Thursday, July 31, 2014

Paris in July - a Degustation

So this is it - the final course. Paris in July is coming to its conclusion, and for my final post in the Taste of Paris series, I wanted to spend a little time reflecting on the idea of a degustation.


dégustation f (plural dégustations)
  1. tasting, act of tasting or trying out food
Food historians and food critics believe that the origins of degustation can be traced to the Middle Ages in France where Chefs had 15 to 20 courses to degust.
From here
La Degustation refers to a long meal, more focused on tasting than eating to fill. Its frequently a method used by chefs and wine makers to 'showcase' their specialities, and to make an evening out of the 'total' food and wine experience. Often the small size meals are matched to different wines of the same region. And from what I've heard, a good degustation experience involves resting between the courses, and enjoying the meal with friends.
Pronounced as 'dee-gus-stay-shun', the meaning of degustation is basically 'small amounts to taste'. It modern times, degustation generally involves a multiple course meal that highlights a Chef's talent and creativity. The portions are generally small and the purpose of a degustation experience is to taste, rather than to simply eat. Degustation is not simply limited to saying "Mmmm, this is good." You must swirl and savor the food in your mouth, give out elaborate descriptions of the palette about how intricate the combination of ingredients were, appreciate the culinary gifts of the chef and interact with the elite company around you. Degustation menus can also include savories, cheese, dessert and wine amongst many other edible items. Ladies and gentlemen - welcome to the art of tasting (from here)

So, isn't that exactly what Paris in July is - a degustation of all things French. We have each taken the time to 'showcase' our own specialities, or passions. Nichole shared her photo stories (and apologises now for problems with her blog), Adria and Vicki shared about their own books, and the city they live in (including ice cream!), Bellezza showcased her literary and perfume passions, Karen showcased her love of children books and other pieces of french literature, while I stayed with the travel and tastes of Paris interests I have had since I was very young. Our many participants also took the chance to showcase their love of Paris and France - and like matching a good wine with the degustation courses - our participants posts matched the flavours and textures of the hosts!

I experienced a french degustation last year for Bastille Day, and I have fantasies of experiencing it again.  Of course, the company you share such an experience with is half the fun of it too. Here's a blurb for one degustation I really lusted over based in the South Australian Wine District.
Nestled amongst the vines on Maxwell Wines estate is a hidden treasure - The Lime Cave. Inspired by the underground quarries in Paris, land owner FP Shipster hand-carved this limestone cave in 1916 to grow mushrooms. Almost a century on and the Lime Cave is again being used to grow mushrooms and with our highly talented chef we have created a 9 course mushroom themed degustation with our premium wines included in this uniquely stunning place to dine.  

 It's just as much about the way you write about a degustation that makes the full experience - again, much the same as our blogging event - Paris in July.

Have you experienced a french degustation?  Can you remember which course you  loved the most? what about the conversation you shared with friends over the length of that meal - do you remember that? Can anyone recommend an affordable degustation experience in Paris?
A bientot mes amis!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday Travels - Toilet Tips

Who hasn't expereinced this? In France, busting to go to the loo - but not having the cash?  Cash?  I hear you say, why do you need cash? 
In Australia, you'll find public toilets everywhere, mostly clean, and definitely Free... In France, when you're travelling in Paris and other popular tourist destinations, you'll be confronted with either a turn style or an assistant expecting cash. 

Everyone has toilet stories after travelling. Here Riana talks about some of her experiences as an expat living in Paris with toileting rules - quite funny really. She makes the point that you will find a range of different toilets around this ancient city, including the Turkish toilet. She also mentions the outdoor experience.....

Which button would you press?

Riana doesn' appear to mention the toilet that took  my partner and I by surprise - the electric assisted toilet - this is one that has a 'muncher' attached to it. Usually in older hotels that were built before plumbing. The electric motor starts when you flush and it 'munches' things to fit into the old or thin pipes.

If you're looking for some useful advice on toilets in France, here Rick Steves provides some great advice to prepare the novice traveller.

