Saturday, September 24, 2011

Meert (Paris, France)

After lunch; we decided to walk to one of the oldest candy shops in Pairs for dessert…Meert. It has been open since 1761….quite amazing!

Why would we walk to a candy shop for dessert you ask? Well; Meert has something that is very unique and absolutely delicious. Something that is rare in Paris.

One of the lovely window displays of their fine, delectable and beautiful products. The hint of why people all over Paris walk to Meert is at the bottom left of this photo.

The very cute & adorable seasonal window display. In those red boxes are the amazing & delicious reason why the store was packed when we arrived.

Here are the culprits of our journey to Meert. The freshly home made Gauffres (waffles) sandwiched with either a raspberry or vanilla cream. These are not the same waffles you get on the streets of Paris. These are fine, thin and soft. We chose the vanilla cream because it is the classic flavor (you have to eat these amazing waffles right away…they do not travel well).

I also could not resist buying several packages of home made bonbons and caramels (uummm; which cost me my life's savings…it is amazing how expensive caramels are).

Overall: Meert was a beautiful confiserie. for some reason you can feel the heritage of the brand: the fun & beautiful detailing of the shop included drawings on the walls of different sweets, the tall glass jars nestled with sugar coated goodies, the glistening packaging with colored foils and shiny satin ribbon, or the dizzying array of confections including flavored colored marshmallows, chocolates, caramels, confitures, spice bread, cookies, biscuits, jelly candies, candied chestnuts, glazed fruits, and chocolate covered orange peel & whole oranges. No matter what your heart desired to satisfy your sweet tooth; they had it.

One of the reasons why I love Paris are these hidden beautiful gems which are scattered all over Paris and have something really wonderful to offer. While everyone or every tourist goes to Ladurée and to wait in queue for an hour just for macaroons…I would rather walk to Meert and have one of these scrumptious gaffers any day. Can't wait to go back for more.

Address: 16 Rue Elzevir, 75003
Phone: 01 49 96 56 90
Metro: Saint Paul

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Glou (Paris, France)

We were in Le Marais area to do some shopping...we wanted to have a quick, inexpensive but good lunch. We always liked Glou so decided to go there again. Lucky for us they had a table available because the place is normally packed for lunch.

The decor is simple & nice. Light wood tables contrast with dark wood chairs. The wall decor is a great idea in terms of show casing the wines and specials of the day. The room is spacious and has high ceilings and lots of sunlight coming in for natural light.

We took the lunch menu at 15 euros which consisted of a starter & a main dish.

We both stared with the Quinoa salad. The quinoa salad was ok...nothing special. It actually could have been from a 'ready' made pack from Metro. A disappointing start.

My friend had the Bonito tuna with braised leeks. My goodness; the tuna was sooooo overcooked that it was hardly eatable. You do not have to be a great chef to know that you never over cook fish. What on earth was this chef thinking or not thinking at all. Simply awful. The leaks were baby food. Whaaaaaa (that is a crying baby sound).

I had the Pork fillet with fried potatoes. Luckily for the chef...the pork was a bit better but was also overcooked. Oh my! The pork was of good quality though. But this was no dish to write home about. Too bad!

Overall; we were really disappointed in the quality of the cooking at Glou this time. For some reason; there was not much attention to details as there used to be. The service was still friendly but not as attentive as it used to be. This is a shame and we have decided this gives us good reason to try other places now in Le Maris so that we can find a place that has consistent good food & service and of course reasonable prices.

Address: 101 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003
Tel.: 01 42 74 44 32
Open Daily 12pm-2:30pm, 8pm-11pm
Subway: Saint-Sébastien - Froissart

Sunday, September 18, 2011

L'Agapé Substance (Paris, France)

We have heard soooo much about L'Agapé Substance that we had to try it. The buzz was all around that it was one of the most highly anticipated 2011 restaurant openings in Paris, the new L’Agape Substance was one of the most exciting new contemporary French dining venues in the city.

It was a lovely Parisian night with good weather; the streets of St. Germain was swarming with people having drinks on the side walks as we leisurely walked to our dinner destination. L'Agapé Substance is tucked away in a sleek, modern and intimate space in Paris’ Saint Germain district. The restaurant was so discrete that I walked passed it at first. The front windows are frosted so I actually did not see or even notice that it was a restaurant.

