Saturday, April 14, 2012

Images Of Paris

Today is the 100th birthday of famed French photographer Robert Doisneau. To celebrate here are just a few of my favorite images.

  Le Baiser de l”Hotel de Ville~ 1950

 

Monsieur Doisneau is considered to be one of France's (and the world’s) most well loved, talented and prolific photographers. His images showcase everyday, innocent and ironic scenes that feature a glorious Paris as the backdrop.


 

His subjects were mainly the working class and captured moments in time that often featured their pleasurable pursuits. I love the female dancers Cuban heeled stockings and well formed dancing shoes. But it is the title alone that seals my adoration.

Be bop en cave ~ Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris 1951

His photographs often include humorous subjects.

Romi's shop window, 1948

 

Everyone was beautiful to Doisneau.

Chez Gegene, Quai de Polangis, Joinville-le-Pont (La Mariée) 1946

 

Of course he did have his fair share of famous subjects.

Robert Doisneau, Les petits pains de Picasso, 1952

 

To read Doiseneau’s story of his early life is ever inspiring. Sadly his lens stilled in 1994 at the age of 81. But he left behind an amazing catalogue of work. I have shared only a few of my favorites but there are many wonderful books that feature his vast collection of work.

Robert Doisneau aux Tuileries, Paris 1982 -by Marion Kalter

I will close with a heartbreakingly precious portrait. One who knows me well can guess why.

Le Chien a Roulettes, c.1977 Art Print

Le Chien a Roulettes, 1977

Joyeux anniversaire Monsieur Doisneau!

Laura

Friday, April 13, 2012

Are You Ready To Wear Ticking?

Yesterday I was wandering around Anthropologie. I had heard that their coral reef inspired windows were amazing (and they were). While there I noticed an entire wall seemed to have been inspired by the popular decorating trend of using vintage and antique French linen and sheeting.

Like these darling shorts! Wouldn’t they look great with a red top and espadrilles?

 

As is often the case, clothing designers and manufacturers often take their color and style cues from the interior design industry. A current example is the tremendous amount of orange clothing to be found which was no doubt influenced by Pantone’s color of the year, Tangerine Tango. I for one like the white linen trend which is featured beautifully via the Naudine dress.

 

 

As with any trend, just a touch is often enough. The pairing of a red ticking stripe against the cheery floral print found in the Lova skirt is just darling.

 

 

Being a pear shape I don’t really want to add any attention to my own hot pockets, but I enjoy looking at the buoy high waist trousers. I would however scoop up the Honfleur blouse in a hot minute if it was a bit more in my price point.

 

 

The blouse would look fantastic paired with the Brooks mini.

 

 

You can see the entire collection by Koto Bolofo HERE.  It is probably no secret that I love it all!

 

 

Happy shopping,

Laura

 

Fabulous French Fridays

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mastering The Art of Beef Bourguignon

Without the hype, beef bourguignon cooks down to what essentially is a type of beef stew or casserole. Albeit the very best beef stew or casserole you will ever eat.

 

 

Last spring, in Andrea’s cozy kitchen located in the Burgundy region of France, we enjoyed a beautiful lunch of this famous French dish. In truth it was almost a blip on the radar of the many wonderful meals we experienced. Almost. Upon my return to the states I set about trying to find a vintage copy of the cookbook we exclusively used. Yes, I am well aware that Mastering The Art of French Cooking (MTAOFC) is still in print and I could have had a copy on my doorstep the next day with one click of the Amazon button. But I am funny that way. I wanted a vintage copy in good condition to find me. I had to wait six months but there she was in all her Fleur~ de~ lis glory.

 

 

I spent an entire evening immersed in her pages. I found little clippings of recipes and articles from the previous owner along the way. You can’t get delights like that from a new book. I decided that the first recipe I would create would be the classic Beef Bourguignon (Boeuf à la Bourguignonne) found on page 315. (Unlike the masterful Julie Powell I have no lofty expectations that I will ever make every single recipe.) Of course MTAOFC is a grown up cookbook in that it has no photographs. Truthfully, grown up cookbooks such as this and her classic cousin, Joy of Cooking, make me nervous. But as many will tell you, if you can read, you can cook.

The preparation date was set for a Sunday when I would have hours to prepare the dish and a large table of visiting family members who would eat it.  In my haste to begin I did not photograph a “before” photo of the ingredients. Thankfully another blogger had.

In the morning I began to sauté the pearl onions as indicated on page 483 (Oignons Glacés À Brun).

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They then were braised in beef stock. (In the center is a bundle of herbs known as a bouquet garni .)

This portion of the recipe was then set aside.

 

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I then began to sauté mushrooms in butter (Champignons Sautés Au Beurre) as found on page 513.

This portion of the recipe was also set aside.

 

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I then simmered the bacon.

 

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I had a bit of a crisis in that Mrs. Child’s indicated to sauté the bacon in a fireproof casserole dish. No doubt she means something along the lines of this:

 

le-creuset

 

I persevered with my common stainless steel pan and just drained and dried my simmered bacon and added a bit of oil to the pan and proceeded to sauté the bacon.

 

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The bacon was then removed and then the stewing beef was added to the leftover bacon fat and browned on all sides.

 

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The onion and carrots then had a turn. I do not use the tiny baby carrots that come in a bag as they are injected with dye and flavorless. I find all recipes taste better with the old fashioned long, peel it yourself, variety.

 

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All the previous ingredients, and a few more, were then put into a glass casserole dish as that is what I had to work with. It said to cover the dish so I added a sheet of aluminum foil.

 

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Four hours later I have to say that the dish didn’t look all that appetizing. But the glorious smell had men, children and beasts running to my front door for miles around. I transferred it into a pretty dish, and added the onions and mushrooms.

