Natural wine bar and cave in Lyon
Published 24th May 2013 | Review
O Vins d'Anges in Lyon's 4th arrondissement is both a wine store and a 'cave a manger' where you can order simple dishes such as charcuterie and cheese supplied by some excellent producers. The natural wine selection arranged around the walls is an exciting representation of the best of the French natural wine community.Read more
An unexpected find - great coffee in Lyon!
Published 10th May 2013 | Review
We have written in many forums about the difficulty in sourcing a decent coffee in Paris (although the situation is getting better with places such as Coutume and Ten Belles providing excellent coffee now). However once you get outside Paris the situation become diabolical.
It was therefore with delight that we discovered La Boite A Cafe in Lyon. Clinging to a narrow corner at the junction of rue de l'Abbe Rozier (aka rue Rozier) and rue des Capacins in the vibrant 1st arrondissement this small cafe buzzes with excitement and activity. The baristas are passionate about their work and always have a good selection of single origin coffee available. It is a great place to sample coffee as it should be brewed!Read more
A Weekend in Cadaques, Spain
Published 5th May 2013 | Review
It sometimes happens that a great meal is not the one you planned to have. We set off to Cadaques to try the much-vaunted Compartir Restaurant and had a very enjoyable meal. But it just didn't quite hit the heights we were anticipating. Some dishes were perfect however some were far too sweet for our taste such as beautifully cooked razor clams that were marred by a very sweet miso sauce.
However, the next morning we decided to head into nearby Roses to try our luck at the small fish restaurant called Rafa's. We arrived early to ensure a table and were soon being presented with an array of seafood dishes that were simple, perfectly fresh, without artifice and which sang of the sea!
Whether it was the anchovies, the baby squid, the clams, the prawns, the John Dory or the expertly cooked red mullet (the flavour of which transported us back to a meal thirty years ago in Kavala in northern Greece) this was perfectly grilled seafood.
The service was also very friendly and helpful. Our waiter was anxious for us to enjoy our meal which was one of the most perfect and simple meals we have eaten in a long time.
Un Ile, Angers
Published 26th April 2013 | Review
Angers is one of our favourite cities in France and a place we are drawn back to time and time again. The area surrounding Angers also happens to be one of the hotspots for the production of natural wine - wine produced organically in the vineyard and fermented using natural yeasts in the winery and with no additions such as sugar or acid or oak chips or the use of reverse osmosis or micro-oxygenation or any of the other products or devices used to manipulate wine.
The restaurant and bar scene is also vibrant with Le Cercle Rouge being one of our favourite bars in France, Chez Remi (although temporarily closed before opening in a new space) serving fresh organic produce, Autour d'Un Cep serving beautifully cooked food matched to natural wines and, for an upmarket experience, the charming Un Ile.
Here the chef produces dishes cooked in the classic tradition but with an incredibly light hand and with modern influences peeking through. The service is charming and the list of natural wines is very well-curated.
You can read more about our recent meal by clicking on the link below.Read more
La Pointe du Groin, Paris
Published 24th April 2013 | Review
La Pointe du Groin is Thierry Breton's latest food adventure. Here sandwiches are the star and this is appropriate because the lovely bar is sandwiched between his two restaurants in the same street, Chez Michel and Chez Casimir. (They are all within a block of Gare du Nord station and Poissoniere metro station.) When we visited on the 24th April straight from the airport there were still workmen swarming all over the establishment, but the staff were very welcoming and let us be seated and served us a good coffee and one of their trademark sandwiches made from freshly sliced jamon direct from a hand-cranked slicer, rocket leaves and very good butter.
Glasses of wine here are served only from magnums and on the bar there was a scattering of natural wines including a 1999 La Chamade Ploussard from Jura producer Philippe Bornard. The prices are very reasonable and the food and wine selections excellent and there is no pretension. This is a place we are going to enjoy!
8, rue de Belzunce, Paris, 75010
Laneway, Devonport, Tasmania
Published 17th March 2013 | Review
Laneway Cafe is tucked away in a lane that runs off Steele Street on the fringe off Devonport's CBD. Sometimes we walk into a cafe or bar and instantly feel an affection for the place. It is something about the way the staff carry themselves, maybe the warmth of the smile, maybe just the way the place is arranged or maybe the little touches that show they care. This was the reaction we had on walking in to Laneway without knowing a thing about it.
It is more than a cafe - it is also a deli and a music venue and even a restaurant. The display cabinet is packed with delicious produce such as Mt Gnomon pork products, free range eggs from "On the Riverbank", Spreyton Cider which is naturally fermented and uses apples from their own orchard, organic quinoa from Kindred Organics and much more.
