Posts Tagged ‘wine’

Lunch Date Saturday: Woodstone Almere

Woodstone AlmereIn my last post I was still pretty much uncertain as to where we would be headed for our Saturday lunch date. Bel Ami, one of my favorite restaurants, just updated their menu with a mouthwatering selection of autumn inspired dishes such as a seasonal salad with mushrooms and pumpkin, boeuf bourguignon and truffle risotto. I was actually pretty convinced we would end up there, but after a very lazy morning that started off with a huge breakfast of buttermilk waffles, bacon and eggs, it was suddenly 1:30 PM and I was still in my bathrobe.
We decided on Woodstone in Almere (one of their three locations), a place I had been to before, but for some reason hadn’t really warmed up to. Not sure why. Maybe circumstances. Perhaps I was a little under the weather then. Luckily, this time around, I can truly say that the experience (and the restaurant) did not disappoint.
After choosing a table (pretty easy as the place is huge and wasn’t at all busy), we ordered two glasses of their Italian Shiraz, an intensely inky wine full of ripe blackberries, with hints of chocolate and a nice, silky finish.
Woodstone AlmereThe menu is quite ample and offers starters, four varieties of pizzas (with a good selection within each variety), pastas, salads and desserts. There are plenty of healthy choices, too, and should you wish, your pizza base can be made gluten-free. Bonus points for the fact that they predominantly work with organic products. There is also a lunch menu, which consists of sandwiches. It looked interesting enough, but sandwiches never really cut it for me when I go out for a proper lunch.
The choice was quickly made. Hubby went for the ‘Pollo Pepperoni’ (tagliatelle with chunks of chicken and sausage in a spicy sauce of roasted peppers, garlic and basil). I had the ‘Mantello’, new on the menu, and so damn good it hurt. I swooned like Cinderella after each forkful of the ricotta-stuffed ravioli bathed in a truffle-infused velvety sauce with oyster mushrooms and spinach.  With our meal we ordered two other wines, the Negroamaro and the Fortant (enough choices by the glass). Both were quite pleasant.
Woodstone AlmereDessert was ‘Dolcetti’, a tiny sweet treat with a coffee of your choice. Hans went for the cheesecake with forest fruits and I chose the carrot cake. Espresso with both. A perfect way to end a nice Italian lunch at a restaurant we’re glad to have given a second chance.
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The French Four: Vineyard Beauty

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.
Bon week-end!
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Discovering the Wines of Duras

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.
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Berticot
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!

 

 

Recollections of France: First Trip to Saint-Émilion

First trip to st emilionWhen we first planned a trip to Saint-Émilion some years ago, I was so excited that I prepared myself for a few tears of happiness upon seeing the village’s name on one of those rectangular white, red-rimmed street signs. Saint-Émilion can boast being the oldest wine area in the Bordeaux region. Its wines, primarily made with Merlot grapes, are incredibly smooth and easy to drink. To me they are the most feminine wines of this region.

IMG_0252Our very first trip started with a drive through the vineyards. We went from one château to the next, Hans getting out of the car to take pictures, and I to allow myself the incredible pleasure of cupping my hands around bunches of juicy grapes.

IMG_0569But there’s more than wine to make my heart flutter when it comes to Saint-Émilion. When we arrived at the centre ville, I felt as though I had been transported back to the Middle Ages. The village is intersected by steep, cobblestoned streets that are lined with all sorts of wine and souvenir shops. It was the height of the summer season and masses of tourists were admiring the impressive ruins, walking around with boxes of wine or seeking refreshment at many of the lively terraces.

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First trip to St Emilion Streets After a stroll through the village and a few wine purchases complete with tastings and wine chats, we decided to round off the afternoon with lunch at the panoramic terrace of Bistrot du Clocher, a restaurant situated at the foot of the largest monolithic church in France. Hans and I both opted for the trio de cote d’agneau and a glass of their best grand cru. It was a light yet satisfying lunch. Besides the three succulent little lamb chops, our meal was accompanied by a mini-serving of a flan made with minced vegetables.

IMG_0228 First Time in St Emilion Lunch FlanBefore heading back to the car, we popped into the famous Ferlion Macarons Blanchez bakery where we purchased Saint-Émilion’s other gastronomic specialty – macarons! Not the colorful ones with the creamy/jammy fillings, but the flatter, paler ones baked directly onto a piece of parchment paper. These chewy, almondy treats were the sweet ending to one of our most anticipated wine trips.

First trip to St Emilion Bakery First time in st emilion end

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