Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

5-Star food on a 2-Star Budget

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Our Guest Blogger Lisa and her brother in front of Bistrot D’Acote Flaubert

 

Paris may be the city of light, but it is also arguably the cuisine capital of the world. Of course, with the incredible edibles also comes the unbelievable price tag. While restaurants like Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower, Guy Savoy near the Champs Élysées, or Restaurant Lasserre may serve up some of the best food, the prices put them far out of reach of mere mortals.

Years ago, my mother came across a gem of Parisian cuisine that at first sounds too good to be true, but after a taste of their lobster mac n’ cheese a few years ago I can tell you that it does indeed exist. Bistrot D’Acote Flaubert is one of Paris’ best-kept culinary secrets.

Right around the corner from Michele Rostang, one of Paris’ priciest spots, the Bistrot sits in quiet obscurity. Those who choose to forgo the golden doors of Michele Rostang and instead venture into Bistrot D’Acote, owned by the same family, are in for an experience like no other. The charmingly small bistro, with its collection of beer steins and Michelin Tire Co. artifacts (a nod to the coveted restaurant grading system), is the last place you would expect to have a mind-blowing dinner.  Yet, the fact that the Bistrot shares its kitchen with Michele Rostang is a good indicator of what is to come.

Between their Gratin de Penne et Crème de Homard (my favorite) and their rotisserie veal for two, you’ll be lucky if you have room for their out-of-this-world Petits Pots De Crème. Perhaps the most satisfying part of the meal, however, is the after-dinner stroll down the block to see the posted menu of Michele Rostang, and noticing your 30 Eur. Entrée et Plat would barely get you a glass of wine there.

The Bistrot was recently featured as a set in the movie “Sarah’s Key”, but on our last visit still seemed blissfully undiscovered. Even so, reservations here are a must on the weekends, and the Bistrot is only open certain days during the week for lunch or dinner, so be sure to check before you go! Reservations can be made through opentable.com or by visiting the restaurant’s website: http://www.bistrotflaubert.com/

Bistrot D’Acote Flaubert

10 Rue Gustave Flaubert

75017 Paris, France

Lisa Gabrielson is a current undergraduate student at American University in Washington, DC. Before attending college, she spent a gap year abroad as an Au Pair and fell in love with Paris. When she’s not in the classroom or daydreaming about the city of light, she can be found sailing for the university sailing team or working as President of her sorority, Sigma Delta Tau. You can find Lisa on Twitter @Lisa790

 

Day Trips from Paris – Épernay

Monday, April 30th, 2012

What a street name! Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Getting out of the city for the day is a great idea!  You can leave your Paris apartment rental early in the morning, travel for an hour or so and be back by dinner.  Many of our guests like to visit Épernay, the center of the Champagne region.

Getting There:

Épernay is 100 north-east of Paris.  Renting a car is not ideal since you will probably be doing a lot of tasting!  You can take a private car and driver but this proves to be very expensive.  Insiders know that taking the short train ride from Gare de L’est to Reims or Épernay is the best way to travel.  The ride is about 1-1 1/2 hours long.  You can book your tickets with www.sncf.com and pick them up at any station.


What To Do:

Taste and buy champagne, of course! Two popular houses to visit are Pol Roger and Moet & Chandon but you can see an extensive list here.  You can also opt for a more structured day and book a Champagne Tour with Viator.  The minivan tour includes transportation from Paris to the region and an English speaking tour guide.

Where To Eat:

There are some great restaurants in Épernay and the Pol Roger website has a wonderful listing.  There is one restaurant that seems to be on everyone’s list and that is La Cave a Champagne (16 rue Gambetta, 51200 Épernay, 08 73 20 05 31).

What to Buy:

Champagne!  Buying bottles of champagne at the major houses can be pricey but they may also offer easy shipping and handling (peace of mind).  Many blogs and books on the region recommend that you listen carefully to the tour guides and then go into one of the wine shops in the town and purchase your bottles there, perhaps from a lesser known company.  Using all of the information that you learned on your tours will help you purchase good bottles.

What to Know:

Check with the champagne houses that you want to visit before you go.  Some have no entrance fees and some charge a nominal fee.  Also, depending on the time of year, they may be closed to tours because they are harvesting (September and October).  Some houses require appointments.  You can also visit our Épernay board on Pinterest to see some lovely pictures.

After spending the day in Épernay, it will be nice to be able to return to your Paris vacation rental, put your feet up and celebrate a fun day with a bottle of really good champagne.  Cheers!

 

November in Paris

Friday, November 4th, 2011

By Daniella Carrese

November is a great time to visit Paris, the airfare is cheaper because it is not the high
season. The weather is about an average of 43 degrees F (6 degrees C). Paris is
very beautiful in l’automne. Rain is very common, so pack for wet weather. The locals
are back from their vacations from over the summer. You are able to experience their
everyday routines and get a feel for the city from your Paris apartment rental. There are
many events in Paris during November, here are a few; The Autumn Festival, The art
and artifacts of Pompeii, and Beaujolais Nouveau.

