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Found 32 results

  1. Do we really not have a thread on Nice? magdelena, aka, Thérèse, aka, my mother-in-law and Tatie, aka, Francine, aka, Thérèse's sister, are born-and-bred Niçoises, and are always eager to help out any of my friends (i.e., our members) who are traveling to Nice. Although I'm going this autumn, I haven't been back in 6-7 years now (they've been coming to visit me), but I'm going to begin extensive French travel again soon, and I'll be keeping everyone <<au courant>>. A couple days ago, Thérèse wrote me and told me about the new La Promenade du Paillon - the following piece is well-worth reading if you're going to Nice: Nov 13, 2013 - "A Walk around Central Nice: the New Promenade du Paillon and the Colline du Château" by kevinhin on french-riviera-blog.com And make sure to watch this (government propaganda) video of the grand opening which is mentioned in the piece above. So as you can see, the Promenade du Paillon really isn't a place to "see" so much as a place to "be." A second "place to be," Place Masséna (the main square in Nice), has also been renovated: "Place Masséna" on expedia.com - Expedia has a couple short guides of Nice's tourist attractions (again, mainly "places to be" and not "places to see"): Vieux Nice (Old Town), Colline du Château (Castle Hill). And, of course, don't forget about Promenade des Anglais - the three main "hangouts" in Nice are 1) Promenade des Anglais, 2) Place Masséna, and 3) Promenade du Paillon. In terms of restaurants, the Michelin 2016 Guide now has four starred restaurants in Nice: three one-stars, none of which I've frequented, as they're all relatively newly starred: L'Aromate, Flaveur, and JAN (South African!). Then, there's the perennial two-star Chantecler at the legendary Hotel Negresco which every single person who has ever been to Nice has seen (it's the large, domed building right on the Promenade des Anglais, with the equally legendary gentleman hailing cabs, wearing a hat with a feather in it, and blowing a whistle - you can't miss it!). Chantecler burns through chefs, and there's even a new one now since the last time I checked (it used to be Alain Llorca; now it's Jean-Denis Rieubland), but you're here more for the atmosphere than the cooking, to be honest - it's almost a caricature of fanciness, but in a lovable way. There are also five "Bib Gourmand" restaurnants in 2016: Bistrot d'Antoine, Comptoir du Marché, La Merenda, Bar des Oiseaux, and Olive et Artichaut. If anyone needs help with Nice, I'll be more than happy to assist you - just ask right here.
  2. I know the book has been around for 6 years or so, but I recently read Kitchen Confidential while I was on my trip to Hawaii and it was a great read. Out of curiosity, does anyone know who he is referring to as Bigfoot? Also, has anyone here actually tasted Anthony Bourdain's food? Does he suck per his own self assessment or is he just being self depricating?
  3. I am planning a foodie vacation in Paris in January. I have never been...I would appreciate recommendations!
  4. does anyone know where in DC i can buy these? thank you.
  5. I'm having difficulty location a bottle of this for reasons of cocktail. Any suggestions? Ideally in PG or Montgomery county MD, but I work in Ballston if you think one of the VA ABC stores would carry it. Worst case, point me to a DC liquor store. TIA!
  6. Jul 24, 2017 - "The Mysterious Origins of Europe's Oldest Language" by Anna Bitong on bbc.com --- Basque Country (Al Dente)
  7. Just heard that Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room in France of an apparent suicide
  8. Percebes are extremely expensive - you can also find them in Bordeaux, where they're called "Pouce-Pieds." Also, you may not want to hear this, but they're farming them now in Oregon, and you can buy them by mail.
