Browsing Tag

european

COOKING tools FOOD + DRINK

On my Wish List: The Sticks Silicone Moulds by Lekue

make your own bread sticks

make your own bread sticks
photo: Lekue World page on Facebook

Sticks is a silicone mould that let you greet your guests this holiday season with 30 delicious, crunchy homemade bread sticks. Cooking time is 15 minutes on the oven, or 5 minutes on the microwave. I see it as a perfect bakeware tool for the hostess.

What I like about the Lekue Sticks mold is that the stocks are the right size to be served as appetizers.

lekue sticks
sourcing: Lekue Sticks

They are not just for appetizers. You can serve bread sticks, instead of crackers, with a warm soup at lunch time or you can include them in your dessert table. On Lekue Web site, I found two basic savoury bread stick recipes  (parmesan and orange sticks, black olive sticks) and three basic sweet bread stick recipes (spice sticks, cacao sticks, citrus sticks).

bread sticks with a soup for lunch

I already own the Decomax. Since I really want them, I ask a local shop to investigate if they could order them for me. I have my doubts since Sticks is a new product that seems to be available only the European site. Fingers crossed!

CAKES + desserts ENTERTAINING

Venitian Ball Sweet Table by Kréavie

Bal a Venice sweet table

carnival of venice costumes and masks

Every month, the talented team at Kréavie shared the making of a fabulous themed sweet table. For February, they designed a sweet table in honor of the Carnevale (Carnival of Venice). It is a one of a kind event that I would like to attend one day. People wear outstanding epoch costumes with the famous Venetian masks.

Bal a Venice sweet table

If you wish to make your own, you will need several props to make it works. Gold traditional elements are a must. It is the perfect occasion to use the formal crystal trays that your grandmother gave you.

crystal and macaron tree :: gold powder food painting

Attention to details, like the crystal and macaron tree or the application of gold powder on the meringues, adds opulence to the presentation.

SOURCING:
Sweet table : Une dernière danse avant la fin du Bal at Kréavie – photos by Julia C. Vona
+ Sweet table : Bal à Venise at Kréavie – photos by Julia C. Vona
+ Carnival of Venice photos – 7th March 2011 and 8th March 2011

HOME + GARDEN OUTDOOR space

The New Hopper Table and Benches by Dirk Wynants for Extremis

hopper table and benches designed by dick wynants for extremis

hopper table and benches designed by dick wynants for extremis

As an hostess, I’m in awe with the Hopper furniture collection. I like the look of the furniture but what I truly admire are the practical accessories designed for entertaining outdoor or indoor.  You can fit inside the table oil lamps, ice buckets, grilling surfaces and an awning. Tables can be linked together to create a long communal table.

icecube by extremis  :: drink cooler

The Hopper collection was designed by Belgian designer Dirk Wynants, who founded Extremis in 1994. You may know Extremis for IceCube, the coolest party cooler. The drink cooler comes with a lighting system. If it wasn’t that expensive, I would like to have one at home.

woodstock :: wood log rack and dolly by extremis

WoodStock is more than a fire wood rack. It is also a removable dolly that allows you to easy transport of a large amount of wood logs without breaking your back.

qrater campfire dish by extremis

Qrater is a stylish campfire dish. Optional skewers and grills, held at the right position with a bracket system, let’s you easily grill you a snack. Fire dishes add comfort to an urban garden or the cottage.

