Thursday, May 31, 2007

Piaf and My Second Cousin

I took this shot my last day in Paris on the Champs-Élysées I was surprised Monday morning, to see an ad for La Vie En Rose in my sidebar!
On the flight over to France I saw A Good Year, an adorable film that takes place in Provence. Marion Cotillard plays the female lead, sought after by Russell Crowe. I'd planned to see La Vie en Rose in Paris, not knowing Cotillard also plays Edith Piaf..

My cousin at her local Pigalle cafe.. My cousin K. (really my second cousin) lives in Pigalle and I knew she'd want to see the Edith Piaf movie. K. always dresses in blue, always wears a blue beret like a true Frenchie... She's tiny and a bit of a "piaf" (slang for sparrow) herself.

She saw many Piaf concerts and attended Piaf's last, final concert. K. knows all the songs.
My cousin has a Tea Cup Yorkie...another little piaf / sparrow called Punchy. We did get to see La Vie En Rose together (it was called La Mome in Paris, slang for "the kid"). It was in French with no subtitles. Still at the end, I cried buckets and my cousin sang the La Vie en Rose song... On the flight home I got to see La Vie en Rose with subtitles and watched it 3 more times. My cousin was born in Poland. Her motto is, Carpe Diem.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bergdorf's Bleu et Blanc

31 Mars 2007, watercolor, 9" x 11"
Just about 2 months ago Claire had me over for Sunday petit dejeuner.
Her new grandson, Tado, had been babtised the day before and she asked me to paint a watercolor.
It's tradional to give guests at the babtism a little momento - This pale blue box of draggee / almond candies was the gift. I tried several different setups using C.'s blue and white china. In the end they looked too complicated, even with yellow bird.
While combing through some pictures yesterday I found these Bergdorf Xmas windows from 2005.Full of blue and white china.And manikins having a tea party.I couldn't resist...showing you even if it is May.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Paris L'Abricotage

Making Abricotage, watercolor. 9" x 11"

A reader said...your eye for detail is something special! I would hate to have to try to sneak past you.

One thing I noticed in Paris - an obsession with GLOSS, sheen, shine, and sparkle.

Called "abricotage" or abricoter when you glaze a tarte with a syrup made of apricot confiture/jam. A "before and after" shot from Plus visual instructions on making your own abricotage glace. It's not rocket science. I made it.

Do Paris' grey skies make Parisians long for sparkle?
Do Parisians need cheering up?
Is glossiness the answer?
Shine and gloss can be found even at your average Paris cafe.
In New York, if you’re looking for gloss, go to a nail salon.

If you see your reflection in the top of a French tarte,
a pastry chef has achieved the Nirvana of pastry.
I attended the
Lyon World Pastry Cup in '95. Those pastry chefs welded 10" wide bristle brushes of abricotage like it was the World Series. I was taking pictures but I missed that shot. 12 top chefs sat at a long table in full view of the audience, judging and tasting the various team's desserts. Was "gloss" a factor in judging on a scale of 1 - 10?
Gloss/abricotage is on Pierre Herme's pastry palette.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Just pretend you're sitting out at a French cafe this morning...
Merisi wrote this morning (impatiently I might add...)
Here I am, starving, and still waiting for my shot at Paris Breakfast!
Well pretend, Merisi this is your cup of cafe creme...
Why oh why do New York cafes think they can "pretend" to be Parisian?
Give up New York cafes!
Just look on any New York cafe tabletop
Do you see reflections like these?
Malheureusement (unhappily) you do not :(
Pretend your great novel is not going so well...
So what!
You're in Paris
The sun is shining
You can happily nurse your on cup of espresso till the cows come home
No one will care one way or the other...
Only in Paris.
Just pretend you're passing this perfect cafe table on your way to Gawd knows where...
You imagine coming back for dinner with an exciting stranger (Parisian bien sur)
Hmmm...the l'addition (bill) has arrived...
Hmmm...the dregs in your cup are talking to you...
Time to get on your bicycle and go off to the real world.
Still it's fun to pretend...sigh

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Andree Putman and "Vodka"...

