‘La Galette de Roi.’

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So you ask what an earth is a ‘Galette de Roi’?

I had no idea either until a friend (who I’d invited for dinner) asked if she could bring dessert. I thanked her of course, and that’s when she said she’d bring a ‘Galette de Roi’

I asked her exactly what was a ‘Galette de Roi’ to which she replied in utter astonishment. “You’ve never had a Galette de Roi?” I answered for both Larry and I that no neither of us had ever had or even heard of such a dessert.

She was shocked! (I told her Canadians don’t get out much) ha ha.

Well, a ‘Galette de Roi’is a type of cake that’s baked and only appears for Epiphany. If you’re not religious than you may not know what Epiphany is, because we don’t officially celebrate it in Canada.

However, in many parts of the world it’s a formally recognized statuatory holiday.

January 6, which is 12 days after Christmas in the Gregorian calendar, marks not only the end of the Christmas holidays but also the start of the Carnival season, which climaxes with Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras in Venice, Italy.

Mardi Gras in Venice, Italy.

In some European countries, such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia, children dress as the three kings and visit houses. In their roles as the kings, or wise men, they sing about the Jesus’ birth and pay homage to the “king of kings”. They are rewarded with praise and cookies.

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In France Le Jour des Rois (the Day of Kings), sometimes called the Fête des Rois, is celebrated with parties for children and adults. The galette des rois, or “cake of kings”, highlights these celebrations. This cake is round and flat, cut into the pantry, covered with a white napkin and carried into a dining room.

Epiphany is commonly known as Twelfth Night, Twelfth Day, Three Kings’ Day, or the Feast of Epiphany. It means “manifestation” or “showing forth”. It is also called Theophany (“manifestation of God”), especially by Eastern Christians. Epiphany refers not only to the day itself but to the church season that follows it – a season that has a varied length because it ends when Lent begins, and this depends on the date of Easter.

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The Russians dive into icy water to celebrate Epiphany.

It commemorates the first two occasions on which Jesus’ divinity, according to Christian belief, was manifested: when the three kings (also known as wise men or Magi) visited infant Jesus in Bethlehem, and when John the Baptist baptized him in the River Jordan. The Roman Catholic and Protestant churches emphasize the visit of the Magi when they celebrate the Epiphany. The Eastern Orthodox churches focus on Jesus’ baptism.

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Epiphany is one of the oldest Christian feasts. It was celebrated since
the end of the second century, before the Christmas holiday was established. Like other Christian seasons, the church appropriated Epiphany from an old pagan festival. As early as 1996 BCE, the Egyptians celebrated the winter solstice (which then occurred on January 6) with a tribute to Aeon, the Virgin. It is important to note that the holiday was established prior to the Gregorian calendar’s introduction.

Well after all of that, here is the cake!

These delicious cakes appear everywhere throughout France and usually include the paper crown shown in the photo. they are layers of pastry with a center of almond paste or marzipan. I've had two presented to me after a dinner where the hostess did not want to keep it for the fact that it is seriously high in calories.

These delicious cakes appear everywhere throughout France and usually include the paper crown shown in the photo. They’re made of layers of puff pastry with a center of almond paste or marzipan. I’ve had two presented to me after a dinner where the hostess did not want to keep it for the fact that it is seriously high in calories. (As if I needed the calories)

Former French President Sarkozy cutting into a Galette du President!

Former French President Sarkozy cutting into a Galette du President!

So there you have it. If you ever see one of these lovely cakes do indulge. They are absolutely delicious!

A bientot

Mark

Happy 2014! Bonne Annee!

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It’s been awhile since my last post. With Christmas, the arrival of our latest container, and travelling to France, I’ve had little time to do much else.

I hope this finds you well, and recovering nicely from the festivities of the season.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy successful and healthy 2014 with all of your dreams and ambitions fulfilled.

We are currently in France preparing for our next buying trip scheduled to begin the middle of next week.  We came early and decided to spend New Years Eve in Paris. It was nothing short of fabulous. We did NOT join the masses on the Champs Elysees for the spectacular fire works display. No doubt it was over the top as usual. We preferred to spend it dining in the company of great friends who had invited us for dinner.

Larry and I brought the dessert. A buche Noel that I had to wait in line for over 30 minutes to get!

A line up that extended down the street that consisted of only in the know Parisians.

A line up that extended down the street that consisted of only “in the know” privileged 16th Arrond.Parisians.

This particular patisserie was only producing Buche Noel’s which after having it for dinner knew why people were lined up around the block just to get it.

These fabulous cakes were as light as a feather filled with meringue, while chocolate mousse, and pastry. Fabulous!

For dinner, we had something served to us that we’d never heard of before. Chapon! Chapon is a ‘castrated Rooster’ and it’s considered a delicacy and alternative to Turkey which the French find a bit commonplace and not too exciting.

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Chapon are not easily found. (notice the body type difference between a chapon and chicken.) Jeff and Helene were right! It was really tasty and very different than either turkey or chicken. A different texture (richer and beefier ) and no shortage of flavor. It was Jean Francois who was the chef de la nuit and he deserved accolades for the excellent dish prepared perfectly. He made a ‘champagne sauce’ that was the gravy. I said “Oh Champagne Gravy, how glamorous” to which he replied ‘Gravey ( he pronounced it grevy) what is it this gravey?)

