Month: November 2020

Taste French Wines with a Parisian Somm: An Airbnb Online Experience

Chateau du Petit Thouars Cremant de Loire Non Vintage

Expanding my skillset as a sommelier seemed daunting up until recently. It isn’t possible to read the label on every bottle at Wine & Spirits, so I always ask an expert to recommend a specific wine based on the purpose it will be serving. This particular bottle of Chateau du Petit Thouars Crémant de Loire was originally intended for a picnic this past summer, but I brought it to “Taste French Wines with a Parisian Somm” instead.

Each participant had an opportunity to share his/her wine of choice during the virtual presentation, and we traveled to the Loire Valley via my Crémant. Our guide, Thierry Givone, led us through a number of wine regions (such as Côtes du Rhône, Bordeaux, and Bourgogne) but I was most content in the land of the châteaux. “Anyone can be a sommelier,” the expert insisted. It was Thierry’s passion for wine that led him to establish Wine Tasting in Paris in 2014. The company introduces tourists to the complexities of French wine through classes and tours. The Bourgogne native explained that wine is tied to food, land, tradition, and culture. At a time when indoor dining has been banned for the second time in Philadelphia, his words were particularly encouraging.

There’s a story waiting to be discovered in every bottle of wine, and you don’t need official qualifications to uncork one. I started to research my Crémant in the most logical way: typing the words that appear on its label into Google. Here’s what I’ve uncovered about the Château du Petit Thouars so far. It’s located in a small village by the name of La Chaussée in the commune of Saint-Germain-sur-Vienne. According to Google Maps, it’s a three-hour drive southwest of the Arc de Triomphe. The establishment is currently open for tastings Monday though Saturday and will even take you in as a house guest if you make the proper arrangements. The estate, which has been in the same family since the seventeenth century, is run by Yves and Marguerite du Petit Thouars. Along with Wine Tasting in Paris, I’ve added the estate to my ever-growing mental list of places to visit. Although my virtual tour of Paris has come to an end, I can never stay away for too long.

Works Sighted

 Chateau du Petit Thouars Cremant de Loire Non Vintage

Setting the Table

Dinnerware, placemats, silverware, Duralex cups, linen napkins, beeswax candles, cheese board, cheese knives, carafe.

The baton has officially been passed. For the second year in a row, I’m the head holiday chef. I’ve purchased an ample amount of items to present our new table at its best. Sitting down for a meal together, no matter how small the party, is something very special. Zoom dinners count too. Although I acquired new placemats, cutlery, and tea light holders in an effort to get ready for the holiday season, they’ll have a permanent presence on the table. I’ve been paying more attention to the presentation aspect of our dining experience at home. We don’t go out to restaurants as much as we did before Covid, but I’m determined that we shall eat world-class food with appropriately-paired wine. Happy Thanksgiving! May you find joy in the little things…like setting your table on a daily basis.

Works Sighted

Madame de la Maison Orage linen napkins; Madame de la Maison antique gold and blue plates; Chateau du Petit Thouars Cremant de Loire Non Vintage; Crate&Barrel marble wine cooler; Libbey Signature Kentfield Estate all-purpose wine glasses

Crate&Barrel cheese board 36″; Crate&Barrel copper hard cheese knife; Emile Henry large baking dish

Crate&Barrel copper soft cheese knife; Crate&Barrel copper wedge cheese knife; Duralex Picardie tumblers, 7-3/4 oz.; Dowan ramekins; Hiware 35 oz glass carafe

Duralex Picardie tumblers, 8-3/4 oz.; Crate&Barrel hurricane candle holder; Bees Light Candles beeswax pillar candles; Crate&Barrel glass tea light candle holder; Bees Light Candles white tealight beeswax candles

Crate&Barrel dinner plate; Crate&Barrel grasscloth white cotton placemats; Madame de la Maison Mont Blanc linen napkins; J.A. Henckels 18/10 stainless steel flatware set

French Revolution Interactive Journey: An Airbnb Online Experience

A Zoom call with Parisology's Thierry Collegia.

Thierry Collegia’s “French Revolution Interactive Journey” melded my love of Paris with my passion for history. The two other guests (an American couple) visited Paris right before worldwide travel restrictions were instated, and they couldn’t wait to return. There are few things I enjoy more than discussing my interests with people who share them. I was fortunate to find myself in such a likeminded group. The participants asked interesting questions and the host answered every one.

