The decoration of the Christmas table.

Everything is almost ready, now you know how to welcome the Christmas season and you know how to prepare a traditional Christmas dinner. Surely, you would love to impress your guests with a lovely Christmas table. Here are our tips to prepare your table in the rules of the “Art de la table“:

We advise you to prepare your table before your guests arrive. They will be surprised to see a beautiful finished table!

Arrange the cutlery and glasses in the correct order exactly as we have already taught you to do in our article to set a perfect french table. Keep the bottle of champagne fresh and bring it when this will be served. The glass of champagne is placed slightly behind the other wine glasses.

For an elegant and festive table; place first a plate of decorative presentation.  Use water in a beautiful jug, or in a glass bottle, but never in a plastic bottle! Put the bottle of water and bottles of wine on a coasters to give a more elegant and chic atmosphere to your table.

 

You can take the bread in individual portions and place it on the left side of each dish, or in a basket in the center of the table; but beware, you never presents the bread knife on a table!

For an harmonious table, be sure to place mens and womens  intercalated and try to mix the talkatives with the shy people; this will create that people talk with each other!

 

Avoid too big decorative items and flowers or scented candles. It could disturb your guests when dinner.

 

In addition to Christmas items ( balls , ribbons, angels , Santa … ) , bring at your table nature elements such as pine cones , leaves, acorns, branches, wood chips … You can paint in pastel shades , sprinkle glitter, and use the Christmas colors; gold, red, silver and green.

 

Do not forget the little decorative touches that will delight your guests:  cards to indicate the guest place on the table or a special little bag of sweets slided  under the Christmas tree or for your table decoration. Your Christmas table is now ready now, you just need to wait for your guests!

The Hotel Napoleon Paris wishes you a merry Christmas full of love and happiness!

Photos from radisrose.com et ellemaison.com

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A Traditional French Christmas Dinner.

The Christmas Eve is a generous dinner for the French families, the perfect moment for share the evening of 24 December. The menu varies depending on the region of France, but it is always an opportunity for the family to sit together around the table and enjoy a variety of delicious dishes. This is an important tradition for the French culture.

Christmas is a time of celebration, which is why the French do not hesitate to get high quality food. The dinner can last for six hours in some families; stay at the table for long hours is a social custom in the country, and the children see it as a magical and unforgettable. This is the perfect opportunity for everyone to blow the food budget and enjoy the specialties of the French gastronomy (snails, frog legs, scallops and truffles).

The Parisians usually eat seafood and oysters with bran bread and butter, caviar, foie gras with gooseberry jam, and the famous “Yule logs” (chocolate cake with a shape of log and a Christmas decoration).

In Alsace and in Bourgogne, turkey (or capon) roasted and stuffed with potatoes is more widespread. In Provence, the turkey is on the menu for Christmas Eve dinner. The foie gras and the log are also consumed in Provence. However, it is a tradition in Provence eat 13 desserts, symbolizing Jesus and his twelve apostles (oranges, pears, apples, plums, melon, white and black nougat, “Pompe à l’huile” that is a traditional Christmas dessert from the South of France. This round cake, which can also be called “Christmas pump,” “Arles’s focaccia” or “gibassier,”* features a typical Provencal ingredient not often found in dessert: olive oil).

The French pay much attention to the creation and the decoration of the Christmas dinner. On Christmas day, food is always an important part of the day, especially at lunch time where it is common to eat a specific dish, such as “Rabbit”, “Coq au vin”, “Vol- au-vent” or “Bouchée à la reine”, etc.

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How to welcome the Christmas season?

The decor is part of the Christmas festivities and the special moment to share with family while we are waiting to Santa. Why not decorate your home with lights and an amazing Christmas tree?
Decorate your Christmas tree with your own style and creat your own ornaments with a personal touch.
Set your lovely tree where you and your family will be opening the presents together on the Christmas day and place your gifts around the tree.

Nowadays the artificial Christmas tree is often replaced by the natural tree.
How to welcome the Christmas season? The decor is part of the Christmas festivities and the special moment yo share with family while we are waiting to Santa. Why not decorate your home with lights and an amazing Christmas tree? Decorate your Christmas tree with your own style and creat your own ornaments with a personal touch. Set your lovely tree where you and your family will be opening the presents together on the Christmas day and place your gifts around the tree. Nowadays the artificial Christmas tree is often replaced by the natural tree. Consider to buy or make a great wreath with fresh holly or sweet-smelling evergreen for decorate your door. A wreath will make your guests feel welcome to your home.

Red and green are colours of Christmas, so anything that has this colours will make your house look more festive.
The table can be decorated in a harmony of green and red: white tablecloth, on dark green tablecloth, white plates, napkins surrounded by red and green ribbons, table center piece made ​​of green fir.

Buy a Poinsettia plant to add a natural red and green element to your home.
Your house must shine so, set out red and green candles to your tables and bookshelves, so happy Christmas season!

