Monday, November 25, 2013

A Great French InstaSale

The Christmas season will soon be here, and to give you a jump on some French shopping I am having a 72 hour sale Monday through Wednesday this week.  I’m also going to Beaune and Paris soon and so hoping to lighten up on a little merch so I can support the French economy as much as I can and bring lots of French goodness back with me.  Details are noted below, shipping is free on all items and everything will be sent out on Friday after Thanksgiving.

1.  The basket style I call Saint Tropez is as classic as the town of Saint Tropez itself.  This basket is as sturdy as it is beautiful, with a herringbone weave, riveted handles, covered corners and a cotton drawstring closure on top.  I have it for you today in winter shades of Rust and Yellow, in three sizes.  I have limited other colors, including pink with natural leather handles so email me if you are interested in other colors.  Great for winter and all year long.  These were featured in Coastal Living Magazine and are made of seagrass with simulated leather (vinyl) handles, riveted handles and covered corners; a great French classic~


Here you can see the colors; this is a stack of two large and one small; the yellow basket has a matching yellow liner.  There is also a small interior pocket:


These are hand-made (so sizes will vary slightly) by a women’s cooperative in Madagascar and are Fair Trade:

Large: 19.5" L x 12" W x 14" H 4" drop handle

Medium: 18.5" L x 10" W x 13" H 4" drop handle

Small: 14" L x 9" W x 11" H 4" drop handle

Click here to purchase; all prices include FREE SHIPPING in the continental U.S.:


Fair Trade made in Madagascar


2.  The tote style I call Cap Ferrat is named after the chicest little peninsula in the South of France.  These are here in yellow and fuchsia, great for winter though I have other colors in stock.  Seagrass with colored raffia outside and natural raffia lining (no drawstring closure).  Riveted handles and covered corners, handles in black simulated leather.  This is a great all-purpose and very sturdy tote.


FREE shipping in continental US.

Sizes vary slightly as these baskets are hand-made:

Large: 15" L x 11.5" W x 13" H 6" drop handle

Medium: 14" L x9" W x 11.5" H 6" drop handle

Small: 13 " L x 5"" W x 10" H 6" drop handle


Choose one

3.  The style called Eze is made in Morocco of seagrass and trimmed in lambskin.  The most sought-after basket I stock.  In three sizes, this is the no-fail, can’t go wrong style.  The smallest is perfect for a few bottles of wine and cheese or a quick dash into the grocery store.  The XL will carry all your farmers market goods in perfect French style.  In the extra-large size this also makes the perfect tote for a man at the farmers market.  Current stock has a slightly shorter handle than this pic; but you will recognize this style immediately:

eze small

FREE shipping in the continental U.S.

Sizes are approximate as these are all hand-made. 

Extra Large: 20" L x 11" W x 12 1/2" H 4 1/2" drop handle

Large: 16" L x 9" W x 10" H 4 1/2" drop handle

Medium: SOLD OUT

Petite: 13" L x 6"" W x 8" H 4 1/2" drop handle

Choose one


4. One of the best baskets I stock has only been available at the farmers markets and never online.  Here you can finally buy one.  It has long lambskin handles and a fat lambskin strap with a buckle.  Here it is having lunch at Gjelina in Venice, after a stop at the Venice farmers market~


this is a completely awesome basket made of palm fibers, in Morocco.  It’s just like the one Jennifer Garner bought from me, except for the strap to close off the top.  I never gave her a name; maybe we’ll just call her Gjelina for now….


I have good stock in this one, but it’s limited.   $68 and free shipping in the continental U.S.

You can also see two of my baskets in the Greige Shop, including the best-selling Marseille tote HERE. and the Saint Remy tote HERE.  And of course you will find all kinds of other great goodies in Christina’s store...

5.  Early 20th Century French copper mixing bowl from my personal collection; marked for Mora et Cie, Paris, patisserie stockist.  40cm in diameter at top, with generous hand rolled rim and light hammering  around this piece.  Totally handsome.  Rare; this is the only vintage Mora copper bowl I have ever seen, so of course I bought it, but now I’m going to find a perfect home for it.  This is the most-used item in my kitchens, for mixing salads to making cakes or whipping up eggs and egg whites, and when  guests see this in your kitchen, they know there is some serious cooking going on.   Once you have one, you will swear by it.  Email for future stock; I will be stocking certain pieces of 18th and 19th century French copper in 2014.





