Tour France: Dinner in the Home of a Paris Chef

Tour France: Bliss Travels has dinner in the home of a Paris chef

Have you ever dreamt of dining in the home of a chef in Paris? Maybe learning his/her secrets? Being treated to a special menu and feeling like a local as you sip wine in his living room, or peak into his kitchen?

Of course you have! We all wish we could do this!  Otherwise, how else can you explain the stunning popularity of the Food Network and our cult like obsession with “Celebrity Chefs” (all of whom we all know by name, and whose lives and travels we can intimately discuss, as if they were our own family)?

Our obsession with all things “food” is based upon our desire to get and insider’s exclusive access to this sort of experience! Bliss Travels has had the some extraordinary opportunities to do these sorts of “insider” foodie experiences. Our most recent, and, at the moment, favorite “insider” foodie experience, is our exclusive invitation to the home of a rising Paris chef for a gourmet dinner.  We truly enjoyed collaborating with this chef, formerly of Alain Passard‘s gastronomic Arpege, and loved having our clients visit the charming Paris apartment he shares with his wife and little (bien sur) Yorkie. We spent months creating a custom tasting menu and wine pairings to share with our clients. For sure, this will be something we do again and again! 

Our menu was truly special, as you can see below. An added bonus was the chance to  watch the chef plate his dishes and to enjoy them while learning how he made these signature preparations.  Here is our menu and some of the food photos of this truly “exclusive” dining experience.

Terrine of foie gras,  onion chutney and sauternes gelee with toasts

We paired this with a wonderful Champagne. And we watched as our chef showed us how he prepared this traditional holiday treat. (One of our foodie travelers, normally vegetarian, asked for, and received “seconds” of this dish, which she took for her breakfast the next morning (paired with a great fruit preserve the hotel was serving! Now, how often can you do that on a trip other than with Bliss Travels?)

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Endive salad with red onion, shaved parmesan, lemon, and truffle oil

 A refreshing segue into the meal. The bitter endive and the truffle oil paired beautifully with our Champagne as well as our first white, a white from Burgundy, and one of our most favorite villages, the picture perfect village of Meursault

Meursault, Narvaux, 2009.

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The famous Arpege  “perfect egg“ was our next dish.

I confess that I was so enraptured by the chef’s description of this dish, and dual temperatures of the one egg, along with the taste of this perfectly simple and elegant dish, that I forgot to take a picture!! We paired the egg with our second white, a rich, buttery Meursault Les Charmes 1er Cru, 2009. This was not just a  perfect ‘egg’ it was a perfect ‘pairing’!

Veloute of carrot, with tarragon

was an intense, non dairy carrot preparation made from caramelized carrots, cooked under pressure and reduced to a velvety richness. The two fold preparation of carrot (one caramelized, the other steamed led to this deep dark color. This dish had no meat and no dairy, and yet tasted richer than any beef based stock I’ve tried.

This rich dish led to the last drop of Meursault and a nice transition to our red wines.

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Salt crusted roasted beet root

Next our chef demonstrated how he made this absolutely perfect vegetable, salt crusted, intensely juicy and truly an unexpected star dish! We opened our 2007 , 1er Cru, Pinot Noir from Gevrey Chambertin, made by a winemaker and friend in whose 14th century cellars we get to enjoy exclusive barrel tastings  (We do love Burgundy!)

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Pan seared beef with a parsnip puree, creamed spinach, sweet and sour peppers and a red wine jus

A 2007 Premier Cru Burgundy from Gevrey Chambertin

One client enjoyed this dish so much, not only did she have 2 servings (a nice little perk of being in the home of a chef, instead of a restaurant, but also she said this was the best dish she had ever tasted.)

 

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Last, but not least, a real surprise for all was the dessert

A moist and delicious Olive oil cake, served with stunningly good Greek yogurt ice cream, Nutella powder and chervil

The Nutella powder was the “dark horse”. Nobody really expected to love that –but he made this using a great trick of molecular gastronomy and turned what is (in my opinion) a cloyingly sweet “kid’s” dessert, into a sophisticated delicious (please, sir, may I have more) end of meal. This was served with a fortified sweet wine from the south west of France.

Of course, that wasn’t really the end (it never is). We finished with a big bowl of creme fraiche caramels to take home. Yum! An absolutely Bliss-ful evening we intend to repeat with the next group of special foodies looking for something truly unique.

2013-12-23 11.20.57Let us know what you think. And let us know what dishes you’d like to see in your  “dinner at home with a Paris chef”

A bientôt,

Wendy

Photo (re)Blog by Anthony Bianciella: May in Provence

We’re reblogging a great description of one of our trips. Rick Sammon also blogged about Anthony’s trips with us!

Photo Tours – An Insider is Key!

by Anthony Bianciella

Photography and travel go hand-in-hand. But camera or not, I love trips that are special and off-the-beaten track. No big bus tours!  Life is too short to shoot through the window as you drive by.
I love to be immersed in the location and really experience the culture. But you need a friend on the inside who can show you things only a local would know. And that way your photographs can be as unique as your “insider” experiences!
For example, last May, while in France, our insider gained us exclusive access to a 900-year-old Templar church. Normally closed to the public (with photography impossible) the curator himself gave us a private tour, allowing us to photograph everything including bell tower, crypts, painted ceiling, altar, and even the hidden entry and baptismal font used to secretly baptize people during the French religious wars of the1500’s.
For lunch, the owner and chef of a 400-year-old bakery, friends of our ”insider”, opened just for us and held a private wine tasting in the warmly lit wine “cave” followed by a multi course gourmet lunch beside the original bakery oven. We had plenty of time to enjoy the food, have a photography lesson on off-camera-flash and to take pictures. After dessert, the proprietor himself showed us a tiny path covered in vines where an acrostic puzzle of Roman origins (about 2,000 years old) was carved into a wall…all there for us to photograph and enjoy.
 
On our trips, we cover photography techniques and tips each day. We have specific time set aside for formal presentations and photo reviews. We‘ve had travelers who have been shooting for 30 years and travelers who purchased their camera two weeks before the trip. So we design the photography topics in a way that challenges photographers of all levels. And since we’re traveling together, there’s time enough to work individually with each person’s specific interests.
I also encourage people to travel with their partner/friend who might not be a “photographer”. These places hold treasures whether you choose to photograph them or simply enjoy just being there. Plus, there is so much more than photography to involve you –markets, wines, sightseeing, hikes, shopping, dining… that everyone seems to find more than enough to feed their interests.
I really love experiencing these places in such a meaningful way. We laugh, we drink, we eat, and we have a really great time. We come home with amazing photos and new friendships, after being immersed in a wonderfully personal experience.
Our next trip is May 15-21, 2012 to Provence and Paris,France. Other dates are also available later this year.PS. I’m really excited…Rick Sammon recently posted about these photo tours on his Google+ page (February 18, 2012).
Posted by Anthony Bianciella Photography
Give us your thoughts please!