Organic Wine-making in Bordeaux, France

We had an awesome experience living on an organic vineyard in Bordeaux, France for 2 weeks! We were in a small town just outside the city center called St. Michel de Montaigne. We learned first hand the full process of turning organic grapes into what the French call “Bio” wine (short for biologique wine, which means organic wine). We did everything from picking the grapes from the vineyard to prepping the machinery that the grapes would be processed in and then ticketing the bottles. It was the hardest physical work we’ve done, but it was incredibly rewarding!

Please read on to discover how to make organic wine:

Stage 1:  Harvesting

The vines are planted 3 years in advance as it takes this long for the vines to mature and bear fruit. At that point, harvest season begins in September and ends in October. When picking the grapes, you use a tool called secateurs to cut the grapes from the main branch on the vine.

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Stage 2: De-stemming 

Deposit the grapes into the grape crusher and de-stemmer, which is a machine that removes the grapes from the stems as well as helps to loosen the skins of the grapes for the juice to come out. Please see video below:

Stage 3: Primary Fermentation 

After the grapes go through this process, they are put into a large VAT. This is where they begin the fermentation process. Twice a day, you must check the temperatures within the VAT as well as re-distribute the juice within the tank in order to help the fermentation process along.

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Front Machine: Grape Press /  Back Machine: Large Vat

Stage 4: Pressing

After the grapes have fermented in the VAT (about 6 weeks), you must move them into the presser. This is a machine that uses pressure to squeeze all the grapes so that the juices are all released before being bottled.

Stage 5: Secondary Fermentation / Bottling

The fermented grape juice is bottled and labelled. It will further ferment in the bottle until they are ready to be sold.

**The 5 steps above are just one way of processing wine. There can be more steps in the process especially if the facility is larger scale and/or non-organic.** 

We hope this post gave you an introductory understanding of how wine is produced.

Have you made wine before? If yes, did you have more or less steps in your process? Please let us know in the comments below! 🙂

Travel Wide. Eat Well. Live Your Passion.

Sarah + Monty

The Cutest Fairytale Town in France (A Photo Blog)

We think we found the cutest fairytale town in France called Bergerac. It is 2 hours outside of Bordeaux by train. It is filled with picturesque cobblestone streets and beautifully decorated buildings surrounded by greenery and the nearby Dordonge river. It was once a thriving Medieval town and now serves as one of the wine capitals of southwest France. We spent the day exploring the town and trying the wines.

Please see our photos below.

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We hope you enjoyed these photos and that they inspire you to discover a town that you’ve never been before!

Travel Wide. Eat Well. Live Your Passion.

Sarah + Monty

A Taste of Bordeaux

Bordeaux is known worldwide for its great tasting wine. Fortunately, we were able to spend a significant amount of time in the region to learn that it offers so much more! We fell in love with its beautifully preserved 18th century architecture, less-trafficked, walkable neighborhoods, diverse culture, and its abundant food scene.

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In this post, we are going to focus on the Bordeaux food scene showing you everything from where you should grab your morning croissant to where to experience modern and delicious French cuisine all in one day! Please read on.

Breakfast @ Paul 

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Image from paul.fr
  • Location: 33 Rue Saint-Catherine (This location has outdoor seating)
  • Price: $
  • Favorite Meal(s): Croissant with Hot Chocolate
  • Highlights:  Start your morning at the popular chain, Paul, for some of the fluffiest croissants and most velvety cup of hot chocolate. Paul is located all over the city, but we dined at the location in  the city center.

Lunch @ La Salle

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  • Location: 18 Rue Saint- Joseph
  • Price: $
  • Favorite Meal(s): Roast Beef with carmelized onions and roasted potatoes
  • Highlights: Get ready for a local experience at La Salle featuring a minimal eclectic décor with home-style hospitality making you feel like you are in the chef’s living room. The menu changes daily and is hand-written on chalk-board adding to the restaurant’s charm.

