Cat and Doggy Treats, Miamm Meeoww!

by Paige Donner

Sardine tins, chocolate, filled with cookies; All made by a 3-star French Chef!

Sardine tins, chocolate, filled with cookies; All made by a 3-star French Chef


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Delectable little treats for cats and dogs seem to be fairly prolific these days. Still, if you have a dog – or cat – as finicky as mine is, you have to sift through the lot to find the ones they like.

My little Fifi was recently gifted a box of Switties (pron.: sweeteys) by a very smart and savvy press team. (Lord bless smart and savvy press teams!)

They instantly won me over, these little treats, since they come in the form of little miniature macarons.

Awwww. SO cute!

And especially so because they’re made in France. But the real test was if my fussy little dog (people always comment how she’s like a cat in a dog’s cloak) would eat them.

After a couple of false starts, she did! And loved them. I could tell how much she loved them because she would pirate the little morsels away from her bowl and sequester them in her bed before swallowing the little cookie whole. She does that only for the really good stuff.

Try them yourself. Or, rather, have your Fido or Fifi try them for you!

All photos copyright Paige Donner. All Rights Reserved. 

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♥Chérie Du Vin


Fast Food Solution

by Paige Donner

What better time than summer to

1. Eat Healthier

2. Spend less time in the kitchen

3. Transform your body to Fantastically Fabulous

With these three goals in mind, is it any wonder then that Fast Food Solution caught my eye in a big way?!

North Americans spend more time watching Cooking Shows than cooking their own meals!

I just had to see what these guys were all about… So I’ve dived right in, ordered up the program (a humble $37 as a Beta launch price) and am learning from Nick and Gen, two young Canadians, how to eat healthy, cook my own meals in 15 minutes or less and spend less than $5 per meal.


Where have you been all my life?! Is all I can say.

The coursework is abundant and I’ve only just started on their integrated platform of videos, MP3 downloads and PDFs (including cheat sheets with rich visuals).

So check back with me in a few weeks once I’ve worked through some of the recipes in my own kitchen.

But for starters, the support is terrific, their layout is SUPER user friendly, and they’ve sliced and diced all the information down into very bite-sized and digestible pieces.

Plus, here’s a few stats from their website. (Now you don’t want to be one of those TV-watching, overeating porkers do you?!)

Just as guilty as the 100 million folks who are subscribed to the Food Network and watch endless hours of Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen and other epic cooking shows every single day.

The numbers don’t lie…

The average American watches more than 5 hours of TV every single day, but spends a mere 27 minutes cooking food.

and check this out…

Every single week, a whopping 89.7% of the US adult population
– 228 MILLION people — is getting scammed at the grocery store.

In plain English…

Everyone who is trying to eat healthy is basically WASTING $123.91 and 41 minutes every single time they visit the supermarket.

Why? Simply because they end up buying the wrong foods, and falling for the clever marketing tactics and fattening
traps that the Global Food Conglomerate has set up in every aisle.

We know it’s hard to believe.

But if you buy any of the foods below, the food companies have already found an easy way into your wallet…(read more on Fast Food Solution).

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♥Chérie Du Vin

Résistance Naturelle

Originally posted on Local Food And Wine:

Ten years after releasing the acclaimed film, Mondovino, Jonathan Nossiter is back in theaters with his newest film, Résistance Naturelle.

It examines vineyards in Italy that are cultivating their grapes bqoth organically and with chemicals and pesticides. He then compares the soil quality and harvest yields of the different cultivation methods. It’s not strictly a documentary as he blends some narrative filmmaking in with the documentary.

Released in theaters since June 2014.



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♥Chérie Du Vin

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White Strawberries – The Originals

by Paige Donner

La Freizh, La Freizh!!

A young, impassioned wild strawberry producer – gariguette in French – named Julien Héliès has launched a limited production of White Strawberries.

local food and wine white strawberries fraise-ananas

Did you know strawberries were originally WHITE?!

You might not have known that 300 years ago, when strawberries were first imported to Europe from Chile, they were white berries.  But they were.

La Freizh Local Food And Wine 300

That was back in 1714 when, after two years of travels around South America, the explorer, Amédée Frezier, arrived back in Marseilles with 5 plants from Chile he brought with him of these white strawberries. One of these was planted in the botanical gardens of Brest.

