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Loire Valley Wine Tasting in Chicago at the W Hotel on Lake Shore Drive

French red wine from the Loire Valley region o...

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What a great day for the Loire Valley French Wine Tasting on the 33rd floor of W Hotel on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. It was definitely a Vino con Vista opportunity with plenty of French wine and wine-makers. The central part of the  Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes-sur-Loire in France was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site List  in  2000.

 

The Loire is the longest river in France and it is characterized by elegant historic chateaux and 300 miles of distinctive terroir that supports numerous vineyards along the river banks. This region is the leading producer of white French wines. The region is cloaked  with lovely vineyards and microclimates that produce distinctive varietals and wine styles. It is one of the most diverse wine regions in France with 69 appelations that include red, white, elegant sparkling wines and refreshing rose wines. There are distinct climates and a variety of soil types that divide the Loire Valley into 5 distinct regions.

The first vines were probably planted during Roman occupation 2000 years ago. Afterwards, the Augustinian and Benedictine Brothers enhanced the wine-making practices in this region.

I tasted some interesting Rose wines and plenty of earthy 100% Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc is one of the world’s major red grape varieties and was introduced to the region in the 11th century. It  is frequently blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to produce a Bordeaux style wine. In the Loire region, it is  not blended with other grapes so it is lighter in color than Bordeaux blends. It is used in the development of Chinon and certain roses in the Touraine appelation.

Today I spoke to Philippe Porche, a charming wine-maker from the Saumur-Champigny region in Parnay located on the south bank of the Loire River decreed an AOC in 1957.  Cabernet Franc is the predominant grape in the area.  He and his viticulturist wife founded the estate in 2005 and produce some interesting Cabernet Franc wines. I favored the garnet-colored full-bodied and velvety  “Le Fou du Roi” that was aged in oak.  This lovely couple is looking for an importer @ www.domainederocheville.fr. Feel free to contact them if you are interested in importing  luscious wines from this region. Tell them that Vino con Vista sent you.

There is a breathtaking view of Lake Michigan, Navy Pier and Chicago’s Landmark high rises from the former “Pinnacle Room” of the hotel where I spent my Senior Prom.Chicago Illinois It’s always exciting to re-live your youth.

Chicago Architecture

Domaine de Roche Ville Winery

Lake Michigan

It was such a beautiful spring day that I decided to stroll down Ontario Street heading westbound after the wine-tasting. I longingly gazed at the wide array of restaurants on Ontario Street that I patronize. They run the gamut from divine to sublime. Here’s a sampling of my “Chicago Foodie Nation” favorites:

Les Nomades is an outstanding French Restaurant that offers a Prix Fixe menu of four courses for $115 in a swanky turn-of-the-century brownstones mansion on Ontario Street. It is the perfect place to enjoy French cuisine after a Loire Valley wine-tasting event at the W Hotel down the street.

Chicago Restaurants

Chicago French Restaurants

Another one of my favorites is the Capital Grille Steakhouse where I can’t stop eating the crunchy potato chips at the bar. I love the grilled salmon served over a bed of  veggies with a side of creamed spinach. They have an extensive wine list and have won numerous awards for their outstanding burgers!

Chicago RestaurantsOntario and St. Clair in Chicago

Capital Grille ChicagoChicago Restaurants

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Italian Restaurants in Chicago

Chicago Italian Restaurants

Across the street from the Capital Grille, I enjoy dining on the outdoor patio of the Coco Pazzo Cafe when the weather is nice. They have an outstanding lunch menu and recently won an award from the Italian government for their “Authentic” Italian cuisine. Quartino was another “Authentic” Italian-award winning restaurant. I took cooking lessons with the chef and he taught me to add some water from the pasta to my sauce–what a novel idea!! The Red Head Piano Bar is another one of my favorites night spots. They have great wine-tasintg events.

Authentic Italian Restaurants in ChicagoRestaurants in Chicago

There are plenty of famous classic Chicago  “Steak-Houses” on Ontario. Lawry’s serves an incredible Prime Rib and I love the “Aged Filet Mignon” and mushrooms at David Burke’s Primehouse in the James Hotel. The Chicago Chop House has a wide array of delicious “sizzlin steaks.”

You will never be hungry or thirsty on Ontairo Street in Chicago. This city is a haven for Foodies!

Chicago is a Haven for Foodies

Chicago Steak HouseDavid Burke's Primehouse

Stop in at the the Hard Rock Cafe if you’re up for some live music. There are also some landmark fast food joints on Ontario including “Rock and Roll” McDonalds with a Rock and Roll Museum filled with memorabilia that my guitar-playing son adores.

Portillo’s has a great Italian Beef sandwich and classic Chicago hot dog and the drive-thru is always packed. Make sure you try the decadent chocolate cake . Chicago DestinationsM Burger is another fast food option that people are raving about.

Chicago Hot Dogs and Beef Sandwiches

Burgers in Chicago

Plan a trip to the Loire Valley and explore some of the majestic castles with spectacular medieval architecture: Chambord, Cheverny, Villandry and Chenonceau.

 

1. Villandry was built by the same man that designed much of Chambord (François I Finance Minister Jean Le Breton). Villandry is actually most renowned for what is outside of the castle. However, while Chambord remains Le Breton’s main achievement in construction, it is Villandry where he used all of the Renaissance gardening tricks he had picked up while working as an ambassador in Italy. The castle remained in the Le Breton family until the early 20th century, when it was purchased by Joachim Carvallo, who spent a whole of time, money and devotion to rebuilding, expanding and repairing the beautiful gardens. Today the gardens at Villandry are considered one of the best examples of Renaissance style gardens in the world and boasts a water garden, flower gardens and vegetable gardens laid out in formal patterns created with low box hedges—making it a must-see on any castle tour of the Loire.

