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Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve in the kitchen

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The two great personalities of the French cinema who were  both married to the Ukranian film director Roger Vadim and  have had many love affairs also share the passion for excellent food.

“Le Bardot”

She was the sex symbol of the 60-s, brought up in a rich family but at age of 17 thanks to (later no thanks) her first husband, Roger Vadim, she turned her back on the life of the aristocrats and became a movie star. While it enabled her to become internationally famous, it also carried with it annoyances. It was not anything for her to have “fans” enter her house or wander around the grounds of her home in St Tropez (Cote D’Azur), the hopes of getting a glimpse of her or to take something that belonged to her. Paparazzi constantly hounded her with their cameras. People even have taken advantage of her generosity but in exchange for that they became openly agressive, (threw snowballs in her face, a nurse in a hospital attacked her with a fork, she still keeps the scars), so no wonder when at age of forthy she couldn’t stand the vexations anymore (committed suicides several times) left the spotlight and went on to become a leading spokesperson for animal rights. She started the “Foundation Brigitte Bardot” dedicated solely to that cause. She even donated her property in St. Tropez the “La Madrague” to the purpose. Her work in that realm is, perhaps, far greater than any film she could have made.

As far as the food is concerned BB still likes cooking for herself, (at age of 78), and eats with great pleasure. In September when I tried to follow the footsteps of BB in St- Tropez I popped in her favourite restaurant, La Ponche in order to make pictures of the interieur and of the menu. Alongside the Mediterranean cuisine I found an amazing diversity of dishes from India, Thailand, Lebanon, Japan and Morocco as well but nobody could tell me what was or is BB’s favorite food. But later, in the tourist office I discovered an interesting issue of the local St-Tropez magazine and for my great joy the September issue was devoted to celebrities who have ever put their feet in the streets of St Tropez. Among others I’ve also found Brigitte Bardot’s favorite dish the Tabbouleh Salad. According to the paper the recipe and story was told by celebrity chef Frédéric van Coppernolle, whose grandmother cared and cooked for Bardot at her home in St.-Tropez.

 In 1980 at age 15, Van Coppernolle (Belgian) was sent to live with his grandmother on Bardot’s estate while his parents were battling a terrible divorce. Bardot had already been a staunch animal rights advocate so she had been a vegetarian for long time. Van Coppernolle became his grandmother’s sous chef and helped her prep various vegetarian dishes such as onion tarts, ratatouille, pizzas and vegetable-and-cheese quiches for Bardot as well as feed Bardot’s 13 dogs and 40 cats special home cooked meals. His grandmother’s tabbouleh was a favorite of Bardot’s. They never corrected her by explaining it was actually a couscous because she was supposedly a bit feisty. Instead, they kept the peace and just let her call it tabbouleh! (Couscous is made of pasta, while tabbouleh is cracked bulgur wheat).

Since its ingredients are very similar to a traditional tabbouleh salad, I’m certain you could substitute bulgur for the couscous if you’d prefer not to eat pasta. Last week I tried out the salad at home and it was delicious!

Tabouleh

Ingredients: 2 cups fine bulgur, 2 cups boiling water, 1 bunch green onion, sliced finely, 1 medium onion, chopped finely, 1 bunch parsley, stems removed, chopped finely, 1 bunch fresh mint leaves, chopped finely, 2 large tomatoes, chopped or 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 lemons, juice of, 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce, salt and pepper, 1 dash cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions: Place bulgur in a large mixing bowl. Cover with boiling water and let stand 5 to 10 minutes, then fluff grains with a wooden spoon. Add onions, parsley, mint, and tomatoes and mix well. Finally, add the rest of the ingredients one at a time. Mix thoroughly. Chill in the refrigerator and toss once again before serving.

Catherine Deneuve, “the most lovely woman in the world”

When BB met her ex-husband’s new girlfriend on the set of “La Bride Sur Le Cou” directed by him, the personality of Catherine Deneuve had also captured her:” …behind Vadim lingered a 17-year-old brunette who dressed like me had her hair made like me. Her name was Catherine Deneuve. She had a certain air of a namby-pamby, that was back then unbearable”.

