French Culture


Paris Fireworks

Paris Fireworks

Bonne Année! Happy New Year!

I just came across a terrific calendar you can download from Etsy.com that has many photos of Paris and happens to be free. The calendar was made by the owner of the Magalerie Etsy shop. (We are not connected in any way. I just think her calendar is cool.)

Free Calendar PDF Download from Magalerie

–Brett

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Baccarat Crystal Snowflake for UNICEF - Photo from CBS New York

Baccarat Crystal Snowflake for UNICEF - Photo from CBS New York

Did you know that every year in December, UNICEF hangs an enormous crystal snowflake made by French crystal maker Baccarat above the intersection of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue in New York City? They hang it in conjunction with an annual ball as a reminder of their commitment to reach a day when zero children die from preventable causes.

Baccarat Crystal Snowflake -- Photo from UNICEF Site

Baccarat Crystal Snowflake -- Photo from UNICEF Site

The original snowflake was displayed in New York starting in 1984. In 2005, UNICEF commissioned a new snowflake from Baccarat. (The original model moved to Beverly Hills and hangs over the Beverly Wilshire hotel.) The New York snowflake contains 16,000 crystal prisms, is 23 feet wide and over 28 feet tall, and weighs more than 3,300 pounds. Both snowflakes are beautiful, handcrafted crystal ornaments consisting of 12 double-sided branches.

Baccarat Snowflake -- Photo from NYC♥NYC on Flickr

Baccarat Snowflake -- Photo from NYC♥NYC on Flickr

So beautiful, and such an inspiring cause. We wish all our customers and friends peace and beauty this holiday season.

–Brett

One of my deepest passions in life is the automobile. Classic cars, trucks and motorcycles in particular have been an obsession as long as I can remember, growing up in France. This was actually what motivated me to come visit America, especially California. Growing up in the French countryside, it was extremely rare to spot a sports car, a custom car, or even a nicely restored antique. Magazines on the newsstands abounded with articles from sunny Southern California, and fast forward a few years, here I am, living in the heart of Orange County, California, driving a classic Chevy truck! I am mentioning this because yesterday I met another French man who not only shares my passion, but is able to turn it into amazing pieces of art. His name is Stéphane Dufour and his paintings and sculptures are just breathtaking! He creates his realistic works with pencil, acrylic, and airbrush techniques. If you share my interest in car culture, you should visit his website http://sdufour.com/ We also have a few of his paintings displayed and available for sale in our Tustin store.

Stéphane Dufour - Hommage Citroen

Stéphane Dufour - Hommage Citroën

Stéphane Dufour - Ferrari 250 GTO

Stéphane Dufour - Ferrari 250 GTO

— Jean-Michel

French Dinner table

Receiving guests around a dinner table is a a very important part of French culture. Having guests over for a religious occasion, anniversary or other important date requires flawless planning and execution. Every person sitting at the table will become a judge of the affair and any faux pas will necessarily become a subject of gossip for years to come.  This may seem a bit exaggerated (and it is) but I do remember my mom really stressing trying to prepare Easter or Christmas dinners for a dozen family guests. So here are a few dos and don’ts for successfully setting a French table:

Silverware: They should be organized in the order in which they will be used from the outside to the inside.

Forks: Left of the plate, facing down.

Knives: Right of the plate, the cutting side of the blade facing toward the plate.

Dessert spoon and cheese knife: Over the plate with the handle to the right. Spoon faces down and the cutting side of the knife toward the plate.

Glasses: From left to right, from larger to smaller. In order: water then red, then white.

The plates: Positioned one to two centimeters (3/8″ to 3/4″) from the edge of the table. Never use more than three stacked plates. After the main course, the dinner plate (and presentation plate) are removed and replaced with the cheese plate and then the dessert plate.

Presentation plate: Optional, it is there to help present the other plates. It is removed when the cheese is served in its own plate.

Dinner plate: Used for the main course.

Soup bowl: Called a deep plate (assiette creuse) in France, its shape is in between a plate and a bowl.

Bread plate: Optional, the small plate is positioned above and left of the main plates.

French table place setting

French table place setting

Tablecloth and napkins:

Napkins can be folded in many ways: in a glass, in a plate,  in a napkin ring, as a square, in the shape of a flower, use your imagination! The Napkin Folding Guide has 27 ideas to get you started.

Tablecloth folds: If you are using a round tablecloth, all folds should be ironed out. If you are using a rectangular tablecloth, you can leave a fold lengthwise, but the crosswise folds must be ironed out. If you have table extensions, you can use several tablecloths to cover the whole length — or just visit our website or call us and order the correct size!

Decorations: Your table should be quite full when the food is served, so you do not need much to decorate. Avoid flower bouquets that are too large as they will block the view between guests. Try two or more smaller, short arrangements of cut flowers instead of one large arrangement that people will strain to see over. If one of your guests brings you a large bouquet, thank them, but don’t feel obligated to add it to the dining table if it’s too big or carries a strong fragrance. Placing their gift on a side table, coffee table, or bar top will show your appreciation just as well.

Do not use scented candles during a meal — instead, try our perforated taper candles, which will burn longer without making a mess.

