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Archive for October, 2011

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With summer fast approaching in Australia, my thoughts go back to our summer in Sicily and in particular, Favignana, where this photo was taken.
Favignana is the largest of the Egadi Islands and an easy day trip from Trapani. I’d love to return for longer and explore the island and its hidden bays. One day!

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Finally the day had come for our long awaited dinner at Ze Kitchen Galerie.

I had been wanting to eat at this one star Michelin restaurant for a while now but last minute bookings had proven difficult to obtain on our previous visits. This year, I was smarter and made the reservation before we left.

The restaurant is situated in Rue Des Grands Augustins, a small side street off Quai Grand Augustins in the 6th. It is a popular street for restaurants. Guy Savoy’s bistrot, Les Bouquinistes is on the corner, Ze Kitchen Galerie’s bistrot, KGB (Kitchen Galerie Bis) is down the street and the one star restaurant, Jaques Cagna is on the next corner. The fabulous tea salon, Mariage Frères is over the road.

Ze Galerie Kitchen is an intimate restaurant with an open kitchen at one end. It is also a gallery with exhibitions of modern art displayed on the walls.
The service is friendly and impeccable. We didn’t have to wait long for a glass of champagne to be bought to us as we perused the menu.

Everything sounded delicious. I wanted to try it all, so we ordered the tasting menu, though I did have one small request. I was desperate to try the tempura crab with crab filled zucchini flowers and calamari strips but it was not on the tasting menu. However our gorgous (and good looking) waiter said it was no trouble for it to be included.
Out went the beef and in came the crab. Easy.
This was our dinner!!
We started with an ever so lightly, pan cooked salmon with sweet potato jus and radish. The addition of the radish was interesting and worked perfectly with the salmon.

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Salmon with sweet potato jus and radish

Our next dish was an delicious combination of a slightly cooked egg floating in a pea soup with peas, girolles and wasabi.
I popped up to the kitchen to watch the chef making this dish.

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Floating egg in pea soup with peas, girolles and wasabi

The kitchen is actually quite small and, with twelve chefs working shoulder to shoulder, it was amazing to watch. Each chef was responsible for one or two courses and had everything they required for their dish ready at their fingertips.
Here the chef is putting the dish together before it is bought to the table where the pea soup was poured into the bowl

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Chefs at work

Another salmon dish followed. This was in a completely different style to the first course. It included cappelletti pasta, fresh tomato sauce and bottarga eggs with the salmon.

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Salmon with cappelletti, light tomato sauce and bottarga eggs

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A very nice Bordeaux

At last the course I had requested arrived.  The delicate flavour of the crab filled zucchini flowers contrasted with the crispiness of the tempura crab, with the calamari adding yet another dimension to it all. So tasty!

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Tempura crab with crab filled zucchini flowers and calamari strips

This was followed by a dish of veal and sweetbreads with turnips and carrots. I’m not usually a sweetbread fan but these were very tasty and perfect with the tender veal. The only trouble was that I started eating and forgot to take the photo!

And then came dessert….

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Cherries and lychees with sauce with peach and lemongrass icecream

and another………

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White chocolate and wasabi icecream with fruit sauce, meringue and roses

A fabulous finale to one of our best meals in Paris.
Can I book now for next year?

Ze Kitchen Galerie
4 Rue des Grands-Augustins
75006. Paris
Tel: +33 1 44 320032
Ze Kitchen Galerie

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The Queen’s Hamlet, Marie Antoinette’s quaint little village and farm which is also known as the L’Hameau de la Reine, is one of the highlights of Versailles.
Why hadn’t I been here before? I’m not sure how, but in my previous visits, I had managed to miss one of the stars of Versailles. Thank heavens for our guide, Deborah Anthony from French Travel Boutique

The hamlet was created in the style of a minature Norman village. It contained the farm, twelve thatched cottages, a dovecote, mill and tower, all of which Marie Antoinette had built in 1783 by her favourite architect, Richard Mique and landscape gardener, Andre Le Notre.
She loved the simplicity of country life and wanted to indulge in it. She also wanted the farm to help create the illusion that the Petit Trianon was in the countryside.

As you walk through the gate, you do feel as though you are in the country. Goats, ducks and geese roam the grounds around the buildings whilst children gather to pet the pigs in the sty.

Farm Buildings at the Hamlet, Versailles

Animals roam in the grounds

Farm Buildings at the Hamlet, Versailles

Children love to pet the pig

The buildings are beautiful in a rustic way. Left to disrepair after the revolution, they were thankfully restored in the late 1990’s. They all have a thatched roof complete with grasses growing from them and flowering window boxes. Marie Antoinette and her companions often collected the eggs and milked the cows here.