Does anyone else have interesting toilet stories from France? Has anyone ever been confronted by toilets in France with no doors, or  mixed gender loos? what about what toilets are called in France? I'd love to hear your stories too!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Paris in July - Monday Menu wk 5 (final)

Well, sad as it is, this is our final week here at Paris in July. Let's make it a great week!  This week, your hosts have the following plans
  • Monday 28th July - It's time to make your plans too, and remember to link them in below. You can always find the quick link to Monday Menu at the top left of my home page
  • Tuesday 29th July - Tuesday Travels with me.
  • Wednesday 30th July - Karen will be posting a book review - while I dont know which one - I'm sure it'll be another great review.
  • Thursday 31st July - Bellezza, Adria, Vicki, Nichole, Karen and Tamara will all be posting abit of a wrap up post....
  • Sunday 3rd August - I will do something drawing on all the posts I read as a way of finalising my experience of the event. 
Keep us informed on your posts this week by filling in each post into this Mr Linky.

Once again - thank you so much for playing with us this July...


I haven't done the weekly wrap up as I promised - but I have selected two random winners
Marina - for your mouth-watering post on the best burger in Paris....
and Mae - for your honest reminder about the current state of affairs in 'Paris Burning'
--- please email me your details so I can send you a little pressie. My email is on my "about me" page.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Paris in July weekly wrap up - still coming

My apologies but todays plans changed.... Weekly wrap up will arrive tomorrow..


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Paris in July - Taste of Paris

I was going to post something on Wine today, but I've decided I want to actually do some wine tasting and research for that post this coming weekend - So I will post on wine next week.
Gabriel Gate

Today I want to introduce my overseas friends to an truly Australian experience of Paris in July. Every July, when most of us are preparing to go to bed, a fabulous TV spectacular commences at 10pm here in Australia. For the duration of Le Tour de France, SBS television runs a beautiful production of the race.

The show starts with a 1/2 hour of Gabriel Gate's Taste le Tour - segment devoted to the food of the region that the race is riding through that day. Gabriel has been presenting this show for many many years - and we Aussie Francophone's just love Gabriel. We love his accent, the people he interviews and the cooking lessons he shares with us.

Following Gabriels opening food show, the presentation of the race on SBS is absolutely world class and world leading. The SBS presentation of the Tour is so beautiful that when we were actually in France on the side of the road watching the race, we were skyping home to Aus to watch the SBS show of the race. I need to apologise to my OS friends, cos I really dont know if you can watch Gabriel, but I hope you can from some of these links...

SBS Taste le Tour
Once again, Gabriel discovers the best gourmet specialties of each region of the 21 stages of this amazing race. He visits century-old markets and restaurants, and features cheeses and wines that have been made in the same manner for three or four hundred years.
After having trained as a chef in France 40 years ago with some of the great French master chefs, Gabriel firmly believes France is the most exciting country in the world for food. In each segment, he cooks a superb local French dish that features the specialties of the region. Some dishes are ancient, others are modern and exotic.
Gabriel knows France intimately and has chosen for his stories some stunning scenery in each region, including a number of the most historic and picturesque French villages.

Inside Gabriels Kitchen is another great report on Good Food.
Gabriel Gate's relaxed French demeanour can be deceptive - one of Australia's most enduring celebrity chefs is also one of the hardest working. Gate has written 22 cookbooks since he followed his Australian love, Angie, a language teacher, to our shores in 1977.

Here's a little youtube clip

(I tried to embed this but it didn't work)

And when I was searching today for some information to include here in my post, I came across this even better post about Gabriel and his cooking shows. Check out this post on The French Wench - she even had the opportunity to interview Gabriel! Our friend, the French Wench says
One particular moment of Le Tour I try not to miss is the daily 4-minute segment preceding the race, which is dedicated to the food and specialties of the regions traversed by the Tour riders every day day: Taste le Tour, presented by French chef legend Gabriel Gaté.
Gabriel also presents some of his Taste le Tour shows with a good sense of French Humour.
And he's a prolific author, including this wonderful little book of the Tour.
I hope you too can find some Gabriel online....