  9. A bit of historical trivia: The first-ever recorded auto-da-fé occurred in Paris in the year 1242, under the reign of King Louis IX - better known as Saint Louis. This is all found in Wikipedia: To his credit: Louis IX banned trials by ordeal, introduced the presumption of innocence in criminal procedure, and created provosts and bailiffs in order to enforce its application. To his detriment: Louis IX severely punished blasphemy (the punishment being mutilation of the tongue and lips), gambling, interest-bearing loans, and prostitution. He expanded the scope of the Inquisition, and ordered the burning of Talmuds and other Jewish books. All of this raises two interesting (and inter-related) philosophical and sociological issues: * At what point does a person's positive qualities outweigh their negative ones? * How much time must pass before glossing over a person's atrocities? For example, in Seat Pleasant, MD, there used to be a Roger B. Taney Middle School - this is all documented right here. People had the common sense to rename Roger B. Taney Middle School as Thurgood G. Marshall Middle School in 1993; yet, one of the most important cities in the United States remains named St. Louis, MO. The conflict is obvious, but where does it begin, and where does it end?
  10. "Paul Bocuse, le <<Cuisinier du Siècle>>, Est Mort" on lemonde.fr Bocuse passed away in his sleep from Parkinson's complications at age 91 on Saturday. His eponymous restaurant had been given Michelin's prestigious <<3-macarons>> award every year since 1965 (he got his first Michelin star in 1958!). The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, saluted "the inventor of French cuisine," adding that he was a "mythical figure." Gault and Millau elected Bocuse "Cuisinier of the Century" in 1989.
  11. "French Chef Sebastian Bras Asks To Drop Michelin Stars" on bbc.com
  12. We already have several more-specific threads for France: Regions: Alsace // Lot // Provence Cities: Aix-en-Provence // Cannes // Marseille // Nice // Paris // Toulouse (I hate Toulouse.) And now, presenting: The ultimate thread for well-heeled, Francophilic, cartographical gourmets: The Complete List of 2016 Michelin 3-Star Restaurants by Department Enjoy! Cool, look!
  13. Here is a video of seven-year-old Yo-Yo Ma playing with his sister, Yeou-Cheng Ma (*), at the Benefit for the National Cultural Center (**), on Nov 29, 1962, in front of President John Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and former President Eisenhower - all of whom you can get a glimpse of after the performance is over. The master of ceremonies is the great Leonard Bernstein. (*) "This Is New York: The Untold Story of Dr. Yeou-Cheng Ma, Violin Prodigy and Medical Doctor" by Amelia Pang on theepochtimes.com (**) Ominously, just two years later, the National Cultural Center was renamed the John F. Kennedy Center in honor of the fallen President.
  14. Can someone please help me identify the artist who is the brain behind this piece? A colleague told me it may be Mr Brainwash? In learning about Art, I wish there was Shazam app for Art identification. Art novice, kat
  15. Hi everyone, One of our favorite wines is the Jean-Louis Chave "Mon Coeur". We can get it from Chelsea Wine Vault in NYC, but have struck out around here. Does anyone know of any wine shops that happen to stock it (or any JL Chave wine, for that matter) in the area? Thanks in advance!
  16. If anyone wants to argue that Impressionism is the most overplayed, hackneyed art movement in all of history, you'll get no argument from me. If anyone wants to argue that, with the possible exception of Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir is the most overplayed, hackneyed Impressionist in history, you'll also get no argument from me. But to my view, no painter in history can produce more beautiful *eyes* than Renoir - his eyes are so captivating that I'm able to see through all the dilettantes (of which I'm often one), crowding around the Impressionist galleries. You can often tell an Impressionist painting is a Renoir from the eyes alone. La Rêverie, 1877 - Puschkin Museum, Moscow, Russia Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881 - The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC Two Sisters (On The Terrace), 1881 - The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL Some masterworks in life lend themselves to close scrutiny; a small minority can be appreciated at face value - this falls into that latter category. They are just beautiful - the pictorial version of Bel Canto Opera. Any serious student of art here just lowered their opinion of me several rungs, and I understand why, but I don't care: Tawdry entertainment or not, these are gorgeous paintings.