A bit larger than a wild strawberries found in the woods and hinting of a taste of pineapple amidst their delicious sweetness, this limited and very confidential production can be found by contacting the strawberry grower/agriculture cooperative directly at where you can also read more about the history of the strawberry in France and around the world.

Personally I am waiting with bated breath until I see some of the Parisian chefs serve these up, fired simply by their fruitful – ; ) – imaginations. 

Local Food And Wine


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♥Chérie Du Vin

China Leads World In Red Wine Consumption


 According to the market survey commissioned by Vinexpo, the international wine and spirits exhibition, whose Asian show is to be held from 27 to 29 May this year in Hong Kong, China has become the world’s largest red wine consuming nation ahead of France and Italy.

Which countries are the biggest consumers of red wine? France, Italy and the US, right?

Wrong. Having downed more than 155 million 9-litre cases or 1.865 billion bottles of red wine in 2013, up 136% compared to 2008, China, including Hong Kong, is now the largest red wine market worldwide, followed by France, now in second place with nearly 150 million cases and Italy with 141 million.

Chinese consumers have become increasingly attracted to red wine since 2005. Between 2007 and 2013, the Vinexpo/The Iwsr study reveals that red wine consumption was multiplied by 2.75 in China, while it decreased by 5.8% in Italy and 18% in France.

 The symbolic value of red

localfoodandwine red wine 1Apart from its virtues with regard to health, which have been widely lauded as an alternative to the impact of excessive consumption of rice-based spirits, the popularity of red wine is largely due to the symbolic importance of its colour. Red is a very positive hue in Chinese culture, associated with wealth, power and good luck. In business circles, these three values are fundamental. Red wine is therefore an obvious choice for business hospitality, where partners can drink to each others’ health. Red is also the colour of China.
 Mainly wines Made in China, but more and more wines are imported

More than 80% of the wines consumed in China are made there, and the nation is currently the 5th largest producer in the world.

However, imported wines are rapidly gaining market share. Between 2007 and 2013, wine imports were multiplied by seven and account for 18.8% of all wine consumed in China today.

To meet this growing demand for imported wines, Asian buyers will obviously benefit from meeting the wide range of exhibitors present at Vinexpo Asia-Pacific in Hong Kong on 27, 28 and 29 May this year, where they will be able to travel round the world of wine and spirits production in just three days!


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♥Chérie Du Vin


Suchard & Local Food And Wine Chocolate Christmas Giveaway

Christmas is right around the corner, once again, welcoming all the gourmet treat lovers with its festive sweets.

 Suchard Local Food And Wine giveaway 1

Suchard has on offer this season a gift box sure to please you and every chocolate lover on your Gift List – the Christmas Market gift box, the Suchard  “Marché de Noël”

A beautiful red framed box filled with a delicious assortment of pralines, crunchy chocolates, creamy chocolates, dark chocolates, milk chocolates…

Suchard Local Food And Wine Christmas Giveaway

Local food and wine suchard chocolate giveaway

Suchard is the chocolate for adults that appeals to those of us with gourmet tastes by its irresistable total sensorial seduction.

Win a Box of of Marche de Noel  – “Marché de Noël” – Suchard chocolates by leaving a comment below telling us your favorite Suchard Chocolate (be sure to include your Twitter name), Clicking Like Local Food And Wine On Facebook and Retweeting this Article to your Followers. *

 Suchard Local Food And Wine Xmas giveaway '13 marchedenoel_3


Bientôt Noël, ses cadeaux et ses gourmandises !

Et comme tout cela rime avec plaisir, Suchard vous propose d’offrir du plaisir avec son nouveau coffret festif “Marché de Noël”.

Un joli écrin rouge renfermant une délicieuse gamme de pralines, croustillantes, fondantes, au lait et au chocolat noir…

Local Food And Wine chocolat suchard dogsled

Suchard, le chocolat qu’on s’offre entre adultes séduit avec des expériences gourmandes et sensorielles totalement irrésistibles !

*Offer ends December 31st. Winner chosen randomly.