5.  French Rolling Carts

I import these carts from a third-generation basketry and caning family in Burgundy.  If you can find these in Paris, they are about 300 Euros and you will have to arrange transport.  I stock the natural-color reed as well as the brown, with lid.  Very solidly built and beautiful; many uses in addition to weekly shopping; the handle fits perfectly over the passenger seat headrest of your car.  Free shipping these three days.  The Rolls Royce of French rolling carts, you will love this basket for a long time.  Here is the natural color as I had it styled at the Pacific Palisades, filled with Jennifer’s roses:

rolling cart

and here is the brown version with lid; this is the cart I sent to Joni of Cote de Texas, with the vintage liner trimmed in antique vestment trim.  Don’t ask me to make any liners right now!  But I can help you select some vintage French linen if you want this look.  The lid is held on by two leather straps and can be removed:

brown rolling cart

{image via Cote de Texas} this was a thank you for the fun giveaway Joni hosted; see her amazing post HERE.

Choose one

6.  French Paperweight and Inkwell

I bought this pair of desk accessories in Nuits Saint George in Burgundy a few years ago.  The paperweight is old, clear yet very very slightly smokey as old glass can be, and makes a nice paperweight on a desk.


But I would put someone special’s photo underneath it.  Then it becomes a magnifier, like this photo below.  This would be a great little French Christmas gift for someone, which is why it’s here.  The white spot in this pic is from the light above; 2 3/4” in diameter. $25 and free shipping.


The companion inkwell has a silver-tone top with some scratching, but it’s old, and French.   Marked “TY 839” on the bottom.  3 1/2 inches in diameter.  $25 and free shipping.

The Inkwell is SOLD.



Choose one

And last but not least, if you are looking for a big ticket item for your home this holiday, I am including photos of an armoire and buffet that a friend would like to sell, at a price that is a fraction of what you’d pay in an antiques store:

The Armoire is 18th C Burgundy, walnut, 9.5 ft tall, 58" wide, 23" deep, original hardware and inner shelves, purchased at the flea market at Clignancourt, Paris.  The buffet is 19th C, cherry, 38" tall, 26" deep, 50" wide, original hardware, purchased at Suisse Village, Paris.  I have seen these pieces in person, and the photos with the flash don’t do them justice; they are both beautiful, especially the buffet~






If you are interested in either one of these pieces, please call Raquel at 858 500-2280; they are located in San Diego.


Hope you have fun browsing my shop items today.  I am preparing to relaunch the French Basketeer website in 2014.  If you follow my blog you know I took the site down when Mom shattered her arm so badly last year.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving week; I have some great posts for you coming this week as well~

Saturday, November 23, 2013

French Hang Tags

I’m not into cards at all for gifts.  I love to get them, but I rarely gift them.  But I do use hang tags, especially in craft paper, and I usually buy them in Beaune.  Stopping by Michael’s yesterday for a chalk pen, I happened to find some hang tags  that I really loved, and so they came home with me.  Years ago, I had a client in Los Angeles make up similar hang tags to my specs, printed in French.  They were on the packages at the front door in the Romantic Homes shoot, HERE, if you look carefully, with red ric-rac for ties.  My two favorite scripts on these tags are Livraison Immédiate and Livraison Rapide.  Even if you don’t speak French, or know that livraison means delivery, you will probably get that there is something “immediate” about this gift.  It’s a nice little joke, and very French…..a cold bottle of Champagne with a tag that says Immediate Delivery…French tag, French Champagne….deliver this one cold, A.S.A.P. with the implied and let’s also drink this one right away and have a little party.  And I must say, you’d be welcome walking into anyone’s home or party with this bottle~


While the printed versions are nice, it’s great to make them up on the fly, with various fun titles.  I included the little bloom of paperwhite in this pic to show you how white sets off these colors.


Have fun with the text; here are just a few of the titles I use:

XXOO ~Moi  {love and hugs ~Me}

Mon Amour [My love}

Joyeux Noël {Merry Christmas, with two dots over the E in Noel}

Je t’Aime {I love you}

Gros Bisou {big kiss}

There was one other that left my market booth this morning before photos; that went home with a young girl who bought this fuchsia basket for her Mother for Christmas, because Mom has long admired it on my tables.  Pour Maman = For Mother.  Here is the tag on the basket this morning.


