Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dimanche, Beaune

Sunday is one of my favorite days of the week in Beaune, principally because the kitchen is fully stocked with all the best from the Saturday market, and the cadence of the town is different from all the other days of the week.  It’s a day of rest, a day with family, a day to have a nice meal and go for a walk. This Sunday was my last of this trip, so it started early, hours before dawn.  I wanted to get rid of the rest of the cardboard piles, so I decided to take advantage of Jean-Luc’s chariot that was still sitting in the rez de chaussee.  Talk about rolling out the door; here I go in the wee hours~


That was easy; bumping over the cobblestones, I filled up the recycle dumpster yet again, and the piles were finally gone.  Around 8:30 it was time to get out for a walk and get breakfast.  At that hour, there are very few people out; except perhaps a few of the bonnes-soeurs, who are making their way to the Collégiale for 9:30 mass as they do like clockwork on Sundays~


I headed up the road to “the Sunday bakery,” since most of the others are closed and so on Sunday I buy there.  Today, a baguette, a pain au chocolat for R and a croissant pour moi~


If you live anywhere near the center of Beaune, you won’t be sleeping in late on Sunday, because the bells of the large church dedicated to Notre Dame (known locally as the collégiale as it’s one step below basillica) will tell you it’s time to get up and go to mass; the bells ring twice, at 9:30 and 11am, just before mass.  I stayed to listen to the bells then headed off to the 11am mass.  They ring for a full five minutes, but here’s a snippet~  

Sunday in most of France is dedicated to family, food and rest.  Many people will join family and friends for a nice meal in the afternoon, which will take at least a few hours and possibly most of the day.  And like all good guests, they will bring a boxed cake or dessert or something nice from one of the local patisseries, and it’s common to see people dashing about the center of Beaune with patisserie boxes in hand, especially from my favorite, Bouche.  The town slowly comes alive, as everyone is out walking, often with their dogs, and parents are out with their children~ 


Now that mass was over but it wasn’t quite time to have our big meal of the day, I decided to get some work done.  Our second “big” project of the trip was to clean up the chauffage or heating room.  This is where we store tools, the garden hose for the terrace and extra tiles and bits of wallpaper.  OK, it’s kind of a junk room.  But it’s also where I have a small laundry drying rack, and I hate stumbling in here in the dark.  This is the “before”….now you can see why this room drives me crazy~


Certain things got tossed, the hose was coiled up on a 6’ tall coat rack pole that only had two poignees left on it, and the non-working stainless steel sink was moved out onto the terrace.  I cleaned up and then arranged the wine crates that came from the cave on one wall; all the old tiles and various bits of stuff fit neatly into the little cubbies now.  And I can reach the laundry rack.  Much better~


R was very impressed with my work, and then announced that he was getting very hungry.  Time for lunch!  I started the moules and then was ready to put the frites allumettes on. But opening the freezer, I found….sweaters?  Oh yeah, the other project today was to moth-ball all of R’s winter sweaters, and he went ahead and put them all in the freezer for me.  Out….that’s for later this afternoon~


Moules Frites is one of my favorite meals in Beaune, one because it’s rather light and delicious, but also because I serve it in my large porcelaine blanche soupiere, with a large and pretty silver ladle.  Some of the moules you’ll find are from Spain, but the smaller, better ones are called bouchot and come from Normandy, right by Mont Saint Michel.  They were so good, of course we ate the entire pot~


and don’t forget the frites, dusted with French sea salt; love~


For dessert we are having apple tarte in puff pastry, which I made early in the morning~


and after lunch, just to be sure that R does not die of hunger after I leave, I put a large cocotte of boeuf Bourguignon in the oven and set up a large jar of homemade sauerkraut made with a Savoy cabbage from the market~


There was also more clean up to do from the shoot and from the week in general; the greens and mossy logs I had put in the fireplace were thrown out the back window and landed onto the terrace for disposal later; the bucket of water from soaking R’s feet was thrown out the front window onto the cobblestones after assuring the street was empty.  And I repotted my flowers from the shoot in Jean-Luc’s silver cups, these will go to Jean-Luc’s shop when he and Cedric pick up all the shoot elements on Monday,  A lot of work, dispatched quickly~


It’s traditional, after Sunday lunch, for everyone to go for a walk, in a group of two or a group of twenty.  After the little cleanup, we did the same, heading to Parc Bouzaises, joining the rest of town who was out for a stroll. 


