Monday, December 11, 2017

Dinde de Noël = Thanksgiving with truffes

Sometimes a light bulb goes off. Can the elaborately luxurious French Réveillon de Noël (Christmas eve dinner) be considered the equivalent to an American Thanksgiving? The anticipation, excitement and recipe search starts at least a month ahead at Salon du chocolat. Dessert first in France. The requisite buche de Noel shows up even earlier. Roast turkey is the main with marrons or even truffles - dinde de Noël. No cranberry sauce sadly.
In the train station in god-forsaken Clermont-Ferrand, French glossy, foodie magazines all shouted one thing.
Fête de Noël. What to serve, what to cook, what to eat? Obviously this must be my December Paris letter.
What to leave in? What to leave out? What to draw on the grand dinner menu? Thanks to meeting Jane Klares on the train to Clermont-Ferrand I know now to create distance between me and my sketch. Put it up on the wall and STAND AWAY FROM THE DRAWING to get some visual perspective.
And thanks to painting tree ornaments last week, it was easy to jump into painting French luxury cuisine.
The entrée (1st course) traditionally is fruit de mer - could be anointed fussed-over oysters, scallops in their shell, lobster tails. And of course paté de foie gras with a flute of champagne. Just Google Réveillon restaurant menus. You will drool.
I wanted a French confiture label to personalize each letter. Fortunately my stationary drawer is jamed with labels.
Its a lot like playing paper dolls moving the bits around till they fit nicely. Ta Da.
I had to do a lot of research investigating Christmas gateaux
Pâté de Canard en croute.
Tradionally marrons glacés end the dinner.
In my mad search around paris les truffes kept popping up. Can you believe potato chips with essence of truffle? French chefs do put truffle bits in with whole eggs in the shell inside a bottle.
La Grand Epicerie even has a truffle bar for the duration of the holidays.
When I was invited to a degustation of Provençal truffles at Maison Bremond 1830 I did not say no. Slivers of white summer truffles (lamelles) go perfectly with a bit of aged Comté cheese by the way.
That's Olivier Baussan at the counter, creator of l'Occitane, Olivier & Co., Première Presson Provence. Its two years since he took over Aixoise Maison Bremond. A step inside one of the 5 Paris shops is a step into Provence.
Fill a charming gift box (coffret) full of truffle oils, truffle pestos, truffle infused salt or lavender and wonderful olive oils if you're not a truffle fan.
Show up this Saturday 16, December and meet their producteur in the morning or afternoon.
Will he bring along his truffle-hunting dog I'm wondering...
If you make it up to the 9, rue des Martyrs shop, Géraldine will be happy to explain all. I shall pop in too, in case the truffle dog makes an appearance.Thanks for reading Paris breakfast. If you like this newsletter, forward to a friend. Gift yourself and others Paris letters, maps. I have single letters up in the Etsy shop for the rest of December.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Paris tree ornaments

The first weeks of December I like to go hunting for Paris tree ornaments.
First stop, l'Arbre de Noël shop, the 2nd floor of Bon Marché
A huge space with big trees. Naturally Bear came along.
Looking for bears as usual. This is a rather nice one but its a clip-on. You can't hang it..
Fancy glass tassels at Bon Marché
They do have a good selection of sea creatures/coquillages my favorite.
A very tempting scallop...
I could paint scallops and eat them everyday.
Then over to le creme de la creme collection of tree ornaments at Astier de villatte, 173, rue St Honoré
Clever how they use a bare bones silver tree to show off their treasures.
In one small room upstairs in this ceramic shop, Pandora's box awaits. Bears and more bears.
Lovely painted glass balls/boules de noël en verre
White objects look well on a silver tree.
Angelina has white meringue boules de neige/snow balls. Are these for eating or hanging?
My concierge kindly let me help decorate our tree on Sunday. Bear was thrilled. Have you decorated your tree? I bought only a silvery bird at Astier. It clips on instead of hanging. C'est la vie. Still I got inspired and painted up a storm of tree ornament watercolors today you can hang year-round.
Thanks for reading PB! If you like this newsletter, forward to a friend. Receive Parisbreakfast letters, maps, watercolors in your mailbox. More tree ornaments on INSTAGRAM

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Meet Leila Menchari, Hermes window designer

There are many wonderful stories how Tunisian-born Leila Menchari got her start designing windows for Hermes.
Do look at her Youtube videos. A storyteller/creator since 1961 designing windows for 50 years.
Her thoughts are electric, inspiring.
We've been lucky to have this homage to Menchari on for a month at Grand Palais.
Always a sense of mystery to her window designs.
Luxurious fabrics and textures weave a surreal, ephemeral atmosphere.
Diaphanous and poetic veils of color. You are drawn into a magical fairytale.
Fantastical animals show up in her windows.
Especially Hermes' iconic equestrian horse in a violet geod.
Her harmonic colors caught my eye. I tried to capture her palette in watercolors washes.
Warm deep rusts and oranges with touches of cool turquoise and blues, sea foam greens. Mencharie says,"Things exist only through their color." She was director of the brands' color committee. For her, color is life and movement. The one great objective of a window is to suggest color harmony, to avoid dissonance (taken from the exhibit cataloge, The Queen of Enchantment).
I wish her preparatory sketches were part of the show.
And the models she prepared. There is a lengthy slide show of over 100 Hermes' window displays.
The cataloge is available now in Hermes' stores. The stories behind 137 windows.
Mencharie cultivated many artists to create for her windows. Christian Renonciat sketched and sculpted the 'going light-footed'
Outside in the Paris chill, many waited to get in with frozen feet. Mine too.
Afterwards I went over to the rue de Sevres Hermes to see if their current window displays could possibly compete with Leila Menchari's brilliance. In fact they did very well. The theme is color. Belgian paper artist Isabelle de Borgrave has created a beautiful and lively tropical display accenting reds and greens of Noël.
Hermes colorful perfume flacon always captivate me.
Thanks for reading PB! If you like this newsletter, forward it to a friend, receive Parisbreakfast letters, maps, watercolors in your mailbox. 
More Paris on my INSTAGRAM