“In Priorat, the roads twist and turn through the hills and leave the sun behind. You can see it and feel it. Priorat is a world apart”
This is how Sara Perez, the woman behind Mas Martinet, describes this rich wine region in Spain, where she and her father, Jose Luis Perez, play an important role as part of the pioneers of Priorat.
In July, I was assigned by Wine Spectator Magazine to shoot the lead story of October issue about Priorat; one of the greatest wine regions in Catalan, Spain. I got a very detailed shooting list with names and addresses of the people I was about to meet and shoot. These were the pioneers of Priorat; the leading figures of the wine industry in that region. It was an intense assignment. Shooting from 7 in the morning (to capture the sunrise over the vineyard) till sometimes 9 in the evening, when the light was orange and soft. But nevertheless, it was a fun assignment, in which I have learned so much about wine and met incredible friendly people, who are proud of what they do, and obviously, proud of their wine.
“Priorat is a small wine district in Spain’s Catalonia region. It hides behind the Montsant, a steep wall of cliffs that rise above the Mediterranean coast a hundred miles south of Barcelona. Tucked into a series of inland valleys, the vineyards climb steep hills that wind around small rivers. Villages nestle into the slopes, with stone houses lining narrow streets.
In the 1970s, a group of outsiders-idealistic, impractical, indefatigable arrived with a vision of a new Priorat. Rene Barbier, a wine merchant from Tarragona and Carles Pastrana, a Spanish journalist, were the catalysts. Having enticed a few friends and investors to join them, they began to plant new vineyards. The work took time and their first wine was made in 1989. It was a group effort, produced communally in Grattalops and bottled under several different labels”
Barbier (standing, right) became a key figure, producing benchmark wines at his Clos Mogador winery and mentoring a vibrant network of vintners who in turn pushed Priorat to improve and evolve. His son, Rene Jr., (sitting, right) works with him at Clos Mogador and also makes wine with wife Sara Perez.
“Sara Perez (standing left) and her father, Jose Luis Perez, are key players in the Priorat Saga. Jose Luis was one of the pioneers in the 1980s alongside Barbier and Pastrana, helping to initiate the original revitalization of the region…she spent her childhood observing her parents’ experiments and in 1996, after studying biology in Barcelona and enology in Tarragona, she returned to Priorat. With time, she became a champion of Granacha and Carineana (types of grapes) which she considers the authentic grapes of Priorat. In 1999 she discovered a new site after following an eagle! to the top of the hill. She named it Els Escurcons and planted mostly Granacha grapes”
I was welcomed warmly to Sara’s house to have lunch with her and her husband Rene Barbier Jr. (It is a great story how they met and fell in love even though they knew each other, at least by name for years). She is not only beautiful with great smile and an endless energy, she is also a mother of four and a great cook. For me, it was a great experience to sit around the table with her family and some of her business acquaintance, opening few bottles of wine during lunch time, and talking about the industry. After lunch I went with Rene Jr. to meet his dad and to photograph them, both in the winery and the vineyards, and around late afternoon Sara picked me up with her truck and drove me to the top hill of Els Escurcons. The view (which is the opener image) could take your breath away.
Carles Pastrana (sitting, right) and his wife, Mariona Jarque, came to the village of Gratallops in 1979 and began working with Barbier…with time Carles opened his flagship Clos de l’Obac, which blends equal parts of Granacha and Cabernet with dashes of Syrah, Merlot and Carinena. His winery, Clos de l’Obac is just next door to Barbier’s winery, Clos Mogador.
It was great to follow Carles for the shoot and hear his stories about the history and the changes of Priorat throughout the years. His vital energy and his ‘young at heart’ attitude (wearing red sneakers) was a cool breeze in one of the hottest days of July, in that area of Catalan.
The next morning I was about to shoot Torres, one of Spain’s most important and innovative wine companies, which is located near the village of El Lloar. The instructions were to shoot the modern winery quite early in the morning, when there is a great light casting the Montsant mountains. By 7 am I was already at the winery to meet Christoph Kammüller, who is in charge of the winery’s press and communication matters. Together, we were looking for great angles to shoot the facade of the modern winery and I got to see around the 185 acres of vineyards. It was too early to try a glass of wine from Torres and I continued to the next destination.
My last day of shooting, before heading back to Barcelona, was dedicated to photograph Alvaro Palacios (standing right), one of the region’s largest private wine producer.
