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Traditional Apple Frangipane Flan

Featured Recipes


Les Frères Pourcel, Le Jardin des Sens

A design hotel and gourmet restaurant in Montpellier, Le Jardin des Sens is the property of twin brothers Jacques and Laurent Pourcel who are both acclaimed chefs. They found the abandoned house in the center of Montpellier when they were only 24 years old and transformed it into a gastronomic paradise and a temple of the senses filled with flowers and a bountiful garden. 
Their cuisine is rooted in the flavors of the Languedoc and the Mediterranean but is also influenced by the flavors of Italy, Greece, Morocco, and other countries near the border of the Mediterranean. Simple and subtle yet creative and surprising, the brothers use the basic Mediterranean ingredients of olive oil, tomatoes, and herbs to create a wide array of dishes that are mostly light, always fresh, and delicious. The cuisine is based on top quality produce and the local terroir.    
The décor of the hotel is contemporary with modern art and sculptures expressing true art de vivre that is the philosophy of good living in the French Mediterranean. Interior designer Bruno Borrione created an elegant yet very relaxed and welcoming place that delight all of the senses.   
Le Jardin des Sens is only a short ten-minute walk for the town centre. It has a private bar and gourmet restaurant in a dining room with glass walls where guests can look out to the garden. On the occasion of favorable weather, guests can dine outside on the terrace for a spectacular ambiance. All the guest rooms in the hotel are air-conditioned and equipped with free wireless Internet access, mini-bars, and television. Possible activities while staying in Le Jardin des Sens include swimming, mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, sailing, fishing, diving, water-skiing, polo, and golf. The Mediterranean coast is only a 15-minute drive away and Nimes is a 35-minute drive.
Les Frères Pourcel, Le Jardin des Sens
Saint Paul de Vence, France

A medieval French hilltop village in between two deep valleys, Saint Paul de Vence is filled with quaint old houses, art galleries, boutiques, narrow winding streets, stone walls covered in vines, romantic fountains, majestic statues, cobblestones, and sidewalk cafes. Undeniably spectacular views of the mountain and the sea make this a top destination. 
Because of its captivating beauty and laid-back atmosphere, an average of 2.5 million tourists visit the village every year so it is not exactly the place to go if you desire peace and quiet. It is also not the easiest place to get to since it is not accessible by rail. You can either go there by car or by bus from the major Riviera cities. Still, the trip is worth it for the stroll within the ramparts alone, allowing yourself the pleasure of simply "hanging out" with the locals.  
Two of the best places to dine at Sain Paul de Vence is at the Le Colombe dâOr at the Place du General-de-Gaulle, or at Mas dâArtigny at Route de La Colle. La Colombe is where the stars eat and stay and where artworks by Picasso, Léger, Miró, and Roualt are displayed and can be viewed. Matisse, Picasso, and many other modern painters used to stay at the hotel and paid their bills with paintings. Mas dâ Artigny is off the beaten track located in the countryside in the middle of the forest.   
Long a haven for the famous, Saint-Paul de Vence was a favorite destination of French actors in the 1960s including Simone Signoret, Yves Montand, and Lino Ventura. The poet Jacques Prevert also frequented the place. It was also home to Russian born painter Marc Chagall who is buried in the Saint-Paul-de-Vence cemetery. To get to his grave, which is a simple white tomb, take the first right from the entrance and then take the next left.
Saint Paul de Vence, France
Villa San Michele, Florence

Near the village of Fiesole beautifully situated on a hillside, Villa San Michele is a romantic hotel and top gourmet restaurant that offers sweepingly dramatic views of the Arno Valley and historic Florence. The wonderful thing about Villa San Michele is that guests can enjoy the peace and tranquility in solitude yet the hotel is only 8 kilometers from Florence and is in close proximity to many notable sites and attractions.  The hotel offers guests daily transportation to and from central Florence via shuttle bus. 
A former 15th century Franciscan monastery, the façade of Villa San Michele was designed by no less than Michelangelo. The property was designated a monument by the Italian national trust. Antique furnishings, ancient carvings, and frescoes provide a renaissance experience in the 21 guest rooms and 25 suites. Many of the rooms offer views of the Arno valley and Florence. Some include a Jacuzzi bath and private terraces. All the rooms are equipped with air conditioning, color satellite TV, mini-bar, in-room movies, towel warmer, and hair dryer. 
The hotel opened in 1950 and since then became a favorite retreat of travelers who wish to get away from busy Florence. Surrounded by formal Italian gardens, woodland and the Chianti hills studded with cypress, Villa San Michele is a work of art itself. 
The award-winning fine dining restaurant, Loggia, serves traditional Tuscan cuisine and superb selection of wines in a spectacular al fresco setting with views of the Arno valley. The hotel also has Cloister and Canacolo dining rooms and offers cultural and gastronomic programs with tours of the Chianti countryside. Other features of the hotel include an outdoor panoramic pool that is open seasonally and has a pool restaurant, business services, banquet and meeting rooms, exercise room, cookery school, and a bar and lounge. Services include room service, concierge, massage, laundry and dry cleaning, secretarial services, and multilingual staff.
Villa San Michele, Florence
Johann Lafer's Stromburg