Farm Buildings at the Queen's Hamlet, Versailles

Another beautiful farm building

Farm Buildings at the Queen's Hamlet, Versailles

Another view

Flower boxes on the farm buildings at the Queen's Hamlet, Versailles

Pretty flower boxes

Decoration on the wall of a farm building, Queen's Hamlet, Versailles

A beautifully painted wall of one of the farm buildings

A farmer was appointed by Marie Antoinette to manage the farm, so that it’s vegetable gardens, fields, orchards and vineyards supplied produce to the palace kitchens. You pass these on your short walk to the lake and village houses.

Looking back over the vineyards to the farm at the Queen's Hamlet, Versailles

Looking back over the vineyards to the farm

The vegetable garden at the Queen's Hamlet, Versailles

The vegetable garden

The orchard at the Queen's Hamlet, Versailles

The orchard

The largest house is the “Queen’s House” at the center of the village, overlooking the lake. It is actually two buildings joined by a wooden gallery where, we are told, Marie Antoinette, dressed in white muslin, would watch over the workers.

The Queen's House overlooking the lake at the Hamlet at Versailles

The Queen's House overlooking the lake

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The Queen's House showing the walkway connecting the two buildings

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Another view of the Queen's House

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Balconies at the Queen's House

Most of the houses in the village had their own vegetable garden surrounded by hedges.

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The Maison du Garde-the housekeeper's cottage

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The Mill.

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The Dovecote

The Marlborough Tower, next to the lake, was used as the starting point for boat rides as well as an observatory.

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The Marlborough Tower

This truly is a fairytale village. I can’t wait to come back for another visit, maybe with a picnic lunch, and spend time surrounded by the intriguing history of Marie Antoinette’s playground.

Have you found this special corner of Versailles?

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'Les Tomates' at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

A sneak preview of my fabulous dinner at L’ Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Paris.
The dish is ‘Les Tomates’, a simple but stunning dish of different types of tomatoes dressed with sumac and extra virgin olive oil.
Tomatoes as you don’t often taste them- incredibly flavoursome. If your produce is the best, nothing else is required.
Joel Robuchon never disappoints!

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I had previously visited the Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon but this time it was very different. We had as our guide Deborah Anthony from French Travel Boutique. Deborah is an Australian with a love of all things french. After studying french history in Paris, she started French Travel Boutique and now offers an extensive range of fabulous and different tours.

Listening to Deborah relate the history of life at court offered a rare insight and together we unravelled the history of the Louis XIV, XV and XVI and their wives and mistresses.

The Grand Trianon was built during the reign of Louis XIV as a retreat for the king and his family, a place to escape the pressures of court. Using stunning pink Languedoc marble, the two sections are connected by an beautiful open colonnade. The rooms were altered by Louis XV and again remodelled and renovated by Napoleon after the revolution. It is this renovation and subsequent changes made by Louis-Philippe that we see today.

Empress' Bed Chamber at the Grand Trianon, Versailles

Empress' Bed Chamber

Louis-Philippe family room at the Grand Trianon, Versailles

Louis-Philippe family room

Napoleon's Malachite room at the Grand Trianon, Versaille

The Malachite Room where the malachite presents Czar Alexander 1 gave to Napoleon are displayed

Colonnaded walkway at the Grand Trianon

Colonnaded walkway

View to the Garden Room from the walkway at the Grand Trianon, Versaille

View to the Garden Room from the walkway

View of gardens from the Grand Trianon

The gardens as seen from the Grand Trianon

The Grand Trianon, Versaille

View of The Grand Trianon

Outside the Grand Trianon, Versaille

Our guide, Deborah Anthony, leaving the Grand Trianon

From here we walked through the beautiful gardens to the Petit Trianon

Gardens of the Grand Trianon, Versaille

The beautiful gardens

Arbour in the Grand Trianon Gardens, Versaille

Arbour in the gardens

Marie Antoinette, who loved to perform, had her own theatre built a short distance from the Petit Trianon. It’s a small theatre, in fact the stage is a lot bigger than the seating area but here she organized plays and recitals for those privelaged guests who had received a coveted invitation. Most of the decoration seen here is trompe l’oeil- the statues are pasteboard and the marble is painted wood.

Marie Antoinette's Theatre in the grounds of the Grand Trianon

Marie Antoinette

Another view of Marie Antoinette's Theatre

Another view of Marie Antoinette

For me, the most interesting part of the history is that of the Petit Trianon. It was originally built  for Madame de Pompadour in 1761 who died before the interior was finished so it was given to Louis XV’s next mistress, Madame du Barry. When the king died, his successor, Louis XVI  gave it to his wife, Marie Antoinette, as a private residence, which was unheard of for a French queen. Marie Antoinette made it her own personal playground.

The Petit Trianon, Versaille

The Petit Trianon

View of Petit Trianon facing the French Garden

View of Petit Trianon facing the French Garden

The French Pavillion in the gardens of the Petit Trianon

The French Pavillion in the gardens of the Petit Trianon

The French Pavillion in the gardens of the Petit Trianon

The French Pavillion

The best is yet to come!

 

 

 

 

 

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It was to be our last dinner in Piedmont, so the choice of restaurant was very important!

