Natacha Birds – One of a Kind Souvenirs

9 Aug

Yes, this is a post mostly for women… so girls, read on…

We have all received, at one time or another, souvenirs, that where so, uhm, “special”, that until this day they are displayed in an exquisite place at the very back of some cupboard.

Bring-alongs somewhat have the right to be kitschy and over the top, but if you are looking for something really individual for a dear friend of yours, look no further than Natacha Birds’ illustrations. If you like a whimsical, yet clean style, combined with the usefulness of bags, totes, baby onesies and more,  you have found your souvenir.

You don’t even need to travel to Paris, Natacha has an online-shop here (or click on any of the illustrations in this article).

And, to be honest, I will order my bag right now, not as a souvenir, but just for me… Hey, I have to see how it turns out, in case I want to give more bags as a Christmas present to girlfriends 😉

Natacha Birds, self-portrait

It’s just very hard to decide on what type of girl/fille you are. We women are normally very versatile, after all.

Do you love gardening? You’re a “fille Ă  jardiner”

You love butterflies? You’re a “fille Ă  papillons”

Knitting is your passion? Bonjour “fille Ă  tricot”

Or are you maybe a “fille Ă  macarons”?

If you need more inspiration, check out her website or the examples below.

Natacha Birds illustrations

Ordering your bag is really easy, just submit your photo, tell Natacha what kind of “fille” you are and what you would have represented in the picture, choose your hair colour and length… et voilĂ , your very own design will be created.

Apart from treating yourself to a nice gift, I could also imagine a baby onesie and matching tote to be a unique and cute gift for a friend’s baby shower. And did I mention, I love the stickers.

But well, I haven’t decided what kind of fille I am, apart from a fille who likes to blog. Stay tuned though, since I will put a picture on the blog once I’ve decided and received my design.

Rock en Seine

9 Aug

Official Rock en Seine Poster

Rock en Seine – is there a better reason for Parisians to head back to Paris after a long holiday?

Join them for this star-studded music festival held at the beautiful Domaine de Saint-Cloud, a former nature preserve and today a vast park with French ChĂąteau (of course…), Rock en Seine will entertain the crowds for three days, August 24 – 26, 2012.

The 3-day passes are already sold out, but single-day passes are still available here.

The Black Keys, Placebo, Green Day, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and The Dandy Warhols will heat up the Summer days and nights even more, supported by the bands responsible for some of the most catchy tunes in the last months: Mark Sheeran, Foster the People, Miike Snow, Yeti Lane and the ethereal, yet deep sound of cult Icelanders Sigur Rós.

Some of our (not really insider anymore) voice crushes are also performing: dEus, Owlle, the Black Seeds (check out “Frostbite”), Bass Drum of Death (name reminds me of Death Cab for Cutie, but they’re definitely good festival material), Kimbra and her magical voice,  and of course Granville, solid, easy-going Summer music.

And, since we’re talking French Robot Mixeurs here, I have to mention: The Bots! Nice name – fun sound.

Find detailed instructions on how to get to the festival / map here.

Now let’s hope for good weather to round up the festival season.

Ps. Did you notice the great retro-style illustrations on the Rock en Seine web page? They’re by graphic designer Thomas Baas and I think they deserve to be highlighted, check out his Portfolio here.

My Grandmother’s Paris

30 Jul

Every day we are surrounded by people. The good. The bad. The somewhat neutral.

And then there are the ones who stand out. They have that special something, a je ne sais quoi. A warm smile maybe, that twinkle in their eyes, radiating pure happiness, their heart so tender and loving that every minute you spend in their company you can’t help but feel honoured and blissful.

They can be your best friend, your spouse, a neighbour, former kindergarten teacher, sister, mom, fiancé  and if you know someone like that you are very lucky.

My grandmother Teresina was one of those people. She had felt at home in Paris, where, for many years, she had been living with her family. Her passion for life and her unbridled energy, as well as her love for the city of fashion and gourmet adventures has always inspired me greatly and has been one of the reasons why I have grown so fond of Paris.