2. Chambord is one of France’s most recognizable castles known for its distinct French Renaissance architecture, which blends late French Gothic and newer Italian Renaissance motifs. Chambord is also the largest castle in the Loire. Chambord was first built by King Francois I as a hunting lodge (I know you picture a hunting lodge as being more of a log cabin than a magnificent model of French Renaissance architecture, but it was a KING’S hunting lodge, after all).  Chambord has 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces and 84 staircases. It is most known for its façade, which through more than 800 sculpted columns was designed to look like the skyline of Constantinople, with 11 kinds of different towers and different types of chimneys. Chambord also has a double-helix staircase that serves as the centerpiece to the castle and was rumored to have been designed (or inspired) by Leonardo da Vinci during his time at nearby Clos de Luce.

4. Chenonceau is one of my favorite castles in the Loire Valley. Chennonceau was built in 1513 by Catherine Briçonnet and later embellished by Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de’ Medici, the Chateau de Chenonceau contains exquisite interiors and has idyllic gardens that look over River Cher.

Originally a small castle along the banks of the River Cher, the castle got its current design in the 16th century when it was seized by the crown for unpaid debts. In 1547, King Henri II offered the castle to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. and she had Chenonceau’s  arched bridge built. It spans the river. She is also responsible for the gorgeous flower and vegetable gardens set in buttressed stone terraces.

Upon King Henri II’s death in 1559, his clearly bitter widow and regent Catherine de Medici had Poitiers expelled from the castle and she moved into the scenic spot herself, adding even more extensive gardens. Since then the castle was privately owned for years and even used as a make-shift hospital for soldiers during WWII; its gallery bridge’s southern door provided access to the unoccupied Free Zone while the castle’s main entrance was in the Nazi occupied zone. Chenonceau today is one of the most visited and popular of the Loire castles and its Renaissance architecture and well-lit gallery and beautiful gardens.

5. Amboise is perched up on a strategic point along the Loire River and was originally built as a fort. In 1434, the castle was seized by King Charles VII after its owner (from which the castle got its name), Louis Amboise, was convicted and killed for supposedly plotting against the King. In the 15th century that the castle was lavishly rebuilt and added onto, starting with its late French Gothic architecture, until Italian builders were brought in and the castle’s style changed to Renaissance.While the castle became a favorite retreat for many French Kings (King François I was raised primarily at the castle), Amboise’s most famous guest was Leonardo da Vinci, who came to the castle in 1515 as a guest of the King and stayed in nearby Clos de Luce. What is most notable about Amboise, however, is known for its unique blend of Gothic and Renaissance architecture and large formal garden.

6. Blois was always a favorite getaway town for French kings; the castle in this quaint little Loire town is best known as the birthplace of King Louis XII as well as the primary residence for Henri IV’s exiled wife Marie de Medici, and later for the Duke of Orléans (brother of Louis XIII and uncle of Louis XIV). However, the castle has a long and prominent history and its Renaissance architecture and picturesque spot along the banks of the Loire make it a definite worthwhile stop on your Loire castle tour. In fact, the castle was the main resort for the French court during the 16th century and was also the location for the famed States General meetings held by Henri III in 1576 and 1588, where several prominent nobles were sentenced to death. The castle also plays a role in the famous Three Musketeers series by Alexandre Dumas as an important retreat for some of France’s most famous and powerful kings.

7. Cheverny was also given to Diane de Poitiers by her lover, King Henri II. Chenonceau was her favorite and primary residence. Poitiers sold Château de Cheverny to the former owner’s son who had originally built the castle between 1624 and 1630. The castle passed between owners until 1914, when the owner made it the first castle to be opened to the public; the family still owns and operates the castle to this day. The castle is renowned for its beautiful interiors and collection of furniture, tapestries and rare objects d’art. There is also a pack of about 70 dogs that are kept on the grounds and taken out for hunts twice weekly.

 

8. Clos Lucé is not really a  “Château de la Loire”; it is a large mansion located just 500 meters from  the Château d’Amboise by way of an underground passageway and is notable mostly for its most famous resident, Leonardo da Vinci. In 1515, King François I invited the Italian painter and inventor to Amboise and offered him the manor to use as a home and studio. When Da Vinci arrived in 1516 he came with three paintings, including the famed Mona Lisa, and lived in the mansion for the last three years of his life. Visitors to Amboise should not hesitate to hop on over to Clos Lucé, where you can peruse a museum that includes forty models of various machines designed by Leonardo.

9. Langeais is a perfect example of Medieval French architecture. It is located near the Brittany frontier and had a significant role in the battle between the French and English. The structure dates back to the 10th century and was built on a cliff which offered a strategic location overlooking the Loire River. The castle was actually fortified and expanded under the rule of Richard I of England (when English kings ruled this region of France) until King Philippe II of France recaptured the castle in 1206. The castle was also where Anne of Brittany and King Charles VIII wed, thus uniting France and Brittany. Today, the dark and ominous looking castle is replete with a great collection of Medieval tapestries.

Château de Langeais

 

 

Destinations in Chicago

@ www.vino-con-vista.com.

Vino Con Vista Travel Guides can be purchased at these sites
 

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Valentine’s Day Restaurants that I Love in Chicago

Chocolate Bar at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago

Image by benchilada via Flickr

Oysters and Oatmeal dish from Schwa in Chicago

Oysters and Oatmeal dish from Schwa in Chicago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Chicago River is the south border of ...