  17. Jean René Désiré Françaix is not a well-known 20th-century composer in the United States, but is the composer of one of the more difficult pieces in the clarinet repertoire: "Tema con Variazioni." I'm proud to say that my son, Matt, will be performing this as the opening piece in his solo recital early next year in Bloomington, Indiana, most likely Feb 27, 2017 (if anyone is interested in seeing it live on podcast, let me know, and I'll confirm the date, which, for now, is tentative). If anyone is interested in attending the recital, I'll be going out to Bloomington and can give you a ride. The great neo-Impressionist Maurice Ravel, wrote this to Francaix' parents: "Among the child's gifts I observe above all the most fruitful an artist can possess, that of curiosity: you must not stifle these precious gifts now or ever, or risk letting this young sensibility wither." There aren't many great recordings of this online, but this will at least give you an idea for the piece.
  18. Alain Llorca isn't known in the United States, but he's very well known in the Provence-Alpes-Côtes-d'Azur region. When I was last there, he was Chef de Cuisine at Chanticleer, a perennial Michelin 2-star restaurant in the luxurious Hotel Negresco - surely the most well-known hotel in Nice. But much has changed in the past five years, and Llorca has thrown his hat into the hotel business, now operating (perhaps having an equity stake in) several hotels in the region, one of which was the beguiling Hostellerie des Messugues. Llorca's least-expensive hotel, our room was a total bargain at 98€ (Euros), and even though this is technically a "modest" hotel, it punched so far above its weight that it was like Michael Spinks winning the heavyweight championship. This hostellerie is located outside the city's ramparts, at the end of a quiet street in a pine grove. There's a heated, torus-shaped pool outside, and a help-yourself "honor bar" in the lobby where you take what you wish, and simply sign your name on a piece of paper. It should be no surprise that I nabbed a half-bottle of Alain Llorca Champagne (24€), which was lovingly nursed before dinner. Immediately after checking in, three of us (including magdalena, who made the 30-minute drive from her house in Nice), left for some museum-hopping, beginning with the Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence - a chapel designed and overseen by Henri Matisse in the 1950s. If you're in the area, it's well-worth the 5km drive to get here, particularly for the stained glass, and the wall-painting of the 14 Stations of the Cross. Still, this chapel is absolutely dwarfed in stature by the extremely important Fondation Maecht which is, without question, the finest outdoor sculpture garden I've ever seen (one visitor in your group should absolutely pay the 5€ supplement for the rights to take photographs there). Even though the outdoor sculpture is unparalleled, the indoor portion of the museum is also magnificent, and it's going to be adding an extension as well. This is a non-negotiable "must visit" if you're anywhere in the vicinity, and it's less than a 5-minute drive from the hotel (you can also walk there using a footpath in about 15 minutes). This was right at the end of the tourist season, and this hotel is small enough where they can get by with only one employee (cleaning service not included) - thus, the almost ridiculously inexpensive pricing. This hotel gushes charm despite its simplicity, and was of my fondest memories of my entire 2-week trip in France despite it being the least-expensive place where I stayed. Of note: the doors and shutters to the rooms were recycled from an 18th-century prison! An added bonus, which made the hotel even less expensive, was that you could get a half-pension, which included dinner, several miles down the road, at Restaurant Llorca, a Michelin one-star restaurant in the more upscale, more expensive Hotel Llorca, which was having some sort of car convention when we visited. Although technically in the village of La Colle-sur-Loup, it's no more than a five-minute drive. Amazingly, because we were staying at a Llorca hotel, and because its restaurant had closed for the season, we were able to dine on a terrase overlooking the beautiful, walled town of St. Paul de Vence, at this lovely Michelin one-star restaurant, for only 30€ each for food (I, of course, ruined the economy of the situation by ordering a 50€ bottle of wine, but one must do what one must do). We had a set, prix-fixe, three-course meal that wasn't indicative of what the restaurant was capable of, but nevertheless a *ridiculous* bargain at Restaurant Week pricing - I'll write a separate note about our meal in another thread. Unless you want to stay inside the ramparts of St. Paul de Vence (and there's surely nothing at all wrong with that), this is a *wonderful* place to stay, and even though the government only assigns it 3 stars (France's government ratings are from 1-5 stars), it's a 4-star experience due to its charms. Simple, almost humble, but absolutely charming and unforgettable. For this reason, I rate the hotel 4 stars instead of 3 - and I recommend it highly to people staying in this area. The Matisse Chapel in Vence (including the wall-sized "14 Stations of the Cross"): Fondation Maeght (including a temporary exhibit by Cristo😞 Hostellerie des Messugues (including the exceptional view from our window (with 18th-century prison door) and our little Fiat 500):
