Friday, 25 July 2014

Dark chocolate gelato with cocoa nibs recipe

Ice cream is my favourite food, I enjoy make them at home for the pure pleasure. It’s not cheaper making homemade ice cream, but it’s fun and takes my back to many holidays and long weekends spent in Milan, Forte dei Marmi to Florence to Bologna and surroundings areas. I am yet to go South.  The country that brought us the best gelatos with endless creative flavours  compound with fantastic displays, it’s a winner in my book. Gelatos have less fat (cream) than ice cream. It’s important to use good quality ingredients. Also, in Italy they have special equipment to make gelato. Here is a recipe inspired by my Italian travels, dark chocolate gelato with added cocoa nibs – homemade with love. 
For the recipe head over to Great British Chefs Blog : Hot&Chilli

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Behind the scenes at Nespresso in Avenches

Nespresso offices in Avenches

  If Nespresso didn't exist that it would have to be invented!  I love a coffee, but they take the black brew to another level. 

Another day, another adventure this time I was invited to go to Switzerland, about 1 hour from Lausanne in Avenches, to visit Nespresso Production Centre, where they deal with the coffee capsules side of the business. I was very curious to see the behind-the-scenes, which sounds estrange but it was actually quite informative, good to know where your coffee comes from and the production that goes into it, and what a production it is!
A Nespresso before the production centre tour

Nespresso is a Swiss based company, globally managed by Nestle Group,  producing and selling high-end systems (coffee machines and coffee capsules) since 1986. Selling in over 59 countries, with a global network of 327 boutiques in 52 countries worldwide. They have two state-of-the-art production centres in Avenches and Orbe, Switzerland with a third one in construction.

22 Grans Crus for the home:
9 espresso blends, 3 Lungo blends, 3 decaffeinated blends (2 espressos, 1 lungo), 4 pure origins , 3 variations.
9 Grand Crus for out-of-home:
3, Ristretto blends, 2 espresso blends, 2 lungo blends, 2 decaffeinated blends

Nespresso goal is to deliver  the ultimate coffee experience to consumer cup after cup.  It started as a start up and slowly created a global brand with a unique AAA sustainable quality program of  coffee sourcing system, that helps them to shape the global coffee culture and position them at the high end market.  This system is based in the direct relationship with individual farm communities, help them develop the highest quality, sustainability in coffee supply chain and improving their living standards. Nespresso only buy coffee that meets highest standard of taste, aroma profiles and quality, they aim to the higher-end  and discerning customers that buy into their lifestyle.  The green coffee beans (unroasted) are tested at source before shipping. The rejected coffee beans are not wasted as the farmers are free to supply their coffee to other markets.

Coffee, the two most economically important varieties of coffee plant are:

Arabica - delicate, grown in subtropical climates, rich soil, extremely vulnerable to cold and bad handling. Grown in high altitudes (600 to 2000meters), green/red beans, fruity with floral notes.

Robusta- harder plants, grown in low altitudes (200 to 800 meters),  yellow brown - bitter and strong, intensive and woody.
Robusta has approximately twice as much caffeine as Arabica. This may be an issue for some people when choosing their coffee.
green coffee (unroasted)
Production at Avenches works 24 hours and  includes ensure quality of green coffee, once again the beans are tested at the production centre by technicians that are highly knowledgeable  and constantly trained. Curious fact: when a technician comes back from holidays, they must to into training again as a week or more away can affect their taste buds.
green coffee tasting at sensory and training area
finish product tasting

precise grinding results  for optimal flow for each of the Grand Cru. Each one has its own recipe and are roasted accordingly. 

Aluminium protection from air and humidity working at precise pressure with the appropriate coffee machine. The coffee machines are made by other companies and partners.
all batches can be traced to the source

An amazing insight at the production centre and the coffee process from farm to cup at Nespresso. You can read more about my other adventures with Nespresso : Festive BreakfastMichelin star breakfast
Their Facebook page is one of the best around: Facebook
Disclosure: I was a guest of Nespresso at Avenches. 

