OLIVES FROM SOUTHERN FRANCE

Olives from the South of France. . .Olives and oil mill CalanquetBarral French Lucques Olives 6.5 ozConsidered the gastronomic olive par excellence, the Lucques du Languedoc olive is one of the best olives available. Easily recognized by its crescent moon shape and its bright green skin, it is a large, meaty, mellow olive. These olives are produced along part of the Mediterranean coast of southern France & in Saint Remy,

a visitor can experience tours and tastings at an olive oil mill (Moulin du Calanquet) offering a chance to sample some of the world’s best pressed from olives grown in this vicinity.

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What strikes me immediately about both of these areas of France is the common nature of olive trees – they grow in gardens, they grow on pavements, they grow in front of supermarkets, they grow in the middle of roundabouts….

Olive tree preserved in the middle of this town courtyard…

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Image result for olive trees potted in franceAbove, live potted olive trees used for shade and decoration.

The potted olive trees below are products we carry at Aubergine Antiques and our Antique garden shop, RF Antiques —  They are dried and preserved, but look unbelievably “real”.  We sell them at a wonderful price point (around $100) and they make a beautiful “French” addition to your kitchen or outside on a bistro table.

Aubergine Antiques 251-928-0902  and  RF Antiques 251-928-8336

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We also carry a variety of olive wood products like:  Jam spoons, lemon reamers, salt and pepper mills, olive skewers, and other kitchen items.  Easy to care for:  gently wash with soap and warm water and then nourish with olive oil.  

SAINT REMY de PROVENCE

St Remy de Provence is found in the Alpilles region nestled between the Durance and the Rhône rivers.  Here olive trees carpet the sloping hillsides.Alpilles Provence

Not only does this area have a vibrant use for growing and harvesting olives, but it has a rich artistic history.  It is here that Vincent Van Gogh painted some of his last paintings such as Starry Night and Olive Trees

Vincent van Gogh, Olive trees with yellow sky and sun, 1889

A highlight of Saint-Rémy is Saint-Paul de Mausole, the monastery-turned-asylum where artist Vincent van Gogh voluntarily committed himself after cutting his ear. (New research suggests that he severed not just the earlobe but nearly the entire ear.)

asylum Saint-Paul St-RemySaint-Paul still functions as a psychiatric hospital, although portions are open to the public.  You can visit a re-creation of his humble room, the chapel, the cloisters, and some of the grounds.Van Gogh St. Paul

St. Remy is also known for its markets, one of the most popular on Wednesdays –vendors selling olives, breads, cheeses, fruits and vegetables, honeys, jams, meat, and fish.marché St Remy

A French favorite – baked bread with an olive paste spread with meat and cheeses of the region.Related image

Enjoy olives from France and visit the Provence region if you have the chance.  Quaint villages, less hurried and beautiful weather — a gastronomic adventure and enjoyment for the visual senses!

Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!

Shades of the South

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LAVENDER

Southern France is known for its colors of the earth – one of those colors is purple lavender.  The perfumed plant called LAVENDER is naturally at home in this sun drenched area of France!Lavender Heather in Decoupage Pot

The fragrance of Lavender is smooth, delicate and unmistakable.  This plant originates as far back as Tutankhamun and Jesus  – Tombs were fragranced with it and feet anointed, but even as historical as that is, it is really accurate to say that “Lavender is the soul of Provence”.

It originated in France around 600BC when traders from Greece came.  The plant quickly acclimated and flourished under the Provencial sun.  This plant and the climate of Provence attracted artists Image result for images of famous paintings with lavender fieldssuch as Vincent van Gogh, Matisse and Gauguin who used this deep colored flower in many of their paintings.

The region of Provence is one of the worlds largest lavender producers.  It’s essential oils are used to make candles, beauty products and other perfumed items.  Image result for images of lavender flowers on top of cheese

Harvest time is from June to August when the flowers are dried to be used as herbs, in herb mixes and using the oil from the flower for perfumes, soaps and candles.  The first perfume factories in Grasse (one being Galimard in 1747) still today has a following.Related image

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NOTE:  Cleopatra is said to have seduced Julius Casear and Mark Antony while wearing lavender perfume.

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While the beautiful fragrance has been historical in seduction it also has a history of being used as a medicinal – It has been used to help burns heal quicker and is currently being tested to reduce the size of cancerous tumors.

Lavender is a valuable source of nectar for bees, producing a wonderful honey.

