QT Hotel Melbourne

First and foremost let me wish you all a very healthy and happy 2017. 

It all started very well for me and my family with some holidays off the slopes in Val d’Isère ( previous post ) followed by a business trip to visit my company’s headquarters in dream city Melbourne

I love that city. Its people. Its passion for nature, sport, food and coffee. Never been there ? Pin it for one of your next trip then as it is a must !

I have been lucky enough to stay at the QT Hotel. It recently opened and is all I like. Small. Excellent service and friendly staff from all over the world. Free internet. Great rooftop terrace. Competitive pricing at around 250 AUD including breakfast. And last but not least an exceptionally good restaurant and room service at excellent value for money ratio. 

Check out some of the dishes I have been lucky to honour for you ! 

Vive Melbourne !

Rooftop terrace with great cocktails and music
Ocean chargrilled prawns
Crab cake avocado fusion
Crazy watermelon topped with vanilla délice
Lounge world class bar
A chair , a table and a mousse
Red snapper – such a beautiful flesh I can still remember it !
Brewery next door
Slow cooked oven potatoes !


Garance – Boutique restaurant in Saint Germain des Près

First I apologise to my dear followers I have not taken the time to share some good food tips for too long. The tremendous pace of life has taken over ! But I am absolutely committed to fight back ! So here is one to share a dinner with your lover ! Indeed I went there in April to share lunch with one of my best friend. Located in Saint Germain des près, Paris, GARANCE was opened quite recently by a couple of young fresh chef and sommelier both trained by Alain passard. The design of the place itself is a mix of warmth and minimalism ! Just enough of both so you feel welcome and relaxed. A bit like a well balanced cosmopolitan cocktail !

From the moment you pass the door, you know you will have a special moment. Apart from the great company, I had two amazing dishes. Simple, fresh, authentic !

The first one was “bonite” in carpaccio. Which is small tuna. The main was “pavé de lieu”, another delicious fish.

Both served with a perfectly balanced white inexpensive wine. The owner being a wine fanatic always in the search of new flavours and unknown domain or regions.

At Garance, you really can only get it right ! Unless you have the wrong company ! ;-)

34 rue Saint-Dominique
75007 Paris
tel: 0033145552756



With such a picture, text is useless. Not that the photograph is particularly gifted ( indeed I really am not ), but the conditions were simply perfect that week end back in March 2013. Less then an hour drive from geneva airport lies the very charming ski resort of Manigod – croix fry. It was my first time there. I rented a small chalet in the Hotel de la croix Fry, which is the first one you can guess on the picture. Fantastic breakfast and food, extremely welcoming owners, and very reasonable pricing ( 165€ per night with breakfast included ). This is really my first 2013 gem. Please don’t tell anyone ! And book now for the 2014 powder season !


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 !

La régalade – Paris 14ème – I feel good

Dear Art de Vivre readers and friends,

It’s been years i wanted to go and eat at “La régalade”. And i finally did yesterday !

This restaurant was formerly owned and managed by the famous chef Yves Camdeborde from 1992 to 2005. A long period where he revisited and imposed a new “bistrot” cuisine. When he left in 2005 to open a new restaurant called “Le comptoir de l’Odéon” in Saint-Germain des près ( completely overrated by the way ), his second Bruno Doucet naturally took the lead and ownership of “La régalade”.

I knew from friends or word of mouth the cuisine served was authentic and generous. But i wanted to test and taste myself. My conclusion is not any different from the idea i had : very fresh, perfectly cooked and executed, generous, authentic, creative but classical still.

The unique 32€ menu does propose starter + main course + dessert. Which is a very good deal for Paris given the quality. You’ll also be given to go for “à la carte” which we have not experienced. So i’ll not comment until i try it myself. My gut feel would say this is not worth as the menu does already offer a wide enough variety and premium quality products.

I personally had as a starter “Coquilles Saint-Jacques de Bretagne marinées crues, en coquille, huile d’olive citron, basilic et parmesan”. The sea was not far away. Indeed i could feel it ! Then i carried on with “Poitrine de cochon fermier moelleuse de chez Ospital, la couenne croustillante. Lentilles vertes du Puy cuisinées comme un petit salé”. Hummmm un délice ! And ended up with “Quenelle et gâteau moelleux au chocolat noir, crème anglaise au thé vanillé” !

All in all “un sans faute” as we use to say in France. Meaning 10 points ! Worth to mention you’ll also be offered a “terrine” to wait for your starter in good company and a “madeleine” or some “mignardises” when ordering coffee.

“La régalade” is a place where you will feel good i am sure. One negative but constructive feedback i’ll have : the service is too long especially at lunch time. So recruit guys ! The restaurant is located in the very south of Paris which might not be very appealing to some of you looking for a nice and charming surrounding. Should that be the case, i would recommend you to opt for Bruno Doucet’s second restaurant located in the very heart of Paris. Close to Les Halles and Palais Royal.  Same name but a bit more sophisticated and expensive.