A few other ideas:

Pour Toi {sounds a lot better than “For You” doesn’t it?}

Bonnes Fêtes {Happy Holidays}



You can use various pens for this little project; here is a white chalk pen and a red chalk pen.


I like the red a lot for Christmas~


I like the chalk pens since they give a good, opaque lettering.  At top here below is a white Sharpie; and below that, the chalk pen.  I definitely prefer the chalk pen, which does not smudge on the tags, if you are wondering~


The chalk pens come from Michael’s in a set of four for $11.99.  I don’t see them on the Michael’s site, but you can find them at any craft store.


The tags are sold in a set of twenty for $2.99; the baker’s twine is also from Michael’s, $2.99.


Cut a length of about 7 inches of twine and then double it.  Loop the twine through the tag’s punch hole and knot the loose ends of the twine.  Double the twine back through the loop and tighten.  Like this~


Write on the other side of the tag in a fine marker for “To” and “From,” or to describe your gift.  For example; Homemade Clementine Marmalade.”

The good news is that these are really fun; the bad news is that if you are only making ten the supplies will mean each tag costs you $0.90 each.  Make more and your costs will go down.  And of course you now own some chalk pens.  If you have them already, you’re cost is low.  Email me or comment here if you want me to make up a set of ten for you, with your preference of wording.  I can do a set of ten for $10 including shipping within the continental US.

Have fun making some great French tags this season~

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Exotic Fruits and Chocolates for Christmas

Each year in Beaune at Christmas time, I look forward to the selection of exotic fruits, and I keep a basket of them in the kitchen to incorporate in my meals or nibble on.  It’s incredible to find yourself in France, in the heart of the Burgundy wine country, and have such a diversity of fruits and nuts, which have come from places like Corsica, Brasil, Reunion Island, Spain and Morocco.  And it’s all fresh, as fresh as the best market in Paris.  Except of course, you’re not in Paris, and for me that means I have all the kitchen tools and all the space I need to cook and eat at home, probably with some local wine.  Let me take you on a brief tour of the exotic fruits at the Saturday farmers market in Beaune on a winter morning.  First we have citrus, lots of citrus.  I take it for granted in California, but in France in winter, it’s perfectly exotic, a reminder of warm Mediterranean winter days in Corsica or Spain.   I look for the clementines, especially the ones with the glossy fresh green leaves, like this~ 


These figs are from Brasil.  And seriously beautiful.  I’d roast them and drizzle with honey and balsamic.


In recent years we have Asian fruits, like lychee and pitaya (aka Dragon Fruit)~


You can find kumquats, bananas, pineapples, melons, pomegranates, cherries from Chile and grapes from Spain. Goodness, what is missing?  Every exotic fruit seems to be here!


And as a special seasonal treat, in December we get candied fruits, here kumquats~


And here, candied ginger.  These are chunks of ginger, which have been cooked slightly to soften them, and rolled in sugar.  This is the best candied ginger ever; I always buy a little each year.


There are other fruits, such as melon, and kiwi and papaya.  I stick to the classics.


There are nuts in many varieties, mostly still in the shell.  Hazelnuts, walnuts and chestnuts, among others.  I always love how they are displayed in baskets~


Are you inspired yet to serve something with a little French-Exotic flair?  What would you serve, and how would you arrange these fruits and nuts?  I’d start with a few pieces of high quality candied ginger.  While you can make this at home, I usually don’t need all that much, so it’s something I prefer to buy rather than make.  If you want to gift candied ginger, you might want to make it yourself, but I found some very tender chunks at my local Savory store.  What I like about this ginger is that it is ginger, sugar cane and granulated sugar, that’s it.  No sulfites and other stuff.  You can buy the cubed, crystalized ginger online HERE


Savory also offers flat pieces of crystalized ginger.  I brought my Mom with me to Savory one day, since our store has a very large jar of each type to sample.  It reminded both of us of our trans-Atlantic crossing on the QEII many years ago, where they had an enormous three tiered tray of this same flat candied ginger at the entrance to each restaurant or cafe.  Good for seasickness.  It’s a nice tangy taste if you’ve never tried it.  My Mom and I both love it and she eats it with her granola many mornings.