SOURCING:
+ IceCube by Extremis $2,046 USD at Unica Home
+ WoodStock $1,581
+ Qrater fire dish by Dick Wynants $2,279
+ Hopper collection via MoCo Loco

HOME + GARDEN KITCHEN design

How to Use Colors in the Kitchen

painted green shaker kitchen cabinets

painted green shaker kitchen cabinets

We pass so many hours in your kitchen, why not make it cheerful? I buy several European home decor magazines every month. One constant over the years is how much the British and the Europeans are not afraid to use colors on big pieces. And their use of bold colors is tastefully done. The key to not regret your choice is to select a rich hue.

lime green glass backsplash counter surfaces in a white modern kitchen

I do not expect that I will convince many of you with this post to jump and buy colored kitchen cabinets, counter surfaces or fridges. I simply wish to show you something that you rarely see inside the North American decoration magazines. We are getting more comfortable when we see it more often. They are things that grow on you; others that don’t.

emerald blue high-gloss kitchen cabinets by alno

If you are not ready to commit, the next best thing to create a big statement is to paint your kitchen walls a contrasting color. This way, it is an easy fix if you get tired of it.

lime walls with espresso kitchen cabinets by alno

I walked the talk

There are many ways to add colors on a kitchen, other than accessories. Since I live in an old house (150 years old), I didn’t go all modern. My husband and I decided it was best to maintain an harmony between the indoor and the outdoor of our home. But it is still very modern for many people. I created the illusion of a wall of red stripes with my kitchen cabinets. The back of every two maple wood Shaker door is stained a bold red. I lent a wood watermelon to my kitchen maker and told him to match it. The backdrop is my olive green walls.

A row of red upper cabinets was my first choice but it meant changing the design of the tall cabinet, which I was not willing to do for practical reasons. You can use colors to enhance or to reduce the effect of the room architecture.

Have you dare to use colors on big pieces?

SOURCING:
+ Harvey Jones Kitchens
+ Emerald Blue Kitchen by Alno
+ Alno – espresso cabinets with lime walls

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

How to Use Truffles in Your Kitchen

winter white truffles by macchi

winter white truffles by macchi

I’m happy that Hivron Turanli, a foodie and the Marketing Director at Macchi Inc. has accepted to be a guest blogger on At Home with Kim Vallee. Hivron agreed to talk to us about a special ingredient that she adores. She shared with us practical tips on how to use truffles in your kitchen. Hivron is also known as Mrs. Macchi on Twitter.

People associate truffles with refined and expensive food. Many may feel that it is too expensive to use at home. I will show you that there are many ways and price levels at which you cook with truffles.

What is a Truffle?

Truffles come from the ‘Fungi’ (Fungus) family, just like the mushroom. It has the consistency and the shape of a potato or a nugget. The common definition refers to the shape of a truffle.  What makes it so desirable is its incredible and unique aroma. Plus, their seasons only last for a couple of months at a time.

There are three types of truffles:

  • Winter White Truffle (Alba Truffle) retails at $8,500 CAD/kg
  • Winter Black Truffle (Black Norcia Truffle or Black Perigord Truffle) retails at $3,500 CAD/kg
  • Black Summer Truffle retails at $1000 CAD/kg

The aromatic level and the season duration explain the price difference. The summer truffle is the least expensive since it’s the least aromatic and it has the longer season period. It stretches from mid May to September.

How Much Truffles Do You Need for 4 Portions?

shaving fresh truffles at macchi

The most common way to serve fresh truffle is to shave it on your dishes, like a plate of pasta or pan-fried eggs!

The more aromatic is the truffle, the less you need to put in a dish. The rule of thumbs is to cut by half the quantity if you use the pricer winter white truffle compared to the least expensive option. From my experience, a generous serving for 4 people would be:

  • 20g of Winter White Truffle,
  • 30g of Winter Black truffle and
  • 40g of Black Summer Truffles.

Preserved Truffles and Truffle Oils

But you don’t need a deep wallet to enjoy the taste of truffles. Macchi carries a variety of preserved truffles and truffle oils under our own private label Il Tartufo d’Oro.

truffle carpaccio paste and oils :: products by macchi

  • Truffle Carpaccio is made from summer truffles, covered with sunflower oil in a jar. It’s great on a pizza or to elevate an egg sandwich. Serve no more than a slice per person. $50 CAD for a 120g jar
  • Truffle Paste is minced black summer truffle mixed with mushrooms, olives, and olive oil. The paste can add flavor to a white pasta sauce. You can spread a teaspoon over your BBQ steak, or make canapés for a chic cocktail party! $20$ CAD for a 180g jar
  • Truffle Oil Black or White has no real truffles in it! It is simply an extra virgin olive oil infused with truffle essence. I use it at least 3 times per week in my cooking. The white one is slightly sweeter in flavor and the black tastes earthier. I put a dash into my Bolognese sauce, drizzle some over a fried egg or a steamed artichoke. $25-$30 CAD for a 250 ml bottle.

