Taillevant & Le Cave Taillevent
Last month I had a fabulous lunch at Taillevent, the recently-demoted three-star restaurant, courtesy of some good friends from the states. But if our lunch was any indication, I don’t know who’s plucking the stars. And at 70€ it’s the deal of the decade: Three courses and lots of little extras. Plus they were very pleased to substitute any of the desserts which didn’t appear on the fixed menu for the selection offered. And to make the lunch even more special, another recent guest kindly bought me a bottle of lovely champagne…what’s not to get all starry-eyed over?
But whether or not you can make it to Taillevent, the restaurant, you should definitely visit their wine shop in the main Printemps department store. Run by Alison Vollenwider, with the help of Stéphanie (aka la petite), this wine cave is one of the most interesting in Paris.
Alison trained as a sommelier at Windows On The World with famed wine expert Andrea Immer, then worked in Bordeaux as a sommelier before settling here in Paris. Stop by and say hi—you’ll find plenty of reasonably-priced wines, starting at less than 10€, and lots of good advice from Alison. She’s friendly and knowledgeable…what more could you want from a caviste?
(Update: Alison is now a proud mom and no longer working at Le Cave Taillevent.)
Ever since I got my new espresso machine, I’ve been trying to learn as much about the complex art of making espresso as possible.
Is it the quality of the coffee? The water? The muscle force used to tamp in the grounds? Is it too strong, or too weak? So I decided to head to Italy, where each cup of coffee is a delicious revelation…how do they do it?
This coming week, Illy coffee invited me to attend their Coffee University in Trieste. I was offered a factory tour and classes. You can read more about it at Making Perfect Espresso at Illy.
Grand Marnier Soufflé
When my Francophile cousin came to town, I was dying to have her try her first taste of confit de canard. But where to go? When you get a bad version, there’s nothing worse; the skin’s limp and fatty, and the greasy flesh is anything but appetizing. But a good confit de canard has well-crisped skin which shatters and crackles when you bite it with succulent long-cooked meat underneath and comes accompanied with a pile of potatoes cooked in searing-hot duck fat alongside.
One of the best versions in Paris, if not the best, is at Chez Dumonet. But although I come for the confit, I stay for the dessert, which needs to be ordered at the same time as dinner. And their Grand Marnier Soufflé tops my list of best desserts in Paris.
It’s brought to the table…and it’s géant. A small glass of Grand Marnier is set down too, and you pour it into the center, creating an eggy, molten volcano with a chewy crust and a soft, pillowy interior. Spoon up the last tastes of orange liqueur, the warm orangy puddle in the bottom, a perfect final touch to this sublime Parisian pleasure.
Chez Dumonet (Josephine)
117, rue du Cherche-Midi (6th)
Tél: 01 45 48 52 40
(Closed Saturdays & Sundays)
This week I went to the Big Seven Tasting at Ô-Chateau.
Oliver Magny led us through the basics of French wine, including discussions of the various regions and terroirs. Then, since there’s no better way to demonstrate the glory of France than via la bouche, we began to sample the wines.
Even though there are 150,000 wine makers in this country, Olivier chose glasses which demystified the regions and represented the various climates and grapes grown in l’hexagone. Starting on a festive note with a full, tall, cool glass of icy ArchiBald champagne (except for some woman named Mireille, who only had half a glass), then we visited the Loire with Sancerre, made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes (a favorite of mine). We sipped several more, including a mineral-rich white Bourgoune before we ended up with a Corbières, made from ruby, fruity Grenache grapes.
Great fun…in moderation, of course!
Tél: 01 44 73 97 80