Taste Unlocked: Food & Thought

By Tuesday, June 26, 2018 Permalink 1

Taste Unlocked: Food & Thought

France and Italy’s relationship through time, wine & food

PROGRAM FOR 4-DAY MASTERCLASS TASTING WEEKEND IN CHARTRES

with Jonell Galloway and James Flewellen

4th to 7th October 2018
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Course Overview

FRANCE AND ITALY ARE TITANS OF EUROPEAN culinary culture. The nations of today are inheritors of rich culinary traditions that are the result of millennia of interweaving relationships between the peoples who inhabit these lands. This is a process that predates even the Romans and continues very much into the 21st century.

Over this four-day weekend, we explore the culinary and vinous relationships between France and Italy from Roman times through to today. We will look at what each nation has gifted the other through various lenses, including food, drink and culinary culture.

The masterclass involves sumptuous feasting, tutored wine tastings, and intellectual discussion. Bring your taste buds, something to say and a willingness to learn!

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DR JAMES FLEWELLEN is a biophysicist, wine writer and educator based in London. He learned his trade in taste during his doctoral studies at Oxford University, leading the university’s blind tasting team to victories in numerous international competitions. Since then he has completed his WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wine and Spirits and written a Gourmand award-winning guide to blind tasting. He is a judge for the International Wine Challenge and gives regular wine education tastings in London, bringing his scientific expertise to bear on questions of high taste.

JONELL GALLOWAY grew up on Wendell Berry and food straight from a backyard Kentucky garden. She attended Le Cordon Bleu and La Varenne cooking schools in Paris as well as the Academie du Vin. She ran a cooking school in France, and owned a farm-to-table restaurant, The Three Sisters’ Café, with her two sisters in the U.S. Jonell is a freelance writer who has worked for the GaultMillau guides The Best of France and The Best of Paris and CityGuides, amongst others. She has collaborated on many projects including Le tour du monde en 80 pains with Jean-Philippe de Tonnac in France, At the Table: Food and Family around the World with Ken Albala, Ma Cuisine Méditerranéenne with Christophe Certain, and André Raboud: Sculptures 2002-2008.


Contact Details

The course takes place in the Rue Saint-Pierre, Chartres, France, in a beautiful converted 11th-century chapel.

This map shows the masterclass venue in relation to central Chartres. Note the cathedral in the top of the map. The train station is just off the map, to the top left. The venue is located at a curve in the road, has a small courtyard in the front and a turret.

Chartres is easily accessible from Paris by train. There is also plenty of car parking in the city center. For further details on how to travel, please get in touch.

Our email address is: info@tasteunlocked.com.
Feel free to contact us for any reason.

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Course Schedule

DAY 1 – Thursday
ARRIVAL afternoon / evening

Arrival into Chartres
Please let us know if you would like to be met at the station and shown to your accommodation.

6:30 PM COCKTAIL
We meet at 1 Rue Saint-Pierre over a local Loire sparkling wine for an informal introduction to the weekend ahead.

7:30 PM DINNER
A home-cooked meal prepared using local ingredients and heritage Beauce recipes. Each course is paired with wine sourced from the Loire Valley. After dinner, the evening is free for a walk to see the medieval city center and the light displays of the cathedral.

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DAY 2 – Friday

11:00 AM – 12:15 PM CULINARY INSIGHTS 1: La Cucina Povera
Meet at 1 Rue Saint-Pierre for our first culinary insights discussion of the weekend. In this session, Jonell will lead an exploration into the culinary links between France and Italy, focusing in particular on how frugality has inspired innovation in food production and cooking. All guests are invited to contribute to the discussion if they wish.

12:30 PM INTRODUCTION TO WINE TASTING
James presents an informal introduction to wine tasting, paving the way for the skills we’ll need to taste and discuss wines over lunch. We’ll discuss aromas, flavors and structural elements such as acidity, alcohol, sugar, and tannin as well as covering what makes a “good” wine and how wines interact with food.

1:15 PM LUNCH
We continue our discussions over a meal paired with wines from around France.

2:30 PM FREE TIME

7:45 PM DINNER AT 1 RUE SAINT-PIERRE
Meet at 7.45 pm for dinner at 8:00 pm. Jonell will prepare a home-cooked meal bringing to mouth-watering fullness our theoretical discussions from throughout the day. James will select wines to match with each course, further illustrating the interplay between wine and food.

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DAY 3 – Saturday
Morning FREE TIME / GUIDED MARKET VISIT
The morning is free for you to enjoy Chartres. You are very welcome to join Jonell for a guided tour of the market as she sources ingredients for the weekend’s meals.

