Sunday, October 28, 2012

HAPPY HALLOWEEN - Why do we dress as witches?


Halloween, All saints, Toussaint, Eid Al Adha, Shemini Atzeret what do they have in common?  Read on.....

This watercolour witch is riding a watercolour paintbrush....
Interestingly, halloween matches the French "Toussaint" where you traditionally go with your family to visit the tomb of your ancestors/departed family.  It involves a lot less candy.....

So why is this holiday asssociated with witches and grim reapers?

In astronomy, halloween represents the halfway point between the autumnal equinox and winter solstice, the last of four "cross-quarter" days on the solar calendar.  It was the end of the year, beginning of the new one for the celts. And in esoteric tradition the day of the year where the veil between the living and the dead is the thinnest. 

The Celts believed that at the time of Samhain, more so than any other time of the year, the ghosts of the dead were able to mingle with the living, because at Samhain the souls of those who had died during the year traveled into the otherworld. People gathered to sacrifice animals, fruits, and vegetables.

Shemini Atzeret in the Jewish religion is around the same time and marks the end of the year's weekly readings of the Torah (Five Books of Moses) in the synagogue, and the beginning of the new cycle of reading.
Eid Al-Adha for Muslims concludes the annual Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. 
Many more religions have major celebration linked to end/beginning of year around Halloween.

We will be spending Halloween going around West Hampstead and Hampstead with a group of Pokemon dressed teenagers.  I guess it good that these happy teenagers don't really like to dress in ghoulish styles.  But I'll be sure to explain to them why they shouldn't look too cheerful when going to bed less the Hallloween spirits find them too delicious!  (That a good halloween scary story isn't it!)
I'll be dressed as a witch, like every year before!

(Cropped picture below to see better cheeks and ragged hat!)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween Pumpkin Soup

Hello there! I am back from a short trip and a spicy pumpkin soup was waiting for me at home.  Just what you want to eat for diner rolling off the plane. 
"Hearsay" recipe from Husband: A huge butternut squash, 2 small onions and a couple of small potatoes thrown in, a couple of carrots, 2 cloves of garllic, salt, cracked pepper and lots of pepper flakes!  Creme fraiche was witheld due to (my...) diet concerns but the soup did not need any. 
We are now the proud owner of one of these.  I brought it back in my carry-on suitcases.  Iberia personnel did not see anything odd about having a hoof sticking a fair way out of my suitcase!

So one of this now hangs from the kitchen ceiling in a "sock" the shop gave us for it.    It took 2 of us and some fairly deep cuts (finger cuts) but the transparently thin slices are awesome with a bit of pumpkin soup!

FOR SALE - Contact me!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fat Free Calorie Free Donuts!

I had to sit in front of a perfect plate of fresh baked, warm, wafting assortment of chocolate cookies in a very serious morning meeting....and I am on a post-baby diet! 
So these Fat Free calories free all you can eat (with your eyes) glazed donuts are the revenge!  Aniseed and rose glazing I'll call them.  What do you think?

Are donut a French Food, ok, maybe not in the strictest sense, but beignets are donuts right?? :)

FOR SALE - Close to A4 size (8x10 inch) .... Contact us using this link!

I finished the donutsat the same time that I put finishing touches to a new commission.

Framed, the watercolor could look like this!




Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Macarons Macarons - Creme Brulee and Chocolate

Macarons popular demand, and a bit more abstract this time!.  I had these macs in a London restaurant.  Creme brulee and Chocolate-salted caramel fillings.  I won't forget about them!  They would make a nice Kitchen decoration don't you think?
8 inch x 10 (close to A4) format - FOR SALE!   Contact us using the contact us form on the right navigation bar.



Framed it could look like this:

or this!!


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Spoon Portrait Commission - Someone's Xmas present!

A christmas present commissioned by a thoughtful auntie for her brother's family!
Shot of the work in progress!

Let me know what you think!!  

Friday, October 12, 2012

Macarons - An oldie but goodie

MelinArt has booked a stand for the West Hampstead Christmas Fair....! So preparation will start soon.  Macarons watercolours proved popular last year so we should have a few in stock for you holiday shoppers!

And another one to feast your eyes!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

AGA Portraits

This AGA portrait was made for a dear friend who moved house and country, but wanted to take her beloved royal blue AGA with her, at least in her heart and on her future walls!  She had managed after a degree of time and tears to establish a clear line of communication with it (it took a while).   These are a couple of proposed ones, the third one she loved the most and she took away with her!  I named this one "Lady AGA" of course!
AGA Portraits are fab gifts and are available from our shop.  Please use the contact form to order.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Chocolate & Zucchini - WOW

What an honor!  An illustration by melinart is featured in Chocolate and Zucchini today in the series on French Food Idioms!
The idiom is "Papa Gateau".  I let you read all about it there!

This blog was the first I ever followed some 9-10 years ago when we moved to London.   Clotilde Dusoulier, software developer-come-Parisian foodie has such a nack for writing about the latest foodie trends, somehow combining it with the local, seasonal and traditional french passion for food.  She's has had an amazing career, branching out in many cookbooks (her own or in collaboration for the HUGE "I know how to cook" reprint).  She possibly has the best recipe for cumin gougeres in the world...!  She does talks, radio events, seminars.  And not least of all is a new mom.
Can you tell I am a groupie?
Thank you Chocolate and Zucchini!

(alternate design)

French croissant - English Jam

The balanced Eurostar offering (sample menu here)! A Franco-English representation! 



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Back from Paris

More on Tintagel soon.
But first, Just back from Paris....a business meeting in an enchanting place, le Chateau de Romainville.  This place has everything for business decked out conference rooms with smart boards and printers and wi fi etc....of course  but also, amazing traditional food updated with the latest modern trends (like seasonal eating, heirloom breeds of vegetables, new grains and seeds etc...)

An example of the 10 am coffee break (sweet board): Yes, these are coconut frangipane pain au chocolat.  And yes these are home-made slabs of chocolate with toasted hazelnut)

The savoury board of the 10 am break.  Yes upper right is a large chunk of home-cooked paté.

The concept was grand-ma's house with all the modern foodie trends, in a luxury castle.  Everything was open, no one to ask permission.  Like the bow and arrows waiting for us in the park to practice archery.  Or the little boats on the pond.  Or the baskets of home-made slabs of chocolate everywhere. Or the open bar!

 Butter Pastry of escargot and parsley: One of the lunch entree.
Apple tarts, cherry clafouti and far breton...some of the lunch dessert options:

Crepes made with farm eggs:  One of the breakfast options if you can resist the huge choice of warm crusty breads or cereal bar (for the carbs bit ...).

The non-carb breakfast bit...: Yes it is a vat of creamy fromage frais from the next door farm.  And yes, these are little glass jars of soft yogurts on a bed of rhubarb compote.

Don't like problemo, breakfast can also be slabs of fresh paté:
Need some honey or speculoos paste, nutella with that?

The fruit came from the garden and a lot of the food from the neigboring farms.
The ice cream bar was there all day, artisan of course.  With little "Bonne Maman" pots full of crushed pink pralines, grilled hazelnuts, M&Ms, toasted coconuts and so on...2 shelves of it..!

And, to complete winning me over, it was full of juicy watercolours on the wall from the artist René Oghia!  A book of their reproduction graciously given to all guests in their room.

The hosts were fabulous.  Not only could I not fault the place, but everytime I thought of something, it was right there.
Like this:

Highly recommend it for business meetings.  Especially since the dog "Dartagnan" can wander in the meeting rooms if we leave the door cracked open.


PS: We did a bit of this by the pond.