It’s Getting Hot in Here. Pass the Dubonnet

It’s getting hot in here, so insanely hot that that you may consider the wonderful refresher Dubonnet (pronounced Doo-bon-ay) drink before taking off all your clothes…

Dubonnet Rouge is a fortified sweet wine flavored with quinine, herbs and spices. It tastes like sweet vermouth, but it’s slightly more barky bitter, sweeter, fruitier and spicier.

Dubonnet was originally created by Parisian chemist and wine merchant Joseph Dubonnet to make quinine drug easier to take by the French Foreign Legion soldiers to fight malaria in North Africa in the 1840s.

FERNANDEL “la légion” – publicité dubonnet 1965 by Mystralgagnant_Cinq


A. M. CASSANDRE (1901-1968) “Dubo – Dubon – Dubonnet’” 1932 (Poster). Dubo, Dubon, Dubonnet sounds like “It’s nice, it’s good, It’s Dubonnet” or even It’s just plain good.

Dubonnet became soon very popular and the Dubonnet man a mascott. It is commonly served as an aperitif wine, before a meal to stimulate the palate. Aperitif comes from Latin verb aperire, which means “to open”.

Despite its French heritage, the Dubonnet red sold here in the US is made in Kentucky using Californian grapes. It is stronger too: 19 % alcohol by volume vs 14.8% for the French made version.

Dubonnet red“With its rich ruby colour, spicy aroma and refreshing flavors, Dubonnet embodies the best of the aperitif category.” – Dale DeGroff a.k.a. “King Cocktail”.

You can drink it simply on its own or on the rocks with a twist of citrus peel or use it in cocktails since it is very versatile. Rye, gin, rum, tequila or Prosecco, the combinations are endless. The Queen Elizabeth particularly liked Dubonnet with gin. Just give it a try and do not wait for a rapper’s celebrity endorsement like for Cognac to “Pass the Dubonnet”.

Now available at Vons!

Check out this video of bartender Eric Blair from Hudson Terrace in New York City preparing a citrusy cocktail made with Dubonnet Rouge. Nothing cool you down like an ice-cold cocktail.


Fete de la Musique today in Laguna Beach!

Get out of your comfort zone and enjoy today's celebration of music!

Get out of your comfort zone and enjoy today’s celebration of music in Laguna Beach!

Fete de la Musique is today! The first day of summer is also a national celebration of music in France since 1982. Music fills the streets, everyone can participate and music lovers can enjoy all types of music! Celebrate solstice day with music and food!


The event has become so popular that it is now a global event, also known as World Music Day.

Here in Orange County, step out of your comfort zone and go to downtown Laguna Beach. Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association is organizing its 7th annual Fete de la Musique. Nice way to remind us that Laguna’s sister city is French Riviera’s unknown corner city of Menton. Be prepared to have plenty of entertainment and enjoy great food! The event runs today from 1 to 5 pm and is free. Hurry!




Beer and wine at Starbucks!!!!!

starbucks-wine-alcohol-300x219Beer and wine at Starbucks!!!!! Boozefeed from the “beerista”

If you are a serial Starbucks coffee dater, next time you throw a “we should grab coffee” be aware that it might not be you first cheap coffee date anymore. Starbucks booze evenings program is coming near you!

Starbucks Evening MenuWhat it means is that after 4 pm you will find on the menu beer and wine at Starbucks as well as small appetizers, such as truffle mac & cheese (yes, Starbucks spared no sacrifice in designing its menu). A barista turned café bar. Et voilà!




Your smart $5 investment “to see” what your online date really looks like in the real world might cost you double, with glasses of wine running $8-$10. If your date feels that you are on a beer budget, or if she is not counting the cost of gas to get there (not to mention the hours put to look marvelous), then, maybe she will ask a beer instead, priced around $5-$6. The good news is that you will not find loud drunkards next to you: with this type of prices and no Venti booze size on the menu, Starbucks clearly is not meant for people looking to get drunk on the cheap. In addition, it might be a good return on your investment: the extra bucks spent might give you extra minutes!

You next networking or team building event at Starbucks

You next networking or team building event at Starbucks

In any case, Starbucks booze revolution is under way. The coffee giant already announced that it will implement their “Starbucks Evenings” program at thousands of stores across the United States over the next years. They already tested the concept and are confident that it will work. What started with a single Seattle Starbucks location selling beer and wine in 2010, has evolved into 27 locations today and soon will come really near you. Check your ad flyers in your mail!

In Orange County, two locations are already serving alcohol: Huntington Beach, the popular town with young single people, and the affluent city of Rancho Santa Margarita.