Although raised Catholic, Catherine Deneuve began to defy convention at an early age. In 1961, the 17-year-old starlet, left home and moved in with Ukranian director Roger Vadim, who at 33 was twice divorced and almost twice her age. He was also her mentor, and directed her in Le vice et la vertu (1963). On June 18, 1963, she gave birth to their son, Christian Vadim, she was only 19. Within a month after that, the relationship was over and they broke off contact (he had five wives included Jane Fonda and four children, and died in 2000). After an other failure marriage to a British photographer Catherine Deneuve has shunned the idea of marriage ever since. But this didn’t mean that she got no tangled up in love affairs. Meanwhile she played a married woman who works as a part-time prostitute every afternoon in Luis Buñuel’s masterpiece (La belle de jour) she began an intense relationship with the world famous Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni. On May 28, 1972, she gave birth to the daughter of his (Chiara), at the age of 28. However the relationship with Mastroianni ended in 1975, but the two remained friends up until his death (from pancreatic cancer on December 19, 1996), with Deneuve present at his bedside.

Deneuve has had many magnificent works: Truffaut’s Last metro (1980), as a stage actress in Nazi-occupied Paris, was a career milestone and won her a César Award for Best Actress. Deneuve’s third foray into Hollywood came in 1983, when she starred in Tony Scott’s The hunger (1983) as a stylish, seductive bisexual vampire living in Manhattan who sets out in search of new blood. The film became a cult classic, and her erotic love scene with Susan Sarandon unintentionally made Deneuve a lesbian icon, so much that she would later have to threaten legal action to stop the lesbian magazine Curve from using “Deneuve” as the original title. In 1985, her status as a beauty icon was cemented when her profile was chosen as the model for Marianne, (BB was also) the symbol of the French Republic seen on French coins and stamps.
In private life the Grand Dame of French cinema prefers the French cuisine and eating well: “I could have never been a model in the way actresses today are expected to be; I have never been thin enough because I love a wonderful meal at the end of the day with a good burgundy. I try to be careful but I am not American- she told in an interview- so that I am not always worrying about calories and working out. I have no fear of aging until I am able to work. My mother turned 100 this year (in 2012). She lives alone in Paris; very independent and she is quite incredible. She has a very good head; she still plays bridge, she still wins. So longevity may be in my genes but I don’t know if I will live to be 100 because I have not had the same lifestyle as my mother (she has never smoked but I do)”. Catherine’s favorite:

Carbonnade with olives

This beef stew is known for its Mediterranean touch, combination of olives, onions and bay leaves. Any olives would be a good choice here. As with most stews, the dish will taste even better a day after it’s made.

Ingredients: 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 3 pounds beef flatiron or blade steaks, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices, about 3 inches wide, Salt and freshly ground pepper, 3 cups thickly sliced onions, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 2 bay leaves, chopped parsley, for garnish croquette, 12 black or green olives (be careful with the salt)

In an enameled cast-iron casserole, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Season the beef with salt and pepper and add one-third of it to the casserole. Cook over moderate heat until lightly browned, (3 minutes per side). Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with 2 more batches of meat, using the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.

Add the onions to the casserole, cover and cook over low heat, stirring, until browned, 8 minutes. Stir in the flour until the onions are well-coated. Return the meat to the casserole along with any accumulated juices. Add the thyme and bay leaves, cover and simmer over low heat, stirring, until the beef is tender. Uncover and transfer the meat to a bowl. Simmer the sauce over moderate heat until thickened slightly. Discard the bay leaves. Return the meat to the casserole and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with boiled carrots and croquette or pommes duchesse. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brusselicious, good enough to eat!

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Gastronomic discoveries through the ages in Brussels

The thematic years create a buzz around Brussels as a destination with an  unrivalled quality of life. After its stint as the capital of Fashion & Design in 2006 and folllowing hot on the heels of the Comic Strip in 2009, this year is the year of culinary delight. What better way of reinforcing its reputation as a friendly and creative region, both among the locals and the foreign visitors. Brusselicious, a name that is both funny and appetizing, immediately gives a taste of what lies ahead: the gastronomy of Belgium is delicious and irresistible. So good that you just want to take big bite out of it. It showcases produce and producers, talents and creativity, places and people. Highlights are the traditional recipes, food stalls, chocolate delights, forgotten and rediscovered vegetables, seafood, countless types of beer and other culinary specialities. But also the great chefs that take on the challenge of recreating traditional favorites with their own special slant and capable of conjuring up surprising flavours. On the markets and in star-studded restaurants or at street corners and in exceptional venues, in bistros and museums: I have found glorious food everywhere!

