Category Archives: French Specialties

Valrhona Dulcey launch at Establishment

Dulcey blondeNew Valrhona chocolate: Dulcey, a “blonde” chocolate (32%)

Valrhona is a name I grew up hearing about, as my hometown Romans-sur-Isère was not far from their headquarters in Tain l’Hermitage (Drôme), an area better known for their Syrah wines, made by Chapoutier, Jaboulet et al. I knew at the time it was supposed to be a fine chocolate, but I wasn’t aware of their international reputation, which is pretty much that of being one of the best chocolates in the world.

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Pinot Noir tasting at the Sydney Wine Centre – Annandale

Maya & MilesMiles and Maya in that famous scene from “Sideways”

Maya: “Why are you so into Pinot?”

Miles Raymond: “Uh, I don’t know, I don’t know. Um, it’s a hard grape to grow, as you know. Right? It’s uh, it’s thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early. It’s, you know, it’s not a survivor like Cabernet, which can just grow anywhere and uh, thrive even when it’s neglected. No, Pinot needs constant care and attention. You know? And in fact it can only grow in these really specific, little, tucked away corners of the world. And, and only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Pinot’s potential can then coax it into its fullest expression. Then, I mean, oh its flavors, they’re just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and… ancient on the planet.”

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A French winter



Aaaah, France in winter…. the snow, the cold, the icy wind, the trains blocked by frozen-up rails, running 1, 2, 3 hours late!  The beautiful puddles of melted snow sludge mixed with dog sh.t… The constant sneezing, runny nose, everyone being sick around you, the daily trips to the chemist…. Nope, really I don’t think I’ll ever say I miss French winters again!

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Paris, nous voilà! May 2012

À nous la capitale!

ParisAaaaah…. Paris.

Tour MontparnasseMontparnasse Tower

Paris PanoramaPanorama Paris, view from Tour Montparnasse ©M.Venables

Following our little misfortunes in Lyon, we had almost a whole week in Paris to live the dream. We had rented a little studio in the 11th Arrondissement, with a “kitchenette”, which allowed us to cook a few meals, coffee and breakfast.

Our place was near the Goncourt metro station, which was ideally close to Canal St-Martin, République, as well as the cool Oberkampf area.

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Transit in Lyon (or Gastroville) – May 2012

Lyon PanoramaLyon Panorama, view from Notre Dame de Fourvière

During our brief stop in Lyon, we first stayed at our friends’ house in the Croix Rousse, a hilly area in the old part of town, which used to be working class, home of Lyon’s silk workers, and is now quite trendy. Well my friends and I used to live there, so the hipsters followed… naturally 😉 Just joking!

Crepe party

They had organised a little crêpe party for us, thanks to their awesome mini-crêpe machine, which allows everyone at the table to make their own crêpes and the hosts to enjoy themselves, instead of being stuck in the kitchen.

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France snapshots – Romans – May 2012

The Visitor

Soooo…. bonjour guys!

It’s been a while indeed! Please forgive my snail pace with regards to writing this blog: this year has been a busy one. But hopefully it will be rewarding with exciting stuff, so stay tuned!

To resume on my French adventures a few months back, after a perfect few days in Marseille, we took the TGV back to my parents’, who live in a little town in the Drôme department. We were pampered and fed lots of good stuff, so much so that I couldn’t face any cheese for a while after that!

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I ♥ Marseille – May 2012

My first encounter with Marseille was in my teens, when I started reading Jean-Claude Izzo‘s crime novels: the Marseille Trilogy followed jaded cop Fabio Montale in his quest for justice, amidst deeply anchored corruption, crime, racism… However you could really feel the love of Izzo for his city and its inhabitants and it was contagious. If you like your crime genre, I really recommend you get hold of these books (thank god they were translated into English).

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Bastille Day picnic

Bastille Day is upon us! AGAIN!

Weeks have passed so fast that I’ve only just realized I’d never posted the pictures of last year’s Bastille Day celebration we had with my girlfriends. Since I’m not doing anything this year for the 14th July (I know: what kind of a French woman am I!), I will this time stick to reminiscing on our beautiful little picnic.

My friend was in charge of bringing the red wine and the saucisson, and I was in charge of the baguettes, which I bought from Bourke Street Bakery: love their semi-sour baguettes! Then I saw the Crème Brûlée Raspberry & Vanilla Tarts and didn’t think twice about it: there was our dessert!

We then met at Formaggi Ocello in Surry Hills for this crucial step in our shopping spree. There was no way that I could leave the shop without some Comté, my favourite cheese in the whole world! We also bought a soft Italian goats cheese, Brunet, which I liked a lot the look of!

Cheeses: Brunet goats cheese and my beloved Comté

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Tartiflette – The Melting Pot

“In Tartiflette We Trust”

My mother’s Tartiflette: Before…

… and after

“In Tartiflette We Trust” is a motto that has become really popular in the last decade, and, as I later found out, it’s actually the slogan of a mountain and ski gear shop in the French Alps. You can now spot stickers and people wearing “In Tartiflette We Trust” t-shirts all over France, even beyond! I have to say, this is a motto by which I can abide!

To me, the simple mention of Tartiflette evokes winter, crisp snow, ski, holiday, flattering ski goggle tan, evenings eating and drinking your heart’s content (It’s freezing outside, you need padding!) and playing cards etc. Aaah, good times!

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My Sydney Top 10 Favourites – French Entree

UPDATE 08/06/2013: I’ve just added a few revisions, as things have changed a fair bit in the past 2 years. You will find them at the bottom of the article 🙂

I was asked last week by Eleanor from French Entrée, a website aimed at lovers of all things French, to compile my Top 10 favourites French foods in Sydney.

It was a difficult to narrow it down to 10, but I’m pretty happy with my list. See below and let me know if you agree!

“Finding French food in Sydney

Sandra Beeston is a French-Australian expat who has been living in Sydney for six years. In that time, she has researched all the best places to find her French home comforts. From baguettes and croissants to cheese and steak frites, Sandra shares her top 10 French foods and where to find them in Sydney.