We're back, but there's more.
After a grueling day of travel (thanks to a strike at Air France, weather and delays), Amy and I are safely back in the US. We had technical trouble posting photos this last week, but we’re going to post them over the course of this week. Also, Amy was unable to post her tasting highlights while we were traveling because she had to do all the driving. (Our car was a stick and I...
Since this is our last night of vacation, we are reflecting on the trip. For me, the theme has been “paying attention.” I’ve seen the way winemakers pay attention to terroir, wind, weather, grapes and process. I’ve seen chefs pay tremoundous attention to detail in quality of food, method of preparation and presentation. I’ve seen attention to detail in fashion, art...
There are two notable differences between Europe and the US. First, men tend to be better dressed in Europe. Depends on the person, of course, but overall, the men here have a fantastic sense of style that I admire. I’ve seen several men window shopping in the fashion district, and I think that’s great. Second, people in Europe are better at incorporating children into city life. ...
We are having cocktails at George V. Believe it or not, I think I’ve had my fill of wine. The ginger martini is lime and ginger and quite refreshing.
It’s tall and touristy, but you knew that already.
We spent some time this morning at the Louvre. They have some nice art there. I did see the Mona Lisa and that was cool, but I was more impressed by some of the other paintings. One entitled “Jupiter punishing the Vices” was spectacular. We spent a lot of time looking at the sculptures, which were impressive as well. The Louvre is huge and we flew through room after room to see...
Two guys wandering down the street, one playing a trumpet, the other playing a tuba. The tuba guy was about 20 feet behind the trumpet guy and on the opposite side of the street. Kinda cool?
Paris, day one
I spent most of the day walking around, seeing the sights, looking in shops (amazing fashion) and checking out some art. Paris is just as amazing as people say, and anyone who has been here before will think I am a total dork for saying this, but the Louvre is HUGE. I knew it was big, but I was genuinely in awe of its size when I saw it in person. A cool thing: I saw a fashion shoot. I was...
I am at the plaza named after Jean Paul Sarte and Simone Beauvior. As a philosophy major, this pleases me endlessly.
We stopped in Beaune last night and went to a delightful wine bar owned by a charming elderly man who I’m pretty sure spoke English but insisted on conversing with us in French. When we said we’d like a glass of champagne, he served Pol Roger by the glass, which won instant points from us. I also tried a glass of Joseph Drouhin Gevrey-Chambertin 2008. It was my first Gevrey-Chambertin,...
Rooster (le coq)
We were woken up this morning by a rooster crowing. I probably should have been annoyed, but really, I thought, “that’s f#@$;*g rad.”
More French pop music
There is one song that is on every station all the time: “Elle Me Dit,” by MIKA. We love this song. It’s fun and catchy, and I’m totally going to download it for my 4-year old who loves to dance. I’m less crazy about le hip-hop, but if you’re into it, try “La La La La” by MC Solaar.
We are driving through the Alps. It’s stunning, and our little iPhone camera cannot do it justice.
We had lunch at a lovely trattoria in Torino. Three courses plus wine for ten euros. Nice. It was incredibly filling but delicious, and the staff was very friendly. They brought us a strawberry digestif after the meal, sort of like limoncello, but berry flavored. We then went to Piazza San Giovanni to see the church that holds the shroud of Turin. Unfortunately, it’s not on display but...
Our impromptu visit to an Italian hospital.
After three days in Italy, I realized we hadn’t yet had a chance to try the prized white truffle, so we intentionally sought out truffle with dinner last night. Guess what! I’m allergic! I became quite ill, not to mention itchy, swollen, and shaking violently, so we decided it would be wise to find a hospital. The nurse was very sweet. She spoke very limited English but it...
Today we have been tasting Barbera, Nebbiolo, and Barolo. Many are excellent and pair beautifully with cheeses.
Cooking at Contratto
We are cooking dinner in the Contratto kitchen for Giorgio Rivetti and friends (and we are joining him for dinner). If you know who he is and you know my cooking, you are crying right now. Fortunately, the other people here know what they are doing.
We just toured the Contratto cellar, which was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Capacity is 3 million; current goal for production is 400,000 per year. We are tasting a selection of wines. The 2008 Blanc de blanc is quite nice; the “For England” rose is nice too; but I adore the 2008 Bacco d’Oro. Nutty and slightly sweet. Pairs well with nut or cream desserts.
La Spinetta is a wine producer, not a restaurant, in case it wasn’t clear from the last post. Their wines are outstanding.
We are having lunch at La Spinetta. I’ve tried 8 wines and love every one of them. (Amy’s notes to follow.) I would particularly recommend the 2008 Vigneto Gallina “Vursu”. Delicious. But the Barolo, 2004 Vigneto Campe “Versu” is so beyond delicious I don’t even have an adjective for it. Oh, yes, and we are having lunch with the cellarmaster and the...
It is the beginning of truffle season. There are truffles everywhere and you can smell them as soon as you walk in a room. Last weekend was the truffle festival in Alba and over 100,000 people were here for it.
Italian coffee/espresso is infinitely superior to French coffee.
Can't believe I ate dinner.
After lunch, I thought for sure I was done for the day. But italian food is so tempting! We shared a bottle of barolo and managed to eat grilled octopus (delicious!), cauliflower soup, and lamb/orange meatballs (interesting combo). Amy had sausage-stuffed artichoke and hare on pumpkin gnocchi. And tomorrow is another day….
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Lunch at Le Louis
We had lunch at Le Louis XV, Alain Ducasse’s famed Michelin three star restaurant in Monte Carlo. It was okay. Just kidding. It was totally over the top. Words cannot do justice to the decor and it would have been too tacky to take photos, but suffice to say that if you picture what you would imagine a place called “Louis XV” would look like and then overdo it, you’re...
We are now in Italy. It’s a gorgeous day, about 70 degrees, sunny, blue sky and ocean. We left Monaco after lunch and cruised along the coast. We’ll post pics in a bit, but they do not do justice to the view. Google “cote d’azur” and find professional photos. We crossed into Italy and are driving along the edge of a cliff overlooking the water. It’s spectacular....
A detail about Monte Carlo that I really like: the escalators are still until you step on them. Once they sense a passenger, then they move. Cool.
We have an answer!!
We were asked whether there was a difference between a drunk Frenchman and a drunk American man. We now know. Drumroll, please. No difference. In either case, they are more likely to dance, more likely to sing, more likely to knock into something oblivioiusly, more likely to be loud, and more likely to talk to strangers. Although we are not testing this theory, we suspect they are equally...
Yes, more champagne
We are trying a NV Ruinart Blanc de blanc. A very nice wine. Amy says: green apple, lime zest, loads of mineral, slightly honeyed brioche with a focused foundation of acidity…lingering beauty.
Even the casual pizzerias in Monte Carlo have Cristal on the wine list. That’s hilarious.