 

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I served the dish with tiny Dutch gold potatoes, hot French bread and a simple field green salad. Dessert was an apple tart with fleur de sel caramel sauce. It was a hearty, rustic meal that was much appreciated by my family.

 

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The next day I had it for lunch and Ooh La La it was even better. But truthfully, given the hour and a half of prep and four hours of cooking time I do not believe that this dish will become a staple in my household. I mastered it though and sometimes that is enough.

Bon Appétit!

Laura

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fête Nationale

Today is Bastille Day, also known as Fête Nationale. The holiday is celebrated all over France as well as several other countries.

The Bastille prison, located in Paris, was once greatly feared for the terror which occurred inside its walls. On July 14, 1789, it became a symbol of French Revolution and freedom.

La Liberté guidant le peuple (Liberty Leading The People) by Eugène Delacroix

The Bastille prison was originally called the Chastel Saint-Antoine. It was built between 1370 and 1383 under King Charles V and King Charles VI to serve as a fortress and protection of the city of Paris against Anglo-Burgundian forces during the Hundred Years' War. The four and 1/2 building was surrounded by its own moat and was located at the eastern main entrance to medieval Paris. It had eight towers which were approximately 77.1 ft. (23.5m) high. There were two courtyards and an armory.

La Bastille dans les prémiers jours de sa demolition (The Bastille Early in Its Demolition)  by Hubert Robert

The storming of the Bastille occurred on July 14, 1789 and marked the beginning of the French Revolution. The event is celebrated annually on July 14 in France and many other countries and is officially called the Fête Nationale.

 

On the one year anniversary of the storming of the Bastille in 1790 people honored Fête de la Fédération with a huge feast to celebrate the uprising of the short-lived constitutional monarchy in France and the short lived, but successful, French Revolution. The event took place on the Champ de Mars, which was at the time far outside Paris.

A mass was given to mark the occasion and General Lafayette, captain of the National Guard of Paris, took his oath to the constitution. The celebration lasted four days with feasts, fine wine, fireworks and people running naked through the streets.

Today Bastille Day is celebrated in much the same way sans the running naked through the streets part.Will you open a bottle of wine and enjoy some lovely French bread and cheese to celebrate?

Viva La France!

Andrea and Laura

 

Linking to:

French Cupboard

French Country Cottage

Monday, June 6, 2011

Early Summer Days

School is out for most of us, graduations finished this past weekend.  We can now hopefully settle into the easy days of summer.  We have many, many lovely places and people to show you from our recent trip; here are a few images of the early days of summer in France~

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{Iris, north of Beaune}

 

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{mustard field, north of Beaune}

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{yes, in Brittany they do wear a lot of striped shirts~ for sale at the Wednesday market}

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{rose, at La Ruchotte}

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{herbs, Beaune Saturday market}

A bientot~

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cuivre Ancien

Copper is an ancient metal, known since about 5,000 BC in arms, and later, around 3,500 B.C. as Bronze, an alloy of copper and pewter.  I like to remind people that for the French, “modern” starts in the 17th Century.   So perhaps it is no surprise that by the 19th Century the French had perfected copper, in beautiful, functional forms, and in relatively “mass” production.  The 19thC might be my favorite period of all, because it is affordable, true to the old styles, and generally available, at least in France!

Laura and I are able to source a variety of old copper pieces, dating from the 19th and 20th Centuries, mostly in decorative forms, though many of them can still be used.  The pieces we show here are indicative of the merchandise we can source; let us know if there is something that captures your heart that you must have in your kitchen~

My favorite piece among all is a Marmite, probably late 19thC; the color is so warm, almost pink.  This would have been used for potatoes or meats; the lid seals tightly~

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Everything is hand-made, the rivets and the strip holding the lid; the brass ring too~ see the maker mark at left, the only identifying mark on this piece~

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Even the rings at the side, artisan-made~

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More modern pieces, this bain-marie or double boiler, French porcelaine about 50 years young, but still well-made with iron handle~

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Laura and I both found tea kettles on this trip, there is nothing like hot water from a copper kettle~

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This kettle has a perfectly arched handle, and a beak-like spout~

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Details on old copper pots are rarely seen today, such as copper rivets in the iron handles~

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As with other French items such as baskets, copper  pieces were often made for one  particular function, such as this louche de miel or Honey Spoon~

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The handle bears the maker’s mark, several times~

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When people ask what they should buy for a “starter piece of copper,” I always recommend this piece, which is known by several names, including as a bassine a blanc (egg whites bowl), cul de poule (a reference to a chicken’s anatomy) or simply copper beating bowl.  You will see them in various sizes and with one or two handles, or with ring attachments. This antique piece has a nice fat rolled rim and is entirely hand-hammered~

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I use it for beating egg whites (the copper reacts with the egg whites to give them more volume), making cakes, any kind of mixing, really….here in Beaune the three girls got together and made molleux or molten chocolate cakes, also with the little bain-marie~

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This piece is called a sucrerie, or sugar pot, for making sugar syrup, pralines or other kinds of candy; the pot is unlined for better conductivity, and the straight sides and small pour spout are made for working with the hot sugar syrup~

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The maker’s initials are on the side~

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France also has what is referred to as “yellow copper” or Laiton, sometimes called brass, but it is not the usual copper & zinc alloy we know as brass~

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This is a beautiful 19C piece, a cauldron~

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The handle is perfectly finished, in iron~

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The entire piece is perfectly hammered by hand~

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We hope you enjoyed a little copper tour; be sure to check our Laura’s molten chocolate cakes and Andrea’s lavender-lemon cakes today to see the copper in action~

Andrea & Laura