  19. The plan was originally to have a Bouillabaisse in Marseille (*), then drive up to Aix-en-Provence, home to numerous important Universities, and more importantly, the Calisson. However, at this particular point in our travels, we needed (or, I needed) a vacation from our vacation - a down day - so, we drove straight to Aix-en-Provence (or simply, Aix) from St. Paul de Vence, and checked into what I thought would be a charming, relaxing hotel: Hotel Cézanne - which is pictured in "red" in the Michelin Red Guide, which means that the hotel is one of "our most delightful places" - in all of Aix, only four hotels are pictured in red. I'm sorry to say that, as nice as this hotel was, Michelin got this one wrong. While conveniently located in the Southwestern section of Aix, this was not a hotel that I would call "delightful." A nice hotel? Yes. Well-staffed and run by polite, caring employees? Yes! Worth a stay if you're in the area? Yes, although I suspect you could do better. Our room was designed in what I would call "Orange Ikea Modern" - made to look playful, but in reality coming across as somewhat plasticized. I have no doubt that the room was expensive to design - little details showed that - but it just came across as cold, almost like a larger version of a modern Japanese Capsule Hotel in terms of decor. Nah, I don't really mean that, but it did feel like plaster-board, even though it was the type of plaster-board you might see at a museum of modern art. This decor was not cheap - I guarantee someone spent a lot of money on a designer to make this room look like it did, and that aspect shows up in the pictures more than in reality. The pictures look like modern-chic; the feel was modern-cheap - understand also that we just came from Hostellerie des Messugues, which was 1/3 less expensive, and 1/3 more charming (how could it not be, given its setting?) *That* said, I cannot over-emphasize how *nice* the staff was. An example: Upon arrival, we were fumbling trying to get to the elevator with our suitcases, and knocked a glass off a display and broke it. We were extremely apologetic, and insisted on paying for the glass, but the staff would have none of it - accidents happen, and they made us feel perfectly comfortable about it - I will always remember this, and will always appreciate it: They handled this like true hospitality professionals, and that's a huge check in the plus column. More importantly, Hotel Cézanne is literally right across the street from Léonard Parli, a confiserie that has been there since the beginning of time (more accurately, they've been making artisan calissons since 1874), and specializes in luxurious, upscale confections - nougat, macerated fruit, chocolates, and let's be honest: unless you're a college student here, calissons are the main reason to come to Aix-en-Provence - this is a spectacular, elegant, luxurious candy-maker who fabricates the confections right in back of their beautiful shop. It is a "must" for anyone staying at Hotel Cézanne. One other thing I didn't realize until writing this note - and this is *hugely important* - the hotel states that every single room has a unique decor, so our room may have been the only one in the hotel having this orange-plasticized feel. That greatly elevates my opinion of Hotel Cézanne, and pretty much affirms my impression that the decor - though appearing a little chintzy - was most likely quite expensive. Given that every single room has a different design, that forces me to reassess my claim that the hotel shouldn't be rated in "red." And it leaves me torn about whether I should rate it 3 stars or 4 stars ... hmm, I'm going to reluctantly go with 3, mainly because it's somewhat expensive ($150+ a night plus about $20 for parking). But, I hope this is balanced out by any other guests rating it 4 stars, giving it an average rating of 3.5. It was clearly our least-favorite hotel of the entire trip (which is really not saying much, because we splurged, and traveled quite well). No, you know what? I'm going with 4 stars - 20% of all hotels get 4 stars according to our scale (5% get 5 stars), and this is absolutely, without