A luxurious castle transformed into an elegant hotel and gastronomic restaurant, Stromburg Castle looks out to the village of Stromberg in the Binger Wald (Bingen Forest) in Germany. Johan Lafer, owner and Chef of Stromburg is one of the most celebrated and famous chefs in Germany, pioneering cooking shows long before they were trendy. Besides a gourmet restaurant, there is also a less formal Bistro dâOr that serves scrumptious regional dishes and a wine list featuring top Nahe wines, Old world wines, New world wines, and an exceptional collection from Burgundy and Bordeaux.
Born in Graz, Styria, Austria, Chef Johann Lafer is an Austrian Chef based in Germany. He became a celebrity chef through his televised cooking show, most of which were self-produced at the Stromburg castle. He also wrote numerous cookbooks and is a regular guest of the television host Markus Lanz wherein he prepares meals in front of an audience on a regular basis. Stromburg castle is also the home of Johann Lafer together with his wife Silvia and their two children.       
A highly acclaimed chef, Johann Lafer was named âChef of the Yearâ in 1997 by the prestigious Gault and Millau Guide. In 2006, the Michelin Guide awarded him a star. Aside from running his own shows, writing his own cook books, and operating a hotel and restaurant, Chef Lafer also runs a cooking school and owns three restaurants in Stromberg.   
From a very young age, Chef Johann Lafer was already passionate about cooking and learned to have a high respect for food. In Steiermark where he grew up, most of the food that his family cooked came from their very own farm. To this day, he puts great emphasis on the quality of his products and gives them care and attention in the process of preparing them. After his culinary training in Graz, he decided to go to Germany working in Berlin and then Hamburg with Josef Viehauser at Le Canard. He also worked with Dieter and Jörg Müller and then with Eckart Witzigmann, which left a great impression in him and his cooking philosophy. Later, he worked shortly in Paris with Gaston Lenotre and at the Restaurant Le Val dâOr in Guldental before opening Stromburg with his wife Silvia.
Johann Lafer's Stromburg

Cooking Recipe Videos

There are many ways to improve your cooking skills: reading great cookbooks, taking cooking classes, and good old fashioned practice in the kitchen are traditional methods. But these days, online cooking recipe videos are another excellent resource for aspiring chefs. Here's how to get the most from the cooking videos you encounter.

Find Them

There are lots of cooking recipe videos out there, but not all are created equal. Before you spend time watching any, consider the source. If you want to widen your cooking horizons, videos featuring famous chefs are a must. Such chefs might include television personalities (who may or may not have formal cooking backgrounds), cooking legends (like Julia Child, Graham Kerr, and Wolfgang Puck), or Michelin star-awarded chefs who've impressed the cooking world with their expertise and talent.

Live Demos

Once you find cooking recipe videos by esteemed chefs, you will probably discover you learn the most if you watch the videos more than once. In the first viewing, you'll likely only get the overall picture of what the chef is doing. If you watch the video once or twice more, you may notice and remember details you didn't before.

Bear in mind that you're not just learning how to make a particular recipe. You're also hoping to learn cooking techniques you can rely upon for other dishes. For example, you might see a Michelin chef chop up food in a faster, simpler way than you've ever seen before. Or you might see how a meal is flambéed. Or you might learn a new way to cook meat so it's crisp on the outside and tender and juice on the inside. There is nothing quite like a live demo, to make those techniques stick in your brain and come to life next time you are in the kitchen.

Share it

Although cooking recipe videos are helpful and educational, they're also fun. You can make them even more entertaining by sharing them with friends. What does your best friend think about trying to make a flambéed meal with you? Does she have a funny story to tell about attempting this on her own? Does your work mate drool over gourmet desserts as much as you do? Are you and your friends inspired by a certain video to try a pot luck gourmet party? Let cooking videos be part of you and your friends online entertainment, and you'll have fun while you improve your cooking skills.

Try it Out

After watching cooking recipe videos, it's a great idea to make the recipes in your own kitchen. The best cooking video websites also have printed recipes to go along with their videos. Print one out and give the recipe your best go.

Or, you could just try out one or two techniques you learned by watching a great chef. For example, maybe you've never tried blanching vegetables before. After watching a chef demonstrate this on a video, you can try the technique almost any time you're preparing veggies.