Sunday, October 30, 2011

Paris? Oui Oui!

SHOPPING—Part 2—Some More Parisian Places

Well, it’s time to go back to our shopping list.  I did tell you that it would take many posts.  After all, Paris is probably, with new York, the shopping capitol of the world.  So,  for today, I think I will stress food stores.  Paris is full of them, each more beautiful than the last.  The only trouble is that often you are in a hotel, so unless you like the secret thrill of sneaking the food into your room and eating, a la style pique-nique in your bed (shades of being twenty again!), these might not be perfect for you.  But at each of these places, you will find things to take home, either for presents or for your own later greedy consumption. 

Mariages Freres
30 Rue Bourg Tibourg
4th arrondissement

For all of you tea lovers out there, the Marais is the home of Mariage Freres, the great French purveyors of tea.  It’s easy to find, just off the Rue des Rosiers.  Just to go in here is a wonderful experience:  the smell and all of those beautiful black containers.  I love smoky teas, and there is a plethora of them here, and if you like perfumed teas, well, here they are.

Of course, tea is just the beginning.  Not only do they have the tea, but they have biscuits and jams and chocolates to serve with it

And tea pots galore

And of course, they have a tearoom.  This is just a wonderful spot.

And you can also buy tea, and everything else you ever thought of foodwise, in Fauchon back over in the eighth.

26 Rue de la Madeleine
8th arrondissement

Although this is the 8th arrondissement, it’s so close to the first as not to count.  Just leave the Ritz (and why not?) In the Place Vendome, go out to the rue St. Honore and go up to the Rue Royale and go to the front of the beautiful Madeleine.  You will definitely have to go inside here to get some elevated thinking before you attack all the food spots of which I am going to tell you.  Mens sana in corporo fatso as the philosopher might not have said.

Fauchon is at the end of a dear little place, and you will know it instantly by its bright pink storefront.  Si francaise.

Inside there are amazing cheeses, tasty savouries, chocolates, delicious baked goods all of which you can buy for friends or for greedy consumption of the airplane home (or, as I said, if you can’t wait, in your room!). 

You can have a very nice lunch or tea at Fauchon while you are there

Decorator’s aside:  we carry Fauchon in our boutique, Leta Austin Foster, in Palm Beach.  Sadly we can only have the candies, jams, a few savouries (which are amazing) and they come in fresh around the first of November.  Any of these make wonderful Christmas presents, so if you’re not going to Paris before then, e-mail, and she’ll gladly e-mail you back with what’s in stock, etc.

Right across the place is that most wonderful store, Hediard

21 Place de la Madeleine
8th arrondissement

 I can’t help but think that this store is the most beautiful of all the epiceries and it’s right there, so go on in and feast your eyes if not you tummy.  I am always swept away by the towers of caviar, the game with the still fully robed pheasant announcing its spot in the store, the amazing fruits and vegetables., an amazing array of cheeses.  One of my favourite French treats (only in season which is late summer and early fall, of course) is red currants with fromage blanc on top (now this is something you can eat in your bed!).  Hediard also has wines and champagne

If you happen to be in Paris in December, seeing Hediard all wrapped up with a big red bow

Will remind you that you can do some very good Christmas shopping.  All those red tins are so holiday looking, and would be beautiful under anyone’s tree.

Don’t forget the peach and passion fruit comfiture—and get enough for yourself, too.

Hediard has a wonderful little tearoom where you can get quite a snack—even a meal

Thinking about cheese reminds me of my cheese experience with customs.  Ridgely and I were returning from one of our sojourns, and we were in the waiting area for our flight at de Gaulle.  Ridgely discovered some leftover euros, and he has the strange dislike of exchanging small amounts of money at the bank at home (not me!  I go for every sou!), so he told me to spend it in one of the shops there.  Well, everything was so expensive that I decided that the only thing I could buy was some unpasteurized cheese which Ridgely adores.  When we boarded, I took my bag avec les fromages and put it, with some other little purchases in the lockers they put by your seat, which apparently get quite warm as the plane wings its way home.  Anyway, just before we were approaching New York, the stewardess handed out the customs declaration forms, and I began toting up the purchases I had made.  We had been in Paris quite a while, and I had bought presents for, it seemed tout le monde.   Yow!  I was going to have some kind of bill at the other side.  But I am a law-abiding soul, and I wrote down everything.  We gathered together all our purchases and our bags including the cheese which I rescued from the little locker, and got in line for passports and customs.  Just before we went through, I saw a sign warning people entering the u. S. To declare anything that came from a farm or agricultural endeavor.  I was horrified!  Surely that included my cheeses.

It was quite a long line, and when I got up to the customs inspector, I started to explain to him about the unpasteurized cheese.   But he just took one look at me, breathed deep, and said, “What is that that ungodly smell?  Just go on through and get out! Of here” he didn’t even take all my duly filled-out forms.  Well. I did try.

Anyway, away from the dreariness of the customs room and back to the beauty of the city of light—while you are over in the neck of the woods with Fauchon and Hediard, just head on back to the Rue Royale and go to Laduree.

