Drouot auction house

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Decades ago, I had a Parisian boyfriend named Raoul. Raoul was a snob and a sophisticate (which is not the same thing as a sophisticated snob). On Saturday afternoons he liked to meet up with his equally snobbish friends at Drouot. I was invited to tag along. Like him, his friends were journalists at either Reuters or AFP (Agence France Presse.) 

Back then, I was far from being a sophisticate. Before Drouot, the only auctions I had ever attended were in country barns in rural Ontario (my family had a weekend farm east of Toronto.)

Raoul had a penchant for Persian and Oriental rugs and would bid on them at Drouot. These rugs below remind me of him. Incidentally, Drouot is pronounced “Drew-oh”, the “r” in the back of the throat.

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Look at these beautiful pressed flowers over a hundred years old.

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Drouot is fun because anyone can just walk on in and attend the sales. Entrance is free. There are several rooms upstairs and sales occur simultaneously. There’s a lot of activity and people milling around. If you like beautiful, eclectic things and objects of historical value, I suggest that you go. Sales usually start at 2 p.m. Here below is the sale of postcards. A few years ago, a postcard dated October 1899 and signed Guillaume Apollinaire sold for 8,000 euros.

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You can also bid via telephone and internet.  Closest metro stop is Richelieu-Drouot on lines 8 and 9.  There are some good restaurants and bistros in this bustling area: Au Petit Riche on the rue le Peletier, Chartier at number 7 rue du Fauboug Montmartre, 75009 Paris. And there are the passages to explore as well. Make a day of it! 

http://www.drouot.com/

my French heaven

Stéphane is a bon vivant from the Bordeaux region. He’s also an exceptional, and I mean truly superb, photographer. He offers personalized food and wine tours and photography workshops in the Bordeaux region of France. You can also hire him as a wedding or portrait photographer.

cherry clafoutis

photograph courtesy of My French Heaven

His recipes, many borrowed from his grandmother, are tempting indeed. I know that I’m going to be making his cherry clafoutis recipe this weekend. Miam! (that’s ‘Yummy’ in French.)

Here’s his URL below. Enjoy!

https://myfrenchheaven.com/

new Elton John Christmas ad

Who doesn’t like Elton John? I grew up with him. I have a vivid memory of me and my gal pals cruising around our Toronto suburb on Friday and Saturday nights. Sandy had her mother’s car, a gigantic boat-like Pontiac, a Grand Prix I think it was. Massive. It was the 1970s and I was a teenager. We’d drive around all night, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes mixed with pot and singing at the top of our lungs. The 8-track cassette in the tape deck was Elton John Greatest Hits, the song of the moment Bennie and the Jets.

Be-Be-Be-Bennie and the Jets. Remember?

Of course, there was also Rocket Man, Your Song, Daniel, Tiny Dancer, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, and oh, so many many more. Around midnight we’d meet up with the local boys at Ice Queen and gorge on double cheeseburgers, fries and chocolate shakes. We thought we were the coolest ever. In the moment.

Anyway, fast-forward four decades and John Lewis department store in Britain has crafted a heart-warming Christmas ad this year.

From The Guardian newspaper –

The John Lewis advert is bookended by the singer performing Your Song at his first piano in what is supposed to be the sitting room of his London home. The middle charts his path from school and pub gigs in the London suburb of Pinner to pop mega-stardom, complete with technicolour outfit changes that include a stars and stripes sequinned suit and pink mohican.

With a little poetic licence the ad traces the singer’s musicianship back to the Christmas gift of a piano in the early 1950s, when the then Reginald Dwight was growing up under the watchful eye of his mother and grandmother. One scene, which re-enacts him nervously playing at a school recital, is expected to bring tears to the eyes of thousands of parents of would-be musicians.

“I hope audiences will watch this and really enjoy the national treasure that is Elton John,” said Craig Inglis, customer director at John Lewis & Partners.

 

 

making baking breaking bread

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I don’t know about you, but I’m going to put all the troubles of the world aside and bake some bread, some dense, delicious, high-fibre rye bread. I saw the above photo, and decided it was something I kneaded (pardon the pun) to do. Not just to eat, but to make. There’s something very satisfying about making bread: mixing, kneading, letting it rise then punching it down and letting it rise a second time.

Yesterday I ate a bowl of sweet potato-butternut squash soup (homemade), and it cried out for a slice or two of rye. Making your own bread isn’t that difficult. Thanks to Paul Hollywood’s recipes below, he’s made it user friendly. It’s important to buy good quality organic flour, not the industrial stuff. This recipe calls for rye flour and white flour.

It also calls for treacle. Treacle! I’m not sure where I’m going to find that in France … I don’t even know how to say it. (Just looked it up, it’s mélasse, as in molasses.) Although I’m not sure they’re quite the same thing.

Anyway, sometimes it’s time to turn off the toxic news, listen to some music or a good podcast, and bake some bread.

Qui sème bon grain récolte bon pain. (He who sows good grain, harvests good bread.)

Enjoy!

https://www.bbc.com/food/rye_flour

https://www.bbc.com/food/chefs/paul_hollywood

Christine and the Queens

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Her name is Héloïse Letissier and she was born in Nantes on the west coast of France. She’s a singer, songwriter and producer. Such a charming vintage name, Héloïse, which of course reminds one of the highly popular Eloise books for children. Authored by Kay Thompson in the 1950s, the books feature a six-year-old precocious girl, an enfant terrible, who lives in The Plaza Hotel in NYC.

Before forming her solo musical group, Christine and the Queens – in London – Héloïse studied theater and dance. She was inspired by Michael Jackson and Pina Bausch. Her work combines music, performance, art videos, drawings and photography.

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She spends most of her time in London now. Her English is excellent. She’s been nominated for, and has won, many musical awards. Here’s an interview with her on British television:

 

Saturday brunch

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We’re currently enjoying a 4-day weekend here in France. Thursday and Friday it rained, but today was sunny, dry and cold. A perfect day to meet up with friends for brunch. Emerging from my lair where I had been holed up for two days, I jumped on the metro and crossed town.

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I love this photo. H. on the left was born in Denmark, the boy is Swedish. Around the table four languages were spoken – Swedish, Danish, French and English. Living multiculturally and multilingually is very enriching.

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The delicious soup came from here; check out this website for amazing recipes –

http://www.kathrynbruton.com/recipes/