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The choice of wines

At the beginning of the century, it was common to serve five different wines during the same meal. Today, we are limited to two wines. Champagne is most often offered as an aperitif.

In fact, according to numerous criteria such as taste, location, season or product quality, the mix between the food and wine can vary considerably. Nevertheless, there are some basic rules:

-The delicacies deserve subtle and fine wines. In contrast, if the dish is strong in flavor, the wine must be full-bodied.

-The red wines are a perfect match with meats; while white wine, with fish and shellfish.

-Sweet white wines should not accompany oysters; avoid red wines with sweet dishes.

-To accompany a dish with sauce, it is important to drink a wine from the same region. In general, regional products are often excellent match for taste and the innovation.

- Contrary to popular belief, the tannic red wines are very susceptible to cured cheeses. With the exception of some full-bodied, most white wines harmonize perfectly with cheeses. Once again, regional products should be preferred!

For dessert, avoid, if possible, the brut champagne that destroys the delicacy of most dishes. Favor semi-dry champagne or a sweet wine.

Find below a list of our best advices to define your wine in terms of taste:

Tannic red wine: lamb, grilled or roast beef, duck, venison, stew.

Light red wine: charcuterie, grilled.

Dry white wine: seafood, shellfish, grilled fish or with sauce, snails, white meat.

Sweet white wine: foie gras, fish, desserts.

Champagne: shellfish, fish in sauce, foie gras, dessert (semi-dry ).

Photo from le blog de la belle école

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Seven tips to make your heart to heart dinner memorable!

  1. To welcome “the one” and create a perfect moment of happiness and romanticism, try to know the personal likes and dislikes of your guest before choosing the place or chose your menu if you stay at home. Remember that romanticism doesn’t fit too rich dishes and strong flavors of garlic and onion.
  2. Do not go over complex recipes that will make you cooking very long, except if your partner accepts to share a moment with you in the kitchen ;)
  3. The choice of the table and of the restaurant is essential for your “tête à tête“; make sure the table is for two people; a large table would lose the charm of the evening!
  4. Ask for a little decor; choose a small candle or a small round bouquet of fresh flowers.
  5. For a soft and serene ambience, think of every detail. Switch on a very dim light; choose a place with soft music. If you stay at home, play music according to you and your guest musical tastes.
  6. A light fragrance of pine or cedar for example is very nice. It should not exist any kitchen or deodorant smell in the room.
  7. A warm atmosphere is mandatory.

Note: when your guest leave, give a small bouquet of the table in memory of the soirée.

If you are the guest, even if you are at the door twenty minutes before your appointment, do not ring,  when the waiting does not last too long,  it is a wonderful prelude to happiness ;)

Do not arrive empty-handed! She will appreciate the flowers, and he may like plants or a good book.

 

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Photo from ellehoy.es

The sauces in the French cuisine!

French cuisine refers to various culinary styles derived from the French traditions. The chefs become the “True Artists” and art of preparing sauces has changed the ‘pleasures of tasting’ and the ‘Art de la Table”.

We owe those fundamental changes to Marie- Antoine Carême and Antonin Carême. A few months before the death of Antonin Carême, he published a book : “The Art of French Cooking in the nineteenth“. This is a culinary bible in five volumes in which the preparation of the sauces has truly become an art.

In this book, he classified the sauces to use them better and adapt them according to their color, texture and temperature. Four mother sauces formed the basis of his cuisine:  Spanish, Velvet, German and Béchamel. With a careful and graduated selection of the ingredients, he created what he called “small sauces”; those are the perfect dominant complement in the flavor of a dish.

“The succulence of small sauces in general is the accuracy with which they are made, if the palate discovers its ingredients, the science of cooking disappears.”

Today, sauces do not end up being tailored to suit every dish. They were created lighter with much less butter and the flour has been incorporated.

The Chefs were interested in the original textures like the“mousse”. They also played with its textures, temperature and the contrasts of flavors .They are part of a “cuisine d’ailleurs”, and combining the culinary creation to the tradition; always a pleasure to eat well to renew the flavors!

Photo from 750g

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How to kiss in France?

 

 

carte bisesToday, the kiss is a sign of affection practiced by the vast majority of civilizations but with country-specific nuances. Sometimes we just kiss our intimates, sometimes we embrace only in special circumstances.

A French custom, which seems strange to other countries, is to kiss people on the cheek when you say “bonjour”. We should take into account the family, friends or professional relationship, age and status of the person. For example, you don’t kiss your manager; or rather, expect that it will be herself/himself proposing you. But we kiss with colleagues. For men, it depends: sometimes they kiss when they are friends or members of the same family, but not always. Young people kiss each other a lot, and the boys seem to do it more and more.

The number of kisses differs and depends on the location. In France, in most of regions, the kiss starts with the right cheek. It starts with the left cheek in eastern France and part of Provence. It varies depending to the region; 2, 3 or 4 kisses.