What R did not know is that part of the reason I wanted to go to the Parc is that we had to walk past Marie-Pierre’s antique shop, which happily was open.  Hehe….you will see more of her shop later; but it’s LADEN with all sorts of antiques, but her specialty is tabletop: linens, silver, porcelain, flatware, glasses and crystal galore.  After reviewing my photos, I have to contact her to have her set aside a small pile of merchandise for me, but on Sunday I managed to get R to buy me a beautiful 19thC porcelaine blanche soupiere to go with my collection.  It’s less ornate than my favorite, but slightly larger.  When we have guests in the spring, we will now two soupieres on the table full of moules frites, and that will be a pretty sight~


After the shopping detour, we did make it to the Parc, saw the ducks and sheep again, and let our food settle a bit.  Coming back to Beaune, the town was absolutely packed, as it is in summer, with shoppers making their rounds in the nice shops in the center of town and everyone out for a stroll given the mild weather.  The kids filled up on cotton candy as they waited in the long line for the carrousel~


After a little snack for dinner and a bottle of Chabolle Musigny, we headed out again in the dark to see the Christmas lights.  Will show you those next~

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Cadeaux de Noel

Merry Christmas Everyone~ I’m not done posting about my travels, but I did bring a few goodies back with me, and today I want to pass some of them along to those who visited during my trip~

1.  BONHEUR: A cute little door hanger made by a local French woman and purchased at the Marche de Noel in Meursault, Burgundy.  I love this little piece; it was included in the magazine shoot for gift ideas~ 


2.  THE SWEETS: A pair of French preserve jars: Pear-Vanilla made in the “old style” and Fruits des Bois; I use them for cake fillings, but they’d be equally good on a croissant~


3.  La LAVANDEUSE: A large jar of savon de Marseille soap flakes, great for your own French laundry; in a vintage French jar and packaged for the photo shoot~ 


4.  SAVON NOIR: Black liquid savon de Marseille made from a base of olive oil; wonderful for organic household cleaning, in fun French packaging~


5.  BISCUITS ROSES: Thirty-six French tea biscuits; these are pink, not rose-flavored, but they are fantastic with tea~


6.  Le CHEF: For the cooks, a small jar of Maille Fine de Dijon Mustard, a package of great salad spices from the Beaune farmers market, and a trio of hand-made bouquet garni made from herbs from the Beaune market~


Given that I arrived home on Christmas eve, I went ahead and randomly selected winners based on the order of posting; congratulations to:

TERRI from La Dolfina

KIM from White Whispers2U

KARENA from Art by Karena

LAURA from Décor to Adore

SHEILAA131 from San Francisco

LYNNE from Dreams on 34th Street


Please email me or comment here on your choice of gifts; Terri has first dibs and so on~ look for more gifts on my next trip, which is already in the works! 


Sunday, December 23, 2012

L'arrivée du Père Noel

There is a scene that is played out across France in the early weeks of December.  It doesn’t matter if there are twenty children in the village or two hundred, it happens each year and is a highly anticipated event…..when driving through strange towns in the late day, be on the lookout for a beautiful horse, often with sleigh bells, pulling a carriage~


Sometimes there will be a team of draft horses pulling the carriage~


But regardless of the team, you can be sure who is in the carriage; none other than Pere Noel!!!


Par ici, Pere Noel, ici!  In his hands he always hold some kind of a basket, filled with candies.  Here he is in PontAubert, near Vezelay~


Pere Noel is as mobile as Santa, for a short time later he pulled out of this building, the Mairie of Arnay le Duc some distance from PontAubert; showing you this for the pretty building, though I was on the run chasing Pere Noel’s carriage and this was a very quick snap~


The carriage went up through the center of town, as I raced up from the bottom of this hill.  Children and their parents lined the route and Pere Noel threw candy to all of them~


At the top of the hill, the carriage stopped and Pere Noel was absolutely mobbed by children; here you can see his red and white cloak and peaked hood; always the same in France~


The commune’s very large Sapin de Noel will be lit after his arrival; I have no idea why the bottom third of the tree is not lit but surely there is a good reason~


