Friday again, and what a full week this has been! With work for DUTCH (the print deadline is quickly approaching!), social engagements and recipe writing for Vriendin, I have not had a chance to catch my breath. Only a good thing, though. I don’t know if I would be sane with empty time slots in my agenda.
One of the things I did this week was attend a press dinner showcasing Lidl’s ‘Delicieux’ collection for the upcoming holidays. If you haven’t read about that yet, check out the two previous blogs. During the event I tried a wide variety of excellent products, but the one that caused the biggest impression on me was a wine — the 2008 Saint-Estèphe from Château Andron Blanquet, a Cru Bourgeois and part of Château Cos Labory. The wines consist of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. With strong tannins balanced by ripe, dark fruits and spicy notes, it is a wine that pairs well with rich meat dishes. A beef wellington for example, but also a good steak — exactly how I will be serving it soon, because it absolutely swept me off my feet. I will be stocking up on this one for sure.
Speaking of wines, tomorrow I will be attending a wine tasting fair in Utrecht featuring organic wines from France, Italy, Slovenia, Austria and Spain. Sixteen wine growers will be present to explain their vision on organic wine production, something I am still reading up on and very eager to learn about.
That evening I will be dining at a French restaurant in Amsterdam, A La Ferme. The restaurant is taking part in the ‘Franse DinerDagen’, or ‘French Dinner Days’ and serving a four-course menu (incl. coffee and a digestief) for only €34.50 per person. During ten days, from the 14th to the 23rd of November, fifty top French restaurants across the country, selected by IENS and En Route Magazine, will be offering the same deal.
My review on Sunday will therefore not be about a lunch date, but about a dinner date. Expect some of those here and there as well, too.
But first, on to the order of the day. After writing my editor’s letter for DUTCH, I will start editing and testing the recipes for a production on winter warmers for Vriendin. I’m really looking forward to testing these recipes — especially the ‘easy and quick’ cassoulet! My own recipe starts a day in advance and calls for duck, lamb and Toulouse sausages. This one, however, had to be written accessibly, so that everyone can make it with products found at any supermarket. A challenge for me, which I gladly accepted.
Have a great weekend and hope you’ll come by Sunday to read about my experience at A la Ferme!
One of the perks of my job is being invited to interesting events in the world of food. Restaurant openings, culinary demonstrations, wine tastings, book presentations, etc. Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the opening of Gastrobar Anton, a new hot spot in the ritzy Dutch city of Laren. It was quite a lively evening full of champagne, cocktails, great wine, a posh selection of bites and fabulous oysters! The gastrobar has a Scandinavian inspired interior with warm color accents, robust materials and different types of seating options.
I’m not going to give you a full review just yet as I’m planning on going back there for lunch, but suffice to say that I had a great time. One of their wines, by the way, just happens to be a favorite of mine — Le Petit Berticot Cabernet Sauvignon from none other than my beloved Duras! How awesome is that?! Highly recommended by yours truly.
After the event, my friend and I decided to try out another restaurant in Laren. We figured we were already there, so why not? Both of us love Spanish food and Bodega, also located on the Brink, seemed like a good choice. Their menu features a varied selection of tapas as well as ‘Paella Valencia’, which is what we both went for, agreeing that perhaps this would make up for our last paella experience — ahem, it took place at an awful restaurant in Barcelona’s La Rambla called ‘El Choquito‘. El Choquito does not have a website, in case you’re interested, just a restaurant full of rude, frustrated waiters, crap food and weak sangria. Luckily, our experience at Bodega was not as appalling (kudos for the friendly staff), though their paella left a lot to be desired. The seafood selection was mostly deep-fried and I barely detected three tiny little mussels hidden in the rice, which missed more saffron, in my opinion. Some lemon wedges could’ve also helped the dish a bit, too.
In other news, it’s almost weekend! In case you don’t have any cooking plans yet, allow me to suggest grabbing a copy of the latest Vriendin (#43) where you can check out six of my easy and seasonal mushroom recipes! My aromatic noodle soup with shiitake and prawns is especially recommended today — rain, rain, and only rain!
I’ll be headed to Amsterdam tomorrow to review a new restaurant that boasts a menu which made me go a little weak in the knees when I read it. You can catch the review here on Sunday.
Have a delicious weekend!
It’s Friday again! In a way, it feels as though the week has rushed by. I still expect to wake up in Duras, start my day with a coffee at Chez Regine and only worry about where to have lunch! But the reality is that I’m back to my usual workaholic mode, full speed ahead! The editing of a magazine is demanding my attention, I’m finishing up one recipe production and getting ready for a new one next week, and I’m polishing up articles for three clients. And that’s just the ‘career’ part of the deal. I would consider looking into a housekeeper to make life easier, but then I’d also need a nanny and a dogsitter! Haha! Only joking. I love playing Martha Stewart and June Cleaver too much. 🙂
But on to the order of the day — this Friday’s French Four! Vineyards! If there’s one thing I always miss terribly when I leave France, it’s the sight of the vineyards. No matter what the season, they are always a beautiful symbol of the hard work that goes into making a good glass of wine. I love them when they are full, lush and bulging with fat grapes in the summer, but I also love them in the winter in all there bare glory, especially early in the morning when the mist and watery sun create fairytale-like panoramas.
For me, there’s no better way to experience the love and passion that goes into winemaking (besides the actual drinking!) than by revelling in the sight of a marvelously tended vineyard.
When it comes to great wines, there’s more to South West France than just Bordeaux. Located to the east, in the Lot-et-Garonne, is the Côtes de Duras – an appellation of fifteen communes that stretch out over roughly 1500 hectares and produce a variety of exceptional quality (and very affordable!) wines crafted by some two hundred passionate growers. There are reds (52%), whites (33%), rosés (13%) and sweet wines (2%). The reds and rosés consist of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec; the whites are mostly Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle; and the sweet wines are made of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
The vineyards of Duras have been producing wines since the 12th century and were one of the first to obtain the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée certification in 1937. Here are some of my favorite selections, plus some delectable tips.
The cave coopérative Berticot produces award winning wines and unites more than half of the region’s wine growers.
Try: The honey-sweet Quintessence de Berticot Moelleux 2009. Delightful aromas of candied fruit and apricots.
Pair with: Heavenly with foie gras, ideal as a dessert wine.
Domaine Les Hauts de Riquêts
The fifteen-hectare vineyard has been producing organic wines since 2005 and is run by seventh generation growers Pierre and Marie-Jo Bieraud. Wine tastings and culinary workshops are available at the domaine.
Try: Le Mignon 2009, a silky blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Ripe blackberry flavors. Complex aromas with herbal notes and a hint of violets. Long finish. Aged in French oak for eight months.
Pair with: Autumnal dishes such as magret de canard, lentil stews and roast guinea fowl.
Domaine de Laulan
The thirty-five-hectare estate of Laulan was founded by Gilbert Geoffroy in 1974. Known to produce some of the region’s best whites, Geoffroy has been described as ‘L’artiste du Sauvignon’.
Try: The dry, minerally Sauvignon Blanc 2012. Crisp, clean palate with hints of gooseberry and grapefruit. A nose of freshly-cut grass. Elegant and refreshing.
Pair with: Fruits de mer!