Friday, January 7, 2011

Goodbye to a Friend

Sparkling wine is a staple at our family gatherings. In summer there is always a mimosa bar with fresh citrus, and for Christmas, always Champagne. Champagne is festive & gay, it facilitates conversation & conviviality. No matter what you are serving, it is perfect before dinner, with dinner or after dinner. Or for breakfast, or with lunch. You can be scolded for having wine before noon, but not Champagne. Some wise French woman once said that "Champagne is the only wine that a woman is still beautiful after drinking." No matter what, Champagne is always correct.

R and I have elaborate methods of hiding the French Champagne in the cellar or a second refrigerator, and setting out mostly California sparkling for my family. Call me a purist, but the California stuff can still give me a headache, and though the quality is very good, of course I prefer "real" Champagne.

This holiday, I splurged, and there was Perrier Jouet Brut and Nicolas Feuillatte for all. Everyone in our house loves Champagne, even Miss Biscuit, if we'd let her drink it. There was a massive amount of it consumed this year, so much that I decided I would keep all the bottles and repurpose them somehow, or at a minimum take advantage of the beautiful green color and volume of glass. Tongue in cheek, I title this pic Soldats Morts devant Soldat avec Nature Morte~

Yes, the bottles will be in the Metis Booth at the Long Beach Flea this weekend, and with this post you see my first efforts at displaying some of them, with the "plaster" fruit and various green kugels~
For big summer parties outside, I use basic flutes, but for holiday I prefer something special. This year I used tall gold rimmed wine glasses, so I didn't have to worry about overflows or broken crystal flutes with dog tails in the living room and gesturing arms; though perhaps the larger glasses encouraged greater consumption~

In these leaner days, we are all cutting back. French Champagne is only for holidays. Sigh... How I wish I could have been a part of the circle of Madame de Pompadour, who popularized Champagne in the court of Louis XV. The coupe de Champagne is said to be modelled after her breast. Versailles was drafty and the rooms so large and cold, I would have thought cognac more warming, but Mme. de P. loved her bubbly.

Well-read, beautiful, and accomplished in the arts and conversation, she met the King at a masked ball at Versailles, she dressed as a shepherdess and he dressed "if," which is a conifer used for garden topiary (I think it was in fact a group disguise, but I've never understood how one dresses as "a topiary..."). Her marriage was dissolved several months later, as she remarked "Who but the King of the World could make one infidele?" I love this portrait of her by Boucher~

Then again, if I look at this painting of Madame, I realize maybe it's ok to be on Champagne Austerity. One word: Calories. Hard to believe she is just 42 in this memorial portrait by Drouais, which was completed after her death from tuberculosis. At this point she and Le Roi were platonic but still very close friends~

In addition to quantities of Champagne, the King furnished his mistress with some nice digs, buying her one of the finest residences in Paris, the Hotel d'Evreux. Today we know it as the Elysee Palace, official residence of the President of France, though the palace and gardens have been changed many times since Madame's day. Laura and I should do a Metis French Fridays post on the Elysee. Here is my favorite room, the Salon Dore, which has been preserved intact since it was completed in 1861 for Empress Eugenie, queen consort of Napoleon III. The 18C bureau-plat or desk shown here is also magnificent, brought to the room by DeGaulle.
This is the traditional office of the President, the French Oval Office, if you will. If my office looked like this, I'd move right in! Sorry for the bunny-trail of Champagne, Madame de P. and the Elysee. In any case, it's au revoir to my dear friend Champagne for another 10 months, or at least until my trip to France in May, haha!


  1. I'm so glad this post was about champagne and not your cute dogs! My dad had to say goodbye to his dog of 13 years this December and it was terribly sad! You had me worried!

  2. I love visiting here, bunny trails are some of my favorite things. I don't drink much but a mimosa always whispers my name just sweetly enough to entice me in. Can't wait to see the bottles displayed, I also can't believe she was only 42 in the painting. Do you think it possible he painted her to look older for some sinister reason, knowing she could not object?

  3. I agree with Amy, I thought you had lost a person/friend or a puppy. Glad it was the champagne! Glad you are repurposing the champagne bottles!

  4. Ooops sorry to scare any of you; I am always sure I keep those pup girls safe, I would not be functional if anything happened to them!

  5. Bonjour Andrea,
    A wonderful post as always. Anxious to see what you create with all your green bottles. Great info on Madame and the Elysee - do you think we could share the office?
    Bon semaine,

  6. Yes, yes, yes to Elysee. You must write it though as I have never been. Dying to go...

    This Friday~ French scarves to tie in with a new creation I am currently working on for L.B. flea. :)

  7. A beautiful post!! I could be quite comfy in that office, too. Sigh...

  8. Well, standards of beauty do change; as to the remark of calories! Ha!

    An aside here: Gloria Ferrer Sparkling wine is very, very good for those times that you might not wish to spend as much for the real French champagne. I like the Blanc de Noir, with which I always toast in the New Year.

    But I have to agree: there is NOTHING like a glass of fizz to celebrate anything in life or life itself.

  9. Hoflower, I agree, if there is a CA sparkling for La Famille, I buy Gloria Blanc de Noir!

  10. Oh what a wonderful story you weaved all around fabulous champagne. I'm hoping it was the T.B. that aged dear Madame P. prematurely & not our friend the bubbly? Your holiday sounded just as it should be, filled with good drink, great friends & family and plenty of laughter. I for one am tired of my home, my pajamas and not drinking enough champagne..French champagne!
    Here's to 2011 being a great year for us all.

    Cheers x Deb

  11. There is nothing better than French Champagne! We went to Reims in Dec 09 and it was fabulous. We want to go back and tour more of the champagne cellars (and perhaps stock our own). James Bond is a HUGE fan of champagne. It's his favorite drink. We love Veuve Clicquot.
    I like to display the empties too. The colors are so pretty. I can't wait to see what you do with your booth.

  12. Loved your post!;) You have so much champagne and history knowledge~love it! Hugs,Rachel

    French Farmhouse 425

  13. Ah yes, I could have been one in her circle of friends too. I love champagne but save it for special occasions such as my upcoming birthday. :) I am tickled pink to have you visit my blog and hope you'll visit often. You asked where I am. On the other side of the country, in Virginia, which means unfortunately I can't visit your wonderful booth.....which I would just love. xoxo

  14. Hi Andrea, another creation I will look forward to! Oh yes and Gloria Ferrer is very good.

    Thank you again for the link to my new Giveaway from Blydesign!

    Art by Karena