question, in the top 25% of all hotels - to rate it otherwise would be unfair and wrong ... ... especially with the calissons being so close by. I can see brian having scanned these pictures, saying, "Yeah, I can see how you might have thought it looked cheap, but that also shows you don't know much about design." (*) To emphasize just how important it is that you cancel your reservations on a timely basis, I tried, and tried, and tried to cancel our reservation, and was unable to reach the owner of the restaurant until the last minute - and I could tell he wasn't happy. It was weighing on me the entire trip, and when I got home, I was finally able to reach him via a long, very apologetic email, indirectly sent by a mutual acquaintance, and offered to pay something for our missed reservation; he wouldn't accept my offer, but his response validates just how important it is to restaurateurs that customers cancel on a timely basis, and show the owners and staff the respect they deserve: Mon cher MonsieurJe vous remercie pour vos compliments.Vous avez en effet annuler uneRéservationCela peut arriverVous avez eu la gentillesse de me proposer de l argentMais je ne peux pas l accepterJ apprécié néanmoins votre courtoisie et notre éducationC est rareJe vous remercie pour votre mailQui me toucheCordialementMr Visciano
  20. Christian Etienne I enjoyed an unforgettable meal recently at Christian Etienne, a beautiful restaurant next to the Papal Palace of Avignon. The restaurant, perched atop a steep set of stairs, was built between 1190 ad 1220 AD, before the papal residence was built in 1335. The house became the first town hall of the city of Avignon in 1791, when the papal properties became a part of the French territory. Stone walls and archways in the lovely dining room evoke a rich feeling of history, while contemporary artwork and lighting create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. It was a wonderful place to spend three hours savoring a delicious menu based around tomatoes. I must admit, I wasn't all that enthused about a tomato tasting menu. I enjoy a nice, ripe tomato in summer, but the idea of an entire menu based around the fruit didn't excite me. I couldn't have been more wrong. The meal was fabulous, and while the tomato was the star, each dish was outstanding it its own right, and, had I not known it, I might not have noticed until dessert that everything was tomato themed. Now owned and run by Guilhem and Corinne Sevin, this restaurant is a must-do for anyone visiting this manificent city. Our first course was a smoked mackerel ceviche with corn and Noire de Crimee tomato. This dish was heavenly and the flavors were perfectly balanced. This was followed by a trio of tomato tartar with basil. Green Zebra, Beefsteak and Pineapple tomatoes were the stars of this beautful molded dish. Left mostly in their natural state, we were able to enjoy the three very different flavors of these heirloom varieties. The third course was my favorite: red mullet and brandade (a salty paste commonly made with cod), plum and cherry tomatoes, tomato water and garlic cream. I couldn't get enough of this delicious dish. It had the pefect balance of salt, acid from the tomatoes, garlic and cream. If you get a chance to try this dish, you should. Next we enjoyed a tomato falafel with Greek sauce, fresh mint, tomato quarters and multicolored cherry tomatoes. While I enjoyed this dish, I at this point I was still obsessing over the red mullet. I was starting to feel full when they brought out a duo of lamb from Provence in its own juice, with smashed tomatoes, eggplant caviar and a rosemary crumble. The lamb was braised to perfection, and enhanced by the tomatoes, vegetables and herbs. I must pause here to mention the bread. Several types were offered to us, all made in house and quite delicious. I absolutely loved the tomato bread. One might think tomato bread with a tomato menu would be overkill, but this was not the case. This bread was wonderful, and went extremely well with each dish. Course number six featured Cornue des Andes crackers and fresh Drome goat cheese with chives. This dish was tasty, and despite feeling quite full at this point, I ate every bite. We capped off a perfect meal with a tomato-based dessert: Love Apples, pistachio mousse and crispy rice, Marmande Tomato sorbet, topped with broken pieces of caramelized pistachio. It might not sound like it, but tomato sorbet and caramelized pistachios are a match made in heaven. This lovely meal lasted three hours, but it certainly didn't feel long. The service was impeccable, the ambiance was lovely and the pace of the meal was just right. The wine pairings were extremely well done, with each wine enhancing the flavors of the food. My wonderful evening at Christian Etienne is one I will never forget.
