Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chocolat and Other Sweets

Welcome to Fabulous French Fridays. When you think of Chocolat what comes to mind?

Of course Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche in the movie of the same name. But what about true chocolat? What country comes to mind? Switzerland? Belgium? It is interesting that both of these countries are next door neighbors to France. Even France’s neighbor across the channel, England, has France to thank for its first chocolate. The London chocolate store, the Coffee Mill and Tobacco Roll, was established by a Frenchman in 1657. The chocolate sold there was so expensive only the wealthy could afford it.


France has a long history with chocolate. Indeed some of the finest treats such as chocolate mousse, the chocolate éclair and chocolate truffles were all made popular by the French. The 1615 wedding of Louis XIII to Anne of Austria (the daughter of Phillip II of Spain) was where the French court discovered the strange brew known for its revitalizing and aphrodisiacal properties.
The first "Chocolatier du Roi" (Chocolatier to the King) was a Parisian tradesman by the name of David Chaillou. In 1659, King Louis XIV bestowed on Chaillou the title of "Chocolatier du Roi" for 29 years, granting him the exclusive privilege to make and sell chocolate in France. Chaillou opened a shop on Rue de l'arbre sec, not far from the Louvre, where he was the first to serve hot chocolate in a Paris chocolate house. In 1780 that royal appointment of chocolates was revived when Chaillou's great-great-grandson Sulpice Debauve became the official chocolate-maker of Queen Marie-Antoinette. Sulpice Debauve, established a chocolate shop in Paris. His chocolate was so revered that he was able to open additional shops and had established 60 shops just four year later. His nephew, Antoine Gallais, began partnering with him in 1823. The name of the shops were changed to Debauve and Gaillais. Louis XVIII, Charles X and Louis Philippe all appointed Debauve and Gaillais  as the Official Chocolatiers of the French Court.

French chocolate must be made with at least 43% cocoa liquor. No animal or vegetable fat is allowed. Many French chocolate makers use up to 80% cocoa liquor as the higher the percentage, the richer the final product will be. This standard creates a chocolate without rival.
Another famous chocolate and pastry boutique in France is La Maison du Chocolat. Robert Linxe was born in Basque country and completed an apprenticeship in Bayonne. From there he completed his studies in Switzerland and returned to France and opened a shop in Paris in 1955 called Marquis de Presles. It was sold in 1977 to Gaston Lenotre. I would like to imagine that the lemon tart featured below is being reserved for “Laura”.

In 1945, Maurice Bernachon opened the Bernachon Chocolate Factory in Lyons, France at the age of 26. He was trained in the art of chocolate making by his parents. Sixty years later the Bernachon factory is still famous for its delicious chocolate.

Richart Chocolate began in 1925 on the Croix Rousse hill in Lyons France where Joseph Richart, created and maintained his laboratory. The company is still family owned by the children and grandchildren of Monsieur Richart.

Saving my personal favorite for last is Ladurée. This famed French institution came onto the radar of many American’s after their luscious treats were showcased in Sofia Coppola’s film “Marie Antoinette”.

Louis-Ernest Ladurée began his career as a miller (one who operates a flour mill). He began his bakery in 1862. After it burnt down in 1871 it was rebuilt on the same location, 16 rue Royale, in Paris. Jules Chéret, a master of Belle Époque poster art, was responsible for the famed interiors. The ceilings feature cherubs dressed as pastry cooks which went on to become the companies emblem. Ladurée’s true rise to fame was in 1930 when Ladurée’s grandson, Pierre Desfontaines, created a double decker macaron with a creamy ganache filling. Desfontaines also opened a “salon de thé” (tearoom). The pastry and tea shop was a great success with the ladies as they were not admitted to the French cafés at the time.

In 1993 the company was sold to the Holder Group which has expanded the number of tearooms to now include locations on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, London, Monaco, and Italy among others.

I have long coveted their wedding cake couple available only to those who order their cake from the esteemed bakery.

I am also eager to sample their famous macarons during my trip this spring as it would seem I am once again being beckoned by an “L'”.
Who else would like a bite?

Thank you for joining us on French Fridays.
Bon Appetite!
Andrea and Laura

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pretty in Pink

My laptop and camera decided this week they no longer wanted to talk to each other, so my apologies for the delay in getting this post up. Did you all enjoy Laura’s post this morning about the creme puffs and such last weekend?  Here she was early in the day, smiling prettily despite having basically no sleep the night before~


Arriving at 5:30am, we spent several hours assembling the booth, and setting out all the lovelies; here Laura’s pretty balloon chair~


Vintage French eyelash trim on vintage grain sacks~


The finished booth was stuffed with merch~


Oh yes, did we have antique French linens….


Dyed, ombres, neutrals….Stacks and stacks….


And pink….the Pantone Egg, vintage French medals hung on silk ribbons….


The little scooter…


Pink was splashed all over around the booth, including in the Evian bottles left from Christmas, filled with colored water, with Cupid’s Arrow~


Pink lemonade for our shoppers….


For our Valentine theme we had bottles of “Elixir d’Amour” (those Champagne bottles!)~


Grain sack pillows made with new old stock 1920’s puffy monograms set off the white linen stacks; other letters are available; pillows to order~


And about the most adorable vintage French footstool you can imagine, covered in the same vintage grain sack~


Laura had little gifts ready for our blogger-visiteurs~


And we fluffed and tied and sold a lot and fluffed some more~  


Until after noon, when Laura started to worry, “Will Eddie Ross ever come by?”  Chin propped on her hand, she looked something like cute little Opie in this pic~

opie first

Until….ta dum…. a chance encounter with the lovely Amy Meier~


Lucky Amy, she found a fine French linen sheet, with her initials!!


