Winter in Provence

From the dry countryside to the Black truffle market …this is Provence in February !

As hard as it is to imagine Provence to be cold when you are visiting in the hot summer months, I can tell you that indeed it can get really cold ! The light is low , there is no leaves on trees , the landscape is in shades of grey-brown , there is frost in the morning , snow close by and pictures of a sunny day do not make you feel the burn of the Mistral blowing at 60 miles/hours on a 28F morning. It is not the colorful Provence postcard people dream to visit but just as real.  

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Today is not too bad , somewhere in the 40 F . With thermal leggings and  t-shirt , 2 sweaters and a well heated car , I can handle it ! The top of the Mont Ventoux is  hidden by a hat of clouds meaning that it will rain tomorrow…

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Vaison la Romaine and the Roman bridge that survived the massive 1992 flash flood when all other modern structures down stream were taken away leaving only foundations from many houses and a whole supermarket ! We were there that day ….rain was so hard we thought the roof was going to blow away , so much water coming down our chimney , it was flooding our living room but in the end we were safe and our old house made it through …while many died and hundred of bridges collapsed cutting us off from many routes for months . 27750760_10203737612517680_5117080481834565173_n.jpg

People back then knew better and built their houses way up above the river.27657539_10203737612757686_5949325789729599305_n.jpgVineyards are all trimmed back …It is an ongoing process that take most of the fall and winter months ; very hard work in this harsh weather .

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Les Gorges du Toulourenc at the bottom north of the Mt Ventoux are wonderful in summer .You can bath in the river and cool off when temperatures reach 95F …in winter the romantic village of Brantes remains beautiful with the snow in the back drop . The cafe terrasse is waiting for spring and visitors to start coming again …27858321_10203737609717610_1950962916205174475_n.jpg

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Today is an other story : 28F this morning and the wind is blowing at 60miles/hour . Not a day to put your nose out but I have to go to the market… At first it looks just like a winter farmers market….but soon you realize it is no regular market….it is the black truffles market held here in quaint Richerenche village from November through March….and February is peak season ! IMG_9255 (Large).JPG

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Special baby truffle oak trees for sale . Then all you need is a good truffle dog

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Most everything is truffle related and even the food truck sells truffle omelets ! 

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1200euros/kilo that’s about $700/pound….people were buying a small truffle for $70 ….27751952_10203734622402929_5240726031905201313_n.jpg

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You have the street for regular shoppers or “tourists ” and then the one where the real deals happen at the back of a truck ….dealers buy from farmers and negotiate with their big wholesale accounts….

 

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And there it is …black gold , the beloved “Rabasse” ( the name in Provencal dialect for truffles) , bags of them !

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My mum use to have a dog and truffle oak trees . I grew up with the intoxicating smell of the tiniest truffle…Even in a Tupperware…the whole house was smelling …there was no hiding you had found some black gold ….nowadays they do not come even close to what I knew ;  i find these truffles pretty tasteless in comparison…Even with my nose on it , all i smell is earth , dirt and a faint truffle aroma but still there is something special about this mushroom…

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The village restaurant sure serve some truffle dishes !27867088_10203734626643035_7412392283844714471_n.jpg

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With this weather , you have to eat something that stick to your ribs ! My favorite is a platter of “Quenelles de Lyon in a Nantua sauce / crawfish sauce”27332491_10203731826573035_3190423110314237772_n.jpg

Also the time of year to cook some orange jam , quince paste ….

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And  bien sur ….eat some crepes !

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I also discovered the French version of sushi . Here we have California rolls with avocado and crab meat …the French who have to put Foie gras everywhere have managed to do foie gras sushis with fig jam , rolls of Seabass tartare with grapefruit , Salmon with mango and rose petals, beef carpacio with arugula and pesto…adapting this fashion phenomenon to French taste buds !

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A last stop before to fly home . Even the French Riviera is pretty bare .

These rose fields are grown specially for Chanel #5 perfume …we are just a few kilometers from Grasse , the capital of perfume making !

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The mimosa is in full bloom everywhere , hills covered , sides of the freeways , growing wild and making the countryside smells like heaven in the dead of winter ! Brings sunshine to your home but unfortunately only last 1 day in a vase

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The town plaza of Valbonne is buzzing with people enjoying lunch even on a cool day

IMG_9166 (Large).JPGJust out of a magazine …my architect friend’s home is a dream

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I wish it was summer ….

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The best thing about February is that you can find Crepe Pans everywhere !

I sure did and shipped a bunch that will be available at the shop along with our magic crepe batter shakers !A new Crepe demonstration/tasting will be coming up very soon ! Stay tuned on Facebook , email or call us to find out date !

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Making some Crepes flambees for breakfast !