  21. Restaurant Alain Llorca Having stayed in the Hostellerie de Messugues in St. Paul de Vence (do note the tourist attractions in that thread), with it being end-of-season and the hotel's restaurant shut down, we were able to snag a half-pension at Restaurant Alain Llorca, having a pre-fixe, three-course menu for the ridiculous price of 30€ each. Technically, the restaurant is in the neighboring village of La Colle-sur-Loup, but it was literally a three-minute drive from our hotel on the outskirts of St. Paul de Vence. The catch is that, while Restaurant Alain Llorca is a Michelin one-star, our meal was a set three-course, with no choice as to what we ordered (certainly we could have gotten something else, but not for 30€, and I blew the bill to Kingdom Come by ordering a 50€ bottle of white wine from their large, not particularly well-priced wine list, driving the total bill up to something more like $125 total - such is life. Our wine was a humble Vin de Pays, and not a particularly good one - oh, it was a pleasant table wine I suppose, but it was something you could walk into Nicolas and purchase for 10€, I suspect. It was a wine I didn't recognize, and although I was thinking it would be a Sauvignon Blanc, it turned out to be a blend, mostly of Chardonnay, and was really not what I had hoped; nevertheless, it carried us through the meal, and I could have *always* turned to the sommelier for help, and I chose not to. Our first course was a Terrine de Rouget - a terrine of red snapper, and was bountiful to excess. Served in a sauce reminiscent of a classic ratatouille, there were probably three medium-sized filets in each terrine, and we could have eaten just this. The breads were made in-house, and were excellent - we had our choice of a mini-baguette, olive bread, and pain de campagne, all three of which were first-rate. The second, main course was Ombrine Cuite au Naturel en Croûte d'Herbes, Pappardelles Liées au Pistou de Basilic, an *extremely* fancy way of saying "Drumfish over Pappardelle in Pesto," and it was the one dish cooked to order - it was fabulous, although at this point in the trip, we were craving red meat. At this point, we were positively stuffed, but out came the dessert tray, filled with over a dozen pre-made selections. I ordered Baba au Rhum, which shocked the daylights out of my dining companion because of the straight rum poured on top of the butter biscuit, and my friend ordered a Chocolat Nougatine - a decadently rich heap of dark chocolate. For the price, the meal and atmosphere could not be beat (bear in mind this price *included tax and tip*, and also included amuse-gueule and mignardises - one of which had the "deepest" Pop Rocks I've ever had: It felt as if they were inside our brains going off) - this was a groundling's meal at a legitimate Michelin one-star restaurant, but there was nothing to complain about. We rolled back to the car, packed to the gills, and swearing never to eat again. On the way out the next day, we ran in and took a picture of the patio on which we sat, overlooking the ramparts of St Paul de Vence, which I'll include as soon as I dig it up. There were a lot of really interesting cars outside (it's a hotel also, and there was some type of car convention) - not ultra-expensive like at Monaco, but interesting nonetheless - here's one next to our little Fiat:
  22. I was having an interesting conversation with two musician friends today. I've come to the conclusion that - out of all the fine arts - visual art, particularly modern art - is the one field in which I have difficulty discerning mediocrity from greatness. A perfect example is Paul Cézanne. I've been going to museums regularly for thirty years, and have been exposed to a lot of modern art (Cézanne is considered by many to be The Father of Modernism). A couple years ago, I read an entire book on Cézanne, detailing his life, his periods, and his works. I can identify him by sight quite often. Yet, I cannot honestly tell you what makes Cézanne a greater artist than, say, Matisse. And that's just one example: With modern art in general, it would be *very* easy to fool me with something mediocre that an expert told me was profound, and vice-versa. Every other art form I can think of, I'm able to discern hacks from experts, but not with visual art, and especially with post 19th-century art. Can anyone tell me why this is? I'm willing to accept that I have no talent, but why in just this one area? I can tell you a great film from a lousy one, a great piece of literature from a lousy one, a great musical composition from a lousy one; it's just modern art that I am not capable of discerning. I admire, respect, and appreciate Cézanne. But I'd be lying if I told you I could definitively tell you *why* he's essentially considered "the Beethoven of visual arts." I cannot. Opinions sought and welcomed.