There were still a few fabulous restaurants on our list that we had not been to but in the end we chose Il Cascinalenuovo in Isola d’Asti, about a twenty minute drive from La Villa.

Chef Walter Ferreto and his brother Roberto, run this family restaurant and hotel. Roberto is the wine expert whilst Walter runs a very slick kitchen. He also loves to pop out for a chat and to check that everyone is enjoying their food

The restaurant is in a very ordinary hotel on the side of the main road that joins Asti and Alba but once inside, this is forgotten
This year, a new outside area was opened overlooking the garden and the pool. It also incorporates L’ Altro Cascinale, a casual bistro serving pasta, burgers, pizza and grills

Il Cascinalenuovo in Isola d'Asti, Piedmont

Our table at Il Cascinalenuovo

 

 Now for dinner….and the wine list!

The wine list at Il Cascinalenuovo in Isola d'Asti, Piedmont

I love the cover of the wine list

We were presented with the wine list with it’s fabulous cover. With so many wines on offer, my husband enjoyed his chat to Robert about which one to choose. Whilst this was happening, a plate of appetisers appeared.

Appestisers at Il Cascinalenuovo in Isola d'Asti, Piedmont

Appetisers

 
The appetisers included a spoon of  raw salmon and herbs, melon and proscuitto and a zucchini roulade- all very tasty. These were followed by small individual egg, mushroom and zucchini frittatas in a pastry case.
Egg frittatas at Il Cascinalenuovo in Isola d'Asti

Individual frittatas

 
 The wine arrived..
 
 
Barbera d' Asti at Il Cascinalenuovo in Isola D'Asti

Stunning Pescaja Barbera d' Asti

And still the appetisers kept coming!

Gelatin of tomato with mozzarello gelato at Il Cascinalenuovo

Gelatin of tomato with mozzarello gelato

We both ordered the homemade tajarin of pepperoncino, garlic and San Marzano tomato as a first course

Homemade tajarin at Il Cascinalenuovo in isola d'Asti

Tasty homemade tajarin

One of the main course choices was  ”Tataki di Ricciola del Mediterraneo, couscous e vedure al fruitto della passione’. Walter explained that  ‘tatki’ was a japanese cooking method he had picked up over the years from the japanese chefs that were working for him. He taught at a nearby culinary school where a lot of Japanese chefs trained and had been able to pick the best chefs to work for him.

The fish, in this case ricciola or amberjack, was seared very quickly on all sides and then finely sliced and seasoned with a sauce. It was very tasty and the flavours of the sauce mixed with the couscous and vegetables, was a treat.

Mediterranean amberjack tataki style,with couscous and vegetables

Mediterranean amberjack tataki style,with couscous and vegetables

My husband loves steak tartare so he ordered the piemontese version with raw veal, fresh vegetables and extra virgin olive oil from Maurizio Menichetti.

Veal Tartare at Il Cascinalenuovo in Isola d'Asti

Veal Tartare

A warm chocolate pudding with rasberries and goat’s milk gelato was tempting but after seven weeks on the road and all the divine appetisers we were offered, we reluctantly passed on dessert.  Of course we didn’t say no to the small pastries!!

Petit Fours at Il Cascinalenuovo in Isola d'Asti

Sweet treats to finish the meal

 
 
 

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Ristorante Il Cascinalenuovo
Statale Asti-Alba 15
Isola d’Asti
Tel:+39 0141 958166
Il Cascinalenuovo

 

 

 

 

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You’ve escaped to Broome, checked out the town and had sunset drinks on the beach, so now it’s time to take a camel ride on Cable Beach!

Twice a day, Broome’s camel teams head here to wait for their riders. Everything looks peaceful on the beach as the camels wait but it hasn’t always been like this. Recently the Broome council decided to award one license to the highest bidder but this was overturned when other operators claimed it was unfair. Today, three companies operate camel tours

Decked in their colours, they provide a perfect photo opportunity on the beach.

Camels on Cable Beach

Camels waiting on Cable Beach

When you look closely at the camels, you notice that each camel has their own, distinct appearance. After speaking to their handlers, I found out that they have different personality traits as well. Some are friendly, a few are grumpy, many are cuddly and there’s the odd naughty one but most just love the attention they receive.

Camels on Cable Beach

Camels on Cable Beach, Broome

Bad hair day

Camels on Cable Beach, Broome

Camels on Cable Beach, Broome

Only a mother would love it!

Once everyone’s on board, they are on their way for the walk along Cable Beach

Camels on Cable Beach, Broome

Camels on Cable Beach, Broome

The camels all wear ‘pooper scooper’ bags so there’s now no need for someone to follow behind and clean up after them!

Camels on Cable Beach, Broome

The latest, must have accessory -the pooper scooper bag!

Sunset is is the most popular time to go for a ride. The walk home, as the sun slowly sets is truly beautiful

Camels returning home on Cable Beach, Broome

Returning home

Sunset on Cable Beach

Sunset

 
 

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