And happened to share with us “I know Eddie Ross, and Jaithan is still here!”


Left to right, Laura, Jaithan Kochar, Amy Meier and Jaithan’s lovely Mother, with a sweet little French Basketeer basket full of Metis gifts and Point a la Ligne candles for Eddie and Jaithan~


Suddenly, Laura’s expression was sort of like this~ 

opie second 

Thrilled, I believe, yes, is the word, both of us!  Our neighbors wondered “are those girls drinking?”  No we said, it’s just the pink lemonade, with a dose of meeting a few Blogger Idols. 

We are in the middle of revamping our online store.  Please email us regarding specific items, and look for more spotlights on merch soon!

Linking to:

Beverly's Pink Saturday

Thursday, January 20, 2011

French Fridays ~ Pointe a la Ligne

The French are very serious about their lighting.  Paris is called “the City of Light” primarily because of its education and new ideas in the Age of Enlightenment, but also because of its early adoption of street lighting. Today the monuments and civic buildings and Tour Eiffel are perfectly illuminated at night, highlighting their architecture.  Here the perfection of the lamp posts of the Pont Alexandre III~

alex III

Lighting is a key aspect of French entertaining, though it is never forced, it always seems natural~

pall pathwaypall couplepall chateau 2pall parterre

pall chateau

Sorry for the grainy pics, which are from Pointe a la Ligne.

The French and especially the Parisians love their scented candles and tapers.  The French use tapered candles whenever possible, often in color.  In classic decor, you will often see shades of ivory, amber, orange and even black; in spring, all shades of pink, green and other lighter colors come into play. 

While the US is into neutrals, the French often use candles for pops of seasonal color~    


In Paris, the Candle of choice comes from a company called Point a la Ligne.  Say “Pwant a lah LEEgnuh.”  Their shop is at 67 Avenue Victor Hugo, in the 16eme near the Arc de Triomphe; You can see their current French catalogue HERE.  In the catalogue and in the store in Paris, you will find candles in every color of the rainbow and in all sorts of shapes.  Point a la Ligne candles play heavily into the French love of whimsy and fantasy, as you’ll see by the cover of their Winter Catalogue (there are two collections each year)~ 

bougies pall bear

I was thrilled to find Point a la Ligne tapers at my local Ace Hardware store this year; they are not expensive, about $1.50, and as in Paris, they come in varying lengths and in every color of the rainbow.  They make a perfect gift; I’m crazy about the orange~


And oh, the pink, in 12” length; these will soon go on a large candelabra wrapped in florals and vines.  They are smokeless, dripless (unless you leave them out in the breeze), and clean-burning, and made a wonderful color complement to our booth last Sunday~


Point a la Ligne candles are available to retailers in the U.S. through their distributor HERE.  Opening orders are $350…the line would make a nice addition to a French style store.  We sold most of the candles we brought last weekend, though they were intended for display!  You can also call for retailers~ 401.619.3339

You’ll see more of these candles from us this spring.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lovers in Love, Long Beach Style

There were no disappointments at the Metis Booth at the Long Beach Flea Market on Sunday.  Many shoppers commented on our sharp & pretty booth, sales were brisk, and wonderful connections were made.  Versus our usual neutral array of merchandise, Sunday was all about color, a small gift of warmth to all our Chers Amis living in colder climes.  Pink was our focus, and with Valentines Day approaching, we were on the lookout for Lovers in Love.  Tomorrow we will post shots of the booth and merchandise, but here today we show you a little Love from Long Beach, starting here with a romantic little bloomer set under a sun dress, yes it was a hot day~


The LA-area flea markets present perfect people-watching opportunities, shoppers who look distinctly “Los Angeles.”  This couple, for example, would they be found in Kansas City?  I was afraid to ask for a pic, and I was after a shot of those heels & seamed stockings anyway, juxtaposed by her burly man….


Or this couple; ok perhaps this fits a few other metro areas around the world….


this couple had a trolly full of black stuff; black antlers, black sheepskins.  Still very stylish, and there were very nice, LA store stylists.  It was only fitting to have a shot of them in front of the black & white awning stripe of our booth~


There were international shoppers too, who stood out in the crowd; this gentle couple is from Germany, and they left with some of our French merchandise~ 


These lovers have been dating long-distance for 13 years!  She lives in Japan; cool Batman shades, no?


Love comes in many forms, here two best girl friends out for their Sunday Flea shopping in retro clothes and hats~


And some Lovers were not in love with another person, they were in love with say, the Color Pink.  This shopper came with her mother and had a $10 budget.  She bought our little scooter for $5, to go with her totally pink wardrobe.  It was fun to see her ride off with a smile from ear to ear~


The scooter was actually a street find, discarded by someone after Christmas and had been spray painted black.  It became one of our presentation items, to display the Pantone Color of the Year, “Honeysuckle.”  This is the actual Pantone paint, and it sure does pack a punch, though it also perfectly matches the pink Cannes basket behind.   


There were plenty of true lovers in the crowd; these two~


And these two, awww~  


Check back tomorrow for our booth shots; here is a preview, our super egg painted, what else~ Pantone Pink! 


Au Revoir!