16 rue Royale
8th arrondissement

Laduree is just the most beautiful tearoom and pastry heaven you can ever imagine

And adorable as it is on the outside, it is just as good on the inside—if not better.  They have a wonderful tearoom where you can sit and sip heavenly oolong tea and nibble away at
Macarons, maid ouis…

Or Carre chocolate

Or heavenly lemon tart or tarte tartin.

And while you are sitting there, you will see perfect little French children, dressed so nicely, coming in avec les mamans, tres chic, very politely to gaze with huge eyes at the pastries and make their choices for their afternoon treats.  You will just wish you could come every week.

While you are there, you can choose future treats to take home with you for you or your friends, les langues de chat in an adorable cat decorated box, or les souris cherie in a mouse decorated one.  Or you can buy champagne or tea

Or jams and honey

Or coffee and cocoa. Or, best of all a buttery salted caramel sauce—for your own ice cream back home.  Yum…yum…And Laduree has come out with a wonderful line, all in their beautiful, beautiful boxes, of bath salts or face cream or body lotion or soaps in fragrances such as the, amande, rose, violette.  Wonderful for presents; wonderful for you

And just to finish out that great idea, a whole line of candles in scents such as rose or pois de senteur (sweet peas)—what could be better?

And if you were wishing you had had your little ones with you in the tearoom, you can at least get the babies started back home with bibs embroidered just for them.

Very exciting decorator’s aside: we have just heard from Laduree who might be opening a tres petite branch in Leta Austin Foster.  Will let you know later.

Now, if you are exhausted after all this food shopping (and Christmas presents and friends’ presents) and were able to withstand temptations along the way—or maybe you just feel like feeling even a bit better, you can go to Harry’s American Bar while you are (somewhat) in the neighborhood.

Harry’s American Bar
5 Rue Dau Nou
2nd arrondissement

Not to be confused with Harry’s bar in Venice—another wonderful spot, Harry’s American bar in Paris claims to be the oldest bar, per se, in the city.  Since it was started by in the early, early 20th century, this may be so.  It was just called the New York bar then or the American bar, but it got bought very early on by a man named Harry Mac Elhore, and Harry’s bar it became.  Frequented by sophisticated (and serious) drinkers such as Ernest Hemingway (who must have tried every bar in the city) and Rita Hayworth and Coco Chanel, this is the home of the bloody Mary, so go on in and have one.  You probably need it.  If you’re ready for lunch, they have American lunch with a good French flair, club sandwich, chef (called chief’s) salad, chile con carne, etc., so if you’ve been gone from home awhile and need your roots, here’s where you can get them.

On weekend evenings, it turns into a piano bar with very good French American music

Well, I still haven’t made a dent in Paris shopping, but
This should keep you going for a while—try not to get too fat.  Remember all those chic women, and show some restraint.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What's New Pussycat?

Well for starters that's exactly it, A CAT!  The boutique has always been cat friendly, but I am proud to present you dear readers the official LAF mascot Loki Mini Peepers Le Meow.  If you're out and about on Worth Ave, as many of you readers tend to do this time of year, don't forget to stop by and say hi, she loves visitors.

Mini the official LAF Boutique mascot.

Anyway, I have other things in store that are also the cat's meow so to speak.  New things are arriving daily, so let's star with two of our instant favorites: newcomer Nest and classic but fresh Santa Maria Novella.  I just love both of these companies so I knew I had to have them at my store.  They smell heavenly and are made with all natural ingredients. If you are starting your Christmas shopping early this year it wouldn't be a bad idea to pick up some of these before they sell out. Remember they are hot hot hot.

Nest home fragrance line.

Love these Santa Maria Novella products.
They have them from kids one to 91!
Another great hit has been the linens from hip young designer Mia Finn.  Look at the great prints in these gorgeous and practical napkins and  place-mats.  They can easily be used with any style of decor from traditional French to super sleek Danish.   I think this would be perfect for a young family or couple, or a great hostess gift for someone's second home.

If you are looking for a fun way to wrap paper this upcoming holiday season this whimsical new wrapping papers will sure be the icing on the cake.  These designs are hand printed on recycled paper, and are a fabulous addition to our always growing stock of eco-friendly and classic yet funky decorative wrapping papers, which are of course, suitable for any occasion.

From Sister Parish Designs Home collection come these absolutely chic desk accessories.  What a great way to organize your life in a stylish way don't you think?  These fabric covered pieces are great as a set or alone.  They are a beautiful little way to have a little Sister Parish design on a budget.

