05/15/2018

Planning a summer trip to France ?

                              It's not too late to plan that summer trip to Europe  !!

Paris is always a great idea !IMG_1603 (Large).JPG

Strasbourg was a wonderful day stop IMG_0970 (Large).JPG

Provence is home ...IMG_1736 (Large).JPG

San Diego has now some good non stop flights not only to London on British Airways but to Germany on Lufthansa as well . Avoiding LA nightmare or a connection is the way to go when you are not 25 years old anymore :  11 hours trip versus 25 hours ...I'll fly non stop !  My recommendation would be a night flight so you can rest and relax in the plane as you are already tired from your day , you arrive late afternoon in Europe and it is time to sleep again . Next morning you are ready to explore and enjoy your vacation . The opposite is flying during the day time from SD , witch mean you cannot even snooze for an hour . When you arrive in Europe , it's morning  again and you have to go on for the second day in the row without sleep ...the next day you are totally pooped !

We went last June and it was unusually warm for the season ...they had already started harvesting  the lavender !! It is with July our favorite time to go because the days are super long and you can do so much more than in the fall season ... like go out late for an ice cream on a balmy night ...

Here are some photos to inspire you ! 

First stop breakfast ...This is anywhere and everywhere in Paris !

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When you match your guidebook and you did not even plan it ...this is Parisian chic  ;)

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Morning walk from the Invalides IMG_0110 (Large).JPG

Pont Alexandre III , The most beautiful bridge in Paris

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Walking along the Seine IMG_0132 (Large).JPGWork out time

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A fleet of Bateaux Mouche is lining up the Seine ...a great way to see the city .

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Le Jardin des Tuileries ...perfect place to take a break

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The window display of La Duree pastry shop and their world renowned macarons

Its too early to start a sweet binge so we just pass...but the shop is already packed !

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Place Vendome ...where the serious jewelry shops are ...you can do some damage there ! Creativity is at its best and it is fun to just do some window shopping AKA in French  "lèche vitrine" witch translate literately as "licking windows"....we are drooling !IMG_0171 (Large).JPG

Place Vendome is also the home of the Ritz . Tell the majordome at the entrance that you want to go to the "galerie" , this is your way to sneak in ...Behind these doors is a garden, a  world of peace and quiet like suspended in time . The "galerie" is just incredible : a very narrow hallway with small shops with the most fabulous fashion and jewelry of course ...

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IMG_0181 (Large).JPGThat morning we saw a couple seating quietly in one of the hall ...they were in formal black tie, long evening gown , loaded with the type of jewelry we had seen in some of the fancy stores just minutes ago ...like they were going to  "Oscar night" ....Only at the Ritz Hotel...

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You are then just a short walk away from the Opera Garnier ...We have yet to go when they have a Ballet or Opera but I would highly recommend to book your stay around that ...the right way to experience this incredible place .

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You can also just get in to visit the inside on days where there is no rehearsal ...witch is not today so we go across the street to "Repetto" the authentic ballet store ...the one where the ballerinas go to to buy theirs outfits and where we can get real ballet flats or the most comfortable dancing shoes to wear everyday ...

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Rainbow ! I can't decide ....IMG_0203 (Large).JPG

Time for lunch ...

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With dessert of course !

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 A quick look at the Gare de Lyon train station ...where you should get a coffee at "Le train Bleu" upstairs ...this is how traveling must have been like before ...

IMG_0233 (Large).JPGIt's a restaurant, bar, lounge , a salon where to smoke ...

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Heading back to Saint Germain where we like to hang out , shop for Mariage Freres teas or traditional Petit Bateau t-shirts for example

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Lots of great food to buy and take for a picnic on The Champs de Mars near by with the view of the Eiffel Tower aka  " La Grande Dame de Fer " IMG_1593 (Large).JPG

Hotel du Champs de Mars ...steps away from the Eiffel Tower ; the rooms are tiny but it is very Parisian anyway and the best deal in this neighborhood .

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Very close to so many great restaurants ...like the famous" Fontaine de Mars" , but we are not looking ; we know we want to eat at "Les cocottes " tonight ...updated comfort food executed perfectly in a more contemporary setting ...

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At les Cocottes IMG_1595 (Large).JPG

We crave their simple desserts like " mamia" a Basque type sheep milk "yogurt" that taste so sweet and is lighter than air ...and there is always room for a rhum baba too ...