As you can see there are a lot of options for enjoying truffle and adding it to the ingredients you use in your cooking.

Thank you, Hivron, for letting us discovered the wonderful world of truffles. Hivron writes a blog where you can learn more tips and recipes about the fine gourmet ingredients imported by Macchi. Here is everything she wrote about truffles.

SOURCING:
+ photos: Macchi Inc.

ENTERTAINING PARTY ideas + decor

How to Host an Olive Oil Tasting Party

olive oil tasting party planner

olive oil tasting party planner

Hosting a tasting party adds a fun element to a dinner party. But the key is to know how to dose everything, especially when it comes to food. Tasting between 3 or 4 olive oils is plenty for one night, especially if you are newbies.

Try to mix oils from different countries. You do not need to be an expert to host your own tasting party.  Simply stop by a fine speciality shop with a wide selection and ask them to compose an assortment of olive oils that will allow you to taste the differences. I often ask if I can record their advices with my Flip video camera. Otherwise, write down notes. Then, design cute note cards with the characteristics of each olive oil. Each guest should receive their own set of cards. Leave some room for them to write down their impressions.

Preparing the Tasting

You start the night with the tasting. They replace the appetizers of a typical dinner party. Then, move to a dinner with Mediterranean cuisine recipes to stay in the theme.

Do a test run of the olive oil tasting to practice the technique and see that everything will be properly in place. As a bonus, you will know how filling is the tasting part and know how much food you need to prepare for the dinner part.

Prepare plenty of small glasses since the best way to taste an olive oil. You will see that the technique resembles wine tasting.

  • Pour about 1 tablespoon into a small glass
  • Like with wine, you swirl your glass to release the flavor
  • Then, you inhale and pay attention to the smell
  • Next, you slurp the oil until you capture a small amount
  • Finish by swallowing the oil. Try to notice if it leaves a stinging sensation in your throat. That last part is to determine the intensity of the oil’s pungency.
  • For more information, read the easy to follow advices of U.S. tasting expert Nancy Ash.

If you feel less adventurous, set up a dipping bowl for every olive oil. Then, the guest can taste the oil with piece of white Ficelle (thinner baguette) bread.

Whatever method you use, make sure to cut slices of Granny Smith apples and serve glasses of water. You eat an apple slice and drink some water between each sample to clean your palate.

Rhodes olive oil cruet

Tabletop Design

A Provencal or Mediterranean table theme creates the right ambiance. Think about the south of France, Italy, Greece, Spain or Portugal for inspirations. Pottery Barn released an olive oil tasting party planner that includes a cute invitation that you can print.

How to Store Olive Oil?

stainless steel olive oil drizzler

You must keep your olive in a cool, dry, dark spot. I cook most of my dish with olive oil. So, I pour a small quantity in a porcelain bottle with a tiny pouring cap to be easily accessible when I’m cooking. Select an opaque container. The best choices are a porcelain, a stainless steel or a dark tinted glass jar or bottle.

SOURCING:
+ How to taste an olive oil by Nancy Ash
+ Rhodes Olive Oil Cruet small $8, large $10 USD
+ Olive Appetizer Plates & Dipping Bowls – Set of 4 plates $32, Set of 4 dipping bowls $25
+ Stainless Steel Olive Oil Drizzler $10.50

LIVING URBAN Living

City Guides and European City Life

Sometimes I like to give me little posting challenge. This time, I wanted to showcase two blogs seen with each having two posts related to city living. It seems like a good follow-up story to my previous post about PARK(ing) Day.