In the Museum Cinquantenaire

The enjoy your meal! Bon appetit!- exhibition is part of the Year of Gastronomy. Calling on the magnificient collection of the Cinquantenaire Museum, its aim was to show the major and minor discoveries that have over time greatly changed the way we look at food and meals today. It’s divided into seven thematic displays: sereals, dairy products, salt and spices, alcoholic beverages (wine, beer, spirit), sugar, hot drinks (tea, coffee and chocolate) and imported foods from the New World such as potato, tomato and bean. The goal is to have fun and be educational, rather than paint a complete picture. The exhibition takes advantage of the museum’s vast collections, from prehistorical time to modern. I picked up some favorite items from the collection:

Drinking cup

In ancient Greece, wine was drunk in company and on festive occasions. At first lovely discussions, songs and poetry recitals formed the entertainment. As the guests and hosts became drunk, they began to dance and play games. Drinking cups and wine containers were used in contests of dexterity and balance. They even mount goatskins filled with wine or amphorae, holding a full cup in one hand. They would also indulge in various erotic games or activities. Satyrs, the mythical companions of Dionysos, the God of Wine, parody the banquets activities. Their erect penises signal their unbridled sexuality, as does the fantastic phallusbird that one of them holds on a lead, crouched on his back.

Drinking horn from 6th or 7th century

The Merovingian glass drinking horn is an exceptional piece of the collection. For over half century, it belonged to a private person, a small boy discovered it in the attic of his grandfather, a Brussels solicitor. The drinking horn had probably been acquired on the occasion of a land purchase. The origin could be from the Merovingian necropolis in Anderlecht (Glass drinking horns from ancient times and the early middle ages are extremely rare).

Teacup and saucer from the 18th century

When making traditional tea, Tibetans use tea bricks made of powdered or compressed tea leaves. Bits are broken of and thrown into boiling water. The Tibetians drink up to 50 cups a day, generally from a simple bowl. The tipically shaped teacup was made for buddhist lamas, and it was made of transculent precious jade. The saucer is a small silvered dish on a high foot that has a shape of an lotus flower. The lotus symbolises purity.

Louis XV-style tripod chocolatiere

Discovered in Mexico by the Spanish conquistadors, chocolate was presented at the court of Charles V in 1528. It was then introduced to the Spanish Netherlands in the last decades of the 16th century, reaching France in 1615 and then the rest of Europe. Until the mid 19th century, chocolate remained an extremely expensive drink, which only the rich could afford. The containers used for its preparation were generally very similar in shape to those used for coffee. The only difference was the hole pierced in the lid, this was for the neck of the frother, a sort of wooden brush for whisking the boiling liquid until it had a smooth consistency.

Ice cream van Bij Joseph

Ice cream was rediscovered in Italy in the late 16th century, but only became popular during the second half of the 19th century. Around 1895, Van Gend the coachbuilders were renowed for the manufacture of coaches and vans of every kind. This displayed van is decorated with mirrors, paintings and sculptures-was made in their workshops. In the centre are two ice-cream churns minus their copper lids. The back of the van contains a Mazzoletti mechanical piano. The van is equipped with acetylene lighting which enable it to provide an evening service in the region of Leuven, Bruxelles, Wawre, Tirlemont and Liege.

Royal Museum of Fine Arts

I also visited the exhibition of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (located on Rue de la Régence). The participation of the museum in Brusselicious is designed to be different from that of the Cinquantenaire Museum. At the museum almost no chance has been made to the usual display of the permanent collection. But with a guide book, visitors can set off in search of works which are given a prominent display there. These works are signposted in the museum’s various rooms, with a small numbered sticker on which the Brusselicious logo is clearly recognisable.

Some items about food and drink: wine drinking is repeated theme in many “genre paintings” of the 16th and 17th centuries. In the small painting here, by Gabriel Metsu, 1667 Amsterdam depicts a young woman who is sitting in a chair close to a table on which are placed a plate, waffle and a bowl of poridge. A woman servant, to the left in the background, is entering with more delicacies. The young woman makes a gesture of refusal towards the man next to her who is holding a wine jug and trying to fill her glasses. She will not be swayed by his courtship. 

 

Pieter Aertsen: Vegetable vendor 16th century
The cook
Maerten Boelema de Stomme: Small breakfast, 17th century
Isidore Verheyden: The breakfast, 1905
 

Two wows in one summer in Europa

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I am invited to two weddings (one in Italy and one in Belgium) this summer and apropos of these fascinating events I had some interesting thoughts what I would like to share with you

What to wear or get ready to look your best!