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Best crepes ever ! I think it is the La Cornue stove …I need one of those too !

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La Saint Valentin

Yes it is the hottest trend right now ….and we, the French invented it ! 2018 will be the year of the Beret and the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day !  

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Ad a little pin and they will take you from 
well put together to “très chic ”  !

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Our wool berets come in a rainbow of colors  for men and women and fit everybody !IMG_8738 (Large).JPG

All you need is a  scarf and a beret  

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The runway look: fresh , young , unconventional and so cute !image.jpg

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I bought my bag on our last trip to Paris last summer and wanted to sell them in our shop ever since ….share this great find with my clients who I know would love it as much as I do !

These beautiful hand crafted jute bags is the outcome of the design collaboration with Skillful traditional handicraft workers in Bangladesh   This project aims to empower local women and through the income improve their access to health and education

These bags are skillfully woven , light , flexible and durable .

 

IMG_9143 (Large).JPGMade in house by Alice …One of a kind for that special one !IMG_8744 (Large).JPG

 Je t’aime , un peu , beaucoup , passionement , a la folie !

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Jewelry from my friend French Designer Lisiane is alaway a great idea !

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Home made cotton paper, vintage letter press , soy ink …our favorites Always !

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Cut out paper cards or vintage …one for all your loved ones !

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Parisian Designer Tsuri Gueta’s jewelry is bold and so unique you have to touch it to feel the silicon infused mesh fabric they are made with !

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Despite their look , these are NOT paint tubes but ultra rich hand creams blended with organic 20% Shea butter, Vitamin E and Argan oil  that absorb quickly for immediate hydration and repair .  A modern new look for these purse size creams .

Made in France without parabens, BHT and none of the other bad stuff !

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La Chandeleur

In France , 40 days after Christmas every year on February 2nd , we celebrate ” La Chandeleur ” by making crepes ! 

The date actually marks when Jesus was presented at the temple in Jerusalem.But Before becoming a religious holiday, Chandeleur stemmed from several pagan traditions celebrating the fertility of the earth and the beginning of the end of winter.

It’s said that in the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I started the Festival des Chandelles on this date, a candlelit procession through the streets of Rome that culminated in placing the blessed candles in the churches. Gelasius linked this custom to crêpes by handing out galettes (a type of salty crêpe) to poor pilgrims who arrived in Rome that day.

Nowadays the crepes themselves are the most important thing about La Chandeleur !

Last Saturday , was crepe party in our little back kitchen . I demonstrated how to make them and we all sampled some of our new delicious spreads to go along

Making crepe is fun for all and easy as 1 – 2 – 3 !

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Un : You NEED this “gadget”  .  
I will never make crepes any other way now that I’ve tried this …I didn’t think it could beat my century old recipe but it is just as delicious and so much easier ! Plus it is 100% guaranteed to work !
Trust a French cook …and I know Crepes ….  

IMG_8374 (Large).JPGFill in with milk to the marked line , then ad flour to the next line , crack 2 eggs and shake !

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  Deux: I added a few extras just because …vanilla beans, orange flower blossom…wta ever you like best !

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Trois: No lumps , perfect consistency crepe batter going in !

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Swirl and cook on high heat until it browns on the side and bubble …just like pancakes. It is all in the “tour de main” to make an even crepe, not too thin or too thick .

IMG_8381 (Large).JPGThen comes the flip …traditionally you flip the crepe with one hand  while holding a coin in the other hand ….if the crepe land in the pan , it is good fortune , good harvest to come . I can do that …or could do that …but nowadays I play it safe : my technique is to get a very flat spatula under the crepe all the way to the center and then flip . 1st Crepe is usually “bad” and either trashed or for the cook …as the cook , I take that 1st bad crepe with just sugar …you can really taste the vanilla , orange zest…

IMG_8382 (Large).JPGA real good crepe is soft and melt in your mouth…the secret is all the fat you put in the batter: whole milk versus skim milk ; my ancient recipe even says that to make “fine” crepes add more eggs  …most of the ones we buy at farmer’s markets , trucks…are like cardboard to me and made under low heat witch is not ideal . I like to melt a little chunk of butter after I flip the crepe, let it melt , ad some Grand Marnier and granulated sugar . It is soaked in juices and the most delicious crepe you can ever serve !

 

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Quatre: Oh well …we need Creme Chantilly s’il vous plait ! 
An other totally ingenious gadget that makes whipped cream in less than a minute . Just ad room temperature heavy whipping cream in the jar with the 3 special silicon balls , a little powder sugar and shake …it is magic ! No mess , no electric whip …and the  whipped cream stays whipped for a couple of days if you can resist eating it all !
 