….wishing you all a Joyeux Noel~

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Parler Plus ou Moins

After the photo shoot was done at the house, today was a day to relax, a little at least.  I rose early and went to the market just after 9am, to join the legions who lined up to buy their very specific Christmas foods; just the right kind of volailles from just the right vendor, just the right kind of butter, just the right this and that.  I bought a poulet fermier de Bresse, which cost 22 Euros; expensive, but I still think it’s the best.  I brought stuffing mix and that’s just what R said he wanted for his Christmas dinner, chicken and stuffing.  The vendors at the market were all very friendly, as usual.  I bought a large Savoy cabbage then complimented the vendor on her display.  She was nice to wish me bonnes fetes and give me one of the little bundles, which I used for the next photo shoot, today at Jean-Luc’s shop~


Everyone makes what they want to out of being in France.  R is more introverted, and he speaks less French, though he speaks without hesitation and gets his point across.  Ce qui compte c’est d’etre compris.  What counts is to be understood, not to speak perfectly.  I am the opposite; please just let me out of the house.  I chat with the antique dealers and the shopkeepers, and everyone in line with me at the market; what to buy and how to prepare it.  I love the French sense of humor and to joke with them.   I had filled my Saturday Basket with market lovelies, and was in the middle of shooting it on the front doorstep when someone we know walked by, whom we have not seen in years.  Oh how great it was to see him, to chat and catch up.  I hope to be here longer someday, as I would like to entertain a lot more.  How do you like the door?  People here generally don’t put up a lot of décor on the doors; in France no one makes a conspicuous display.  I wanted a little nod to Christmas anyway~


After the market, R and I went to the Orange store, to sort out a television issue.  Such conversations are not like ordering a baguette, and it’s where I come in.  But the second that was sorted out, I was off to Jean-Luc’s shop with a yet another basket full of linens and objects.  A short time later some of his friends came by.  Would I like to join them for a little glass, Jean-Luc asked?  Yes, of course.  You have to understand his sense of humor, he returned with a pour of Puligny Montrachet in a glass that was half the size of my head.  Little joke….a little glass….we all laughed….


I start to get a little sad when it’s the last few days.  I have tried to get R to eat share some Coquilles Saint Jacques. He kept saying no.  Today I bought just two of them (scallops) in the shell at the market.  I opened a bottle of Saint-Aubin and made a snack of them, just for myself~


I made it with a tablespoon of the butter I bought today at the market; everything tastes so good here, phenomenally good, and it’s presented like this, for your Christmas table~


I added a little sea salt on top and at it with one of the dinner rolls I bought for the shoot; artisan bread and farm butter…..heavenly~


And the Coquilles Saint Jacques were the best ones I have had since…..perhaps the last time I was here~


The photo session at Jean-Luc’s was very successful; he loved the photos, which are of various elements in his shop that could be inspirational for magazine readers.  I did some clean shots; not too old, not to modern. He likes to coach a little too as he knows how to display his merchandise to perfection.  When Jean-Luc sees one of the really good shots, he usually says “Tres Chic!” or Tres Ancienne Maison!”  It’s what I know people in the US will love to see and try to copy with US goods.  Of course, I’d rather go and get the real deal.  And photographing the antiques of course meant that I fell in love with a lot of it.  I bought so much I had to have Cedric help me walk it all home.  More cutting boards, two large bunches of vintage cording, porcelaine blanche, two Burgundy grape gathering baskets and a few other little gems.  They are sitting now on the dining room table for me to admire; some other pieces are on the buffet tonight~


As I walked in the door, R asked where I had been for the afternoon.  Photos, for three hours?  Well sure! And a little shopping, and a little wine.  And chatting with a few people.  As if I would have been better served sitting home doing laundry or something.  No, that’s 5am work, not during the day work.


Cedric then helped me break down the rest of the materials from the house shoot so they can be collected Monday, and I threw out the rest of the largest pile of cardboard.  The chicken and stuffing are in the oven and after dinner we will get the TV sorted,  Tomorrow is another day, and I’m going to be up hours before dawn to enjoy every minute of it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

My French Christmas

It’s been a real mad dash, always something still to do or to change, despite lists and lists and lots of planning and coordination.  The last thing I was going to do before the rest of the photos was pick up the eight dinner rolls at the boulangerie.  Given that Christmas is just a few days away, there are lines at the bakeries, as everyone places their specific orders.  You can’t even go get dinner rolls at the bakeries, they are uniquement sur commande.  I wish I hadn’t bought eight rolls in retrospect. Whatever; the artisan boulanger was closed for another hour and when I got back, R said that Jean-Luc and Cedric had been by to disassemble everything and take it back to the shop. No! I am not done with photos!  Thankfully R knew that much and asked them to come by later in the day.