12:00 PM GUIDED TOUR OF CHARTRES CATHEDRAL
We meet at La Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres – one of the medieval wonders of the world – for a guided tour conducted by Malcolm Miller. Malcolm has been leading tours at Chartres Cathedral since 1958; there really can be no better guide to this astonishing building.

1:30 PM – 2:30 PM LUNCH
We return to 1 Rue Saint-Pierre for a light lunch

2:30 PM FREE TIME

5:45 – 7:45 PM WINE TASTING & CULINARY INSIGHTS 2: Franco-Italian links via wine

Convene at 1 Rue Saint-Pierre by 5.30 pm. James leads a discussion on the relationships between France and Italy through wine. We’ll look at historical influences of different French and Italian peoples on winemaking technology and traditions as well as how France and Italy influence each other in the 21st century. All accompanied by a tutored wine tasting!

8:00 PM DINNER AT RESTAURANT SAINT-HILAIRE
At 7.45 pm we walk down to noted local foodie establishment Restaurant Saint-Hilaire. There we will be treated to a three-course set menu of classic, innovative French cuisine using only local products, with each course paired with Loire Valley wines – the perfect setting to continue our wine tasting discussions.

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DAY 4 – Sunday
Morning FREE TIME

12:00 PM LUNCH AT 1 RUE SAINT-PIERRE

1:30 – 2:30 PM CULINARY INSIGHTS 3: La Cucina Moderna
Following lunch, Jonell leads our final session of the masterclass, focusing on how the cuisines of both France and Italy have evolved and influenced each other in the 20th and 21st centuries – particularly as technology and the politics of a post-WW2 Europe have led to greater affluence and global influence of these two great nations.

The afternoon is available fortravelingg onwards, or for exploring Chartres in more detail.

PRICE

€945, including meals

Early booking price of €855 if (non-refundable) deposit of €300 if paid by August 7th.

Otherwise, deposit is due by August 30th.

Remainder due by September 21st. We can also take installments if needs be.

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A Brief History of Coffee

By Tuesday, March 13, 2018 Permalink 0

by Brian Yarvin

“Collectively, Europe’s coffeehouses functioned as the Internet of the Age of Reason.”–Tom Standage

I once asked a friend how much coffee he drank and he boasted “500 billion cups a year.” I knew instantly that this was wrong because the entire world drinks only about 400 billion. No matter where we are — in the car-crazed west, the subway riding city of New York, a town square cafe in Kansas, or a science lab in Antarctica — coffee is our fuel.

Coffee is so powerful that it has its own creation myth. We are told that it was discovered by a guy named “Kaldi.” He was an Ethiopian goat herder who noticed that when his animals ate certain red berries, they got so excited, they began to dance. So he chewed on a few berries and felt that now universal coffee buzz. Afterward, he picked some more, and then told an Islamic holy man about his discovery. The holy man declared them evil and threw them on the fire. When they smelled the roasting beans, they gathered them up, threw water on them, and enjoyed the world’s first cup of coffee.

Continue Reading…

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The Rambling Epicure Book-a-Month Club

By Monday, September 11, 2017 Permalink 0

THE WINNER IS “WHAT SHE ATE” and we’ll start discussing it from September 15 to 30, 2017.

Click here to join.

In The Rambling Epicure threads, it’s become clear that many of us like reading about food as well as cooking it, eating it, talking about it. With that in mind, it seemed like a sort of “foodies’ book club” (with apologies to those who hate the word “foodie”) might be an interesting thing to try. Jonell has a ton on her plate right now, and I’m always looking for an excuse to avoid work, so I’ll start off by moderating, but that’s just for convenience and for the moment.

As a beginning, we thought we would suggest four books. Pick the one you’d most like to read and discuss, vote for it in the comments, and on Friday, September 1, we’ll announce a winner. We’ll give everybody time to acquire and read the book, and we’ll open things up to chat and argument on Friday, September 15 and continue until September 30. 

If there are other books you’d like to suggest, that would be great. Please note them in the comments and I’ll keep a list, then we’ll run the most popular suggestions for the next cycle.

For this opening cycle, please vote for ONE of the following:

Since this is our first attempt, please feel free to add any suggestions about dates, timing, books, and how might generally build this reading group together.

All these books are available as ebooks.

Click here to join.

Maggie Topkis

P.S. We are now taking suggestions for books for the next The Rambling Epicure Book-a-Month club in October.

