It is September, as often, the Brief will be slightly unusual… this is the time of year when we are constantly travelling. There are many good reasons to be travelling in the vineyards at this time of the year. For us in particular one good reason is that many of our tour clients want to go on wine tours now. Britt is in Alentejo right now and Per just came back from Campania – and is going back to Italy tomorrow. Sot there is not really much time left to write the Brief.
That is why this Brief is a little bit unusual. It is almost entirely dedicated to videos and restaurants. There are a few video interviews and reportage that we wanted to share with your, among other things one from Alentejo. And then there is a whole batch of restaurant recommendations. Don’t forget that there is an entire section on our new site with restaurant recommendations. Perhaps they can make you long for a nice restaurant visit in some charming wine region sometimes in the future?
Britt & Per
What’s on at BKWine Tours
“World’s Best Wine Tours” – Travel + Leisure Magazine, on TravelAndLeisure.com
BKWine offers you two possibilities to go wine travelling this autumn:
- Wine Tour to Bordeaux, October 5-9, 2011 – Book now!
For a wine lover a trip to Bordeaux is a must! In Bordeaux you find world famous châteaux and world famous wines but also a lot of new exciting initiatives (less famous but maybe more important for the future of Bordeaux!) and young enthusiastic wine makers.
On this trip we will visit both some big, famous Grand Cru Classé-châteaux and smaller ones that are less known, but very quality conscious. More info on our wine tour to Bordeaux here!
- Burgundy wine tour – exclusive, elusive, enchanting, October 19-23, 2011 – no more bookings!
For more information please contact us on email or on phone (we’re on French time), or go to our wine travel site on www.bkwinetours.com!
What do people think about a wine tour with BKWine?
That is of course a question that we think is very important. We want it to be a wonderful and memorable experience for everyone. Here are some of the comments we’ve had from customers this season:
- “Many thanks for a fantastic trip. You are so keen to make everything the best for your guests and you are so knowledgeable about wine. A pleasure to travel with you.”, W-A
- ”Thank you for a wonderful trip to Umbria and southern Tuscany. Wonderful in many ways – our initial ideas for the trip on food and wine in Umbria and Tuscany – and discovering sagrantino and sangiovese – were more than fulfilled”, I & P in Umbria and Tuscany
Custom wine tours
We also make custom designed wine tours – on-demand tours for you and a group of friends, for your company (maybe to scout new winegrowers?), for a special event… We can combine winery visits and wine touring with other activities: gastronomic workshops, visit to an oyster farm, truffles hunting, cheese making, and more. We’ve done tours for wine clubs, for sommelier educations, for corporate events, for wine importers, for wine course study groups… just to mention a few.
Wine tours in Finnish
We also do wine tours in Finnish. And in German, Norwegian, Spanish… Do you want the latest news and updates on our wine travel activity? Subscibe here! (Second alternative BKWineTours.com)
From the World of Wine
Restaurant La Cave de Bigoudy | Bordeaux restaurant
The restaurant hides on one of the dark streets behind the Quai des Chartrons area, but don’t be deterred. (It is very close to the more famous Gravellier.) Rustic country style is a very good description. Their speciality is grilled meat, so if you go there you should definitely try something from the barbeque; that is inevitable. The grilling is done in front of you – in the middle of the dining room so you can see when it is cooked. If you’re cold, try and get a seat near it. It will definitely warm you up! It is a huge open fire. You choose your meat and you choose your accompaniment, et voilà. Delicious meat or if you’re adventurous try the crispy grilled pork intestines.
The meat is grilled on real sarments (vine cuttings) which is quite rare. There are not many other restaurants that do that. A spectacle in itself.
The restaurant also functions as a wine shop and all the wines are sold at caviste prices in the restaurant. The wine selection is very Bordeaux focused of course. There are both some reasonably priced ones and some famous names. And since they serve them at wine shop prices in the restaurant it is generally very good value. But you have to like rustic! Definitely one of the more original (and least touristy) addresses in Bordeaux that is becoming more and more metropolitan.
Restaurant La Cave de Bigoudy, 36 rue Tourat, 33000 Bordeaux, ph 05 56 51 69 43
La Beppa Fioraia | Florence restaurant
La Beppa is not a restaurant that you would just happen to pass by. You have to know where to find it. A lot of Florentinos do know where to find it! It is often crowded. The first time I went here I had asked a friend who lives in Florence “I want something away from all the tourists, something simple and friendly with good pizza or pasta and some good wines.”. The answer was “La Beppa”, and she is right, that is a good summary of the restaurant.