English: Chicago River is the south border of the Near North Side and Streeterville and the north border of Chicago Loop, Lakeshore East and Illinois Center (viewed from Lake Shore Drive with Trump International Hotel and Tower at jog in the river in the center. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Joe's Stone Crab

Joe’s Stone Crab (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Location of Schwa (restaurant) in Chi...

English: Location of Schwa (restaurant) in Chicago in detail south of North Avenue (Chicago), north of Division Street (Chicago), east of Milwaukee Avenue (Chicago) and west of Chicago River and Kennedy Expressway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chicago Skyline

Chicago Skyline (Photo credit: Frank Kehren)

Here’s are some of the restaurants that I love!

1. The impressive Lobby Restaurant of the Peninsula Hotel offered a starter buffet of roasted vegetables, crabmeat ceviche over a medley of fresh fruit and an assortment of cheeses and charcuterie options. I usually order  the salmon.

2.  Sepia is a delightful restaurant in Chicago. The dining room is located in a former 1890’s print studio and it is filled with photography memorabilia. Executive chef Andrew Zimmerman graduated first in his class at the prestigious French Culinary Institute and it is reflected in his Meditterranean influenced cuisine. The urban eatery has exposed brick walls and is located at 123 N. Jefferson Street in Chicago just east of the Kennedy Expressway between Washington and Randolf. I love the porchetta.

Restaurant Week Chicagao 2011

Sepia Restaurant in Chicago

3. NAHA is located at 500 N. Clark St. where executive chef Carrie Nahabedian merges her Armenian roots with Mediterranean influenced flavors that earned her a Michelin star. She was the former executive chef at the Four Seasons Properties in Beverly Hills and Santa Barbara. I love the  braised Mishima Ranch “Kobe” Wagyu Beef Brisket with Beluga lentils, bacon roasted parsnips and carrots. For dessert order bananas with vanilla mousseline and salted caramel.

Restaurant Week Chicago 2011

4. David Burke”s Primehouse is located in the James Hotel at 616 N. Rush. I love the Surf and Turf Dumplings filled with lobster mousse or braised short-ribs. Have a dry-aged classic fillet served with a side of mushrooms and mashed potatoes. For dessert, I enjoy the pinapple upside down cake with rum caramel and sour cherry sorbet.

5. Le Colonial has one of my favorite French-Vietnamese inspired menus. It is located Rush Street and is housed in a two-story vintage townhouse  decorated in the millieu of 1920’s Siagon. I indulge in the Cha Gio for starters; these fried spring rolls are outstanding! Follow up with the “Bun Thit Nuong”;  BBQ pork served over angel-hair noodles. For dessert try, the crispy banana wonton.

Restaurant Week in Chicago

6. Schwa’s Chef Michael Carlson worked under Spiaggia’s chef Paul Bartolotta. He turned down the position of sous-chef at Alinea. Since then he has earned a string of prestigious press:  he graced the cover of Food & Wine magazine as one of the Best New Chefs, won the Jean Banchet Award for rising chef of the year, GQ magazine did a nine-page feature on Schwa and Chef Carlson saying that Schwa was “The Most Revolutionary Restaurant In America” and in 2010 he got a “Best Chef” nomination from the esteemed James Beard Foundation. Schwa is at 1466 N. Ashland in Wicker Park seats 26 people; good luck getting in. There is no liquor license or wine list. Just amazing food! Call 773-252-1466 for reservations.

Famed Quail Egg Ravioli from Schwa in Chicago

Famed Quail Egg Ravioli from Schwa in Chicago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Our Philosophy – A restaurant that is part of a new movement; a community of chefs who work collaboratively and share openly. A house with no front or back; a house where chefs are servers, and serving is about creating dialogue. A menu that moves with the seasons; a menu designed to illustrate the diversity of a dish and highlight how one ingredient can be presented in a variety of ways. Taking the unusual and making it enjoyable. Taking the rustic and making it unforgettable.” http://www.schwa.com

Schwa (restaurant)

Schwa (restaurant) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

7. The Atwood Cafe in the loop on State Street is one of my favorite dining rooms and is located in the elegantly-renovated Hotel  Burnham across from Macy’s on Washington. I love the Ahi Tuna appetizer. They serve one of the best pork chops in town. The chocolate dessert is always decadent.

Upper facade

Upper facade (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

8. Blackbird’s award-winning restaurant at 619 W. Randolph has fabulous seared scallops for a starter with a roasted chicken entree and a choclate ganache dessert.

9. Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab at 60 E. Grand is the Chicago outpost of Miami’s legendary Joe’s Stone Crab. For dinner have a cup of chowder of bisque with crab claws, king crab legs or steak and don’t leave without indulging in the famous key lime pie for dessert.

10. I also love Terzo Piano at the Art Institute and Aria on Chicago’s east side at the Fairmont Hotel  http://www.ariachicago.com.

11. You can never go wrong at Piccolo Sogno, one of my all time favorites Italian restaurants in Chicago!

For French Food head over to Les Nomades in a lavish Streeterville townhouse. You will never be disappointed!

.Happy Valentine’s Day!

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com

Salute and Buon Appetito 

English: Executive Chef and Owner of the Stant...

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Ospitalita Italiana: Top Chicago Italian Restaurants certified “Authentic”

Equestrian statue representing Garibaldi, La S...

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English: Italian statesman Giuseppe Mazzini

English: Italian statesman Giuseppe Mazzini (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Giuseppe Garibaldi in 1866, four years after s...

Giuseppe Garibaldi in 1866, four years after surviving a bullet wound misdiagnosed by Partridge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leonardo da Vinci replica at Fabio Piccolo Fiore in NYC

Leonardo da Vinci replica at Fabio Piccolo Fiore in NYC

Rome: Spanish Steps

Rome: Spanish Steps

 

phil stefani's 437March 17th was the official date of the 150th Anniversary of Italian Unification (1861-2011).

