Sunday, May 23, 2010

Taking a blogging break

The end of the school year is a busy time for teachers--and parents of graduating seniors. So, I'll be taking a break for a few weeks.

I'll also be looking for inspiration for posts, so, if you have any ideas to share I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Week-end Simple: Dine al fresco

For those fortunate enough to have outdoor space, dining al fresco is one of the great summer pleasures. If you set the table and take the meal outdoors, even a pizza can be a feast.

For the past few weeks dinner has been a solitary affair, and Thursday evening was especially nice because I was able to enjoy my meal on the patio.

Not everyone has a patio, though, or a backyard, or even a green space. If you live in an apartment, or in the city, dining outdoors may not be an option, but it shouldn't keep you from enjoying a view by the window.

So, throw open the windows and enjoy.

Bon week-end!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Not French . . . but it could be

Although I love clothes, I hate shopping, and I don't do it very often. More accurately, I hate going shopping, so my favorite places to shop are online: I love the ease of shopping online, and the fact that I can drink a glass of wine while I'm shopping!

Recently, I've been trying to replace a black tailored cotton shirt and someone suggested I shop Talbots. Wow, was I surprised when I visited their site: Talbots had a makeover!

After looking at the clothes, I started exploring the site and discovered their Fall 2010 Look Book. Wow again. Beautifully styled and photographed, the look book feels like a mature-but-still-hip J.Crew--skinny jeans, red pumps, statement necklaces. Très chic.

If you have a chance to look at it, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Picardie glasses

A few weeks ago I loaned out my favorite glasses to a friend who was having a dinner party. In the process of borrowing and returning, a number of glasses were broken, and I no longer have a complete set. C'est la vie. I want to replace the broken glasses, Crate and Barrel no longer carries it.

Enter the Picardie glass.

The Picardie is ubiquitous in France; made from tempered glass it can be used for hot or cold drinks. The Picardie can be seen in bistros and cafes across France and in French homes. Small enough for a child's hands, these glasses are even used in school cafeterias.

Manufactured by Duralex since 1929, the Picardie is available from a number of vendors, including Design Within Reach and Williams-Sonoma. I've also heard they can sometimes be found at World Market. (And if you don't want to pay a premium price for the original, IKEA has a Picardie knock-off that bears a resemblance to the original.)

Don't you love affordable, authentic French touches for your home? Don't you love these glasses?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Week-end Simple: Prepare a French vinaigrette

I enjoy writing these week-end simple posts; while the suggestions are French-inspired, they are easy things that anyone can do here at home in the US.

This weekend's weather is unpredictable, so I'd like to suggest something that you could enjoy indoors or out: an authentic French vinaigrette.
There are so many recipes for vinaigrettes, and they're all a variation on the same ingredients. If you don't have a recipe, you might want to try this one by David Lebovitz.

My recipe calls for just five ingredients: vinegar, oil, shallots, Dijon mustard, and salt. Taken alone these ingredients aren't so sexy, but when married they create a perfect culinary union. This weekend I'll be drizzling vinaigrette on some tender spring asparagus. Et toi?
Bon week-end!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

French interiors

I had planned a different post for today, but a recent thread on the FC group about authentic French interiors changed my mind.

My sister is always sending me links to stories, blogs, and sites that she thinks are a good fit for my blog. This morning she sent me a link to an archived post on design*sponge. Here you'll see Carol Neiley's renovated farmhouse outside of Lyon.

You may not know Carol Neiley's name, but you may be familiar with her store, basic french, an online shop that sells authentic French housewares, linens, toiletries, and other French goodies.

Do you have any favorite sites for French interiors?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cafe Deluxe

Yesterday I was treated to dinner at my favorite restaurant, Cafe Deluxe. In a city filled with 5 star restaurants, why is this my favorite? I know it mystifies my family, but I can tell you in one word: French.

From the moment you walk into Cafe Deluxe on Wisconsin Avenue, you feel like you've been transported to a bistro or brasserie in Paris.

Part of it is the decor: the large mirrors, the square tables covered in white tablecloths, the café chairs. Then there are the waiters, all in white shirts and black trousers, with their crisp white bistro aprons. Of course there is the food, though it's not exclusively French. And, it is a neighborhood restaurant with lots of families having dinner and lots of chatter.

There is no pretense at Cafe Deluxe, no menu offerings with ingredients you don't recognize, no kitschy French decor. Just ambience that is full of energy and happiness, everyone enjoying themselves.

J'adore Cafe Deluxe!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Week-end Simple: Invite friends for dinner

When was the last time you invited a few friends over for dinner? I don't mean a full-six-course-spend-all-day-cooking dinner party. I mean a small come-as-you-are-and-bring-a-bottle-of-wine gathering.

The weekend is a time when we can be spontaneous; more time to spend, less need to plan, n'est-ce pas? Roasting a chicken for dinner? Add some small potatoes and carrots to the mix and you could have a simple dinner for four. Maybe your planning on making pasta for dinner? Easy enough to make another box and have a simple dinner for six. Don't have dessert? Vanilla ice cream sprinkled with some finely ground coffee and a splash of scotch will have your guests oohing and ahhing.

You probably have all you need in your pantry and fridge, so call a few friends, set a pretty table, open a bottle (or two) of wine, and enjoy. Très français.

Bon week-end!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Lorina French Lemonade

Last week I hosted a cocktail party for a friend who is getting married; for the party, another friend created a cocktail in honor of the bride and groom. This pretty, warm weather cocktail is a mix of vodka and something I had never had before: Lorina French Lemonade.

Slightly bubbly, Lorina reminds me of citron pressé, but carbonated. Not too sweet, not too tart, and not too fizzy, Lorina is a thirst quencher and comes in a variety of flavors.

J'adore the bottle! With its swing top stopper, the bottle is reminiscent of vintage soda bottles, and can be reused for water and would look lovely on a summer table.

Have you sampled Lorina?

Monday, May 3, 2010

French Feasts

Last week I hosted a cocktail party for my friend and colleague; Cindy is getting married in early June, and I wanted to bring together everyone from school to celebrate the joyous occasion.

In typical Cindy-fashion, she brought me a gift, and oh what a fabulous gift it was! French Feasts is chef Stéphane Reynaud's latest creation. I say creation, because, well, cookbook doesn't begin to describe this book. Yes, 299 recipes certainly qualifies French Feasts as a cookbook, but it is much more.

Filled with beautifully styled photos, amusing illustrations, and whimsical touches, Reynaud's French Feasts will make for many evenings of good cooking and good reading.

Mille mercis Cindy!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A must read . . .

Not a post, but a link to a post on The Kitchen that I found to be eloquent, and the best argument for appreciating the small things in life.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Week-end Simple: Buy fresh flowers

It's the first day of May, and all over France people are buying and exchanging lily of the valley, the fragrant muget des bois.

Can't find any lily of the valley? That doesn't mean you shouldn't treat yourself to an inexpensive bunch of flowers from your favorite vendor.

Fresh flowers are a simple way to brighten your weekend and with any luck you'll be able to enjoy them throughout the week.

Bon week-end!