The atmosphere is very friendly, a young crowd, nothing complicated, informal, colourful tiles on the table, lots of people… The waiters run around with wafer thin pizzas, steaming pasta dishes, bruschettas, plates with cheese and charcuteries, grilled meat and many other delicious dishes. Prices are very reasonable, around 8€ for pizzas, main courses between 12€ and 20€ (except the bistecca fiorentina, the enormous grilled chunk of beef that is a classic in Florence restaurants, that is charged by weight and probably will cost you 40€ for a kilo!). It is a big restaurant but it is almost always full so it can be a good idea to book, as often in Florence! You find Ristoranto La Beppa on the south side of the river, perhaps a ten-fifteen minutes walk from Palazzo Vecchio, close to where one can see the ruins of one of the remaining city wall towers. And if you don’t get a table at La Beppa there are plenty of other good restaurants in that area.
La Beppa Fioraia, Via dell’Erta Canina 6r, Florence, ph 0552347681, http://www.labeppafioraia.it
Cortes de Cima: interview with Hans Kristian Jorgensen – a pioneer in Alentejo, Portugal
A while back we met with the founder of Cortes de Cima in his vineyard in Alentejo in Portugal. We had the opportunity to make a short video interview with Hans Kristian who, together with his wife Carrie, is the founder and owner of the winery Cortes de Cima. Cortes de Cima is one of the leading wine estates in the Alentejo, a wine region an hour or two east of Lisbon that has undergone a revival in the last few decades.
We talk about the challenges of creating a new winery in an unknown wine region and about the challenges in general that the Portuguese wine industry is facing. This is the second part of the Cortes de Cima interviews. We have previously published an interview with one of Cortes de Cimas winemakers, Hamilton Reis. Watch the new video here: Cortes de Cima, Alentejo, interview with Hans Kristian Jorgensen, founder on BKWine TV
Gemelli | Lisbon restaurant
Gemelli is one of the best restaurants we have been to in Lisbon – not that we have any claim to a wide experience. The chef is Augusto Gemelli who comes from Italy, which is something one also can see on the menu. The cuisine is actually more Italian than Portuguese: antipasti that includes salads and seafood creations (around 10€), primi piatti where you can choose from risotto and pastas (15€-19€), secondi where you can choose from two fish courses and two meat courses.
They also have a tasting menu that is very good value for around 35€. Augusto is also a big wine lover so the wine list is very ambitious with both Portuguese and international wines, quite a few available by the glass. The atmosphere is modern, almost ascetic, very elegant, which is perhaps part of the Italian “design” influence. The location is not quite in the centre. It is right in front of the parliament building: it’s a long walk (20+ minutes) or a short taxi drive. But it’s worth it!
Gemelli, Rua Nova da Piedade 99 (corner of rua de San Bento), 1200-822 Lisbon, ph 213 952 552, www.augustogemelli.com
La Gazzetta | Paris restaurant
La Gazzetta is a restaurant that is a mix of Italian and French. It is in a decidedly un-fashionable part of the city, the 12th arrondissement, very close to one of the most interesting food markets in Paris: Le Marché d’Aligre. It is a Parisian café-restaurant, quite simple, quite crowded, and quite friendly. With a small touch of modern (or rather art-nouveau) design.
The concept is a little bit different from your average Paris café. First, the ambition of the cuisine is definitely one notch up from most café-resto:s. For lunch they have an interesting 2 course “formule” (set menu) at 16€ to 20€: for starter you get three small tapas-like things, for example a soup, a small tartare, and a little salad. For the main course you have a choice between four different dishes: fish, meat, vegetarian or from the grill. Or you can have a pizza. In the evening they serve either a five course menu for 39€ or seven four 52€. The choice can include e.g. oeuf-en-cocotte with white truffles and lardo, farm-bred chicken with pistou, and raviolis with goat milk and herbs. In other words, quite imaginative but based on classic French (mainly) – Italian (a bit) cuisine.
For a Paris café-restaurant they also have a very decent selection of wines; around a dozen by the glass and some interesting names on the 60-long bottle list. A restaurant that makes it worth taking the detour to try it! (With the added benefits that it is close to where we used to live, so a nostalgia trip for us, and one of the owners is Swedish! Plus just next door to Le Baron Rouge, one of Paris’ most curious wine bars.)
