Archive for May, 2010

Awaken to Hirsinger’s French Chocolate in Arbois

Posted in East of France, Food and Recipes, French Affair, French Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

Let me take you to another fabulous chocolate shop in France today. It’s raining here and my french awakening is in the mood for some chocolate! Arbois is the home to the famous  ‘Hirsinger’s’ and its world of luxury, hand made chocolates and that’s where we’re going!

Now a little history before we arrive…

Historically, the Hirsinger family have been producing these luxury chocolates for over a century. Currently, Edouard Hirsinger, fourth generation chocolatier, has carried on the time honoured tradition of his grandfathers. It all started with Auguste Hirsinger a pastry chef, who gave birth to the Arbois business in early 1900’s and passed on his pastry knowledge and secrets which have remained in the family ever since. Edouard has introduced new contemporary tastes like lime, almond and coriander or even the unusual combination of curry and white wine to his fine repertoire!

Now that we have arrived, the exterior of Hirsinger’s at the corner of Place de la Liberte, Arbois, is deceptively small but very impressive. Under the arches of an 18th century arcade, you will notice that the front façade and window architraves are painted black.

Four or five small café tables and chairs adorned with long black and lemon tablecloths, are occupied by those devouring hot chocolate and coffee with small wedges of chocolate tastings. But it’s the warm chocolatey, coffee aroma wafting through your nostrils that will make your mouth water and stir your feet in the direction of the door.

These heavy doors will spread open for us with astoundingly little effort (miracle non?)

Now, I’m going to lay out a few steps (that’s the teacher in me!) that I’d like you to reinforce ON ENTRY.

Step One: You should  remain committed to taste any heavenly sweets, especially if it comes from the “gratuite” sample plate on the counter.

Step Two: Unfasten your belts and get ready for heaven.

Hersinger’s is  almost too inviting inside, with chandeliers glowing warm on our faces and the walls screaming vibrant blood red. (This red colour must be an obvious marketing ploy, as advertisements about communication and passion use red and orange non?)

Step Three:  Be prepared for seduction.

An extensive range of chocolate creams and pralines and chocolate gateaux, nougats, jellies and caramels of exquisite artistry, lay bare on glass shelving and glisten under intense light and welcomed scrutiny. I was told by a local customer, that in season, glazed candied chestnuts are also highly popular.

Step Four: Try not to collapse on the glass fronts in the process of decision making. This can be embarrassing for the rest of us.

And Lastly, Step Five: Don’t attempt to carry these chocolates around with you across France. We made the mistake of trying to bring home some sugar candied and ganache filled chocolate eggs at Easter time which were gushing with gold coloured wrappings at the time. We carried them  around the rest of France until one day they melted in the car, having been left unattended on some impromptu excursion.  Just like that! What was a girl to do when their gooey loveliness spreads flat across its foiled wrappers…?

Perhaps let Hirsinger’s take the trauma out of delivery. Check out their website at http://www.chocolat-hirsinger.com

Hirsinger’s, Arbois has got to go on your  “must see and experience” list next time you’re in France. When I first found myself peering into Hirsinger’s, it was no short of a miracle and the same experience is waiting for you!

WARNING: This is an intense chocoholic experience. Remission is not guaranteed.

Enjoy my darlings!

For more wonderful places to see, feel, touch and taste while in France, why not subscribe above?

Au revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell

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Awaken To Arles in Provence, France

Posted in Food and Recipes, French Affair, French Painters, French Quilts, French Travel, South of France with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 15, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

Thankyou all for the flood of kind sentiments having lost our precious dog and so the order of the day is recuperation which makes me want to take you all to sunny Arles in beautiful Provence.

Be greeted by this intricate religious mosaic on the wall of the Old Town as we walk through.

Arles has history and intrigue from the 7th century (with an amazing Museum), markets selling organic produce and wonderful olive products, tablecloths, fabrics and textiles for quilting and other sewing needs…

galleries and exhibitions, boutiques and cafes, fabulous restaurants serving succulent meals to remember…

and later even a Moroccan steam bath if you prefer to totally unwind and rejuvenate the joy.

All this nestled into a back drop of Roman ruins and an amphitheatre (Les Arenes) where the sounds of bull fighting can be heard right across the city.

And did I mention catacombs?

Look no further than Arles.

Home of the famous Vincent Van Gogh for a long while (he also thought recuperation necessary here) and todays residents include of plenty of friendly artisans who are not only painters, poets and potters, but chocolatiers, bee keepers, photographers and entertaining musicians performing in regular festivals for us to enjoy throughout the year.

