Monthly Archives: December 2016

A very quiet but wonderful Christmas with family. A belated Merry Christmas to you all x
 

img_2784

Christmas tree and presents are all set

img_2857

Kids are enjoying themselves

img_2816

Oysters as entree

img_2817

followed by a smorgasbord of turkey, bellinis, roast potatoes, salmon, foie gras and pate

img_2856

time for unwrapping the presents

img_2853

Mystery gift

img_2852

My James Bond

img_2850

at 10 pm the feast was over and I was….well exhausted 😉

img_2851

As a perfume connoisseur I couldn’t have asked for better presents…Mitsouko by Guerlain, Cuir de Russie by Chanel and Bandit and Fracas by Robert Piguet

 

You can take the gal out of Sweden but now Sweden out of the gal, right? In this case it happens to be so true, on many levels. Some are better suited for another post and post recent period. But going back to the topic I wanted to write about – Swedish Christmas. It is a period of great anticipation, baking, decorating and of course a lot of food consumed with family and friends. As an expat I have probably fallen behind the bandwagon somewhat on keeping up with these traditions, but others sticks and are repeated on an annual basis. For now the Christmas tree is up and Sebastian and I took the opportunity to make ginger bread cookies (pepparkakor) the other day. What they lacked in shape they made up in taste certainly 🙂

img_2717

dough and forms came from France but pretty similar to what we have at home 

img_2718

ready for the oven

img_2719

final result

img_2741

Christmas tree with the results of a few shopping sprees

What to give a girl who has all? Probably not exactly what was on the list for Santa, but it was practical as it was bonding. We set out to IKEA to buy new curtains, clothing rack, mirror, scented candles and other kitchen and bathroom paraphernalia. This in addition a new vacuum cleaner and cleaning items which was sorely needed. Bleach ranked high. Effectively we spent 10 hours on 55 m2 but the result was even above our own expectations. And I can’t help but say I’m proud. And most importantly, bathroom and kitchen cleaning skills have been restored to this student nest.

img_2700

a clean. organised and heavenly scented living room

img_2699

the study turned walk in closet

With Sinterklaas having left for Spain in his steamboat, we can start focusing on Christmas. I love Christmas, and even more so decorating the tree….if it wasn’t for the lights. I recall my mum cursing (and she rarely cursed) over those Christmas lights that were either broken or left in a mess that took ages to untangle, not to mention putting them up in a 2.3 m tree. Now the latter was relatively easily resolved this time, as it’s a tree in a pot (let’s see if this one survives the season).

The real surprise came however in the shape of friendly Christmas lights. My mum would have loved them reducing (in some cases) 2 hours of pure Christmas horror to just under 2 minutes of Christmas bliss. I couldn’t help but thinking these should be marketed as divorce friendly Christmas lights as no more need for a man to help with this ungrateful task :).

Waking up this morning Sebastian was happily surprised to see that Father Christmas had already put some gifts under the tree. Now the challenge will be to stay clear of them until Christmas Eve!

img_2688

siblings love

img_2689

Christmas spirit

…presents seems to have gone down well. Thank you Sinterklaas!

img_2644

oh no, more clothes!

img_2643

but perfume is always welcome

  img_2645

…and more…Sinterklaas is very practical this year

img_2646

phew finally some toys

img_2647

let’s save the big one for last

img_2650

school celebrations even in the gym class

…although only for a weekend, the aftereffects are already planned for this evening…

img_2609

Christmas and Sinterklaas shopping at Le Bon Marche

img_2607

mobile blogging

img_2608

waiting for taxi

img_2610

before dinner

Although a short weekend break it did me well. A mix of Christmas shopping, walks along the Seine, sightseeing, cafĂ©s and bistros. A selection of some memorable moments…

img_2617

Notre Dame

img_2613

Lighting a candle for my loved ones 

img_2615

  a gothic marvel

img_2618

one of many marble statues

img_2614

another marvel on a different scale

Not for the lack of choice, but more so because of the ambience we reserved yet again a private dining room at LapĂ©rouse. This time in the salon named after a certain famous courtesan – La Belle Otero. Our host, Hugo, a historian by degree, came in at regular intervals to tell the story of the second oldest restaurant in Paris.

