Not all of us are blessed with the time or resources to visit Paris as often as one would like.
Consequently there may be times when you crave some Parisian Chic in your lives but not be sipping an aperitif in the Deux Magots or sunning yourself on the grass of the Place de Vosges.
So why not have an occasional “French Friday” of your own right in your very own home? The Japanese use the tea ceremony, not to make tea, but as a means of meditation. The steps below are designed for the same purpose. If you follow the simple steps you will end your evening feeling charming, chic and ever so cosmopolitan.
And so we begin…
- Music – Youtube is now a wonderful resource for French music. This must be played as you set up your equipment and during the evening. A search for “cool French music” calls up a wonderfully eclectic assortment of French tunes, many of which have been compiled into several hours of non stop background tracks ideal to make you feel Frenchy. Find and play this now.
- Put a new cloth on your table. This should ideally be pure white or red and white checked gingham. If you do not have such an item then buy some fabric and make a cloth (ideally wearing a 1950’s style summer dress during the process if you are a lady)
- Now lay the cloth with great attention to your own movements. They should be fluid and elegant at all times.
- Hum snippets of the French songs and elegantly move about the room.
- No Parisian would be seen dead in the harsh light of ceiling light bulbs. Lamps are much more flattering and draw less attention to your tablecloth faults if you are not good at sewing. Turn all your ceiling lights off and turn on a few beautiful period French ormolu lamps. If you do not have attractive lamps a candle can suffice providing your chic evening does not end with you being lifted out of the window by a fireman while your apartment burns to the ground. (this outcome may suit some people)
- Half fill a beautiful cut crystal glass (I recommend St Louis crystal or Lalique) with your favorite aperitif. Sip this while taking care to hold it with only enough pressure to stop it falling from your fingertips.
- Now attend to the cheese. Epoisses or a little triple cream brie are suitable unless you must eat mould, in which case Roquefort is de rigueur. Naturally your cheese will have been resting out of the refrigerator for at least 40 minutes beforehand so that you are tasting it at its best. Arrange this cheese on a suitable board ideally made from an old oak farmhouse rafter or a chunk of an ancient butcher’s block. place a fresh baguette with the cheese. (If you cannot locate a fresh baguette then small slices of brioche that have been lightly toasted will suffice)
- Arrange your cheese platter artistically on the table being careful not to disarrange the beautiful flower arrangement of peonies and tuber roses you prepared earlier.
- Take a moment to dance about the room. Laugh coquettishly for no apparent reason.
- Sip more of your aperitif.
- Consume some of the cheese, being careful to tear the baguette and not cut it. Cut your cheese with either an 18th century silver fruit knife or a Laguiole hand forged cheese knife. (either is perfect)
- Smell the flowers in a way that would remind an observer of a charming scene from an Audrey Hepburn movie.
- Remember your cassoulet at the last moment. Smile to yourself how lucky you were to remember it just before it was spoiled. Eat a small portion of this from a rustic faience bowl with a few small chips giving the impression of great age, enjoying the rich flavours of the “ferme”. Do not forget to sip at a glass of Languedoc red during the meal.
- Ignite your blowtorch.
- Reduce the demerera sugar you have sprinkled over the creme brûlée you prepared earlier to toffee. Let this set then return to the table.
- Crack the toffee with the back of a silver spoon.
- Eat the creme brûlée with glass of muscat.
- Toy with a demitasse of coffee while cheekily gleaning the last of the custard from the Limoges ramekin with your little finger.
- Rise from the table tossing your damask napkin down negligently on the table, caress a peony and retire to your boudoir where you change into your silk negligee and fall into the arms of Morpheus.
NOTE: If you find the idea of cleaning up to distressing then bundle all of the dishes up in the tablecloth and throw the whole out of the window.