Notre Dame de Paris: A Tribute Video

Notre Dame de Paris. The famous cathedral in Paris, France was severely damaged a few days ago by fire.

While fire raged in the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, I thought of how many times I had enjoyed visiting it during my travels to Paris.

Here is a tribute video using video footage taken during a 2010 trip to Paris and photographs taken in 2001 and 2015.

Music by Ilya Marfin from Fugue.

Why Anthony Bourdain was Able to Travel the World.

It was a sucker punch to wake up to the news.  Anthony Bourdain had taken his own life at 61.  I was hardly alone in this feeling. As the weekend progressed, my social media accounts swarmed with painful memories and the darkest shock. 

As a person whose career in the wine business has floated near - and often overlapped - the travel and food industries, Bourdain loomed very large in my life.  Like so many others, I enjoyed the hours of travel and food television with a mixture of delight and envy.  "Anthony Bourdain has the best job in the world" was a common refrain for chefs, travelers, bloggers, and the wine industry.

The manner of his passing has brutally reminded all of us an important spiritual lesson.  Travel cannot save you.  Nor can fame.  Nor wealth.  Nor celebrity.  Nor a "Dream Job."  The greatest meals in the most exotic locations do not fill the hole in the human soul.

Beyond the spiritual lesson, which will be accepted by some and hated by others, there is an important business lesson than cannot be overlooked.

Anthony Bourdain got to have a career that many of us only dream of, because he was able to provide value to others.  For first the Travel Channel and then CNN, Bourdain drew an audience that could be sold to advertisers for large amounts of money.  This is a thing that has been progressively difficult in the information explosion of the internet.  And Bourdain was very good at it.

If we have envy of Anthony Bourdain's career - exotic world travel, fabulous meals, incredible fame - there is value in casting aside the curtain and understanding the business framework that made it possible.

But perhaps, the end of this story should make us reflect a moment and consider what such things can really offer to us.

Tasting the 'Poultry Grail.' Le Poulet de Bresse at Le Coq Rico in Paris

Can a simple roast chicken be an “object of desire?”  Does the Appellation Controllee system in France mean as much for food as it does for wine?  On a blustery Parisian afternoon, at the ultra-modern Le Coq Rico, the answer became a resounding “YES!”  The restaurant was Le Coq Rico and the chicken was Le Poulet de Bresse A.O.P.

But first, a little history.  If you have basic familiarity with french wines, you’ve probably come across the Appellation Controllee system.  This series of governmental regulations codifies the regional specifications for wine.  Grape varieties, boundaries, processes, and often blends are all strictly controlled.  Technically, it only regulates the place of a wine, but it works as a reasonable indicator of basic quality.  Example: An area that is given specific Grand Cru designation will also have more rigorous production standards and thus higher average quality.

For a special kind of francophile, the discovery that the Appellation system is applied to food products, launches a kind of ‘food quest.’  I am unabashedly that kind francophile.  Le Poulet de Bresse (Chicken of Bresse) had become kind of a Poultry Grail quest. Learn about the Bresse Chicken.

The quest ended at Le Coq Rico which is located just two blocks west of the tourist center of Montmartre at 98 Rue Lepic, 75018 Paris.  Their slogan is Le Bistrot des Belles Volailles (The Bistro of Beauty Poultry).  And that is not false advertising!

*Unknown to me at the time was that Le Coq Rico was a restaurant by Antoine Westermann, a chef with Three Michelin Stars (!) who opted to give them back in 2007.  

We arrived soaked from an unseasonably rainy and windy September day and stepped into the ultra modern decor.  In Paris, anything modern is a minor shock, but immediately our noses told us that we were in for something special.  Over in the open kitchen, whole chickens (and a couple ducks) rotated slowly.  Their fat dripped deliciously down onto roasting potatoes.  The aromas filled the room like an aromatic fog.

Without reservations for lunch, we took a seat at the bar.  It was quite warm as we faced the slowly roasting chicken, but that was an incredible experience watching bird and bird leave for other tables.  The entire staff moved with a seriousness and precision that was impressive.

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While our entire Poulet de Bresse was slow roasting for forty minutes, we shared a few entrees.  Pan-fried poultry livers & hearts, fried wings, spiced Cromesquis and Pan-fried duck foie gras with poppy seeds, grapes & nuts.

They were delicious as expected but nothing compared the Poulet de Bresse.  I’d expect a chicken as good as the best I’ve had before, but this was in another galaxy.  There was never a chicken that was so tender and so intensely flavorful.  Even an exceptional bottle of Burgundy was no match for the flavors of this incredible bird.

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We were stuffed like a goose destined for foie gras.  The richness of the entire chicken might have been a better option for four or five people.

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Paris doesn’t lack for incredible restaurants, but Le Coq Rico has secured a place at the top of my must-visit list.  I’d even fall back on an old cliche. “You haven’t really tasted chicken, until your had Le Poulet de Bresse at Le Coq Rico in Paris.”

Photo Credit: David Harper

Photo Credit: David Harper

  • Le Coq Rico
  • 98 Rue Lepic, 75018 Paris
  • Telephone : +33 1 42 59 82 89

35 Moments in Panama City. An Olympus Trip 35 Video

Talk about hybrid workflow.  In the 21st century, images captured on 35mm film and be scanned into the computer and turned into a music presentation that both resembles and transformed the dreaded vacation slideshow.

This video contains 35 images of Panama City, Panama taken in April 2013.  We visit the 'old town' area of Casco Viejo, which is undergoing rapid restoration while still retaining a rough vibe.  I also engage in some Street Photography (or Social Documentary Photography) taking candid moments of the people in Panama City.

The camera was the Olympus Trip 35.  This was the most successful camera ever made with 10,000,000 units created with essential no change to its design.  Selenium-cell metering that requires no batteries.  A hard metal camera that just does the job well.

The black and white film was 35mm Polypan F 50 - a european 'cinecopy' flm with no anti-halation layer.  It creates beautiful blooming highlights.

The color film in Kodak Portra 400 - one of the most modern sophisticated 35mm films with a gentle color palate.