Thursday, March 22, 2018

My Brilliant Birthday Month – Part 2

Well, here I sit looking out the window on the official first day of spring plus two as we dig out from yet another two days of a blizzard that dumped more than a foot of snow on us.  Kinda makes me want to curl up for a long winter’s nap in a cozy drawer. 

Miss Kiri Kat -- "Wake Me When It's Spring!"

Spring has missed her cue, yet again.  Can someone cue her a little louder from the wings, please?  Still, I have confidence she will eventually take center stage.  I only hope she gets to do her number before summer gives her the hook.  I do love a lovely spring. 
You will recall from my last post that February was my birthday month and I definitely made the most of it (See My Brilliant Birthday Month – Part 1).  I celebrated all month with a memorable opera at the Met, lunches and dinners with old and new friends and was royally spoiled with gifts.  Take a peek at a few of them…

My Birthday Gift Spread
Among my favorites were two beautiful woolen scarves.  As chilly winter days linger on, I rarely leave home without one of them wrapped around me.  And, yes, you can see an orange bag and an orange box on the table, courtesy of my wonderful husband.  The bag was filled with perfume samples for both of us from a very generous Hermès saleslady (perfect for traveling!!) and the box had a beautiful carré – a Twill in deep royal blue, black and gold (gorgeous!!). 

That little white sack also contained something very special – fleur de sel de l’île de Noirmoutier. 

The tiny island of Noirmoutier across from the Vendée region of France is famous for its salt.  As early as the 5th Century, Benedictine monks created salt ponds, called œillets, from the marshes to harvest what they called “white gold.”  Those fine Benedictine monk palates not only knew a good thing when they drank it (Dom Perignon, Benedictine & Brandy, Chartreuse, etc.), but they knew a good think when they ate it.  Clearly, those of us who enjoy the finest in food and drink owe religion a deep debt of gratitude for more than just spiritual guidance. 

Photo Courtesy of Le Télégraphe
The salt is harvested today as it was 16 centuries ago and left to dry in the sun.  Fleur de sel is the nectar of these marshes and highly prized by the finest chefs all over the world.  You do not cook with it; you sprinkle just a pinch of it on meat, chicken, fish and certain vegetables.  The flavor is distinct and exquisite. 

Set de Table (place mat) de  L'île de Noirmoutier
My cousin Gérard and his family have a summer home on the island and he sent me this precious condiment via their friends Dominique and Patrick, whom we had never met.  Dominique and Patrick were in Philadelphia to visit their daughter Charlotte and meet their new grandson born the previous month. 

Dan and I hit it off with Dominique and Patrick instantly and were quickly on what I call tu terms, which is the familiar form of you (tu) as opposed to the formal (vous).  Dominique greeted me with a warm bise (kiss on both cheeks) as opposed to the traditional handshake between two people who have just met.  There was an immediate connection between this lively, charming woman and myself.  She is exactly the same age (to the day and year) as Brigitte Macron, the First Lady of France, and even lovelier in my opinion. 

We were invited to Charlotte’s home for apéritifs one night.  While her husband Guillaume was away on business, we had the pleasure of meeting the young man of the house, their son Gabriel, who, at the age of six, already speaks multiple languages.  Because Guillaume’s Company moves him around frequently, Gabriel has already lived in quite a few countries.  He was born in Pisa, Italy, has lived in Mexico and now in the US.  Despite having only arrived in July, he is already fluent in English, as well as French, Italian and Spanish.  He spoke to me in French and to my husband in English, going back and forth with absolute ease. 

Photo Courtesy of Zagat
The following night, we took Dominique and Patrick out to Parc Brasserie for dinner.  Right off Philadelphia’s lovely Rittenhouse Square, Parc is one of our go-to restaurants for everything from brunch to dinner.  Each time I walk into Parc I feel as if I’m walking into a Parisian Brasserie, which is exactly what restaurateur Stephen Starr clearly had in mind when he opened it, complete with outside tables that overlook the Square – a great place to people watch on a warm summer evening.  The noise level can be a bit high, but the food and service more than make up for it, and the bread is superb.  You can also find a pretty decent Sauterne on the wine list, albeit at a pretty indecent price.  Dominique and Patrick raved about the ambiance, the food and the bread -- high praise from a couple who come from the country who invented the baguette. 

My Dan and Dominique -- Isn't She Lovely?

M-T (also known as moi) and Patrick

Needless to say, along with the superb fleur de sel, the pleasure of meeting this charming couple and their family was one of the best birthday gifts my cousin could have sent me, although the delicious fleur de sel isn't too shabby either.  

Well, I think I’ve run on long enough, although I did promise in Part 1 that in Part 2 I would tell you about my Birthday Group’s favorite lotions and potions we’ve given each other over the years; so, I guess there will be a Part 3.  Stay tuned.  


  1. To My Lovely Readers Who Sent Me Comments,

    Unfortunately, while trying to delete some Spam comments, I inadvertently deleted comments from four of my posts, and there is no way to retrieve them.

    Although they no longer appear in this post, they were all read and enjoyed by me. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave them.

    I promise NOT to let that happen again.

    Cheers, M-T

  2. Debra Turner has left a new comment on the post "My Brilliant Birthday Month – Part 2":

    Happy Belated Birthday, Marie-Thérèse! Lovely to meet new friends and what a fun way to spend a birthday.

    Happy Easter,

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    Posted by Debra Turner to The French Touch at March 30, 2018 at 2:10 PM

  3. Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder has left a new comment on the post "My Brilliant Birthday Month – Part 2":

    Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    Wow, that was a perfect gift sent by courier in a way that got enjoyed by all!
    How cute that six year old Gabriel is soaking up his foreign languages like a sponge; that will bring him a great future.
    You look all so happy and in love with the food and company.
    Sending you hugs,

    PS Miss Kiri Kat is SMART! Even here in the south we have had such a yoyo weather...

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    Posted by Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder to The French Touch at March 28, 2018 at 7:40 AM

  4. Marie-Thérèse Norris has left a new comment on the post "My Brilliant Birthday Month – Part 2":

    Dearest Mariette,

    Yes, little Gabriel is at that age when everything gets absorbed immediately. I can just see him in the Diplomatic Corps some day.

    We had an absolutely splendid time w/Dominique and Patrick. The fleur de sel is fabulous. Such a reminder of my heritage.

    Miss Kiri Kat always knows the smart thing to do. I could learn a lot from her.

    Warm hugs from a still chilly east coast.

    Grosses Bises, M-T

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    Posted by Marie-Thérèse Norris to The French Touch at March 28, 2018 at 12:12 PM

  5. Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder has left a new comment on the post "My Brilliant Birthday Month – Part 2":

    It is sunny and warm now here; sending you warm hugs back! 💗

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    Posted by Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder to The French Touch at March 28, 2018 at 2:04 PM

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