“Palacios was born into a wine family in Rioja and trained in the chateaus of Bordeaux. He was not one of the original Priorat founders, but he knew about them from the early days. In 1990, when one of the original investors wanted out, Palacios purchased Finca Dofi and began his career in Priorat. He was 28…He soon purchased L’Ermita site and bottled it as a single-vineyard wine, which soon became the most prized and most expensive wine from Spain. In 1997 he built his modern winery overlooking Gratallops (above left) and it serves as a meeting point, winery, office space and Alvaro’s private home at the second floor.
When I entered the winery, Alvaro was already ready for the shoot. I also photographed him for the cover (see above) and it seemed Alvaro was well experienced with photo shoots.
This July I was assigned by Wine Spectator Magazine to shoot two stories for their October issue. One story is about Costa Dorada and the second is about Priorat Wine region in Catalan, Spain.
Costa Dorada or ‘The Golden Coast’ is only a 40 minutes drive from Barcelona and it is a perfect destination for a Summer Family vacation. It is a rich territory with a long coastline along the Mediterranean dotted by 20 colorful villages and towns, spread out between the sea and the mountains. But not only the sunny beaches and the golden sand. Vineyards, olive groves, hazel and almonds trees can also be found.
Scroll down to read more about some of the areas’ highlights and the best locations I’ve shot. (original text from article)
Where to Eat:
Costa Dorada Restaurant
You will remember this place for the lazy afternoon experience: eating seafood a few steps from Sitges’ San Sebastian beach while nursing a bottle of cool Cava. A near 50-year old institution run by second generation owner Montse Bigaire and her chef husband, Joan Vidal. The specialty is paella that comes in several different versions including classic seafood paella and black rice style colored with cuttlefish ink.
It is a great place to watch the beach scene and listen to the Catalan chatter mixed with the splashing of the waves.
Costa Dorada, 27 Carrer de Port Alegre, Sitges.
A stylish loft-like setting next to Tarragona’s gothic cathedral, AQ seats up to 60 diners spread through three rooms with dark wood floors, black and ochre color walls and soft spotlight. Run by chef Ana Ruiz and her husband, Quintin Quinsac (therefore the AQ name). Quintin leads the wine program (check the wine cellar with 150 Catalan wines) while Ana and her team cook one fixed seasonal tasting menu that changes regularly, and is sometimes built around a single ingredient.
AQ, 7 Carrer Les Coques, Tarragona.
El Celler de l’Aspic
If only the rest of the world worked this way; a restaurant where you pay less for wine than at a local wine shop. Owner, sommelier, chef and Priorat native Toni Bru offers wine from a list of labels at producer prices. Naturally, this modern casual, loft-like space at the edge of Priorat is a must for every Priorat-wine-lover. Bru, who spent years cooking along the Ebro delta and returned to Priorat in 2003, expertly celebrates the Catalan larder. Great food and Toni Bru is such an great character.
Check the restaurant hours as it is not opened everyday.
El Celler de l’Aspic, 31 Miguel Barcelo, Falset
On a back street behind Cambril’s bustling restaurant-packed fishing port, father and son team of Joan and Arnau Bosch cook up a perfect storm of local fresh seafood at this family institution first awarded its Michelin star 31! years ago. A light, elegant modern restaurant divided into small intimate dining areas, Can Bosch is packed on weekends by well-heeled local families who come for the inventive tasting menus topped by a (market price) Lobster menu. Wine lovers come for the impressive 1500 label wine list of sommelier Manel Subira whose knowledge and experience are way beyond you can imagine. It is an amazing food and wine experience and the staff is lovely.
Check the restaurant hours as it is not opened everyday.
Can Bosch, 19 Rambla Jaume I, Cambrils Port
Where to Stay:
Mas la Boella
A verdant bird-filled oasis on the planes outside the urban spawl of Tarragona, Mas la Boella and its colorful elaborate shaded gardens with fountains and a swimming pool, nestle on an ancient (12th century) farm with seas of olive trees for the production of oil. La Boella also have vineyards that produce small quantities of Tarragona red wine. Opened as a hotel six years ago, La Boella offers one of the most luxurious experiences of Costa Dorada. Six suites are housed in a pair of old farm buildings and seven suites are housed in the modern pagoda, featuring garden balconies.