Once entering the restaurant; we noticed how small but long the space is. Another aspect of the place is that it is very modern in design. Steel, glass & wood. With only 24 seats, no wonder you have to reserve a table several weeks in advance. All the tables & chairs are raised so it is like counter sitting.

The highly talented young chef, David Toutain, brings serious cooking credentials to the table through his time working in some of the world’s best kitchens – from the incredibly famous Marc Veyrat, to L’Arpege, Mugaritz and New York’s Corton.

L'Agapé Substance only offers a 'carte blanche' 14 course dinner menu (11 savoury & 3 sweet) at 99 euros (not including wine)....OUCH! But hey; we are in Paris, its a lovely evening, the reviews have been fantastic and we live why not INDULGE?

The amuse bouche was Persil; an aromatic plant of the Jura made into a sponge and mousse.

The next dish was Gazpacho with basilic powder and a wild root of liquorice.

The next dish was a Perfectly cooked Fresh hen egg, verveine foam and fresh almond.

The next dish was Spoonful of delectable Crab, consommé of North sea grey shrimp & pomplemousse confit.

The next dish was Oyster topped with pain grillé mousse.

The next dish was Green beans, eel with red miso.

The next dish was Baby carrot with an emulsion of galangal & carrot leaves.

The wine that accompanied our meal was a 2009 Morgan.

The next dish was Filet de Rouget with artichoke & miel doux.

The next dish was Seasonal mushrooms with fresh hazel nuts.

The next dish was Pigeon with emulsion of corn, turnip and wild cumin.

The break in the meal was Laguiole.

The pre-dessert was Pear and salt.

The pre-pre-dessert was Basil cream with red fruits and a ginger biscuit.

The dessert was Chocolate dirt.

Because the restaurant was long and narrow; they did something that was very clever and something I have not seen in Paris...mirrors on the ceiling so that customers can see the chefs making their masterpieces. A great talking point and entertaining part of the evening.

Overall; Chef Toutain brought equal measures of creativity, technical precision, surprise and restraint throughout the delicious evening “carte blanche” tasting menu which showcases the season’s finest ingredients.

Like gastronomic ninjas, the black-clad chefs construct exquisite creations in the state-of-the-art open kitchen; it was amazing how silent and graceful they were at work. The food was amazingly it the crab with grey shrimp consommé; or a melt-in-your-mouth rouget; all the dishes were cooked to perfection. The fresh ingredients, herbs & spices were thought-out and added great contrast of taste & flavours in each dish. The multiple desert courses were equally interesting, beautiful & sublime.

The service is spot on (though I thought a bit pushy on the expensive wines rather than suggesting something that more accompanies the food), very friendly and patiently explained all the dishes to the excited customers. They were also playful by showing or demonstrating the fresh herbs they were using.

I thought the lighting in the room was waaayyy to bright (which was great for my photo taking) so making the atmosphere in the room more harsh, which is already cold from the modern decor. The high tables & chairs does add more drama to the whole experience but since our dinners last for up to three hours; it is not comfortable at the end.

An amazing experience just because it was so different. However; I have to say this was the most expensive dinner we have had a in long time in Paris. A 99 euro 'carte blanche' menu is a rarity in terms what we are willing to pay for...comparing to all the places we often go to. But; we just had to experience this once and it was so worth it.

Address: 66 rue Mazarine, 75006
Tel.: 01 43 29 33 83
Open Tuesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner
Metro: Odeon

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Domaine du Pas De L'Escalette (Poujols, France)

We needed to pick up some wines at what is considered one of the best vineyards in the Languedoc...Domaine du Pas De L'Escalette. Lucky for us that the domain is only a 25 minute drive away from where we are. It was a lovely sunny day for a drive and to visit a nice domaine.

Domaine du Pas De L'Escalette's methods, processes & philosophy: Ten hectares (25 acres) of vines are planted on stone walled terraces known locally as 'clapas', nestling in the 350 metre (1150 ft) hillsides at the foot of the Larzac plateau. We care for the limestone scree covered land as naturally as possible using plant based infusions. We work the soil and pick the grapes by hand, carrying them in small open weave baskets to the winery where they are sorted and de-stemmed. Fermentation takes place in wooden conical casks. Half the wine is then matured in vats, the remainder in oak casks.

The gorgeous cave made of Pont du Gard stone. We only heard how beautiful the cave; finally, we got to see it for our own eyes. It reminded us very much of being in Napa or Sonoma Valleys where the caves tend to be more modern in form, visually eye catching and yet blends well into the surroundings.