Happy Birthday Italy

Chicago celebrates Italy's 150th birthday

The Risorgimento was a movement led by heroic Italian patriots like Camillo Cavour, Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi. Their efforts resulted in the establishment of the Italian nation. Although Napoleon attempted to unify Italy, his defeat led to oppression and dismal economic and political turmoil. Today Italian national brands like Armani, Versaci and Ferrari are a reflection of Italian ingenuity and quality craftsmanship.

Thank God they didn’t unify the culinary traditions that celebrate the diversity of the historical influences and regions of Italy. The cuisine is the cornerstone of signature dishes around the world.

Coca Pazzo's Tarimi Su

On March 17th,  Fulvio Calcinardi, the executive director of the Italian American Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the Milan Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International awarded 18 Chicago-area restaurants with the “Ospitalilita Italiana Quality Seal.” Here’s a video from the Chamber of Commerce that describes the Award Criteria http://youtu.be/NFzOZmZ-a0I

Chicago Osptalita ItalianaThe Italian Quality Seal Award recognizes authentic Italian Restaurants and is granted by the Italian Government. This honor is bestowed for their authenticity and culinary contributions to Italian Culture. I love that this event took place on St. Patrick’s Day. Did you know that St. Patrick was the son of a Roman?

The Quality specifications are determined by Italy’s National Institute of Tourist Research and was launched in Italy in 1997.  The project was extended beyond Italy’s borders and each establishment must meet 10 stringent criteria and submit proof of their authenticity.

The award ceremony took place at the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in Little Italy on Taylor Street in Chicago. Participants were able to taste the cuisine of many of Chicago’s premier Italian restaurants where the chef’s lovingly prepared some of their signature dishes.

Taylor Steet in Chicago

Italian American Sports Hall of Fame

The seal was created in 1997 and generated a list of criteria that includes proof of authenticity. It is like a “Baldrige Award” for authentic Italian restaurants and esteemed Italian chefs. Each restaurant must employ at least one Italian speaking employee and the menus must be written in proper Italian. At least 20% of the wines must be DOP-certified and the head chef must be proficient in authentic Italian cooking . They must submit at least five recipes with the region and ingredients that inspired the menu.

The 18 Chicago-Area Restaurants that earned the coveted award are:

Ospitalita Italiana Chicago

I love these Italian Restaurants!

  • Spiaggia Restaurant, 980 N. Michigan (Chef/Partner Tony Mantuano)
  • Piccolo Sogno, 464 N. Halsted (Chef/Owner Tony Priolo)

Piccolo Sogno in Chicago

piccolo sogno quality award

  • Coco Pazzo, 300 W. Hubbard (Executive Chef/Partner Chris Macchia)

Coco Pazza Quallity AwardCoco Pazzo in Chicago

  • Merlo on Maple, 16 W. Maple (Chef Luisa Silvia Marani)

    YUM!

Merlo on Maple in Chicago

  • Tocco, 1266 N. Milwaukee (Chef/Owner Bruno Abate)

Tocco in Chicago

Tocco Restaurant in Chicgo

Porchetta cooked to Perfection at Tocco

Vivere at The Italian Village, 71 W. Monroe

Taylor Street Italian Festival 2012

Taylor Street Italian Festival

Italian Expo 2011 121

Volare, 201 E. Grand (Chef Massimo Campagnini)

Volare Restaurant in Chicago

Volare Restaurant on Grand in Chicago

  • Pelago Ristorante, 201 E. Delaware (Chef/Owner Mauro Mafrici)
Pelago Ristorante in Chicago

Mauro’s Pelago Restaurant is one of my favorites in Streeterville on Delaware

Pelago Restaurant in Chicago

Mrs. Mafrici from Pelago Restaurant in Chicago

  • Quartino, 626 N. State (Chef/Partner John Coletta)
Quartino Restaurant in Chicago

John wrote a great CookBook

Phil Stefani’s 437 Rush, 437 N. Rush (Executive Chef Federico Comacchio)

  • Riccardo Trattoria, 2119 N. Clark (Chef/Owner Riccardo Michi)
  • 312 Chicago (Chef Luca Corazzina)

312 Chicago's Chef Luca Corazzina

  • Via Carducci La Sorella, 1928 W. Division (Chef Luis Hernandez)
  • Vivere (at Italian Village), 71 W. Monroe (Chef Robert Reynaud)
  • La Cantina (at Italian Village), 71 W. Monroe (Chef Robert Duerscheidt)
  • Ristorante Agostino, 2817 N. Harlem (Chef Anna Fiasche)
  • Sergio’s Cucina Italiana, 280 N. Rohlwing Rd., Itasca (Chef Sergio Abate)
  • Gaetano’s, 7636 W. Madison, Forest Park (Chef Gaetano Di Benedetto)
Ravioli at Phil Stefani's 437 Rush

Ravioli at Phil Stefani’s 437 Rush

Linguini at Phil Stefani's 437 Rush

Linguini at Phil Stefani’s 437 Rush

 

The wine and Prosecco were provided by Casa Vinicolo Zonin

Italian Wine and Prosecco

Italian Wine  A great time was had by all!!!

