Showing posts with label Wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wine. Show all posts

05 December 2010

Port Wine in Porto, Portugal

Last weekend, after stuffing ourselves with Thanksgiving leftovers, D. and I went on a mini holiday to Porto, Portugal to visit our friends who were moving there (or rather, had just moved there and now are moving somewhere else, maybe Australia, but that's a long story that has nothing to do with our weekend). We were amazingly lucky because while it's been freezing and snowy in Paris, it was clear and in the 50sºF in Porto. We ate breakfast both days outside in the sun looking over the ocean - an amazing luxury at this time of year. I even stuck my feet in the water and waved to Rockport!

Porto is a beautiful city, full of gorgeous old buildings...that nobody lives in. The Portuguese people prefer to live in the comfortable modern buildings that are constantly going up outside the city. We were very surprised, since the opposite is true in Paris: everyone wants to live in the old buildings in the center, and the poor people live in the suburbs with their modern apartment towers.

But of course what Porto is best know for is Port Wine. You can be sure we didn't miss out on that. On Saturday our friends took us out to the Port vineyards, which are actually about an hour north of Porto in the beautiful hilly region along the Durro River. The grapes are grown on terraces because of the landscape and, as a result, all the fruit is hand picked. They explained to us that Port is a sweet wine because the fermentation process (which turns the sugar from the grapes into alcohol) is stopped very quickly, and so to give it the strong alcohol content it's known for, they add brandy to it!

Once that's done, they send it to Porto (or rather the town right across the river from Porto, but who's counting), to be matured in oak barrels of different sizes and for different amounts of time depending on the kind of Port. In case you're interested...

Ruby Port: (made from red grapes) is matured for the least amount of time in very large barrels that are waxed on the inside so almost no air gets in. As a result, it's a very fruity wine.

Tawny Port: (also made from red grapes) is matured in small oak barrels for a longer time and has a much more woody taste. It also gets more oxygen, which makes it clearer (I think that's why...)

White Port: (made from white grapes) uses both if understood rightly and can be either "sweet" or "dry".

(Apparently, there's also Pink Port, which is something new and I don't quite understand how it's made but it taste like cotton candy.)

Also, almost all port is mixed wine. Unless there's a year on your bottle (and 90% of the time there isn't), the port is a mixture of wine from different years to get exactly the right taste. When you get "10-year-old" port or "20-year-old" port, that's actually an average, rather than an indication of what year is comes from. Isn't that crazy? (Ok, maybe that's just more than you ever wanted to know about Port :-))

Anyway, after a weekend of soaking up the sun and seeing beautiful vineyard landscapes and visiting the Port cellars and drinking lots of Port, I'm actually okay with the fact that it's snowing in Paris. In fact, I'm enjoying it.

30 March 2009

Salon des Vignerons Indépendants

Twice a year D. and I go to the Salon des Vignerons Indépendants, a huge fair (and I'm talking huge) where all the independent wine makers of France come to sell their products. You get a wine glass at the entrance and you wander through rows and rows of stands where you can taste the wines and often talk directly to the person who grew the grapes! Not only are they happy to have you discover their wines, but they'll often tell you exactly how the grapes grow, in what soil, when they are harvested, how they are pressed and anything else you might like to know about the process (which as far as I could tell does not actually involve Lucille Ball squishing them between her toes).

Deux fois par an, D. et moi allons au Salon des Vignerons Indépendants, un énorme salon à Paris où les viticulteurs indépendants français viennent vendre leur produits. On vous donne un verre à l'entrée et après vous êtes libre d'arpenter le long des allées, de deguster les types de vins des régions qui vous intéressent et de parler directement avec le producteur ! Les producteurs ne vous disent pas simplement les qualités du vin, mais ils vous expliquent aussi dans quelle terres poussent les vignes, à quel moment les raisons sont recoltés, comment ils sont pressés, etc. Se sont des passionnés et l'on apprend beaucoup.

Since this is the fourth or fifth time we've been, we decided to branch out a little bit from our usual types of red wines (for which we already have our favorite producers), and taste things we know less about.