I love ginger paired with chocolate.  I’ll show you the pieces I bought, but here’s a simple way to make your own bars, French-style.  You will need a bar of chocolate (I swear by the 71% Valrhona at Trader Joe’s).  Today I’m using one bar, the zest of half an orange, and a little candied orange peel for the top.


You can choose any kinds of nuts or marshmallows or fruits for the top of a chocolate bar, but I like the topper to reference what’s inside.  I’m going to infuse my chocolate with orange, and the orange on top says “this is orange flavor.”  You can leave the toppings whole or chop them.  Also consider using or adding some great sea salts to the top.  I added just a little to this bar at the end; you’ll see in a minute.


Make a double boiler by placing a small bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.  Melt all of the chocolate except two small squares in the bowl, and add the orange zest.  When it’s melted, add in the last two pieces and remove from heat.  Stir stir stir….you have tempered the chocolate.  Turn the mix out onto a silpat and spread it out to desired thickness; or pour into any plastic molds you would like to use.  I didn’t bother today; this is totally freestyle….don’t make yourself crazy with chocolate shapes, your guests will eat it and love it in any shape.


Sprinkle your topping on, and use a knife to press down just a little into the chocolate.  Pop this into the refrigerator for about ten minutes.


Fresh citrus like those in Beaune are great, but go with whatever is local.  For me this includes clementines with fresh leaves and fragrant guavas from the farmers market.  These are from my friend Saul at Atkins Nursery.  The nuts are roasted unsalted pistachios from Smit, and raw almonds from Hopkins.


If you can find the raw unshelled almonds, go for some of those.  The shells are soft enough that you don’t need a nutcracker, and the taste is to me a little better than the shelled.  Love these, traditional for our Christmas.  Next to that I placed sun-dried Bing cherries.  There is nothing added to these, from Smit, just pitted cherries.  The dried apricots and peaches you often see look appetizing, but they have added sulfites to preserve the color, and I’d rather go with the plain & simple, nothing added.


You can serve your fruits and chocolates any way you like, in bowls or platters.  I use my big French bread board.  Break up your chocolate pieces, into big shard-like pieces.  Here you can see the little bit of sea salt I added; salty-chocolate-orange is a nice combination, and a nice counterpoint to the ginger.


I set everything out on the board, including the ginger, chocolates and a few chunks of white and milk chocolate I found at Whole Foods.


Once your platter is arranged, start to think about how this will be eaten.  Finger food is fine, but I add in some sterling sugar tongs to pick up some pieces~


A vermeil pelle or little shovel is also great.  I don’t know if my family will use it, but it looks festive, so I’m adding it~


One thing that’s great about this type of dessert platter is that no one can scarf it all down too fast, which is what usually happens at our family dinners.  There is a little bit of work involved, and everyone must take a little time shelling nuts, peeling citrus and chopping chocolate.  Include a sharp-pointed knife so that the chocolate can be cut.


Here is the overall tray~


But there’s one thing missing: let’s add in a few waste bowls for nut shells and peels.  I prefer something small but tall, so it takes up little space.  I’m using a porcelain pot-de-creme cup.  Anything will do: glasses, teacups etc.  Put one nut shell in the bottom of the cup so no one is confused about what this cup is for.


This is a beautiful sight to see on a table, and not too filling after a winter meal~


It’s not the kind of platter we’d have in summer, it’s a celebration of spicy and savory, of winter.  It would be excellent with an Armagnac or nice cognac or digestif.  As for quantity, my two parents managed to eat every speck off this tray after a recent dinner, over the course of an hour while they watched TV.  They loved it, especially the chocolates and ginger.   So your quantities will depend on appetites.  When my entire family gets together, I’ll have to have more of everything and organize it differently.


It makes use of what we have on offer at the farmers markets, but with a little French flair.  And it makes me want to be at the Saturday market in Beaune.  Not soon enough~


Hope you will look for some fruits, nuts and chocolates for your holiday desserts.  It makes a nice addition to the standard cakes and pies, or as a stand-alone dessert or party food.  I’ll show you how my platters will look in the coming weeks.