Archive for January, 2015

Three Savory French Cheeses – Délicieux!

January 31, 2015 @ 7:58 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
French cheeses

Creamy Camembert originated in Normandy

Without a doubt all of us could enjoy a round-table discussion about all of the virtues and varieties of French cheeses.  Today, I share three of my favorite French creations that are elegant staples for almost any recipe or soirée.

French Brie is a natural starting point – the so-called “Le Roi des Fromages” (King of Cheese) in France.  This esteemed cheese won a championship nearly 200 years ago, and the title has remained intact.

Produced from creamy cow’s milk cheese that is soft ripened, Brie has enjoyed continuous adulation from the 8th century. The two Bries awarded AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) classification – Brie de Meux and Brie de Melun – are not permitted to be imported into the United States, because they are made from raw milk. (Notes about U.S. restrictions later!) Fortunately, we still are able to enjoy imported Bries with slight production variations. The creamy mild flavor is ideal for those of us who turn away from ultra-strong flavors.

French cheeses

Even Amazon offers gourmet cheese selections

I know a nice little wine bar that offers brie warmed with a touch of brown sugar and pecans and served with a small baguette and slices of apple. Très délicieux and one of our delectable favorites to serve at home!

Another soft-ripened cheese from Normandy, Camembert has been popular since the late 19th century. Sold in a quaint, round wooden box, the fragile cheese is well-protected in shipping and thus enjoyed around the world. Like Brie, it is an AOC-certified cheese made from raw milk that is adjusted for American importing. Camembert is slightly stronger than Brie but pairs just as well with nuts, bread and fruit.

Now we come to my all-time favorite, though that’s a stretch isn’t it – choosing one delicious cheese over another?  And that would be Gruyère de Comte,  a wonderful French Alpine cheese that is equally revered by the Swiss – who create their own version. Dating to the 12th century, Gruyère de Comte currently enjoys the highest production of all French cheese with AOC protection.

Again, a cow’s milk cheese (I seem to be quite partial to the bovine cheeses), it is pale ivory, semi-hard, formed in wheels and aged for about 12 months in mountain caves. The exceptional flavor tends to be sweet and nutty; though, as with all cheeses, can vary in taste according to the location, production techniques and time of year. Gruyère is absolutely the cheese of choice for many soufflés, gratins and fondues, but we also love it plain and simple with bread or fruit.

As I mentioned before, U.S. regulations affect the importing of French cheese, a slightly amusing fact given our ongoing recalls of everything from peanut butter to healthy, iron-rich spinach! C’est la vie! If you don’t have a good local market that carries premium French cheeses, go on line to familiarize yourself with gourmet cheese providers.  An exceptional source for learning about all types of cheeses by color, texture, country and more is cheese.com.

And by all means when you are in France, make it a point to shop in your neighborhood or market fromagerie – a heavenly experience!

We’d love to hear from you!
swsheridan@francedailyphoto.com

Copyright © 2005-2015, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

Cole Porter’s Paris Mansion

January 28, 2015 @ 3:21 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Paris France Properties

One of three lavish living areas

We would love to have an apartment in Paris, much less a home.  I guess it’s the old if you coulda’, you shoulda’.  As long as we are speaking of Paris property, it might interest you to know that Cole Porter’s private Parisian home was on the market for €40 million, give or take a centime or two. I don’t know if it sold, but one can only imagine what a delight it would be to simply tour the magnificent residence.

Within sight of Les Invalides, the decidedly spacious mansion includes 10 bedrooms and 6 baths. Formerly home to aristocrats and royalty, the residence dates to 1777 and the Comte de Provence, who later reigned as King Louis XVIII.

Cole Porter and his wife purchased the left-bank mansion in 1919.  Their legendary… and extravagant … parties were enjoyed by the likes of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald – naturally the stuff of legends and of movies like Midnight in Paris! Obviously those times inspired Porter, who wrote “Night and Day” and “Anything Goes” during his ‘tenure’ in the mansion.

Cole Porter's mansion in Paris France

Inspiration in Paris!