The coffee is very good and based on the Italian Bristot certified Rainforest Alliance beans and made using the sleek La Marzocco FB/80 which was released to commemorate Marzocco's 80th anniversary.Read more
Ten Belles, Paris
Published 8th February 2013 | Review
Horror stories of coffee ranging from really bad to undrinkable are legion in Paris. Parisians seem to almost have a fondness for weak, insipid espresso coffee made from beans supplied by industrial producers. So, for coffee-starved Australians it is aways a delight to stumble upon places where they take their coffee very seriously. On this current trip we had an amazing coffee served by James Henry in his hip, new restaurant called Bones. He sources his coffee from the venerable Oslo roaster Solberg & Hansen which has been in operation since 1879. The coffee was strong, dense, creamy and mouth-filling.
He also told us about a small place in the 10th called Ten Belles. We arrived there to find a Frenchman, an Englishman and an Australian behind the counter - three people who are very passionate about their coffee. Once again the quality of the beans was excellent and the espressos they made for us were of a very high quality. You can also have light snacks here with a menu that sees a soup and a sandwich and a coffee for 11 Euros. Ten Belles is well worth a visit.
Ten Belles, 10 rue de la Grange aux Belles, 75010, Paris
Septime Cave is born!
Published 5th February 2013 | Review
Septime Cave is a small, sparse bar and cave quite close to its mothership Septime. It serves a short, but nicely conceived list of wines by the glass at very reasonable prices, or you can buy a bottle from the shelves that line two walls and they will open it for you at a very modest mark-up. They also serve small snacks which are quite delicious.Read more
Great coffee in Tokyo at Little Nap Coffee Stand
Published 8th December 2012 | Review
Little Nap Coffee Stand is a tiny little coffee shop in the kissaten tradition just over the road from the leafy Yoyogi Park.
It is open every day except Monday serving very good premium coffee (you can also buy packets of roasted beans to take home) and little snacks such as ice creams (think mascarpone and mandarin peel or roasted butter caramel) or rugelach.
The espresso coffees that we had were beautifully crafted and had deep flavour but with good control over the level of bitterness.
There are four seats at the window bar inside and a few more outside. There are two cute, pink tabletops fixed to the fence over the road where you can rest your cup and plate while enjoying the outside air.
5-65-4 Yoyogi, Tokyo Shibuya, Japan
Unearthing great breakfasts in Australia
Published 19th November 2012 | Review
We are always searching for the perfect breakfast. When travelling it is wonderful to start the day with a perfect coffee, some fresh fruit juice and an interesting breakfast dish. Unfortunately these are few and far between!
Our benchmark breakfast venue is the tiny Pigeon Hole in Hobart, Tasmania. Here the welcome is warm, the coffee excellent and the breakfast dishes superb. Our favourite is the breakfast panino filled with long-cooked onions and gruyere cheese. But we are equally happy when there is lightly cooked fresh organic rhubarb teamed with yoghurt or, in winter, porridge made from freshly-milled organic oats.
In Sydney we always stay in Surry Hills due to the vibrant food scene there. The day always starts with a trip to Reuben Hills to enjoy breakfast in the cavernous space below their coffee roastery. The coffee is excellent and the staff are always eager to suggest a blend to suit the style of coffee you prefer. And the food is very good, with the 'not Reuben sandwich' a perfect dish to help recover from the previous night's excesses.
Savoury parmesan biscuits
Published 13th October 2012 | Recipe
These biscuits are very savoury and excellent with a glass of sparkling wine. There is no sugar and the flavour comes from the parmesan cheese lifted with the addition of a pinch of salt. They only take ten minutes to cook and very little time to prepare.Read the recipe by clicking on this link
Essencia: A wine and cheese shop in Poligny, France
Published 3rd October 2012 | Review
Essencia in the Jura village of Poligny specialises in two items - natural wine and the very best of regional cheese. When we walked into this Aladdin's cave last week we were surrounded by some of the finest natural wine of the Jura region and beyond. We were also within reach of some of the finest Comte cheese we have ever eaten. We were also astounded at the depth of the range of natural wines available here. There were many of the great wines of the Jura (including those of Overnoy and Ganevat) and a particularly strong selection of the finest natural wine producers in Beaujolais. The owner is passionate about his products and is keen to share his knowledge. Look for the Comte Vagne sign on the Route de Lons.Read a more detailed review
Green Man and French Horn, London
Published 23rd September 2012 | Review
The Green Man and French Horn has only just opened in the tourist-thronged Leicester Square area of London but it is already showing a depth of professionalism in both the wine and food offerings.