Our wonderful friends Jean Francois and Helene always delight in introducing us to the exotic mysteries of French dining and culture. The last time I was there Jeff introduced me to ‘Oursins Vivant’ or live sea urchins. ( Larry had returned to Vancouver by that time

Jean Francois and Helene

Jean Francois and Helene

I can spend hours listening to Jean Francois about everything French. From cuisine to culture, Jean Francois or “Jeff” as he prefers to be called, is one of the most interesting people I know.

We all ushered in the New Year by kissing under a large bouquet of mistletoe hanging from a doorway. It’s a French tradition and considered very good luck on New Year’s Eve.

It was a delightful surprise also to find that my dear old friend from Vancouver (during my years in the fashion biz) Ann Coombs has been here in Paris for the entire month of December. We’ve just been on the phone for literally an hour going over how much we adore the eccentricities of the French and of course the city of Paris.

Ann writes a blog too. For all of you that would like to read it, she goes into great detail about her discoveries and likes about the great city of Paris. Check out her blog at Pixie in Paris

Unfortunately we won’t be hooking up as Larry and I leave for Belgium tomorrow on a buying trip. And my dear friend Ann is leaving for the south of France then departing for Vancouver on the 8th of January.

Anyway, next time Ann! And a bientot in Vancouver.

Well, nothing much to report from France. We’ve only been here a couple of days. I hope to be sending you some great information from Brussels over the next week or so.

Cheers,

Mark

www.antiquewarehouse.net

The Romance of the White and Painted Antique.

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I love painted Antiques. Always have. They always remind me of the South of France, where painted furniture abounds. The ‘heat’ of the summer nights, the sounds of the crickets, and smell of fields of lavender and roasting porc on the spit. Long and wonderful dinners al fresco lingering into the wee hours of the night gazing out over the water…pure magic.

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I love the South of France and particularly their painted furniture. It’s always so rustic and dripping in old country charm. Below is a 19th Century two doored cabinet that Larry and I found in the Aix-en-Provence region. The paint was original and the color is so typically Provencal.

A painted 19th Century Cabinet from Aix en Provence. C.1800.

A painted 19th Century Cabinet from Aix en Provence. C.1800.

I particularly like the white or should I say, off white of the distressed and aged wood of a 19th or early 20th Century antique. A look that’s possible to imitate but only if you know what you’re doing.

The monochromatic white on white look has been popular for many seasons now. Particularly with women. What’s not to like? It’s an easy way to decorate, no chance of color mistakes, it can look clean and fresh, and it’s pretty.

19th or early 20th Century pieces are absolutely beautiful if they’re aged by mother nature. The ‘white’ is a soft, yellowed look that takes place over time.

This white antique chair just came in on our recent container and sold within the day. of unpacking. Notice the white, is a yellow and not a pure white which is indicative of it's age. (white always yellows over time)

This painted antique chair just came in on our recent container. It was originally white but aged over time giving it the ‘yellowed’ appearance it currrently has. Note the elegance of the details that is so typically French.

Antique White Louis XVI Style Cameo Backed Chairs from Paris with a very pretty distressed white original paint.

Antique White Louis XVI Style Cameo Backed Chairs from Paris with a very pretty distressed white original paint.

White Louis XV Bergeres from Paris. C.1930

White Louis XV Bergeres from Paris. C.1930

If you love white antiques, then look for the real thing, or buy an antique and either have a professional do it, or try doing it yourself. It’s a project left better for the Spring or Summer when you can do it outdoors and the temperature’s warmer.

French white original painted daybed from Paris C.1930.

French white original painted daybed from Paris C.1930.

It’s a bit of work of course, but if you use good paint it’s actually quite simple. (I recommend a quality ‘chalk paint’) like the line our local Kathy Van Gogh furniture artist has created herself, or you could pay way more and get the Annie Sloan Chalk paint which is essentially the same thing only more expensive.

But whatever you do, use an inexpensive but good quality vintage piece and not a good period antique. You’ll regret it in the future but I’m sure this goes without saying. And try to either make or buy a piece that’s well done. Anything too white will look fake and almost plastic looking.

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I don’t know what you think about this white but for me it’s rather lifeless. This is sold by a local retailer on South Granville. I’d be wary of these pieces because normally they are mass produced in Asia, India or some other off shore factory that does not cure wood properly reducing the ‘shelf’ life of the piece significantly. Also beware of the off-gas produced by new furniture. For some people it can be very very toxic. In some cases can be cancer causing.

Fake Country French which is neither country or French with a terrible distressed finish.

A poorly made fake Country French piece which is neither country or French with a terrible distressed finish that I can’t imagine anyone would think is attractive. However, this China town dealer seems to sell them which is absolutely amazing to me. Compare this poorly done finish to the following below.

This is a lovely finish that looks like a 200 year old piece. Three layers of paint worn down to a sandblasted wood frame.

This is a lovely finish that looks like a 200 year old piece. Three layers of paint worn down to a sandblasted wood frame. All these photos I took with my Iphone while in France.

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Although this isn't white, it's a typical color native to the South of France. Again two colors used, rather than just one.