The last thing I want to share is the exquisite stationary of renown calligrapher and stationer Bernard Maisner.  Embossed then hand painted, the detail in these seating cards and thank you notes is  something you will just have appreciate on your own, so do yourself a favor and stop by the Boutique, say hi to Mini, and admire the new arrivals.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Summer Reading Review

I just finished two books I think you, dear readers, might enjoy.  They are neither of them new, but all the more reason for looking them up if you haven’t already read them,

Mrs. Astor Regrets
By Meryl Gordon
Mariner Books

A very well written (Meryl Gordon has written for Vanity Fair, New York, The New York Times Magazine, and others) telling a truly tragic story.  Maybe it’s because I know so many of the people in the book, but I don’t think so, but I found this book to be almost un-put-down-able.  Her journalistic style is very much like Susan Orleans’ in The Orchid Thief, in its easy fluid writing, except that she is not part of the story.  She seems to consider herself very much a by-stander, but she has done her homework, and for those of us who were shocked and saddened by the entire Anthony Marshall/ Charlene (then) Gilbert story as it happened and later horrified by the almost soap-opera unbelievableness of the later story as it unfolded, the book really hits home.  But I don’t think you would have to have any actual acquaintanceship of the people involved to be mesmerized by this story.

The Lion’s Pride
Theodore Roosevelt and His Family in Peace and War
By Edward J. Renehan, Jr.
Oxford University Press

Another story about people in a family, but this time one in which the amazing love of them for each other shines through, even while one, as the reader, is almost-hearted by the events in their lives.  It is an in-depth picture of life in a prominent New York family at the end of an era and before the onslaught of materialism that is so very prominent today.  One of the truly charming little anecdote in the book concerns one of Roosevelt’s sons, answering a society matron’s questioning of the choice to send the boys to the public school in Cove Neck when they were young.  When asked how he got along with “all those common boys,” Roosevelt’s son replied.  “I don’t know what you mean.  My father says there are only four kinds of boys: good boys and bad boys and tall boys and short boys.”  It kind of says it all this is a wonderful book

It is very interesting to read these books, one right after the other.  I read Mrs. Astor Regrets and then The Lion’s Pride, and I recommend that you do likewise.

Good reading ahead.


P. S.  I have been reading throughout the summer the books written by Charles Todd (actually a mother/son writing team) featuring inspector Ian Rutledge and taking place right after the armistice and for the next years.  Because he is such a troubled character, himself, and because each of the books dwells with the aftereffects of World War I and the trench warfare of the battle of Cypres, the Somme, and the Marne, I realized I was woefully undereducated about this war.  Somehow, I seemed to view this postwar time as a light and carefree period.  I did a lot of research on it this past summer, and there is no word to describe what these men went though—just horrible, horrible carnage.  The Lion’s Pride meant a lot more to me because I had done this research.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hot of the Press: Soane Fabrics!

Soane –Britain, one of my favourite sources, has come out with a fabric line—how thrilling!

Soane has always made beautiful lamps—they are for fine interiors where the budget is on the large side.  Their golden palm tree looks like something from the Brighton Pavilion—

(Decorator’s hint—because I like this fixture in the gilded brass finish, I don’t use the paper shade shown.  I have my lampshades made, either by Pat at Abat-Jour, or by Paul at Bhon-Bhon, or by Lisa at Blanche Field, New York.  I think a lamp like this deserves a beautiful hand made, pleated shade with a little tailored trim, usually a tiny silk band in a soft colour, inserted between the bias finishing bands and the “field” of the shade.)

And I absolutely love, love, love their petal wall sconce with a shade—quite different from the run of the mill ones, although I have to admit I love those too….

And not so long ago they went into furniture design

Try these great leather chairs if you are doing a chic and sleek panelled dressing room—one to sit in and put on your leggings and one to sit at your handsome dressing table with its mirrored top and mirror set into the boiserie walls –and you can even flank this mirror with the petal wall lamp above with lovely parchment shades.

So, instead of resting on their laurels, Soane has branched out and designed wonderful, whimsical fabrics—and they have everything!  Printed linens, striped satins, even fabulous coloured horsehairs.  We have the new samples here in the office, and boy!  Are they the kinds of fabrics that make you see whole rooms in your mind.  Take a look and see what wonderful ideas you dream up.

Look at Paw Print---rattan furniture, wonderful cushions upholstered in Paw Print and welted in a twisted cord in the two colours of the print—be very French and do the throw pillows in the same—this would all look so great in a room with wood panelled walls.

Chocolate, raspberry, and blue

Decorator’s hint: you can always substitute a stripe fabric on the diagonal as welt for upholstered furniture instead of a twisted cord—it will give that effect, and it is a little tougher than cord.

I yearn to do a room with Turkish Blossom—wonderful luxurious upholstered furniture with decorative nail head trimming worked in designs—see our post of Raymond Raygosa for ideas, cords, fringes, etc.  Put it on the walls, and the curtains, the furniture, and in more than one colour, with both a positive and a negative version,  or do it in conjunction with Ottoman Scribe.  They both come in great colours, and if you are truly making a wonderful little sultan’s den, use the Topkapi lighting fixtures, also from Soane, to light it.

Turkish Blossom

Ottoman Scribe

Don’t forget to add a little pouff in the room made out of one of Soane’s delectable goatskins

And a beautiful old ikat rug to finish it off—no hookahs, please.  There’s a limit

Happy decorating