Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Salon Du Chocolat 2014

My haul from last night's opening soirée at the SALON DU CHOCOLAT. Pretty limited compared to past years. I was focused on small chocolate souvenir cards to stuff the Paris Sketch Letters with more than edibles. Impulse did finally get the better of me but my neighbors will be happy when they open their doors this morning. Some people are not safe around caramel chocolate wafers. Guess who?

The chocolate salon is celebrating it's 20th birthday. It's reach is now world wide with chocolate celebrations across the globe. This global chocolate dress says it all. I'm going back today to sketch the chocolate creations.

Cémoi of the wonderful marshmallow chocolate bears had this old but quite elegant poster on display.

Once the chocolate fashion show gets going everyone crowds round hoping for a look. The perfect time for me to go off shooting the stands.

There is a big homage of photos to M. Chocolat, ROBERT LINXE who made Paris the chocolate center of the world with his MAISON DU CHOCOLAT years ago. I remember when he came to the James Beard House and gave us a tasting and demo eons ago. Linxe remains the mentor and role model to France's chocolatiers without doubt. La creme du la creme.

His Maison has always had wonderfully elegant design. The show this year seemed filled with elegant design. Perfect so close to Paris Fashion Week.

Of course I'm a big fan of the design and chocolates of Frederick Cassel Fontainebleau.

This year like last, he used my drawings as a backdrop for his chocolates.

His limited edition feve honoring Bonaparte are ready if you plan ahead for your January galette du roi.

On to the chocolate, stacks and stacks of it in every imaginable flavor.

Molten chocolate never ceases to fascinate. Ah...the smell of it.

There will always be chocolate fountains and the temptation to pass a finger under...don't you dare.

Here's huge pear that did pass under the chocolate wave. I must go back and search for this.

Football fields of exquisite chocolates. These are from Dalloyau and I can attest they are excellent after 4 samples. The passion fruit in milk chocolate especially.

Of course it's purely an interest in abstract shapes that attracts me. Cube, sphere, Cezanne would have been happy.

Praliné spheres encircling a dark chocolate tree from Michel Cluizel with LED lights. Eat your tree. No waste. No mess.

On to the buche du Noel. Here the chocolate log is taken to ultimate simplicity with wit and elegance by master chocolatier Jean-Paul Hévin.

A more playful version from Hévin.

I felt like this guy when I left at 10:30 pm. The clocks moved back last weekend and I still haven't adjusted.

Should you go to the Salon du Chocolat  if you're in Paris? 
I say YES!
There are many more things besides chocolate if you don't love the bean. The elegant, inspiring presentation alone is a good reason to go. Chocolate chefs are artists so expect eye candy of the highest order. If you need more proof check out my other pictures on Flickr.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Paris Signs of Automne

Do you think a hotdog is a Fall food? The way the French make it, loaded with Emmanthal cheese it could very well be. Since I came to France I've hankered for these cholesterol queens. Called 'La Hotdog Parisienne' according to Jill of Mad about Macarons. She said I must only eat them where is says 'Fait Maison' (made in house). By the way I don't think I quite captured the French hotdog here..

I was passing boulangerie Secco yesterday and noticed a sign, 'Everything made in house'. Ah ha. Then I noticed they have la Hotdog Parisienne. Time to indulge. Let's face it. When isn't it time to indulge in Paris?

Secco's tarte au pomme is one of the best in the city if not the whole planet, so how bad could their hotdog be? Their tarte took top honors in 750 grs Magazine by the way.

Eric Kayser has his Fall fruit tarts out - the unpronounceable quetches et poire.

La Grand Epicerie is big on figs. The sales woman actually wiggled her finger in front of my lense but she wasn't fast enough. Who does that anymore? Gimmeabreak.

Figs are big in the marché right now. That's how you know it's Fall.

Sunday morning I put on my bathing suit with big plans to hit the pool. It's been a long time.

Instead I turned towards the Bastille and walked 10 minutes to the marché. It's been too long. Yet it's always refreshing, like a shot in the arm (whatever that is?).

The Fall moules from Mont St. Michel are back. I got a kilo (4,50) and they threw in a bunch of parsley gratis. The market wine guy from Burgundy sold and opened a bottle of blanc sec (3,50) for me. All I needed was some onions and garlic for my Sunday lunch. Oh and an olive baguette. Pas mal.
Naturally I've been thinking about what to do for the November sketch letter. I'm developing the PB Sounding Board. If you want to put in your 2 cents let me know.

Perfect complimentary colors orange and blue. Those market venders could probably paint.

French Girl suggested I paint potiron and pumpkins for a Thanksgiving theme but bells were not going off for me.

Don't these leaves look like they came straight from Vermont? Nothing like em in Paris.

Then French Girl suggested I paint chestnuts (marrons) instead.

My guy showed me how to cut and roast them. All the venders seem like they are my guys in the market.

Of course chestnuts or marrons are also used to make a Mont Blanc. Research materials this weekend for sketching. Hint hint
You can still get a jar of pear(poire) jam watercolor if you subscribe to the Paris Sketch letters before the November letter comes out. i do not plan to be late this time..ahem.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fete des Vendanges Montmartre

My first time visiting the annual October Fete des Vendanges Montmartre, Paris' 3rd largest festival. What was I waiting for?

A tiny vineyard up in the18th arrondissement on rue des Saules, Clos Montmartre, the only one in Paris producing wine since the 4th century.

The fete goes on goes on for 5 days with a presentation on the big weekend, a festive parade Saturday afternoon, a grand degustation (tasting) purveyors from all corners of France's hexagon sell sausages, charcuterie, oysters, honey, cheese and more for Friday through Sunday. Plus art exhibits, lectures, cooking classes, performances, contests, concerts.

All manner of confrerie (brotherhoods of local wine and dining societies) dress up in their velvet robes, banners, coats of arms, sing, dance, beat the drums. 

I managed to get inside the vineyard itself for the Ban des Vendages, where the maire of the 18th and other locals of note gather, sing, drum.
Of course there's a queen of the Montmartre harvest every year. Movie actress Sandrine Bonaire was honorary guest along with renown poet-singer Jacques Higelin.

The back of the head of poet-singer year I'll do better.

What to wear to this event? If only I'd known.

If you're not a member of a Confrerie and garbed in Medieval dress, come in black and red like singer Aristide Bruant as Toulouse-Lautrec painted him like members of Republique de Montmartre

Next year I'll know better.

After the Saturday morning ceremony the feasting begins.

"Les Parcours du Gout" (journey of taste) from 10 am till 11 pm Friday - Sunday, followed by evening fireworks on Saturday night at Sacre Coeur.

Masses of Merguese sausages grilling to feed the masses of people. The Montmartre Vendanges is comparable to the Munich Oktoberfest in Germany on a smaller scale.

Gorgeous hams from Corsica, Basque, you name it.
*Buy the ham, not the ham sandwich (sandwiche jambon) for 5-6 euros. Only ONE slice within and no beurre, no nuttin'. There are far better choices. I learned the hard way.

A wide variety of wines to be tasted in tents set up around the butte (hill) Montmartre. *Bringing your own glass is not a bad idea.

Reclette is standard fare at these outdoor affairs.

*Better save yourself for regional specialties like the truffled omelette from the Sud-Ouest(7 euros). I should year.

Or the freshly shucked oysters from Cancale, Brittany for a 10er. Wonderfully fresh and a major bargain in Paris.

Two plateaux around Sacre Coeur double-sided with French regional tasting. Quite an undertaking but so much fun. People picnic on the steps with goodies from the tasting. Who knew right in the heart of Paris? I wish I'd stayed for the evening fireworks. Next year.