Bastille Day Festival

There is always something fun or exciting happening in this great city. Last month in July, we went to Bastille Day celebration right by Central Park, and their Champagne and Chocolate Tasting. We were so excited to go since we haven’t been to Bastille Day celebration in NYC before. Bastille Day, also known as French National Day, is a holiday celebrating the beginning of the French Revolution and the Storming of the Bastille.

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Since this festivities goes from 5th avenue to Lexington – three avenue blocks long – it was quite a large event! Lots of people came out to see the offerings and events, and with the whether cooperating, it certainly was a big success.

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Anyone and everyone who loved France, French food, or anything French came out to celebrate. Starting with bakeries with French bread and croissants…

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And all sorts of beautiful, delicious sweets…

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Some samples from Maille, a boutique mustard shop (http://www.foodlovergirl.com/boutique-maille-new-york/), which was pretty nice. And stone-looking chocolate-covered nuts or marshmallows…

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And more sweets like eclairs and canelé… 

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Lots and lots of macarons,  some really large, some looked like jewels, and most impressive was a macaron tower in the French flag colors.

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We can’t forget about their delicate crepes with all sorts of filings!

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And more sweets, fruit tarts, etc…

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And more baked goods, and also, some French grocery items which I thought was creative and awesome addition to other tables offering bread and sweets. Since it was crowded, I didn’t really get to see everything they were selling, but from what I could see, they had olives, Dijon mustard, vinegar, Rillettes, chips, and some sort of drinks. They also had some restaurants selling actual food, like sandwiches, so more than just baked goods and sweets are available at this festivity.

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And they also had other cute little French-themed knickknacks alongside travel information desk that had some brochures and city guide of Paris.

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We also spotted cute little purses with French words or something relating to France. They were all very adorable.

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And of course, they had more that just vendors’ tents, they also had music and dance performance through out the day, and since it was held on the Euro Cup final, they had outdoor and indoor viewing of the game. A French Pantomime was walking around, and she was kind enough to pose for a photo with me. I don’t think I have ever seen a pantomime who was so beautiful!

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After browsing all the excitement outside, we went over to the Champagne and Chocolate Tasting which was held at Le Skyroom in FIAF (French Institute Alliance Française) building. Here, we got to taste six kinds of top French champagnes, and European chocolates from four vendors. They also had hors d’oeuvres from Maman, and access to an indoor Euro Soccer Final viewing room.

Here are the champagnes we got to taste. #1: Carte d’Or from Drappier – 80% of the blend is Pinot Noir, with nice aromas of the grape. A red grape producing white juice, it is sought after not only for its structure but also for its very characteristic fine notes of red fruits. Nice and bubbly, refreshing start to the fun tasting. #2: Brut from Piper-Heidsieck – classic, structured, full-bodied and bursting with fruit. Just like most other Brut, the blend is composed of a majority of Pinots Noirs. It finishes with flavor of citrus and grapefruit. Very refreshing for a hot Summer day. #3: Brut Rosé from Brimoncourt – Pinot Noir makes up 40% of the blend, Chardonnay 35% and Pinot Meunier the remaining 25%. Great aroma of citrus mixed with flowers, with flavors of melon and raspberry. Bold and full-bodied, and had smooth flavor with spice. Had more reddish color than pink, which was interesting.

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#4: Cuvée Niña from La Caravelle – A blend of 40% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 30% Pinot Meunier. It had an elegant floral nose and notes of yuzu, white peaches and gingerbread. It was spicy but refreshing, lots of bubbles. I can see this one would go nicely with Asian dishes. #5: Brut Rosé from Billecart-Salmon – It had fine bubbles rising slowly, which made it look extra elegant. Pale salmon pink in color. Delicate red fruit and zest of citrus fruits on the palate, elegant, and great finesse. I preferred this Brut Rosé to the other one, since it had a bit more sweetness to it. We almost bought a bottle, if we didn’t have several bottles of (other kinds of) champagnes at home already. #6: Grand Cordon from G.H. Mumm – they just re-designed the bottles, and it has no label. Instead, they have this striking red ribbon directly laser cut into the bottle. The champagne was in beautiful gold color, with aromas of fresh fruits and tropical notes, with hint of vanilla and caramel. It was exquisite to say the least.

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Let’s not forget the yummy chocolates we got to have with the champagne. #1: Maison du Chocolat – Dark, Sake, Whiskey and Cognack Truffles. We were allowed to taste two truffles, and between the two of us, we got to taste them all. I am not sure if it was over powered by the champagne, but I didn’t really taste much of the liqueur… It was still delicate, soft, smooth, and the chocolate flavor was very nice.

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#2: Neuhaus – I have been a fan of Neuhaus since I visit Belgium several years ago. They had one kind of chocolate for us to taste, but it was so good! Delicate and light, smooth and velvety… A little bite of chocolate heaven.

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#3: Valrhona – They had little bean-shaped chocolates of all sorts, containing different percentage of cocoa. This was interesting, and I got to taste all six kinds. They were high quality and great, strong cocoa flavor.

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#4: Last but not least, MarieBelle – I was kind of surprised to see MarieBelle here, as I never thought of them as “European” chocolate. From what I know, it started in NYC, and the founder/chef is not European… Regardless, I always liked their cute chocolates, and I was ready to try some of there samples. They had Champagne and Dark Chocolate Truffles, and Passion Fruit and Wild Berry Ganaches. They were all very tasty as ever. This was the first time I tried their truffles, and they were pretty good.

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And the hors d’oeuvres from Maman were pretty great also. They had roasted red pepper & goat cheese focaccia, mini ratatouille & goat cheese quiche, mini Parisian ham & Comté cheese quiche, and pigs in a blanket. I have been wanting to visit Maman, so this event provided me with the opportunity to taste some of their food, which was great! Everything I tried were all very tasty, high quality and created with care. It was also helpful to have some real, solid food in the stomach with 6 glasses of champagne!

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As you can imagine, we had an amazing time here at the tasting!!! We might need to do this again next year…

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Outside was still vibrant and energetic. We saw a band lead by dance performers walk through the street before we left. What a fantastic event it was, we would be sure to return next year!

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Thank you to all the organizers and vendors for a super fun day, filled with entertainment, champagne and chocolates! The lesson learned from this year: go to the event hungry, as they have enormous amount of food available. If you want to get all sorts of French sweets/food from many different restaurants and stores from all over NYC, just go to this event next year, you will be sure to find everything you desire in one spot!

Bastille Day Festival – 60th Street between Lexington Avenue and Fifth Avenue

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