Friday, February 28, 2014

You've Got Paris Mail !

No, I did not fall into the Seine this week.
I've been walking round the island fishing for an idea...something to entice you with.
It's impossible to go two steps on Ile Saint Louis without noticing marine influences...
Like this ornate golden dolphin at Hotel (particulier) de Lauzun. Granted if you live by the water (the Seine) decorative marine ornaments are a natural are they not?
As a big scallop lover I moved to the right part of town.
Multiple variations on a theme everywhere.
At one time scallops/coquille were rare and highly prized by the wealthy who kept them as keepsakes and displayed as a sign of luxe.
 On a more practical level traveling monks carried the shells around as eating implements.
Their sinuous curves suited 17th century Rococo designers perfectly. The word Rococo/Rocaille means rock - shell garden.
I see Rococo curves in the many ice cream holders/support pour cornets on the island.

I'm starting a new monthly subscription sketch letter on Etsy. The February sheet is full of scallop shells on Ile Saint Louis among other nonsense.
You can subscribe for 6, 12  or 18 months and receive a piece of Parisian whimsy in your mail.
I'm not sure exactly what the subject will be from month to month. I'd love to hear your ideas. I'm open to suggestions.
Of course there will be bits and pieces of Paris paraphernalia.
THE 1ST 100 SUBSCRIBERS WILL RECEIVE A BONUS GILLOTT WATERCOLOR SCRAP added to their envelopes. Bear has subscribed. He lives right here (and is French !) 
Please take a look on Etsy .
Do tell me if you'd like to get mail from Paris.
Bon Week-end PBers.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Why Go 2 The Salon de l'Agriculture

When I was little, many times at the dinner table I would ask my dad,
"When are we going to move to a farm?"
He would always say, "Soon".
Maybe that's why I love going to the Paris Agriculture Salon. Course you will never feel like a tourist there since everyone is a tourist.
And you can taste many, many kinds of butter...
And an enormous amount of cheese.
You can become a cheese at the salon...
There are many pretty packages to admire (of cheese).
Plus it's the only place I know, without getting on a train to Rennes, where you can get a half dozen oysters for 7,50€. With wine 8€
Or a brochette of four scallops for 6€ !
You can see cows eating their breakfast, lunch and dinner. It doesn't seem to change...
Wanna pet a very large cow?
No problem. This is the place. It's almost like having your own farm.
Or you can pet a model of a goat while tasting goat cheese.
Did you know there was a museum of cheese in Evian? Just as all the regional foods are represented so are their tourist offices. So you can pick up a slew of travel maps and gite info and what have you.
You can see many people wearing their local costumes...
True some of them look rather bored...
Did you know you can go just 17 km outside Paris to a farm and pick berries and cabbages? Bet that wasn't what you were dreaming of when you thought of coming to Paris. Still it could be a lot of a fun.
You can taste buttermilk and so many other things you'd rather not taste but might change your mind about after doing so...
Or slather you face with avocado muck straight from Guadelupe
You'll find vanilla in more forms than you imagined.
And eat if you like in an Alsatian or Avernaise or Burgundian restaurant surrounding all the food stands. And finally you canhave some of that delicious hand-cranked coconut ice cream I told you about. Are you sold yet?  Hope so!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Salon de l'Agriculture 2014

Saturday was opening day for the 10-day annual Salon de l'Agriculture fair. It's my all-time favorite event in Paris bar none.
Photo by le DL/J.L.
Great beauty, Bella and queen of this year's salon has been flirting with us for weeks in the Metro.
Meeting her in person(?) couldn't have been nicer. What a darling Tarentaise from the Alpes.
The Agriculture salon takes over all of huge convention center Porte de Versailles (near the end of the #12 Metro line but not at the actual Chateau Versailles by the way).
Isn't it nice how they try to make some animals feel at home at the show? I went late yesterday and only hit building 7 (where all the French regional food and wines are on floors 7.2 and 7.3).
Do sheep bite? They looked so benign, but when I went to give a pat, he/she leaped back and looked at me with horror. Evidently some farm animals skipped their pre-show training classes I guess...
I am a huge fan of any kind of bleu cheese. Maybe it's the color factor. I hope to share the Roquefort-nut bread they were demoing here.
And look!
Gustave Doré at the agriculture salon! Or did the D'Orsay co-ordinate their exhibition with the salon? Qui sait?
This time last year I was a vegan in process of becoming a meat-eater post-agriculture salon.
Now all of this looks so yummy...
Demi jambon sec is now a big favorite thing especially cut up small and added to a salad...
Have you had Alsacienne 'pizza'? Called tarte flambée or Flammkuchen it's  creme fraiche + fromage blanc + les oignons + les lardons/bacon bits and delicious.
I got some Luques olives this time from the Sud de Provence venders.
But not these tempting vats of olive oil from specific olives...
No tarteflette either yet...
Duck everything in every form is at the salon.
The Basques are out in force. Well every region of France is represented selling their specialties. Could you ask for anything better?
Wines from Burgundy were begging me to taste...
While the cask-making demo was going on...
I discovered flasks identifying the different aromas in Burgundy wines; floral, citrusy, dried fruits, spicy, woody, red fruits...
Simply inhale...wonderful.
As always the Bretons are singing and slurping beer or cider.
And the Breton kouign amann was beckoning. I resisted this time.
Beautiful leeks for your soup from the Loire.
And you could throw in a dash of liqueur from cepes/mushrooms for fun if you like. Intensely flavorful.
Maybe I'll get a dozen escargot today or the oysters. I only hit one floor of the two French regional food floors and only a corner of it. I could not pass by freshly cranked-out coconut ice cream from Reunion without tasting. I don't even like anything coconut but this was heaven. The Salon de l'Agriculture is on through 2 March everyday 9 - 7 pm. If you're in Paris it's a DON'T MISS IMHO. More reports to come. Stay tuned.