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One last morning walk today before to head to the American Embassy for our Visa interview ( here we go again ...gotta do it every 5 years ...) Paris is such a walkable city ...you do not need special shoes and you do not want to look like a tourist either ;) Just wear flats to be comfortable all day , a light purse and off you go !

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Isn't Paris the most romantic city in the world ! IMG_1604 (Large).JPG

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Le Grand Palais ...they usually have temporary exhibits that are always worth going ...specially to be able to check out the inside of this place built at the same period as the Eiffel tower .

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We are going to Angelina for a real Parisian breakfast in a real Parisian institution . We have had tea and deserts here but never experience their famous hot chocolate . Today is the day ! 

IMG_1624 (Large).JPGDelicious croissants, pain au chocolat with extra butter and jams , a St Honore just because we are not coming back for lunch and THE hot chocolate ! So thick and creamy , you probably won't need the extra rich whipped cream on top ...but after all why not !? We are walking this off on our way to the Embassy and doing some more shopping !

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French women do wear sneakers and a baseball hat ...IMG_0166 (Large).JPG

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New Visas granted , we can now settle down for dinner with good appetite ! La maison de la truffe sound pretty good but we feel like meat from one of our favorite place in France . We are going to  "La maison de l'Aubrac" . Here they serve  beef from cows they raise in their own farm in the region  of Aubrac where famous Laguiole village is . It is flavorful beyond imagination .I never had ribs like this...dry aged and slow cooked to perfection , bone marrow with fleur de sel, rib eye and potatoes....no guilt ...it is perfect for my paleo diet !

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IMG_1650 (Large).JPGWith 2 desserts and a drink ...88E service compris !

IMG_1652 (Large).JPGTomorrow we are driving south waiting for our passports to come back with our visas ...

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Next stop Strasbourg !

00:53 Posted by Marielle Giai in Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |

04/18/2018

La vie en rose ...

We see  "La Vie en Rose " Celebrating spring and all Mothers !

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Just one of the many new scarves we just received from France  ...

Very exciting new line !IMG_9708 (Large).JPG

This scarf is so gorgeous , it can be used as a throw tooIMG_9707 (Large).JPG

Perfect little token , hostess gift ... scented wax medallions have been a hit !

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Bright and colorful Garnier Thiebaut runner ...loved it so much , we took it home !

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02:32 Posted by Marielle Giai in Spring inspirations | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |

04/13/2018

Roules au fromage recipe

 

Roules au fromage ... all your childhood in a plate !!!

This was our " hamburger" , mac and cheese , our fast food ,  the one thing our mum would buy at the butcher and just warm up in the oven ....one of the first thing we buy when in France , but Pascal's craving was too strong to wait any longer and he thought I could probably figure out how to make them at home from scratch ....the result was even better than the "real deal" from the French deli !

Best of all is that you can make the shells in advance ( I even froze 4 to use later )  You can fill up the roules and have then ready in your fridge up to a few days ahead of time  . Serve with a nice green salad and you have a delicious meal in no time !

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Most of what you'll need is already in your pantry or fridge : Butter , flour , milk , eggs . You'll also need some shredded Parmesan cheese ( not grated not shaved ) and a sheet of puff pastry to make 6 shells  ( I get the frozen ones from Pepperidge Farms ) 

First roll the puff pastry on a floured surface . It has to be thin but not too thin  ( the roller and egg will give you a scale since I forgot to measure ...hoops ) Cut into 6 long pieces .

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Since I did not have any Cannoli molds , I made some with heavy duty aluminum foil and I think it may work even better when you have to remove the cooked shells as aluminum can be crushed thinner .

2 important things : The molds have to be way longer than the actual pastry so you have something to grab when it comes to removing the aluminum and you have to butter the foil very well to make that tricky step easy . Brush 1" on one side of the pastry along the length with some lightly beaten egg white so it will glue the over lapping pastry as you roll it on the mold . That took a practice run without the "glue" so I would suggest that you try out also before to wet the dough . Then brush some egg wash to color the shells when they'll cook .

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Cook in a hot oven 425F for about 13-15 mns . The shells have to be a bit under cooked as they will go in the oven again later. Let cool down then remove the aluminum molds . You can crush the aluminum to make this easier , but it should be a breeze if you butter them well .