#FITip: This restaurant is only open for lunch: Mon – Fri from 12 – 2:30pm !

Afternoon Organic Wine Tasting @ Cousin et Compagnie 

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  • Location: 2 Rue de Pas – Saint Georges
  • Price: $ – $$$
  • Favorite Drink(s): Vintage Devin (produced by owner of shop)
  • Highlights: What is special about this wine shop is the large assortment of organic wines covering the walls from floor to sealing. It’s a busy atmosphere, but the sommeliers are happy to help you navigate their collection.

Dinner @ Le Troquet 

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  • Location: 18 Rue Fernand Philippart
  • Price: $$
  • Favorite Meal(s):  Salmon and Gnocchi and Grilled Beef with Sweet Potato Chips & Corn Salsa
  • Highlights: If you enjoy the wines at Cousin et Compagnie, then you will love the way they are paired with the menu items at this restaurant. Le Troquet is an intimate spot located just outside Place du Parliament featuring a rustic-farmhouse interior with colorful, modern plating. This is the perfect dinner spot after experiencing the beautiful streets of Bordeaux.

Travel Wide. Eat Well. Live Your Passion. 

Sarah + Monty

Beer & Architecture in Minnesota

Monty’s work as an Architectural Designer brought him out to Warroad, Minnesota. It is a small city to the north of Minneapolis and 6 miles from the Canadian border. Warroad is home to the famed Marvin Windows Factory. They produce a majority of the windows in the United States and also own “The Shed”. The Shed is a collection of truly badass vintage cars; from the Model T Ford to the 1967 Ford Mustang seen in the movie, “Gone in 60 Seconds”.

After touring Warroad, we had a day to ourselves to explore the city of Minneapolis. Please see below for some of the highlights on where to eat and where to play.

#FITip: Carry love in your heart as you move through life on your own terms.

Where to Eat

Minnesota is notoriously cold with winter temperatures frequently going below 0 degrees Fahrenheit and for this reason many commercial buildings are connected to each other via enclosed bridges called “skyways”.  Minneapolis is known as the city of skyways. In certain spots, it is possible to traverse the city without ever having to step outside. To get a better understanding of what we mean, picture this: you leave your start-up office to go shopping at the nearest mall. After your shopping spree, you meet up with a friend at a local café. After coffee or tea, you head to your box seats at Target Center to watch a Minnesota Twins game. It’s possible to do all of this without ever feeling the chill of Minnesota’s below 0 degree winters.

If you are going to venture outside to grab a drink, you should take a taxi to The Surly Brewing Co.

The Surly Brewing Co.

  • Location: Minneapolis
  • Highlights: It is a beer hall and restaurant, which boasts 20 Surly beers and an amazing atmosphere. There is an indoor/outdoor beerhall surrounded by aluminum clad fermentation tanks.
  • Favorite Drink: Our recommendation would be to try the Surly beer called Furious. It is a refreshing and citrus flavored beer with caramel undertones.
  • Price: $$

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Where to Play

The University of Minnesota

  • Location: Minneapolis
  • Highlights: After your drink, you can take in the architectural sites of The University of Minnesota. The university houses Romanesque-styled buildings as well as the campus museum designed by the famed architect Frank Gehry. The museum’s exterior is clad in Gehry’s iconic style. The building’s shape mimics the movement of a waterfall. It is a must-see on your trip.
  • Price: Entry is free
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Romanesque-styled Building 
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More of the Weisman Art Museum

The Guthrie Theater

  • Location: Minneapolis
  • Highlights: The Guthrie Theatre is designed by the French architect  Jean Nouvelle. The building’s iconic round shape is clad with navy blue metal panels and features a cantilevered observation deck, which looks out to the great Mississippi River. It’s the city’s home for Arts and Theatre.
  • Price: $$
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                       Guthrie Theatre designed by Jean Nouvelle (Doesn’t it look like a film reel?)