C'était notre 4e ou 5e salon et du coup nous avions envie de tester des types de vins que nous ne connaissions pas bien (ayant déjà quelques rouges préférés).

This also included testing new wines from the producers of our old favorites, like this delicious rosé from the makers of a very nice Brouilly and côte de Brouilly, Chateau de Briante. Tasting it, I could already imagine myself sitting out on the deck in the summer, eating some rosemary-grilled chicken and sipping chilled wine in the warm air.

Nous avons commencé en découvrant des vins différents de producteurs qu'on connaissait déjà, comme ce rosé très sympa (excusez le vocabulaire technique) venu de Chateau de Briante, un recoltant que l'on aime beaucoup, particulièrement leur côte de Brouilly. En le goûtant, je me voyais déjà en terrasse l'été à le boire bien frais avec des grillades de poulet au romarin...miam.

We also decided that it was about time we tested some white wines (which we hardly ever drink and know very little about) and, after being very pleased with the white wine proposed by another of our favorite producers, Domaine Tancrez, we arrived at a stand of wines from Alsace, Domaine Engel. We told the wine maker that we knew nothing about Alsacian wines and he took us on a complete tour of his different kinds, Pinot Blanc, Reisling, Pinot Gris, Gewurtzaminer, Crémant d'Alsace (like champagne, but from Alsace) and Pinot Noir. We bought a bottle of Pinot Blanc and a bottle of Pinot Gris, although next time I might have to go for the Gewurtzaminer (despite its unpronouncibility) because it's very fruity and supposed to be good with spicy food, yum!

Nous avons décidé aussi qu'il était temps de nous mettre au vin blanc, vu que nous ne buvons presque que du rouge. Nous avons découvert un blanc qui nous plaisait bien chez Domaine Tancrez, un domaine qui nous a déjà séduit avec ces vins rouge François 1er. Puis, on est arrivé au stand du Domaine Engel, un producteur de vins alsaciens, en disant "Nous ne connaissons rien !" et le viticulteur nous a fait déguster tous ses vins : Pinot blanc, Reisling, Pinot gris, Gewurtzaminer, Crémant d'Alsace (un peu comme du champagne, mais d'Alsace) et Pinot Noir. Nous avons acheté une bouteille de Pinot blanc et une de Pinot gris. La prochaine fois, je prendrais bien du Gewurtzaminer (malgré le fait que je n'arrive pas à le prononcer), parce que c'est bien fruité et se marie bien avec la nourriture épicée... miam !

12 October 2008

Sunday hangover?

Après les croissants de dimanche dernier, vous pensez peut-être que je passe tous mes dimanches à ne rien faire, car j'ai fait la fête la veille. Et puis, pourquoi pas après tout... mais en fait, j'avais l'intention de poster une recette de muffins pomme-noix (ça sera pour la semaine prochaine, c'est sûr !) sauf qu'hier soir D. m'a fait cadeau d'une super soirée pour mon anniversaire, avec notamment un punch merveilleux (dont la recette est un secret que je ne peux pas dévoiler ici).

After last Sunday's croissants (let someone else do the baking) you all are going to think I spend my weekends partying and waking up bleary-eyed. And why not, after all? But the truth is I was intending to write to you about some yummy moist apple-walnut muffins today (next week - I promise!) but last night D. threw a party for my birthday, which was a few days ago, and made a delicious punch from a secret recipe that I can attest included rum - lots of it! A bunch of people came and they brought presents and wine and other goodies, including two wonderful food-related gifts:

Book about exotic ingredients, their properties and simple recipes in which to use them.
J'ai reçu plusieurs cadeaux très sympas dont ce beau livre de cuisine sur les ingrédients exotiques et comment les préparer.

Whipped cream maker!
Et un siphon crème et chantilly !

By the way, if anyone has any good Swiss chard or celery root recipes, I received both in my CSA basket this week and have no idea what I'm going to do with them! Hope you had a restful weekend.
Appel à recettes : si vous avez des idées pour utiliser de la racine de celeri ou des blettes, j'ai eu les deux dans mon panier bio et je suis perdue ! J'espère que vous avez passé un bon week-end.