One of the locals told me that the oldest person in the world (who lived until she was 122 and died in 1997) was born in Arles.Yes, Jeanne Louise Calment obviously knew the secrets of longevity. Perhaps it was the diet, the exercise (she rode a bicycle until 100 years of age) or maybe it was the climate, her sense of humour or even her bravery.

One things for certain, Arles has something really special that it makes you want to live forever (well almost!).

You’ll love Arles.

For more ideas on French inspired quilts visit my website at http://www.quiltingthejourney.com

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell

Awaken to Beynac in the Perigord/Dordogne, France

Posted in French Affair, French Travel, South West of France with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

I’m taking you to the beautiful Dordogne in the Perigord Noir (or Black Perigord) region of South Western France today and we’re going to take a little boat ride down the Dordogne River and dream happy thoughts. Why? Because it’s my favourite spot in the world and I’ve had a tough week. It started off when we had to put down our beautiful sixteen year old Golden Retriever, Winston (commonly known to all here as Winnie or just Win) last Saturday, which left us broken hearted.

Winnie has been our guardian, our companion, our door mat and our listening ear forever. Lover of the kids’ kingdoms including the sandpit, pool parties, BBQ’s and new garden beds and honorable devourer of All and Sundry. Win was unfussy. The most unfussy individual I have ever known.That’s what made him so adorable.

He was here to love. He witnessed the first bicycle ride, the first trampoline jump (from the top of the trampoline), the first pool party and even our first fireblower on the lawn last Christmas holidays. He saw other pets come and go who could’nt last his distance. Occasionally he would walk down the road and inevitably become lost and a neighbour would shuffle him home again and then he  would sit forever on your feet until you couldn’t feel your toes anymore.

He was here to eat. And he did that so well. I thought his favourite was my Beef Bourgnoine until I watched him devour a disposal nappy when I had Mother’s Group around. Whipped it off some unsuspecting customer with a minimum of fuss! I was left confused.

A massive doggie, who never had his heart in the Security Business.This big boy would bark at sunset to be escorted to the garage for his soothing classical music and sleep soundly with the light on. Unless of course, there were our kids sleeping in the tent on the occasional “camp out” nights. Then and only then would he muster the courage and conviction to spend the entire evening under the moon, right outside the tent door like some mammoth Egyptian stone monument guarding the Temple.

What’s this got to do with Beynac, France? Win was certainly not French. (And I loved him, hard to believe non?) I told you in the beginning that I would like to take you down the Dordogne River at Beynac to think happier thoughts and live the dream of great experiences (and that doesn’t just include our hairy companions I realise!)

You will love the south west of France. One day I’ll have a house there with a big vegetable patch and all my family and friends like you will be able to dance in the sun and live the dream as well. (Why I didn’t attach Paypal to these blogs I will never know!)

So in Beynac, we can soak up the sun in this and let’s drift away…

And from here we’ll gaze upon the northern bank of the Dordogne …

And take in the beautiful Beynac views…

And the warmth will lull us.

Beynac’s light makes for a painter and photographers’ paradise. Or, you can take the alternate method and walk or cycle or even horse ride and wind through the narrow lanes of the village to see Beynac’s Castle (referred to by the locals as Chateau de Beynac). There’s plenty of history here dating from the Hundred Years War!

You can be feel very artistic here or not. It’s up to you.

As for me, I’ll just float along for a while thinking happy thoughts of our great big beautiful dog, Winnie.

One things for certain, the Dordogne region is breathtakingly beautiful countryside and you’ll feel better just by having spent some time here.

Be sure to visit.

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010Therese Waddell

Awakening to French Kids in Paris

Posted in Decoration & Design, French Affair, French fabrics, French Travel, Paris with tags , , , , on May 6, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

I hope you’re all doing just fine today and I thought I’d put a smile on your face by sending you this one photo- especially since  Mother’s Day (Fete des Meres) is around the corner.

One of my favourite things to do in Paris is simply sitting on a park bench behind Notre Dame watching the people going about their daily routine.

On this particular day, the last day of school before the holidays,  a very cute trail of weeny toddlers made their way like ducklings following their teacher across the small park here.

They were obviously dressed in fancy costumes for a special pageant that day in pre school. Sooooo cute don’t you think? And what do you think of the Middle Age costumes? It’s a little different from the usual Spiderman and Ninja Turtles!

It could only happen in Paris.

Have a great day all!

Au revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

Awakening to Mothers Day in France

Posted in Decoration & Design, French Affair, French Travel with tags , , on May 5, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

Mother’s Day is fast approaching and it got me thinking about the real treasures that are passed down in time from mothers to daughters which spark the fondest memories of all.