Reserve a free tour of the modern oil mill with a tasting of La Boella’s varietal oils and dine in the elegant gastronomic restaurant in the old mill, featuring a list of 180 wines.
Mas la Boella, Autovia T-11 exit 12, Tarragona
Those of you who follow my blog and my recent travels, know that I have a soft spot for Portugal in general, and Lisbon in particular. For the last three years I’ve been visiting Lisbon six times already and shot hotels, restaurants and street scenes for various magazines. You can see some of my Lisbon’s posts here.
From an outsider point of view, and as a photographer, it is great to see how the city has changed through these year.
The city is buzzing with tourists, the cafe’s are packed with people, new wine boutiques, boutique hotels, trendy restaurants, chefs’ restaurants, colorful tik-tok taxies, yellow trams riding back and forth the historic route of Lisbon. Even the sardines smell better. I call it The Revival of the City.
When Virtuoso magazine has asked me to shoot ‘Lisbon Tasty Renaissance’ a food story about Lisbon, I said Yes right away. Especially since the Portuguese kitchen is one of my favorite.
I was lucky to shoot some of the top chefs in Lisbon, such as Jose Avillez and Joao Rodrigues, who both won a Michelin star. I also shot the new Mercado da Riberia and some other great restaurants and bars. It was a great way to discover Lisbon through the food.
You can download the full article here, or scroll down for some highlights and addresses from the article, for your next travel in Lisbon.
Mercado da Ribeira
Start your exploration of the Mercado da Ribeira by nibbling on petiscos, the Portuguese equivalent of Spanish tapas, a tradition of small bites that is rising in popularity in Lisbon. These might be a vinegary octopus salad, fried green beans, or local cheeses. Sip wild cherry liqueur and eat a prego, or steak sandwich, served on soft, circular bolo do caco bread. Sample bites of cured ham and sausage, sourdough acorn bread, and creamy cinnamon gelato from Santini, and make sure to buy a small bottle of local piri piri chili oil. With around 30 stalls, you can easily wander and try whatever looks good. One of the best souvenirs is inexpensive but high-quality tinned fish at the Conserveira de Lisboa outpost. For kitchenware and other Portuguese-made finds, browse the shelves of local favorite A Vida Portuguesa. Rua Anchieta 11.
Cantinho do Avillez
José Avillez is the most visible chef in Lisbon’s evolving dining scene. At Cantinho do Avillez (Rua dos Duques de Bragança 7, Mártires; 351-21/199-2369), a buzzy, appealing spot in the Chiado neighborhood, diners linger over lazy lunches of green curried meatballs and chilled Portuguese white wine. Mini Bar (Rua António Maria Cardoso 58; 351-21/130-5393), inside a local theater, serves reasonably priced, elaborate mini portions, such as tuna tartare cones and a ceviche of Algarve prawns. Belcanto (Largo de São Carlos 10; 351-21/342-0607) makes for a grand night out. “Belcanto is one of my favorite restaurants in Lisbon,” says New York City-based Virtuoso advisor Martina Reznick. “The avant-garde food is delicious, fresh, and beautifully presented. The service, wine list, and ambience are excellent as well.”
If you’re feeling daring, call one-Michelin-starred Feitoria Restaurante & Wine Bar 48 hours in advance to book the “creative menu,” which leaves you in the hands of chef João Rodrigues’ whimsy, tailored to your preferences, such as a secret spin on Algarve shrimp or Angus sirloin. Located in riverfront Belém, Feitoria evokes Portuguese gastronomic history and traditions with its tasting menus. Doca do Bom Sucesso; 351-21/040-0207.
The latest restaurant to join the inter-national cuisine trend is A Cevicheria, a Peruvian spot by chef Kiko Martins specializing in ceviches. End the meal on a sweet note with the dulce de leche piña colada dessert. They don’t take reservations, so show up around 7 pm, before the dinner rush. Rua Dom Pedro V 129; 351-21/803-8815.
In an intimate sliver of a space in the bohemian Bairro Alto district, 100 Maneiras welcomes guests with a warm interior and an adventurous tasting menu (there is no à la carte menu). Well-known chef Ljubomir Stanisic shows off his quirky personality in dishes such as poached eggs with truffles and corn-bread “sand,” and dehydrated codfish with coriander oil. Rua do Teixeira 35; 351-91/030-7575.