25 May 2008

What's left/Restes

Well this Sunday, once again, there's no baking, no cooking of any kind going on in my almost empty kitchen. Lunch was leftovers heated up quickly before the rest of the pots, pans, silverware, and plates went into a box. Tomorrow is the BIG DAY. Some of you have been asking about pictures of the new apartment. I will definitely be sharing some of those with you next week (especially of my VERY EXCITING new kitchen). But as a little teaser: remember the living room? When we bought the apt, it looked like this:

Ca y est, le jour J, c'est demain ! Nous déménageons ! Je mettrai en ligne sûrement plus de photos du nouvel appartement (et surtout de ma merveilleuse nouvelle cuisine) la semaine porchaine, mais en avant goût : la photo ci-dessus répresente le salon au moment où nous avons acheté l'appart... et le voilà aujourd'hui (enfin hier pour être honnête) :

And THIS is what it looks like now. Two of the walls are "fig" - as you can see - and the other two walls match the borders around the doors. And this is one of the rooms that has changed the least!

Deux des murs sont couleur "figue", comme vous pouvez voir, et les deux autres sont de la même couleur que les bordures. Cela change, non ? Et encore, c'est une des pièces qui a changé le moins pendant les travaux...

Ok, ok, enough about walls and paint and those beautiful wood floors, what about the cooking? Well, this week I've been using up things I didn't think worth packing in a box. Alright, I confess, I've been finishing bottles of alcohol. Bottles are heavy, right? I HAD to.

Puisqu'il faut tout mettre en carton (des grands cartons lourds, des petits cartons lourds, enfin, vous aurez compris, les cartons sont lourds !), je voulais manger cette semaine de façon à alléger le plus possible les cartons de cuisine. Donc, nous nous sommes sacrifiées. Nous avons fini ces 4 bouteilles :

Yes, so first the bottle of white wine that had been in the fridge for a while (we don't drink much white; I use it mostly for cooking), which I used to make this risotto (along with some leftover homemade stock) with artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, and feta. I even got D. to eat spinach by sticking it under the cooked risotto so it was just a bit wilted when we got to it, but not mushy.

Avec la fin du vin blanc j'ai fait ce risotto aux artichauts, tomates sechées et féta. Le vin rouge m'a servi pour un gâteau au vin rouge et à la cannelle, et D. a même pu utiliser le fond pour une sauce tomate sur des pâtes. D. a fini la liqueur de lichti en digestif et moi le grand marnier. Nous étions très... heureuses d'avoir autant avancé les choses pour notre déménagement. :-)

One bottle of red that had recently been opened, used to make red wine chocolate cake, and the end of a bottle of litchi liquor - um, D. drank it, and the end of a bottle of grand marnier - um, I drank it. And afterwards we were very happy -- I mean to have done our part to lighten the boxes for moving, of course...

22 April 2008

Sorties en Provence

Last weekend, D. and I were in Provence with our two sets of parents and lots of worries about them meeting each other (mostly unfounded). Everyone ended up getting along very well. We had mixed weather, but during the sunny moments (in between yummy meals) we did some exploring :

Salon de Provence

Le week-end passé mes parents étaient en Provence pour rencontrer les parents de D. - l'anticipation était stressante, pourtant ça c'est très bien passé. Il n'a pas fait beau tout le temps, mais nous avons profité des moments de soleil pour se balader un peu (entre les merveilleux repas, bien sûr).

Samedi, nous sommes allés à Maussane les Alpilles déjeuner dans un charmant restaurant recommendé par les parents de D., qui s'appelle La Place et qui est supervisé de près par Jean-André Charial . La carte est courte mais change souvent pour utiliser les produits de saison. Ma mère a particulièrement aimé le décor et elle a même insisté pour qu'on prenne des photos des toilettes -- la honte ! J'ai préféré me concentrer sur le dessert :

Saturday, on D.'s parents recommendation, we had lunch in the small town of Maussane at a delicious restaurant called La Place, which is supervised by a well-known chef in the area. It's right on the beautiful town square and has a short menu that changes frequently according the season and the fresh ingredients available. My mom especially like the decor and even insisted
on taking pictures in the bathroom ! - So embarrassing ! Of course I did take pictures of the artistic desserts....