La Gazzetta, Café – Restaurant – Bar à Vin, 29 rue Côtte 75012 Paris, ph 01 43 47 05, www.lagazzetta.fr
The story of Domaine Turner Pageot – a small winery in the Languedoc
Domaine Turner Pageot is a very small wine producer in the Languedoc, in the little town of Gabian. It was created by the husband and wife team of Emmanuel Pageot and Karen Turner, he from France and she from Australia. Emmanuel runs the vineyard and winery while Karen spends most of her time working as winemaker and manager of another (very famous) Languedoc wine estate.
They make a small range of very interesting wines, both red and white. Perhaps the most curious wine they make is the white which they vinify (at least in recent years) as a red wine, with skins, which gives it a very unusual and interesting character. Not to forget their other wines of course. Last year we produced a series of “promotional” videos for Turner-Pageot. But they are not so much promotional as videos telling the story of a small winery in the Languedoc, so we thought it would be a good idea to share them here with you.
On one of the videos they also explain how they work with biodynamics (a special variant of organic winegrowing) The story of Domaine Turner Pageot on BKWine TV
L’Authentique | Paris restaurant
L’Authentique is, as one can guess from the name, the classic café-bistrot type of restaurant that you can find in Paris when you walk away from the big streets, in residential and small-office parts of Paris. It’s a simple café but with a food and wine ambition. You can see some of it from the nicely folded chequered white-and-red napkins or the long list of wines on the chalkboard (two good signs for the restaurant sleuth!).
It’s as far from “gourmet” you can get. It is simple, well-prepared food in classic French style. Grilled meat, sausage, steak tartare, or salads, long-cooked leg-of-lamb and some other dishes, most in the classic café style. Starters around 10 euro, main courses roughly between 15 and 20, or “today’s menu” with three courses for 17 euro. Quite a lot of wines to choose from, mainly from independent growers and a reasonable selection by the glass (unusual in Paris cafés). For example: Costières de Nîmes from Paul Blanc for 27 euro or an Alsace Kritt pinot blanc from Marc Kreydenweiss for 25 euro, at the lower end of the price scale. A restaurant in the good restaurant de quartier school.
Restaurant L’Authentique, 167 ru de Vaugirard, Paris 15, metro Pasteur, 01 42 19 07 43, www.lauthentique.fr
Tacabanda | Asti, Piedmont, restaurant
Tacabanda is a restaurant that hides in a tiny alley next to the Teatro Alfieri – not easy to find. The only thing you see on street level is the door and stairs leading down. (In season they also have tables outside.) The restaurant is in an old vaulted cellar, probably centuries old. It is an excellent address first for their broad selection of wines – one entire wall in the restaurant is covered in wine bottles, some 350 different wines on offer. And then for its cuisine.
They serve traditional Piedmontese dishes. We have for example tried the classic “steak tartare”, the raw minced meat steak that is so typical for the region (it is very different from a French style steak tartare and a classic Piemonte dish!). We have only been there once but were very satisfied, and have heard very positive feedback from others. Very well prepared food and friendly service. The atmosphere in the restaurant is quite cosy and slightly modern. Moderate prices.
Tacabanda Ristorante, Via al Teatro Alfieri 5, 14100 Asti, ph 0141 53 09 99
Restaurang GQ | Stockholm restaurant
Jürgen Grossmann is a bit of an eminence gris on the Stockholm restaurant scene. Or perhaps not so grey, he actually has quite a reputation. Today he runs GQ. We first encountered his cooking talents at Gässlingen, small restaurant on Söder in Stockholm. That was many years ago. Now he runs a much more sophisticated place, GQ, in a much more sophisticated part of town, on Östermalm. The restaurant has two sections: a wine bar and the restaurant. The “restaurant” has high ambitions. It is focused on set menus of three or five courses although you do have some flexibility to choose. The cuisine is very focused on Scandinavian raw material – but with a very sophisticated twist.
To call the other part of the restaurant “wine bar” is perhaps an exaggeration; it’s more like a bistro. The menu is different with a small selection of starters, main courses and desserts. Some examples: seafood “Wallenberg” burger (excellent!), traditional Swedish cold poached salmon, entrecôte with chanterelles mushrooms… Prices in the restaurant are moderate to slightly up-market: 5 course menu 795 kr or three for 645. Bistro main courses between 195 kr and 395 kr.
The wine selection is extensive, more than 600 wines on the list they say. Around a dozen wines are served by the glass starting at 80 kr going up to 180 kr. Very friendly service and delicious bread! A very good, slightly upmarket Stockholm restaurant.