The Autumn Festival
The Festival d’Automne à Paris is a festival of the arts. All different types of art is
displayed. Ranging from cinema to dance to visual arts, the festival showcases many
talented people. Founded in 1972 by Michel Guy, this festival has been a way for artists
to show the world their original pieces. Every year from September to December, the
Parisians put this extraordinary festival together.

The art and artifacts of Pompeii
At the Musée Maillol, from September 2011 to February 2012, artifacts from the ancient
city of Pompeii are displayed. Pompeii was a city near Naples, Italy which was covered
by volcanic ash after Mount Vesuvius erupted for two day in 79 A.D. The city was
finally unearthed in about 1749. Due to the thick layer of ash, the pieces were preserved
very nicely. Now, Paris has the opportunity to be the home to these amazing artifacts.
Everyday artifacts are shown, to have modern society see how the people lived.

The Beaujolais Nouveau

The Beaujolais Nouveau is a celebration of the first harvest of the grapes for the
wine. Although the wine has not been aged very long, the day is filled with fun and
excitement. In 1951, after many years of restrictions on drinking, the Beaujolais
Nouveau was recognized by the French people, and today this tradition is still
celebrated. On November 15 this tradition is a large gathering that is the highlight of the
grape harvest.

November is a very beautiful time to visit Paris, the weather is great. There are many
events going on in the city, so there is always excitement around. After the day is over
you can relax and unwind in your own luxury Paris vacation rental.

Wine Tasting in France

Monday, May 30th, 2011

French wine is known all over the world for its great quality and actually tops the list as being the biggest wine producer in the world. The various wine regions in France combine to produce up to 60 million hectolitres of wine every year which is equal to 8 billion wine bottles. In terms of vineyard area, it ranks second next only to Spain. Wine is a big business in France and is a great tourist attraction for tasting, or just for viewing the thousands of acres of vineyards that provide breathtaking views throughout the countryside.

The native grapes of France are widely dispersed worldwide, but the most important and famous grape varieties are Pinot Noir, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The three greatest French wine regions are composed of the well known trio of Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne. Bordeaux is the most popular wine region in France and produces many of the most famous red wines of the world such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Château Lafite-Rothschild and Merlot. However, many other famous varietals are also produced by Burgundy, such as the high end wine product Côte d’Or. Champagne is, of course, known for its sparkling white or rose wine.  Ever heard of Dom Perignon?
Almost all areas of France cultivate vines and if you’re planning for a luxury Paris vacation, a tour to the famous vineyards is a must. April and May are great months to visit and so is September (harvest time) when you can take part in the many harvest festivals all over the countryside.
For a day trip from your Paris luxury apartment, many villages in the country provide tasting rooms, so you can taste the world famous French wines. Tourists should typically look for a sign that says “degustation.” This indicates that wine tasting is available. You can also buy wine in these places, but not all French vineyards offer tastings.
Wineries in Champagne are actually situated less than 200 km from Paris,  which will make a great starting point for a vineyard tour.  Guided tours are also a good option and many of them are easily accessed from any Paris apartment rental or hotel. They charge a fee of course, but provide direct, hassle free access to all the vineyards you can handle. They are also happy to translate for you if needed.
For detailed information about wine tasting in France, you can always ask your friendly CobbleStay Paris vacation rental booking agent.

Quick Guide: French Wine Part 3 (food pairing)

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Now that you know a little about wine labels & regions, you’re ready to taste.  Feeling adventurous? Be a true Parisian and plan a French Meal around your wine (or plan wine with a French Meal) and where better to do so than in your Luxury Paris Vacation Rental?

The main thing to understand is wine’s many colorful descriptors while ignoring oddballs like asphalt or tree bark, or anything else non edible for that matter.  Do people really know what asphalt tastes like!? The following is a brief guide to some of these descriptors.  After reading them, you may even catch yourself talking about them to others.  Try describing wine with your amoré in your Paris apartment rental first and before you know it you’ll be a tasting expert!
The following is a short breakdown of wines and some common foods they are good with:
Whites:
Riesling: light, fruity & sweet, with a subtle fizz *salads & appetizers
Gewurztraminer: very sweet & fruity, subtle fizz; *fruits or desserts
Sauvignon Blanc:  light & crisp, typically either fruity or dry with a pepper taste.  *seafood & appetizers
Pinot Gris: full bodied & crisp with a rich & floral aroma *salads & seafood
Chardonnay: full-bodied, tends to be creamy or oaky *chicken & pasta
Viognier: floral, aromatic & fruity with hints of nectar & cream.  *salads, pasta, seafood, chicken
Roussanne: intense aromas, hints of herbal tea and flavors of pear, pepper & nut.
Rosés: delicate & dry, and newer rosés are fruity *salads, seafood & pork
Remember, don’t confuse a rosé with White Zinfandel, which is cause for beheading in Paris (just kidding!)
Reds:
Cabernet Sauvignon (aka “The King”): medium-full bodied, rich in fruit & tannins *red meat dishes
Merlot: medium-bodied & fruity *chicken, red meat, pork, pasta, salad
Syrah: big and bold, full-bodied, firm tannins, smooth & berry forward *rich meat dishes & chocolate
Grenache & Malbec: medium-full bodied, ripe and jammy fruit flavors *red meat & spicy dishes
Pinot Noir: the toughest grape to grow! Light-bodied & fruit forward *light meat & pasta
Cabernet Franc: medium-bodied and distinct berry flavors *chicken, pasta, greek & pizza
Overall, pairing wine with food is both an art and a science and can be quite complex, so here is sample meal and wine pairing to give you an idea during your stay in your very own Paris vacation apartment:
Appetizer:          Epoisses Cheese & Apple Tart. Wine: Domaines Ott Cotes de Provence Rosé
Main Entrée:     Beef Bourgignon; Wine: Domaine LaFond Chateauneuf du Pape
Dessert:             Chocolate soufflé; Dessert wine: Pineau de Charentes
Happy drinking!…and eating of course

