|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.