Category Archives: Lifestyle

Art of serving Champagne

Slightest change in temperature can affect your experience of a champagne, flavour even more than with still wines. What is the ideal serving temperature for champagne?

 

Fluctuations seem to change the flavour of sparkling wine to an extend the whole tasting menus have been constructed based on this concept –  different dishes have been matched to the same champagne at different temperatures. What are there rules for the temperatures serving champaigne?
Champagne served glasses
Champagne has always been served to French nobility fairly cool from times it first appeared in the early 18th century.  The fashionable drinking temperature in the beginning was from 6 to 8º C, and the bottles were kept in coolers filled with ice water. Those days it had a lot of sugar added to it, and to reduce the sweetness in taste it became fashionable to drink it ‘frappé‘ at around a very chilly 3º C . As the produces diminished sugar levels in champagne, it became interesting to serve it at higher temperatures, and nowadays we consume the drink chilled almost as much as the very first fans.
It is generally acknowledged that more complex the champagne is higher is the temperature of  the consumption. Dom Pérignon with its exquisite, elegant wines is one of the Champagne houses to have experimented a few times with temperature and food matching to a startling effect. The complexity and richness of Krug make it another interesting contender for temperature experiments.
There are many different styles of champagne from rich and biscuit, to crisp and clean, to red-fruited rosé and the entire palette inbetween. Whatever the style of the sparkling is with lower  temperature more mineral, sappy and fresh the wine will appear. Cool temperatures also mask sweetness and bitterness. By contrast, all flavours become richer and more exuberant as the wine gradually warms up in the glass and becomes more exposed to oxygen.
Moet et Chandon bottle glasses
Most fridges are preserving temperature around 7ºC but a champagne served straight from the fridge will not be showing many of its most subtle aromas and flavours. The ideal tasting temperature for most non-vintage brands such as Moët & Chandon Brut Non Vintage or the Mercier Brut Non Vintage, is between 8 and 10º C.
More complex champagne such as Dom Pérignon or vintage Moët & Chandon however, show its best a little warmer – between 10 and 12º C as the extra couple of degrees reveal their extra aroma and flavour nuances. With a particularly rich style of champagne such as Krug, one could start a little cooler and drink between 9 and 12ºC.
For rosé champagne  the same guidelines are used as for white champagne, serving from 8°C to  10ºC for non-vintage, or a touch warmer at 10 and 12ºC  for vintage versions, so their complexity of flavour to be enjoyed as tis fullest.
Beyond 12ºC, a champagne will be showing the maximum amount of fruit and body so if it is matching  dessert that’s not too sweet, serving it between 13 and 15ºC  would be the best.

Ruinart Rosé champagne perfection

Just imagine 250 years ago, when a champagne with an unparalleled taste and colour was tasted for the very first time: the Œil de perdrix champagne , now known as Ruinart Rosé champagne.
Just imagine what those refined diners experienced when they discovered this champagne with its extraordinary colour. Flamboyant pink. How could a grand champagne house be so bold?

Ruinart Rosé was first brought to market in 1764. It was an instant success, not only in France, but beyond its borders as well. It grew quickly in popularity throughout Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy, then across Europe and in other continents.

It’s no accident that Maison Ruinart was founded in the Age of Enlightenment. It was a time when sophistication and philosophical thought took on huge importance, as well as the constant search for beauty, goodness and greater understanding.

Maison Ruinart was created in 1729, and its champagne was an integral part of the distinguished Enlightenment period. Elegance and finesse. Freshness and lightness.
The Chardonnay grape has shaped the signature of the Maison Ruinart. This delicate and demanding variety expresses itself through each of the Maison’s cuvées.

Chardonnay grapes from the Côte des Blancs and the Montagne de Reims make up 45% of the Ruinart Rosé blend.
This variety is so delicate and fragile that it takes specific know-how and a slow ripening process before it can reveal its delicacy and intensity.
Only the perfect mastery of this process allows the grapes to express the freshness of its citrus, floral, grapefruit, mint and rose aromas.
There is no room for error when revealing the characteristic delicacy and luminosity of this variety.
Unswerving dedication is required to achieve the unique character and aromatic freshness of Ruinart Rosé that is an integral part of Maison Ruinart.