Although this isn’t white, it’s a typical color native to the South of France. Again two colors used, rather than just one.

For tips on how to get these distressed looks we go to Kathy Van Gogh herself who was kind enough to explain how this look could be achieved. This is what she had to say…

“To achieve a realistic antique painted wood finish similar to those in the photos above, use van Gogh Furniture Paintology products as outlined:

1. Select a piece with good bones and of good quality. There is no sense in putting a lot of work into a subpar piece of furniture. On the other hand, one must always respect the value of a beautiful antique with a genuine patina on the wood from centuries of hand rubbed cleaning, waxing and life. It would be sacrilege to paint those. My favourite pieces to paint are genuine antiques of good quality that have some flaw that would devalue them, such as cracked or split wood, obvious repairs or major surface damage.

2. If you wish to embellish a plain piece, you can easily create a believable faux bois carving by pulling our Furniture Make-up Embossing Plaster through a traditional stencil design. I have several designs taken directly from the Palais Versailles that I use on my pieces.

3. Paint your first colour, in the case of the photos above, start with one coat of Fossil Paint in the colour Mama’s Boy, a soft blue. Fossil Paint uses chalk as the binder which imparts a velvety smooth, matte finish, but it also distresses very easily in an organic way allowing one to create a realistic aged paint finish.

4. When the first coat has dried, apply the second coat of Fossil Paint in the colour Chivalry, a muted gray.

5. Allow to dry and apply a final coat of Fossil Paint in the colour Chalk, an off white.

6. The last colour applied dictates the overall feeling of the piece, in this case, the piece will read as an off white in the space, but small pieces of the other two colours will be exposed through distressing in the next step.

7. Take a clean lint free cloth and get in quite wet with water and wipe the piece down with the cloth. Using 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper, gently start rubbing away the layers of paint. In some places, only remove the Chalk to reveal the Chivalry, in others, go a bit further to reveal the Mama’s Boy and in some other places, sand all the way back to the wood. Go slowly and wipe away the slurry of paint often to see your work. Fossil Paint distresses easily so you could be back down to the wood without wanting to. You could also simply use the damp cloth to distress with for more control. If you really want that ‘chippy’ look, don’t be afraid to use a putty knife to distress some areas.

8. When you are happy with the distressing, wipe the entire piece with a damp cloth using clean water. Allow to dry.

9. The final secret to creating an antique look and feel is to finish the piece off with Beeswax Furniture Finish. Brush the wax into the paint vigorously to really impregnate the Fossil Paint with the Beeswax. Wipe off excess wax and allow to dry for about an hour. Buff the piece with a smooth pad of lint free clean cloth using a very quick back and forth motion, but hardly any pressure. You just want to gently skim the surface. Think of shining your shoes.

10. Voila! Sit back and enjoy your beautiful work and tell all your friends you did it yourself! Or, tell them you paid a fortune for it…it’ll be our secret!”

Kathy van Gogh, artisan extraordinaire.

Kathy van Gogh, artisan extraordinaire.

Don’t forget, we have very inexpensive vintage pieces as well as fine antiques. Check out our website at www.antiquewarehouse.net
We ship worldwide!

Thanks for visiting.
Mark LaFleur

Ron Mueck Sculptor Extraordinaire.

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Nearly all of our time in France is spent on working long and exhaustive days. When I get a chance to actually take advantage of Paris and what it has to offer, ( other than dining at restaurants because lets face it, we all have to eat ) I consider myself very lucky.

Over dinner one night, my friends were all talking about a recent exhibition ( Sept. – Oct. 2013 ) at the Fondation Cartier by a sculptor named ‘Ron Mueck’. When I saw the catalogue of his work I was fascinated and wanted to see more. It wasn’t until my very last afternoon before leaving back to Vancouver that I actually had a couple of hours to spare. So off I went.

Well, I didn’t get to see anything much to my chagrin!  I drove to within a kilometer from the gallery when a ‘manifestation’ or in simple English, ‘Demonstration’ was blocking any possibility of getting through. I sat for 30 minutes steaming as this protest got louder and more violent.

Protests are almost a daily occurrence in the City of Enlightenment

Protests are almost a daily occurrence in the City of Enlightenment

There was no parking, or I would have walked. Frankly I can’t even remember what it was about as the French protest about everything all the time. I finally gave up and went back home. In any event, I hope to catch his fellows work again sometime. But in the meanwhile, I’ve posted all I could find on Ron, and hope you enjoy the images and catch the meaning in his work. It goes much deeper than simple hyper-realism. It’s a statement of real life and not the glamorized images we see on a daily basis. He’s hailed as a genius by many critics and scholars.

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The naked wild man is the sculpture, not the boy!

Ron Mueck was born in Australia to German parents. Mueck’s early career was as a model maker and puppeteer for children’s television and films, notably the film ‘Labyrinth’ for which he also contributed the voice of Ludo, and the Jim Henson series ‘The Storyteller’.

Mueck moved on to establish his own company in London, making photo-realistic props and animatronics for the advertising industry. Although highly detailed, these props were usually designed to be photographed from one specific angle hiding the mess of construction seen from the other side. Mueck increasingly wanted to produce realistic sculptures that looked perfect from all angles.

