Posts tagged “wine

A Drop in the Bucket for Austerity

Posted on May 2, 2013

Photo: Paige Bowers

Photo: Paige Bowers

This week the Elysee Palace announced it would be auctioning off 1,200 bottles of wine from its cellars, which are known for stocking the best of the best vintages France has to offer. The state plans to pay down some of its debt with the proceeds from this auction, but, as The New York Times writes, the move amounts to little more than “highly exclusive drops” in the bucket.

The Times provided a taste of the bottles up for bidding:

Among the wines to be auctioned at the end of the month at the Hôtel Drouot, through the Paris auction house Kapandji Morhange, are three bottles of 1990 Château Petrus, estimated to be worth $3,000 to $3,400 a bottle, and a 1998 Meursault Premier Cru, a fine white burgundy. There will also be bottles of 1975 Château Lafite Rothschild, estimated at more than $1,000 each, and 1985 Krug Champagne, as well as Champagne from Salon, some of the world’s rarest and most expensive.

In general, the best bottles are served to heads of state and monarchs. When President George W. Bush made his last visit to France in 2008, Mr. Sarkozy, who like Mr. Bush does not drink alcohol, served Château Mouton Rothschild to his guests.

The chief sommelier of the Élysée, Virginie Routis, who was appointed in 2007, selected the bottles to be sold. They make up just a tenth of the presidential cellars, which were established in 1947. Lesser bottles will be sold, too, with some expected to start at as little as $20 and many available for less austere prices of under $130.

President Francois Hollande plans to serve more modestly priced wines to his guests. No word yet on what those are, but the Times offered an interesting glimpse of past presidential favorites. According to the article, Francois Mitterand, a fellow Socialist, loved Burgundy, one of the world’s most expensive wines. Georges Pompidou loved Chasse-Spleen, a red Medoc whose name means “to chase away the blues.” And Jacques Chirac drank beer in public, but Dom Perignon in private, an interesting fact, given his history.

Potato and Leek Soup

Posted on November 29, 2011


It’s cold in South Louisiana.

So last night I wanted to warm up with homemade soup.

This one is special, satisfying and oh-so-easy to make. It’s Potato and Leek Soup and you can find the recipe in Patricia Wells’ The Paris Cookbook. Her version includes oysters, which I adore, but I decided to omit them in hopes of getting my kid to eat the soup too.

According to Wells:

“Potato soups have long been a French favorite, and the classic combination of leeks and potatoes . . . is one of the most obvious winter warm-ups.”

What boosts the comfort factor? Outside of the potatoes, it’s definitely the cream and butter.

You can never go wrong with cream and butter.


Anyway, here’s what you need to  make this rich, subtly sweet soup:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I like to use Plugra because it’s super-creamy)
  • 2 leeks, white and tender green portions, rinsed, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced.
  • fine sea salt to taste
  • 8 ounces baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1/3 cup of heavy cream
  • freshly grated nutmeg


  • Combine butter, leeks and 1 teaspoons sea salt. Cook the leeks over low heat until they are soft, but not browned. Add potatoes, milk, cream and several gratings of nutmeg. Simmer for 20 minutes, covered, stirring often to prevent the soup from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  • Blend soup until smooth. (Best tool ever for blending soup? The KitchenAid 2-Speed Hand Blender.) Serve. *If you want to include oysters, you can float them in the soup at this point and the heat will gently cook them.

Wells recommends pairing this with a glass of chilled white wine. Last night I wanted to avoid cold at all costs so I went with a full-bodied red wine instead.