Archive for the ‘Elegant Shopping’ Category
We hate the numbers ‘game’, but there are so many reasons to visit this enchanting city….one must limit!
1. Provençal Avignon owes its very history and much of its attraction to the Papacy. The medieval politics of the early 14th century led Pope Clement V to move the papacy to Avignon, under the protection of Philip the Fair of France. His successors came along, and Benedict XII and Clement VI felt the need to locate the great Palais des Papes overlooking the Rhone River in the center of the medieval city. The imposing palais offers a magnificent, stark white contrast to the vivid blue skies of southern France and the sprawling square beneath the palace. Read more
I was walking through the local park with a friend in our oh-so-upscale little ‘village’ in Florida, when a woman walked toward us. My friend commented to her, “Oh, I like your purse.” She paused a half step and responded “Dior”, before stepping her way on down the walkway.
Now that’s what I call name-dropping, particularly in the face of an innocent compliment and about as boorish as it is ill-mannered. So why am I going on about ‘name-dropping’? Because that is precisely what I intend to do in discussing one of my favorite topics – sumptuous, breathtaking, lovely-to-touch French fabrics.
You simply can’t cover the topic properly without a touch of D. Porthault here and Frey there. There now. Please accept my rather limp apology for this transgression.
Naturally you can discover fine French linens and fabrics in a number of boutiques and high-end department stores in the United States, but I have discovered a very nice, comprehensive on-line store with an impressive offering of table linens, towels, kitchen and bedroom textiles and fabric by the yard (or meter). French-brand.com offers what may be the widest selection of Designer Luxury Bedding anywhere on the Internet. Imagine the wealth of choices – over 45 brands from France and elsewhere and up to 50 designs per brand in silk, pure linen, cotton mixes, Egyptian and Organic Cotton.
Let’s just introduce a small sampling …. Like The Company Olivier Thévenon Sélection, created in 1908 and specializing in upholstery fabrics, coordinating net and jacquards. Moutet is another from the French Basque country with very traditional stripes as well as crisp and colorful contemporary designs. Pierre Frey is synonymous with luxury in home décor and fabulous fabric and wallpaper designs. In the wonderful French tradition, Pierre Frey brings a sumptuous look and feel to any room with a blend of touch, sight and harmony among patterns.
I love to shop at the base of Montmartre in Paris, where textile shops fill the streets from multi-story department stores to barely-large-enough-to-walk-around-in boutiques. It is one of my favorite pastimes. Perhaps, I have now discovered ‘the next best thing’ to shopping there.
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My grandparents lived in Paris for seven years before World War II and among the no-doubt vast array of experiences and collections, I most remember my grandmother’s gorgeous Mauviel copper pans. Made all the more beautiful with age, the pots not only shone with beauty but served ideally in exceptional meal preparation. Didn’t hurt that she had a maid to handle the sometimes tedious business of cleaning the copper!
That reminds of a lovely Jacque Pépin show, in which he explained the magic use of the copper bowl in whipping up egg whites for your favorite soufflé or meringue – “The metal interacts with the egg whites to make them more stable, as they take on air.” Hand beating is his preference, when he begins with rapid beating and slows to lift the whites that have begun to set up … without touching the bowl a lot.
Isn’t it the perfect moment to tell you that my favorite chef has a new book out? Mais oui! Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul in the Kitchen underscores one of the reasons I am drawn to this special chef. Probably the most important ingredient in his magnificent meal preparation is his love of family and friends and the intimate occasions for sharing special meals together. I have watched him on television with his daughter, granddaughter and a special friend here and there. Without exception, he refers to the delight he takes in the warmth of shared meals.
His new book includes a wide variety of recipes (200 in all), and even shares how to raise a child who will eat almost anything. I can say from experience, my mother accomplished just that with three exceptions: Brussel sprouts, shrimp creole and liver. No thank you. Period.
Time and again, I have given Monsieur Pepin’s lovely cookbooks to friends, daughters and daughters in law; so you can be sure the same will be true this holiday season.
We’d love to hear from you
Copyright © 2005, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved
No grand secret in this admission: when I really embrace a place or product, I can’t wait to share the good news. When available on television, the fabulous cooking duo of Julia Childs and renowned Chef Jacques Pépin have entranced us.
One need watch but one episode of Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home to appreciate how much Monsieur Pepin must miss his cooking accomplice, Julia, who died in 2004.
So many elements in the show are appealing. The in-depth look at each chosen subject – meat or fish or potatoes – is enormously rich in information, covering everything from what to look for in cuts of meat to the chemical reactions that impact cooking (don’t you know that’s why wine is a central part of their repertoire!)
It’s doubtful that you will sit with pen and paper to record the recipes, as the friendly banter and demonstrations between the two capture your attention. And besides, “sprinkle some sea salt” and “add some Vermouth” are not exactly precise directions.
No problem. Not only are DVD’s of the shows available, but a companion cookbook that is one of the finest I have ever seen. In-depth chapters cover soups and eggs, salads and sandwiches, potatoes and other accompanying dishes and vegetables, a wide selection of fish, fowl and meats and the pièce de résistance – desserts.
The book’s photography is excellent in illustrating the steps of cooking, methods of garnishing, preparation of meats and poultry and even directions for serving and carving. And then there are those little extras, like Julia explaining how to rid your hands of onion odors and Jacques showing us how to quickly peel garlic.
Both are geniuses in their arena and play off one another in a very entertaining way on the show – a bit like Maurice Chevalier’s duet with Hermione Gingold in Gigi.
“We met at nine. We met at eight.
I was on time. No, you were late.
Ah, yes, I remember it well.”
Jacques doesn’t worry about de-veining shrimp; for Julia it’s absolutely a must. Jacques always, always has his eye on special presentation of meals (could all of those years in Lyons and other restaurants be the reason?) Julia ‘collars’ her soufflés – not so with Jacques.
Trust me on this: if you love cooking; you’ll love the show and recipe book. If you don’t love cooking, you just might change your mind, after watching these cum laude chefs! Bon Appétit.
We welcome your comments and suggestions.
Copyright © 2005, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.
Gift-giving season is here, and who among us wouldn’t cherish the gift of travel in France? While we love the refined manoirs within the storied walls of old Avignon; we would easily enjoy experiencing a private setting with easy access to the historic area. Le Prieuré, just across the Rhône in Villeneuve- lès- Avignon, would definitely fit that bill!
The owners promise a stay that is both authentic and elegant. You’ll first want to book your stay at Le Prieuré, though keep in mind their seasonal closure may run to mid March, 2012. A member of the distinguished Relais & Chateaux collection of luxury hotels and restaurants, Le Prieuré is a former 15th-century convent, magically transformed into a welcoming hotel and perfumed by the priests’ trellised garden of roses and wisteria.
Lavish Provençal style mixes with contemporary convenience in the carefully restored rooms and suites, that guarantee an intimate and comfortable stay. You may be surprised at the rich heritage and treasures in the village.
The dominant tower on the skyline – Fort Saint André and the Philippe le Bel Tower – remind us of Avignon’s alliance with the Holy Roman Empire and the need to protect the Benedictine abbey and town. And the municipal museum in the Pierre-de-Luxembourg mansion displays exceptional art, notably religious works from ivory carvings to 17th century paintings.
The charming village becomes the focal point for performances and festivals throughout the year; due to their strategic location where Provence, la Camargue and Languedoc come together. Of course, you will visit the lovely old streets of Avignon to enjoy its’ special blend of history, striking architecture and inviting collection of shops and restaurants.
But the delight comes with your return from those lively moments to seal each and every memory with a quiet glass of wine on the balcony.
Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.