 

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Food and Wine Tasting Masterclass in Chartres

By Thursday, June 15, 2017 Permalink 0

Exploring the Food and Wine of the Beauce and the Loire Valley

Award-winning wine writer, James Flewellen, and Cordon Bleu-educated cook and food journalist, Jonell Galloway, present wine and food tasting masterclasses in the historic French city of Chartres. Comprising dedicated wine tastings, sumptuous meals made from local ingredients paired with regional Loire Valley wines and a unique, “sense-awakening” taste experience, our food and wine holiday courses will help unlock your taste buds and introduce the richness of aromas, flavors and textures present in food and wine.

  • Courses conducted in English
  • All lunches, dinners, and wine included
  • We use only the highest quality, locally-sourced produce and ingredients
  • Over 10 hours of professional food and wine tasting instruction
  • Taste over 20 (4-day course) different wines from the Loire Valley
  • Learn the art of food and wine pairing
  • Dine and learn in a 1,000-year-old converted chapel
  • Socialize with like-minded wine- and food-lovers
  • Experience the atmosphere of the Chartres Festival of Lights in a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Guided city tour & collection from the station included

Click here for more details.

Dates for our 2017 masterclass are now confirmed:

  • Our signature 4-day Taste Unlocked masterclass costs €695pp and runs from 14–17 September, coinciding with the world-famous Chartres Fête de la Lumière.

James and Jonell are also available for bespoke tasting courses and events throughout the year for groups of 4 or more. Please contact us for more information.

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Bordeaux wine museum complex has more than 425,000 visitors in first year of operation

By Thursday, June 15, 2017 Permalink 0

One year after opening to the public, the Bordeaux wine museum complex has welcomed 425,000 visitors from 150 countries.

Pari tenu pour la Cité du Vin à Bordeaux: un an après son ouverture au public, elle a accueilli 425.000 visiteurs de 150 pays et atteint

Source: La Cité du Vin a accueilli plus de 425.000 visiteurs en un an – Le Figaro Vin

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Quintessential France: A Beach in Normandy

By Friday, July 22, 2016 Permalink 0

by Jonell Galloway

I wish I were on this beach in Normandy today, walking on the Trouville promenade, the French flag flying high and proud, the sea breeze in my locks. I might fling off that long, thick dress with its petticoat, however, and walk shoeless into the sea and stick my toes in the chilly water, before going up for coffee and a Madeleine in that little tower in the half-timber house looking out to sea. That’s me in the blue dress, of course; I always wear a color that matches the sky.

****

This painting is from the current exhibit at the Jacquemart-André Museum in Paris. By Claude Monet, The Boardwalk on the Beach at Trouville, 1870.

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Book Review: Ingredienti, by Marcella Hazan and Victor Hazan

By Thursday, July 14, 2016 Permalink 0

Book Review: Ingredienti, by Marcella Hazan and Victor Hazan

by Jonell Galloway

This guide is the testament of a woman who based her cooking life on the truth of every dish she cooked and taught, the vigorous truth of clear, uncluttered taste, taste that arises neither from obeisance to dogma, nor from a craving for attention, but evolves inspired by, and respectful of, the ingredients that nourish it.–Victor Hazan in the introduction to Ingredienti

Marcella Hazan, the “godmother of Italian cooking” and the woman many credit with bringing Italian cuisine to the U.S., died in 2013, leaving behind two years’ worth of handwritten notes in Italian in preparation for Ingredienti. Her lifetime collaborator, Victor Hazan, translated and edited these notes, resulting in what is undoubtedly a classic before its time.

With Marcella Hazan’s cookbooks in my suitcase, I was already “tasting Italy” on my way back from London to my home in France. I had a plan: to use her books to learn how to cook Italian food.

That was nearly twenty years ago. It didn’t take me long to realize that the precious ingredients required were simply not available in provincial France. French supermarkets sold pasta made in France with French flour, not Italian pasta made from grano duro. French tomatoes were watery-tasting, even the canned ones. Mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano were rarities found only in a few exclusive shops in Paris. The French were just starting to get interested in olive oil, although in the Southeast it had long been the fat of choice thanks to its Greek and Roman history.

Disappointment quickly set in. Marcella’s Italian recipes weren’t going to taste of Italy using French ingredients. It is no wonder that she wanted to write Ingredienti. She knew this was a problem when living outside Italy and felt the need to enlighten her readers about how to choose and treat ingredients.