By The Wine
Opened by one of Portugal’s oldest and most highly respected wine producers, lively By the Wine José Maria da Fonseca bar in Chiado serves even the most expensive vinhos by the glass in a space that resembles a futuristic subway tunnel. Small snacks include local cheeses, mussels, and a fantastic sirloin prego on bread from the Algarve region. Rua das Flores 41-43; 351-21/342-0319.
You could linger for hours at bright and airy Choupana Caffé, a local favorite and a welcome change from the red velvet and dark wood of the city center’s old European coffeehouses. Create your own treat at the organic yogurt bar for breakfast, or try Choupana’s crisp salads, homemade soups, and hot sandwiches for lunch. Avenida da República 25A; 351-21/357-0140.
What if I had less than 72 hours to shoot 20 locations in Antwerpen, the Fashion Capital of Belgium?
It happened last October when I was visiting Flanders and got assigned to shoot a great story for Conde Nast Traveller about the design and creative scene in Antwerpen. It wasn’t about the ‘Antwerp Six’ designers, nor about the Diamond industry the city is well known for. This 10-page article is mostly about trendy hotels, new restaurants, bars, cafe’s, upcoming designers in their boutiques, all perfectly designed.
In fact, it wasn’t my first time visiting Antwerpen. Some of the locations I shot, I knew from a previous visit to Antwerpen. You can read more about it here, so it helped me to navigate faster throughout the streets. This current assignment was hectic and busy.
But beside the tight schedule, the challenge was the weather. Grey sky and rain didn’t really help to portray a story which would run in July… I prayed for some Sun, and when it came out, I shot outdoors as much as I could.
To download the full article, please click here. To get some of the highlights addresses and top locations of this stylish city, please scroll down.
Where to Stay:
* Owners Ilse Cornelissens and husband Tim Van Geloven lived on the upper floors of concept store Graanmarkts 13 until they moved out and opened The Apartment (Summer 2014). The interiors are distinctly Scandi-slick. The bathtub is marvelous and the sunny terrace compensates for rainy days.
* More ‘bed and coffee’ than anything else, Room National‘s three rooms are perfectly placed for shopping on Nationalestraat and checking out fashion exhibitions at MoMu. The room to book is 01, an all-white suite (designer and stylist sisters Vera and Violetta Pepa did the interiors)
* Hotels in Antwerpen can be a bit hit and miss, but contemporary boutique Hotel Julien is the exception, with a busy bar, small spa and fantastic views of the cathedral from the roof terrace.
Where to Eat and Drink:
* Fresh in flavor and though, simple dishes by chef Seppe Nobel incorporate honey from Graanmarkt 13‘s bees and vegetables from the kitchen garden. Gin and Tonics are artfully garnished with basil and violets grown on the roof. Seppe is extremely friendly and helpful in choosing the right dish. Highly recommended to make reservations.
* Eye-catching interiors and exquisite cooking make The Jane to be the hottest table in Antwerpen. Located in a renovated chapel in one of the up and coming areas in Antwerpen,designed by Piet Boon and ran by chef Nick Bril, this restaurant is a mix of design, designed food and amazing music, which set up the atmosphere. Reservations are a must.
* Konditori is a hip bakery which supplies The Apartment with breakfast of Paris-quality croissants, fresh bread and cloud-light custard cream pastries.
* If you are looking for a relaxed neighborhood restaurant in Berchem area, try Veranda. Simple, yet cosy design with some low-key fashion crowd.
* You might need a taxi to get to Het Pomphuis, but this place worth the travel. A formal dining in an unusual setting, housed in an old-dry dock pumping station by the docks. Peer over the banister of the grand stairway to see some of the old iron pumps below.
* Up for a coffee place? Try Normo. A micro-roastery, shop and cafe serving proper drip-filter coffee and cold brews for those who take coffee seriously. (Like me).
* And if you are more of a cocktail person, and even if you are not, you must head to Dogma Cocktails. The young mixologist Didier Van den Broeck is cracking tiki cocktails based on your preference. His knowledge and memory is phenomenal.
* When I entered Korsakov Cafe, I couldn’t stop shooting. Simple, wooden furniture and colorful tile, this is a corner cafe where you might see a local model hanging out there, or even Mario Testino popping for a Vogue’s shoot.