Ruinart Rosé is composed of 55% Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and the Vallée de la Marne, and 16% to 18% of that variety is made into red wine.
Powerful Pinot Noir brings body and roundness to the inimitable blend that creates this champagne. Close your eyes. Breathe in the aromas. And find freshly picked red berries: cherry, raspberry and wild strawberry.
Nose the wine again and enjoy the exotic notes of rose, pomegranate, lychee and guava.
And in the wake of these red berries and tropical fruit come the spicy notes of tonka bean and nutmeg.

Effervescence and intensity. Success and voluptuousness. Fruity notes that exude exoticism and singularity. Freshness and delicacy. Ruinart Rosé strikes an elegant balance, with its visual, aromatic, and flavoursome complexity.

And the balance of this Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blend brings Ruinart Rosé champagne into perfect equilibrium.

Italian on top of world best restaurants list

Massimo Bottura is on the very top of the list of the finest dining experiences in the world, combining  tradition with contemporary trends, old-fashioned flavours, and new combinations of aromas, artistic presentations, and refined fantasy in compositions. Prominent personality, engaged in high-profile international projects,  he keeps his  Osteria Francescana a small, discreet restaurant in a historic Italian town of Modena. However Bottura delivers one of the very finest dining experiences in the world.

In its early days, the restaurant almost closed after conservative locals were resistant to Bottura’s modernist approach to the Italian cuisine. Fortunately, the American spouse of the chief, Lara Gilmore insisted on his right to experiment. Nowadays, Bottura is praised by fellow chefs, critics and fine diners across the globe.

Bottura offers a range of narratives through his dishes, playing with ingredients from the surrounding Emilia-Romagna region. Courses include the now-famous Five Ages of Parmigiano Reggiano, which takes the diner through the region’s esteemed cheese in different temperatures, textures and tastes. The pie crust ‘pirate ship’ filled with sea snails, razor clams, blue lobster and truffle clam chowder as a representation of travel, seasonality and the local coastline.

The chef’ creations are influenced by art and music, namely jazz, and the dining space is made up of three elegant rooms that are adorned with high-quality contemporary artwork.

The 2018 The World’s Best Restaurant award is sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna.

Mexico flower carpet at Brussels Grand Place

From 16 to 19 August 2018 at the Grand-Place in Brussels Flower Carpet biennale presents Mexico composition, honoring Guanajuato (Image below).

Mexico colonial architecture

Every two years, the non-profit association Tapis de Fleurs brings together a committee of professionals – illustrators, graphic designers, landscape architects, who come up with scale projects, with each edition illustrating a theme focusing on major events, a country, a continent, the coat of arms of a city. Once the theme has taken shape in the form of a model and symbols, the number of flowers is calculated and the combinations of colours are established. The hundreds of thousands of cut flowers necessary for the composition can then be reserved, very long in advance. Several days before the inauguration, a full-size drawing is executed on sheets of micro-perforated plastic that are laid down atop the cobblestones of the Grand-Place.

Begonia

Image: Begonia

Every two years the Grand-Place in Brussels is covered with a flower carpet of begonias. The carpet of 77 m x 24 m is composed by about 120 volunteers, with nearly 1 million begonias in less than 4 hours.

Mexico tropical flower

Image: Birds of Paradise, Mexican flora.

The 2018 theme of the flower carpet is Mexico. The Flower Carpet is dedicated to Guanajuato, a Mexican region with a particularly rich floral culture and tradition.

Mexio flower

Image: Mexican flora, courtesy of Manfred Richter.

More than 100 volunteer gardeners put together this giant floral design in less than eight hours. The day before the opening, the spaces between the floral motifs are filled in using rolls of sod.