During a stay with relatives in Switzerland she had met my grandfather and had, at first sight, fallen in love with him and been living in Switzerland ever since.

About ten years ago my grandmother has taken me to Paris, to show me the city where she had spent so many years. We spent the days discovering landmarks and churches (she loved SacrĂ© CƓur and Notre Dame), sipping lemonade and coffee in restaurants and cafĂ©s, savouring her beloved “Moules et Frites” (mussels and French fries, actually a bit more Belgian than French, but delicious of course) and crĂȘpes and we athletically climbed the Arc de Triomphe. Having been afraid of height all of her life, she had never been at the top of the Arch, but together, we made it there, even overcoming the obstacle of the elevator being out of service. But she, then already going on 80, ventured out, took on the countless stairs, and in the end there we were, standing at the top of the famous monument, both beaming, falling in love with the view and the city allover again.

This is one of my favourite memories of her. During the last years her health detoriated and she couldn’t go on holidays anymore. So I made it my mission to take photographs of the places she loved in Paris and it has always been a great joy for us to look at them together. She had also been very happy when in one of the photos she had asked me to take, she discovered that her childhood home, a house near Place d’Italie, was still there, beautifully renovated, but otherwise unchanged.

Now she has passed away which left me very sad and heartbroken. But her legacy are all the beautiful memories of the moments together. Grandmothers often earn a special place in our hearts and I couldn’t have wished for a better gran than the one she has been to me.

I am glad that I am back writing again. Teresina had been interested in so many things and loved MyFrenchRobotMixeur, which, due to her inspiration and the sharing of her thoughts and family recipes, is also very much her blog.

So I will continue to share with you her recipes, warmth and spirit, while also sharing my own recipes, Paris experience, places with a view, cosy little shops and cafés, and more, so your trip to Paris will be as wonderful and memorable to you as the time with my grandmother has been to me.

If you are interested in knowing more about her, you can find a picture and one of her favourite sweet delicacies, as well as a handwritten recipe of hers in one of my earlier blog posts here and you will meet her again in upcoming posts.

Picnic in the Streets of Paris

1 Jul

Paris Picnic

Paris is bathing in the sunlight today and we’re preparing for a lazy Summer afternoon. If you happen to be in town right now, escape the big city hustle and bustle and join the picnic in Rue Montmartre. The whole quarter is coming together for a Summertime picnic in the charming pedestrian area. Bring your own food and drinks, tables and chairs will be provided.

Hope to see you there.

From 12:00 h – 16:00 h, Rue Montmartre, 2nd arrondissement, 75002 Paris.

Degas, Ballet and a Trip to Paris

19 Nov

Little street in the Marais

In honor of famous French impressionist painter Degas, grand master in depicting human motion, the Royal Academy of Arts in London is presenting ‘Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement’. The exhibition will be open until December 11, 2011.

Santa Baby, we’ve been awful good girls, but we probably don’t need you this year: There are two competitions with fantastic prizes, related to the exhibition.

The Royal academy has teamed up with UK-based company French Sole. The company’s founder and designer Jane Winkworth has created a unique collection of ballet flats based on Degas’s color palette and works, especially his ‘Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” sculpture. Cute detail: The Little Dancer is also featured on the shoe’s mirrored silver sole. Love them? Enter the Royal Academy’s competition.

Reading a blog about the City of Love and Fashion is fun, but visiting is even better. TimeOut London celebrates the Degas exhibition with another exciting competition. Unfortunately this second competition is open to UK-residents only. So if you’re from the UK you may become the lucky winner of a weekend trip for two to Paris. The package includes flights and two nights at four star hotel The Regina opposite the Louvre and the Jardins des Tuileries, plus two-day Museum Passes.

Soon you may be enjoying Paris in winter or getting admiring glances at your beautiful jewel encrusted new shoes. Good luck!