* Dome sur Mer is a relaxed seafood restaurant and sister of Michelin starred restaurant Dome.
Where to Shop:
* Buy into the Graanmarkt 13 lifestyle, with ceramics and glassware from the restaurant and The Apartment. Various local designers in this A-list curated store.
* This place might look like a film set props warehouse, with industrial lights, chesterfields, hanging model planes and mannequins. If you are in favor of vintage style, Loft Styles, is the place to go. Better go there on a Sunday when the whole street comes to life and crowded with locals and tourists.
* At the same street as Loft Styles, Recollection was one of my favorite. It is a smart store for modern lifestyle essentials; From Maison Martin Margiela homeware to art and design books and Aesop products. I felt like I stepped into one of Alice in Wonderland’s holes.
* In contrast to the city’s many traditional diamond sellers, Wouters & Hendrix is a unique jewellery line by two young Academy graduates. Don’t be surprised to find pieces with unusual chicken-feet clasps and jagged edges.
* Helder is an interior design studio which spills into a shop for sleek lamps, handmade jewellery and chic embroidered badges.
* Just across the street there is Magazyn, a black and white, copper, glass and leather design objects for the home.
* One of the most talked about boutiques is Atelier Solar. Located in a less stylish area of the city, this beautiful store is setting the tone for this up and coming area. Great space, with a small garden and a kitchen, when temporary parties and some cooking are taking place. If you are lucky, you can catch the owner/designer Jan Jan Van Essche or the co-owner Pietro. Young and artistic crowd. Great Space.
If you are flying British Airways this month, don’t forget to grab a copy of High Life magazine and see my recent shoot of the vegan scene in Tel Aviv. If you are more of an audio passenger, you can listen to British Airways’ podcast and hear me talking about Tel Aviv’s night scene.
Imagine a carnivore/Scottish/Sikh/Comedian/Writer who is asked to put his steak-knife down and indulge in the Tel Avivian’s vegan scene. Sounds hectic and hilarious?
This is exactly how I felt after spending four intense days with Hardeep Singh Kohli, discovering, documenting and tasting some of the most delicious vegan places, one fork at a time.
To read the full article, click here.
Well, I am not a real foodie, but these four intense shooting days were incredibly delicious. I got to the point I had to hide behind my camera as I couldn’t eat more food. It was great to discover that veganism in Tel Aviv is taking off like nowhere else on the planet. It was more great to see a carnivore such as Hardeep, munching on falafel and grilled artichokes, or asking for another round of hummus.
Here are some of behind-the-scenes-pictures with Hardeep taking over this fun assignment. Obviously, they didn’t make it to the final layout.
October starts with some great news and with my debut in Marie Claire, UK version.
This is not the first time I have my images in Marie Claire. First time was in Marie Claire Italia, April 2012 featuring my ‘Intimacy under the Wires’ story, and few months later on September, the magazine featured an image of Jaffa Flea Market.
But this time is bigger and better. Deluxe Travel story about Lisbon with some of my fave images of the Portuguese Capital. This piece really makes me want to book a flight and visit Lisbon again.
If you can get your hands on Marie Claire UK, October issue, here are the details;
What to Pack: Dresses are the ultimate holiday staple. Go for block colors that can be livened up with some carefully chosen accessories to take you from sightseeing to cocktail sipping.
Stay At: Palacio Belmonte, a luxurious ten-suite hotel inside the walls of medieval Sao Jorge Castle with terrific views over the city. Add in a swimming pool, garden and gorgeous 18th century azulejo tiles and you are all set for a romantic break.
Since I visited Porto on February 2013, the city was chosen as European Best Destination for the year of 2014. And no wonder. The city combines a rich History alongside contemporary architecture and great dining scene thanks to the wine industry in Douro Valley.
The timing to visit Porto was a great one as I managed to experienced the city before it became too touristic or maybe over-written. My Porto images were in Huffington Post, Elle Decor and now in Virtuoso Life Magazine, July/August Issue.
Excited to have my debut image of Porto with Clérigos Church’s bell tower in the background, as an opener to ‘Porto Perks Up’ article by Jeanine Barone.
To read the full article, please click here or skip to page 128.
I was very excited to get an email the other day from the Photo Editor and Art Director of Voyeur, the inflight magazine of Virgin Atlantic, asking me to shoot a story about Tel Aviv for their August issue.
