East of Paris Bookstore

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Champagne Souvenirs

Ever wonder what to do with a champagne bottle cap ... that little metal on top of the cork?  I thought nothing of them until we stayed at Hostellerie La Briqueterie in the village of Vinay in the Champagne region of France.  At this country inn, we saw special tables displaying a large variety of champagne bottle caps under glass tops.  
  
Mr. Wonderful and I would try and identify the brands and decide which variety to taste before dinner.


La Briqueterie is a comfortable, even luxurious, small hotel with a superb restaurant and cozy places to sit and read.
While the rooms were on the small side and the free Wi-Fi only worked in the public spaces, the whole effect was relaxing causal elegance.  No complaints from me.
One of my favorite places to sit and read was the garden room with its interesting light fixture made of milk glass shaped like vines and grapes.
Then there was the garden, perfect for walks.

Finally, after a long day of touring vineyards and sampling the regional cuisine, it's time for sleep.  At La Briqueterie, each room is named after a flower, painted on the door, so you can find y our room by number or flower.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Les Crayères

When in Reims tasting champagne or exploring the historic town, a great luxury is to stay or dine at Les Crayères. Located in the center of the city in a private 7 hectare park, this small chateau is famous for a wine cellar housing 400 different Champagne labels.


Everything about Les Crayères is elegant ...
except the marlin in the garden. That "artwork" didn't do anything for me as we sat on the terrace enjoying aperitifs in the soft evening light.
Fortunately, the dreadful marlin was quickly forgotten as we studied the menu.
Menus -- His & Hers
I find it both amusing and annoying that many places in Europe still give the man a menu with prices and the lady a menu without prices ... So, does that make my meal free?  Oh well, social observations aside, we began our dinner in the chateau's Le Parc restaurant. Delicious amuses bouches sustained us, while
we watched our waiter carefully pouring wine.
We stared with an artistically presented soup ...
next a bit of pasta and chicken or
pork,
followed by fruit (so healthy!).
Finally, I could not resist a desert that looked like a lounge-chair -- 
dense bavarian cream sandwiched in burned sugar and topped with ice cream and gold leaf.  Oh, la, la!
 A rather decadent end to a lovely day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Champagne

Tout Pour La Cave
Beneath the city of Riems, many famous champagne houses have their caves. We visited Taittinger. Mr. Wonderful and I thought it was interesting because Peter the Great had also been there.
There is an elegant and dramatically lit display of Taittinger bottles in the reception room where our tour began.
Then we descended to explore the caves, where we saw walls and pyramids of  bottles of various sizes...
The largest bottle of champagne on the left is called "Le Nabuchodonosar" (Nebakanezer) and it holds 15 litres or 20 ordinary bottles worth of bubbly.  Compare that to a Magnum which holds "only" 1.5 litres or 2 bottles.
The limestone of the caves keeps the air cool and moist.  The softness of the stone allows for interesting carvings and requires a chimney like structure in the deepest parts.
For more information on visiting champagne caves and vineyards, go to the official Chapagne-Ardenne region site here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tread Softly

When visiting great buildings and monuments, I have a tendency to look up at the soaring structures and forget what is under my feet. So it was at the great Cathedral in Reims, France:  Notre-Dame de Reims, where for centuries French kings were crowned. Everything is designed to pull your eye and spirit upward.  

It is beautiful. 
But, if you never look down, you will miss the plaques in the floor. One reminds us of the spot where St. Remi baptized Clovis (on Christmas in 496 A.D.). 
Another notes the spot where St. Nicasius was martyred in 406 A.D., when Vandals cut off his head.
Looking down can really make you think, and thinking leads you up once more.

HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. 
W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)
"He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven"


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Paris Pastry Shops APP


Finding things on the web can happen in the most unexpected ways. 


Yesterday morning I checked the Blog of designer and blogger extraordinaire, Tobi Fairley. She linked to her guest post at writer - designer Kathryn Greeley's blog, The Collected Room. I had recently received a copy of Kathryn's lovely new book, The Collected Tabletop, so I was interested in seeing what she to say and whose blogs appeared on her Blogroll.  


Which is how I found Paris Breakfasts ... which is how I found the amazing and scrumptious new app:  Paris Pastry Shops ($4.99). The app bills itself as providing
[O]ver 300 of the best pastry, chocolate, ice cream and candy shops in Paris, hand-picked by pastry chef and author David Lebovitz.
It certainly seems to deliver a lot of information, including beautiful photos and useful maps. The only thing I don't care for is the site's icon and logo.
It seems too down-market and unsophisticated in contrast to the actual content of the site. Fortunately, it disappears as soon as you start using the app.
I have already found several of my favorite pastry shops in the app like  Fouquet and Dalloyau.  Now, I can't wait to get back to Paris and try it out on the proving ground!

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