Cheers to Starbucks Shareholders

Cheers to Starbucks Shareholders

For Starbucks, it is definitely a smart move to drive more traffic during a weaker part of the day, and more sales ($$$) as the alcoholic drinks are more expensive. That will help to cover their stores fixed costs. Winefulness and corporate America’s bottom line get on well.

Who knows, maybe next year for St. Patrick’s Day, Starbucks will serve Irish coffee with a shot of real Bailey’s!

Wine-on-coffeeIn the meantime, don’t be surprise to find more texts and tweets “@Starbucks, drinking wine”.

Orange County locations where Starbucks is offering wine and beer:

Huntington Beach
Seacliff Village
7101 Yorktown Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Rancho Santa Margarita
Starbucks Lowes Plaza
30465 Avenida De Las Flores #D
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA

Other Starbucks locations in Southern California serving alcohol are the Los Angeles International Airport and Calabasas.


Faces Is The Offical Wine Of The 2014 FIFA World Cup™

Faces, the official wine of the 2014 World Cup

Faces, the official wine of the 2014 World Cup


Wine Flush? No, I Am Just Drinking Faces Red, The Official Wine Of 2014 FIFA World Cup™! What a kick-off!



The boutique winery Lidio Carraro has been chosen by FIFA to produce the official wine of the 2014 World Cup. The name of the wine is “Faces” to reflect the diversity and many faces of the Brazilian people: many faces, in one heart. As a result, no single-varietal wines for Faces whether it is “branco” (white), “pink” (rosé) or “tinto” (red).

faces wine

The white Faces is a blend of Chardonnay, Italian Riesling, and Moscato, whilst the rosé is a combination of Pinot Noir, Merlot and Touriga Nacional.
Touriga Nacional is considered by many to be Portugal’s finest red wine grape and one of the five traditional port grape varieties.



Lidio Carraro winemaker Monica Rossetti. Photo courtesy Gilmar Gomes

Monica Rossetti, Lidio Carraro’s winemaker. Photo courtesy Gilmar Gomes

What draws the most attention is the red Faces.
To make Faces Tinto, the young Italo-Brazilian winemaker Monica Rossetti assembled a team of 11 kind of grapes, just as you find 11 players in the field. She followed the tactical “tática” formation used in soccer today, 4-4-2:

- 4 defenders: Tannat, Nebbiolo, Alicante Bouschet and Ancellotta
- 4 strong midfielders: Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, Teroldego and Touriga Nacional.
- 2 robust attackers: Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (28% and 22% respectively)

and the goal keeper is Malbec.

You can play this fun interactive game on their website and line up Your Team according to the characteristics of each grape here (click on YOUR TEAM).






Serra Gaúcha is in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul

Faces wines are made in Serra Gaúcha (Gaucho Hills), the main area of production of quality wines in Brazil, located in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, along the Uruguayan and Argentinian borders. Vines there are the El Dorado, an open “gold mine” for a region that produces about 85% of Brazilian wines. The terroir benefits from the basaltic soil and humid temperate climate of Serra Gaúcha, with mild evenings, which favor the cultivation of grapes with strong character.

Serra Gaúcha is nicknamed “Little Italy” because many Italians immigrants settled there in the mid-19th Century like the Carraro family who originally came from Venice. Lidio Carraro was founded in 1998 and the winery started producing its first wines in 2002. Lidio is the fifth generation of Carraro grape growers.

For the 2014 World Cup, Lidio Carraro had to produce 600,000 bottles, far more than their usual 200,000 bottles produced each year. The winery had to purchase additional grapes from selected partners. A challenge that South African Nederburg wine estate did not have when they were selected by FIFA in 2010: they produce 20 million bottles annually. Interestingly, the Lidio Carraro winery does not use any oak for aging, just stainless steel to allow maximum expression of the grape with minimum interference.

Now, is the result matching Sunday’s game between France and Honduras? Probably not, as France played so well with a 3-0 victory over Honduras proved robust team. I did not taste Faces yet, but this is what Alexis Goujard wine taster and writer for La Revue du Vin de France has to say: “The attack is fairly straightforward and willowy, the middle is vivacious and tonic, but things go wrong on the back end with defenders who should be more active to gain in brightness and energy”. He still recommends Faces red as a good companion with pizza while enjoying the World Cup soccer games with friends.

In any case, let’s raise a glass of “Faces” and let the wine go to your face. Now we know that Brazil is not just the land of beers and caipirinhas. Wines can be included in our list of fantastic reasons to visit Brazil. Whether you have an old world palate or you prefer new world wines, get ready for the unexpected. Brazilian wines are the perfect fusion of old and new world wines according to Patrica Carraro!


