Tuesday, April 21, 2015

French Food Camp Bubblypalooza

It’s a kind of a compulsion of mine, wanting to have a dinner party or friends over or some kind of activity going on, all the time.  It’s like an itch that never gets scratched, perpetually wanting to shop for food, cook it, eat and share it with friends…setting a marvellous scene.  Opening my home and welcome new friends, gathering old friends, connecting the dots and finding common ground and inspire each other.  I am constantly amazed at the conversations that take place each month between guests who have just met each other at French Food Camp….it’s like a classic Parisian salon, everyone learns something from me about our food, but everyone is exchanging information and has something to contribute to the conversation…about their lives and their experiences.  Often times everyone is talking in small groups in the kitchen or on the patio about something going on in their lives or their kids’ lives; always lots to talk about and share.   There is one more chance to join us for a French Food Camp this spring, and I am so excited about it I can hardly wait to type these words~

Saturday May 16th I am hosting the French Food Camp Bubbly Party.


I am calling it Bubblypalooza….a celebration of our French bubbly~


We are going to have a classic French lunch of home-made pasta dressed in French style, organic roast chickens from a local farm, salad….something like this, but who knows, it will be decided the week-of depending on what is seasonal and what I love at the markets~


There will be a large dessert spread, of course, which will certainly include a boatload of creme puffs…


But the star of the day will be Champagne…magnificent bubbles…


On this afternoon you will be able to sample 8 Champagnes I have chosen for you….my favorites, my most-favorite organic Champagne, the tried-and-trues, and we will end with a taste of Dom Perignon.  Have you ever wondered what it tastes like?  It’s not my favorite, but it’s historically important and the one by which many other Champagnes are judged. 


We will not be going trendy and high-end, no Ace of Spades, no Cristal, sorry…too rich for me!


You will sample many cuvees that you might find at Costco, high-end wine shops, or in France.  And they will all be delicious, but different.   You will come away from our tasting with opinions, which pretty much means what you like and what you like better and what you like most.  It’s hard for most people to line up eight high-end bottles to taste at the same time (of which your favorite yellow-label classic might be considered at the low end of the range), but it’s an amazing way to define what you like for Champagne.


Now, the Details:  This event is the afternoon of Saturday, May 16th 2015, from noon until whenever the last guest leaves, which was 9 or so pm last time...  We begin with our Champagne tasting and appetizers.


We will eat outside under the loggia, and the tables will be set with the ceramics of Astier de Villatte from Paris.  I can’t reveal the details of which flowers and how the table will look yet, because we are still working them out, but let me tell you it will be a magical setting…a collaboration between me and Mary Qvale. 

The chickens will be roasting while we have our degustation.  And after a little bubbly, we sit down to our sumptuous meal.


The Cost: $75 per person for the meal, and $25 per person for the Champagne tasting.  Seating is limited; you can reserve online HERE to guarantee your seat.


Thank you to the blog readers who came to the Food Camp last weekend; it was such a treat to meet you and honored that you travelled so far to join us for the afternoon.  I will be in Beaune in July and August, so this Bubblypalooza may be the last of our events until fall, but it will be a special event indeed.  I am working out the tasting lineup and decor details already!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Le Brunch at French Food Camp

Every month I love coming up with a new menu and theme for the French Food Camp event that I hold at home for my friends and guests.  This month I wanted to focus on Brunch, with French inspiration, because I think that it’s important to have a few good brunch tricks up your sleeve if you entertain.  For friends or for family, brunch can be a very satisfying meal, and not break the bank.  I mean really, at about 60-70 cents for a pastured egg, it is a no-brainer….though in our case we had 130 eggs on hand for the day~IMG_0781

The amazing Mary Qvale styled the tabletop for seating for 20 under the loggia.  The crates and pine table were there; Mary brought the little vintage terra cotta pots, which I had to have, and will use for luminarias this summer.  I brought my dollie Vivienne down from my bedroom so a doll-collecting friend could see her; and then I brought out three baskets full of pastured eggs that I had bought from my three favorite farmers at the farmers markets.  Now, do you see the zinc pieces in the bottom left of this photo??~


Mary brought five of these vintage French zinc egg trays and had planned on using them on the tables down the center, but they were a little wide for the table, and so she set them aside thinking she would put them back in her car.  As soon as I saw them I was almost afraid to say it….are those…EGG RACKS?  Yes, they are.  So instead of having a basket of eggs for each of the three egg farms, I was able to lay out (lay out, that’s funny!…no pun intended) all of the eggs from the three farms so that everyone could appreciate their nuances of color and size and shape.  We had Araucana eggs in various shades of blue and green, and every tone between pale cream and dark brown.  As we were making three-egg classic French omlettes, this was an ideal display….I sent everyone out one by one to choose three eggs of their choice and then come back to the kitchen to learn how to make their omlette.  Everyone absolutely loved the idea of picking out their eggs.  There was plenty of fine excelsior to give a little hint of a henhouse, and a white cake filled with lemon creme and covered in roses, which was inspired by the Fabulous Contessa of Vintage Contessa/Vintage Henhouse; check out her Instagram hat and feed HERE.   But mostly, all eyes were on the organic beauty of the eggs~


The single long table was set with white French linen cloths, vintage linen napkins and French sterling, and Astier de Villatte dishes.  The guests picked up their crystal glasses in the dining room, so they were not on the table here.


There were a few pieces of Limoges mixed in, since we were so numerous; but this is part of the beauty of Astier ceramics…mix them with the old porcelain and they work perfectly.  Mary’s gorgeous florals of freshly-cut grape vines and iceberg and old damask roses paired with vintage glass and zinc were lovely~


Soon after these photos were taken, the guests arrived then got to eating.  There were omlettes made to order, French toast, crepes filled with lemon creme or rose ice cream or blackberry compote or fresh heirloom strawberries….it was delicious…..IMG_1408

We finished the day with crepes Suzette (great pyrotechnic show) and hot chocolate Paris style.  I’ll see if I can find some more food photos, but you will see them on Instagram too with hashtag #frenchbasketeer or #frenchfoodcamp

Guests arrived at noon and the last guest left at 9pm! A very good day indeed!!  There will be one or maybe two food camps before I leave for Beaune this summer; if you are interested in coming next month you can sign up on my website HERE and if anyone is interested, I think Mary has one or two zinc egg trays left….so email me or comment here if you are interested in those and I’ll put you in touch with Mary.  The Astier ceramics are also to order through Mary; I’ll post on those again soon.

Have a wonderful week~