Here are a few Italian restaurants that I like with alfresco dining that were not recognized with a formal award:

1. Anteprima is located at 5316 Clark Street in Andersonville

http://www.anteprimachicago.net/

2. Zia’s in Edison Park and Zia’s Lago Vista on Ashland in Lakeview are both outstanding! The latter has plenty of outdoor seating

http://www.ziaslakeview.com/

3. Club Lago’s northern Italian cuisine has been around for over 60 years at 331 W. Superior in River North.

http://www.clublago.com/

4. Viaggio At The Park on Fullerton in Lincoln Park also has an outdoor seating area

http://www.viaggiochicago.com/

5. Topo Gigio in the heart of Old Town on Wells Street has plenty of outdoor space. It has been around for over 25 years.

http://topogigiochicago.com/

6. Autre Monde in Berwyn, was founded by four Spiaggio alums has a patio and greenhouse. http://www.autremondecafe.net/

7. Due Lire on 4520 N. Lincoln in Lincoln Square http://www.due-lire.com/

 

Buon Appetito!!

Dr. EveAnn Lovero loves her Ducati Motorcycle

Dr. EveAnn Lovero loves her Ducati Motorcycle

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Vino con Vista Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com.
 

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The Royal Wedding Menu Savors the Flavors of Vino con Vista Monaco

English: Photograph taken at the 2009 Monte-Ca...

English: Photograph taken at the 2009 Monte-Carlo Television Festival in Monaco. Pictured: Albert II and film producer Arick Wierson. Location. June, 2009, Monte-Carlo, Principality of Monaco. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2002 Monegasque commemorative coin

2002 Monegasque commemorative coin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: General view of Monaco

English: General view of Monaco (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

the

the “real” Monte Carlo Casino – France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monaco is nestled in the  French Riviera along the sumptuous Meditteranean Coast. There are more that 170 restaurants in Monaco’s small but mighty epicurean paradise. A plethora of dining options include charming sidewalk cafes and quaint brasseries in Old Town  as well as Michelin-starred establishments in landmark hotels. Monaco has plenty of   gourmet menus with signature dishes that offer fresh and flavorful options.

Bouef and Potatoes in Monaco

Pasta with clams in Monaco

Mussels (Moules) in Monaco

Culinary accolades in Monaco

Street Cafes in Monaco

Menu in Monaco on Rue Caroline

Monaco’s cuisine is a flavorful fusion of southern French ( Provençal and Nicoise ), Italian and other Mediterranean influences.  These influences on Monaco’s palate generate a plethora of savory options that meld French Provencal with many locally-produced products. Stuffed zucchini flowers, truffle and fois gras tortes and Provençal-style artichokes braised in wine with olive oil are other Monégasque favorites. In Monaco, try some traditional Monegasque specialties including:

*Barbagiuans, a crisp, baked or fried puff-pastry-filled fritters treat with Swiss chard, ricotta, leeks, garlic and herbs usually served as an appetizer

*Fougasse, a small, sweet bread flavored with oranges and decorated with nuts, raisins and anise

*Swiss chard pie, layers of pastry filled with a mixture of Swiss chard, parmesan cheese, parsley, eggs, onions, and rice

*Socca, a thin pancake made from chick-pea flour and olive oil

*Stocafi, dried cod stewed in tomato sauce and flavored with black olives  .

Sleek new hotels like the Fairmont Monte-Carlo and the Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel have recently opened new restaurants in the Principality of Monaco.   The Fairmont Monte-Carlo’s restaurants allow guests to savor the flavors of Monaco: (1)  L’Argentin is a meat-lovers favorite in the Fairmont with wood and charcoal spits for roasting and grilling; (2) breathtaking Mediterranean views are available at Le Pistou located on the hotel’s panoramic terrace with Italian and regional cuisine (www.fairmont.com/montecarlo). You may also want to try Bar & Boeuf,  Alain Ducasse’s second restaurant in Monaco.

Five of Monaco’s restaurants have collectively garnished eight gourmet Michelin stars.

The Michelin Man

Yoshi in the Hotel Metropole Monte Carlo earned their first Michelin star this year. Joël Robuchon Monte-Carlo  has a Michelin star and is also located in the  Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo (http://www.metropole.com/). Le Grill is located in the Hôtel de Paris and  Chef Sylvain Etievant”s rooftop restaurant has incredible “Vino con Vista” panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea  and was recently awarded one Michelin star.  Le Vistamar at the Hôtel Hermitage has earned chef Joël Garault a well-deserved Michelin star with the bonus of having spectacular “Vino-con-Vista” views of Monaco’s harbor.  Try the romantic Michelin star-rated La Coupole in the Hôtel Mirabeau with classic French cuisine.

The incredible menu at the Royal Wedding was prepared by three-star Michelin Chef Alain Ducasse who presides over Ducasse’s acclaimed Le  Louis XV.  His Michelin-starred restaurant is located in Monte-Carlo’s Hôtel de Paris and features a legendary wine cellar. His opulent restaurant is in the luxurious Hotel de Paris has more than 600,000 bottles of valuable vintages.  Ducasse was born in France but officially became a citizen of Monaco three years ago.

Ducasse has a collective total of 19 prestigious Michelin stars with restaurants in Italy, Japan, Hong Kong and France. His elegant “Vino con Vista” Jules Verne restaurant in Paris France is perched on the legendary Eiffel Tower. He also runs restaurants in the United States  in Las Vegas, New York, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico.

Alain Ducasse was assisted by Franck Cerutti Executive chef of the Hôtel de Paris.  A total of 285 staff members including ten chefs and 54 cooks; seven pastry chefs and 14 pastry cooks prepared the Royal Feast. Nearly all of the ingredients used to prpare the royal feast will be sourced locally. Some of the vegetables will be sourced from Prince Albert’s farm.