Friday, 18 July 2014

France Dordogne Valley, Brive-La-Gaillarde

Nous sommes trop gâtés! We finally arrived at Brive, the last leg of this wonderful and hectic adventure.  Brive is  the biggest commune in the Correze department. The medieval centre is mainly a commercial district with retail shops and various eateries. What better way to start a new chapter by going to a Michelin star restaurant, La Table d'Olivier. A small establishment located in the town centre of Brive, the restaurant cater for 24 covers a night. It's run by 30 years old chef, Pierre Neveu and his master pastry chef and waitress wife, Fanny. A team of only two dishing out fantastic food in Brive.
On arrival we were greeted with a smile by Fanny and directed to our perfect set table.  Everything was good, from appetisers to desserts with a succession of scents, textures and taste of exquisite foods presented like piece of art on our plates. The quality ingredients with perfect and precise cooking  excites the taste buds. A refined and discrete service in a warm atmosphere. Bravo !
wine: Sancerre blanc, Domaine du Carrou, 2012
 Bright and intense colour with gold highlights. Elegant and subtle aromas of citrus (pink grapefruit and lemon) but mostly yellow peach . Perfect acidity and refreshing notes of sweet pear, provide a pleasurable palate. Great match and accompaniment to the foie gras and the lamb dishes. Their wine list is quite expensive.

Starter: foie gras de canard, rhubarb, strawberries (mara de bois) and pepper
a delectable and rich foie gras cooked in low temperature and served cold, with strawberry compote and liquor and rhubarb and pepper cream.
Main: a melt in the mouth lamb cooked sousvide,  mini leeks, garlic black, emulsion of rosemary, reduction jus served with the most delicious mash potatoes.

desserts: macaroon, black pepper ice cream - to die for!, rhubarb candy.
modern and fresh take to cooking using quality, fresh and local ingredients. Perfect!
prices : gourmet menu at € 39 (starter + main course + dessert to choose à la carte) night; tasting menu € 57 (6-course); lunch menu (weekdays only) 23 (starter + main course + dessert)
 La Table d'Olivier - booking recommended
3 Rue Saint-Ambroise, 19100 Brive-la-Gaillarde, France
Phone:+33 5 55 18 95 95
Saturday Market in Brive 
This market is a social and shopping event happening in the city centre. People come from all over the county to buy fresh ingredients and specialist products.
Apart from fruits and vegetables, poultry, cheeses, these markets offer a wide range of local produce such as mushrooms, liqueurs, foie gras ...  Brive la Gaillarde market also offer a wide variety of clothing, shoes, hosiery, haberdashery, leisure, tableware, furniture ...

figs stuffed with foie gras - amazing texture and taste and  local seller a service with a smile.
a family business

The region is well known by their walnut plantations and specialist restaurants, museums, local markets, walnut farms, craft merchants, and distillery using the  Périgord walnuts.
In 2002 the region won the Appellation d'Origine (AOC) "Noix du Périgord" for fresh walnuts, dried walnuts and walnut kernels.

Denoix distillery

Located in the centre of Brive, Denoix is a family run business founded in 1839, nowadays is headed by Madame Sylvie Denoix-Vieillefosse.  Their drinks are based on walnuts and other fruits all guaranteed to be free from colouring, preservatives and added flavour. Their recipes and method hasn't changed since the 19th century, to retain their heritage and  know-how in addition to quality and taste.  Above we tasted their famous Supreme Denoix. They also make the Violet Mustard since 1986.

 the copper cauldrons and the century-old tuns that mature liqueurs mysteriously and silently.

Ferme Auberge Moulin a l'Huile de Noix

This farm house is situated near Martel about 30 minutes from Brive and the building dates from the XV century. They produce the majority of the food they serve in the restaurant. Their menu follow the seasons , home cooking style and it's fresh.
Asparagus soup with sourdough farm bread and walnuts!
green salad with white asparagus and smoked duck and the farm cookbook
grilled lamb chops with a tasty creme d'ail (creamy garlic sauce), cream, lots of garlic, onion, rosemary, flour, salt & pepper. simple and very enjoyable.

duck confit on a bed of crushed potatoes and a marvellous desert! 
dessert: acacia beignet, walnut souffle topped with meringue, walnut cake and chocolate sauce - amazing!!

above Madame Marie-Claude Castagne, the owner taking orders.
the aftermath to our meal....
making walnut oil
walnut grove

The farm specialised in foie gras, duck and lamb, walnuts, walnut oil and walnut appetiser
Price: between 18 et 24 € and children : 8 €
Ferme Auberge Moulin a l'Huile de Noix
 Route St Denis, 46600 Martel, France 
Phone:+33 5 65 37 40 69
 PS: I got the farm cookbook - beautifully photographed, inspirational and glorious recipes. 

