Thursday, August 28, 2008

Anastasia Kusmi Tea

Anastasia Kusmi Tea

Ahhh...the aroma and taste of French tea!

My latest tea find is Anastasia by Kusmi Tea. It's a French tea blend with a Russian past! It is inspired and named after the mysterious Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia.
Anastasia is a French Earl Grey blend with citron, et fleur d' oranger. English translation: a Russian blend of China and Ceylon teas with natural scents of bergamot (Earl Grey) lemon, lime and orange blossom. It is delicious as a French iced tea!

Kusmi Tea celebrated 140 years of tea business in 2007. It was founded by a Russian peasant in 1867 by a P.M. Kousmichoff (1840-1908). During the Russian Revolution his son moved the company's headquarters to Paris. Kousmichoff's Grandson eventually sold the business. Today Kusmi still operates with it's work shops in Paris.

I have often admired the baroque style Kusmi tea caddy tins in Paris. For years I thought it was a Russian Tea brand. After all, it's packaging and tea blend names are so Russian! I recently discovered that it is a French tea company, so voila, I had to try it.

Lucky for me I was at Dean and Deluca in the Napa Valley last week. D & D just happens to carry a small variety of Kusmi Teas amongst their import teas. I chose the Anastasia blend. I later discovered it is one of their top sellers, rivaling Prince Vladimir at the top spot. Oui, I will try Prince Vladimir next!

The next time I am in Paris, I hope to visit the Kusmi Tea store and restaurant.
56, rue de Seine, Paris, 75017

If you get there before me...let me know how it is!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Have a cuppa!

Cupa Cupa from Sweetie Pies

Now this dessert is just my cup of tea!

This decadent dessert is perfect for all tea lovers and chocoholics alike! Imagine an edible chocolate tea cup filled with a yummy tiramisu filling and then dusted off with cocoa powder. Wouldn't it be fun to have a dinner party and serve these for dessert?

These adorable Cupa Cupa tea cups are available at Dean and Deluca in St. Helena, Ca. They are the culinary creation of Sweetie Pies bakery in Napa, Ca.

Next time you are in the Napa sure to have a Cupa Cupa!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Beets, Bouchon and the Napa Valley

A Day in the Napa Valley

If you're a "foodie", there is nothing like a day in the Napa Valley. I am lucky to live only an hour and a half drive away from this world-renown gourmet destination.

Yesterday I treated my oldest nephew Taylor (sous chef/culinary student) and me (foodie) to a day in the Napa Valley on a culinary field trip, of sorts. Here is a sampling of how we spent our day:

Red, Golden and Chiggia Beets

Since all great chefs start their day at the farmers market, we naturally began our day at the Napa Farmers Market. Our shopping mission was to find fresh beets. We found one vegetable stand that had three gorgeous varieties of beets: red, golden and chiggia. They were sold in bunches for $3.00 each.

We bought as many bunches of beets as our ice chest would hold. We are both going to roast our beets to use in French-style salads. Here's Taylor's recipe for roasting beets:

Taylor's Slow Roasted Beets
Trim all but 1 inch of the greens off the beets, then wash and pat dry.
Wrap each beet separately in aluminum foil, adding 1 T. of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 300 degrees F. for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until a knife inserts easily. Let cool slightly, then peel the cooked beets. Slice or cut the beets into wedges. Toss with a little olive oil, walnut oil or vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper.

Roasted beets are delicious in a mesclun salad with goat cheese, pecans and a French vinaigrette.

Whole Spice

Our next stop was the Oxbow Public Market across the street. The Oxbow Public Market is an indoor marketplace which opened earlier in the year. At the Oxbow Market stand we met the spice man, Shuli Madmone owner of Whole Spice.

Shuli was quite personable and generously shared his culinary knowledge with us. He gave us a wonderful Indian fish curry recipe to try with his basic (Indian) curry, brown mustard seeds and methi leaves. He told us both when cooking "no fear"!

Check out the Whole Spice website for inspiration, recipes and mail order for their exotic spices from all over the world.

The French Laundry
Yountville, Ca

Next it was time for lunch. No, we didn't dine at Thomas Keller's The French Laundry but I had to drive my nephew by to see it. It is rated as one of the world's top restaurants. I hear, dinner for two is about $500.00! Hmm...maybe Taylor can get a job there someday!

Yountville, Ca

Since most diners can't get a table or don't want to spend the beaucoup $$$$$ at The French Laundry, the next best thing is Thomas Keller's, more casual, Parisian style bistro Bouchon, just down the street.

Country Pate

Our 12:00 lunch reservation was at Bouchon. I love the Parisian ambiance of Bouchon. I ate here in the spring with my husband and couldn't wait to bring my nephew here. We began our bistro meal with a country pate starter and topped it off by a chocolate macaroon at the Bouchon Bakery next door! Almost as good as being in Paris!