Brulerie Daval – Paris’s Best Coffee Roasters

by Paige Donner

Brulerie Daval

It’s taken years but I’ve finally found the hands down, absolute best coffee shop in Paris. It’s the Brulerie Daval, just off the Bastille in the idyllically pleasant and peaceful Passage Damoye. It translates to Daval Coffee Roasters.

When Madame’s husband opened their shop here in 1947 the Passage was still home mainly to the vestiges of furniture craftsman who worked in the furniture shops that the neighborhood around the Bastille had come to be famous for. Real craftsman who turned out exceptional quality furniture, the kind that lasts generations.

She explained to me that all the flats in the buildings of the Passage were therefore cold water, workmen’s flats with shared lavatories on the floor corridors. That was before Americans moved in a few years ago, starting in the early 2000s and with their swarm, apparently mostly young internet tycoons and techies from SF, they renovated the buildings and the flats and turned most of them into posh condos. Still, many of the buildings do not have elevators. Madame’s is one of them.

Brulerie Daval

Brulerie Daval

I’ve often thought that Paris would not be the easiest of cities to grow old in. Any big city really. Places like Paris and Manhattan and San Francisco where everyone is rushing to get somewhere, literally and figuratively, raising young families, dealing with bills, and stress and jobs and carrying heavy bags of groceries up stairwells and the daily commutes on and off of buses and subways and trams and commuter trains.

Holiday seasons drive this point home. Wintry and lonely sometimes I observe the elderly of Paris and wonder where they find any comfort, if they do at all ? France is probably a bit better than, say, Manhattan, as the sense of family is still so strong here in this country. Family ties are solid. But you can never use that as a blanket statement. Because then we risk desensitizing ourselves to the exceptions, and there are always exceptions.


Chatting with Madame about her shop and the history of the quarter, while buying some Christmas Blend Tea from one of the hundreds of canisters of teas that line her shelves, just behind the stacks and stacks (oh, I’d say at least about 50) of whole roasted coffee beans in burlap sacks, I asked how often her children are able to help out in the shop. She told me she had none. Given the era she’s from, already married in 1947 and her sort of Southern dark looks,  it would have been altogether too easy to assume, indeed I did assume, that she would have several progeny. And even progeny of those progeny. But this widow has not one.

That’s when she got to telling me about her trip a few years back to California – to Hollywood, to Beverly Hills and then even over to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. We mutually agreed that the Eiffel Tower in Vegas is nothing in comparison to the one here in Paris. She told me she loved driving past all the stars’ homes in her tour bus with the 50 or so other elderly she’d taken the trip with. Of course I didn’t ask her age but jusging from appearances she had to have been past 80 already when she did that trip.

This brief conversation, during which we each chattered away, a sure hint of two kindred city souls, has kept turning in my mind. And it’s gotten me to resolve to be particularly kind and generous and thoughtful to the elderly this holiday season whose paths I cross. Lord knows the lives they’ve had and the struggles they face daily. Madame, for example, hurt her hip a couple years ago so now rather than going up the stairs to her kitchen for lunch each day – the stairs being too much to navigate more than once in a day – she relies on someone to bring her her lunch which she eats in the shop. That’s a long day for anybody, 10 – 7 :30. And no comfy chairs to recline on, just a little old wooden table and a couple of rickety stools.

So this is my wish this Holiday Season (Santa are you listening ?) that all elderly people living alone and without family in big cities this Christmas and Hannukah and Kwanzaa, feel the warmth, joy and love of people’s, young and old’s, appreciation for who they are and the contribution they’ve made to our world during their years so far spent here on this Earth.

Peace Joy Love and Blessings to All. And don’t forget to pick up your Christmas Blend coffee and tea at Brulerie Daval in Passage Damoye, Metro Bastille. In fact, pick up two or three packs and give them as gifts ! People will surely appreciate you for it.

12 rue Daval (Passage Damoye) 75011 Paris   + 33 (0) 1 48 05 29 46

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Champagne Travel At Harvest Time

by Paige Donner

All photos copyright Paige Donner 2013 All Rights Reserved

Paige is the host of World of Wine radio program on WorldRadioParis.