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And the flowers are used culinarily as well, lending a floral, slightly sweet, and elegant flavor to many dishes. It pairs well with sheep and goat cheeses—a few little buds atop lavender honey would be the perfect finishing touch.Image result for images of goat cheese with lavender

  1. Place the goat cheese slices on a serving platter.
  2. Drizzle with honey, sprinkle with lavender and nuts, and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.

Lavender buds can also be candied or used to infuse spirits, sugar, oil, and many other goodies. And the tea, of course, is divine.

Lavender Earl Grey Tea

A lovely bit of lavender hospitality….
 
1/2 cup English breakfast tea leaves
½ cup Orange pekoe tea leaves
1/3 cup Earl Grey tea leaves
1-2 tablespoons dried lavender
 
Toss in a bowl; store in a tea tin and brew, as per regular black tea.
This is nice if you find lilac coloured, linen to make tea bags from.

Aubergine Antiques carries bundles of lavender as seen below on the beautiful buffet d’corps also from the Southern region of France.  This buffet d’corps is available for purchase as is the lavender bouquets.

Herbs de Provence is another common sight at this French culinary shop located in downtown Fairhope, AL – Come visit us and gather up your supply of lavender products.

 

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**Lavender the edible, flavorful, delicately scented flower**

P.S.

From the South of France we also carry  rush seat chairs….251-928-4808 Crown and Colony Antiques or Call Aubergines at 251-928-0902

These are all currently in stock!

Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!

BEE CONSERVATION in France & the US

HONEY BEES Image result for image of a honey bee

It’s summer time in the US and in most of Europe.  With it, Summer brings flowers and the buzzing bee – fueling my ever present interest in bees and spurring me to write this post – For Defining France this is our second post on our valued friend, the HONEY BEE.

Continue reading “BEE CONSERVATION in France & the US”

TRUNK SHOW – Antique Pillows

EMILY ALEXANDER TEXTILE DESIGNS

TRUNK SHOW 
WHERE:  CROWN AND COLONY ANTIQUE STORE
WHEN:    MARCH 21, 2018    10 to 5
NEED MORE INFO:  Call us at 251-928-4808
The ideas and inspiration behind E Alexander Designs
began long ago. When Emily Alexander received her degree in Textiles and Communications, she was following a long line of family members who appreciated and were involved in the artistry of textile design a great-grandmother in north Louisiana who was a milliner after the Civil War; an aunt and a cousin who made fine dolls and stitched clothes for them out of fur and velvet; and a mother whose beautiful and intricate quilts were bought and appreciated by many, including the First Lady of Louisiana, who displayed them in the Governors Mansion.
Emily grew up learning needlepoint, petit point and crewel. Later in life, her love of fine textiles and beautiful old things led her on a search for antique pillows for her own home. Trips to Europe ignited her interest in antique fabrics, and the idea was born that she would create her own pillows.
From her home base in Rancho Santa Fe, California, Emily now travels to France, England and Italy, scouring auctions, flea markets and antique shows in search of beautiful old (16th, 17th and 18th century) textile pieces Aubussons, tapestries, needlepoint and toile. With each piece, she personally creates a one-of-a-kind pillow, filled with the highest quality down, backed with premium silks, velvets and linens, detailed with antique trims.

 E Alexander Designs are also found at fine antique stores such as Crown and Colony Antiques.  We will hold our first Trunk Show with Emily on March 21, 2018.  We are very excited to have this lovely and talented person in our midst and to showcase her exquisite pillows.

Please join us for a day of visual inspiration and the opportunity to own one of Emily’s creations.

Shown are just a few of her pillows from various collections she has created.  Pillows similar to all of these  will be available to purchase at our Trunk Show on March 21, 2018.  Please come visit and enjoy a day with Emily Alexander!  We are very excited to share these  beautiful accessories with our customers.

AU REVOIR!  A LA PROCHAINE!!

Oushak Rugs from Turkey

ANTIQUE OUSHAK RUGS from TURKEY – Aubergine Antiques

Investment pieces for your home can run the gamut and you may think a rug isn’t one of them because it gets walked on….but,  an antique rug can be a great investment, if you know what to look for.

There probably is not one single factor that determines a rugs value – I’m no rug expert, but I have heard that the “knots” per square inch seem to add value….Appraisers of antique rugs seem to say it has to do with a few other things as well as knots per square inch.

