The Man’s ideal weekend getaway..

often involves wine and food.  We had grand plans for another snowboarding trip to the mountains for our second last weekend in Geneva but I got really sick so the Man decided that it should be a weekend filled with good food and wine then.  He booked us a last minute stay at Chateau de Gilly.  Our BEST friends loaned us their car and some 2.5 hours later, we arrived at Burgundy.

I later learned that Château de Gilly is a former residence of 14th-century monks.  It’s location was ideal for it was situated between Dijon and Beaune. The hotel has preserved its authentic 14th and 16th-century character, reflected in its moats, French-style gardens and a dining room with a magnificent vaulted ceiling.

After checking in the hotel, we decided to drive to the nearby Gevrey Chambertin village to do a little wine tasting.  But we were disappointed with the wine offerings.  So off to Nuits-Saint Georges it was to try and buy up some bottles of wine.  The Man was pleased with his haul.  Among his buys, I guess one of the most unique bottles that we purchased was a 1977 bottle of Gevrey Chambertin.  Definitely took a risk with the buy but I’m hoping that it would be memorable when we do get to taste it.  😉

Took a rest in the hotel before heading off to dinner at the Le Clos Prieur, which was conveniently situated within the hotel premises.  Despite feeling extremely sick, I was still pretty excited about the dinner for the Le Clos Prieur restaurant has 3 stars in the Gault & Milau 2010 guide, furthermore, it is set in a former 14th-century wine cellar with an extraordinary architectural design.

We took the degustation (5-course meal) menu.  It was generally pretty good but the below dishes really left a striking impression on my taste-buds.

The foie gras terrain that’s coated with dark hazelnut chocolate.  It sounded a little queer but taste-wise, it was absolutely divine!

The restaurant’s signature dessert – Tirmaisu.  Although I thought it was more of a deconstructed tiramisu.  The Man didn’t really think too highly of the dessert but I loved the crunchy hazelnut biscuit part.  I’m hardly a chocolate or sweets kind of gal but the crunchy bits kinda sealed the deal for me.

I wished I was feeling a lot better to fully enjoy the dinner.  In between the courses, try as I might but I simply couldn’t stop the coughing spell.  It gotten so bad that I thought I was probably a nuisance to the other patrons for the evening.  😦

All in all, it was a relaxing weekend getaway in one of our favourite regions in France.

Courchevel in a nutshell

7 days of boarding with the peeps in Courchevel 1850 was simply amazing!  This has got to be one of our best winter holidays here in the French Alps.  The weather was great plus the piste was absolutely wonderful.  Wide and gentle slopes that cater to skiers and boarders of all levels.

The best memories of our trip are captured in these shots:

> Gorgeous room that we had at Chalet St. Christophe.  Thoughtful friends left the best room for the Man and I.

> Antoine, our in-house chef, fed us really well throughout our stay.  Definitely ate way too much!

> Harry Potter movie nights and champagne.  Think we cleared out about 40 bottles of bubbly and memorised tons of spells.

>  Huge seafood platter at Le Cap Horn that’s meant for 2 but could feed at least 5 pax in our group.

> The peeps in our cheery get-up and all bundled up to hit the slopes.  We braved the winds and the crazy -20 degrees temperature while boarding.

> And after all that exercise on the slopes (more for some and a little lesser for me – hehe), we indulge in our favourite Aprèsski activity – drinking either Vin Chaud (Hot wine), beer or hot chocolate with Rum.

> We partied so hard on our only night out in town.  We practically brought the house down with the loud singing and dancing on top of tables!  The Red Bull team was in town and gave us complimentary drinks after seeing our crazy antics.  ;p

> And when we are tired of boarding, we can even go shopping on the slopes!  Amazing huh?  We stopped by at the Moncler boutique to do a little window-shopping and of course, cam-whoring!

> That’s all folks!  Amazing time with the gang and am so looking forward to our next trip in 2013!  Woo hoo!

Lady J’s ‘baby-boarder’ satisfaction : 5/5
The Man’s ‘advanced-boarder’ satisfaction: 4.5/5

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Click here to check out Lady J’s adventures in snowboarding.

Le Cordon Bleu

For the Man’s birthday this year, I decided to give him an ‘experiential’ birthday present instead of a physical one.  So I booked us for a cooking lesson at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.  Well, he wasn’t going to learn how to make macarons so I picked ‘Cooking for Friends‘ thinking that it could be a fun course we could possibly do and have friends over in future when we move back.

We arrived not-so-bright but early at the school for our lesson.  The demonstration started promptly at 8.30am and went on till 11.30am.  During the 3 hours, Chef Frederic Lesourd entertained us with his crazy antics while cooking up a storm while we as students furiously took down notes on how to cook the dishes.

The menu for the day was a 3-course meal:  Oyster & scallop cream with watercress veloute, Double veal chop with apples and sauteed wild mushrooms and finally for dessert – Pineapple roasted with spices and almond milk ice-cream.  After 3 hours in the kitchen, this was what the chef prepared and as part of our cooking class, we were only supposed to prepare 1 dish for the Chef said that if we were to prepare all 3 courses, we probably would have to sleep in the school.  Hehe.