Whenever I open my wedding album I am still satisfied with my gown my then choise. I wore a white gown with blue flowers patterned leaves. I loved my dress very much not because I looked good in it but I think it reflected my personality.

I was very young (19 years young) in that time but I had already been aware of the fact that is really important what you wear in a big event, even if you are not the bride just a relative or guest because what will remain of the special occasion? The photographs. And you will eventually rely on them to remember the event, the people, how did they look like and later you share it with your family, friends, your children and as the years pass with the grandchildren. And people will judge you according to what they see.

In my opinion the best dress should celebrate your individual beauty, your stature, your style. And now don’t grunt out saying that there is no dress for you (because of this and that) there is a dress for every figure but the only way to find the one for yours is trying on lots and lots of different sytles. And don’t be afraid of the experiment. I followed this rule.

I did my wedding dress search with my mom. I had prepared her well in advance that I wanted a bohemian wedding dress or Midsummer night style fairy gown, like Titania’s in Shakespeare’s famous comedy but nothing traditional. “Don’t worry! –answered my mom because she had always loved shopping (so had I, running in family) but we were not prepared for that much fuss what we would go through.  Two weeks before my wedding day we were really looking forward to the day when we would hit my hometown, Budapest and would start our shopping maze. And the day sat in. When in some hours later we had already checked all wedding departments, stores and by the way my mom started to develop a hatred toward shopping but when I was about trying on the dress number 52, we both knew that that was the right dress for me. Just as I knew about the guy I wanted to marry. I looked at myself in the mirror like Charlotte in the Sex and city and it hit me. I was a bride. Everything was perfect, the silhouette, the proportion of my body and of dress. My mom heaved a sigh of relief and was ready to pay but I stopped her with an exclaimation “but mom what about my head tiara?” She sunk in herself and was close to give up. She had just realized that I did not belong to those brides who dreamed of walking down the aisle wearing a headpiece or veil. I wanted something extravagant that defines my personality with panache and just a hint of coquetry. But when I told her about my ideas such as –„only a flower wreath would do the job for me”- because it is more unconventional, and little more surprising than the typical headpieces and veils, she started to itemize many dramatic, romantic, whimsical, or traditional veils what she had seen in wedding magazins, hats such as the Duchess of Windsor wore, blue straw halo-style hat trimmed with pink and blue coq feathers, or Rita Hayworth’s enormous cartwheel, and Grace Kelly’s a Juliet cap that matched the lace of her gown. But I was a rebel and stubborn, I told her I’d rather had a Dutch bonnet or a mob cap than a ridiculous veil. -“Yes sure with the clogs!”-quirked my mom with a sarcasm.

But I really meant that. I saw in a previous shop a Dutch bonnet with the same pattern and colour such as my dress. Unfortunatelly my mom was exhausted and she didn’t feel like going back to that certain shop so finally I had to give up. And guess what I wore? A veil with white flower tiara!!! Uhh I try to forget it…but in spite of this little mishap my wedding was an incredible experience, my only regret was that (not only the bridal veil) I loved my wedding dress very much so I wanted to wear it again and again. Since my wedding many years had passed but my husband and I have been several times bride and groom in Halloween-carnival time. And I am happy because I have two daugthers and when it will be their turns I hope they can get as much enjoyment as I did from this very special dress.

Everyone loves a party-the coctail hour

The key to a perfect wedding is sharing the experience with those who close to you. Many couples today are choosing to keep their weddings small and personal. But that doesn’t mean newlyweds have lost their will to party. To satisfy both impulses, some couples opt for a quiet wedding followed by a large reception closer to their home. So that will be the case of the couple, (our friends) whose wedding will be held in Belgium on 24 of September. They will get married near Brussels before 30 guests, then later 150 people are invited to their garden party’s. I am really looking forward to the feast because they are strict vegetarians. I hope their vendor knows the guests tastes.

However my younger brother’s wedding, who is going to tie the knot in Italy (on 29th of August in Positano, Amalfi island) will be a formal traditional wedding, with the wow in the little, picturesque church of Positano followed by the dinner but he will hold a post-wedding bash in Hungary, for guests from both families. We are excited because when you have a separate party it trends to less formal.