Barack Obama About D-Day Lunch: “Tres Magnifique”

This time the 80 guests who were invited to the D-Day 70th anniversary celebration luncheon on Friday June 6th really had time to “work on their food”. A change from the 65th celebration in 2009 where the lunch lasted only 12 minutes! At the end of the lunch, our President Barack Obama complimented our chefs by saying: “tres magnifique”.

Now more details

The place

© Juin 2011, François Levalet

© Juin 2011, François Levalet

The Château of Bénouville was choosen as it was a hearth of resistance in the region during WW II. At that time the castle was transformed into a maternity hospital.




Who was invited?


The plan de table, a sensitive issue

A total of 80 guests were invited at the 70th D-Day celebration lunch. 38 guests were seated at the honor table. Guests included royalty, 18 Heads of State and Government officials. As per the seating chart, bringing at the same table Barack Obama, his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian president-elect Petro Poroshenko was a sensitive issue, in the Ukrainian crisis.

The remaining 42 guests including 14 veterans were seated in a VIP lounge.

The 5 Michelin-starred Normandy’s Chefs


From left to right: Michel Bruneau, Anthony Caillot, Stéphane Carbone, Ivan Vautier, Joël Rapp

  • Michel Bruneau (former chef at La Bourride in Caen, 2 Michelin stars)
  • Anthony Caillot (À Contre Sens in Caen, 1 Michelin star)
  • Stéphane Carbone (L’Incognito in Caen, 1 Michelin star)
  • Ivan Vautier (Le IV in Caen, 1 Michelin star) –
  • Joël Rapp, chef de cuisine for the prefecture.

A total of 14 people worked in the kitchen and around sixty served the 80 guests.

On the menu, a full taste of Normandy of course!

The 5 chefs have been rehearsing for months to make sure that the gastronomic excellence of France would be well represented with a menu 100% made from Normandy’s terroir. The result in the pictures below.

To whet the appetite, canapés please and champagne!  

The executive chef from Élysée Palace Guillaume Gomez requested a bite size format. The chefs created canapés, these small open-faced sandwiches with lobster, Vire andouille sausage, carrots of Créances (grown in the sandy soil of lower Normandie, near the town of Cotentin), asparagus from Cagny, ham from the Manche region, smoked sea bass caught at Port-en-Bessin in the Calvados.

For the appetizer, Ivan Vautier created a land and sea mix

© France 3 Basse-Normandie Le premier plat des chefs d'Etat : le Saint pierre en feuilleté de pommes, jus frais et cubes de crème Normande

© France 3 Basse-Normandie Le premier plat des chefs d’Etat : le Saint pierre en feuilleté de pommes, jus frais et cubes de crème Normande

A John Dory fish (Saint-Pierre) boat placed above a little apple mille feuille with a fresh green apple coulis, and cubes made from crème fraiche, just like if they were meant to be rolled like dices, and on top a chips made of the red cheese mimolette made in Isigny. The little marbles shape apples looked like gold pearls and were dispersed all around. Crunchy, fluffy and tender.





For the main course, a young veal knuckle cooked at 150 degrees Fahrenheit for 36 hours

© France 3 Basse-Normandie Fondant de veau , jus truffé au pommeau , panier de légumes de nos jardiniers

© France 3 Basse-Normandie Fondant de veau , jus truffé au pommeau , panier de légumes de nos jardiniers

Anthony Caillot came up with the idea and added a little zucchini filed with little veggies (carrots, turnip, leeks, small potatoes). Next to it, is an oval shape mushroom quenelle with a sauce that has been reduced, using 10 liters of Pommeau, the alcoholic drink made by mixing apple juice with apple brandy Calvados. For the finish, some truffles… Queen Elizabeth requested that Foie Gras was on the menu, which is interesting as her son Prince Charles is a prime crusader against the force-feeding of geese. No worries: she was served the delicacy at the state dinner given on the same day at Elysée Presidential palace.

No meal in Normandy is served without a cheese platter!

© France 3 Basse-Normandie Left : Livarot. Top: Neufchatel. Right: Pont-L'Evêque. Bottom: Camembert.

© France 3 Basse-Normandie Left : Livarot. Top: Neufchatel. Right: Pont-L’Evêque. Bottom: Camembert.

On the tasting plate, four beloved and (stinky) cheeses: Pont-l’Évêque, Camembert, Livarot and Neufchâtel cheese, all non-pasteurized and all appellation d’origine contrôlée [ah-pehl-lah-SYAWN daw-ree-JEEN kawn-traw-LAY], a guarantee of tradition and quality.



Dessert – How sweet is that!

© France 3 Basse-Normandie Dessert de Bénouville : Délice aux poires de pays, chocolat, coulis crémeux d'isigny.