The space is inviting and relaxed with bar snacks and more substantial dishes on offer. All are cooked with skill and flair and the rillettes, served from an earthenware pots on the bar are already a crowd-pleaser.
The wine list is built around the mighty Loire River, an area where natural wine makers are the rule rather than the exception. There are wines from the Ardeche, the Auvergne, Sancerre, Touraine, Anjou all the way to Fiefs Vendeens which clings to the Atlantic shores. If you don't recognise any of the wines, just ask the helpful sommeliers for advice - they are passionate about the selections on offer.
We enjoyed very much a Chenin Blanc from the Anjou region which matched beautifully with a number of the dishes including a stunning clams and bean dish pictured above.54 St. Martins Lane, London, WC2N 4EA
Relae - Copenhagen
Published 17th September 2012 | Review
Relae is a very good restaurant tucked away in the emerging Jaegersborggade food street in Copenhagen which it shares with other food and wine luminaries such as Manfreds and the Coffee Collective.
The menu is sparse, offering a non-vegetarian and a vegetarian option of four dishes plus an optional cheese course.
The food is very, very good with every dish we sampled at a recent meal being perfect. Whether it be the clever white onions with crayfish and fennel (pictured) or the veal sweetbread with cauliflower and basil or the exceptional fresh goat cheese with a parsley sauce, these were dishes to savour.
The wine list is based around the best of natural wine offerings from France and Italy with names such as Courtois, Lemasson, Prevost, Riffault, Cossard, Maillet, Testard, Calek and Bainbridge featuring prominently among many others.Jaegersborggade 41, Copenhagen Read a more detailed review
Cave Saint Aubin - a natural wine shop in Angers
Published 15th September 2012 | Review
Cave Saint Aubin shows that you have to be ever vigilant when tracking down natural wines. We have visited Angers many times and have enjoyed the city because it is surrounded by producers of natural wine such as the Carrogets, Rene and Agnes Mosse, Nicolas Joly and many more.
However it took us until today to find Cave Saint Aubin, a tiny cave on rue Saint Aubin.
We were amazed when we walked in and were presented with an array of natural wine luminaries such as Fanny Sabre, Casot des Mailloles, La Ferme des Caudalies, Alexander Bain, Bruno Rochard and Domaine Marechal among many others.
The owner is very helpful and eager to explain as much as you want to know about each producer.25 rue Saint Aubin, Angers
l'Entree des Artistes - a wine bar in Paris
Published 14th September 2012 | Review
This tiny bar in the rue de Crussol in the tres fashionable 11th is only a stone's throw from Au Passage in one direction, from Le Repaire de Cartouche in the opposite direction and Aux Deux Amis in another. Here two passionate young men (Edouard Vermynck and Fabien Lombardi) have created a space that is built on three firm pillars of excellence.
Fabien is a mixologist who turns out classic martinis including a killer negroni. Edouard is a sommelier who has a passion for natural wine. Together with Edouard's mother they also have lined up some excellent food that is a level above standard bar fare.
Our visit yesterday was with a group of 'hard core' natural wine lovers. We asked Edouard to recommend a white wine with some character and he brought out a 2003 Chenin Blanc from the Anjou region of the Loire Valley. This was a naturally made wine (organic viticulture, only natural yeast for fermentation and low sulphur) of considerable complexity and charm demonstrating all the most appealing characteristics of this wonderful grape.
Many more bottles were also enjoyed. The offerings here are to the left of centre with the three members of the Courtois family figuring prominently.
The food was also of a very high standard with a very good burrata and a great chocolate dessert being standouts.
We thoroughly recommend this friendly, professional establishment.8, rue de Crussol, 11th arrondissement, Paris
A weekend in Hobart, Tasmania
Published 15th November 2012 | Comment
Tasmania has always been known for the beauty of its rugged landscape. Visitors have long travelled to this southern island of Australia to marvel at the ancient forests, the stunning mountains and mile after mile of unspoilt, white, sandy beaches. And there is no shortage of experiences to enjoy the scenery whether it be the famous boat trip up the Gordon River where you can almost touch the ancient forests lining its banks, the walk through the rugged Cradle Mountain National Park, the less onerous Bay of Fires walk or the thrilling boat trip to see the marine life off south-east Tasmania.Read more about a Weekend in Hobart by clicking on this link