Quick Guide: French Wine Part 2 (The Regions)

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Champagne

French wines are typically named by region, with each having a unique climate dictating which grapes are produced.  All of these wines (except Corsica) are typically available in most of the restaurants found nearby your Paris apartment rental or hotel.

Alsace:  Found in Eastern France on the Rhine River; producing Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Muscat & the occasional Pinot Noir.
Bordeaux: A prestigious West Coast region of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Cabernet Franc.  Also known for both dry and sweet whites such as Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc & Muscadelle.
Burgundy (Bourgogne): Eastern France near the Saone River.  Known for most blends, and one of the most famous ($$) wines. Most reds are made with Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay dominates whites.
Champagne: Northeastern France. Known for (you guessed it) Champagne!  In fact, by law the name “champagne” is exclusively for wine from this region. A sparkling white wine from elsewhere is likely a Brut or Moscato.  *Note Champagne is only 160km from Paris, so a day trip from your Paris vacation rental would be a great idea and a real treat!
Corsica: A Mediterranean island Southeast of France. Its wine is rarely exported and kept for locals as its production methods are still developing.
Jura: East of Burgundy, bordering Switzerland.  Makes a unique wine called Vin Jaune from the Savagnin grape, which is made in a similar fashion to Sherry.
Languedoc-Rousillon: aka “Wine lake” is in southern France and is the largest region producing France’s red & white bulk wines.
Loire: Central/Western France along the Loire River. Primarily Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc & Muscadet with the occasional Cabernet Franc.
Provence: Southeastern France by the Mediterranean. It’s the warmest region, producing rosé & Red wine similar to the Rhone Wines.
Rhone: Southeastern France along the Rhone River, using primarily Syrah, Grenache & Mourvedre. Famous for Chateauneuf-du-Pape & Cotes-du-Rhone (personal favorites) and for its white Viognier blends.
Savoy: In the Alps by Switzerland and primarily a white region producing unique blends.
South West France: a collection south of Bordeaux producing Bordeaux-like reds & dry/sweet whites.
Now that you know which wines come from which regions, you’re ready to taste & pair them with some gourmet food cooked in your very own Paris apartment rental, or back at home in your own kitchen.

Quick Guide: French Wine Part 1 (The Basics)

Thursday, August 26th, 2010
Producing 8 million bottles per year, French Wine is one of the most succulent and classic elements of French Culture.  As one of the world’s largest wine producers, wine is practically a national treasure that every Parisian traveler must experience. Contrary to popular belief, drinking French wine doesn’t have to be expensive.  Lucky for you as a traveler to France, they keep the more modest (and I’ll argue tastier) wines locally and at manageable prices.  You’ll also find when you purchase wine at a restaurant or take one home to your Paris apartment rental or hotel the label might be downright confusing.  Fear no more, as after reading this simple guide, you’ll be well versed on the wine itself and will reading and understanding the labels in no time.
The first thing to know about is quality control and there are 2 main concepts: the “terroir” which breaks down styles of wine by region, and the “AOC” system, which regulates the production of wine by region.  To see a few examples, you’ll find that most varieties of region and quality are found at any of the restaurants and stores located nearby your Paris vacation apartment or hotel.
The next thing to know about is the grape; Interestingly, many popular California grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay) actually originate from France.  But unlike most California wines, the French like to blend varietals rather than bottling single-grape wines.  Specifically, the French favor Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc for reds & Chardonnay, Viognier, Gewurztraminer & Roussanne for whites.
French labels vary depending on region, but all have the following: 1) classification per AOC system 2) the name of the producer 3) the region it was produced in and 4) the bottling location.  Note: “au chateau”, “au domaine” & “a la propriete” mean the wine was actually bottled at the vineyard/estate.  The label will then list the type of grape. For single-grape wines, it must be at least 85% that grape and for multiple-grape wines every grape used is listed in descending order according to its percentage.
Now that you understand wine labels, stay tuned for more information on tasting and pairing French wines, should you choose to host a wine tasting party at your Paris vacation rental.