The following menu and wine list was released by the Government Office of Tourism:

***Alain Ducasse Menu for the Royal Wedding Dinner of Prince Albert II of Monaco and Miss Charlene Wittstock   with the Wine List  (Saturday July 2nd 2011)

 Created by Alain Ducasse and Monte-Carlo SBM for the Princely Wedding

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckTqeYHsuo8

“As a starter, the Barbagiuan

It’s a natural guest, a full member of every family in Monaco. Traditional prelude, eaten with the fingers, the summertime Barbagiuan is served warm in a fabric presentation box. Under a silky crust of delicate rissoles stuffed with swisschard, spinach, leeks, onions, parsley, basil, marjoram and chives,blended together with sheep’s milk ricotta, egg and Parmigiano Reggiano, beats a meltingly soft green heart.

Tender Vegetables, Tomat olive and marinated golden mullet, Poutargue (Bottargo)

The dish is large, oval and generous. The food is arranged to portray a landscape typical of the coast ofthe Riviera. First, Roma tomatoes cooked until soft and smooth, slices of beetroot, zucchinis “Trompettes” and rawturnips, just marinated in olive oil, salt and ground pepper, on which stand cooked fennels, flakes of celery heart, radishes and mushrooms, a stick of cucumber, tomato confit and yellow and white semidried peaches, all sprinkled with fresh almonds, courgette flowers and borage, sprigs of celery, wild purslane and chervil. Guérande Fleur de sel, extra virgin olive oil and organic black Sospel olives complete this masterpiece of nature, conceived as a real example of plant architecture.

Then, a thinly sliced filet of golden mullet simply served raw, marinated in olive oil, Guérande sea salt and black Sarawak pepper, capers, lemon thyme from Nice and lemon zest from Menton, all seasoned with flakes of bottarga from Martigues, in translucent, fragrant petals. A subtle play of layering and the association of softness and crunchiness. Part sea, part hills, a synthesis of local produce and a relaxed lifestyle. The golden mullet, known as the “daurin,” fished by Gérard Rinaldi, a member of the last fishing family in Monaco, is highly migratory and travels along the Nisso-Ligurian coast from east to west from May to July. It is rarely fished. Every year it offers itself for our delectation, like the little seasonal vegetables, which are deliciously tender and naturally sweet.

Small spelt, seasonal vegetables with herb pistou

Small spelt, an ancestor of wheat grown in Haute Provence, is cooked as a riso with diced carrots,onions, celery and mushrooms sweated in olive oil, mixed with raisins, girolle mushrooms and haricotbeans from Lantosque. Carrots and turnips, artichoke quarters, spring onions and leeks, peas and fava beans, green beans and flat green beans are sautéed and moistened with vegetable stock, then arranged on the spelt. The acidic cooking juices with rocket and basil are pounded in a mortar to make a herb pesto topped with some toasted pine nuts. Real bounty from the earth, this is a tribute to cooking that is healthy, modest and tasty, from the local terroir. An essential approach, a return to the source of nutritional values. Playing on textures and subtle cooking, this small pale spelt is as tender as could be.

Local fish in a delicate bouillon with marine flavours

On a base of new potatoes cooked in saffron broth, a rich catch of fish is a concentration of the flavoursof the Mediterranean. The famous shelled gamberoni “rossi” from San Remo, fillets of rock mullet,calamaretti stuffed with gamberoni meat, cuttlefish and lemons from Menton, filets of capon, seabream, Saint Pierre, denti and rock octopus tentacle. Everything is moistened with a fish stock madefrom rock fish, cooked like a fish broth with saffron. Wrapped in sunshine-coloured spice from the terroirs of Haute Provence, mixed with white onions, garlic, dried fennel, fresh tomatoes, moray and conger, demoiselle, green wrasse, ballan wrasse, goldsinny wrasse, rainbow wrasse, weeverfish, small black and brown rockfish and eriphia crab – localfishing is invited to the feast.

Three mini crostini, one of which sings the praises of the juices from red mullet liver, capon andanchovies; the second of rouille, the third of spider crab meat and coral, complete the bouquet of marine flavours that explodes in the mouth. The whole sea has shaped this amazing dish. Abundance and feasting recall mythical scenes on the ancient shoreline, sparkling with light and saturated with blue. This is an expression of memory, the universal message of a Mediterranean that represents the concepts of mutual exchange and sharing.

Red fruits bursting with sunshine, Rocagel milk ice cream

In an elegant crystal coupe, on a delicate, lightly sweetened strawberry jelly are placed wildstrawberries and raspberries picked early in the morning and a velvety scoop of ice cream made with milk from the Rocagel and a spoonful ofwarm strawberry juice. A flaky palmier biscuit accompanies the exquisite sweetness of this seasonal fantasy.

Refreshing and soft, in symbiosis with the season, this dessert with red berries radiates the colours of the Principality. While banners and flags flutter in the wind in the gaily bedecked streets, the subtle milk ice cream and the flavour of sun-drenched berries are a gentle introduction to the long-awaited moment – the wedding cake.

Red currant and vanilla wedding cake

Silky and flowery. On a soft biscuit base with almonds, a delicate red currant compote and a light mousse of vanilla, covered in a layer of white chocolate and some gooseberries. Forming a cornucopia of pearly sugar, the wedding cake presentation piece unites the flowers of the Riviera and the majestic Protea, the emblem of South Africa, in tribute to Princess Charlene.

An ephemeral pleasure, the crowning glory of a dinner that is intended to be both simple and precious;jellied fruits with lemon and limoncello to surprise and delight the guests for one last time while the sky over the Principality is lit up with bursts of colour.

 The Table Setting

A place of honour for the art of the table

An enlargeable basic map of Monaco

An enlargeable basic map of Monaco (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The china, selected and created especially for the tables, which are dressed in white tablecloths, is present but discreet, forming part of the spontaneous “ballet” of this great dinner.