All my apologies for the mediocre quality of the pictures. As i am sure Steve Jobs reads that post, that issue should be fixed within the coming months !

Régalez-vous à “La régalade”. Enjoy ! Disfruta a full !

La régalade, 49 avenue Jean Moulin, Paris 14ème : 01 45 45 68 58

La régalade – ST Honoré, 123 rue St Honoré, Paris 1er : 01 42 21 92 40

Azabu , fine Japanese cuisine in Paris

Dear Art de vivre readers !
We only write here when we have something really worth sharing. Yesterday evening we were at AZABU restaurant, recommended to us lately by a Japanese tea and massage institute. 
Paris by night – November 4th 2010
What else ?
Azabu’s speciality is Teppan Yaki. Thus my first recommendation : book a table at the bar and enjoy looking at the chef cooking ! This is extremely impressive and full of learnings for those of you passionate about technique.
The staff is absolutely wonderful, extremely patient to explain the menu, very delicate and humble. You feel that the client is king at Azabu. For those of you living in Paris, this might be something you’ve not felt for long ! ;-) 
The restaurant is located in the very heart of Saint Germain des près. Once passed the frontdoor, you feel well immediately. A minimalist but warm design. Quiet and peaceful place which extracts you from the everyday rush within seconds. 
We both opted for the 39€ menu which is composed of two “mises en bouche”, one starter, one main dish and the dessert. Which is given the quality an excellent price/quality ratio in Paris for fine Japanese cuisine.
In disorder we’ve had Zensay Bento, salmon tartar, Saint-Jacques shells, Filet of turbot, green tea ice cream with red beans purée. An explosion of flavors served by the impeccable freshness of the products used there.
Salmon Tartar 
Gren Tea ice cream with red beans
All in all a wonderful moment we can only recommend. 
AZABU , 3 rue André-Mazet, 75006 Paris. Tel : 0146337205.

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 bsimeray@gmail.com

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 !

"Bedandbruges" lovely B&B in the charming Bruges

We’re just back from a long weekend in Bruges, Belgium. The best way to reach this UNESCO protected town is with no doubt by train. From Paris it took us around 2H30 mn and you can easily book your tickets on SNCB network. I will not here detail how beautiful and charming bruges is. You will find that on so many other blogs or websites. But it is indeed very true and a stop there when visiting Europe is a must.
You will find dozens of boutique hotels, luxury ones or bead & breakfast. We did stay at Bedandbruges , a lovely B&B ran by Louise and Francis Hardy. Should you go there, stay in “La tour” which is a medieval tower completely restored in 2009. You will enjoy the entire place for you ( 2 people ) at a bargain of 95 € per night breakfast included. The owners do also offer to swap their personal home and that could be an option for large families and a week stay.
“La tour” at Bedandbruges
Peaceful Bruges
This B&B is situated slightly off the touristic heart of the city and you will need a 10mn walk to join the most visited monuments. Which for us was a plus as we could stay out of the crowd. Another possibility is to rent a bike at around 10€/day as this is the perfect way to discover the city and its surroundings. We would even suggest you to bike along the canal from Bruges to Damme ( 7km away, a lovely medieval village ) and then to Sluis ( Holland, 18km from bruges ). You will need around 3H back and forth. We’d suggest to stop for lunch at Damme which offer various excellent options. We personally ate at “Restaurant ZuidKant” whom the chef has been working quite some time with the famous Thierry Marx chef in Cordeillan-bages.
“ZuidKant” restaurant terrace
Langoustines marinées, crème d’avocat et fines herbes
Cappuccino et ravioli de Homard, parmesan et huile de basilic
One of the best and most creative cuisine we’ve experienced lately. By far above most of the 1 or 2 star michelin restaurants we were lucky to taste in France those past years. Count on 50€/person with 1 glass of wine. Another option when in Damme is to eat at “De Bonheur” which has been indicated to us by several locals. The next day we went to have lunch at the Refter which is ran by the son of the nextdoor 3 star michelin “De Karmeliet”. Should you have the choice, eat in the patio. We ate twice there for around 40€/person. Excellent products in general, succulent fish. I personally recommend the fish soup which beats easily many of the ones i could taste in sunny southern France.
La carte, Refter Bistro
Soupe de poisson et sa rouille
Velouté d’asperges, crème de brocolis
The kitchen , Refter Bistro
We also had excellent dinner at Rock Fort ( likely to be rated soon 1 star michelin ). Really amazing quality and very good and affordable wine list. But quite disappointed by the atmosphere ( we were at the bar, not in the main dining area ) and more problematic by the time we had to wait between each plate ( around 30mn ).
All in all we spent a wonderful time and discovered new flavors and tastes, met passionate and friendly people. Without a doubt, the belgian gastronomy is about to play a major role and taking over its French neighbour ( if not already the case ).
Some other places where to SLEEP : B&B Côté canal and B&B number 11
Enjoy bruges !

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