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Archive for the ‘France’ Category

Laherte Fréres, Chartogne-Taillet and Jean Vesselle Half Bottle Champagne

A half-bottle of Champagne is the perfect size for starting off an evening of romantic dining for two. The bubbles refresh and perk up your palate, but you still have room to share a full bottle of wine with dinner. Likewise, a half bottle of bubbly can give you just the right amount of buzzy cheer if you’re serving it with a bit of cheese in lieu of a large meal. Here are three of our favorite Champagne halves paired with three Valentine’s Day moods. (more…)

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Jean-David Wine

Last fall, I had the opportunity to visit the winery of Jean David in the town of Seguret in the southern Rhône valley. Seguret is a walled medieval town perched on the edge of the Dentelles de Montmirail mountains, equidistant between the towns of Rasteau to the northwest and Gigondas to the south. We were there in October and the weather was great! We had come directly from cool, rainy Burgundy where everyone was clad in thick sweaters, and when we arrived in the Rhône, we saw people everywhere walking around in flip-flops and t-shirts.

Jean David and his wife run their small winery together with just a bit of help harvesting in the fall. They farm around 17 hectares of vineyards where they grow red grapes – Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Counoise – and white grapes – Roussanne, Bourboulenc and Clairette. Jean also has a little Tempranillo in his vineyard that his father planted. When asked about the proportions of grapes in the vineyard, Jean replied: “sometimes I say to myself, ‘Jean… you should plant more Syrah…but then…’” and he shrugged and smiled. (more…)

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Tripp and Andrew at Fromageries Marcel Petite

At Fromageries Marcel Petite

Landing in Geneva, our first day began auspiciously with 65°F blue skies and a new convertible (our reserved sedan was unavailable) to drive us west into the Jura. Tripp (domestic cheese buyer for our Cambridge shop), and Sarah (Tripp’s counterpart at the South End), and I marveled at the snow-capped mountains in the eastern distance and how the yellow brilliance of patched rapeseed fields rested calmly in their spaces. The three of us were in France to visit with cheesemakers and food producers, checking in with old friends and making new ones. Climbing up into the hills, we arrived at our first destination, Fromageries Marcel Petite at Fort St. Antoine. (more…)

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Dom Pérignon statue in Épernay in the Moët et Chandon courtyard.

Dom Pérignon statue in Épernay

In part one of this sparkling wine series, we explored the many ways wines can become bubbly. In this post, we focus just on Champagne. The Champagne region of France is considered to be the home of the world’s finest sparkling wines. Champagne is so famous, in fact, that it’s common for folks to refer to any bubbly wine as Champagne, however true Champagne is produced only within the boundaries of the designated province. European Union law forbids the use of the word Champagne on wines made anywhere else, as do the laws of many countries (including the United States). (more…)

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Bubbly

When we pop the cork of a sparkling wine at a party a flurry of bubbles are released. We love sipping those bubbles, but how do they get in the bottle? There are several ways that it can happen.

Sparkling wine is bubbly because carbon dioxide gas, a byproduct of fermentation, is trapped within the wine. During fermentation yeast feeds on the grape juice’s natural sugars and produces heat, alcohol, and carbon dioxide. During the initial fermentation, this gas is released into the air. When wine is allowed (or encouraged!) to undergo a second fermentation within the bottle the carbon dioxide gas is trapped inside in the form of bubbles.

The following methods are a few different ways to produce bubbles in a bottle of wine. There is a lot more information behind each of these techniques, but this is a good start to get the general idea. We’ll start with the oldest method and move forward through time and technological advances. (more…)

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Fromageries Marcel Petite's Fort Saint Antoine

Fromageries Marcel Petite’s Fort Saint Antoine

What makes Comté so incredibly special? And, why is it a cheese I find myself drawn to time and again, lured in as if it had cast a spell on me? Of course, it’s one of France’s classic cow milk cheeses – a firm mountain cheese that was among the first to receive protected status. There are the requirements of the appellation that set it apart – Comté cheese must be made with milk from cows of the Montbéliarde (95%) and Simmental (5%) breeds. It must also be made within the regions of Doubs, Jura and Ain in France – and, the cow feed has to be from pastures within a 30km radius of the fruitière making it (a fruitière is a facility where milk from the community is pooled – generally this system exists in areas where large cheeses, like Comté, are made – Parmigiano Reggiano would be a similar example in Italy). (more…)

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Poilâne Pain au Levain

If you love good bread, chances are you will be familiar with the name Poilâne. We started working with Lionel Poilâne in the mid-90s, flying his bread in each week to supply a small, but growing group of customers who had developed a taste for his dense and flavorful bread while traveling abroad. Since the  “Ici Pain Poilâne” sign went up in our shop, the demand for this famed French bread has steadily increased. (more…)

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