Flower cactus

Image: Mexican flora

The flowers are so closely-packed that they can not be blown away, and indeed they create their own microclimate! If there is a heat wave, the sod is watered to prevent it from wilting. If the weather is too wet, the grass can grow by 4 to 5 centimetres in 3 days. The flowers remain fresh and preserve their splendour during the four days.

Image: Grand-Place, Brussels Japanese flower carpet 2016, August.

Flower carpet frontal

Villa Empain Renaissance

This summer Boghossian Foundation offers an exquisite cultural programme, combining visual arts exhibition Melancholia with virtuoso music concerts. The season opened with an exceptional event  in the framework of celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the declaration of the First Republic of Armenia in May 1918.

Celebrating the historic event with virtuoso music concerts, the organizers offered an opportunity to come in touch with genuine brilliance of talens of Armenian artists, and their openness to the world, reflected in the choice of the repertoire, equally honoring national and international composers.

The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) marked Brussels cultural live offering two concerts: of classical music and jazz for the benefit of AGBU Children’s Centers in Yerevan.

The pieces of Shostakovich, Rachmaninov and Babadjanian were received with the greatest enthusiasm by Brussels classic music lovers in the  Salon of the Villa Empain  performed by  Varduhi Yeritsyan (pictured), a sophisticated French-Armenian pianist with an impressive  repertoire,  and illustrious Hrachya and Sevak Avanesyan brothers.

The concerts have been organized by the Performing Arts Board of AGBU France, in partnership with the AGBU Europe Headquarters, the Boghossian Foundation,  with the support of  the Armenian communities of Brussels and Belgium.

Founded in Cairo in 1906 by philanthropist Boghos Nubar, AGBU is the largest non-profit Armenian organization in the world. It runs numerous programmes in the fields of academic research, leadership training, the preservation and the promotion of heritage, education and culture as well as humanitarian assistance and development projects.

After an elaborate historic restoration of Villa Empain, in 2010 the Boghossian Foundation established its office in the magnificent surroundings, launching a cultural project devoted to a dialogue between Occident and Orient. The Villa’s rebirth has been especially welcomed by art-lovers, enjoying here an exceptional setting for the oeuvres and performances.

With the new ownership the outstanding piece of Art Deco architecture, signed by Swiss genius Michel Polak, returned to its original profile, chosen by Baron Louis Empain, who back in 1937 made a generous gift to Belgium state with a condition to devote the building to decorative and contemporary art exhibitions. It took almost a century of turmoil and neglect, before the jewel of Art Deco shined again in its startling beauty under direction of Boghossian Foundation.

Villa Empain pool

 

 

Barcelona bans horse carriages

Barcelona has banned horse carriages from June 2018, with the only exception for days of traditional celebration like Los Tres Toms and the Feast of Sant Medir. The ban has been celebrated by animal protection groups, and all those who felt compassionate to horses, suffering from cruelty. Catalonia demonstrates firm determination to imply at most progressive legislation of animal welfare.

After the announcement was made, Deputy Mayor Janet Sanz for ecology tweeted, “Barcelona is a friend to animals.” Given the number of incidents with horse-drawn carriages in the US alone, Barcelona is certainly showing its compassion for animals.

The decision was taken in December 2017, but the owners of horses were given a period of time to adjust to a new situation, and the legislation came into force these days.

Barcelona has been in the forefront of animal welfare, creating a harmonious environment without cruelty and animal abuse. One can hope the other European cities will follow the example of banning this dangerous and outdated practise.

Barcelona irresistible golden sand beaches

Even without its beaches, Barcelona would be one of Europe’s coolest destinations thanks to its groundbreaking food scene, unique architecture and legendary nightlife.
But the cherry on the sundae is the three-mile strip of nearly continuous golden sand, which is so wired into its heart that it’s like the entire city’s backyard, CNN Travel suggests.

Much of the seafront buzzes with a carnival atmosphere year-round, with hawkers tiptoeing around sunbathers to sell cold cans of beer, beach blankets and chintzy trinkets.

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