Art & Culture Food & Wine French Life Paris Shopping Travel Writing & Books: Art & Culture Food & Wine French Life Paris Shopping Travel Travel Writing Writing & Books
With ski season behind me, I suddenly have a voracious appetite for reading. I always want to read and to me, it’s one of the most relaxing and enjoyable activities in the world. But during ski season I’m exhausted in the evenings and tend to just zone out in front of the TV and then head to bed before there’s time for a leisurely read. (Also, I often stay up late when engrossed in a good book and that certainly doesn’t gel with a ski instructor’s need for a long, fat sleep.)
Being the Francophile that I am, I love reading books set in France. Whether it’s Paris or the provinces, if the writing is rich, I relish being instantly transported to my beloved land. So you can only imagine how thrilled I was when I discovered Jaqui Brown’s charming website/blog, French Village Diaries. There you may delve into an abundance of book reviews on books relating to France and then shop in her online bookstore which features titles she has reviewed and more. Jacqui, a Brit that moved to France in 2004 with her British husband, scours the internet for the most interesting reads on her adopted country. That’s how she found my book, A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France, and then wrote it up at French Village Diaries.
I’m happy to be connected with Jacqui, a woman who’s passionate about everything French and life in France in general. Sure, there are many ladies like her (and me), however, with Jacqui and her writings I feel a special kinship. Perhaps it’s the combination of books and France that resonates so much with me.
I also delight in many of Jacqui’s blog posts and recipes. Saturday she posted a Provençal Style Yoghurt Cake with Olive Oil and Quince. I wrote about the first olive oil cake I ever tasted in A Tour of the Heart, one of the most memorable culinary experiences of my travels. Enfin, I found a recipe that seems to correspond with the memory I’ve preserved of that incredibly moist and flavorful treat.
Now, I can’t wait to make that olive oil cake. And then sit down and savor it with tea and a good book, one that takes place in France, bien entendu.
Colorado Food & Wine Shopping Skiing & Snowboarding Telluride
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Hello all Valentines! What a great way to celebrate love, ladies and wine, three very vital components of life—wouldn’t you agree? And I say let’s celebrate all three all year round—or at least throughout the weekend.
I’ve been teaching Women’s Week here in Telluride all week, so I’m pretty hyped up on girl power and, of course, wine has been a big part of our après ski program. I wanted to take a couple of minutes to share with you, however, two of my most recent wine discovers: Big House and Juicy Details Wines.
Actually I’ve known about Big House for a while and have been a fan of these delicious and most reasonably priced wines since the beginning. It recently came to my attention, however, that the winemaker behind this Monterey County brand—just a short escape from a state correctional facility—is the lovely Georgetta Dane. Who would have guessed it? Wouldn’t you have imagined some burly guy? It’s no wonder these wines embody such a noteworthy blend of New World winemaking style and Old World finesse. Georgetta and I became friends on Facebook and I was instantly impressed to find such a lady behind such a heavy-hitting wine. (Note the recurring prison theme emblazoned on all The Big House labels.) You go, girl! And I hope next year you’ll make it out to ski with all of us unchained zinners.
Colorado Food & Wine French Life Mountain Living Skiing & Snowboarding Telluride: Colorado Food & Wine French Life Mountain Living Skiing & Snowboarding Telluride
As a ski instructor, the holiday period always becomes a bit of a blur. And you thought it felt that way to you? Try working full days on the mountain for as long as a ten- to fourteen-day stint and see how much relaxing you’re able to do during this festive period. We don’t complain though—we love it. What better way to celebrate the holidays than out on the slopes assisting in the fun and merrymaking of travelers from all over the world?