The Mansion

So now, what might €40 million deliver in the Parisian real estate market?  We would begin with three prominent living areas, a library, dining room, 5 dressing rooms and – bien sur – staff quarters! One simply couldn’t care for all of those rooms without help. The master suite is a home in its own right with a generous study, dressing room, large bath and gym.  From nearly every room in the mansion, you have a spectacular view of the ivy-clad, walled garden.

Even discussing such a magnificent place feels rather like pressing your nose against the glass of an untouchably high-priced fashion house. Our plebian tastes run far more to a sunny apartment on a quiet street in the Latin Quarter.  That’s a favorite daydreaming activity of mine….looking through properties for sale in Paris and in other parts of France.  Definitely a fun pastime!

Fired Up for France: The Promise of Paris – now available!
Autographed copies with notecard gift (through PayPal)
Amazon direct order

 

We’d love to hear from you!
swsheridan@francedailyphoto.com

Copyright © 2005-2015, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

La Chandeleur Celebration

January 25, 2015 @ 9:18 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Paris Louvre France

Elegant Paris sculpture even in the snow!

The gaiety of the holiday season has passed, and winter has settled in along the quais and jardins of Paris.  Folks began their day in Paris with 30-degree temperatures that will move just a little to less than 45-degrees.  Often, the sun hides behind thick blankets of clouds, and the spirit perhaps needs a little boost.

Voila!  We are France!  We have just the solution to carry us through wintry days, until the tulips begin to spring forth along the garden walkways.

In just a couple of weeks, the French will celebrate the religious holiday of Candlemas or “Fête de la Lumière”.  The February 2 celebration – 40 days after Christmas – is also known as “jour des crêpes”, when families enjoy a bit of “fortune telling”.  They foresee the future with a game – flip the crêpe successfully, and you’ll enjoy good luck through the year.  Probably works as well as a Groundhog!

 

Have a wonderful Sunday!

We’d love to hear from you!  swsheridan@francedailyphoto.com

Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

The Mystery of the Camargue

January 20, 2015 @ 1:01 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan

Flaming sunset over the Camargue – © ATOUT FRANCE/Fabrice Milochau

Mystifying.  Fascinating.  Camargue stretches like a triangle from its apex at Arles to Aigues-Mortes and Fos-sur-mer on the Mediterranean and traced along those borders by the Grand and Petit Rhône Rivers.  The land is buffeted by the fierce Mistral winds, that even defined the cabanes or huts that were built to protect against the harsh environment.

The natural treasures are many, a cauldron of natural lagoons and manmade canals, a sweep of grassy plains dotted with black bulls and small white horses, a mix of farmhouse mas, sheep houses and pump stations, all working together – or at odds – through the years to keep the land and the people going.

Nature tries to stand her ground against tourists, and the Grand Parc enfolds the flamingos and animals and the  flora and fauna of the land.  The saltiers tend to salt flats, harvesting the fleur de sel; and the rice farmers protect their increasingly smaller fields.  Along the Petite Camargue, the unique mix of alluvial mud and sand nurtures the flavorful rose wine of the region.

Wild white Camarguais horses – © ATOUT FRANCE/Pascal Gréboval

The Camargue becomes a blur of tourists in the summer, campers parked in the countryside and along the Mediterranean.  Bed and Breakfasts offer cowboy-like experiences complete with guardien-guided horseback tours past garrigue shrubs and along reed-lined canals.  They return to the farmhouse in the evening for hearty Provençal meals of grilled beef, Coquilles Saint Jacques, rotisserie duck and earthy cheeses.

Open air markets, bull fights, quaint chapel towers, fortified towns and lovely seaside harbors deliver every conceivable holiday experience.  Perhaps, the crowning event is the pilgrimage and celebration of the saint’s day for Mary Jacobe in May, when the gypsies gather in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer to venerate their patron saint.

The Camargue weaves quite a tapestry of scent and taste, sight and sound, custom and color.  One of our lasting memories was the sight of a gendarme on horseback out in the middle of a flat, golden field.  He seemed at once alone and a part of the land through which he rode.

We’d love to hear from you!  swsheridan@francedailyphoto.com

Copyright © 2005-2015, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.