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The filling is a simple Bechamel or white sauce that needs to be thick enough not to run off when you'll warm up the rolls again . Here are the measurements for 2 rolls :

50grams / 4 Tbs butter , 50grams / 5 Tbs Flour , 30ml Milk / 1 1/4 cup , 25 gr / 2 oz shredded Parmesan, nutmeg , salt to taste

( I put the measurements in grams as well for those who have a scale , also because it is easier to multiply quantities for 4 or 6 shells )

Melt the butter in a saucepan , when hot , ad the flour slowly and let "foam" while mixing with a whisk the whole time . Cook just a few minutes and keep light colored before to ad the milk .Because this is will be a thick sauce , adding the milk is a bit more difficult as it thicken very quickly and makes lumps. But it is also easy to break those lumps when whisking a thicker sauce so don't be scared , just ad the milk in 3 times and smooth in between .

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Take off the heat and ad seasoning , salt, pepper, nutmeg ( enough to show in the batter ), the shredded parmesan cheese and mix well 

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 Pour this mix into a ziploc bag that will serve as pipping bag . Let it cool a bit more at room temperature . Do not wait until it is too cold to pipe into the shells or the dough will be hard and rubbery .Finish each end with some extra shredded cheese to garnish .

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At this point you can refrigerate or freeze until you are ready to serve . Bake to re heat in the oven for about 15-20mns at 375F , until crust and cheese are  golden .

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Plan better than me and serve with a green salad for a complete meal ! 

Enjoy !

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20:30 Posted by Marielle Giai in Recipes | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |

03/25/2018

Spring is here ...Easter around the corner ...Time to blossom !

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Bringing spring home with fresh flowers and bright linens from Garnier Thiebaut

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Orange blossom , Violet , Rose Candles , towels , pretty soaps ...perfect for an Easter Basket   IMG_9406 (Large).JPG

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Easter Candies for adults just arrived from France ! IMG_9420 (Large).JPG

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00:57 Posted by Marielle Giai in Spring inspirations | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |

02/26/2018

Winter in Provence

From the dry countryside to the Black truffle market ...this is Provence in February !

As hard as it is to imagine Provence to be cold when you are visiting in the hot summer months, I can tell you that indeed it can get really cold ! The light is low , there is no leaves on trees , the landscape is in shades of grey-brown , there is frost in the morning , snow close by and pictures of a sunny day do not make you feel the burn of the Mistral blowing at 60 miles/hours on a 28F morning. It is not the colorful Provence postcard people dream to visit but just as real.  

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Today is not too bad , somewhere in the 40 F . With thermal leggings and  t-shirt , 2 sweaters and a well heated car , I can handle it ! The top of the Mont Ventoux is  hidden by a hat of clouds meaning that it will rain tomorrow...

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Vaison la Romaine and the Roman bridge that survived the massive 1992 flash flood when all other modern structures down stream were taken away leaving only foundations from many houses and a whole supermarket ! We were there that day ....rain was so hard we thought the roof was going to blow away , so much water coming down our chimney , it was flooding our living room but in the end we were safe and our old house made it through ...while many died and hundred of bridges collapsed cutting us off from many routes for months . 27750760_10203737612517680_5117080481834565173_n.jpg

People back then knew better and built their houses way up above the river.27657539_10203737612757686_5949325789729599305_n.jpgVineyards are all trimmed back ...It is an ongoing process that take most of the fall and winter months ; very hard work in this harsh weather .

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Les Gorges du Toulourenc at the bottom north of the Mt Ventoux are wonderful in summer .You can bath in the river and cool off when temperatures reach 95F ...in winter the romantic village of Brantes remains beautiful with the snow in the back drop . The cafe terrasse is waiting for spring and visitors to start coming again ...27858321_10203737609717610_1950962916205174475_n.jpg

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Today is an other story : 28F this morning and the wind is blowing at 60miles/hour . Not a day to put your nose out but I have to go to the market... At first it looks just like a winter farmers market....but soon you realize it is no regular market....it is the black truffles market held here in quaint Richerenche village from November through March....and February is peak season ! IMG_9255 (Large).JPG

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Special baby truffle oak trees for sale . Then all you need is a good truffle dog

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Most everything is truffle related and even the food truck sells truffle omelets ! 