I spent the afternoon running through a lot of photos and making all kinds of little adjustments.  Like I said before, I needed four sets of hands.  I shot two fireplaces, the dining table, Christmas tree table and a part of the stairwell.  Tomorrow I shoot the gifts, after I go to the Saturday market.  The light in the house was really difficult, but I’m sure we can make the photos work. 


These are a few test shots; not the finals at all.  But there will be lots of fresh greens; lots of birds and lots of white and crystal.  Lots of crystal.  We made the prettiest French Christmas tree I have ever seen.  I used this sauciere from Jean-Lucs’ shop for the shoot and it’s staying with me.  Love all the porcelaine blanche; you can not ever have too much!


Tomorrow there is more to do, and cleaning up after the shoot will take me a few hours.  If I can, I’d like to fill my market basket tomorrow… with seasonal goodness and take it home for photos...I wish I were staying for Christmas dinner, but I go home to California on Monday, where my little Honey & Biscuit have been waiting at the door for the last two weeks.  I wish I could be in both places for Christmas, but this weekend I will make some kind of a grand holiday meal for R and me.  Wishing you a wonderful weekend.  I will post this weekend too on some of the French holiday décor and traditions here in Beaune.  You will love them!

Le Fin du Monde

My mother has been waiting and dreading this day for a long time, I’d say ten years at least.  I spoke to her last night, and she seems to be more focused on my return than on today’s date, and that’s a good thing.  I’ve heard just a few snippets about December 21 here, and most people seem not to be bothered.  The one exception was the antique dealer I saw yesterday.  It’s a Pere et Fils operation, and they have the best store in town with true period antiques that are among the best you’ll find anywhere in the world.  I know the Pere and often stop in to say hello; this time the fils appeared from the back office, with a small black and white dog at his feet.  I explained that I am a neighbor and a blogger, and wanted to walk the store and perhaps take a few photos.  Maybe he didn’t like the blogger or photo comment, but his mood changed and he abruptly said he was leaving in five minutes for Paris and so I should come back Monday.  And by the way, he added, le chien est menchant so don’t pet him.  Yow.  Talk about grumpy.  Other than that, everyone here is perfectly nice and stress free.

This morning I decided to go for a long walk.  So as the bells were ringing for their usual five minutes at 8:45 am I left the house.  You can see the enormous spire of the Hospice from a long way away.


I headed down to the Parc Bouzaise, which is a relatively short walk.  The geese and ducks are here all year; I didn’t see the swans today though.


There is also a large and beautiful home for the fancy French pigeons~


The very large pond is a focal point for town in the summer, when it’s full of rowboats and the carousel is in action.  This morning there was no one there, just me and the duckies~


There are several concession stands; closed for winter, but waffles and ice cream in summer here are a welcome treat especially after we’ve had a pique-nique~


The town has continued to improve the parc over the last few years; you used to not be able to see the vineyards at the back of the parc, now the vista is clear~


You can continue to walk up the hill and up to the montagne as they call it; that’s about a two hour hike.  Today I walked a little further to appreciate the hazy smoke in the early morning air~


The crews were already out working, here you can see they need to wear goggles to avoid all the smoke from the bidons~


Never ending work; the little bundles here are ready to be burned~


I continued making my way around the perimeter of the parc when I heard a dog bark and turned around.  Who was on the sidewalk coming my way?  Improbably, it was the woman whose photo I took at the market last Saturday!  Bonjour, Bonjour she said as she slowed; “The other side is much more dangerous”.  I stepped aside to let her pass; and there she goes! I love this woman!


A little further down the road, I stopped to see the new fermette that the town has added to the parc; love the sheep~


I took video of them too; I have to get back to the videos though later.  There is also a little cochon in the pen with the sheep.  At first I thought this little piggy was cute, but a moment later he got in my bad books; I’ll explain later….


And chickens, there were lots and lots of chickens around… ranging it~


On the way home I noticed something else that’s new; Beaune now offers free doggie poopoo bags. Toutou by the way is the French equivalent of doggie, a diminutive phrase.  Saisissez la Dejection.  That’s a pretty elegant way of putting it, isn’t it~


Now I know a ton of ladies in the States who would love to have a French poopoo sac; so I filled my pockets with sacs and will go back to get some more before I leave~


Mais oui, bien sur, my Dog is French!  Enjoy your day; I’ll be glad when this date is past.  I’m off to pick up some dinner rolls for the photo shoot (uniquement sur commande) and then it’s time for more photography again.