Planning a trip through Champagne during harvest time might at first feel like mission impossible, but if you use a few basic principles by which to plan your itinerary it can be more gratifying than imagined being at the center of all the harvest action. Certainly it’s guaranteed to be visually and sensorially rewarding.

copyright Paige Donner Local Food And Wine, Ay France 030

copyright Paige Donner Local Food And Wine 2013 IMG_0250copyright Paige Donner Local Food And Wine Ay France  025

First thing to do is check to see when floraison, or flowering of the buds, were for the year. That information is easy to come by in any of the wine journals or online. From that reference point, count about 100 days out and these are your dates for harvest time, give or take a couple of days. So with a solid three months in advance to plan your exact days of arrival and departure to coincide with the actual 10 days to 2 weeks of harvest, plenty of options will still be available for you when it comes to booking hotels and harvest time excursions.

This year’s Champagne harvest had a relatively late flowering, in parts it was the end of June, in others it was the beginning of July. Which putvendanges this year into the first two weeks of October. A remarkable contrast with, say, the harvest of 2011 one of the earliest Champagne harvests in recorded history. That year put harvest time, a date of official decree by the CIVC, Comité Interprofessionel du vin de Champagne, late August /early September.

In the strictly managed appellation of Champagne, the grapegrowers do not have the right to harvest when they will.  “We are obliged to wait for the dates given to us by the official CIVC decree,” explains Anouk Westeel, Champagne Bollinger’s communications person. With 164 hectares owned by this venerable house, they wait with bated breath every harvest season for the CIVC announcement. Hence, the diverse region sees a staggered harvest with some areas beginning sooner than others.

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“All the vineyards you see spread out before you, they’re a patchwork of parcels owned by different houses; Not all of this belongs to Bollinger,” further explains Westeel, looking out from atop her preferred vantage point, the pinnacle of the very select Côte des Enfants, a steeply perched plot of Pinot Noir just up and behind the village of Aÿ that is used for their prestige cuvées. “Other of our vineyards are in the Côte des Blancs, for example, which already started harvesting a few days ago” she points out.

With a bit of astute planning, then, a harvest time trip through Champagne can be timed to be at the center of the action for the duration.The key to getting the richest experiences out of harvest season in Champagne is to skirt the bigger cities of Reims and Épernay and hug the smaller towns and villages such as Avize, Aÿ, Hautvillers and Rilly-la-Montagne. To do this, your own transportation is essential.

From Paris there’s a fast train to Reims (45 minutes) or a slow train to Épernay (1hour 15 minutes). Either are good starting off points and both cities offer car rental options. You can also hire a car and driver or take taxis to various destinations, options you can tailor to your budget and spirit for adventure.

If you hire your own rental car, the Route Touristique du Champagne offers marked roads through some of the prettiest of the Champagne countryside, such as the ambling hills covered with Pinot Noir vineyards extending between Reims and Épernay, the Montagne de Reims region; Another area, the famous Côte des Blancs, revered for its much-sought-after Chardonnay grapes, extends just south of Épernay and its relatively flat roads and expansive terrain through hectares upon hectares of vineyards are also marked by the Route Touristique du Champagne.

Champagne Harvest Collage copyright Paige Donner 2013  Local Food And Wine All Rights Reserved

Montagne de Reims

In the Montagne de Reims, Rilly-la-Montagne offers a choice of restaurants from the Michelin-starred Le Grand Cerf to local favorites such as Le Mont Joly which serves big, thick steaks on cutting boards and at reasonable prices. The prestigious L’Assiette Champenoise (two Michelin stars) is in neighboring Tinquieux – reservations imperative – and Rilly-la-Montagne even has its own Châteaux et Hotels luxury accommodations, the Château de Rilly ( This little enclave butts right up against theParc Naturel Régional de la Montagne de Reims, a designated national park reserve. In the early Autumn the Château in Rilly offers weekly jazzsoirées, well-attended by locals.

The great advantage to travel in Champagne during  harvest time is not just the spectacular visual backdrop of ripe bunches of grapes hanging from exquisitely tended vineyards that surround quaint little historical French villages, but also the wave of high-energy and activity that is evident everywhere you look when you are in the smaller villages. Even if you are not a Champenois, it’s unavoidable not to get caught up in the activity, the high spirits, the frenetic enthusiasm that is vendanges.