Eiffel Tower Cookie Cutter

18 Nov

Eiffel Cutter

Today my Eiffel Tower cookie cutter has arrived. No, it’s not a Parisian one, it’s from US-company Ann Clark (they ship worldwide).

Ah, the joys of thinking about all the cookies I will make with it.

Arizona– or Florida-shaped cookies anyone? Glazed penguin cookies for a baby shower in winter? Shaken not stirred Martini cookies for a bachelorette party?

Not only do you find just about every shape you could ever imagine cookie cutter wise, the site also offers just as many recipes, so you can put your newly-bought cutters to good use straightaway.

Cookies are great the whole year round, but ’tis the Season to bake even a bit more right now, don’t you think?

Turinois – My Grandmother’s Family Recipe

11 Nov

Turinois vichy

Turinois – French Sweet Chestnut Truffle Cake

Whether you are the proud owner of a high-end kitchen that would even make Martha Stewart dream or whether you have a mini-kitchenette without an oven, this dessert is for you.

Over the years my grandmother Teresina has built a huge recipe collection and she’s happy to share some of her favorite ones with you. The first recipe even is an heirloom one, she got it from one of her best friends, it’s for “Turinois”, a French chocolate and sweet chestnut cake reminiscent of a large truffle.

Turinois coupole

Teresina was born in Rome, Italy, and together with her parents and siblings, spent many years in Paris, due to her father’s job which required frequent travelling.

Teresina

Next month she’ll turn 90 and she’s still very interested in cooking and crafts.

In the picture below you see the original recipe she wrote down many, many years ago. She uses sweet chestnuts which she prepares and cooks all by herself. I used frozen chestnuts, which work very well, I’ve adapted my version of the recipe accordingly and translated it into English for you.

Turinois

RECIPE:

Turinois – French Sweet Chestnut Truffle Cake

Serves: 4-6

Important: Needs time to set, if possible prepare 1 day in advance

Measures indicated in g/grams, if needed, convert the metric measures into your desired measures here. If you want to keep it simple just use sugar, butter and chocolate in a 1:4 ratio to the chestnuts.

400 g – 450 g frozen sweet chestnuts

100 g icing sugar / powdered sugar

100 g non-salted butter

100 g milk chocolate (I used about 80 grams  milk chocolate and 20 grams dark chocolate)

A pinch of vanilla (I used some seeds of a fresh vanilla bean/pod)

Preparation

  • Put the chestnuts in a pan, cover with water and cook until they are very soft
  • in the meantime, take the butter out of the fridge, cut into little cubes and put these into a bowl
  • grate the chocolate with a coarse grater, add to the butter
  • add the sugar
  • add the vanilla
  •  vigorously blend the butter cubes, chocolate, sugar and vanilla with a fork, really work the butter into the other ingredients  (if we did that twice daily we’d have perfectly toned arms forever
)
  •  When the chestnuts are cooked through, drain them thoroughly and immediately purĂ©e them (use the famous robot mixeur if you like/a cutter/blender, or if you don’t have one, mash the chestnuts with a fork, but really well).
  •  Add the still warm/hot (but not steaming) chestnut purĂ©e to the bowl and mix everything together with a fork. The chocolate, butter and sugar should melt and form a homogeneous, creamy purĂ©e.
  •  Pour the not too hot purĂ©e into a cake tin lined with wrapping film, into a silicone mould, or into little pĂątisserie mini-cake forms like I did and leave until the Turinois is cool enough to put in the fridge. The Turinois needs time to set and become firm, leave in the fridge at least overnight.

 Tip:

If you use 400g chestnuts, the Turinois will become firmer and easy to cut/slice, with 450 it’s delicious as well, just a bit softer, you could probably even put it in a  piping bag and give your cupcakes a Turinois-frosting with it (the cupcakes would have to be put in the fridge afterwards and served soon).