It was only later when I moved to Switzerland, where good-quality Italian ingredients of all kinds — tomatoes, pasta, cheese, fruit — were readily available that I returned to Marcella. From Geneva, it was also easy to travel to Turin to the Slow Food gatherings. During the Terra Madre conference, I’d arrive every morning with a roller suitcase and, over the course of the day, fill it with food to take back to Switzerland.

Later, in my Italian food journey — even when living in Italy — Marcella, and later Victor, became for me household words, their books like a treatise, a bible, that I refer to in times of doubt, for example, when I make “red” spaghettini alle vongole, which I must have made a hundred times using Marcella’s recipe.

As important as this book is, Marcella Hazan’s recipes are not only about ingredients. The true secret to her success is the lucid precision of the explanations. A scientist by training with two doctorates, her instructions are methodical, almost mathematical. She counts in minutes and half minutes, and you can count on what she says. Though her cookbooks were not written as culinary classes per se, once you’ve followed her risotto instructions a couple of times, you are struck by the rigorousness of the recipe, of how each step is in its proper place, and each time given is exact, and it becomes like a work of art or a perfect mathematical equation, with no excess and no frill.

Ingredienti is indeed a testament to Marcella Hazan’s undying commitment not only to Italian cooking, but also to the importance of choosing products and the actual process of shopping, on which we put too little emphasis. Marcella had an intimate relationship with products, knowing them inside and out as if they were the baby she’d raised. “Choose a pepper by its size, shape, and heft. It should be large, heavy, shiny, firm, and cubical in form. The long tapered ones are not as solidly meaty.” Now you have a clear image in your mind of what to look for next time you buy a pepper. The entire book is like this, leaving you with the impression that you’d been going to a market class with Marcella for a week and held the artichokes or peppers or onions in your hands.

Speaking of extra-virgin olive oil, she says, “if olive oil were a drug, it would have a place of honour among miracle drugs,” saying that “it well might be the most significant contribution to my survival.” Although she embraces the use of lard and butter, used in her native Emilia-Romagna, olive oil was the superstar in her kitchen.

On the important subject of pasta: one can’t say fresh pasta is always better than dried pasta. Fresh pasta, made with eggs and flour, longs for butter and cream, which seep into the crevices of its rough surface; dried pasta, made with water and flour, is a perfect marriage for olive-oil and tomato-based sauces, which slide gracefully around it. You’ll never look at pasta the same way once you’ve “consumed” this chapter; in fact, you’ll want to read it over and over, making sure not to miss a single point.

She tells you everything you need to know about Parmigiano-Reggiano, not to be confused with generic parmesan cheese. Its goodness depends on the origin of the milk, the breed of cow, the age, the season, and, of course, the method used to make it. Though this is not a recipe book, Marcella throws in the prize of Victor’s grandmother’s recipe for Parmigiano crostini, not to be missed.

The book is broken down by category of ingredient, including “Produce,” “The Essential Pantry,” and “Salumi,” with individual chapters devoted to classic Italian ingredients such as artichoke, eggplant, and tomatoes; pasta, risotto rice, olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and red wine vinegar; prosciutto, pancetta, and lardo, and a whole host of other products.

For those who live in locations in the U.S. where Italian ingredients are not available in the same way, just as I did in France, the book includes a fairly exhaustive list of online suppliers of good-quality ingredients with precise indications of what to order from whom.

Count on reading the book from front to cover in one or two sittings, and then keeping it on your kitchen shelf for easy, repeated reference, as you might do with a prayer book. As with all of Marcella and Victor Hazan’s collaborations, there is never an extraneous word, sentence, or idea, so you’ll want to read the important passages numerous times.

Like a yogi, Marcella repeated the same “postures” over and over, meditating upon the ingredients, seeking the truth in them with a focused faith and methodical effort. As a result, Ingredienti reads much like a text written by a spiritual master in old age. It is concrete proof of her dedication; it is the wisdom of years lived in perfect harmony with food, based on her immeasurable knowledge and intimate relationship with ingredients, but also on an almost spiritual reverence for their integrity. It is, indeed, a testament of Marcella and the truth she sought by going to the essence of every foodstuff she touched, and of the truth she attained in her reasoned, scientific manner.