Ron Mueck's self portrait. Easter Island Head. Interesting in that that's what I call myself when someone's cut my hair too short.

Ron Mueck’s self portrait. ‘Easter Island Head’. This is interesting in that that’s what I call myself when someone’s cut my hair too short.

n 1996 Mueck transitioned to fine art, collaborating with his mother-in-law, Paula Rego, to produce small figures as part of a tableau she was showing at the Hayward Gallery. Rego introduced him to Charles Saatchi who was immediately impressed and started to collect and commission work. This led to the piece that made Mueck’s name, ‘Dead Dad’, being included in the ‘Sensation’ show at the Royal Academy the following year. ‘Dead Dad’ is a silicone and mixed media sculpture of the corpse of Mueck’s father reduced to about two thirds of its natural scale. It is the only work of Mueck’s that uses his own hair for the finished product.

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Mueck’s sculptures faithfully reproduce the minute detail of the human body, but play with scale to produce disconcertingly jarring visual images. His five metre high sculpture ‘Boy 1999’ was a feature in the Millennium Dome and later exhibited in the Venice Biennale. Today it sits as the centerpiece in the foyer off the Danish Contemporary Art Museum ARoS in Aarhus.

In 1999 Mueck was appointed as Associate Artist at the National Gallery, London. During this two-year post he created the works ‘Mother and Child’, ‘Pregnant Woman’, ‘Man in a Boat’, and ‘Swadled Baby’.

Man in a Boat

Man in a Boat

In 2002 his sculpture ‘Pregnant Woman’ was purchased by the National Gallery of Australia for A$800,000.

'Prenant Woman' created in 2002, sold to the National Gallery of Australia for $800,000

‘Prenant Woman’ created in 2002, sold to the National Gallery of Australia for $800,000

Woman with Baby. The expression on the woman's face is one of fatigue and hopelessness, not joy of Motherhood that is so often portrayed in our society. Due to clothing, lack of make-up and hair, it's poverty that keeps her 'hopeless' even with her child staring up in hope of 'love'.

Woman with Baby. This statement of ‘Motherhood’ is quite different than the cheerful mother and child images that we’re normally bombarded with by the media. Her expression of hopelessness, combined with her careless appearance is a reflection of her sad impoverished lifestyle and her obvious depression of the state of her circumstances. The baby searches his mother’s face for any sign of recognition or love. A unique portrayal of ‘motherhood’ expressing the fact that in the real world not all mother’s are in a constant state of ecstasy.

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Ron Mueck’s first exhibition in Japan opened on 26 April 2009 at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa. It ran until 8 August and featured a collection of works displayed over six spaces in the gallery. Among them were Mueck’s latest work, “A Girl”. The exhibition also included two short films about the artist, covering both his artistic background and his production techniques.

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The lifelike resemblance is not all Ron is trying to achieve. These are statements he’s making about the ravages and paranoia of ‘old age’. If people carry on how ‘creepy’ his work is, then they miss the point. But then one could argue that is the point. Because old age can become very creepy as is illustrated by these two old women.

An exhibition was held at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, from 12 December 2007 through 30 March 2008. “Ron Mueck at The Andy Warhol Museum” featured seven of the artist’s realistic human sculptures, including: In Bed; A Girl; Wild Man; Spooning Couple; Man in a Boat; Mask II; and Mask III.

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'In Bed' by Ron Mueck.

‘In Bed’ by Ron Mueck.

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'Wild Man' by Ron Mueck

‘Wild Man’ by Ron Mueck

A major exhibition of his work was shown as part of the Edinburgh Festival at the Royal Scottish Academy Building until 1 October 2006. A solo exhibition of nine works by Ron Mueck was presented at the Brooklyn Museum from 3 November 2006 through 4 February 2007.

An exhibit of his work was also on view at the National Gallery of Canada, in Ottawa from 2 March to 6 May 2007, organized by the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain (Paris), in collaboration with the National Gallery of Canada, the Brooklyn Museum and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, showed an exhibition of thirteen of Mueck’s pieces from 24 June 2007, through 21 October 2007. The works in the show include Untitled (Seated Woman) (1999), Dead Dad (1996–97), In Bed (2005), Untitled (Big Man) (2000), Two Women (2005), Crouching Boy in Mirror (1999–2000), Spooning Couple (2005), Mask II (2001–2002), Mask III (2005), Wild Man (2005), and A Girl (2006).[6]

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A major retrospective of Mueck’s work was held in his home town of Melbourne, Australia, in April 2010, at the National Gallery of Victoria.

The Christchurch Art Gallery hosted a touring version of the National Gallery of Victoria’s exhibition from 2 October 2010 to 23 January 2011. The antique College of San Ildefonso Mexico 2011. Mueck participated in the group show Lifelike in 2012 which originated at the Walker Art Center.

To see larger images of Ron Mueck’s work click here.

Thanks for reading. Please send me comments on anything you’ve seen here today. I love feedback!

Mark

Creative Holiday Decorating Ideas.

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It’s December 1st, and if you’re feeling the stress or excitement of Christmas descend you’re not alone. Decorating your home and getting it ready for the Holidays are always a priority.