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1200euros/kilo that's about $700/pound....people were buying a small truffle for $70 ....27751952_10203734622402929_5240726031905201313_n.jpg

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You have the street for regular shoppers or "tourists " and then the one where the real deals happen at the back of a truck ....dealers buy from farmers and negotiate with their big wholesale accounts....

 

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And there it is ...black gold , the beloved "Rabasse" ( the name in Provencal dialect for truffles) , bags of them !

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My mum use to have a dog and truffle oak trees . I grew up with the intoxicating smell of the tiniest truffle...Even in a Tupperware...the whole house was smelling ...there was no hiding you had found some black gold ....nowadays they do not come even close to what I knew ;  i find these truffles pretty tasteless in comparison...Even with my nose on it , all i smell is earth , dirt and a faint truffle aroma but still there is something special about this mushroom...

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The village restaurant sure serve some truffle dishes !27867088_10203734626643035_7412392283844714471_n.jpg

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With this weather , you have to eat something that stick to your ribs ! My favorite is a platter of "Quenelles de Lyon in a Nantua sauce / crawfish sauce"27332491_10203731826573035_3190423110314237772_n.jpg

Also the time of year to cook some orange jam , quince paste ....

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And  bien sur ....eat some crepes !

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I also discovered the French version of sushi . Here we have California rolls with avocado and crab meat ...the French who have to put Foie gras everywhere have managed to do foie gras sushis with fig jam , rolls of Seabass tartare with grapefruit , Salmon with mango and rose petals, beef carpacio with arugula and pesto...adapting this fashion phenomenon to French taste buds !

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A last stop before to fly home . Even the French Riviera is pretty bare .

These rose fields are grown specially for Chanel #5 perfume ...we are just a few kilometers from Grasse , the capital of perfume making !

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The mimosa is in full bloom everywhere , hills covered , sides of the freeways , growing wild and making the countryside smells like heaven in the dead of winter ! Brings sunshine to your home but unfortunately only last 1 day in a vase

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The town plaza of Valbonne is buzzing with people enjoying lunch even on a cool day

IMG_9166 (Large).JPGJust out of a magazine ...my architect friend's home is a dream

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I wish it was summer ....

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The best thing about February is that you can find Crepe Pans everywhere !

I sure did and shipped a bunch that will be available at the shop along with our magic crepe batter shakers !A new Crepe demonstration/tasting will be coming up very soon ! Stay tuned on Facebook , email or call us to find out date !

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Making some Crepes flambees for breakfast !

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Best crepes ever ! I think it is the La Cornue stove ...I need one of those too !

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04:16 Posted by Marielle Giai in Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |

02/03/2018

La Saint Valentin

Yes it is the hottest trend right now ....and we, the French invented it ! 2018 will be the year of the Beret and the perfect gift for Valentine's Day !  

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Ad a little pin and they will take you from 
well put together to "très chic "  !

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Our wool berets come in a rainbow of colors  for men and women and fit everybody !IMG_8738 (Large).JPG

All you need is a  scarf and a beret  

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The runway look: fresh , young , unconventional and so cute !image.jpg

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I bought my bag on our last trip to Paris last summer and wanted to sell them in our shop ever since ....share this great find with my clients who I know would love it as much as I do !

These beautiful hand crafted jute bags is the outcome of the design collaboration with Skillful traditional handicraft workers in Bangladesh   This project aims to empower local women and through the income improve their access to health and education

These bags are skillfully woven , light , flexible and durable .

 

IMG_9143 (Large).JPGMade in house by Alice ...One of a kind for that special one !IMG_8744 (Large).JPG

 Je t'aime , un peu , beaucoup , passionement , a la folie !

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Jewelry from my friend French Designer Lisiane is alaway a great idea !

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Home made cotton paper, vintage letter press , soy ink ...our favorites Always !

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Cut out paper cards or vintage ...one for all your loved ones !

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Parisian Designer Tsuri Gueta's jewelry is bold and so unique you have to touch it to feel the silicon infused mesh fabric they are made with !

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Despite their look , these are NOT paint tubes but ultra rich hand creams blended with organic 20% Shea butter, Vitamin E and Argan oil  that absorb quickly for immediate hydration and repair .  A modern new look for these purse size creams .

Made in France without parabens, BHT and none of the other bad stuff !

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09:00 Posted by Marielle Giai in Women Accessories | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |

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