The guests are served by 200 Maitre d’Hs, chefs de rang and commis – a precise choreography of agile gestures, porcelain and crystal treasures that cast sparkling reflections on the festivities.

In a combination of modern design and culinary tradition, five little sourdough rolls are arranged on a narrow porcelain dish in front of each guest. Miniature loaves set out in a row, gently shaped by Jean-Paul Veziano, a baker in Antibes, and baked at the Hôtel de Paris a few hours before the dinner: round rolls with olives, floury hand-shaped focaccia from Nice, michettes (Provencal bread rolls) with oil and bread with borage form a harmonious palette of flavours, symbols of life and the perpetuation of the craftsman’s skills.

Splashed with blue, in a very simple style, the china bowl, created by Pieter Stockmans for the delicate fish bouillon, is naturally clear. It is deep, and delicately evokes generous fishing and the clear waters that surround the Principality. For an evening of magic, Alain Ducasse and the Pieter Stockmans studio have redesigned the world in blue, white, and light. From cobalt blue, which is so characteristic, to the pure white porcelain, the dish represents an aesthetic language where motif and material are one and the same.

Alain Ducasse’s recipe gave rise to the search for a specific shape of bowl. Design and creativity come together – a duo in honour of the arts of the table. A delicate coupe in Saint Louis crystal holds the dessert of red berries topped with milk ice cream. The “Bubbles,” a slender, stemmed coupe, reflects a lifestyle that has its sources in the great tradition. This alchemy in glass from the Royal Factory dedicates its exquisite finesse to the celebration of the royal wedding. A resplendent recipient for a dessert in the Principality’s colours, it marries perfectly with the little white napkins edged with red berry fruits.

Wines in Unison (The Wine List)

Aware of how the soul of wines reflects their terroir, Gérard Margeon, head sommelier at Alain Ducasse’s restaurants and Noël Bajor, head sommelier at the Louis XV, have spent many months meeting exceptional small-scale growers and exploring vineyards to find wines to accompany the meal.

The selection is the fruit of their intuition and insight, but is also symbolic and reflects their meetings.

Western Cape Chardonnay, Anaïs vintage 2009

A wine from Orrance, 100% chardonnay, charming and gourmet

A white wine from South Africa will open the dinner as a tribute to Princess Charlene. A classic Cape wine, it is a perfect accompaniment to the starter of tender vegetables and golden mullet.

Bellet Le Clos, Le Clos Saint Vincent 2009

Bellet wine, 100% Rolle, lively, elegant and youthful

The small spelt and seasonal vegetables blended with a herb pesto complement the subtle nuances of a fresh white wine with a mineral taste. It has been developed by Gio Sergi, who uses biodynamic farming methods that are helping the Bellet appellation to evolve.

Bellet, Cuvee Baron G, Château de Bellet 2008

Bellet wine, 40% black folle, 40% braquet, 20% grenache, harmonious and smooth to accompany the locally caught fish bouillon. This astonishing red Bellet is a young vintage, elegant but very light, generous and fruity. At the Château of Bellet, Ghislain and Catherine de Charnacé form a link between Nice and its hills and their personal stories of persistence and hard work.

Château d’Yquem 1996

Appellation Sauternes, harmony in complexity

A Château d’Yquem with a remarkable aromatic potential takes the stage with the coupe of red berry fruits and Rocagel milk ice cream. Thanks to ideal weather conditions, this great, classic vintage fully respects the balance of a Château d’Yquem. A mystery of nature – time has no mastery over this sweet wine. With its very long finish, it holds the promise of a moment of happiness.

Perrier-Jouët Champagne, Cuvée Belle Epoque 2002

Legendary bubbles. A flute of Perrier Jouet’s iconic prestige cuvéee Belle Epoque 2002 champagne rounded off the dinner with the wedding cake and its delicate covering of white chocolate. The foundation of the House of Champagne Perrier-Jouët in 1811 was itself  born of a marriage between its founders Pierre Nicolas Perrier and Adèle Jouët 200 years ago. An elegant and romantic flower champagne bottle for a fairytale Royal wedding.

Facts & Figures

1,600 barbagiuan, 150 kg of fish of ten different varieties, 100 kg of mullet for a delicate carpaccio,

300 kg of tomatoes, 50 kg of strawberries, 20 kg of wild strawberries, 30 kg of raspberries in every

variation of passionate red, 100 litres of milk for a creamy dessert, 750 delightfully soft limoncello

sweets, 2,000 majestic sugar flowers, the crowning glory of 250 hours of work for the seven- tier

wedding cake, 1.50 m in diameter and 2.50 metres high.

The staff Alain Ducasse and Monte-Carlo SBM

In the kitchen, Alain Ducasse will be assisted by Franck Cerutti Executive chef of the Hôtel de Paris and Bruno Caironi, consulting chef. Both where part of the opening team of Le Louis XV in 1987.” (Office of Tourism, Monaco)

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com

The Casino de Monte-Carlo

The Casino de Monte-Carlo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Chef Week Chicago 2014

Loop skyline from the lakefront, Chicago, IL, USA

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Map of Chicago's community areas, grouped by c...

Map of Chicago’s community areas, grouped by color by “side” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Chicago Theater

English: Chicago Theater (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just when you are recovering from the weight that you gained during Restaurant Week, you should start thinking about making reservations for the

English: From top left: Downtown Chicago, the ...
English: From top left: Downtown Chicago, the Willis Tower, the Chicago Theater, the Chicago “L”, Navy Pier, the Field Museum, and Millenium Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6th annual Chicago Chef’s Week 2014 extravaganza.

WHEN: March 16th – March 21st

Top-notch Chicago restaurants will offer special menus and signature dishes.