You could go to the Bay and take advantage of their ‘40% off sale on all Christmas Decorations’ and make your home look like a department store display. But do you really want to do that? There’s nothing more dull than a ‘pre-lit’ Christmas plastic tree that’s already assembled and perfectly shaped crammed with glittery monochromatic colors. Sure it’s easy, and frankly doesn’t take any time or much thought. ( Let’s face it, with the advent of computers and cell phones, time has become a real luxury )

But if you want something a little different, I’ve found some interesting things using real flowers, fresh fruit and more.

For me, I’m going to do something completely different for my tree. Instead of the ‘perfectly shaped’ tree, I’m going for the uncultivated natural tree with vintage ornaments. Reminds me of when I was little and it’s something no one else is doing I’m sure. I’m going to try some of the ideas below too. I love the idea of more fresh fruit and flowers in my home anyway.

Or you could completely over the top and do this….

But if you prefer ( as do I )
the more subdued subtle and elegant approach to Christmas have a look below.

White poinsettias, hydrangea, and kale are used in this imaginative and luxurious display

White poinsettias, hydrangea, and kale are used in this imaginative and luxurious display

Amaryllis and Poppy Berries are used in this display.

Amaryllis and Poppy Berries are used in this display.

Use fresh red carnations.

I normally don’t like carnations all that much, but they do create a fabulous burst of color in this simple and elegant Christmas display.

This is an interesting idea using fresh limes.

This is an interesting idea using fresh limes, lemons, pears and magnolia branches. ( I guess you’d have to eat the pears every other day to make this work)

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Roses, pine cones, and wheat!

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Spruce, Bay Leaf and Eucalyptus Cuttings give this a magical look.

I love the use of paperwhites...elegant and aromatic.

I love the use of paperwhites…elegant and aromatic.

Now for some Cultivated Christmas Tree Displays and more!

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I had to throw in this photo….You could recreate this look using a ‘flocked’ tree with just red ornaments.

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Those are puppies in the stockings! C.1930.

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They play polo in the Winter in France!

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I hope you enjoyed my collection for the Holiday Season. Visit our website at www.antiquewarehouse.net

A Great Italian Deli in Vancouver?

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Well no, not exactly, you’ll have to travel to White Rock. But it’s well worth the effort. I lived in White Rock for a very short time, but it was during that time that I discovered this little jewel in Ocean Park. Just this week I was out in White Rock and paid them another visit. It all came rushing back. The authenticity, the warmth of the proprietors, their fabulous selection of everything Italian and wonderful. Wonderful things exclusive only to them!

The Verrando's Deli Italia, A Family Affair Extraordinaire.

The Verrando’s Deli Italia, A Family Affair Extraordinaire.

The name of this wonderful place? ‘Deli Italia’.

Penney Verrando and her son Rome (the owners) are by far the warmest and most charming people you’ll ever want to meet. It’s sincere Italian passion for what they do that makes you like them instantly. ( Rome looks like he stepped out of an Italian movie with his great curly brown hair and larger than life personality )

They travel to Italy several times a year bringing back treasures that only they could find. And of course they speak fluent Italian.

Located at 1629A-128th Street in South Surrey, this place has more of the most gorgeous gourmet things than any other deli in the city. From the real European ‘deli’ hams, to the imported Italian pastas, to even real Italian pizza dough already formed and ready to pop in the oven. They even make there own sauce from tomatos they import from Italy.

Fresh and fabulous are the buzz words at this place.

We were there just this past week, so they were all dressed up for Christmas with Pannetones that absolutely no one else sells in the lower mainland. Like Pistachio cream filled ( my favorite ) for starters and another that’s covered in chocolate and shaped like a pig wrapped in an elegant gift wrapped box. You won’t find this one at Bosa Brothers, or any other Italian deli either.

Pannetone Limoncello.

Pannetone with Limoncello.

Beautiful olive oils and wonderful balsamic vinegars up to $135/ bottle. But don’t fret at the price, they have everything for ever budget.  But gauranteed it’s the best your money can buy. Just ask Penney and she won’t steer you wrong.

There's at least 50 different types of balsamic vinegars of all sizes and prices.

There’s at least 50 different types of balsamic vinegars of all sizes and prices.

So if you happen to pass by this place ( try it for lunch, you can have a freshly made ‘real’ Italian thin crust pizza exactly like they have in Italy or France ) you won’t be disappointed.

And do them tell them I sent you. I like to promote people I sincerely believe in. And I beleive, no I know, you will not be disappointed.

Until next time.

Mark

The New York Apartment of Jacqueline Kennedy

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Sadly it’s the 50th anniversary of the shooting of President John F.Kennedy and so much is being mentioned about him and his family that, I decided to publish my blog today out of respect and my own personal interaction with the iconic Jacqueline Kennedy.

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Many years ago while attending classes for design at the Parsons School of Design in New York, I worked as a catering assistant to earn some part time income. The caterer ‘Glorious Foods’ was the best in the U.S. at the time. Responsible for everything from elaborate weddings on Long Island to important functions at the White House, Glorious Foods was the ‘it’ caterer of the day. It was during one of these events that I was asked to assist at the home of Jackie Kennedy for one of her private intimate dinners.