Have you been to Minnesota? If not, will you be planning a trip soon? Please let us know in the comments below!

Travel Wide. Eat Well. Live Your Passion.

Sarah+Monty

3 Cafes You Must Try in Detroit

Today we are breaking down our top 3 cafes in Detroit, MI. Detroit is a historical and innovative city that was once the hub for modern industry in the United States. Since it’s hay-day the city has fallen on hard times, but has seen a resurgence in recent years through its food and real-estate scenes. We love this city for its young and energetic vibe, thriving arts scene, and farm-to-table foodie culture.

Please see below for our list of cafes serving up the best bites and coffee in different neighborhoods throughout Detroit:

Roasting Plant

  • Location: Downtown Detroit
  • Price: $$
  • Favorite Drink(s): Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
  • Highlights: An engineer turned coffee connaisseur from NY innovated the coffee pods that house the various international beans decorating this coffee shop. It’s a great meet- up spot, close to the waterfront, and to downtown attractions.

Red Hook

  • Location: West Village
  • Price: $$
  • Favorite Drink (s): Tumeric Latte with Coconut Milk
  • Highlights: This is a great place to grab coffee/ tea. It has both indoor and outdoor seating with just enough space for small group meet-ups.

Folk

  • Location: Corktown
  • Price: $$
  • Favorite Dish(es): Breakfast Quiche and Hash Plate
  • Highlights: All dishes are made with ingredients from local Michigan farmers. It’s a great casual brunch spot with outdoor seating.

Have you been to Detroit? Let us know your recommendations in the comments below!

Travel Wide. Eat Well. Live Your Passion.

Sarah + Monty

Why the Island of Sifnos Should Be Your Next Greek Escape

If you are looking for a Greek island of peace and tranquility, rich in art, and filled with rustic Greek cuisine then look no further than Sifnos. Sifnos is a small island located in the Mediterranean just west of the island of Paros and East of the island of Milos. The island is covered with lush green mountainous landscapes that afford views over the homes, farms, and vineyards of the scenic island. Sifnos is known for its colorful ceramics sold by local potters who produce the work and display it in their shop windows in the Port of Kamares. Please read on for more details on where to stay, eat, and play.

#FITip: Pause and recharge.

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Port of Kamares

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Where To Stay

Airbnb

  • Location: Kamares
  • Highlights: This was a simple Airbnb studio with some of the most breathtaking views of the mountains. It provided us a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the Port of Kamares. Our host Dina stocked the room with fresh towels, bottles of water, and freshly baked cookies.
  • Price: $

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Where to Eat

Meropi

  • Location: Kamares
  • Highlights: They serve tasty rustic-styled cuisine featuring traditional Greek meals. 
  • Favorite Dish(es): Baked Lamb and French Fries 
  • Price: $

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Where to Play 

Sight-seeing in Apollonia

  • Location: Apollonia
  • Highlights: This is a great place to explore architecture, but more importantly local life. This is also where you will see all the beautiful views.
  • Price: Free to explore, but the bus ride to get to Apollonia is a few euros
  • Tip: Don’t be afraid to get lost because you will happen upon beautiful sights

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Pottery-making 

  • Location: Kamares
  • Highlights: The potter, our instructor, was welcoming and more than happy to show us how to make pottery on his wheel.
  • Price: Free
  • Tip: Go to the pottery shop earlier in the day and ask the potter for a lesson
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This is the shop where we learned how to make pottery!

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Sifnos House Spa

  • Location: Kamares
  • Highlights: This was such a relaxing oasis within an oasis, which was nearby our Airbnb. They offer a range of services. We opted for the Turkish bath and jacuzzi experience, which we highly recommend.
  • Price: $$$
  • Tip: You must make a reservation prior to experiencing the spa.

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Have you been to Sifnos? Let us know in the comments below!

Travel Wide. Eat Well. Live Your Passion.