For more information visit:  www.chicagochefweek.com

Here is a list of the 2014

Chicago River @ night

Chicago River @ night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

participants:

Celebrate Chicago chefs during Chicago Chef Week 2014

Lunch: 3 courses for $22**  |  Dinner: 4 courses for $44**

<!– BOKA – Dinner only –><!– Vermilion (L) (D) –>

2014 Participants:
720 Bar & GrillAda St. – Dinner only — Antique Taco*** – Lunch only — Atwood Café – Dinner only — Autre Monde – Dinner only — Avec – Dinner only — Azzurra – Dinner only — Balena – Dinner only — BarbakoaBistro Bordeaux – Dinner only — BistronomicBlackbird – Lunch only — The Boarding House – Dinner only — Bread & Wine – Dinner only — The Bristol – Dinner only — Browntrout – Dinner only — Carriage HouseCarlucciChez Moi – Dinner only — Chicago QCicchettiCyrano’s*** – Dinner only — Coppervine – Dinner only — The Dawson – Dinner only — De CeroEmbeyaEpic
Frontier – Dinner only — Gather*** – Dinner only — The GageGemini Bistro – Dinner only — Graham Elliot BistroGrange Hall Burger BarGreen Zebra – Dinner only — GT Fish & Oyster***Homestead on the Roof – Dinner only — Hot ChocolateHowells & Hood – Dinner only — iNG – Dinner only — JamJellyfishLas Palmas – Dinner only — Le ColonialLibertad – Dinner only — Little Market BrasserieThe LobbyLocal RootLockwoodMacku Signature – Dinner only — MercaditoMexiqueMK*** – Dinner only — Mott Street – Dinner only — Nana
Nico Osteria – Lunch only — Nightwood – Dinner only — North Pond – Dinner only — Oceanique – Dinner only — Perennial Virant – Dinner only — The Publican*** – Lunch only — Riccardo Trattoria – Dinner only — Roka AkorRoka Akor Old OrchardRustic House – Dinner only — SepiaSiena TavernSlurping Turtle***Sol de MexicoSophie’s at Saks Fifth Avenue – Lunch only — Table Fifty-Two – Dinner only — Table, Donkey and Stick – Dinner only — TakitoTanta – Dinner only — TavernitaTelegraph – Dinner only — TesoriTortoise ClubTroquet River NorthVermilionVie – Dinner only
* 2 lucky guests will be chosen at random to win 52 $50 gift cards from participating restaurants. ** Beverages, tax and gratuity not included in pricing. Participation depends on each restaurant’s hours of operation. *** Offer different than regular Chicago Chef Week promo pricing. Please inquire with individual restaurant.
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Make your reservations ASAP at www.opentable.com or directly at the restaurant’s website.

Set table at the James Beard House, January 2007

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Many noteworthy Executive Chefs will prepare outstanding meals at bargain prices. A three-course prix fixe lunch will set you back $22 and dinner will be $44.

Buon Appetito from your “Foodie Friends” @ www.vino-con-vista.com.

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Image that shows the areas used by UNESCO in order to localize World Heritage Sites. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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Filed under Attractions in Chicago, Authentic Italian Restaurants in Chicago, Buon Appetito, Chef Week Chicago 2011, Chicago, chicago chef week 2013, Chicago Restaurants, Italian Food, Italian Food and Wine, Italian restaurants in Chicago, Italian Wine, michelin guide to chicago restaurants, Ospitalita Italiana Quality Restaurants in Chicago, Restaurant Week in Chicago, Travel and Tourism, vino con vista, Vino con Vista Chicago, Wine, Wine Festivals

Chicago Chef Week Pick: Michael Jordan’s One Sixty Blue on Randolf

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Passionate foodies and wine aficionados should make a Chef’s Week reservation at Michael Jordan‘s One Sixty Blue Restaurant located at 1400 W. Randolf www.onesixtyblue.com.

Executive Chef Michael McDonald’s exceptional “Contemporary American Cuisine” was nutured by Charlie Trotter‘s passion for food when Michael served as Charlie’s Executive Chef at his restaurant in Los Cabos, Mexico. Chef Michael excels at creatively combining quality ingredients and executing a flawless presentation in this sleek and elegant dining establishment in Chicago’s trendy West Loop neighborhood.

For the first course one of my favorites is the Pacific Shrimp and Grits with sweet corn and chanterelle mushrooms or enjoy the delightful Charcuterie with smoked meats and whole grain mustard.

Chicago Chef Week

Smoked Meat Appetizer @ One Sixty Blue in CHicago

I highly recommend the perfectly-prepared Porcini Ravioli served over white and green asparagus with mushrooms as well as the outstanding wood-grilled flat iron steak served over blue cheese mashed potatoes drizzled with a savory cracked pepper sauce.

Porcini Ravioli served over asparagusFlat iron steak over blue cheese mashed potatoes

I enjoyed the complex flavor of the incredible 2008 Sineann Wilamette Valley Pinot Noir which paired nicely with both entrees.

Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

The talented Pastry Chef Hillary Blanchard-Rikower attended Le Cordon Blue‘s Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. She wowed us with her decadent chocolate peanut butter terrine with buttery popcorn-flavored ice cream as well as a superb sticky toffee cake with citrus pear mascarpone.

Chef Week Chicago 2011

Salute and Buon Appetito from your foodie friends at www.vino-con-vista.com.

Vino Con Vista Travel Guides can be purchased at these sites
 

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Filed under Attractions in Chicago, Chef Week Chicago 2011, Chicago, Chicago Restaurants, Italy Travel Guides, michelin guide to chicago restaurants, Vino con Vista Chicago