I do remember some of the guests, her sister Princess Lee Radziwill, Bunny Mellon, her son Jon, and a couple of others I didn’t know. But it was the iconic Jackie I remember so well. Her kind and soft demeanor, her laugh particularly, and the way she moved. I never felt once that I was a mere ‘server’ as besides me, there was only the chef that looked after her and her seven guests.

In any event, we were busy preparing the dinner in the kitchen so I rarely overheard anything they were talking about around the table and because this was during the late 70’s much of that time period is now a distant past. I did remember loving her apartment at the time and when these photos became available to me, I grabbed them without hesitation.

The following photos below are from the auction of her apartment shortly after her death in 1994. Bear in mind these were shot twenty years ago, and may look dated now, but during her life, exemplified her love of French antiques ( particularly Louis XVI ) and everything of great taste and elegance.

The auction was conducted by Sotheby's Auctioneers.

The auction was conducted by Sotheby’s Auctioneers.

The commode is period Louis XVI C.1760

The commode is period Louis XVI C.1760

The 'fauteuil' is a Louis XVI C.1780

The ‘fauteuil’ is a Louis XVI C.1780

Salon Shot with French furniture.

Salon Shot with French furniture.

Clearly her preference for Louis XVI prevails throughout the entire apartment. Remember these were all shot shortly after her death in 1994 almost 20 years ago.

Clearly her preference for Louis XVI prevails throughout the entire apartment. Remember these were all shot shortly after her death in 1994 almost 20 years ago.

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Jackie redesigned the Oval Office with French Antiques.

Jackie redesigned the Oval Office with French Antiques.

The second time I met Jackie Kennedy was at the Ralph Lauren store on Madison Ave.

Ralph Lauren Store on Madison Ave.

Ralph Lauren Store on Madison Ave.

I was on the second floor looking at men’s clothing or something and just then the elevator doors opened and out stepped Jackie. She was wearing a leather cat suit, and looked fabulous.

An eerie quiet blanketed the store as she looked around then spotted me. Remembering me from her dinner party, she stepped right up to me and began speaking softly. She remembered my name and asked if I knew what floor the sheets were on. It just so happened I did, she thanked me and took off up the adjoining stairs leaving everyone staring at me and in a complete state of shock.

Even in NYC, in a store she frequented, she still had a presence that stopped people dead in their tracks. I felt sad when I heard she’d died. I do remember however how thin she was, both times we met, and thinking that she didn’t look healthy even then. Even so, I doubt any woman in the world has been as publicized as Jacqueline Kennedy. I cherished my memories of her, as small as they were. At least I had the opportunity to actually meet her.

Mark

Abandoned Paris Apartment Yields Treasures after 70 Years.

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It was a time capsule, untouched and abandoned for over 70 years. The owner, Mdm De Florian fled to the South of France to escape the ravages of WW2 and never returned. Although she faithfully paid her rent on her Grandmother’s stabilized rental in the 9th arrondisement, she never again saw Paris or the apartment.

She escaped the war torn city of Paris when the Nazi's arrived.

Nazi’s in Paris C.1940

But when Mdm de Florian died at the age of 91, just a couple of years ago, the contents had to be auctioned off.  When the auctioneer first set eyes on this dust laden, cobweb filled apartment he commented that is was like entering “the apartment of sleeping beauty” where time had stood still since the late 1800’s. A treasure trove of antiques that hadn’t been touched in years. The experts were tasked with drawing up an inventory of her possessions and home in on the flat near the Trinité church in Paris between the Pigalle red light district and Opera.

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Entering the untouched, cobweb-filled flat in Paris’ 9th arrondissement, one expert said it was like stumbling into the castle of Sleeping Beauty, where time had stood still since 1900.

The apartment was covered with of dust that had accumulated over 70 years.

The apartment was covered with of dust that had accumulated over 70 years.

The apartment’s demimondaine owner, Mdm. de Florian, was a late 19th Century Parisian beauty and well-known actress and performer of the time. ‘Demimondaines’ were courtesans (high-priced call girls) known for their extravagant lifestyles, provided of course by a string of wealthy and well-known lovers. Their clothing was envied by women in Paris. Even the wealthiest high society matrons could not compete sartorially (after all, they only had one “husband” supplying the goods; the demimondaines had many). Demimondaines were also renowned for drinking, drug use, gambling, and excessive spending (particularly on clothes). Despite their status they remained forever on the outside of society, perhaps the “half-world” designation quite telling of their station.

Mdm Marthe de Florian

Mdm Marthe de Florian

Mdm de Florian had hosted many admirers in her apartment, evidenced by their calling cards tucked away in petite drawers. Among them were statesmen of the period and the 72nd prime minister of France, George Clemenceau but there were also more artistic types. Among the centuries-old treasures, it was discovered that “she kept letters from her lovers in little packages wrapped up with ribbons of different colors,” attesting to her long list of admirers. The apartment still had it’s original dry sink and wood stove oven!

parisienflat-vanity-670x1007Beautiful 19th Century Dressing Table of solid Mahogany was stuffed full of love letters from admirers, both secret and otherwise.

A full sized ostrich and mickey mouse doll.

A full sized ostrich and mickey mouse doll.

