor concert
7.  Attempt to recreate the summer tart from our cooking class
8.  Add some new bike routes to my repertoire
9.  Take a boat ride - this totally counts

What's on your summer bucket list?  Leave a comment below - I'd love to know!

Friday, June 20, 2014

An Afternoon at The Cook's Atelier

One of our most memorable experiences of the trip was certainly our cooking class at The Cook's Atelier.

Marjorie and her daughter Kendall are expats from Arizona living the dream in Beaune.  They launched their business with cooking classes and supper-club format dinners and in the past year have expanded to include a beautiful wine store and retail space in addition to their teaching kitchen and dining room.  More on that in a bit!

We began the class in front of Hess' Cheese shop, a dream of a store, located on the main square in Beaune.  They helped us pick out a selection of cheeses for the cheese course of our class.  Then we were off to the market to pick up seasonal produce for the day's class.

The produce in Europe is just plain better, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, fresh asparagus, radishes, and peas were all on display.

We brought our spoils back to the kitchen, tied on our aprons and got to work.

On the menu:

Mom taking her turn with the gougeres
A lesson in pate sucree
The base for our raspberry tart
Scoring duck for that perfect crispy skin
Sizzle away!
Once lunch was well underway we went upstairs to the dining room.  The table setting and vintage touches were so beautiful.  

Marjorie and Kendal poured our first beverage of the day - a sparkling wine that paired perfectly with the light airy gougeres.

Had to capture Mom drinking sparkling wine!  And she actually liked it!
Once we sat down it was a parade of one beautiful dish after another paired with delicious local wines. We lingered over each plate - a truly remarkable experience.

And now red wine!
The cheese course included Epoisse - a regional speciality of Burgundy
The piece de resistance - I have literally never tasted raspberries like this, so sweet and fresh - no sugar needed!

Homemade madeleines fresh out of the oven
The cherry on top!
Eventually we had to force ourselves to stand and stretch - dinner was in a couple of hours after all!  (I kid).  But before we left we had to poke around the shop for a few souvenirs to take home with us.  

If you ever find yourself in Beaune I cannot more highly recommend any experience with The Cook's Atelier - we will certainly be back.  In the meantime, I'll have to try my hand at recreating these recipes at home - stay tuned!


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