By popular demand, here are some more photos from inside the wonderful Drunk Shop.
And so on to Paris part two : where we stayed, where we shopped and where we enjoyed our departing Sunday brunch.
In days gone by – before children and when I had a proper job – we always stayed in a friend’s little appartment in Montmartre whether I was there for work or play. We called it the Pigeon House, simply because it was right at the very top of the building where the pigeons of Montmartre perched and preyed. It has since been sold to new owners so we decided that rather than staying in a big, impersonal chain hotel or a very lovely but very pricey boutique hotel, we’d chance a B&B and hope for some Parisian hospitality.
Through the powers of Google and various blog reviews, I came across Sourire De Montmartre. A family owned, 5 bedroom B&B in the heart of Montmartre on Rue De Mont Cenis, just a few minutes walk from the Metro and within a 10 minute bracing accent of the Sacre Coeur. It was the ideal mix between hotel and home. No awkward late night conversations with the owners and no silly hotel added extras or noisy neighbours to navigate. The 5 story house is scattered with bedrooms and en-suites on each level with a sitting room and kitchen at the very top where breakfast is served – although we didn’t actually make it on either morning. We stayed in the Josephine room which was beautifully furnished with family antiques and complete with cast iron bath under the bedroom window. Plus, amongst all the french finery, was a brand spanking new iMac to use and peruse as we wished. Clever people.
When it comes to shopping, I’m not a huge fan, which is odd for someone who loves clothes, things and most forms of purchasing. Fashiony shops annoy me a bit, or maybe it’s just the other shoppers who annoy me, I’m not sure but either way it’s not my favourite thing to do and so I don’t. I do, however love a junk or curiosity shop and Paris has some of the very best. You have to be a bit careful not to be sucked in to buying over priced junk just because it looks pretty in the display. Here are two places to make my point, the first is the pretty one which can easily trip you up and the other is the real deal – or at least I think so. If we’re completely honest you’re not really going to find a real life junk bargain in a city like Paris unless of course your my husband who finds all kinds of treasure on street corners. More about that later.
Au Petit Bonheur La Chance : a veritable haven for treasure and peculiar things but very very pricey. On first glance we thought we’d found the best shop in the world and it really is a wonderful place to look..and knock things over…but you could find pretty much everything in here on ebay or in a car boot sale if you looked hard enough. Saying this, I did buy a wire egg basket, one which stays flat until you add something weighty, but only because I’ve been wanting one for ages and never found the right one, until now. Au Petit Bonheur is part of the Village St Paul which is a well loved collection of shops and stalls all selling antiques and bric a brac. Situated in the cobbled streets of the Marais district, it’s a very acceptable way to spend a hour or two and well worth the visit.
So on to our favourite shop in Paris, L’Objet Qui Parle or as we call it, the “Drunk Shop”. We discovered it a few years ago when we first stayed in Montmartre, tucked away on a hilly side street and owned by a charming man who – as all good French men do – enjoys a glass or three on a lunch time and so is much more prone to haggling if you visit mid afternoon. We have found some of our most loved and well used treasure in this little shop. From full dinner sets and silverware to desert bowls and my very favourite butter dish (which is actually a soap dish but who cares), all have hailed from the drunk shop and it’s our first port of call whenever we visit. This time we came home with 2 yellow Viandox coffee cups and the most wonderful antique coat hook to hang on our bedroom door.
But the find of the weekend – or so says my husband – was a metre long, framed jigsaw puzzle of a quintessential French chateau which had been rather sadly discarded in a pile of rubbish on a street corner. He pounced on it as if it were gold and almost skipped off down the street to find a black sack in which to carry it. So that will grace the wall of the downstairs bathroom alongside other visual treats such as a Johnny Halliday needlepoint and a poster from a (legal) midget bull fight. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all.
I’ll save our departing brunch for tomorrow’s post. It may get lost amongst all this and that would be a shame as it really was the perfect end to a very lovely weekend.
I’ve become just a little bit addicted to Pinterest. I’m mostly addicted to looking at other people’s lovely Pins but the joy of finding my own things to Pin, is proving to be the most wonderful distraction. So, in the spirit of blogging and online sharing, I thought I’d post a few of my favourite Pins of the week. They’re mostly other people’s and a few are my own but each one has fed me with ideas and inspiration and very welcome escapism.
On a dark, blustery winter’s day when you burst into the warm house after school, grabbing off your satchel and kicking off your boots in the hallway with a trickle of wet snot running to your lip, all you want is to feel like you’ve come home — and the best way to do that is with a belly full of cake.
A traditional jelly roll is just such a cake. A long spiral of Génoise sponge, red jam and whipped cream, it practically oozes love, each slice a big, wet kiss.
The only real secret to success is in the fat-free batter, which gives the sponge just the right flexibility to stay curled up without cracking. It tastes like sweet, moist air. I made this one with half a jar of leftover cherry jam I’d made the day before, so it also gave one the sensation of being able to eat Kirsch, though any jam will do.
Pre-heat oven to 350. Line a 10 X 15 inch baking tin with parchment paper.
Separate 4 eggs.
Whip the whites with 6 tablespoons of sugar until they refuse to slide when the bowl is tipped.
Whip the yolks with 4 tablespoons of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla until it folds in on itself in big fat pale ripples.
Sieve together ½ cup of cake flour with ¼ cup of cornstarch and a pinch of salt.
Carefully fold some whites into the yolks, then some flour, then some whites, then some flour, etc., until you have incorporated them all together in a silky, voluminous batter.
Gently spread the batter out on the baking pan and bake on a low shelf for just 10 minutes. The cake should be just starting to turn golden, and feel springy to the touch.
As soon as you take it out of the oven, turn the cake out onto a tea towel dredged with sugar. Peel the parchment off. Slice off one of the short ends, and use the tea towel to roll it up. Leave to cool rolled up.
Once cooled, unroll, spread with jam and cream, and roll back up.
If you are English you will no doubt have grown up with Crunchie Bars. This is because they have been around since 1929. Light as a feather, they give a very satisfying snap when pressure is applied with the teeth, so that the piece of “sponged” toffee coated with milk chocolate that breaks off into your warm, wet mouth immediately starts fizzing as it dissolves. As your saliva breaks down the sugar walls of each bubble, it releases the gas that got there when bicarbonate of soda was added to rolling hot liquid caramel and jet-puffed it up to several times its volume.
Crunchies used to be made in England, but now they’re made in Poland.
Crunchie is a good name for it, but you won’t find it called that in recipe books. There, you’ll find it under sponge candy, or sponge toffee, or cinder toffee, or honeycomb, or any variant thereof. It’s easier than pie to make. If you live in a country where Crunchies aren’t sold, this will be a lifesaver. If you do happen to live where Crunchies are sold, you should still make them by hand because they have a gorgeous mellow smoky flavor, and will impress the living daylights out of children.
Liberally butter a largish cake pan.
Into a medium to large saucepan melt ¾ cup of sugar with 4 tablespoons of light corn syrup. (You can substitute the corn syrup for maple syrup if you want to go the extra mile.)
Let it come to a golden bubble.
Take off the heat, and quickly whisk in a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda.
It will immediately puff up – pour it into the greased pan, but do not attempt to smooth it out.
When it’s cold, you can turn it out, and crack it into lovely wedges. I find the best way to do this is to give each bit a sharp jab with the tip of a butter knife; it will split nicely right where you want it to.
If you can wait before eating it all, dip into melted chocolate and let set for the proper Crunchie Bar experience.
I’ve a feeling it’s going to be one of those days….
If you haven’t checked out our little shop yet, then we strongly advise that you do and soon!
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