…LapĂ©rouse’s evolution is intimately linked to that of the 6th arrondissement, in which it is located. The restaurant’s first incarnation was tied to the destruction of the nearby Monastery of the Grands Augustins, which became the site of the Market of the Valley, specializing in poultry and game. M. Lefebvre, who was Master of the King’s Beverages to Louis XV (r. 1715—74) and to whom the king officially accorded the title of ‘Wine Merchant’ in 1766, purchased the private mansion, which had originally been constructed for Forget, Count of Bruillevert, Master of the Royal Waters and Forests to Louis XIV (r. 1643—1715).

There, Lefebvre opened a bar that quickly became famous for its quality as well as for its highly original turnstile, which indicated how many bottles had to be brought up from his glorious wine cellar. The place was always crowded with attorneys accompanied by their assistants and clients. Clever Lefebvre had the idea to place the small, unoccupied servants’ quarters on the first floor at his customers’ disposal so that they might review their accounts and discuss business with the utmost privacy. In that era, since there were neither credit cards nor checks and the crime rate was high, it was recommended to keep secret one’s assets.

Jules LapĂ©rouse took over in 1840. He enjoyed the coincidence of sharing the same name as the famous French eighteenth-century explorer but became popular in his own rights. His clients proved their loyalty by providing advices for the redecoration of the upstairs “Petits Salons”, which turned to be very popular.

Indeed, a clause in French law made any accusation of adultery invalid if the reported incident had occurred in a public place, which was just what these ‘Petits Salons’ were considered to be. One needed to prove that adultery had taken place in private in order to make the charge stick.

Senators and politicians of all parties were permitted to arrive via a hidden stairway built into the structure’s foundations. The sympathetic but not naive courtesans, whom they secretly met upstairs, scratched the diamonds their paramours gave them in the mirrors in order to be certain that their ‘understanding’ had not been rewarded with an ordinary piece of glass.

LapĂ©rouse might have been dealt a fatal blow when, just before 1870, the Market of the Valley moved across the river into the new Halles, constructed by Victor Baltard. On the contrary, the place became a favorite meeting spot for dealers, editors and writers, who discovered the ‘wine merchant’s place’ with its ‘Petits Salons’. Guy de Maupassant, Émile Zola, Colette, author of ‘La Chatte’, and Alexandre Dumas fils, all attended it. Victor Hugo tasted jams with his grandchilds every afternoon in the ‘Salon La Fontaine’.

By the end of the 1870s LapĂ©rouse had become an important gastronomic destination, whose reputation, a leading guide of the era reported, was founded upon its ‘excellent cuisine’. The renowned chef Auguste Escoffier cooked there for eight months; then came Lecroze. When M. Topolinsky bought LapĂ©rouse in 1920, he received more gastronomic distinctions than any other restaurateur and kept them for almost half a century, while welcoming the international elite — crowned heads, politicians, and luminaries of arts and letters — through his doors.

The well-known food critic Curnonsky (Maurice Edmond Saillard) proclaimed that the ‘Maison LapĂ©rouse’ had a great kitchen of tradition. A legacy that is still preserved in its menus today.

img_2592

today there are only happy faces

img_2591

one of the famous mirrors

img_2595

culinary delights

img_2596

oriental inspired tapestry

img_2597

the evening started in the bar rouge with….a cosmopolitan, what else?

It’s a Paris gem…literally. This is the place which not only is famous for the gastronomy but perhaps more for those mirrors where courtesans would scratch their gems to see whether they were real diamonds or not. We rented a private room. Just like those wealthy merchants would, to count their money being made just off the river Seine, or later when they brought an altogether different cargo.

Lapérouse is and remains a mystery, with its winding corridors and small salons echoing the past. Because the past is ever present.

“Tell me about this room?”
I enquire to the waitor. He is young, but well read and replies in flawless English.

“Well you see, this room was made in honour for the great fable writer, La Fontaine. Later it became the favourite room of Victor Hugo and recently we had presidential candidate Fillon coming here with his lawyers.”

“Times are different.” I conclude.

“Indeed Madame. Indeed.”

img_2530

starting off the evening with a drink in the bar

img_2536

the room dedicated to la Fontaine

img_2537

a small but delicate dish