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The auctioneers were tasked to inventory the complete contents of the apartment to be auctioned. But when the auctioneer’s caught a glimpse of a portrait his heart skipped a beat. It was a fabulous painting of a beautiful woman in a pink muslin dress. The painting was by famed Italian artist Giovanni Boldini painted of the apartments former inhabitant Mdm. Marthe de Florian, the Grandmother of the apartments current late owner.

Marthe De Florian, an actress of the late 1800's. and apparently a much sought after beauty of her time.

Marthe De Florian, in 1898 at age 24

The auctioneer couldn’t be sure if it was a Boldini as this painting was never documented in the archives of the late painter. However, the auctioneer found a love note scribbled to Mdm de Florian from the accomplished painter and the link was made. “We had the link and I was sure at that moment that it was indeed a very fine Boldini”.

The artist Giovanni Boldini (1842 - 1932)

The artist Giovanni Boldini (1842 – 1932)

Artist Giovani Boldini admirer and lover of Marthe de Florian

Artist Giovani Boldini admirer and lover of Marthe de Florian

The auction house finally found a reference to the work in a book by the artist’s widow, which said it was painted in 1898 when Miss de Florian was 24. The starting price for the painting was £253,000 but it rocketed as ten bidders vied for the historic work. Finally it went under the hammer for £1.78million, a world record for the artist.
‘It was a magic moment. One could see that the buyer loved the painting; he paid the price of passion,’ said the auctioneer.

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Written by Mark LaFleur of The Antique Warehouse, Vancouver.

Have $46M U.S. to spare? You might want to consider buying this.

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125 East 70th St., NYC.

Scanning the internet for interesting and everything ‘French’ I stumbled upon this new real estate listing in New York City’s upper east side. It’s the former townhome of Paul and Bunny Mellon, one of the most iconic and talked about couples in the United State of America. The name ‘Mellon’ is synonymous with great wealth, philanthropy, and prestige. This sumptuous 11,000 sq.ft. townhouse, now on the market for $46,000,000 reflects all of this and more.

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I love the trelllis work and everything about this typically French ‘Neo-classical’ design. This looks as fabulous as it did when originally created in 1965.

Paul Mellon, heir to one of America’s great banking fortunes, and his wife, Bunny, (Givenchy had a special bedroom set aside for Bunny when she visited the South of France) built this extraordinarily beautiful 40’ wide townhouse on a fabled Upper East Side block in 1965. Featured in The World of Interiors magazine, the townhouse, designed in the neo French classic style evoking the charm of the French countryside, reflected the passions of its owners. Paul Mellon curated his art collection in the library overlooking the exquisite garden with reflecting pool and gazebo, where Bunny Mellon, designer of the White House Rose Garden and friend to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, indulged her love of gardening. The high-ceilinged drawing room and dining room lead to a spectacular terrace, the center of celebratory parties. The townhouse has 5-8 bedrooms, with flexibility for guests, and staff, 8 baths, chef’s kitchen, wine room and elevator. Most rare, however, the house has 3 exposures, affording brilliant sunlight into some of the most beautiful rooms on the Upper East Side.
The house last sold in 2006 for $22.5 million, and is now, somewhat ambitiously, asking more than twice that, although it doesn’t look like the new owners made any changes since the Mellon’s decorated it in 1965. ( a true testament to how classic French furniture and design remains timeless and withstands the test of time ) However, for anyone asking twice the price the least they could have done was updated the color schemes to bring the place into the 21st Century.

Living Room or Salon

Living Room or Salon. The two Directoire Armchairs are probably period, as well as the rest of the French Antiques in this living room.

I find the use of this brilliant yellow a little dated as well as the use of the faux finished mirrors.

I find the use of this brilliant yellow a little dated as well as the use of the faux finished mirrors. I do love the period French ‘barometer’ of the 18th Century. This atypically large and unusual ‘barometre’ probably cost the legendary ‘Bunny’ several thousand U.S. dollars.

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Its beautiful the way the French doors off the living room allow access to the French terrace. A wonderful way to bring the outdoors in.

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The ‘royal blue’ paint is a little dated by today’s standards. I do love the French Neoclassical dining table as well as the console against the wall. I do find it a bit strange that such an enormous townhouse would have a rather small dining room. I can only assume that the owners have leaves and extra chairs for this set or maybe they entertained like French nobles of the 18th Century never sitting at a dinner table but merely grazing throughout the day on delicious tid bits served by the household staff. (French nobility of the 18th Century rarely had sit down dinners unless it was a banquet or wedding.)

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Another viewpoint of the dining room. A painted Louis XV console appears in the right hand side of the photo.

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This foyer does not appear to be the entrance, however it does have a lovely little French settee of the Neoclassical era or Louis XVI C.1760.

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Note the ‘La Cornue’ Chateau range in blue. These are available in Canada at a very hefty price.

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Love this simple Louis XVI bedroom in soft French white. The upholstered bed looks typically French as well as the sidetables, and Louis XV French marble firesurround. We have both these styles of beds, nightstands, and ocassionally ( if we’re lucky ) the marble firesurrounds at the Antique Warehouse.