Mariage Freres Tea

Next it was off to Dean and Deluca in St. Helena for some gourmet food shopping. Since I can't jet off to Paris this year, I was able to replenish my French tea stash here.

D & D has one of the largest inventories of Mariage Freres of French teas that I have found outside of Paris. They also carry Hediard and Kusmi French teas. Oui, they do mail order!

We had a great day in the Napa Valley and can't wait to go back and try a new restaurant. If our little culinary adventure has you craving a taste of the Napa Valley, you can always check out Thomas Keller's The French Laundry and Bouchon cookbooks.
Bon Appetit!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Laduree Designers Guild Boxes

Designers Guild Box for Laduree

There's a saying: "good things come in small packages". I agree!
I adore these pretty boxes from my favorite Parisian patisserie, Laduree!

Tricia Guild recently teamed up with Laduree and designed three boxes for their spring and summer macaroon flavors. The pretty pastel boxes are Rococo inspired with flowers and wreaths just like Designers Guild wallpaper patterns. They are available for a limited time at Laduree locations throughout Paris and at Laduree at Harrods in London.
A pretty Aqua Laduree box filled with lemon, praline,
rose petal and violette macaroons.
A lovely lilac box filled with the most famous treat in Paris!

If you happen to be going to Paris or London soon...would you mind picking me up all three?

Tricia Guild

Tricia Guild is the Queen of Color!

They say color can make a room. No one knows this better than Designer Tricia Guild. She works a color wheel like an artist!

In 1970 Tricia established Designers Guild in London. Today it is one of the world's top home and lifestyle companies producing fabrics, wallcoverings, paint, furnishings and accessories.

I discovered Tricia and Designers Guild in popular British design magazines. Their print ads are always eye catching and their room settings so lovely to admire. I love how they intertwine period classics with a modern twist and a splash of color. If I were to have a Paris apartment or a London flat, it would be decorated with Designers Guild fabrics and wallpaper!

If you are unfamiliar with this fab British design's a glimpse at their glorious designs:

I love the modern twist of the classic damask fabrics,
the play of color and pattern mixing!

I just want to sit down and have tea in this pretty room.
I love the aqua cut velvet fabric on the sofa!

Let's sit down and have a tete-a-tete!
Love this Florimund pattern wallpaper...
so Parisian!

I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into the colorful world of Designers Guild.
Next month is their exciting world wide launch of "The Royal Collection" an exclusive range of fabrics and wallcoverings directly inspired by the Royal Residences of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle!

For further design inspiration and how to add color to you rooms...check out Tricia Guild's many books on color and design.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman

Duchess of Devonshire
by Amanda Foreman

This is the book that inspired the movie... Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman.

I am so thrilled! Best-selling author Amanda Foreman just commented on my post about the soon-to-be-released The Duchess movie! Amanda loved the movie and says that it is pretty faithful to her book, for a movie. How exciting for her to see her very first book come to life on the big screen! Congratulations, Amanda!

For more information about Amanda and her other books check out her website. I loved reading how she became fully engrossed in Georgiana as she researched and wrote her biography.

Whenever we visit Britain, I always try to include a visit to a historic stately home in our itinerary. I think it is the Interior Designer in me! Now I can add Kedleston Hall to our list of sites for a future visit. I loved reading Amanda's account when she visited the filming of The Duchess at Kedleston Hall!

Thank you Amanda for bringing Georgiana's life story to us in your book and in the movie it inspired!

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Duchess Movie

The Duchess Movie
Coming Soon

This movie is just my cup of tea! I love British period movies.

The Duchess movie is based on the best-selling novel Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman. The Duchess was born Lady Georgiana Spencer (1757-1806). Yes, the same famous aristocratic family the Spencers, ancestors of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Reviews say the The Duchess is sure to be this year's period drama. Starring Keira Knightly as the Duchess and Ralph Fiennes as the older Duke of Devonshire. It was filmed at National Trust properties across England.

Like her ancestor Princess Diana, the Duchess was famous for her beauty, sense of style and adored by the people. She was also in a loveless marriage to the much older Duke. Set in the late 18th Century the movie's storyline is about her search for love.

It will be in cinemas in England on September 5, 2008 and in American theaters on September 19, 2008.

Keira Knightley as

Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire

I can't wait for it's premier. Oh the history, the scenery, the stately homes, the costumes and, of course, the drama! I will probably go on opening day!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Coco Chanel Premier on Lifetime Television

Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel
Her fashions made her famous!
Save the date and mark your calendars! Hot off the "fashionista" news wire:
Lifetime Television will premiere the Coco Chanel movie starring Shirley MacLaine on Saturday, September 13, 2008, 8:00 PM ET/PT on Lifetime Television.
The story begins in 1954 Paris with an older Coco and is told in flashbacks. I can't wait!