Now that most people have chucked their Christmas trees and resolved to consume far less fattening food and drink, I’m embracing the holiday spirit more than ever. I’m not working on the hill as much, so I can breathe easier and nestle myself into my little apartment that’s still adorned with a smattering of ornaments, winter wonderland knickknacks and an abundance of candles. It’s red and green chez moi year round—the classic colors of the mountains—the rich and heartwarming hues that I very much love. My jolly look is ramped up during the holiday period with the addition of fresh pine cuttings and red bows. I’ll keep most of that up until it stays fresh, likely for another couple of weeks, and then dismantle the bulk of my joyful trimmings by Valentine’s Day. There’s many a chalet in the Alps done up holiday style all the way to the end of ski season, so I’m not as odd as you may be thinking.
In my new book, A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France, there’s a scene where I feast over confit de canard, cassoulet de canard and a couple of pork-product dishes in a simple—yet elegant—homestyled restaurant above a bar/tabac in the Languedoc Roussillon region of France.
“Almost toute de suite we were served a Blanquette de Limoux, the oldest sparkling wine in France said to have served as inspiration for Dom Perignon, the most praise-worthy monk who created champagne centuries ago,” I wrote.
I never would have known this had my guide not clued me in. And what a delicious nectar I found it to be! A robust red was poured for that hearty meal, yet my palette was delightfully awakened by this sparkling wine.
Many years later, I was thrilled to discover that Blanquette de Limoux is readily available in the United States at a fraction of the price of champagne. Saint-Hilaire, one of the finest of these wines, is widely distributed at a price point of about $15. Who ever imagined that such a luxurious tasting beverage could be so affordable? I suggest you stock up on it for the New Year and all year long.
Happy 2013 everyone!
Food & Wine Shopping: Food & Wine Online Boutiques Shopping
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I feel like I’ve been hearing a lot of pop, pop, pop on TV, over the airwaves and on social media ever since late Tuesday night. Whether your guy (or gal) won or lost, I think we’re all happy that the elections are over and that our great country carried out democracy in fine fashion. (Perhaps except in Florida; although in a state populated with so many old people, you have to figure they’re going to move at a slower pace.)
Now it’s time to focus on fun, the holidays and the inevitable dilemmas of gift giving that this time of year often presents. (OK, we have a lot of work to do, too.) But there’s nothing like bubbly during this festive time of year, and I’ve found some of the best champagnes—largely from boutique purveyors—at Henri’s Reserve. Yes, I said champagne which means these divine wines have all been sourced from France in the Champagne region of this wonderful country.
And the packaging is superb. Henri’s Reserve offers just the sort of fun and elegant look you want to share with loved ones, business contacts and yes, even yourself this time of year. Bestsellers include tasting samplers such as Henri’s Tasting Soirée which features three bottles of “champ” from their favorite champagne houses. Or, if you really have someone to woo, send a case of Jacquesson 734, the standard-bearer of champagne.
You can read about all this and more at Henri’s Reserve, a classy and colorful online boutique that makes shopping a pleasure. Be sure also to check out Henri’s Journal, an informative and entertaining blog filled with all kinds of delicious nuggets. A recent post showcased terroir, one of the most interesting words of the French language. Their Facebook page furnishes lots of nice tidbits, too.
Type in the code “bonjour” to receive a 10% discount on all orders and enjoy your tour of Henri’s Reserve.
Colorado Food & Wine Hotels Restaurants The Rockies: Aspen Colorado Food & Wine Hotels Restaurants The Rockies
- If you find yourself dining alone on your birthday, you better hope that you land in a lively place that serves up excellent food. I lucked out a month ago when I claimed a spot at the Chef’s Table at the oh-so style-y Chefs Club by FOOD & WINE at The St. Regis Aspen Resort. Although I had my back to most of the diners, six fastidious chefs held my attention throughout an evening filled with fabulous food and drink. Why, I didn’t feel alone at all and I didn’t even mention it was my b-day. (That was highly unusual, since I’m not one to shy away from a fuss.)