Sarah + Monty

Our Favorite Island in the Cyclades: Milos, Greece

Ohhh Milos! How we love thee so much! lol Our trip to Milos was one for the books as we really felt this island pulling on our heart strings. We chose Milos for a few reasons. Mainly, for its incredible landscapes. Milos is known for its sculptural rock formations that adorn the island, which captivated us and left us in awe. We also planned to come to Milos because of its affordability as it is less crowded than its more visited counterparts Mykonos and Santorini. We stayed for 3 days and quickly realized that we had to come back! We think we might have found our favorite island of the Cyclades. Check out our post below on where we stayed, ate, and played.

#FITip: Everything you want is on the other side of fear. 

Where to Stay

Olea Bay Hotel

  • Location: Adamas, Milos
  • Highlights: This boutique hotel offered a comfortable stay with its minimalist modern design and outdoor pool. It is located conveniently near the Adamas port where there are many restaurants as well as offices to book your boat tours and excursions. Also, one of our favorite restaurants was in walking distance of this hotel. It’s called Ohamus. Please read on for more info. on the restaurant.
  • Price: $$

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Where to Eat

Oximus pronounced “Ohamus”

  • Location: Adamas, Milos
  • Highlights: The staff is friendly and the food is delicious. You have a choice to sit inside or on the beach. They use local ingredients in all of their dishes.
  • Favorite Dish(es): Eggplant with Ground Lamb and the Greek Salad with local cheese and bread
  • Price: $$

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Archontoula

  • Location: Plaka, Milos
  • Highlights: This restaurant is spacious and serves rustic-styled dishes. In addition to the Greek traditional dishes, they also have a large selection of vegetarian meals from which to choose.
  • Favorite Dish(es) : Kritamokeftedes (Fried Zucchini Balls!!!) and the Lamb Stew
  • Price: $$

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Where to Play

Sarakiniko Beach

  • Location: Sarakiniko
  • Highlights: This was our favorite place on earth thus far! We were really moved by the views, the white volcanic rocks, and the grove! It was only a 15 minute drive from the hotel. Some people describe their experience here as feeling as if they are on the moon.
  • Price: Entry is free
  • Tip: Visit this beach before 12pm or after 3pm as the sun’s intensity is to extreme from 12-3pm!

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Plaka Village

  • Location: Plaka
  • Highlights: This is the capital of Milos. It is a charming village, which features local shops, restaurants, and the best views of Milos! We climbed to the highest point on the island called Kastro, which has 360 degrees of breathtaking views! It is worth the climb!
  • Price: Entry is free
  • Tip: Bring water and comfortable pair of sneakers for the hike up the mountain!

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Have you been to Milos? What was your favorite part of the island? Let us know in the comments below!
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Travel Wide. Eat Well. Live Your Passion.

Sarah + Monty

Chasing Sun: Your Guide to a Winter Getaway in Martinique

Chasing Sun: Your Guide to a Winter Getaway in Martinique 

 

Every year we make it a point to escape the New York winter by booking a getaway to somewhere warm. Typically we go in January and make it a celebratory trip to usher in the New Year. This year we decided to go back to Martinique, which is a place we fell in love with last winter when we visited for the first time. Martinique is an island located in the French Caribbean. The official language is French and they use the Euro as it is an overseas region of France.

Our 2 trips to Martinique have inspired us to create this post. Please see below for Your Guide to a Winter Getaway in Martinique.

#FITip: Continue to invest in your craft and see how life falls into place.

Getting There

For our winter getaways we typically book the summer before the winter season to ensure we get the best deals. Norwegian is our airline of choice to Martinique because they offer direct round-trip flights from JFK for less than $200. Norwegian is a budget airline so expect to pay for all the extras i.e., checked baggage, seat assignments, and snacks. In order to minimize costs, you must pack effectively. Norwegians base fare ticket allows for one carry piece of luggage. However with carry-on luggage you are limited in how much liquid you can bring on board (typically up to 3oz per bottle.) Our 3oz travel bottles of choice are these .When it comes to packing our 3 oz essentials, Muji’s hanging toiletry case is our go to for keeping these items neat and ready-to-go!