Do you have your own local French Chef personality? Someone who makes french cooking come alive to you? Love to hear your connections with French Chefs locally.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Paris in July - Tuesday Travels

Walking through two french towns - some photo's from my trip in 2011 (the year I went to France to see Cadel win the Tour de France!). Photo's are an important part of my life - my dad was a massive  photo taker, and my life is well documented. My partners dad was also a big photographer. When we got to know each other we learnt that his dad took photos of scenery and my dad took photo's of people. I clearly prefer my dad's style, learning towards taking photo's of people. But here, I'm posting some of the photo's I've learnt to take of 'things'. I hope the ones I've chosen tell a story.


Another travel writer (not myself) said this about Troyes
Troyes takes almost all visitors—French as well as foreign—by surprise. This lively town of narrow cobbled streets and half-timbered houses in ochre, pink and yellow was once the brilliant capital of the counts of Champagne. Today it’s an unspoiled treasure trove of art and architecture, a thriving modern city that wears its past with elegance and charm......Located in the Aube, the southern tip of the Champagne region, Troyes (pronounced Trwa, as in un, deux, Troyes) lies just 100 miles southeast of Paris.
Icecream, and afternoon tea time
 Troyes made it into our itinerary when we decided, at one point in our journey, to stop catching trains and hire a car. It was a random decision, but not one we regretted. We hired the car for four days while my partner was recovering from a head cold and didn't feel like doing the public transport thing. Troyes was our drop off point, so we didn't have to take the car back to Paris.  While my man was recovering from his head cold, he decided to investigate the surrounds on his bike - while I walked - and loved every nook & cranny I found.

Some other links to Troyes
Rainbows in Champagne
Virtual Tourist
Channel Hoppers - notes for a self guided tour
Tourisme Troyes


 We stayed in Montpellier for two weeks while we studied french.... as so many other tourists do.

 Another travel writer said this about Montpellier
In spite of such ambitious money-flinging, Montpellier’s real charm and character is to be found in and around the old city. Much is hidden to the untrained eye, but a bit of background works wonders.
Take the walls near the war memorial and Esplanade. Today they are surrounded with parkland and greenery, but have a look at which way the arrow slits are pointing. They’re not defending the city, but poised to attack it.
This dates back to the religious wars of the 17th century, when Louis XIII laid siege to Protestant Montpellier, and then built a citadel to secure it. Much of the newer parts of the city, therefore, are built on former military ground – it took an awful long time for the powers that be to trust the locals not to cause any trouble.
The old town is a delightful place to have a stroll, and takes the form of a shield-shaped mess of narrow streets and alleys. Little staircases run up past preserved buildings with medieval stone vaults, then miraculously break into square surrounded by bars and cafés.

After class, my man and I would find somewhere to eat lunch in the old town, then we'd find a sunny spot to do some study. Then we'd wonder around a new area. There's so many little alleys in the old city, we spend the whole two weeks exploring. There are art galleries, open music concerts, plenty of sales and shopping to be done in both modern and old city shop fronts.... it was definitely a walking tour I loved.

Other sites with info include:
Montpellier Now
Montpellier Gourmet Tours
The Grumpy Traveller

We studied with Accent Francais, a company that provides lessons for foreigners on an ongoing basis. If you are thinking about doing something like this, my only advise would be to ensure that you get placed in a class at the best level for your motivation and skills. I was placed in a class below my capacity which was frustrating, while my man was in a class too difficult. we learnt heaps, but it wasn't a good fit.