Make sure to put enough salt shakers and pepper grinders (try our salt, pepper and herbes de Provence ceramic mills), trivets, and water carafes.

To avoid making too many trips to the kitchen, have a place nearby where you can keep your serving utensils. A buffet table or sideboard is designed just for this purpose, but if you don’t have one, a small table or a tray will do just fine.

Now it is time to get everybody seated and enjoy a delicious French meal!

Information courtesy of www.clase-frances.com.ar.

–Jean-Michel

All of a sudden, we hear people talking about macarons everywhere! Three different shelter magazines mentioned macarons in their September issues. Veranda and Elle Decor announced the opening of a Ladurée patisserie in New York City. Ladurée is a a Paris institution dating from 1862, famously making macarons and other pastries for many years. They are credited with inventing the macaron. Even their pastel boxes and shopping bags are collected by fans.

Laduree Macarons

Laduree Macarons

Better Homes and Gardens magazine lists websites where you can order macarons made by other companies in the United States.

But what is a macaron? It is a sweet confection made of two soft meringue-like cakes sandwiching a frosting filling. Macarons are made in many different flavors, such as strawberry, chocolate, caramel, and pistachio. They are slightly chewy but very light in texture A macaron is nothing like the coconut cookies called “macaroons,” but is like a distant Continental cousin to the American whoopie pie.

Laduree Strawberry Macarons Stacked

Laduree Strawberry Macarons Stacked

On the other hand…Jean-Michel and other residents of the Poitou region (about three hours southwest of Paris) claim to have the real macaron. Recipes dating to the 16th-century Medicis family describe a macaron as a one-piece confection made with ground almonds, sugar, eggs, and salt. If you visit Poitiers, be ready to try the “real” macarons!

Although we sell candies and cookies at I Dream of France, we do not currently offer macarons. We do, however, have beautiful kitchen towels decorated with macarons. Click any of the photos below to view them on our website.

Coucke Terry Square Kitchen Towel - Macarons

Coucke Terry Square Kitchen Towel - Macarons

Coucke Macarons Jacquard Dish Towel

Coucke Macarons Jacquard Dish Towel

Sweet Dreams!

–Brett

I Dream of France Logo

Bonnes Fêtes des Mères!

We just received two large shipments from Provence, and are putting new items online every day! These are all-new items that we haven’t had in stock before. Visitez I Dream of France and take a look at our selection to find just the thing for mom (or yourself).

As always, orders of $75 or more ship free! No coupon code required for the shipping special. (Alaska and Hawaii pay $10 extra.) Also, we now ship to Canada!

Below are some examples of what’s new…more info on our website!

Pssst…I Dream of France will be an official sponsor of the Newport Beach Film Festival French Spotlight on Tuesday, May 3rd. If you will be attending, look for our French candy in your goodie bag!

New French Kitchenware

Coucke Mers & Oceans Dish Towel Soft cotton jacquard in red, grey, and blue with a marine compass.

Coucke Mers et Oceans Jacquard Towel

 

Provencal Painted Wood Hook Rack Organize towels or anything you need close by. Available in four designs.

provencal-handpainted-towel-rack

 

Garlic Grinding Plate with Lavender Bouquet & Cicada  Back in stock are the ceramic garlic plates. Use the ceramic teeth to grind garlic or just set on the table as a decorative piece!

garlic-grinding-plate-lavender-aw

Provencal Oil & Vinegar Ceramic Bottle Set – Olives Red This beautifully handpainted set of ceramic oil & vinegar bottles will look gorgeous in your kitchen or on your dinner table.

provence-oil-vinegar-ceramic-bottles-red-w

Provence Waffle-Weave Kitchen Towels Gift Set Yellow/Blue We have added three sets of embroidered waffle-weave kitchen towels. Choose among yellow/blue, red/white, and brown/green.

provence-waffle-weave-kitchen-towel-0203w

Fresh Jewelry

Seahorse Gold Tone Necklace with Cream Charms Add sparkle and shine to your ensemble with our matte goldtone necklace with clear, opaline, and pearlescent beads, as well as multiple charms.

seahorse-necklace-0031aw

 

New Sale Items

You can please your gift recipient and watch the bottom line at the same time. Here’s a good buy: Coucke “Cigale” Damask Tablecloths, 20% off.

Coucke Damask Tablecloths - Cigale

–Brett

Have you heard about the Google Art Project? Google asked museums around to world to let them photograph their buildings and collections to put online for everyone to view. The museums chose which works to show (some are blurred for copyright protection) and Google did the rest. The absolutely amazing result is that people anywhere and everywhere can discover and view more than a thousand artworks online in extraordinary detail. See the 200-foot-long Hall of Mirrors online, no plane ticket or trip through TSA required.

versailles hall of mirrors

Versailles Hall of Mirrors

On a related note, our building (The Cox Market Plaza in Old Town Tustin) and boutique interior were recently photographed by Google for our place page. The Google photographer took lots of pictures of our shop, which should be online in a few weeks. I guess we got the same treatment as Versailles!

I Dream of France After Dark

I Dream of France After Dark

–Brett & Jean-Michel

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