Friday, July 08, 2011

Escargot, Foie Gras, and Chablis: Breakfast in Paris

Date:  vendredi 8 juillet 2011
Location:  George V Cafe, en Champs Elysee
Paris, France

Life can be fantastic.  Landed in Paris CDG this morning and was looking forward to the usual quick zip into Paris' 8th where my hotel is located.  Unfortunately, I had not realized today was also the last day of Fashion Week in addition to something called everyone else in the world's summer vacation travel to Paris.  Two hours later through traffic jams, I arrived at my hotel jet lagged and famished. On top of that, my room was not ready yet since I was still early for check in. 

Instead of being frustrated, I dropped off my bags and sauntered on down to the Champs to see what I would find to make me feel great.  In just a few moments I knew exactly what I wanted...

Escargot, foie gras, and Chablis on the sidewalk.  A perfect breakfast for champions on the Champs Elysee in Paris.  I looked around me and saw that I was really the only person at 11am local time (4am EST the timezone I just came from) eating such a lavish lunch (or just gluttonous!).  Other tourists were shy and ordered simple salads or ham and cheese sandwiches (why!?).  A table of 8 women from Arkansas (actually, 4 mothers and their daughters) sat next to my table and perused their menus (which were translated into English) for over 20 minutes.  One had to appreciate their timid approach toward this very basic French Cafe Lunch Menu... to see what it is like for American foreigners traveling to Europe for their first time.  A few of them stared at the empty escargot snails on my table and the blocs of duck liver which I continued to spread on my toasted bred with fig jam.  Then they watched as I casually sipped on my Chablis, and then my espresso to finish off my breakfast experience.  It was more a look of curiosity and hopeful wishing that they might too one day possessed the same forward approach toward appreciating exotic foreign foods (they obviously haven't been to Asia yet since French food is tame in comparison).  I was reminded once again of what a lucky girl I am indeed.  After a handful of visits to Paris alerady since this Spring (I am losing track), I never tire of my Paris basics.  Foie, Chardonnay, and the simple fromage et baguette.  :)

Tomorrow, I head off to Mosel and Alsace... otherwise known by the pros as White Wine Heaven.  Bon Voyage A Moi!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Los Angeles Still Life: California

Date:  dimanche 3 juillet 2011
Location:  West Los Angeles

On a recent journey back to my college stomping grounds, stayed with my college girlfriend and we enjoyed a slow weekend of catching up on years of friendship over food and wine.  My contributions that Sunday evening:

1 - 2002 1er Cru Chassagne Montrachet Domaine Romanet
2 - 2006 Hungarian Royal Tokaji 5 Puttanyos (classic favorite of mine)
3 - 2006 Alsace Grand Cru Domaine Weinbach (Reisling)
4 - Oh, and my staple diet of organic fresh heirloom tomatoes and buffula mozzarella with fresh peppery/licorice basil, EVOO, balsamic, and fresh cracked pepper. 

Brushstroke: NYC

Date:  mardi 5 juillet 2011
Location:  30 Hudson Street
New York, NY  10013
Telephone:  +1 212 791 3771

Every so often, a new dining experience reminds you how fortunate you are to experience what most cannot even fathom.  Last night I visited my dear friend Seju Yang, the Wine and Sake Director at Brushstroke, Chef David Bouley's newest creation.  I was anxiuos to experience the wine and sake list that Seju developed himself.  I was awaited impatiently the savory, fine, delicate and dainty Japanese Kaiseki style dinner, a well orchestrated event from start to finish - similar to the first brushstroke on a blank canvas to the very last.  Brushstroke is David Bouley's answer to Japanese style haute cuisine in New York City. 

Sommelier Seju Yang has designed a custom wine and sake list which complements the dishes just perfectly.  Nope, you won't find any Bordeaux on this wine list.  "That's correct, because we do not serve hamburger here," Seju quips.  When Seju brought out our burgundy wine glasses and set them on the table, suddenly my already energetic and passionate energy further heightened.  Being passionate about my wines and accompanying mis en place is an understatement. 

I was captivated by the 2005 Domain Caillot Merusault La Barre Dessus Clos Marguerite.  This absolutely tasted like a Grand Cru to me.  The unmistakable minerals and stones became heavier as the wine opened throughout the evening.  I love these wines passionately.  One word on the nose and palate.  Flint.  Flint.  Flint.  This beauty opened up with increasing structure, precision, complexity, and charactered weightiness which lingered on my palate through all the evening.  You just don't get this kind of minerality out of a red wine.  Love affair with classic white Chardonnay.  So few understand it and rightly so.  Perhaps few deserve it. 

We savored the Meursault slowly throughout the four hours... and almost ordered another bottle.  However, we instead chose the 2000 Domaine Raymond Ussegleo Chateneuf de Pape - another bottle of soft velvety perfection from our friends in the Rhone.  As I write this, I grin to myself just as Seju chuckled to himself when we asked his opinion between the different wines we wavered between choosing.  You know a wine or sake is amazing when you ask Seju's opinion and he starts chuckling to himself in a sarcastic way in disbelief at the impressive quality of that wine.   

Our sophisticated kaiseki style dishes paired ridiculously well with our wines - oh, and just three other different bottles of very fine sake.  Fun, fun, fun. 

Four hours later, we closed the restaurant past 1am EST on a Tuesday night.   Well done, Soledad and company.  Bon appetit.