 

 

 

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Quintessential France: Château du Marais

By Tuesday, June 14, 2016 Permalink 0

Quintessential France: Château du Marais

by Jonell Galloway

Château du Marais, castle of the marshland, Essonne 91, France, Talleyrand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s built in a marsh — thus the name, Château du Marais — and the water you see in front is the overflow from what you call the plan d’eau in French, meaning literally “water plane,” which is basically a mirror lake. As soon as there is sun, you can see a silvery reflection of the house, and sometimes the clouds, in the water. I lived in a bit of this house for 18 years. Because the little lake and the house are almost at the same level for the sake of aesthetics, and because the house is built on filled-in marsh, it takes very little to flood it. We always had our rubber boots ready and many the time I had to walk through knee-deep water and across the courtyard to get out. We’d park our cars on higher ground and wade to them if we truly had to go somewhere outside our little world. It was like being a princess locked inside a castle, except I wasn’t a princess. Maybe that’s why I sometimes feel peas under my mattress.

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What to Eat in France: Pain du Moulin

By Thursday, June 2, 2016 Permalink 0

What to Eat in France: Pain du Moulin, or “bread from the mill”

by Jonell Galloway

My adopted hometown of Chartres is in the Beauce region, the breadbasket of France. Large, flat wheat fields surround the single hill of Chartres, topped with the most beautiful Gothic Cathedral in the world. You can see the cathedral for miles when driving across the fields, and a quite magical view it is, its spires dominating the flat farmlands. No wonder people have been making pilgrimages here for at least 5,000 years.

Chartrains, as we call the people from here, come from the land. Everyone in the region has a farm or has family who owns one, and because of the abundance of grains of every kind — wheat, barley, corn, rye and many more — grains are an integral part of the local diet.

This traditional recipe is referred to as “bread from the mill,” but no one knows the exact origin of that name. In the past, the Beaucerons (the inhabitants of the Beauce region), of Celtic and Druidic origins, ate this on the Jour des Morts, the day of the dead, which fell on November 2 after All Saint’s Day, when the living were said to communicate with the dead, when tombs and graves were said to open so that the world of the visible and invisible could intermingle for a short period.

 

Pain du moulin / bread from the mill, French recipe from Chartres/Beauce, France

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early in the morning of November 2, local bakers made pain aux morts, or “bread to the dead” (this could even be translated in a more ghoulish manner, “bread (made from) the dead”), out of flour and milk, for a traditional 10 a.m. breakfast before going to the cemetery.

In the nineteenth century, the church decided that All Saints Day sufficed and such pagan customs were more or less done away with. Beaucerons continue to eat this bread during the All Saints celebrations, however, calling it “bread from the mill” instead of “bread to the dead.”

I often serve this recipe with apéritif, but it can also make a vegetarian dinner, and can, of course, be eaten year round.

Recipe

Ingredients

Pain au lait, French milk bread, Chartres/Beauce, France

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pains au lait or 3-4″-long milk breads
6 cups milk
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups Swiss cheese or similar, grated
Cooking oil
Kitchen string

Instructions

  1. Cut the bread in half lengthwise.
  2. Use a spoon to scrape the crumbs out of the crust, taking care to leave the crust intact, and put the crumbs in a bowl.
  3. Pour milk over crumbs and mix.
  4. Add the eggs and the grated cheese and mix well.
  5. Fill the crusts with the bread crumb mixture.
  6. Use kitchen string to tie the bread halves together.
  7. Heat cooking oil in a deep pan or fryer. When the oil starts to bubble, drop in the bread and cheese preparations.
  8. Cook until golden brown.
  9. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately while hot.

 

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Book Review: The Portable Feast

By Tuesday, April 26, 2016 Permalink 0

Book Review: The Portable Feast, by Jeanne Kelley

by Jonell Galloway

The Portable Feast: Creative Meals for Work and Play is the first cookbook I’ve read by Jeanne Kelley and I’m already a fan. It’s rare to find a cookbook that is both doable and in pace with the times. We all buy more pre-prepared food than we’d ideally like to. It is undoubtedly less healthy and more expensive, but in a fast-moving, do-too-much society it suits our needs. Carryout food also produces an inordinate amount of waste in terms of packaging. These recipes encourage wholesome eating for people on the go, dishes we can make ahead and take to work or school, on an airplane or a picnic, without producing waste, because Kelley also explains how we can equip our kitchens with reusable containers and gives us the names of manufacturers, making it all easy. The recipes are easy to follow and when she lists ingredients that might not be available all over the country, she takes care to suggest substitutes. This is the perfect gift for millennials or for anybody who is health-conscious, a bit taste-adventurous, and on the move. No more need to buy carryout, nor to feel guilty about not cooking. You’ll tantalize your taste buds, be healthier, and pollute less.

The Portable Feast: Creative Meals for Work and Play, cookbook by Jeanne Kelley, published by Rizzoli, April 12, 2016.

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