I love shooting for inflight magazines. They are the first thing I look for when I am taking a flight. My excitement got topped up when I have learned that Virgin Atlantic doesn’t fly directly to Israel and yet, chose to feature Tel Aviv as one of the hot and exotic destinations in the Middle East.
‘This Israeli city is riding a wave of trends thanks to forward-thinking locals, a booming nightlife and experimental art’ says the subtitle, and I had to capture these essence with my lenses. I had less than three days to do so.
In case you are not flying Virgin Atlantic this coming August, here is a summary of the article;
“…Israel’s most cosmopolitan city is a fast-paced, chaotic and idiosyncratic, a place where global fusion and local innovation rule everything from food to fashion and even music and architecture . Culturally, Tel Aviv has much to offer. Its collection of art galleries, boutiques and designer fashion markets are easily comparable with any large cultural capital, and it’s known for its wild nightlife and thriving gay scene…”
Some of Tel Aviv’s Must-See Spots, mentioned in the article are;
‘…Much of Tel Aviv’s appeal lies in its different neighborhoods, each with an individual feel. The city holds the largest single collection of Bauhaus buildings in the world, collectively known as White City and declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2003. The 4000 or so buildings are scattered throughout several neighborhoods; the best place to start exploring them is the Bauhaus Center. Wander through the scenic south-west neighborhood of Neve Tzedek (dating from 1887) with its narrow streets, lovingly restored buildings and main shopping strip, Shabazi Street offering charming boutiques and chic cafes..’
Where to stay:
Luxe: For classic European charm with a modern Israeli twist, head for the Hotel Montifiore, which occupies a beautifully restored 1920s building, with 12 luxurious rooms and a superb restaurant.
Hip: The trendy Brown TLV Hotel has a decidedly 1970s flavor and offers 30 comfortable rooms and two cool bars popular with local movers and shakers.
Budget: For those looking for cheaper accommodation, the cosy and friendly Eden House TLV, in the city’s historic Yemenite Quarter, is only a short walk to the beach and the busy Carmel Market.
‘…In the south of the city is the neighborhood of Florentine. Largely overlooked for years, the area has become increasingly hip, home to students, musicians and artists and plenty of bars, cafes and nightclubs. The area’s main attraction is Levinsky Market, a stretch of shops offering an astonishing variety of exotic spices, locally roasted coffee blends, cheese, Middle Eastern products, pulses, dried fruit and one of the local specialities bureka (savory pastries)… ‘
Where to Eat:
‘…Hummus is a big deal in Tel Aviv. Locals go mad for the no frills Abu Hassan, where, if you can get a seat, you’ll be treated to what is generally agreed to be the best hummus in town…Cult chef Meir Adoni’s Mizlala is a mecca for the city’s hipsters, with its minimalist decor and cool playlist. But the food is what they come for: creative and meticulously constructed dishes with a pan-Middle Eastern vibe…For a taste of cafe culture, try Sonya Getzel Shapira with its relaxed atmosphere and attractive back garden…’
Don’t Leave Without:
‘…Checking out Tel Aviv’s underground dance venue The Block – it’s a must for those wishing to experience local nightlife. Try and catch a contemporary dance performance at the Suzanne Dellal Center. Also visit the Center for Contemporary Art, which showcases cutting-edge installations and video art…’
If you are on a diet, this post might ruin your efforts to lose weight. In that case, I strongly recommend you skip to the next post and just ignore this one. If you are not on a diet, have a sweet tooth, curious about new things or heading to Paris soon, this post is for you.
I was in Paris in March, shooting a story for Feast Magazine about Rue du Nil for their August issue. In addition, I was asked to shoot a cover for the Bite Size Pieces section of the most popular Parisian Eclairs of the well known pastry chef Christophe Adam, the man behind L’Eclairs de Genie. It seems as the eclairs’ collection is changing by the day and the season and the colorful eclairs come in a range of creative flavors, filling and topping.
Even though I got from Feast Magazine a detailed list of the eclairs they wanted me to shoot, not all the eclairs were available on that day but some different flavors were presented on the counter. I arrived to the store quite early before its opening hours, just so I can have the space (and the eclairs) for myself but within minutes after its opening, the store got crowded by hungry and curious costumers.
Of course I had to try! At least three of them.
