Truffles and Chardonnay @ Le Chassagne

The 2004 Bernard Morey Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Les Embrazées, was a little disappointing because it was reduced (needed air) and never fully expressed its potential, both of terroir and vintage. Chardonnay, even if disappointing on its own, tends to goes well truffles. This was certainly true of the Embrazés. Chef Stephane Léger of Le…

Haddock and beets @ Le Chassagne

I have a soft spot for chefs who use beets. Surprisingly complex aromatically with an interesting mixture of red fruits and earthiness, beets are an under-rated vegetable. My most recent visit to Le Chassagne, chef Stefane Léger brought out a smoked haddock and beetroot appetizer with not one, but two different preparations of beets. What…

Chicken rice @ Maxwell’s

A six-hour layover in Singapore, the airport so near the city, we decide to go into town for dinner and head to Maxwell’s hawker center in Chinatown. The place is the size of a large gymnasium, open on all sides with three rows of stalls, running down the length and tables spread out in between…

What are we drinking in Vietnam?

Forget about wine. There is no wine here. Most people haven’t even heard of wine and wouldn’t know how to serve it if they did. Not that I hold it against them, they have other priorities. It used to be that you could buy bottles of Dalat wine from ambulant push cart merchants on street…

fresh spring rolls @ Ben Than Market

She makes it in front of my eyes within seconds. It looks so easy. Rice paper, noodles, shrimp, and a tiny slice of chicken. Roll, tuck et voila. Some herb that I have never seen sticks out of one end. You need the sauce; otherwise the roll is a little dry. The sauce is thick….

Big Ben Than Market Saigon

It’s a mistake to walk into Ben Than Market through the front. You’d never think there was anything BUT aisles and aisles of t-shirts and counterfeit bags of all big brand names you can imagine. Engulfed in sea of textile and trinket stalls, hands reaching out, grabbing my arms and back to draw me in…

that little market in Saigon

Its time for breakfast. And we are in the streets of Saigon with a mission: find the little street market we’d liked so much the last time we visited Saigon a couple of years ago.  Even with a good sense of direction, in a constantly changing and developing country like Vietnam, finding the past is…

truck stop lunch in Phan Thiet

Just booking the car is an adventure. How long does it take to drive from Saigon to Nha Trang? Everyone we speak to has a different answer. “The roads are good, you can drive fast. 4hrs.” “The roads are only good part way. 8hrs”…. The little lady we finally book with seems to know her…

Vinh’s nem

One night in Nha Trang, Vinh took us home to his flat for some dinner. He’d made chicken and rice soup, but on the way home he stopped off to pick up an appetizer, as non-eventfully as we might stop off to pick up some bread. Once home, he sat us down in his living…

Laksa for breakfast

Empty street of Chinatown in Singapore Our flight out of Singapore is early on Sunday and Chinatown is virtually empty when we wander through looking for some breakfast. We stand at a cross roads thinking about our options: eat at that corner place that looked average? go back to the hotel? …. And then The…

Singapore Noodles

Just throw it all in there. Thin noodles. Bits of pork. A little bit of shrimp. Some egg. A few greens. And a little bit of spice, but nothing aggressive, just aromatic. This is snack in Chinatown after finally arriving in Singapore. A journey that should have taken about 15 hours ended up taking 45…

Unexpected Beaujolais Nouveau 2009

When he handed me the bread, and I realized that it was warm, I thought, “this is too good to be true”. How can you have a Beaujolais nouveau day without a glass (or three) of Beaujolais? Someone with some power at SNCF (French national railroad) must have been thinking about this, or else it…

end Ch9 day

Short hand in the notebook and constant translation from French to English. After a day of stains on teeth, hands and notebook pages. After barrels here, tanks there, old wood foudres, and multiple blends. Different spices, fruits, and flowers. After all of the power (and alcohol) saturated wines, and after the varying tannin levels… At…

The Pyrenees, Petit Manseng, and Cauhapé

Pyrenees watch over Petit Manseng It’s a five-hour ride from Paris to Pau on the TGV. The train flies down as far as Tours, then medium speed to Bordeaux, before slowing even more until Pau. It is as if someone wants you to watch, watch the progression of this flat land until they appear: the…

2009 vintage: what ripe Chardonnay looks like: gold

We didn’t have to go far with Alexandre Moreau to see some of his ripe Chardonnay in Cote de Beaune (Burgundy), we just crossed the street from his cellar and into Chassagne 1er Cru La Maltroie vineyard. Here, too, the leaves were beautifully green. Chardonnay grapes getting golden like this is rarely to be seen….

A revelation: Foie gras with raspberries and red bell pepper jelly

How do you make foie gras go with Beaujolais Villages? Start by giving the chef a glass or two. Just so that he can get the creative juices flowing… The young chef at Auberge de Chantemerle came up with an incredibly creative and unique idea that worked beautifully: Foie gras with a jelly of red…

2009 vintage: tasting pinot noir grapes

Driving through Burgundy last week, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the beauty of the vines. Everything was so lush, and green, it just radiated health and vibrancy. The color of the vines was almost spring-like. No yellow, brown or red as can be common this time of year, right before harvest. No, this…

Picnic in the train

Sunday. Train ride to Montpellier. The TGV will take us there in a little over 3 hours. As soon as we are out of Paris, and the window is divided horizontally between blue sky and green fields of summer, we pull out the picnic. We start by opening the wine: a 2003 Meursault Les Tillets…