That is the end of my Dordogne adventure for now at least. I hope to go back one day it's such a beautiful and uplifting region of France. 
Back in the UK : I made Gateau aux Noix with walnut oil and Denoix liquor with black pepper ice cream - inspired by Madane Marie-Claude Castagne, Madame Sylvie Denoix, and Michelin diner at 'La Table d'Olivier' - amazing!

Disclosure: I was a guest of Brive Vallee Dordogne Tourist Board . I received no further remuneration. I retained full editorial control over this and other related posts. all views are my own.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

France Dordogne Valley : Lacave, Rocamadour and Aubazine

Chateau La Treyne in Lacave
What a start of another adventure, we travelled from Sarlat to Lacave, about 40 minutes by car and we arrived at Chateau La Treyne,  a 14th and 17th Century castle that swings over the banks of the Dordogne river in a picturesque setting. It's so pretty!

This property is a surronded by 120 hectares of forest,  it's used as a boutique hotel and houses a Michelin start restaurant open for lunch and diner.

The place is pure magic and the epitome of elegance.  Image having lunch under the time-worn and leafy cedars threes.

getting ready for service
charming and cosy livingroom

breathtaking views
time for tea and cakes
I love that snook, I could spend a lot of time there reading, writing and getting inspired by the scenery inside and outside. well appointed rooms range from standard to suites to apartments.

         Loved that gold bath! I could stay in the bathroom forever...and there was a concealed walking shower too
 Chateau de La Treyne - gardens views from the room
46200 Lacave - Tel : +
rooms from 200€ single to 1440€ apartment half board


A commune in the Lot department in South-Western and clinging to the rock hills and sharp cliffs above the Dordogne river. A monastic built town and pilgrimage churches known for historical monuments and its sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which for centuries has attracted pilgrims from every country, among them kings, bishops, and nobles.

The view of Rocamadour , Dordogne France from Rosana McPhee on Vimeo.

a very spiritual place

A visit to Madam Chantal Jean, founder of Rocavitraux

Working from the oldest house in Rocamadour, Madame Chantal, creates new glass works and sympathetically restoures ancient churches and castle window from all over the world. She also teaches the art of glass in her premises. Another amazing woman in the Dordgone Valley.

Lunch in Rocamadour
we stopped at  Le Jehan de Valon  for lunch, a restaurant part of a hotel. We settled at the garden terrace under the shades of the lime trees. Perfect setting to relax and take in the atmosphere of Rocamadour.
local and easy drinking white wine Chateau Briand 2011, crisp and sharp, light amber with citrus notes

wine anyone? don't mind if I do....

rich and smooth duck foie gras terrine,  sharp tomato chutney and mique's toast, great start to our meal.

Roasted leg of Lamb from Quercy, potato gratin with Cantal - local strong and semi-hard cheese and harricot beans cassarole. Perfectly roasted leg of lamb, was tender like  melting in the mouth, rich, earth and sweet flavour went well with the potato gratin and cassarole. They carve the whole leg by the table and serve the plates in situ. Great show!

stunning and refreshing dessert: vacherin vanille-strawberries ice creams drenched in red berries coulis
we met the delighful Madame Pauline, who runs a small pottery business in nearby Carennac. It was great to see her  in action and view her beautiful pieces.

Atelier PO details: here


Aubazine a commune  located some 10 km of Brive-la-Gaillarde. It has its origin in the foundation of a monastery by Étienne de Vielzot,aka  Etienne d'Obazine, a priest and hermit in the 12th century. The monastery was affiliated shortly after to the Cistercian order. Very soon an associated convent of nuns was established in the village of Coyroux a few hundred metres away. The two monasteries existed until the Revolution. Formerly spelled Obazine

It is said that Coco Chanel lived in Aubazine in her teenage years, she and her two sisters were brought up by nuns at Aubazine Abbey, this experience had a huge impact in her life and her designs. Coco Chanel logo was inspired by the windows at Aubazine Abbey windows.  Another impressive female connection at the Dordogne Valley.

Aubazine , Dordogne, France: inside 12th Century Cistercian Abbey where Coco Chanel spent her teens years from Rosana McPhee on Vimeo.

Small and well formed little village

Time to move on to another adventure, next stop
Brive-la-Gaillarde #hotandchillitravels continues...

Disclosure: I was a guest of Brive Vallee Dordogne Tourist Board all views are my own.

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