After a 30-minute break, we got ‘down and dirty’ in the prep kitchen of Le Cordon Bleu.  Armed with our apron and dish towel, our core ingredients for the veal chop were set in front of us and we had to prep and make the dish.  You know in those cooking shows, ingredients will ‘magically’ appear for the chef so all he has to do is just put everything together and viola the final dish would appear.  Well, it doesn’t happen here.  I had to learn how to cut and clean the veal, chop the shallots, etc.  The cleaning of the veal bit was rather challenging for me, trimming the fat and then getting rid of the excess meat on the bone was tough work.  The Man did a far better job at it.

After the cleaning, the chopping and the browning of the veal chops, we were all ready to pop the chops into the oven.  Look at how excited we were.  Some 20 minutes later, we brought them out from the oven, set them aside and started to put together the ingredients for the sauce.  But it turned out that the Man and I put our pans on the heated induction plates, so our meats continued to cook and burn.  Sigh.. in the end, we couldn’t make the sauce because it was all burnt.  Yup, we were the only 2 out of the entire class of 10 that ended up not making the sauce.  That’s me and my sulky face…

But well, we learn and guess what?  We still graduated!  Chef Lesourd kept making fun of me and giving me the ‘evil’ eye when he saw my paltry cutting skills.  Arh, well…. 😉

We did have fun doing this as part of the Man’s birthday treat and after this class, we now have a new-found respect for French cooking for it’s really tough and attention to details must be paid along each and every step of the way.  As to whether we will be putting what we’ve learnt to practice?  Well, let’s see… only if you’re prepared to be our guinea pigs.. Hehe!

i sea-food

Since nothing is really opened in Geneva on Sundays, we decided to cross the borders and head back to Divonne to check out the local Farmers’ Market that’s only opened on Sunday.  I’m starting to love Farmers’ Markets for there’s a buzz in the air coupled with the colourful sights and the smells of fresh food tucked in the little stalls.

The main purpose of this visit was also to stuff ourselves silly with the fresh seafood.  I skipped breakfast entirely so that I could tuck in the seafood feast!

With the BEST family in tow, we ordered 2 portions of seafood platter made up of 12 freshly shucked oysters (Grade 0,1,2,3), Alaskan crabs and 2 sea urchins.  We even got complimentary white wine to accompany the meal.  Total bill for the 6 of us came up to about EUR 126.. which wasn’t too bad considering the oysters were super fresh and yummy!  It was my first time having the Grade 0 oysters and they were so good!

After the feast, we walked around a bit and stocked up on fresh produce before taking a short coffee break.  I guess I couldn’t resist snapping a couple of pics of doggies.  Wished we had Sparky with us.  I’m sure he would love Europe, he’ll get to go almost everywhere here!  Sigh.. but we’ll be home soon!

Well, if you find yourself running out of things to do on a weekend in Geneva like we often do, then I’ll say definitely make a trip to Divonne for the weekend Farmers’ Market.  The stalls close about 12.30pm to 1pm so you could always start by exploring the market at about 10am, do a little shopping before stopping by one of the cafes for a quick break, brunch or lunch.

☆Winter wonders☆

We had a great start to 2012 snowboarding with one of our dearest friends and their lovely kids at Samoëns.

Today was an awesome day to hit the slopes. Clear blues skies coupled with freshly groomed slopes and powder snow, I had one of the best runs to start the year with.

20120101-175615.jpgWe even had time to stop and cam-whore on the slopes with my fave Style Princess and her brother. Couldn’t have asked for a better start to 2012!

20120101-175937.jpgHow did you spend your very first day on the brand new year? Well, I hope you guys had a wonderful time like we did on this first day of 2012!

Lady J’s ‘baby-boarder’ satisfaction: 3.5/ 5
The Man’s ‘advanced-boarder’ satisfaction: 2/5

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Click here to check out Lady J’s adventures in snowboarding.

Our cutest travel-mate (by far)

We’ve been told that traveling with little ones can be rather challenging.  The amount of stuff that goes into packing these little ones luggage can be daunting.  While we have no first-hand clue how this works, we are glad that our friends showed us that it doesn’t look half as bad as it sounds.

Remember this post where I shared about this little one? Well, we took a little weekend trip to Chamonix with him and his parents.  After the weekend, the Man and I gushed that IF we ever have any kids, we wanted one with a sweet nature like baby G.  One who travels well, sure he does have his occasional bawl once in a while but little fussing over this one is needed.  But you know how Murphy always act… we probably end up having a little terror… but who’s to know… we first gotta have the baby before we eventually embark on this little journey called ‘Parenthood’.

Lookie at baby G having his first taste of Burgundy vino.  ;p

As for us adults, we had a lovely dinner to kick-start the festive season at Auberge Du Bois Prin.  The menu was pretty impressive from start to finish.  The Man had this wonderful pumpkin soup with a slice of foie gras while I had a medley of oysters with bacon crisps cooked in a creamy pumpkin broth.  The mains were rather delicious as well.  Check out my pan-fried John Dory with that generous serving of black truffle slices.

Though we didn’t get a chance to hit the slopes of Chamonix fully, I guess we did have a very relaxing weekend.  Who knows?  We just might come back again to Chamonix to snowboard.  Fingers crossed that the weather would be kinder to us the next time round.