A Champagne village that can offer these rich experiences is Aÿ, home to Bollinger Champagne and one of the original historical Pinot Noir growing villages of Champagne. Wine enthusiasts will particularly appreciate Aÿ with its champagne houses, such as Ayala, Deutz and Collet, seemingly on every corner, punctuated only by the requisite boulangeries, crêperies and pharmacies.

One of the loveliest and least known hotels of the region is to be found here in Aÿ. Hotel Castel Jeanson ( is the lovingly restored work of Madame and Monsieur Goutorbe whose champagne house is just a few doors down from the hotel. Deceptively simple when seen from its exterior, the hotel offers a large enclosed courtyard graced with stained glass windows on the buildings that surround the spacious courtyard which house its 17 rooms and indoor swimming pool.

When I casually commented to Madame Goutorbe that one would never expect such exquisite luxury from her modest website, her response was that she prefers not to boast about her hotel’s charms, either in picture or in word, “I’d rather that my guests be delightfully surprised when they discover it for themselves,” she confided. I told her that in English we have a phrase for this: “Underpromise and overdeliver.”

For the Goutorbes, who are originally nursery managers and vine cultivators and now vineyard owners themselves, the 5 year restoration process for the dilapidated and abandoned building that their gorgeous hotel once was, was a much bigger labor of love than they had ever anticipated. And it shows. Busy seasons are May, June and September, October.

Of particular interest to the wine geek will be the discovery of the Villa Bissinger, the Institut International des Vins de Champagne. With a name like that it’s easy to imagine that this is a year-round school for serious sommeliers studying for their Master of Wine certification. In fact, it is a facility, unique of its kind in Champagne, where champagnes in all their diversity and all their terroirs are presented, tasted, explained and discussed.

It welcomes groups of, “A minimum of 6-8 people, and up to 50,” says Villa Director Etienne Monet. The modern classroom interiors and theater-like seating are in sharp contrast to the 19th c. mansion in which it is housed.  Groups traveling to the region can enjoy participating in a morning or afternoon or even full day of “courses” about champagne at Villa Bissinger and you needn’t be professional or in the trade to qualify, but advance booking is required (

Another excursion Aÿ offers is a guided pedestrian trail that leads you past historical and cultural landmarks in the village. One thing you’ll find about the tourist offices in the region is that when you know what to ask for, they will provide the information. It all hangs on knowing what to ask for. So if you ask for Les Musardises Agéennes, you will be given a brochure that marks a trail to follow through the village where plaques and signposts mark your way. The starting point is at Villa Bissinger. From there the footpath follows the small streets up along the vineyards which are just behind the village and eventually down past the former ancestral home of Jacques and Lily Bollinger at 16 rue Jules Lobet. The whole walking excursion lasts no more than an hour, not counting bakery stops and café pauses along the way.


Just a few kilometers past Aÿ is the celebrated and touristy Hautvillers. Famous as the village of Dom Perignon, the 17th c; monk and “inventor” of champagne, this charming little hilltop village gets its fair share of tour buses. But this hasn’t diminished its charm and the church, L’Eglise Abbatiale d’Hautvillers, is a breathtaking gem which houses the grave of Dom Pierre Perignon marked by an inscripted stone.  The Abbey where the monk lived is just behind but is not open to the public, only to guests of the private corporation which owns it.

A local favorite hang in Hautvillers is Le 36 which offers a solid selection of grower champagnes by the flute with small-plate snacks to accompany. (Le 36 is not to be confused with Épernay’s Le 26, hands down theCapitale du Champagne’s friendliest place to order pizza and a bottle of champagne while you kick back and watch the rugby match on the big-screen TV with local vineyard managers and workers).

Just past Hautvillers is Fleury-la-Riviere, what many say is one of the prettiest little villages in Champagne. La Cave Aux Coquillages is the must-see here. It is a cellar-museum housing fossilized seashells from  Champagne’s Kimmeridgean soils. Champagne connoisseurs will appreciate this as it’s these seashells and the ancient seabed that the region of Champagne once was, that lends itself to the particular evolution and finesse of its chalky soils and elegant terroir.