Haus Maus

life in hanover on haus maus

As you may know, Holly  of Decor8 writes a second blog where she talks about her new life in Hanover. In Haus Maus, she chronicles little differences like this communal bookcase. People donate the books. If you take one, you need to replace it by another book. I like this idea.

On another post, Holly talked about the fact that people often travel in bicycle instead of taking the car. Sure that the narrow streets of Europe make driving cumbersome, but it is more than that. I envy them.

Design*Sponge

city guides on design*sponge

In fact, the idea of this post starts when I saw the Arbour Wall picture in Brisbane earlier today. You will find 72 city guides on Design*Sponge. The pictures are from the:

If you plan a visit to one of the covered cities, they are a must to read since each guide is written by a resident.

HOME + GARDEN HOME decor

Impressed by Stadler Form’s Modern Household Appliances

stadler form household appliances at swiss style

I usually do not talk about household appliances on my blog. But when I saw the Otto Wooden Fan on the Finds and Trends blog on Canadian House and Home, I could not resist to learn more about the brand who elevates a mundane object.

The Swiss brand Stadler Form produces these cheerful and refined household items. Their line of products blends modern contemporary style with utilitarian function. It shows that they work with designers and artists. The human touch continues in how they named their products. I gave them a high mark for their concept.

1. Fred Air Humidifiers

Summer is not the time of the year where we need an air humidifier but Fred is so cute that I have to show it. Matti Walker imagined an air humidifier that produces hot steam. This results in adding humidity free from minerals and bacteria to your home.  Swizz-Style carries 2 colors on their site but Fred is available in more colors. I enjoy The Jetsons influence.

2. Henry Air Purifiers

Matti Walker also designed Henry, a quiet, powerful, and modern air purifier. The unique design will have all your friends asking “What is it?”.

3. Lisa Water Purifiers

Many people prefers to purify the tap water. If it is your case, here is a stunning hand blown glass carafe that wors with the Brita water filters. You will proud to show it off at your next dinner party. Lisa was created by the young Swiss designer Scarlett Dubois. This water carafe was made in a limited quantity.

4. Otto Wooden Fan

Featuring 3 fan settings and adjustable height, Otto is made of oiled sapele wood. The Swiss designer Carlo Borer chose sapele, a large deciduous tropical tree native to Africa. This wood is modernly beautiful with its smooth fine grain and deep warm sienna. I read on Otto comes with a 5-year warranty.

About Stadler Form

Founded in 1998 by Martin Stadler, Stadler Form produces a collection of hip appliances for your home. All their products are invented and engineered in Switzerland. Swizz-Style is the United States distributor. Unfortunately, I did not found a Canadian source.

SOURCING:
+ Stadler Form
+ Fred Humidifier in red $99.95 USD at Amazon.com
+ Henry Air Purifier in black or white $299 USD
+ Lisa Water Purifier $49.99 USD at Swizz-Style
+ Otto Wooden Fan designed by Carlo Borer $199.95 USD at Amazon.com

HOME + GARDEN HOME decor

Rebirth of the Velvet

If it fits your budget, upscale fabrics really enhance a décor. I scoured amazing patterns from Europe.

velvet chair :: alhambra velvet by dedar

A fabric can redefine the look of any furniture. It become evident when you look at the gray velvet chair. The modernized velvet lost all granny reference.

harminia and broadway velvet by pierre frey paris

The stunning color palette of these stripes seduced me.

jane churchill autumn 2008 velvet collection

I may not enjoy everything from Jane Churchill but her Autumn 2008 velvet collection is outstanding. I imagine those in a boy nursery.

All three brands are available in Canada and in the United States. You only find the distributors on their Web site. I cannot direct you to a retailer listing. I suspect they are available through interior designers.