 

 

Where to Stay

On our stays were different for each of the trips. On our first trip, we traveled with friends so we stayed in an AirBnB in the town of Le Robert. The accommodation was suitable for 4 people and had amazing views of the ocean. Le Robert is located on the eastern side of the island about a 30 minute drive from the airport and capital city in Forte de France. The location of our AirBnB although it was beautiful, it was in an isolated area. You had to have a car to grocery shop, go into town, and get around to the local attractions. We recommend staying in Le Robert if you plan to rent a car.

On our most recent trip we decided to stay in Le Vauclin at Le Village de la Pointe resort. We chose this location because we wanted it to be a slower and more relaxed holiday. Le Vauclin is located on the south eastern portion of the island and close to the beach where you can take advantage of the popular water sports such as Kite Surfing and Wind Surfing. It is also in walking distance to the downtown area where the local markets, restaurants, and grocery stores are open daily for a few hours. It is best to go to the city in the morning because most places close in the early afternoon.

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Le Vauclin

Where to Play

Yole Boating in St. Luce

A unique experience we took part in was Yole Boating in St. Luce, which is located on the southern portion of the island. The Yole Boat is a traditional vessel used to go fishing. In more modern times, it has evolved to become a boat that is used in one of the leading sports in Martinique. Our experience was intense. We had to assemble the yole boat and push the boat into the water. Once the sail was raised, we were seated on the ledge of the boat based on our weight to prevent the boat from tipping over. We spent 2 hours sailing and we were filled with mixed emotions: excitement and fear just to name a few. It was an incredible experience that we cannot compare to any other boating experience. I would suggest looking up Yole Boating on YouTube to better understand.

 

Beaches

Martinique has incredible beaches. There are white sand beaches and black sand beaches. We have only been to the white sand beaches as they are located on the eastern side of the island where we have been staying. Each of the beaches has something different to offer, but they all have beautiful water and views to experience.

The most popular beaches are in Trois-Ilets, which offer beautiful views and are located close to many of the tourist hotels and restaurants.

The beach at Le Vauclin was really relaxing. The shallow waters and high winds provided optimal conditions for kite and wind surfing, which are the popular attractions for this area. Please see our pictures below.

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Le Vauclin

Where to Eat

In Vauclin, Le Toucan was our go-to place for traditional Martiniquais cuisine. The all-inclusive lunch menu featured the traditional appetizer called accras, which are balls of dough filled with fish and traditional drinks such as the Planteur, a rum cocktail made with pineapple and guava juices. The staff was super friendly and it was located steps away from the beach and our resort.

Our most memorable food experience was our cooking class with Prisca at La Mauny Distillery. Prisca is a local Martiniquaise chef with a vibrant personality and has a wealth of knowledge about Martiniquaise cuisine. We spent hours cooking with her and didn’t even realize because we were having so much fun learning with her. We made the traditional Colombo chicken meal while tasting the different rum cocktails using the rum from La Mauny Distillery. In order to cook with Prisca, you can book her course through her website at www.macreolecuisine.fr

Le Toucan Restaurant

Accras @ Le Toucan

Cooking with Prisca

Colombo Chicken

Have you been to Martinique? If so, please share your go-to places in the comments section below! Also check out our Instagram stories for more of our complete trip @foodinspirationtravel

Travel Wide. Eat Well. Live Your Passion.

Sarah + Monty

Cafes, Bars, and Brunches…Oh My! Our Guide to Dining in Washington D.C.

A little while back, we celebrated Monty’s birthday weekend in Washington, DC.

A little while back, we celebrated Monty’s birthday weekend in Washington, DC. We also came to visit the newly opened National Museum of African American History Continue reading “Cafes, Bars, and Brunches…Oh My! Our Guide to Dining in Washington D.C.”