D.'s parents decided that such a good lunch deserved a siesta, while D., my parents and I decided to play tourist in the region and headed up to Les Baux de Provence, an adorable little town, which seems a bit like a museum with its traditional houses where no one really lives and lots of tourists. It was fun though.

Les Baux de Provence

Les parents de D. ont decidé qu'un aussi bon repas méritait une sieste, pendant que D., mes parents et moi avons joué les touristes en montant aux Baux de Provence, un village qui a tout l'air d'un musée avec ses maisons anciennes où personne n'habite et tous ses touristes.

Avant de rentrer, je voulais absolument m'arrêter au vignoble de Mas de la Dame qui est juste en bas des Baux pour faire goûter ce vin à mes parents, car on ne le trouve que dans la région.
Je suis particulièrement fan de leur Cuvée Gourmande Rouge 2004, mais mon père, qui adore les vins costauds, a préféré leur Réserve Rouge 2004. Quant à ma mère, elle a trouvé les vins sympas, mais a été surtout emballée par leur tapanade :-)

Before heading back, I insisted that we stop at the Mas de la Dame vineyard just outside Les Baux so that my parents could taste their wine, which you can only get in the region (and it's organic!). I'm a particular fan of their Cuvée Gourmand Red 2006, but my dad prefers wine with a kick and their spicy Réserve Red 2004 was more to his taste. My mom, for her part, tasted all their tapenades, yum, yum.

All in all, a lovely weekend with delicious food and wine!
En tout, un week-end fort sympathique avec beaucoup de bonne nourriture et de bon vin !

31 March 2008

Du bon vin pour vos recettes/Would you like some wine with that?

Ce week-end il y avait le Salon des Vins des vignerons indépendants à Paris (oui, avec le Salon du Livre, ça fait deux salons dans un mois -- pas très simple pour le budget... mais tellement de bons achats !).

This weekend there was a fair for small independent viticulturists (um, aka wine makers) in Paris, and, although I spent way too much money already at the Salon du Livre this month, it's only twice a year! There are so many good wines to discover to accompany my culinary experiments.

En arrivant, avec D., nous sommes allées directement au stand du Domaine Tancrez, où nous avons l'habitude d'acheter au moins une caisse de leur François 1er 2004 (la dernière fois c'était pire puisqu'il y avait une promo pour les membres : 12 bouteilles achetées, 6 offertes, et nous avons joyeusement cédé à la tentation, mais cette fois nous étions un peu plus sages - enfin, à peine, vous allez voir). Nous avons aussi goûté le François 1er 2005 et, bien qu'il soit encore un peu jeune, nous sommes heureuses de savoir que quand il n'y aura plus de la cuvée 2004, ou que cela sera trop cher pour nous, il y a un autre très bon vin (très différent, mais très bon) qui sera prêt à prendre le relais. :-) La très gentille exposante du domaine Tancrez nous a aussi vendu 2 bouteilles de leur Insolite (un pinot noir extraordinaire, issu de vieilles vignes de 90 ans, que nous avons pris la dernière fois), alors que normalement elle voulait vendre sa dernière caisse en un seul lot. Mais on était tellement triste de penser qu'on aurait plus jamais ce vin, et elle nous ne voulait pas nous voir déçues comme ça.

First stop, Domaine Tancrez, a wine maker we discovered at our first Salon and we just keep coming back for their François 1er 2004. We bought a case :-) I mean I know that sounds bad, but last time it was worse! They had a sale for members: buy 12 bottles, get 6 for free, and we couldn't pass it up! The woman who runs the stand is really sweet and she even accepted to sell us two bottles of a her last case of a pinot noir called "Insolite" made from vines that are 90 years old! She was hoping to sell the last case all together, but we were so sad that she gave in and broke it open ;-)

Next, we tried some Crozes Hermitage wines and some muscat (a sweet wine that's often drunk either before a meal or with dessert). D. even bought me a bottle of muscat "oxydatif" (whatever that is) from Corsica because I fell in love with it, though it was a bit expensive. Is this coming out snobby -- I hope not! I've become Frenchified, ack!