Walking in Paris and French towns is one of the best ways to dream. What are your favourite towns or places to walk in Paris and France?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Paris in July Monday Menu Wk 4

July is such an exciting month for Karen and I, and this year is no exception. We've been delighted and thrilled with the variety and depth of the posts that bloggers are contributing to Paris in July 2014... And here comes another week!
  • Monday 21st July - It's time to catch your breath, perhaps you could review the posts from last week links found here....
  • Tuesday 22nd July - Tamara's Tuesday Travel post will be about self guided tours of three French towns, and Adria will post an important message about the Paris Love Locks.
  • Wednesday 23rd July - Bellezza is going to post on a great love of hers - Chanel No 5.
  • Thursday 24th July - Tamara's Taste of Paris post, not yet decided - but possibly a wine review.
  • Friday 25th July - Karen will post her book review of the week. She says it is a wonderful novel 'All the Light we Cannot See' which is partly set in Paris and France in WW2.
  • Saturday 26th July - Adria and Vicki will be posting on the relationships writers in Paris have with cafes.
  • Sunday 27th July - It's my turn to do the weekly wrap up this week.
Remember, add your post details here so all the other participants can find you. You can enter as many posts as you do for Paris in July.

Keep up the Awesome Efforts.  This week Karen and I will be giving out some random prizes , Karen has her own Mr Linky up if you want to nominate for a prize - check out this weeks wrap up.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Food Bloggers with French flavour!

I feel like I should apologise because this post is totally virtual – I haven’t prepared any French food to rave about, I haven’t been to any French restaurants recently to share photo’s or reviews with you, I haven’t interviewed anyone interesting, or been to any French food workshops... this post is all about French food blogs that I have been following or recently discovered. I am preparing this post totally virtually, on my regular (2x week) 3 hour commute from the office to my home. Dreaming about French food is a great way to pass the time on a train. I’m hoping you enjoy the trip with me.

My first and favourite French food blog is David Lebovitz – and he’s not even French! Like some other bloggers we know, he’s an American living in Paris. This fact however, I find is appealing. He is living my dream, and vicariously I am transported with him. He regularly posts about new restaurants, favourite local haunts, new drinks, how to type posts, and he’s un ashamedly a bit opinionated. Some of my favourite posts include

Then my next favourite, and newest edition to my list, if  Didier, who is married to an American living in Paris, recently allowed me to interview him for Paris in July (check it out). Didier shared with his followers recipes and his love of French food through his personalised cooking schools.  Some great recipes from Didier (I haven't made these but they look good) include;

Green Veloute Soup
Beef Fillet Mignon Medallions with Gorgonzo
Chocolate-Raspberry Paradise

I've recently stumbled across an Australian based food blogger, the French Wench, who has done a couple of great posts, very relevant for Aussie French food lovers.  Her recent post about Sydney based restaurant, Vincent, has me very tempted.

Check out the Everyday French Chef - she posts menu idea's, recipes and advice about cooking french food. I really like this
What to make for dinner? The everyday menus below provide suggestions for easy meals with a French touch that can be made any day of the week in 20-30 minutes. The weekend menus suggest more elaborate meals for days when you have more time. Use them as a guide, and improvise to create your own. It’s all part of the fun of cooking.
Meg Bortin, the Everyday French Chef, says’s a modern, down-to-earth way of cooking that will allow you to put delicious French food on your table in the simplest possible way, any day, or every day

My next new discover and I'm loving this discovery, is Manger.  This is how our host at Manger describes herself...
 Ever since I was a little girl I have been deeply passionate about food. My childhood was largely spent scurrying between the restaurants of Hong Kong, where I grew up, and the bistros of Paris and the south of France where we spent our holidays at my French grandmother’s. Food was constantly on my mind, I’m the girl who was always happiest at the table
The author of A Kitchen in France; a year of cooking in my farmhouse, Mimi Thorisson, shares with us her beautiful photos, life on the farm in France, and amazing recipes!

There must be hundreds and thousands of French food blogs, facebook sites and pinterest pages, these are just my current favourites. And here's just a few more to mention.....
  • Canelle et Vanille - She posts beautiful photos, publishes recipe books and it's all Gluten Free!
  • Tartelette - a blog devoted to food photography, fresh seasonal ingredients and the simple things in life. Author Helene, is a Senior Photographer at Oxmoor House, the cookbook division for Cooking Light magazine, Southern Living, Coastal magazine, and many other. A French expat, photographer, wife, dog lover, traveler..... presents beautiful photos!
  • La Tartine Gourmande - born and raised in the countryside in northeastern France, has lived in New Zealand and now the United States, Béa (short for Béatrice), is a food writer, stylist and photographer based in Boston where she lives with my husband and daughter Lulu
  • Chocolate and Zucchini -  Cloltilde is our host, and she has some great pages devoted to hints & tips, interviews, travel, Paris resources, & reading recommendations. I love the name of her blog!
I love France for fresh food, and there's nothing better to remember your holiday to France, than enjoying the food you've eating when in France.