IMG_8385 (Large).JPGEt voila ! Now you are ready for the Chandeleur !

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 These not so “gadgets” after all …are any kitchen’s best tool ! The chicken is fabulous ,infused with flavors , steamed and not dry …served with roasted chestnuts warmed up in the gravy …even better than potatoes !

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The secret is in the holes ….will make your pizza crust evenly crunchy …IMG_8741 (Large).JPG

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Noel Noel ! Getting ready for the Holidays …

Gaston is all dressed up and playing Santa with the kids !

Come take your photo with him for your Christmas card !IMG_2144 (Large).JPG

IMG_8256 - Copy (Large).JPGFew ideas to decorate the house

IMG_8249 - Copy (2) (Large).JPGLighted Eiffel Towers or penguins : ornaments or card holder …perfect to hold a photo and keep year round !

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Christmas linens from Garnier Thiebaut ( table top, runners, towels )IMG_8263 - Copy (Large).JPGHipsters , birds , bears felt ornaments 

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IMG_8295 - Copy (Large).JPGOur Creche is set up too

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Gift boxes from Fragonard perfumes and soapsIMG_8298 - Copy (Large).JPG

IMG_8247 (Large).JPGGift Baskets, Corporate gift boxes : Let us do the work for you !

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IMG_8291 - Copy (Large).JPGIts a glitter wonderland in our window !

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Fall 2017

Beautiful fall wreath made in house out of recycled pine needles !

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Flour sack towels and paper napkins  printed with Cynthia Dunn’s watercolors Harvest pumpkins ; and the Best cook book ever is back in stock !

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White fig candles …my favorite fruit and scent !

IMG_7187 (Large).JPGSince are talking about food…Foie gras sound good  now that the days are cooler

IMG_7189 (Large).JPGNew patterns in our popular plastic dishes ! Perfect for fall busy entertaining season

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Lots of new Garnier Thiebaut towels came in to brighten this Fall !

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Aprons too !

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Paris is always a great idea specially on those beautiful damask  placemats and table top 

by Garnier Thiebaut ( in Green sweet treatment stain proof ) 

IMG_7169 (Large).JPG2018 Paris desk and wall calendars are in ! As well as some cute new stationary .

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IMG_7191 (Large).JPGIts never too early to stock on a great gift !

I just fell in love with these scented wax medallions and “curiosities” A new spin on classic botanical wax . Smell just as pretty as it looks !

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IMG_7204 (Large).JPGThese are wax ornaments not candles but still I could not resist the matches box

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Super soft cashmere blend ponchos , felt cross body bag , silicone necklace from Tzuri Gueta Paris and a beret  : fall and winter in style  like a Parisienne  !22810343_10203364525590740_2057081805_o.jpg

Striped ponchos come in many great combinations of colors 22810183_10203364526190755_1899194513_o.jpg

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Our new doormats for cat or dog lovers !

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All New !

It is almost the end of the summer …a busy summer for us with a trip back to France ( will post some photos soon I promise ! ) Lots of buying and unpacking to make the shop all new again !

IMG_2541 (Large).JPGOur saussissons are 100% knitted in France and ready to decorate your kitchen or trick a friend !

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Opinel the perfect picnic , hiking knife , Made in the French Alps since 1880 . A must have   ( from $12 )

IMG_2546 (Large).JPG  Opinel steak knives in Ash wood , new plastic plates in modern grey and taupe 

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Olives picking baskets

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Decorative tree trunk looking pots …make a beautiful cache pot for orchids !

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Whimsical lanterns to light up your garden party !

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Need help putting it all together ? This book has it all !

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IMG_2254 (Large).JPGNew soft Linen Scarves

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Indigo Canvas bag, linen scarf and necklaces from Parisian designer T.Gueta

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Plastic woven baskets , perfect for the beach or groceries ….light weight and easy to clean !

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Fragonard perfumes and soaps are all back in stock 

New scent  Rose-Lavender

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Men are also covered now with a whole new dedicated section with Eaux de toilette, Soaps, shaving needs

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Pour “Monsieur” masculine scents for his bathroom too

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Our all time best seller liquid soap from Marseille …the most gentle soaps for you hands with 72% of oil has a new light scent added to the collection “Olive Wood ”

Brushes from Andre Jardin , Made in France using high quality raw material Useful as beautiful

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Also new is the hand lotion matching the new modern bottles of Black or white tea liquid soaps

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Soft Laundered linen towels are the best to dry glasses !

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New Soaps from Mistral

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Lavender bath salts , exfoliating pouch, travel candle, cream, shower gel, sachets …these are made with the finest lavender oil , our best !

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Its all in the title ! Really All new Paris , young , Hip ….and yes there are some French Hipsters !

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