The History of Brasseries
The word ‘brasserie’ actually means ‘brewery’ in French. In 1864, Frédéric Bofinger, a brewer from Alsace in northeastern France (the region that border my own, Franche-Comté), made his way to Paris and opened a tiny bar in the heart of the Marais and Fauboug Saint-Antoine area. It served little more than draft beer and sauerkraut. At that time, numerous people were moving to Paris from war-torn Alsace in search of work, so there was a ready market. Beer on tap was unheard of in Paris back then and the quality of the sauerkraut was second to none. The combination took the city by storm and in no time brassieres were springing up all over Paris. The rest of France soon followed, and I think, for this reason, Bofinger could rightly claim to be the father of the Parisian brasserie. What started as a smoky bar filled with Alsatian refugees grew into a magnificent dining room with polished wood, gleaming brass and a stain-glass dome.
Now Fashionable Hotspots
Today, brasseries are fashionable hotspots where politicians continue to rub shoulders with artists- but there is more to them than glamour. Brasseries are popular because the food they serve is homely, heart-warming and delicious. You can eat a simple sandwich or enjoy a grand repas, and they will often serve everything from early breakfasts right through to late suppers in the small hours. Among the famous brasseries in Paris are: Bofinger, La Coupole and Brasseries Lipp, to name by a few. However, no matter where you are, you will find a good meal – and you won’t have to pay a fortune for it either.
Some brasseries in Paris will be modern and chic and some laden with so much history they are practically national monuments. But choose carefully – there are plenty on main streets, but the best ones are often tucked away down side streets and hidden behind porchways.
How many restaurants can boast the illustrious likes of Ernst Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Salvador Dali, Henry Miller, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse among their clientele? Well, La Coupole can. Few people take a trip to Paris without visiting this renowned brasserie at least once.
Try some of my brasserie dishes taken from my two cookbooks at The Vineyard in our California Bar. You can purchase both of my cookbooks via my website and I will sign each one.
Executive Head Chef
Well, with just a few weeks to go to our annual Wine Festival on 15th November, I have written the tasting book and compiled the wines to be poured on the day. I have to say that I’m really pleased with the line-up this year, with real diversity and quality so here’s a little “heads-up” on some of the delights in store… Tickets for the Wine Festival are just £25 and masterclass tickets are £5 per class. View masterclasses and suppliers
We do also have a five course dinner with matching wines to open the annual wine festival on the evening of 14th November. It’s going to be a very lively and entertaining affair with suppliers each giving an insight into the wines they’ve chosen to match with the dishes. We are filling up fast for this event, but do still have places left if you would like to join us. View menu
As you would expect, California will be well-covered on the day, showcasing the best of the true North Coast region (taking in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties) and wines such as Waterstone, Ferrari-Carano and Donelan Family will be on tasting. Donelan has been our success story of 2014 with just beautiful Chardonnay, Roussanne and Syrah. Peter Michael Winery will have a selection of Pinot Noir plus the Knights Valley flagship Les Pavots on the stand.
Turning to Europe, brilliant winemaker Dermot Sugrue (ex-Nyetimber) will have his Goring Brut to show you just how good English fizz can be, however Champagne Taittinger will doubtless want to argue that point with their collection of wines open, plus I will stand my corner with Schramsberg Vineyards! Germany is covered by the wines of Weegmuller and Huesgen whilst Spain has Lopez de Heredia – surely the most classic Rioja you will find. On other stands South Africa, Italy, France and Austria are all showcased. This is truly a world wine festival!
And just to finish, we’ll be opening a selection of Sherries this year, plus a pair of beautiful Madeiras, the perfect Christmas day post prandial.
The Wine Festival begins at 12pm and finishes at 4pm. There will be over 150 wines to taste throughout the day and you’ll also be able to chat to WSET experts about the WSET courses we offer here. Don’t forget, your £25 wine ticket can be redeemed against a case of wine over the value of £250 and we also have a special lunch menu available in our restaurant for just £25 per person. To view the menu, please visit our website.
See you there…
Director of Wine
The Vineyard Cellars
A round up of last weeks wine festival. A fantastic event we hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did!
The Third Annual Wine Festival – Positive Post Mortem!
The bottles have been consumed, the glasses washed and returned, and many satisfied customers are now awaiting their purchases to be delivered. I guess from any angle, the wine festival can be adjudged a success…
On Saturday 27th October, around 150 guests arrived at The Vineyard to taste their way through upwards of 100 wines. In actuality, the exuberance of the suppliers (myself included) meant that just short of 160 wines were opened. There really was just about every style from every wine producing country represented. Whilst I missed the first hour (presenting an on-air wine tasting to BBC Radio Berkshire’s Henry Kelly a.k.a. “Going For Gold”), the day really came into full swing in the afternoon, with a crowded room of enthusiastic critics. It was a good day.
Difficult to pin down individual successes now I’ve analysed what sold and what didn’t, but the New World probably came out on top in terms of bottles taken home, although France claimed the fizz sales with some great Champagnes being opened. South Africa did well in both red and white, and our organic/biodynamic supplier sold many bottles of unfiltered, unsulphured cloudy stuff which I was delighted about. Sometimes organic wines seem not quite as “polished” as their more sterile counterparts, but the taste sensation is almost always better.
Masterclasses were held throughout the day covering such topics as glassware, dinner party wines and how to taste wine professionally. Yohann was kept busy throughout the day answering anything and everything about wine and Daniel produced really quite stunning charcuterie and cheese plates.
Finally, as a true testament to the spirit of the day and the ardent will of our guests, the spittoons remained largely unused…
It was fun. We’ll do it again in 2013. See you there
Director of Wine
The Vineyard Cellars
If being locked in a hotel conference room in the city for 8 hours isn’t your idea of getting a fresh perspective, we’d be delighted to offer something a little different. We offer plenty of “Only at The Vineyard” activities to inspire and motivate.
The wine discovery experiences are always popular:
- Aromatic Grapes – enjoy tasting wines made from aromatic grapes such as Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Shiraz
- The Art of Wine Tasting – learn how to taste wine from the experts
- Old World vs New World – which will be your favourite style of wine?
- Discovery – excite your taste buds with rare and intriguing wines
- Blind Tasting – an equal number of French and American wines to try. Will you guess correctly?
Other activities that are equally fun to try:
If you’d like to discover more about how we can help to make your meeting memorable, call our events team on 01635 528770 or email Poppy – email@example.com