© France 3 Basse-Normandie Dessert de Bénouville : Délice aux poires de pays, chocolat, coulis crémeux d’isigny.

Stéphane Carbone crafted this delicious dessert. A small salted butter cookie covered with a layer of light creamy caramel mousse, and topped with little conference pears balls (“la Conférence” is the actual name of the type of pears used… a coincidence?). Not to forget the sugar bracelet that captures a scoop of ice cream and the delicate chocolate frame. Yummy!

Other artisans were put to work to present the best of what Normandy has to offer: creations from chocolatier Michel Cluizel,  carapomme, a chocolate filed with apple mousse and chocolate ganache, macarons made by Alban Guilmet (chocolatier patissier) chocolate with the letter D on one side and on the other the French tricolor flag, min warm apple tarts tatin made by Claude Delesque (Maison Stiffler patissery), a bread made with cider yeast by Olivier Hamelin (Fournil de Mathilde bakery). Yvan Vautier made his famous camembert cheese macarons too.

What about the wine pairing?

Champagne Pommery, cuvée Louise 2002
Élysée Palace’s talented head sommelier, Virginie Routis chose the wines and did (could) not go wrong:
Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru 2009 from Joseph Drouhin
Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1998
Normandy has a vineyard, Arpents du Soleil in Grisilly in south east of Caen. To discover next time.

And of course Calvados for which Normandy is so famous.


Our presidents together for the 70th D-day Celebration on Friday June 6th , 2014.



In the Pig, Everything is Good

Tom Rawstorne with cooked pigs head

Tom Rawstorne with cooked pigs head

If you are all for nose to tail eating, probably you are a pork enthousiast. After all, if we are going to take an animal’s life, or “tear the goddamn thing apart to fulfill our mere brute instinct”, the least we can do is use all of it. It is more ecologically sound as nothing is wasted, absolutely nothing. In the pig, everything is good. You can eat the whole beast: head used for headcheese, ears, tails, feet called trotters by chefs, heart, brain, belly, neck, cheeks, lungs, testicles and even blood. As the old saying goes: “We use everything, but the squeal”.

Egyptians used pig bladders for condoms

Egyptians used pig bladders for condoms

In the pig, everything is good, literally, and not just for eating. As noted by historian Helene Demeestere from Historically Correct in Los Angeles, it is reported that Egyptian soldiers were using pig bladders to protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases as well as to prevent pregnancy. That was 3,000 B.C. Sounds a bit uncomfortable and odd nowadays, but it got the job done at that time… Today, we use the same pork skins to make natural sausage casings (even for beef and veal sausages).


Photo courtesy Christien Meindertsma

Photo courtesy Christien Meindertsma

You might be surprised by the number of non-food related products made from pork: the Dutch artist and designer Christien Meindertsma tracked over 3 years what happened after slaughter to a pig in the Netherlands with ear tag number “05049”. She counted no less than 185 products and documented them with a collection of pictures that can be found in her book PIG 05049.

Pork is used in an unbelievable array of products, by butchers of course but also by arm manufacturers to make bullets! You can find pork everywhere: in soap, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, collagen to inject in your wrinkles, tooth paste, chewing gum, marshmallows, cake frosting, desserts, heart valve, paint, even to make cheap wine corks.  Did you know that pig gelatine is used to remove the cloudiness in beers or wines? I was surprised to discover that a company in Greece produces cigarette filters from pig blood. According to them, it creates “artificial lungs” in the filter making their cigarettes “healthier”. Who would have thought that in order to “improve” the bread dough, protein from pig hair is used. Fascinating!


Pork off your drink!

Pork off your drink!


Well, I may as well take another sip of my bacon infused bourbon while flipping the pages of the book…

… and maybe later on I will indulge myself with candied bacon virgins from The Sticky Pig.



Happy eating for the “eat anything” eaters. For the “picky-less-adventurous” eaters, happy reading!

Want more?

I found this interesting short movie made by Iris Alexandre for her graduation at the Belgian school La Cambre: Ecole nationale supérieure des Arts visuels. Unexpectedly thought-provoking and beautiful in its own way, Dans le cochon, tout est bon (In the pig, everything is good) takes advantage of the unconventional narrative possibilities available to the animated filmmaker. From the alive pig to the banquet, nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything changes…

Dans le cochon tout est bon from Iris Alexandre on Vimeo.

And to finish on a “lighter note” a picture taken from on of my favorite comedy movie: le pere noel est une ordure!

"De l'art ou du cochon", a French word play on bacon and art.

“De l’art ou du cochon”, a French word play on bacon and art.