Après, c'était les Crozes Hermitage, et les muscats (D. m'a même fait cadeau d'un muscat "oxydatif" corse que j'ai adoré, mais qui était un peu cher :-)). Et finalement, alors qu'on allait partir, (mais j'insistais, je savais qu'on avait pas tout à fait fini,) c'est là que D. a vu notre coup de coeur de cette année -- Chateau de Briante. Nous avons goûté leurs Brouillys et avons été très convaincues ! Nous avons acheté deux bouteilles du Brouilly Tradition 2004 et une bouteille de la Baronne 2005 à redéguster tranquillement chez nous, mais c'est sûr que nous y retournons au prochain salon ! Ils ont même un blog, et une rubrique pour suggérer des recettes pour accompanger leurs vins ! Tous pour nous plaire.

En rentrant, nous avons fêté tous ça avec du gâteau moelleux au vin rouge et à la cannelle !

Then, as we were on our way out, and I was protesting, no, no I don't think we're quite finished yet! D. saw Chateau de Briante: look Brouilly wines, let's try that stand! What a wonderful find. We really liked all the wines we tasted at the stand, plus the viticulteur was really nice and passionate about his wine so it was fun. He even has a blog about his wines with recipe suggestions! We bought 3 bottles to retaste over the next 6 months, but we'll definetly be going back there at the next fair!

Back at home, and in from the rain, we celebrated with some red wine chocolate cake...what else?!

02 March 2008

Sunday Baking - Red wine chocolate cake

This week, my Sunday baking recipe is adapted from another cooking blog that I enjoy reading. Seeing as I had a bit of wine left at the bottom of the bottle today, I tested Johanna's red wine chocolate cake (with my own touch) and was extremely happy with the results.

Pour mes lecteurs français, je vous encourage à explorer le site de Johanna : Je suis pas une courge ("le blog de tous ceux qui ne savent pas encore qu'ils savent cuisiner"), et plus particulièrement à tester son gâteau moelleux au vin rouge et à la cannelle. Je l'ai fait avec 4 c.s. de cacao et d'eau chaude, et j'ai saupoudré de sucre glace ! Un vrai régal.

This cake is sinfully easy to make, and doesn't require hard-to-find ingredients (especially now that I've adapted it for stuff you find in America). It comes together in 10 minute (15 max) and cooks for 20-30. No sooner you decide you MUST have it, than it's practically made! Perfect for those gray sick-of-winter days in March: wine cake, a nice cup of tea or coffee, a book.... sigh.


-1 cup salted butter
-4 eggs
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/4 brown sugar lightly packed
(Note : she uses a type of granulated brown sugar called 'cassonade' -- see photo -- I propose a mix of white and brown to get the same taste and consistency in the US, but you can look for caster sugar if you like)
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 1/3 cup flour
-2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 cup red wine (she says go ahead and use the cheap stuff -- although she's talking about cheap French wine...which is not so cheap in America ;-) so it's up to you)
-1 tsp cinnamon
-4 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa diluted in 4 Tbsp hot water

1. Preheat the oven to 325F.
2. Melt the butter (on the stove on low heat or in the microwave)
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract until you get a small layer of foam on top.
4. "Dump" all the other ingredients on top (as Johanna would say) - including the melted butter.
5. Mix until smooth and pour into a greased cake pan. You can use whatever fun mold you're partial to. I simply used an 8X8 square baking dish -- AND I forgot to grease it, but it came out fine.
6. Cook at 325F for 25-30 min: top a bit crunchy, and the middle, nice and spongy.

I sprinkled the cake with powdered sugar when serving, which was yummy. :-) Happy baking.