13 October 2009

Countryside Escape

We escaped the hustle and bustle of the city today, hopped on a train (the wrong one, but no matter!), and headed south-west to the little town of Rambouillet. I (this is Hannah) have distant Gigoux-relatives living there who my grandmother found a few years ago. We've been to visit them once before, several years ago. Today, they showed us an incredible amount of hospitality, served us a gourmet lunch, and introduced us to many new animal friends.

Jean-Charles met us at the train station and brought us to the farm where Brigitte,
Bernard, Papi (the Grandfather), and Christophe met us for lunch.

The meal included fresh tomatoes (from the garden), potato-zucchini puree, pork (from the farm), cider/beer (home-brewed, apples from the garden), bread (made with wheat from the field Bernard and Christophe were working in that morning),
cheese, and a chocolate pear tart for desert.

After the meal, we got a tour of the farm.
One of the farm cats recently gave birth to a litter of the cutest
petits chattons (kittens) in the world. Unfortunately, these lil guys were already
claimed or we might have been forced to take them with us...

Brigitte, moi, et un little lamb.

Enjoying the pasture...and a break from the barking of the
German Shepard who was chained up not too far away.

Inside the barn...this is the machine that dispenses all the finished wheat into
trucks to be taken into town and made into awesome French bread.

Here is the German Shepard chilling with the rabbits-neither one was at all phased by the other.

Brigitte in her garden picking zucchini for us to take home.
We just finished eating them up for dinner...tres delicieux! Merci, Brigitte!!

In front of the quince tree in the garden. She also loaded us up with a sack of quinces to make jam. We aren't sure just how to do it yet, but we will definitely find out. Brigitte is holding the dahlias she picked from her garden for us to take home. I still don't quite understand how there are such gorgeous flowers still in bloom in October, but I'm glad!

A shot of the house (to the left) and the old barn (to the right). (For all the Taylor-White-Steens reading, the building to the right is where we had our epic feast.)

fam photos
fam with dogsAnother day, another adventure!

A demain!

Back Home in Paris!

It's strange that a place can start to feel so familiar after such a short time
but we both felt a sense of homecoming when we arrived back in France.

We started it off right with a trip to Le Marche Biologique (organic market) on Rue de Raspail.

Who wouldn't want to buy wine from this guy!?

liverThe French clearly agree with one of our greatest
role model's (Julia Child) words of wisdom! "SAVE THE LIVER!!!!!"

greenladyNo Parisian would dare to be seen without a beret to match her sweater.

After the market, we enjoyed a sublime fall day in Luxembourg gardens.
Parisians were out in full force to take in the crisp air and admire the lovely autumnal colors.

On our way home, we stumbled into a group of hundreds of roller-bladers.
Police were shutting down the streets in preparation for a ride through the city --
a scene very similar to Critical Mass. Tons of people were out,
well padded, prepared with water, and ready to take on the streets of paris!

Getting ready to take off.

The old and the young! (bonus points for the bright green sweatband)

And they're off!

11 October 2009

London Markets

We've been hitting up markets like it's our job since we got to France and the two we visited in London were no disappointment. England seems to have a really strong local, fresh, organic food movement -- it actually doesn't even really seem like a "movement" at all, it's just a way of life that makes the most sense!

Our first visit was to Borough Market, close to Southwark Cathedral along the Thames. It was in a really cute old part of the city, but also right next to a busy business district so there were lots of people grabbing lunch during their break (and enjoying a rare sunny day outside).

boroughIn addition to lots of fresh, fresh, fresh, fruits and vegetables, there were vendors serving prepared food. This woman was making some kind of yummy looking curry.

Fish, anyone?

Or maybe you are in the mood for freshly hacked pig?

The second market we visited was the famed Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill. Though it was a bit touristy, there did seem to be some legitimate antique dealers, great food, and lots of vintage clothing. Of course, if we happened to be in need of a cheap teddy bear with a British flag t-shirt, we would've been in luck there too.

Antique books.......and H.P.

Alice's was selling lots of tea and tea accessories.
We settled on a cheaper alternative that cold day...we broke down and went into a Starbucks when it started to rain, bought one tea and shared it and then kept the cup and continued getting it refilled with hot water in other S'bucks locations over the city(hey, we told you "we be budgen!"). We decided there are more Starbucks in London than in the US,
and that day, they served us well.

Jewelery, old watches, and knick-knacks galore. The vendor assured us they were all authentic Victorian-era silver, uh huh, right-o!

They were also selling dismembered legs, but we didn't ask how much they were.

We treated ourselves to a piece of cake at Hummingbird Bakery -- a place that came highly recommended to us.

Erika Hamilton this one's for you!!!! The cupcakes are not nearly as good as the ones in Denver though don't worry, but the store was really cute. We got a gigantic piece of carrot cake.

How Times Have Changed

The Victoria & Albert Museum is home to many things, one being the premier history fashion exhibition EVER. There are clothes that date back to 1600's up to present day and even looking into the future of fashion, with displays of fashion students' work.

This was the first shoe in a line of many, and dates back to the later 1700's.
Lookin' mighty comfortable...

Here is the breakdown of women's undergarments over time. Here we have the bussle...added padding to look like the ladies were really packin' it. Too bad for the guys who found out the truth after peeling away layers of clothing only to find this hideous padding... And then we have the beloved corset, which is still popular today but for slightly different purposes.

Here the men get to show off with this lovely dressing jacket, I mean,
heaven forbid you see their nightgown right? Imagine how people of that time would have reacted to the showy Calvin Klein boxer briefs of today.

This lovely ensemble is a collage of bras, made by a designer in Milan. Tres chic ladies!!

Last but not least, this is the future of dresses for women...a boxy dress that nicely accentuates the hips and is adorned with a most conspicuous frontal zipper.

As we entered the hall on our way out we were greeted with the ever-astounding work of Chihuly, who has exhibited many a time in Chicago and is an internationally known glassblower.

Lucky for us, we did not miss out on a good London rain....

Buried London Treasure

We found a gem of London and it's called Gordon's Wine Bar.
It is the oldest wine bar in London and possibly one of the oldest in the world. You step into a nondescript door and immediately head down a steep, narrow staircase...

It opens into an underground cave, smelling of wine and Friday-night freedom. The place was packed to the brim with happy people of all sorts- young, old, hairy, short, bald and then us.

There weren't many tables at all, as the place is pretty tiny, and people hover around keeping a keen eye out for the next available seat. Luckily we landed a table after about 20 minutes of standing with full glasses and a bottle in hand.

From the main room there are small arch openings that lead to the depths of Gordan's cave, which is only about 6' tall at most. One of the servers was super tall and watching him go in and out of the cave was amusing...to us anyway, I'm sure his back hurt.

Apparently Gordon's is also a place where PDA's are not only accepted, but expected. It is a perfect date atmosphere so we couldn't blame the couples around us who insisted on sucking face for the duration of our stay. I mean, if we had dates, we'd have been doing the same!!!