We found a map of the number of kisses in France where we show you the different patterns according to departments!

 

The seats in the Empire style

The Empire style is a style of furniture and decoration in vogue from 1803 to 1821 under the order and instructions of Napoleon 1st. He wanted to impose his conception of beauty, linked to the concept of luxurious and sublime. He desired the public domain to be a reflection of the splendor of the Empire.Thus, it wouldestablish a rigid centralization of all artistic activities in Paris, directed by the creators Percier and Fontaine and the painter David.

But how were the empire style objects made? How important is the furniture and what was its use at that time? This time we focus on the seats in the Empire style; they used to be made of mahogany. The most luxurious models were painted or gilded wood. Moldings became less fashionable and sculptures take a place in the decorative art. The seats generally belong to series, for the living room, which could be composed of a sofa, two wing chairs, armchairs and chairs.

The gondola seat was very successful; the gondola chair is one of the few innovations of Directoire style whose main characteristic lies in the rounded and enveloping shape of the back, especially in the shoulders, the side and bent uprights are joining the seat waist.

The stuffed seat is square or slightly rectangular. Its belt is straight. The front legs are straight, the rear legs are curved. The seats are covered with chiseled and carved velvet, damask , brocaded silk, satin, taffeta decorated with designs of oak and laurel leaves, rosettes, stars, palms, vases and urns . Geometric designs, which were the favorite motifs, stand in gold or silver on red, purple, pink and green.

Hôtel Napoléon Hôtel Napoléon

How to serve a cheese course?

Do you want to surprise your guests with a nice French cliché? For your next “soirée” at home, offer a fresh or ripened French piece of cheese. The cheese plate served between the main course and the dessert is developed to satisfy all palates. Following old practices, some ​​may suggest jams, fruit jellies or candied to be served on the side.

Cheese is cut according to its form: if the cheese is round-shaped, it should be cut into quarters; if it is a triangular form, cut it in triangular parts; if only half of the cheese is served, it should be cut in squared strips.

A good presentation of a cheese plate or a “plateau de fromage” includes at least three varieties of cheese; one or two strong cheeses and one or two soft ones. Exclude industrial cheeses! The cheese platter (often made of wood, glass or wicker) shall not be brought to the table before the time of tasting. Some people only serve one cheese, but in this case it must be a great cheese, almost sublime!

The host should not offer cheese twice to the guests. Avoid eating cheese crust, unless it is very thin and garnished with condiments or nuts.

Never spread cheese on your bread! Only use a knife except for Chester and Gruyère.

The cheese experts refuse to taste the cheese with butter, except with the famous Roquefort.

Pairing cheese and wine is an art! Fresh cheeses (e.g. Demi-sel, Neufchâtel) must be paired with a fresh white wine. Semi- hard cheeses (e.g. Camembert, Coulommier) are very good tasted with light red wines. Semi-hard fermented cheeses (e.g. Pont-l’évêque, Reblochon) must be accompanied with stronger red wines. Well-cooked cheeses (e.g. Comté, Beaufort) are a very good match with a fruity white wine and fresh goat cheese with red wine. Last but not least, the Roquefort is well known to fit perfectly with Sauternes wine.

Photo from kevinokphotography

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Take the time to eat, it is essential for your health!

In France, people typically have three meals a day (breakfast “petit-déjeuner”, lunch – “déjeuner” and the dinner – “le dîner”), preventing from some uncontrolled eating behaviors.

Around one o’clock, French families go to “déjeuner” and take the time to enjoy their meal. But this represents is a real break, a resting moment, during which any other activity is temporarily stopped to regain strength.

To enjoy the full flavors, it is recommended to eat slowly; by proceeding in this way, your body will also naturally feel better, and be able to adjust to the quantities to satisfy your appetite. For this, many of us prefer to take their meals sitting with family, colleagues, at home, at work, on a bench, on the lawn…

A good piece of advice: take advantage of this break and give you at least 20 minutes to eat…

This also enables us to listen to the signals that our body sends … When we’re eating, a signal is set from our brain to our stomach. This is one of the reasons why it is recommended to chew well! When you eat quickly, there is a tendency to eat more!

Stop eating when you feel that your stomach is sufficiently full. Your digestion and the duration of satiety are very important for your well-being. Avoid eating in front of the TV, it disrupts the mechanism of satiety as well as the instinctive choice of food, not to mention the quality time you are damaging!

Avoid fat snacking between meals!.. Allow you to take a little time in the afternoon and take a meal break. In France that is called “collation “. The collation plays a very important role in providing energy, vitamins and minerals during the day. It also helps controlling appetite between meals. Thus, it helps prevent tiredness during the afternoon.

Basically, meal time is a privileged moment of exchange , family , school , work, the restaurant, the self service … So take your time and “Bon apétit”!

Family Dining Al Fresco

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