  23. I recently groused about a piece of poorly stored Comté, which was a "Les Trois Comtois 5-Month Comté" - here are a couple other interesting tidbits: * Comté is regulated by the A.O.C. system - its name is protected by law, and it cannot be sold unless it meets nine strict guidelines. * Rather than re-listing the guidelines, I'll link to them - these are the nine things that are required for a cheese to be sold as "Comté." * One of these things is that Comté must be aged a minimum of 4 months. * This particular cheese - "Les 3 Comtois" (which means "The 3 From Comté" and is a clever rhyme) - is aged one month over the minimum, and is a perfectly honorable example of Comté - there's nothing "special" about longer-aged cheeses other than that they take on different flavors - it's like drinking a young Beaujolais vs. a Morgon with some bottle age to it: Both have their time and place. * More Comté is produced than any other A.O.C.-regulated French cheese. Surprise! * There are 175 producteurs (producers) and 188 affineurs (agers) of Comté. * Les 3 Comtois ages 20% of all Comté, and they're responsible for 8,500 *tons* of Comté annually. * Les 3 Comtois is a union of two affineurs (not three, which is odd (**)). Click here to read all about them: Les 3 Comtois pdf file * Les 3 Comtois offers "personalized ripening times," which means you can choose how long your cheese is aged. Needless to say, I suspect this is reserved for high-volume and/or high-dollar customers, and it's not like you or I could just pick up the phone and have them age a wheel for us (unless, of course, you have deep pockets). * The Wikipedia link to Comté says, in the second paragraph, that each tomme (wheel) of cheese measures up to 28 inches in diameter and 4 inches in height, and weighs (this is the part that I find unbelievable) 110 pounds! Think about a wheel of cheese, just over 2-feet long, and 4-inches high, and imagine picking it up - do you really think it could weigh 110 pounds? Think of a 45-pound weight in the gym, and how large those are - that's why this statistic just does not compute, unless cheese is a *lot* heavier than I think it is. (**) I only skimmed that document, so it's possible I misread it.
  24. I found a really nice map of the 101 Departments of France. Departments fall within Regions (there are 18 Regions of France), and are the geographical unit where the French self-identify as "being from." Each department has it's own "Prefecture," which is the equivalent of "Capital" in English - these are shown on the map as well. Here's another good resource: "Departments of France" by france-pub.com which lists the departments by number. While driving in France, you can tell where the person in front of you is from, because the first two numbers of each license plate is the department number in which it's registered. And here's the map of all 101 departments along with their 2718 mainland regions, in which you can clearly see which departments fall within which regions. It may be 200 miles as the crow flies between Alpes-Maritimes (in the far southeast) and Pyrenées-Orientales (in the far southeast of the Spanish border), but unless you take the Autoroute, it will be the longest 200 miles you will ever drive. Before Jan 1, 2016: After Jan 1, 2016: The good news for students of geography and cartography is that the regions merely "merged" as of Jan 1, 2016 - they didn't grow, other than by being conglomerated with other regions (if you toggle back-and-forth between the two maps, you can see they fit together like pieces in a puzzle). For example, Aquitaine, Poitou-Charentes, and Limousin merged to become Nouvelle-Aquitaine (scroll down and see the third post below).
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