The Côte des Blancs

Switching directions now and heading into Chardonnay territory still requires a vehicle. The Côte des Blancs boasts the most expensive grapes in Champagne. Its Chardonnay vineyards yield the grapes that give the most celebrated champagnes their elegance and finesse, say the experts. The majority of champagnes are a blend of the three AOC approved grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier. The exception to this are the Blanc de Blancs, blended completely from Chardonnay grapes and the Blanc de Noirs, blended from either or both of the red varietals.

Among the many, many excellent producers to be found in the Côte des Blancs, in the celebrated villages of Oger, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, and Vertus to name several, few enjoy the cult status of Anselme Selosse and his Selosse champagnes. Champagne connoisseurs travel to the region just to find some of this sought-after champagne which sells out in Japanese, English and Belgian markets in record time after its release.

Even if you’re not on a mission to buy rare champagnes, you can still enjoy a bit of this rarefied air by stopping in at the hotel and restaurant opened by Corinne and Anselme Selosse a few seasons ago. The Hôtel Les Avisésis in Avize, one of the bigger little villages in the Côte des Blancs, home to the viticultural trade school of the region and also to the champagne house Selosse. The refined luxury of the hotel is the fruit of a meticulous restoration process of a building dating to the 1820’s that “always had its history steeped in wine production.” It’s best to call to make reservations for one of the ten rooms as you may send 3 or even 4 emails to the contact address on the website before getting a response, or not (

Other than this emphasis on the need for your own transportation, things don’t have to be difficult when touring the charming Champagne countryside. Hautvillers and the Côte des Blancs require a vehicle. But if you’re without one, Rilly-la-Montagne and Aÿ can be accessed by the little commuter train that runs between Reims and Épernay every few hours from morning until early evening and makes stops in both villages. Roundtrip ticket fare is under 20 euros.



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♥Chérie Du Vin

Roasting Chestnuts On An Open Fire, It’s A Wonderful Life

by Paige Donner

Few things say Winter Holidays like the appetizing aroma of roasting chestnuts on an open fire.

Local Food And Wine - Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

Local Food And Wine - roasted chestnuts

I remember, several years ago now, as I walked into the Tuileries from the Place de la Concorde entrance, buying a cone of still-hot roasted chestnuts from one of the street vendors who post themselves out front there just as the leaves start to turn golden, orange and brown.  The warm nuts were enough to abate my hunger for the afternoon and provide a good base for a wine tasting of reds.

Local Food And Wine - cone of chestnutsLocal food and wine Marron Chaud

Some Autumns I am tempted to gather up some of the millions of chestnuts that fall haphazardly from the trees all around Paris – throughout all of France, actually – and try to roast them myself or figure out how to cook them to add to roasted chestnut stuffing. Or perhaps even make that favorite of delicacies, sugar-glazed chestnuts. But I still haven’t found the courage to do this. Or perhaps it’s just a question of finding the recipe or the proper cooking equipment. One day…

It is usually about now, too, when the crispness of the air starts to get downright cold that California Dreamin’ descends upon me and stays rooted until, oh, about May of the next year.

local food and wine - la quinta pool

If any of you feel the same, here is a good getaway excuse…

And, honestly now, how many of you actually knew that this is where Frank Capra wrote It’s A Wonderful Life ?!

“Chestnuts & Capra” package which features guest room accommodations, dinner for two at acclaimed Morgan’s in the desert, breakfast for two at TWENTY6 and the ultimate pre-dinner perk – roasted chestnuts and cocktails (including the George Bailey, Mary Bailey and Poinsettia) for two.

Local Food And Wine - la quinta car clip_image004

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire
Every Friday evening, visit the lobby for fresh roasted chestnuts

“It’s a Wonderful Life”
This famed holiday movie was written at La Quinta Resort – and is honored every year. Watch the silent version as it is projected on the Fiesta Wall.

Fudge Demonstration in Lollipops
Morgan’s famous Pastry Chef Patrick demonstrates how to create home-made fudge

Holiday Movie Showing
Enjoy a classic holiday movie in the movie theatre located behind the Main Pool.

The only question that remains is, do roasted chestnuts taste as good under the warm California December sunshine as they do in the Tuileries in a Paris Autumn?

Here’s their contact info anyway: La Quinta Resort & Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort — a quintessential desert gem sporting five iconic golf courses, 41 pools and enough Hollywood nostalgia to make a scriptwriter spin.