The cute domaine labradors...11 year old Syrah (in the back standing) and little puppy Grenache (in the front laying).

The wine maker Delphine took us on a tour of their plots which are scattered all over the mountains. They are so post card perfect. Lush, green and stunningly beautiful.

The vineyard's features, combined with the altitude, the deep limestone and clay soil and temperate climate make it a perfect place for great wines to thrive. (

A view of the valley where some of their plots are located.

The view of the plots facing the top of the mountain.

The vineyard with limestone.

The wines that are on offer at the vineyard. The price and quality ratio for these wines are amazing...meaning; such affordable wines with the highest quality. So so good.

Julien Zernott & Delphine Rousseau are the wine makers and owners of Domaine du Pas De L'Escalette. They are some of the nicest wine makers and people you will ever meet. They greeted us with friendliness and were charming. Even though they are very busy people (it is almost harvest time for them); they took us on a tour of their vineyard and talked to us about their wines whole time we were there. Their passion for wine is catchy and intelligence about wine is incredible. No wonder they are making some of the best wines in the area. They deserve all their success.


Monday, September 05, 2011

Domaine Alain Chabanon harvest Pt.2 (Montpeyroux, France)

In part one of Alain Chabanon's harvest we were in the vineyards. In part two; Alain allows us to watch what is happening in the cave. The process here is they will hand sort the grapes before they go into the vat.

The grapes waiting to be unloaded onto the conveyer belt.

The team that is carefully working with and watching over the grapes so that no foreign substances go into the vat.

After the first check, the grapes will fall onto another conveyer belt.

Down they go!

The grapes fall into the swirling machine that will gently separate the grapes from the stems.

The separated stems are escorted out from one exit and the separated grapes fall onto the conveyer belt where another person hand checks to make sure that only the best grapes go into the vat.

This is the white wine fermenting. It actually looks disgusting! It is alive and moving. It looks like it is a monster from a horror movie or a giant oozing brain....believe me it looks disgusting. But what is amazing is that the best white wine will be coming out of this stuff. Can't wait.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

La Table d'Aurore (Saint-Guilhem le Désert, France)

We had friends visiting from Geneva so we decided to play tourists and take them to the world famous and UNESCO protected Saint-Guilhem le Désert. But before taking them on a tour of the Saint-Guilhem le Désert...of course we had to have a nice lunch. The only good restaurant in the area is La Table d’Aurore in the Hôtel Le Guillaume d'Orange.

La Table d'Aurore has indoor & outdoor dinning; but in the summer of course everyone prefers to sit outside in the terrace under the shade of lovely ancient plane trees.

We all took the 3 course lunch menu at 28 euros.

My dish was persillade écrevisses. The écrevisses are from the river near by; so I wanted to have a local dish. The écrivisses were cooked in a white wine with garlic and persil. The meat of these little beast was so tender and juicy. The garlic and persil added the wonderful flavour. Of course eating any shell fish is a messy job; but, it was a finger licking good mess.

My friend had the Bone marrow. The bone marrow was enormous (my labradors would have loved it as well). The combination of the bone marrow on lightly toasted bread is a pair made in heaven. Very yummy.

My other friend had the Terrine of fois gras. The fois gras we firm yet soft & creamy. The flavour of the fois gras was pleasant and it went very well with the toasted bread.

La Table d'Aurore is always full when the weather is nice.

We all had the Fillet steak. The steak was of good quality and was cooked to what we asked for. The meat was tender & juicy. Nothing to complain about...well actually, I know ratatouille is an easy thing to make for a side dish because the vegetables are plentiful and abundant in the area. But, I find this side dish not appetizing.

The regional cheese platter. As usual; its difficult to find bad cheese around here, so we were glad they served some good cheeses from the area.

The lovely ambiance and views of the mountains behind.

The very cute guard dog welcoming all the guest.

Overall; as usual, a lovely atmosphere and ambiance. The views the mountains and lush greenery all around add more to the stunning view. The setting is charming, the food is good and the service is friendly. However; since the place was packed, the kitchen could not keep up with the orders. Our three course lunch ended up to be three hours. That was waaayyy tooo long. But then again, we were on holiday...sitting under trees in the south of France, so we did not gripe too much.

Address: 2 Avenue Guillaume d'Orange, 34150 Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert
Telephone: 33 4 67 57 24 53