My favorite was Eclair Audrey, named after Audrey Gellet, who won a French baking competition in a television series and was honored to create her version for L’Eclairs de Genie. The eclair has chocolate and tonka bean cream, orange praline and candied oranges.
L’Eclairs de Genie is located in 14 Rue Pavée, steps from Saint Paul Metro station.
A little bit before the month of March, I was contacted by the Photo Editor of FEAST Magazine, who asked me if I could shoot a food story for them while I am in Paris. FEAST is one of the leading food magazines in Australia, and shortly did I learn that food magazines in Australia are like what Fashion magazines are in Italy. The Photo Editor mentioned the three magic words, Rue Du Nil, which, in fact was the first time I have heard about this street.
‘…A tiny cobblestone street is the setting of Paris’s recent food revolution with shops that now stock locally and ethically sourced produce and a trio of eateries run by the young chef who started it all…’(words by Clotilde Dusoulier)
This young chef is Greg Marchand, ‘who in 2009 was returning from a few years cooking abroad- Spain, New York, Hong Kong and London. His nickname then was ‘Frenchie’, and he lent it to his own 20-seat restaurant, a tiny space with historic charm, stone walls and exposed beams’
Up till then, I personally didn’t know about Rue du Nil and didn’t hear about Frenchie restaurant, I admit. But after two-days shoot in this tiny street in the up and coming Sentier neighborhood, I felt like I’m at home, saying ‘Hi’ to my neighborhood vendors and having my coffee at my favorite place. Was it because all the shops’ owners were working together and knowing each other, was it because the street is so tiny…I felt very welcomed that even when my shoot was over, I stayed and had a coffee or a drink with the shops’ main players.
‘…In 2011 he (Greg) opened Frenchie Bar a Vins, a no-reservation wine bar where drinks are downed with small plates made from beautifully sourced ingredient. Among the menu items was a pulled pork sandwich that Greg’s wife Marie was so crazy about she convinced him to create a third restaurant, on the same Rue du Nil, which was starting to feel like their own backyard by then…this was how Frenchie To Go was born, in 2013, selling high quality versions of classic sandwiches using house made or locally sourced ingredients…Meanwhile, Greg kept developing relationship with suppliers and partners, many of whom had become his friends. Among them were Alexandre Drouard and Samuel Nahon, who had created a company in 2008 called Terroirs d’Avenir– ‘terroirs with a future’…..’
When Greg told them about an availability of some shops in the street, Alexandre and Samuel seized this opportunity and opened three shops side by side; A butcher shop, a fish shop and vegetables and cheese one. I was very impressed by these two young guys and their vision that I found myself having a long conversation with Alexandre (off my shooting hours of course) about the business background and the plans for the future.
The third location I had to shoot in Rue du Nil was L’Arbre a Cafe, located opposite from Frenchie To Go. Hippolyte Courty, the owner of the company, is a well trained coffee roaster who specializes in exceptional coffee grown on biodynamic farms from Ethiopia to India. As a coffee addict myself who is always in search of a good and quality coffee, I highly recommend L’Arbre a Cafe, The Coffee Tree. In one of my days-off shooting I took the Metro all the way from the 11th Arrondissements to the 2nd, just to have a good cappuccino.
The months of March and April were filled with Food shots assignment, and I found this one about Rue du Nil, one of the most enjoyable experiences I had. The Food, the people, the location, all made it a fun one.
Here are some of my favorite shots of Rue du Nil.
Bon Appétit !
5-6 Rue du Nil, Paris, Metro 3 Sentier
Open Monday-Friday 8:30- 16:30, Saturday and Sunday 9:30- 17:30
Gregory Marchand, Chef and Owner at the entrance to Rue du Nil
Sebbie Kenyon, Sous Chef, preparing the seasonal soup
Ben Roussel, Frenchie To Go Manager
Camille Malmquist, Pastry Chef
Francois Roche, Sous Chef at Frenchie Bar a Vins
Reuben’s Sandwich, Pastrami on Rye
7 Rue du Nil, Paris, Metro 3 Sentier
Open Monday-Friday 10:00-16:00
Samuel Nahon and Alexandre Drouard, Owners, at the entrance to the fish shop
10 Rue du Nil, Paris, Metro 3 Sentier
Open Tuesday- Friday 12:30-19:30, Saturday 10:00-19:00
Hippolyte Courty, Owner, at the entrance to his store