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The bed is French and very rare. So is the Secretary. I’m thinking the secretary could be Italian and not French. If you notice the side of the bed, it’s neither single or double which tells me this is an authentic Continental bed from France or Italy. The settee at the foot of the bed is typically Louis XVI or Neoclassical in design. It appears to be period dating it at 1760 – 1780. I think the sidetables are matching which would immediately tell me they are not period but probably very good reproductions of the 20th Century. The French seldom if ever made matching nightstands. The English typically had two.

The Elegant Hubert de Givenchy

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The designer’s interiors are every bit as extraordinary as his couture

An inimitable impact on design

In 1953, when Audrey Hepburn needed dresses for her role in Sabrina, the budding starlet looked to another talent who was just beginning to make waves, the 26-year-old couturier Hubert de Givenchy. But when the actress arrived at the atelier, the aristocratic designer was surprised. He was expecting Katharine Hepburn—a famous Hollywood grande dame—not the gamine beauty waltzing into the studio wearing gingham trousers, a gondola hat, and ballerina flats. The surprise, however, was a pleasant one.

Givenchy with his afghan hound, 1955.

 

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Over the course of their lifelong friendship, Hepburn would return again and again to Givenchy to outfit her for roles both public and private, becoming so closely aligned with the house that its polished, feminine, and exquisitely tailored look became her own.

Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy couture for How to Steal a Million, 1966.

HOW TO STEAL A MILLION 1966 20th Century Fox film with Audrey Hepburn wearing fashions designed by Givenchy

“His are the only clothes in which I am myself. He is far more than a couturier, he is a creator of personality,” Hubert de Givenchy’s muse Audrey Hepburn said of the designer.

In 1927, he was born Hubert James Taffin de Givenchy to an aristocratic family in the French city of Beauvais. The family’s nobility stemmed from his father’s side from the 18th Century, and artistic professions ran through his mother’s hereditary line. Having lost his father in 1930, he was raised largely by his mother and maternal grandmother from whom he inherited his passion for fabrics. Inspired, Givenchy left his hometown at the age of 17 for the vibrant opportunities of Paris.

Upon moving to Paris in 1944, Givenchy enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He began his career as an apprentice of Jacques Fath in 1945, and continued to learn the art of the couturier over the following years from Robert Piguet, Lucien Lelong and legendary Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli.
The designer’s statuesque height – he was 6′ 6″ – made an immediate impression on Paris, where he soon made a name for himself as a talent to watch.

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A salon in Hubert de Givenchy’s Paris residence, c. 1990.

Givenchy's Paris Apartment on Rue Grenelle. (This street has one of my favorite restaurants of all time)

Givenchy’s Paris Apartment on Rue Grenelle. I love the chic and dramatic use of black or midnight blue for the walls.

Bureau on rue de Grenelle, Paris.

Givenchy’s library on rue de Grenelle, Paris. I love the use of black…so dramatic.

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That famous restraint is also evident in his homes. Jewelry designer James de Givenchy, the couturier’s nephew, recalls growing up visiting his uncle in houses where beautiful objects were soothingly composed and there was always a sense of place: striped fabrics and wicker in the south of France; a ski chalet in the Alps, properly cozy. “It’s the elegance that stands out the most,” he says. “Everything was always in the right place.”

Model Bettina Graziani wears an ensemble from the designer's first collection, Paris 1952.

Model Bettina Graziani wears an ensemble from the designer’s first collection, Paris 1952.

Givenchy’s current residences, a Paris townhouse on rue Grenelle (photos above) and a country retreat, are gorgeously pulled together: 18th-century antiques and rich velvets in the city; Diego Giacometti furniture and white slipcovers out of town. But the atmosphere is never fussy.

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Givenchy's La Jonchet manor, 1988.

Givenchy’s La Jonchet manor, 1988.

Though the couturier retired in 1995, he still maintains contact with many of the women he dressed, friendships born of fittings in which Givenchy himself, and not a studio assistant, made even minute alterations. Now in his Eighties, Givenchy – who lives in his country estate Le Jonchet just outside of Paris – has all but removed himself from the fashion world, emerging only occasionally for brief interviews or rare public talks, like the one he gave at the Oxford Union in July 2010. He does occasionally comment on key fashion moments, and earlier this year described Kate Middleton’s choice of former Givenchy designer Alexander McQueen’s label for her wedding dress as “a lovely thought, a nice tribute” following McQueen’s untimely death in February 2010.

The Salon at La Jonchet

The Salon at La Jonchet

Bunny Mellon Bedroom

Bunny Mellon Bedroom

A hallway at Givenchy's La Jonchet manor

A hallway at Givenchy’s La Jonchet manor

“He always wanted you to look your very best.” He helped socialite Simone Levitt define an identity. “He enhanced what a woman already possessed,” she says. “His clothes made you carry yourself differently. They made you feel feminine and impeccable—without reproach.”

A poolhouse at Le Clos Fiorentina, a house Givenchy owned in the south of France, c. 1998.

A poolhouse at Le Clos Fiorentina, a house Givenchy owned in the south of France, c. 1998.

Givenchy's bedroom at Le Clos in the South of France. C.1988

Givenchy’s bedroom at Le Clos in the South of France. C.1988

Le Clos in the South of France.

Le Clos in the South of France.