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French Gifts for “Him”

November 28, 2014 @ 1:01 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
French Champagne

Elegant French flutes

I love to theme gifts – French gifts or otherwise – so let’s call these gift ideas for Monsieur “A Matter of Taste”.  For the budding to the mature wine connoisseur, we begin with a focus on very appealing champagne from France.

Perhaps to whet his appetite, you will include an engaging and comprehensive book by one of the world’s leading wine authorities, An Encyclopedia of the Wines and Domaines of France.  Author Clive Coates shares his expansive knowledge of wine, its character, the meaning of appellations and the finest of French wine estates.

Now, let’s get right to the heart of the matter with an enticing bottle of Taittinger Champagne!  Go to your favorite specialty wine shop for guidance.  In Orlando, that would be Tim’s Wine Market, where they have been helping customers with personal guidance for over 20 years.

Taittinger is one of the distinctly historic champagne houses of France and one of only five to cellar its wines in the renowned “Crayères” of Reims – the chalk caves originally dug out by the Romans. Since their discovery early in the 18th century, champagne merchants found the cave conditions ideal for aging wine.  The Taittinger family is one of the largest vineyard owners in Champagne, and this esteemed brand was the official champagne at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  Perhaps you will choose Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne, chosen in 2012 as “Best Champagne” by Fine Champagne Magazine. 

Reims fr

Taittinger chalk caves, Reims

Round out your themed gift with a pair – or a set of champagne glasses – yet another opportunity for learning the ins and outs of the heavenly nectar.  Flutes, coupes and tulips are your choices, and there are myriad designs from which to choose.

Champagne flutes aid in capturing the flavor and aroma of champagne with their tall narrow shape, medium to long stem and point at the bottom of the glass.  Champagne coupes (saucers) are the wide-rimmed, shallow glasses with a short stem.  A favorite in the early 1900’s, they are not as popular with ‘experts’ today, in that the shape allows the aroma and carbonation to escape.  Finally, the aptly-named champagne tulip is similar to the flute but curves inward at the rim.  Especially recommended for finer French champagnes, the wider base allows flavors to be captured and taste enhanced.

French champagne

Taittinger – voila!

Voila!  So there you have a wonderful assortment of French gifts for him, and I’m certain you can find a handsome bag or box in which to present your refined collection.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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5 Traits to Love in Jacques Pépin

May 3, 2014 @ 2:33 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
French cooking

Beloved French Chef Jacques Pépin

Accomplished chef.  Cookbook author and star of television.  Conspirator with Julia Childs.  Former personal chef to President Charles de Gaulle.  Columbia University graduate with a B.A. degree in General Studies and a Master’s degree in French Literature.

  • Knowledge and science of cooking – We have come to know this delightful chef through our local Public Broadcasting System, where his various television shows have entertained, amused and informed us. Despite the sad loss of beloved Julia Childs, we are still able to enjoy Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, and Emmy award-winner in 2001. Their energy and amusing give-and-take approaches to cooking blend their enormous knowledge of cooking with practical tips and no small amount of fun-poking humor. And Monsieur Pépin’s explanations of the science of cooking are as fascinating as they are helpful – from the use of copper bowls to the difference in texture of whipping warm versus cold egg whites.
  • Innovation and Practicality – Perhaps many of us are intimidated by French cooking, by this entertaining Chef certainly makes the activity look easy and tosses in many everyday shortcuts and practical tips to ease your way. Other television shows that demonstrate his ease and expertise are Jacques Pépin: Fast Food My Way (based on his 2004 book of the same name) and Jacques Pépin: More Fast Food My Way. I was really intrigued to try his innovative Pear Tarte, as he used a tortilla for the ‘base’ in lieu of pastry – delicieux!
  • Presentation – His years of work at distinguished restaurants like those of Grand Hotel de L’ Europe in France and New York’s historic Le Pavillon shine through in those lovely finishing touches that make meals so appealing. Whether a main course or inviting dessert, he regularly serves the pièce de résistance in the center of an appropriate sauce and garnishes with fresh sprigs of parsley, mint or other such savory choices. In fact, we have never seen him prepare any dish without these final appealing strokes of the Master’s hand!
  • Joie de vivre – That is a quality that permeates Monsieur Pépin’s presentations. Whether by himself or In cooking with his daughter, granddaughter or Julia Childs; he takes such delight in cooking and invariably reveals that special ‘spark’ in sharing his knowledge with others.
  • Rewards – Essentially part of that joie is the reward he relishes in pouring a glass of wine, after serving up delicious entrées – perhaps the real sign of a happy Frenchman!