Thierry, the founder of Parisology, is a skilled storyteller. His extensive knowledge of the French Revolution and his experiences living in the U.S. and the U.K. give his tours a unique perspective. Thierry’s complete list of in-person and virtual tours is available on his company’s official website. I’ve bookmarked the following online historic journeys for my future consideration:

I’ve been pleasantly overwhelmed by the abundance of online learning opportunities that have sprung up due to the current state of things. Finding time for all of the experiences that interest me has become an issue, but I press on. I’ll be wrapping up our month-long virtual journey to Paris with “Taste French Wines with a Parisian” next week. (I’d originally planned to complete “The Story and Secrets of Perfume” too, but it’s not available at the moment.) Bonne chance with all of your Thanksgiving preparations. Remember: there is always something to be thankful for. If you’re reading this, I’m thankful for you.

Works Sighted: J.Crew funnel neck pullover (old; funnel neck removed by me)

Tee Shirts with Ruffles on the Sleeves

J.Crew ruffle-sleeve tee, Amazon skirt, Margaux ballet flats.

I can’t resist a tee shirt with ruffles on the sleeves. Whenever one catches my eye, I can’t help but take a closer look. I purchased this particular style from J.Crew about four years ago. It complemented my A-line skirts so well that I ended up with several of them: one in navy, one in pink, one in black with ecru stripes, and three in ecru with navy stripes. I’ve kept my eyes peeled for similar styles over the years, and I have to say, I haven’t found many that meet my standards. Actually, I’ve only purchased one other similar style (the J.Crew puff sleeve tee) since 2016. Pay attention to the details, no matter how small, when developing your personal style. You’ll become known for them.

Works Sighted

J.Crew ruffle sleeve tee (old); Grace Karin vintage pleated A-line midi skirt (black)Margaux Demi flats (platinum)

Further Reading

Mango frill sleeve T-shirt (black); New Look frill sleeve T-shirt (white); River Island short sleeve v neck frill T-shirt (white); Alexander McQueen ruffled poplin-trimmed cotton-jersey T-shirt (black); Alexander McQueen ruffled poplin-trimmed cotton-jersey T-shirt (white); Victoria, Victoria Beckham ruffle sleeve cotton T-Shirt (white)

Shopping in Paris

Souvenirs to buy in Paris: books, Saint James Breton shirt, Eric Bompard sweater, Louvreuse bag, Hermès scarf, Sézane necklace, Veja sneakers, Longchamp bag, Chanel ballerinas

One of my favorite parts of traveling abroad is curating a selection of souvenirs for myself. My recent trip through virtual Paris has led me to the online shops of numerous French brands and museums: Chanel, le musée d’Orsay, and Saint James to name a few. Clothing, shoes, and accessories refresh my wardrobe, while books that provide a contextual layer to my understanding of the sights I’ve seen serve as sources of comfort. The next best thing to being abroad is being reminded of the time I’ve spent outside of my home country. Also, I couldn’t resist a virtual day trip to le château de Versailles—not exactly in Paris, but close enough by RER C.

Works Sighted

Le Guide du Louvre; Eric Bompard classic v-neck pullover (navy); Toulouse-Lautrec L’expo; Sézane Sara pendent chain and pendant

Le Louvre: Le palais à traver les siècles by Guillaume Fonkenell; Saint James Breton shirt (marine/neige); Longchamp le pliage top handle bag L (black); Veja campo (white/nautico); Château de Versailles galerie des carrosses tote

Louvreuse Olga croco (black); Miss Dior eau de parfum; Diptyque Eau Duelle eau de toilette; Chanel ballerinas (black); Le Guide Musée d’Orsay; Hermès boucles et galons du tsar wash scarf 90 (blanc cassé/noir)


Crêpes & Hazelnut Spread by Notre-Dame: An Airbnb Online Experience

Megan, The Classic Editrix

I started to prepare for “Crêpes & Hazelnut Spread by Notre-Dame” well before I officially signed up. Deciding what pan to buy was the most challenging issue to resolve. The Airbnb listing instructed participants to bring a frypan to the experience, but I knew not just any pan would do. After enlisting the help of a friend (an expert crêpe maker), I decided on a carbon steel De Buyer pan. I seasoned it (a new process for me) just before joining my host Christopher on Zoom. It was 11:30 PM in Paris and 5:30 PM in Philadelphia. We were the only two people on the call, which I was pleasantly surprised to discover. I’ve participated in enough Airbnb Online Experiences to know that hosts will often offer single participants alternative group meeting times to avoid rolling out the red carpet for an audience of one.

Chris mainly conducts private group cooking classes but will periodically open listings up to individuals. Thus, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to cook with him. My host and I talked a lot about crêpes—their history, their varieties, the technique one should employ whilst cooking them—but we also discussed France’s second Covid lockdown, the proper food education we received from our mothers, and our common goal to enjoy life. My crêpes and hazelnut spread turned out well. I’m eager to perfect my technique, but first, I’ll have to recruit some friends to enjoy them.

Works Sighted

J.Crew ruffle sleeve tee (old); crêpe with hazelnut spread by me

Hazelnut spread by Chris