What are your favourite food blogs?
What are your favourite food memories of France?
It’s a modern, down-to-earth way of cooking that will allow you to put delicious French food on your table in the simplest possible way, any day, or every day.

– Meg Bortin
- See more at:
What to make for dinner? The everyday menus below provide suggestions for easy meals with a French touch that can be made any day of the week in 20-30 minutes. The weekend menus suggest more elaborate meals for days when you have more time. Use them as a guide, and improvise to create your own. It’s all part of the fun of cooking. - See more at:
What to make for dinner? The everyday menus below provide suggestions for easy meals with a French touch that can be made any day of the week in 20-30 minutes. The weekend menus suggest more elaborate meals for days when you have more time. Use them as a guide, and improvise to create your own. It’s all part of the fun of cooking. - See more at:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday Travels - Markets in Paris

When I can visit Paris, I have usually spent months and months preparing an itinerary, down to the hour, for my time in Paris. I can get consumed with the planning process and just enjoy the hours and hours of web searching, book reviewing and questioning friends about the things I want to do... In my previous trips to Paris, I've stumbled on Markets, but never planned for a market day. So here's some of my pre-planning research and thoughts on Paris Markets. I would welcome any ideas, opinions and advice on what to include and what not to include in a Market based itinerary.

I follow a food blogger, David Lebovitz, and he recently posted something about markets. David says
I’ve developed a bit of a “bottom feeder” mentality and avoid the traditional flea markets, the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen (usually referred to as the Marché Clignancourt), and the Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves, and stick to the brocantes that pop up in Paris during nice weather in the neighborhoods. Prices are much lower and it’s more fun to see what pops up as people are unloading their trucks
While I appreciate David, who lives in Paris, can find les brocantes as they pop up from time to time, I suspect I will need to look at more established markets that are more likely to be there on the day I go looking for them.

Les puces de vanves is a popular trinket and antiques type market, although David Lebovitz (above) says this market is more expensive and perhaps more touristy, this website, in French, has so much information and background about these markets. Even if they are expensive and popular with tourists, I suspect this would be a fun market to hang out in.

For planning a trip, I found this useful one stop shop for market advice – even if you’re not going to Paris, its fun just to flick through these pages  Paris Top Ten says
Whether you're in Paris for a day, the weekend, or a holiday, gives you the freedom and flexibility to quickly pick and chose from among the very best attractions that the "City of Lights" has to offer from one convenient website.

For image source - personalised tours.
Looking for Food Markets could be fun too, especially if you're renting a self contained unit for a longer period of time. Food markets including Marche Raspail, Rue Montorgueil and Marches Bastille and Popincourt.Here's a warmly initing quote about Marche Mouffetard......
 This 'wonderful, narrow crowded market street', as Hemingway described it in 'A Moveable Feast', still sports bright and bustling stalls of fruit and veg in its cobbled lower stretches (its upper extremities largely harbour student bars and touristy shops), its atmospheric buildings making it one of the city’s loveliest street markets.
 Marjorie Williams has written a pocket-sized guide covers over 120 markets and offers options for every interest. She also hosts this interest blog and lists her favourite markets from around the world, including Paris.
 One of our own participants, Mardi at Eat Live Travel Write, has done this wonderful post about markets. She says
For me, there’s nothing more disappointing than arriving in a town or neighbourhood when the market is just packing up or when you’ve missed it by a day and you won’t be around for the following week’s
  • Have you ever been to markets in Paris? 
  • Any markets that you would recommend? 
  • Any advice on how to make the most of markets in Paris? 
I would love to hear your stories....