Restaurang GQ, Kommendörsgatan 23, 114 48 Stockholm, ph 08-545 674 30, www.gqrestaurang.se
Ristorante Al Calmiere | Verona restaurant
If you sit outside you can have a view of the splendid Basilica di San Zeno. But the restaurant is indeed worth a visit in itself, not just for the view. It is a classic-style Italian restaurant, traditional style; more elegant than a simple trattoria but not luxurious. Nice table cloth and real napkins, good silverware, attentive service. The cuisine is traditional Verona and Veneto cooking – nice to find a restaurant that is not run by an exile from another region…
It is a good restaurant to visit if you want to try some of the regional specialities. They have an extensive menu to choose from. We were not so hungry when we were there so we tried some different kinds of pasta – well made and delicious. Service was very friendly, prices reasonable. The wine list was long with several famous names but also some more reasonable priced wines from the region – a very decent choice.
One of the benefits of Al Calmiere is that it will take you out of the old city centre (that sometimes can feel like a 51st American state…). It is only a short walk – 8 minutes from Castelvecchio or less than 15 min from Piazza Bra and the Arena – and it will take you through a part of Verona where Veronese people actually live and work. Well worth the walk to get a nice dinner in a good restaurant in a pretty town square.
Ristorante Al Calmiere, cucina nella tradizione veronese, Piazza San Zeno 10, 37123 Verona, ph 045 80 30 765, http://www.calmiere.com/
Steenberg Vineyards with John Loubser, general manager – one of the oldest wineries in South Africa
Steenberg means Stone Mountain. The reason is obvious when you come here: you are surrounded by stones and mountains, granite stone mountain. This soil gives fantastic sauvignon blanc wines with lots of minerality. They also have sandy soil, loam and other terroir, but all originates from the granite.
Steenberg is a very old farm that dates back to 1682. It was actually the first winemaking farm in the Constantia Valley. We were there some while back and made a video interview with John Loubser, the general manager of the winery. Watch it here: Steenberg Vineyards, South Africa, interview with John Loubser on BKWine TV
Ristorante Il Ciottolo Osteria Caffè | Verona restaurant
You can easily miss Il Ciottolo. It is on one of the main thoroughfares in Verona close to the most busy tourist areas. But it would be a mistake to miss it. It is excellent. It is a very simple, almost country style taverna; rough-cut wooden tables and chairs. The food is also simple but very well made. They have a few hot dishes to choose from, including home made pasta of course. But they also have an excellent choice of charcuterie and cheese platters if you do not want a full meal. If you take the charcuteries one you are likely to get a few slices of the very Italian aged pork fat – aged for a long time in marble troughs. Interesting!
The restaurant has a good but not outstanding selection of wines. It is the place to go when you want to sit down and relax with something uncomplicated and get away from they sight-seeing noise. Usually very friendly service, sometimes from the very friendly lady who owns the place. We often go there after a full day touring the vineyards, having had a copious lunch, just to relax and have a bite to eat in the evening. Very nice.
Il Ciottolo Osteria Caffè, Corso Cavour 39/c, Verona, ph 045 800 9236. http://www.osteriailciottolo.it/
Enoteca Italiana | Siena restaurant & wine bar
One needs perhaps to do a little bit of extra promotion for this place – it is in the wrong direction. It is not really far from the city centre, though, only five minutes walk from Piazza Matteotti. You can’t miss it. It is in the immense and impressive Fortezza Medicea. It is something like an all purpose wine promotion place: wine shop, wine bar, wine restaurant, wine school, wine museum… The purpose is exactly that: to be a showcase and promotion tool for Italian wine. We have only been to the wine bar and that was certainly well worth a visit. They have a very wide range of wines, much of it available by the glass. There is also a terrasse where you can enjoy a warm summer evening. Perhaps a good place to start the evening early with a glass of Prosecco before finding a restaurant?
Enoteca Italiana, Rortezza Medicea, 53100 Siena, ph 0577 22 88 43, www.enoteca-italiana.it
La Taverna di Cecc | Siena restaurant
La Taverna di Cecco is a very small restaurant only a few hundred meters from the famous Piazza del Campo but a world away in terms of the crowds of tourist there are. The style is that of a simple taverna, but with real table cloths and proper napkins, so certainly a bit up from the basic. They have traditional Siennese and Tuscan food, the pastas, the stews, the meat dishes etc. The restaurant also makes a speciality of coal grilled meat, truffles and mushrooms but don’t let that scare you away!… You can find all sorts of nicely prepared traditional home cooking here.
La Taverna di Cecco, Via Cecco Angiolieri 19, 53100 Siena, ph 0577 28 85 18
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