I luxuriated at the black marble bar that faces the open kitchen for almost three hours. At one point an elegant woman and her teenage daughter savored coffee and dessert a few seats away, but otherwise I had no interest in glancing around at the tony crowd around me—I was totally consumed by the scene in this bustling beehive of culinary savoir faire. Executive Chef Thomas Riordan, a young man (or am I just getting old), managed his team with nuance and grace. I picked up on a nod here, a word there, subtle directives that facilitated the quick and steady movements of preparing refined cuisine for a room full of diners. I watched as he drizzled extra virgin olive oil over my beef, a Grilled Prime Bistecca Fiorentina served with porcini mushrooms, arugula and fava bean. Chef then finished off this divine piece of meat with a squeeze of lemon. It was perfect.
Art & Culture Colorado Food & Wine Mountain Living Music & Dance Telluride Telluride Festivals Writing & Books: Art & Culture Colorado Food & Wine Mountain Living Music & Dance Telluride Telluride Festivals Writing & Books
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Within the span of the last week, you can really feel that summer is winding down here in Telluride. The aspens are beginning to change and within two weeks, we should be nearing peak leaf-peeping season. With the arrival of this golden autumnal season comes the promise that ski season isn’t far off, two not-so negligible happenings that make summer’s end much easier to accept in this part of the country.
In T-ride, as in many mountain towns in Colorado, the end of summer marks the close of a terrific festival season. This weekend, September 14, 15 & 16, you can enjoy one of the best festivals of the West at Telluride Blues & Brews Festival in beautiful Telluride Town Park, one of the world’s most spectacular settings. Tickets have been selling super fast this year due to an exceptionally stellar lineup. The good news is that there are still day passes available for Friday and Sunday. Plus, at this writing, some seats remain at the glorious Sheridan Opera House for Bal de Maison, the Cajun house party that kicks off Blues & Brews festivities this Thursday night. For more on my take of this year’s festival closer in T-ride, read Telluride Blues & Brews Promises More Fun Than Ever This Year. Let’s just call it the last big party of the summer and even better, the forecast is gorgeous for this weekend.
Art & Culture Cycling Food & Wine French Life French Provinces Girl Talk Hotels Paris Restaurants Romance & Relationships Travel Writing & Books: Art & Culture Cycling Food & Wine French Life French Provinces Girl Talk Hotels Paris Restaurants Romance & Relationships Travel Writing & Books
Last year around this time, I celebrated a milestone birthday. I was grateful that I was feeling healthy and well, the most fit I’d been in ages and ten pounds thinner (a rarity for me since my weight never fluctuates). Here I am a year later having perhaps gained back five of those pounds—I don’t really know since I stopped weighing myself (a good sign of maturity). And now I’m two days away from another b-day with something far more significant to celebrate—a new book!
Twelve years. Yes, twelve years. I can’t believe it myself. It was twelve years ago that I began to plan a trip that would forever change my life. I actually took that trip in the fall of 2000. We all have transformative events and travels in our lives. I just happen to take a lot of notes on mine. “A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France” is the fruit of all that note taking and so much more.” Click here to see a preview and download excerpts. I hope you’ll enjoy the read. Books are rolling into bookstores now; be sure to ask for it if you don’t readily see it on the shelf. You can also purchase it as a paperback through amazon now or as an eBook on kindle.
Since it’s KOTO fundraising time and I love my NPR-station here in Telluride, Colorado, you can receive a free e-book with every $20. donation and a free paperback with every $30. donation. Books sell for $8. and $20. respectively. Contact me directly through this site to make your donation. Also, if you enjoy Travel Fun, my talk radio show on travel, and the podcasts of those interviews I post here on this blog, please make a pledge or donation to KOTO as well. For that also, it’s best to contact me directly. Community radio is a rare breed in the U.S. and ours is almost entirely supported by caring people like you.
I will be talking about “A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France,” on Travel Fun tomorrow, August 21, at 6 p.m. mountain time. You can also tune in on the Internet at KOTO.org at the time of the broadcast. I hope to post that interview as a podcast on this blog within the upcoming week.
One more thing: Click here to become a fan of A Tour of the Heart on Facebook.