SOURCING:
+ Alhambra by Dedar – 40? per meter – Web site only list the showrooms
+ Harmonia pattern by Pierre Frey – Spring 2007 collection – 148? per meter
+ Broadway pattern by Pierre Frey – January 2009 collection
+ Autumn 2008 velvet collection by Jane Churchill

ENTERTAINING TABLETOP

Turquoise Spring Tablescapes at Zara Home

turquoise gold and pink spring tabletop

I was inspired by the Spring and Summer 2009 tableware collection at Zara Home to create a festive tablescape.

The starting point was this amazing turquoise and gold Nilo flatware. It is made in gold stainless steel with a dark blue turquoise PVC handle.

My Turquoise, Gold and Pink Tablescape

I used different tone of three colors. Mixing hues with accent colors and textures add interest. The look is refined and sophisticated. Do not be afraid to add a punch color through the tablecloth. For a scheme like that, a print tablecloth is preferable to a solid.

The components are:

+ Nilo cutlery teaspoon £2 fork, knife, spoon £3
+ Nabuko Crockery dessert plate £5, bowl, soup plate and dinner plate £6
+ Paisley Tablecloth £45
+ Pop wine glass £4.50
+ Idea water glass £3
+ Alhambra Jug £4, water tumbler £2

Zara Home Styled Photo

cabana table runner at zara home

I am in love with the embroidered floral ramie table runner. It would be great for Easter, Mother’s Day or an outdoor brunch on a sunny weekend.

zara home spring 2009 tableware and cutlery

Here you see the same flatware used with a different color palette. The Zara stylists used the same dinnerware but they came up with a totally different look.

+ Cabana table runner £25
+ Small pop wine glass (the blue and purple one) £4.50

It is too bad that the stuff is unavailable in North America. I think that we should start an online petition to implore Zara to open at least an online store with shipping in Canada and the United States. My way to start the crave is to showcase items from their astonishing collection.

If you wish to see more turquoise décor accessories from Zara Home, the Styles Files wrote a good post on turquoise being the trendy color for spring & summer 2009.

FOOD + DRINK TABLEWARE

Mesmerized by Jardins du Monde Tableware by Juliska

juliska_jardinsdumonde

I am on the market for a new dinnerware set for at least one year. The problem with what I do for living is that I see so many gorgeous that it is hard to choose which one I like the best.

Selecting the Right Dinnerware for Your Lifestyle

I am gathering a guide on how to select the right dinnerware for entertaining. For now, let just say that you must examine how you entertain. Based on my style of entertaining, I am leaning for a French-country or any another European style.

I wish for something elegant but not too formal. And I want a pattern I will enjoy for many years. In the meantime, we will admire what I dug on the Web.

Exquisite Ceramic Dinnerware

Today, I came across the fabulous Jardins du monde ceramic collection. Juliska designers Capucine Gooding and Elaine McCleary think up unusual shapes and intricate, extravagant detailing overlaid to create a sublime new ceramics collection. The line is extensive with many statement pieces.

The Jardins du Monde Collection pays homage to gardens in Italy, France, Spain, and England. It comes in 4 patterns: Landriana, Villandry, Alcazar and Heligan.

Stunning Drinkware

If you wish for mystery, Gothic or glamour on your table, go with the Black Glass Drinkware. The color produces an incredible dark eggplant or purple hue depending of the light reflections. The Black Glass Drinkware contains 2 sizes of goblet, a pitcher and a tumbler glass.

The Graham goblet in green glass adds a fun element to the table. The table looks more festive when you mix clear glassware with color glassware. The silhouette of the Graham Drinkware collection fuses a thread and a berry detail with a spiraled sphere at the bottom of the leg.

Fine tableware retailers across the United States sell Juliska. They are a few retailers in Canada and South Korea.

MORE:
+ Jardins du Monde Dinnerware by Juliska – $42 USD per dessert plate, $44 for a mug, $79 for charger plate
+ Jardins du Monde Villandry Serving/Asparagus Tray – $78 USD