Nothing like home !

Visiting my family in Montpellier, south of France, we gathered around a good and simple meal. Excellent white Macon from burgundy, dry goat cheese marinated in olive oil and combava, and succulent fresh funghi porcini from the Jura region. 

Nothing like family. Nothing like home. Aloha!

Beautiful white Macon
Funghi porcini marinated in olive oil. We will eat them for Christmas.
The same are sold 100£ a kilo in London.


I had to go to uruguay to enjoy a great Caprese !

Those days ( I should say indeed years )  you will admit it became a real challenge to enjoy a good Caprese salad. Even in Italy, in most cases the tomatoes have no taste and the mozarella is not fresh and served in little balls….I had to go to uruguay to finally experience the simpliest dish on earth. Local tomatoes from mercado Belcampo ( previous post ) and fresh moza from a closeby farmer. But I’ll stop here as words are pointless sometimes. Enjoy the pic !

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Mercado BELCAMPO – José Ignacio

This is a new comer in the Village, recently opened in December 2011. Mercado BELCAMPO is producing organic fruits and vegetables in their Estancia located 30mn in land, which they are selling and serving at their restaurant situated at the very entrance of José Ignacio. They also organize upon request traditional uruguayan “Asados” at the Estancia. Understand the best BBQ you’ll ever experience. Asking the restaurant, you can also be offered to visit the farm.

We have been cooking the past 2 days using their production. Tomatoes, beetroots, carrots, eggplant, eggs, herbs, onions, basilico, lettuces…. What can I say ? You immediately feel this is being done with passion and deep knowledge. So a first set of congratulations to the team behind this organic and sustainable initiative.

Tired of cooking, we decided yesterday to have our lunch at their place. Possibly one of the best simple food we’ve had for a long period of time. My wife had  “Empanadas de Carne y cebolla ” as a starter followed by “Ensalada de remolachas asadas, huevos duro y ricotta” being the main course. I respectively had “bruschetta de tomates secos, mozarella y albahaca” followed by “Sandwich de carne, pepinos y cebolla”. As you read, this is no sophisticated food at all and something we can all do at home. All this was simply wonderful. We should have stopped there…but kept being tempted by the desserts. And ended up ordering “una tarta de chocolate con dulce de leche” and “Panqueque con dulce de leche y azucar”.

We want to say a big thank you to the staff for this authentic moment and encourage them to keep simplicity and freshness at the center of their approach for the years to come. Do not leave your values aside with success !

Best and see you soon.

En cuisine avec Alain Passard

For once let me make use of my native language, French ! As the book I am referring to below is for now only available in French.

Pour tous les amoureux de la gastronomie et passionnés de BD, ce qui est mon cas, je ne peux que vous conseiller la lecture du dernier chef d’oeuvre de Christophe Blain . Après “Quai d’Orsay“, une hilarante satyre sur la diplomatie et la vie politique, il nous emmène découvrir la cuisine d’Alain passard, chef triplement étoilé de l’Arpège à Paris.

C’est frais, subtil, drôle, passionnant, et surtout plein de bonnes recettes que nous avons pris un grand plaisir à découvrir sous forme de BD. Cela change un peu des livres de cuisine magistraux et recettes impossibles à exécuter que nous livrent la plupart des grands chefs.

Alors, un grand bravo Monsieur Blain ! Et s’il vous plaît, continuez pour notre plus grand plaisir :-)

Thyme at Southrop Manor, a cotswolds dream

We are just back from two days spent in the Cotswolds, 90 miles away from busy London. Count 1h30 mn at best to get there. More likely to be 2h as getting out of London can be quite challenging. But the reward is worth it. Many small immaculate villages, beautiful landscapes, a handful of bed and breakfast’s and hotels to choose from and some very interesting gastro pubs and restaurants flourishing here and there. No really, this is an easy journey for any Londoner and one you can’t escape from if you need a bit of fresh air !

We did stay at the Thyme southrop manor estate which is an old barn entirely restored and turned into a cooking school, some luxury suites and cottages, some facilities where corporations can run offsite meetings or seminars (  needless to say this latter was not really our first driver ! ) and a gastro pub next door called The Swan where we had all our lunches and dinners. A simple but anthentic cuisine, ran by a very welcoming family. Within seconds, you will feel at home. The place is very cosy and we have been lucky enough to enjoy our latest treat next to the centuries old fireplace. Not a luxury after a walk in the freezing countryside with our 4 months old baby.

Unfortunately we could not attend any cooking class as the resident chef ( like DJ’s but for gastronomy ) was off. But for the food freaks please find the next months classes program here for download. In between others, a very interesting session planned for March the 17th of 2012 with guest chef José Pizzaro who just opened his own restaurant in East London.

With our very young baby, we have not been able to do much more then feeding him. And feeding us during those two days break. But I am sure there is much more to be seen and discovered in the wonderful Cotswolds. So please share with us your secret spots and hidden gems ! And make sure to take a deep breath of fresh air before to head back to the city which never stops !

Benoît for Art de vivre !

Olivier roellinger 1st spices boutique in Paris

You might never have heard about the amazing chef Olivier Roellinger. On the contrary to many other French 3 michelin stars chefs, he never ever sold his soul to the gastronomy devils. Meaning he always preferred staying small and maintaining very high quality. While most of his talented peers were opening franchised restaurants all over the world, he remained focused on doing very few things and respecting incredibly high standards.