    Favorite French chefs

    One of many Pépin cookbooks

You can enjoy daily interaction with this endearing chef on his Facebook page, and don’t forget to find his shows on your own PBS stations.  Finally, I have made it a practice to make gifts of Jacques Pépin’s many cookbooks.  They are a special treat for anyone who loves to cook.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2014, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Retreat to Josephine’s Garden

April 18, 2014 @ 1:28 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Josephine Baker in Paris

Josephine’s passion for flowers and birds

Paris visitors are never at a loss for unique excursions, not the least of which is an appealing new exhibit that opened at the beginning of April.  Just west of Paris at the Musée des Châteaux de Malmaison et de Bois-Préau, is an intimate and fascinating expo – Joséphine, La Passion des Fleurs et des Oiseaux.

Mais oui, the exhibit focuses on Empress Josephine’s passion for flowers and birds, no doubt an influence from her early Creole childhood. The Château itself showcases her refined taste and informal gardens, but this particular exhibit expressly « proposes to revive the passion Josephine vowed to flowers and birds. »

Though forced to divorce Napoleon for lack of producing an heir, Josephine maintained her title and devoted herself to botanical pursuits and collections at Malmaison.  Your visit provides a quiet retreat from the city, where you can easily imagine the country manor life of the Emperor and Empress.

Paris exhibits

Reproductions of Empress Josephine

The Musée boutique offers special reproductions of Josephine’s porcelain and jewelry- nice mementos or gifts from your visit.  The exhibit runs until the end of June, and is easily reached by taking the metro to La Defence and the bus 258 to the Château stop.

We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2014, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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The French “Stradivarius of the Kitchen”

March 6, 2014 @ 9:35 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan

How could you not be drawn to a company so devoted to excellent craftsmanship that they see themselves as “the Stradivarius of the Kitchen”?   That is exactly how Lacanche views the production of their exquisite French stoves, those stunning works of art that combine beautiful decoration with technological precision to elevate the realm of cooking.

A little village in the hills above Beaune is home to Lacanche factories.  Bearing the name of that village; the famous Lacanche stoves literally rose from the iron and timber of the land in the 18th century, when artisan skills were devoted to the manufacture of stoves for stately homes and the professional trade.  Today those traditional values and exceptional products generate considerable demand from the top chefs and the general public who want authentic stoves.  And adding further appeal is the Lancanche owners’ devotion to rural traditions, country life and the value of fine craftsmanship over mass production.

French bath fixtures

Elegant Herbeau powder room

In a similar manner, Herbeau devotes fine craftsmanship to the manufacture of sinks and faucetry for kitchens, bath and powder rooms.  Herbeau’s delightful designs range from rustic Provencal to elegant Chateau creations with hand-painted finishes.  Started in 1857 by Louis Herbeau, five generations have created beautiful baths and kitchens for great homes and establishments.

Staub applies the same type of exacting standards to the creation of fine enameled cast-iron cookware.   For over 40 years, Staub has merged exceptional craftsmanship with attention to performance detail.  From tight-fitting lids with self-basting spikes and heatproof nickel-plated steel knobs to the textured cooking surface of matte-black enamel,  Staub has elevated kitchenware to unprecedented function and design.

For anyone who appreciates creations that enjoy the “touch of the master’s hand”, these fine products celebrate the French art de vivre and become treasured heirlooms at the heart of your home.

We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@luxeeuro.com
Copyright © 2014, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Elegant Gifts from France

October 21, 2013 @ 10:17 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
French silk scarf gifts

Paris Je T’aime silk scarf – Anne Touraine

There’s a certain irony to the fact, that I fully applaud ABC News’ “Made in America” segments, while I search through this season for ‘just the right’ gift from France for my loved ones.  Perhaps, it is part of my dual nature that I support job-creating American enterprises and artisan-supporting French products.

And so it is that I recommend another delightful shopping site for those, who are not fortunate to be combing the shops of French villages and cities for holiday gifts.  The Boutiques de musées offers a wide variety of French-oriented products directly from the many national museums they represent.  Whether your budget is large or small, you can find a simple magnet or an elaborate piece of jewelry that reproduces some of the finest art in the world.

Sculpture of Etienne Meurice The Bather of Falconet Paris Museum

The Bather of Falconet – reproduction of Étienne Meurice sculpture

How about a refined replica of “The Bather of Falconet” by Étienne Meurice?  Exquisite choices range from handsome coffee-table art books to an enchanting fresco reproduction of Raphael’s “La Belle Jardiniére” or a set of Arabesque dessert plates.

Children are not forgotten in the boutique offerings either with a variety of calendars, puzzles, model kits and books – even an “Animals of the World” game for the entire family.

Family game from Boutiques de musees France

Boutique games for the family

Closer to home and without the burden of international postage Anne Touraine offers a beguiling collection of exquisite hand-rolled, silk scarves in designs that perfectly capture the mood Anne seeks.  My favorite – naturally – is Paris Je T’aime! 

Whether you shop abroad or in your local or on-line French shop, we hope you round out your Christmas list with memorable gifts that evoke the spirit of France.

We’d love to hear from you!

swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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