AGE and CONDITION

The knot type and size does determine the quality of a rug’s construction while AGE and CONDITION of the rug add value.  The older the rug is and the better condition it is in for sure dictates its value. Ok so RULE #1 – look for an older rug in good condition.

You are going to want a rug that does not have frayed edges – they can unravel quickly AND this is the most costly area to repair.  Avoid the hassle.

The country of origin is important

For example, a vintage Oushak rug made in India is going to have less value than an Oushak make in Turkey, its original place of origin.  Your cost difference will be considerable as well. The country of origin impacts the value of antique rugs as does a particular region– a certain village or tribe may be renowned for their craftsmanship or beauty during the time that the carpet was made. The Turkish village of Usak is in Central Anatolia

and they have been weaving Usak carpets there for hundreds of years. Acquiring a rug from that particular village increases the value of your rug dramatically.   Rule #2 – The fact that an Usak rug is authentic (actually made in the Usak village) adds to its potential long term value.

To ensure that a machine hasn’t made the carpet, always look at the back of it. “When you flip the rug, it must look almost identical to the front.

Oushak rugs can also command higher prices because the larger ones are so much harder to find in good condition.  Turkish labor is quite expensive as well – from start to finish the hand weaving process is laborious and commands time, talent and ultimately a high dollar price for the finished product.  The weaving and finishing processes begin with the shearing of wool, spinning the wool and then dying the wool in small batches – in comparison to other types of new rugs.

So Rule #3 – when you are looking at Oushak rugs and your mouth drops open at the price tag, just remember what you are paying for:  the labor intensive efforts put forth in making the rug!

Note to self:  All of our Oushak rugs come from various areas of Turkey.   Rugs shown here are from Aubergine Antiques – Fairhope AL 251-928-0902

MATERIALS AND CRAFTSMANSHIP

The most common materials for Oriental rug construction are wool, cotton, silk, metal threads, goat hair and camel hair.

It is also important to understand that not all wool is the same. There valued differences in the grade of wool being used which comes from its feel and seeing the fineness of the wool.  This is important because it tells us how it was spun before it was woven. Yün eğiren anadolu kadını.

And of course, when the sheep are raised at higher elevations they tend to generate a more luxurious coat and ultimately better wool — resulting in a more luxurious rug pile. Hand spinning the wool versus machine spinning the wool makes a softer and more natural looking pile.  Again, adding to cost because of the time it takes to hand spin the wool.

     

                

DYES

When dyes are used in the construction of the rug using natural dye will add to the calmness and less saturated colors in the rug.  Vibrantly colored rugs are also beautiful; however, the less intense the colors, the more complicated the rug is to make.  This type of dying requires expert knowledge and the scarcity of these artisans are becoming more difficult to find which adds value to the rug.

KNOTS and their DENSITY

Typically the art of rug making is a family tradition passed down from mother to daughter.  By geography one can trace where the rug was woven by the knot –  While knot size is a consideration, the more important consideration is the density of the wool and how the knots are tied.  A quick way to determine the longevity of a rug is to take it in your hand – if it has a bit of sturdiness to it, it will wear better than one that is flimsy with loosely tied knots.  A hand knotted rug can be identified by looking at the back of the rug.  Below is an example of an authentically hand knotted rug versus a machine made rug.  Note the difference in how the knots look.

So there you have it in a condensed version –  the knot alone does not determine the rugs quality, but the quality is based on the wool choice, the actual construction of the rug, the weaving accomplishment and finally the actual visual appeal presented by the weaver.  FINAL RULE – If the rug isn’t beautiful to the person buying it then it has all been for nothing!

Stop buy our Antique Store – Aubergine Antiques – and let us help you pick out a rug that will suit your needs.  We carry all sizes of Oushaks as well as Persian and Heriz rugs — all are beautiful.

Below the Owner of Crown and Colony Antiques, Aubergine Antiques and RF Antiques is Peter Fargason (right) and the Manager of Aubergine Antiques, Jack McCown.  Both extremely knowledgeable about the rugs we sell.

Unloading rugs is a common sight at Aubergines!

Aubergine Antiques  315 De La Mar Ave  Fairhope, AL  36532

  (251) 928-0902

If you own a valued rug it is also important to know that if you need to have it cleaned, please seek a professional rug cleaner equipped to do so.  In the mean time if you need to spot clean an area, a solution of one part white vinegar to six parts water and a gentle blotting technique to clean a small area will work nicely.

 Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!