Monday, May 16, 2022

Home from Provence


Coming home from Provence yesterday I was a little bit triste. 
How was Paris going to feel. In fact it feels wonderful.

Sometimes it takes time to come back to earth, but instead I feel refreshed and inspired. 
After such a wonderful trip. We did different things everyday. We ate in local places. And we ate in at Wlady and Shannon’s charming apartment. Everyone in the town of Villeneuve was so friendly. That doesn’t happen often on a short trip. 
The food, the colors, the aromas, always fresh, seasonal and inventive. We were surrounded by beauty. 
I tried copying Chardin’s pile of berries (from the Louvre) while we filled jam jars with delicious berries
Always a fun challenge 🍓
The view out my window at Hotel de l’Atelier.never disappoints. 

Imade a little jam watercolor for the hotel proprietor. 
For our last dinner, Wlady and Shannon cooked up a perfect storm of beautiful food.
White asparagus in béarnaise sauce, a tajine of chicken and the piece de resistance, individual roasted strawberry tarts with mandarine gelato! 
Just that morning I had declared I would not be going to the big brocante fair in Villeneuve’s huge parking lot. 
But on our early morning stroll, Gemma, the Hound of Baskerville, led me 
To a perfect storm of French check 1930’s Lustucru enamelware that blew my socks off,
Any still life artist’s dream come true. That naughty Gemma. Bad dog! Here’s proof I can make a crazy mess in my hotel room as well as at home. Of course, Bear 🐻 is not best pleased to have stayed home and missed out on the shopping spree. Please share with your friends and visit my Etsy shop for lovely Real Paris mail 💌 in your mailbox 📮 Bonne Tuesday PBers!

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Chocolate Retreat in Provence


I forgot on Monday to mention I’d be running off next day (6:00 am /TGV) to Villeneuve les AvignonIn fact I overslept (a first) and woke up at 5:01! Oh la la la la

Somehow I made it to the train, just.🤸‍♂️Villeneuve is a stunning, small, medieval Provencal village you never heard of, just 10 minutes from Avignon .

I am here for a 5-day chocolate 

And jam retreat. And yes, it is a religious experience. I lost count of the times I died and went to heaven this week.

Darling  Shannon and Wlady Grochowski of La Châtelaine Chocolat Co. of Montana and Burgundy are our celestial guides. “So kind of you to let me come”,😊 Shannon and Wlady(who is 100% Parisian btw).

We are staying at heavenly l’Atelier de hotel.My room is much bigger than my Paris chambre de bonne.

My atelier in the Hotel de l’Atelier. 
I am trying hard to remember what croissants look like. Practice makes perfect🥐🥐🥐
Across the street at #2, Shannon explains about les herbes de Provence and the famous Provençal garrigue
We will infuse our tempered chocolate with thyme, menthe and jasmin Shannon has hand-picked herself. 
Look at the pretty place settings Shannon set out for each of us! 
We attack the chocolate. “Ever onward into the breach”.
We try desperately not to give in to over-dipping into the Valrhona melted chocolate 🍫 with our fingers. Some of us succumb. Oscar Wilde said, “ The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it”.
After much blood, sweat and tears over the melting chocolate(not) 
We go back to the hotel’s out door garden for an l’apero and grignote/snacks)
Then a strawberry tarte (4 different kinds of berries) Shannon just threw together. Oh la di da
Meet Gemma on the team. I am allowed to walk her as much as I want, though she flirts with everyone equally and not as discriminating as she could be😳 imho
More croissant etudes from day2, jam-making day!🤸‍♂️ And more to come shortly dear PBers. Please share with your friends and visit my Etsy shop for lovely Real Paris mail 💌 in your mailbox 📮 

Monday, May 09, 2022

Maman at Sadaharu Aoki Tea Salon


Most of the Mom stories have already been told. I’m late to the soirée.

I remember My mom, who liked the high life, once took me for tea at The Palm Court in the Plaza hotel, NYC. 
I was her foil when she wanted to browse the inside seams of haut-couture outfits she could not afford but wanted to copy. Browsing is evidently a genetic trait I got from my mom.
This past weekend I was looking at old Parisbreakfast posts (there are 2,802 to browse through). 
In May, 2006 I visited the tea salon of top pâtissier, Sadaharu Aoki
His exquisite, green matcha desserts (his specialty), elegant Bernadeau cups and
The  classic tetsuba teapots looked fun to paint.  
I ordered the matcha mille-feuille with wild strawberry tea. Mom, you taught me well ☺️ But how the H to eat this extravaganza of green tea creme and brittle multi leaves of pastry? Merci deux for syncronisity🙏  
Just at that moment as I was about to plunge in my fork and have it go flying, darling renown pastry author Jill Colonna of Mad About Macaron fame, did a demo on her instagram stories—how to eat a mille-feuille!🙏🤸‍♂️
Ta da! The day was saved. One must cut one’s mille-feuille ‘side-saddle’ Thank you 👏 dearest Jill💋 
Ah the nuances of French daily life. Things your mom may not have taught you (who knew it would be needed? One prefers not to recall what one did à table pre-Jill😳 
By the way I told the 2 kind vendeuses I wanted to set up a still life and paint it later. 
They were helpful finding the correct-sized tea spoon from 3 different sizes. I made a few pencil ✏️  sketches on site as warmups. 
They did giggle a bit☺️ It would have been loverly if my mom could have joined me for tea at Sadaharu Aoki’s tea salon. I know she would have adored it as much as I did. Do give it a try. There are 4 shops in Paris and quite a few in Japan. That’s my late ‘Mom’ story PBers. I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day Sunday. Thanks for stopping by. My watercolors and Paris letters are waiting for you on Etsy 😊 🐻❤️💋