One of Paris' many attractions along with macarons, Pierre Herme, couture, Hausmannian architecture is you can get a GREAT HAIRCUT almost anywhere. Plus the water is hard and alkaline and wrecks havoc on your hair. It behooves you to run the first day to a hair salon. Last trip I had no special place to go, so I just picked a chic looking salon and made an appointment. When I returned standing at reception was ANDREE PUTMAN, France's most important interior designer. DRW calls Putman the Coco Chanel of interior design. She's done interiors for Yves St. Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Thierry Mugler, Azzedine Alaia, Cartier, Ebel, mannequins for Barneys, and the AirFrance Concorde. You get the picture?
As I sat in the salon chair she was standing in front of me, paying for her perfect helmet hairdo. Very tall, very trim, wearing a long black skirt, very high, strappy heels and black tights. No jewelry except for a giant knock-your-eye-out diamond ring.
Utterly simple. Utterly chic. Did I mention that Putman is 82 years old. I could not take my eyes off her.Neither could the guy cutting my hair. While we both watched, I got a lousy haircut.A day later I told M. the story of my bad haircut and Andree Putman. M. doesn't mince words. Once I showed her a watercolor of some red heart-shaped cookies.
Her response,"Hmmm...looks like a piece of jambon/red meat"

This time her response, "'s short on top and long on the bottom" M. got out her cell and started dialing. "Can you make it 3:30 tomorrow?"Yes! Yes! Anything! Off I marched next day to Karine Orson, M.'s hairdresser of 11 years to be fixed.
*Here's one of Paris' secrets.

Every single Parisien arrondissement has it's own BEST boulangerie, chocolatiere, marche, wine shop, cafe, hair salon where the locals go and have been going to for years. You need a good Parisian friend to steer you to their favorite.
While I got the perfect cut, petit chien blanc, VODKA looked on. I was smitten and distracted. But this time I didn't have to worry.VODKA's owner, Karine Orson, salon owner did damage control. After 45 minutes my hair looked fine. But Karine said, "I'm a maniac...I'm a maniac!" and trimmed more hairs.THE haircut! I was busy shooting VODKA...Karine is on the right holding the adorable VODKA with her assistant.Karine wears a chic "hairy" sweater outfit so stray cut hairs don't make a difference.
MERCI Karine, VODKA & M. too!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Au Chai de l'Abbaye

AU CHAI DE L'ABBAYE, original watercolor, 9" x 11" BONJOUR! It's breakfast today or petit dejeuner (petit dej'Stop drooling and put away your bibs!
AU CHAI DE L'ABBAYE is like a lot of nice typical Parisian "local" cafs.
And it was around the corner from my hotel on 26, rue de Buci 75006
I like to show prices - makes it less intimidating don't you think?
No sticker shock - you know what you're in for.
I tend to go for the petit dejeuner complet in the name of research for you pajama-dressed readers.
My pal here (I DID NOT EAT ALL OF THIS!) went for the "Frenchier" breakfast of
hot drink + croissant.
Here is AU CHAI DE L'ABBAYE's chocolat chaud / hot chocolate.
It looks pretty, non?
But it's nothing to write home about and not going to make it into any TOP 10 list.
Just your average supermarket powdered hot chockie drink.
Still looks count for something...
Help me out here.
I think this may be a croissant that is not made with pur beurre...
I always get mixed up :(
If the arms are stretched out = it's got margerine?
If the croissant is crescent shaped = it's pur beurre?
Or is it the other way around?
There are government rules on croissants...
I get the feeling that most neighborhood locals sit at the bar for p.d.
They chat with the barman and share newspapers etc.
I always feel shy and sit at a table :(See the smartly dressed woman in the hat sitting at the bar?
She's holding a small white doggie.
Again too shy to get a better photo :(
The END.
I love to show the "demise" of a petit dejeuner.
This is what I'd really like to paint!
I did go on to have 2 more petit dejeuners that morning.
All in the name of research :)
Do you have a favorite "local" Paris cafe?
Tell me about it and I'll visit next time!
Merci Kris for solving the Croissant mystery - PLEASE Click on this picture and watch the croissant movie!The WINNER of the croissant mystery IS KRIS!
Kris found this indepth analysis of the Paris' croissant by expert Francois Simon at Le
Click HERE and watch the experts taste Paris' best croissants

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Cruel 2 B Kind...

freefalling said the other day...
You're a very cruel person, aren't you?
Tantalizing all us poor antipodeans with the enormous variety of hot chocolate available in the northern hemisphere. I've just had to wipe the drool off the keyboard!
I thought I'd lay on the cruelty with a trowel today
Especially since I know you're still in your "jim-jams"...
That's for the Aussies out there :)
Look! These are "healthy" desserts right? All fruity...
And if you don't eat the crust like some crazy people,
these might be considered part of your daily fruit and veg quota..non?
We'll just ignore the glossy l'abricotage coating on them :)
Ok Enough of these fruity desserts you say...
I'll take my grapefruit in a bowl with a spoon, thank you very much!There's something here for everyone...
Chocolate anyone? Et voila!
This is the patisserie where you can find all these divine creations on rue Lobineau.
Gerard Mulot is every bit as creative as M. Herme or J-P Hevin.
Maybe his gateaux look more traditional but they are right up there with Paris' best!
And now a snack / gouter for the blogger posting this drool-worthy post..
Click on this picture and jump in.
The water's (Tarte au Citron) fine :)