2 years ago he decided to give back his 3 michelin stars and closed his main restaurant to focus on traveling the world and discovering some new authentic flavors, ingredients and other cuisines. Through his many trips in Asia, India, Africa and South America he built friendship and partnerships with producers of some of the best spices in the world. And naturally opened up his Maison des épices. First in Cancale where he was born, then a second outlet in Saint Malo. And a latest one opened late November 2010 in Paris. You can also shop online ( French only supported ) but the boutiques are really worth paying a visit.

Enjoy the smelling trip !

Epices RoellingerParis 51, rue Sainte Anne 75002 PARIS – tel : 01 42 60 46 88

A taste of Luberon at "Le Pavillon de Galon" B&B

We’ve been silent the past weeks as we are working hard on our next professional adventure. But do not panic ! ;-) We still do have time for long week-ends and will continue to post our “Art de vivre” findings on a regular basis.
Just back from a short stay in “Le Pavillon de Galon” B&B, i just could not resist sharing this experience with you. The “pavillon” is located in the little village of Cucuron, South Luberon, Provence. We decided to take the TGV train from Paris to Avignon (2h40mn). We then rented a car ( i do recommend Sixt which i booked through their iphone app ) and thanks to my great tomtom app we reached Cucuron after an hour of relaxed driving.

The 18th century mansion – Roman Pool

The little village of Cucuron is nice and is a central spot to discover Luberon. “Le pavillon de galon” is located at the exit of the village along a small road. A “remarkable” garden will welcome you entering this multi acres domain, bought 12 years ago by Bibi and Guy, a parisian couple. 

Apart from an amazing restoration of the 18th century main house, they planted more then 10.000 fruit trees along the years. They also have a decent number of olive and truffle trees, as well as a small kitchen garden. All they will serve you for breakfast is home made except the fresh goat cheese coming from a neighbor. Be ready to re-discover the forgotten and genuine taste of apricot and fig. They even produce their wine called “Hocus Pocus”.

10.000 fruit trees we did say !
Fresh goat cheese from the neighbor at breakfast

You got the point ! This place is designed by and for “Epicureans”. The owners even propose cooking and wine tasting classes mainly during the summer. In their own wonderful kitchen, the largest room of the house !

There is also a very nice minimalistic pool to refresh, as well as a couple of fountains and basins dating from the roman empire. So relax and feel the history, you’re in good hands at Pavillon de Galon.

For eating, wether at lunch or dinner time, we do recommend “La Closerie” in the very charming village of Ansouis, ran by Delphine and Olivier Alemany. Book long in advance for dinner at +33(0)490099054. We went for lunch and opted for the 23€ menu which was simply exceptional. In particular the starter “Cauliflower soup with local black truffle”. “Un sans faute” as we like to say in French. They also strongly recommend “La bartavelle” restaurant in Goult, 40 mn away from Cucuron. Should you try that one, let us have your feedback at

La Closerie – Ansouis – Luberon

Cauliflower Cream – thin chips – black truffle

In Cucuron you will also find a one star michelin called “La petite maison“, ran by chef Eric Sapet. We had diner there which i would qualify just average. Completely overrated and overpriced. Unless they had a bad day that night ! Which can always happen.

All in all another long week end we will keep for long in our memories. We wish you to discover this wonderful region and experience the flavours of Luberon.

Hasta pronto !

Risotto Alle Gamberi e Capesante by ADV

“Art de vivre” is today sharing with you one of its best recipe and more importantly one technique to prepare a good risotto for 4 people : 

  1. Start buying the proper rice. Carnaroli is our prefered one. But arborio can also be used. Both are now widely diffused and distributed. Should be an easy search
  2. Ideally you should have kept a chicken or vegetables based bouillon from previous meal in your frige. In most cases you will not have that. Just boil some water and use a simili of French “Maggi” bouillon cube
  3. Mince an entire white onion
  4. Take a narrow but deep stove. Heat it with low fire. Add 50 gr of butter and half of the minced onion
  5. As onions become translucid but not yet entirely cooked, add 150 gr of rice. Increase slightly fire. Melt onion and rice, keep on stiring with a spatula until the rice turns pearly. Spread the rice equally to cover all stove
  6. Throw 15cl of any dry white wine with again slightly increase fire so that the alcohol can evaporate. Should take no more then 30 sec
  7. Bring back fire to low and start adding your bouillon. Just enough to cover the rice. As soon as your bouillon gets consumed, add some more to cover. Repeat until the rice gets cooked. Just add what is needed. That is the secret.
  8. When you feel the rice becomes cooked but still a bit al dente, stop adding bouillon.
  9. When almost all bouillon got consumed, add another 50 gr of butter and very thin slices of premium parmeggiano cheese. Salt & pepper.
  10. With fire on, melt it all until you get a creamy risotto
  11. Serve and Enjoy ! 
As on the picture above, you can serve risotto with sea food which will have to be cooked separately. You could also decide to have it as described above or also add any vegetable ( mushrooms and especially funghi porcini, zucchini, carrot, leek…). So let your creativity express and start enjoying what finally is a very easy dish to prepare.
Important to mention : the picture above is from a risotto we prepared as any other recipe we did present and will.

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