Thursday, July 31, 2014

Le Bristol Paris Tea Time

Some days you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Other days you feel light as a feather barely touching the ground.

Yesterday was one of those days.

Afternoon tea at Le Bristol Paris at 112, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré 75008

Simply divine.

The hotel opened in 1925

5 ***** luxury

Yet afternoon tea is an affordable luxury. Pretend you're a princess for a day. Why not?

Meet my teatime companion, Aussie journalist/editior Michelle Lollo living in Paris. We met at le Chateau de la Barbee last December. We were guests of Le Bristol yesterday.

OK, let's get this over with.
Michelle's Fab sunglasses: Karen Walker from New Zealand so Forgetaboutit.
Michelle's darling stripped shirt is not French. From Esprit in Australia. Forgetaboutit.
Michelle's lipstick? MAC: Fresh Moroccan. Bullseye! I ran out and bought it post-tea. Love it.
Why do I always covet other people's lipsticks?
Here's a fashion tip from Michelle. She knows these things since she just interviewed Juliette Binoche. For example you must wear your sunglasses slightly down the bridge of your nose or you'll look like a dork. Who knew?

Michelle's red patent leather brogues? Men's shoes bought in Portugal. All the chic people seem to be wearing men's shoes!? Who knew?

On to more important things - Tea time at Le Bristol at Jardin Française.

I had to eat most of this since Michelle is gluten-intolerant, but the chef made up a gorgeous fruit plate especially for her. For lunch at the Brasserie they will make up anything you like since everything is made in-house. (The tea tray for two is 55 euros). Instead of tea we drank iced fresh mint in bubbly Chateldon1650 water made for us by request.

My delicate bite-sized tea sandwiches.

Mignardise desserts. Michelle can eat the fabulous macaron caramel au beurre sale since there's no wheat. Extremement caramelly in my opinion. Miam.

I may be 'semi-faux-gluten-intollerant' Michelle says, since I don't eat pastry crusts. She was shocked at what I left on my plate. Especially the unctuous chocolate cake, but a girl has to watch herself doesn't she if she wants to keep going out to tea.

The head chef at Le Bristol, Eric Frechon is a MOF, meilleurs ouvriers de France, meaning he's been awarded the most highly-prized top craftsman of France. So has his assistant chef. The Bristol has 4 MOFs onboard. the most for any hotel in Paris and their restaurant Epicure has 4 Michelin guide stars - another Paris record.

The barman at Le Bar Bristol, Maxime Hoerth is also a MOF, one of only two in France. Do stop in and have a drink in the lap of luxury.

Did you see the movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel this year? All hotels have their secret backstories.

Le Bristol Paris is no different. I admired the elaborate ironwork elevator cage. Our guide told us it was designed by Jewish architect, Leo Lerman well-hidden in the hotel during the Second World War by the German owners. His room had no number so no one could find him.

There's also a secret 'house' cat, Fa-Raon (named after the Egyptian pharoh) at the hotel well-hidden in his own ballroom. Pas mal for a cat's life.

I knew a secret our guide didn't know. The heavenly pool on the hotel's top floor was designed by the same architect who designed Aristotle Onassis' pool on his private yacht, or that's what they told me when I stayed at the hotel for one brief night eons ago in mad pursuit for air conditioning in a sweltering Paris.
 
Simply divine no? Afternoon tea at these top notch 4-5 star Paris hotels is an affordable luxury anyone can enjoy. Why not treat yourself to tea at Le Bristol
Meanwhile back at OK Carolle it's crunch time. We bought bags of beautiful French tomates to draw for the August Sketch Letter, including the irresistible miniature bag from Pain d'Epice in Passage Panorama. You can still renew your subscription PBers and get an original cherry watercolor in your mailbox by the way. Cheers Carolg

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ciel Bleu

Paris is very much 'ciel bleu' /blue skies these days and the temperatures are right up there.

I thought I'd stroll over to Paris Plages - the summer 'beach' along the Seine created with real sand but no waves to get your feet wet.

I was surprised what fun it is! Near me at Pont Sully loads of Parisians are lolling on blue and white stripped mats on the grass and having picnics like mad.

By Hotel de Ville there are outdoor cafes, water fountains, ice cream stands, you name it.

Who could resist?

I had a cooling lemonade in the shade.

There's a Batobus stop right by the café. I decided what the heck. 

The Batobus hits 8 different Paris monuments on it's route along the Seine.

One of you asked if Parisians are wearing flip flops dans la rue? At the pool yes.

But in the street jamais. All manner of sandals are de rigueur.

Quite a few PBers sent me the link to Lindsey Tramuta's story in the Wall street Journal on the top 5 trending Paris pastries. Thank you! Naturally I felt obliged to taste the little sponge cakes at Japanese patisserie, Ciel 4, rue Monge 75005

Plenty of exotic flavors like Basilic and of course Thé vert matcha.

I peeked in the back fascinated by the mini angel food cake molds. Did your mom make this cake too?

At Ciel they offer a little lunch tray of sandwiches plus a passion fruit miniature sponge.

Are sponge cake and angel food the same thing? Inside is mango cream. Light and refreshing. Airy.

Outside Ciel has soft-serve ice cream - thé vert and fleur d'orange.

Who could resist? Not yours truly. I was going to do August's Paris Sketch Letter on ice cream but I decided against it. Someone has been eating too much ice cream! Oink Oink. Hope you're having a fun summer too PBers! Cheers Carolg

Friday, July 25, 2014

Glace Vanille 101

It's that time of year when we Must eat ice cream.


As soon as I got my walking sticks/becquille, I was outta here.


Off to get me some ice cream.


Chapon on 69, rue du Bac has esquimaux popsicles covered in their own chocolat noir.
I was after a good old fashioned cone. Chapon has an interesting square scoop by the way.


A few doors down at Le Gâteau et du Pain they now have ice cream!


Unfortunately they were not open ;(


Not far off is traditional Le Bac à Glaces so this is a good route to take if you're researching ice cream.


When Louise of Raids Patisserie announced a vanilla ice cream tasting I was in. We were to bring 2 small pots of any of the following brands:
Berthillon, Pascal Le Glacier, Raimo, Pozzetto, Martine Lambert, Le Bac à glaces, Sébastien Dégardin, Liberté / Benoît Castel, Hugo & Victor, Christian Constant, Glazed, La Tropicale.


Living around the corner from Berthillon I knew my assignment, but they do not provide lids for their cups so I went for a big block of vanille and prayed it would not melt in the steamy heat wave we're having in Paris.


There were 7 of us and 10 different vanilla ice creams to taste. !!!


No double dipping was allowed of course. We went through hundreds of little spoons.


Rules must be followed at Louise's tasting. First of all SILENCE. We need to concentrate so no chatter among participants. We are to judge aroma, mouth feel, consistency, appearance, whatever we deem important.
*= scandalous **= not so scandalous ***= pas mal or good ****= very good indeed *****=heaven on earth and the best of the bunch.


On my left, Julie, a perfume aficionado surely has good taste buds but who can read her fine French handwriting ? On my right, Miguel from Mexique, a baker at Frederic Lalos is also writing in French. Hmmm...


My notes/scrawl tell the tale. Louise will post the final results in detail soon though I can tell you the WINNER was Crème Glacee Absolu Vanille of Le Gateau et la Pain! 89, rue du Bac 75007


I picked up little meringues at Berthillon and brought along  some vanille de Madagascar to sniff. The meringues dipped in the melting vanilla ice cream was definitely 'heaven on earth'.


Is there anything better than melted vanilla ice cream soup? Not in my book. YUM


Our team leader, Louise lapping up a bit of vanilla soup.