I’ve had the privilege to have spent time with French hosts all across France, who surround themselves with family heirlooms from the past and in particular from their own mothers.  There is nothing so finer than to live with personal reminders and discover the things which we deem priceless.

Sometimes they offer no monetary value at all- that is the point. You know what I mean. How many of us have kept our sons’ and daughters’ cards of love which they have made for us during the early years of schooling? I know I have.

The pride of a daughter, my host, showing me their mother’s lovingly restored items which embellish a corner of the room, is always truly moving. Often a tear is shed and their smiles broaden as they recall their stories of the past.

So, in honour of Fete des Meres  (Mother’s Day), I’d like to show you some of these treasures which all tell a story and all introduce mothers like our own.

From a little village in Burgandy…a silk purse of Soisick’s mothers.

Her mother’s sewing machine…

Her mother’s favourite painting of herself…

And in Champagne-Ardenne, where the same door key her mother used as a child, is knowingly pressed into my host’s palm.

Then there’s Dominique’s mother in Rouen, who showpieces her mother’s artwork on the mantle- with her needlecase and jewellery box oozing exotic tales…

And perfume bottles which when breathed in deeply with the lid off, still pangs the heart with the faintest aroma of her mother’s cologne.

These are the things which bind us no matter how small and quirky, artistic or not and they each honour our mothers for more than her lifetime.

So, a very big “Happy Mother’s Day” to you mum for all your positivism and support and to all my beautiful friends who are fabulous mothers.

May you have a day to remember.

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell

Awakening to The ANZACS in France

Posted in French Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

With the passing of the Anzac weekend, my french awakening couldn’t help but focus on the Anzacs in France and Australia today. Many villagers and townsfolk joined in the Anzac tribute across the globe to salute the bold and the brave of  past wars.

Hundreds of thousands of soldiers from Australia, New Zealand, England, America, Canada, France and many more, fought together and died together in war all for the love of Freedom.

There are numerous Monuments des Morts (or war memorials) erected right across France and other countries too, which serve  as a tangible tribute to the Missing. I want to show you the one I came across whilst visiting St Sauveur En Rue in the Rhone-Alps area of central France, which has the names typically imprinted upon it of the local French villagers who went to war and died-including many members from the same family.

Looking up, I could feel the boldness and determination of this humble soldier gripping the wreath of laurel (which has traditionally been a mark of  honour in ancient times given to winners or even great poets and other heroes) and I realized that this soldier symbolized all our brave victors and heroes of our nations. Raising the wreath high into the pale blue space represented their purpose. Go see it for yourself next time you visit central France.

Last week, I came across some very powerful World War One poetry and in particular the works of Wilfred Owens, Seigfried Sassoon and Julian Grenfell.

These poets each enlisted with differing attitudes towards war – Julian, the son of a Lord ultimately fought in revenge when his younger brother Billy died in Gallipoli. Sassoon would live the life of a professional soldier and Wilfred wanted to greater assist those wretched souls who he witnessed in hospital and who had been transferred injured from the front. Working for the vicar wasn’t good enough for him. It was the front line which drew his attention and spirit. The same was true for the great French poets and writers such as Emile Arne and the anti war poet Georges Bannerot who both died in action. Patriotism reigned free.

But war poets and non poets were never exempt from the horrific conditions of fighting in the trenches. I read once that opportunistic rats grew to the size of cats feasting on decaying corpses and lice bought trench fever (not to mention incredible itching) while frogs mulitiplied in swampy pits underfoot and the stench of thousands of dead on the dying fields was unbearable.

” In dreary, doubtful, waiting hours,

Before the brazen frenzy starts,

The horses show him nobler powers;

O patient eyes, courageous hearts!”

(‘Into Battle’ by Julian Grenfell 1888-1915)

If a bullet didn’t kill you, then shell shock and trauma and psychological damage determined the rest of your days. Some of you who have lived with a war veteran will understand my meaning I’m sure.

Wilfred Owen put it plainly,

“My subject is war and the pity of War-

The poetry is in the pity…”

It doesn’t take any rocket science to realise that we have in common some incredibly brave men and women across our planet who have died for our countries and need to be duly recognised, especially last weekend.

So on Anzac Day, I hope we all raised our half filled glasses in commemoration of those who have fallen; in honour of those who no longer feel the pang of destruction and who are at last at peace.

Clenching the wreath of laurel, their prize was freedom and the statue in St Sauveur is a constant reminder of our beautiful brave.

If I had one French phrase to whisper into the ear of each of these soldiers it would be-

” Je pense a’ vous”.

(I think of you)

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell