Absinthe Cocktails

Early history of the absinthe drink

Absinthe was first created in 1792 by Pierre Ordinaire, a French doctor living in Switzerland. His intention was to deliver the extract of the wormwood plant — which had long been known to have powerful healing effects — in a handy form.

The production of absinthe in a commercial sense began in 1797 when a man named Major Dubied bought the recipe from Dr. Ordinaire.  He began to manufacture the spirit with his son-in-law, Henri-Louis Pernod, in Val-de-Travers, Switzerland.

As the production of absinthe proved successful, Pernod in 1805, moved production to a larger facility across the border in Pontarlier, France. And then what began as a medicinal elixir, absinthe steadily grew into a global phenomenon.

In France, absinthe quickly caught on as the favorite drink of the aristocracy. In the 1850’s, the popularity of absinthe skyrocketed as the bohemian literary crowd embraced the “Green Fairy”. Many famous poets, writers and artists of the day routinely reached for a glass in search of inspiration.

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French Grape Hoppers

Harvesting to make wine and champagne begins with the collection of grapes.

Grape snipping in Bordeaux. Joanna Gonzalez photos.

Grape production serves as a major agricultural output in France. The harvest season for grape crops in France typically begins in September and may last until October. A Vendangeur is what a grape picker in France is called.

Grape hoppers are the backpacks that grape harvesters use to carry the grapes they are harvesting from the vines.  They were made of wood or woven natural fibers or metal. They are very attractive hanging on walls with arrangements.

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Champagne Riddling Racks

  Champagne anyone?
     How do you think French champagne gets its wonderful taste and crisp, clear, bubbly look and feel….It starts with the “Riddling Racks”
     Riddling racks are used in the stage of champagne making known as remuage or riddling.  After champagne is aged, the bottles are put in Riddling racks–as seen below–IMG_2836
The riddler rack shown below is available for purchase at RF Antiques in Fairhope, AL .  Racks can also be purchased from Aubergine Antiques.
Various sizes are available.
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    Champagne bottles are held at a 45 degree angle facing down.  Every two days they are given a slight shake and turn by a “remueur”.  Image result for pictures of riddling racks for champagne                                               Image result for pictures of riddling racks for champagne
A well seasoned remueur can turn 40,000 bottles a day!  The objective is to consolidate the sediments near the cork or in the neck of the bottle.   After the eight to ten week process, the sediments that have collected are removed in a process called disgorging. This leaves the champagne crystal clear.  Before 1816, when this process was perfected, champagnes were cloudy!
     Riddling racks are great for storing champagne or wine bottles.  They are a great addition to any wine cellar.  They are very well suited for a wall hung pot rack as well.IMG_2796
     One of the things that France is known for, and does very well, is luxury. Or, as it’s shortened to, in French — le luxe.  The champagne houses as they are called in France are a must see if you have the opportunity!  Here are several to take note of:

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French Herb Pots

French Glazed Herb Pots —

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These little beauties are abundant in France and are used still today to propagate herb seedlings.  Once the herbs have grown to full size they can be snipped and the pots then can become vessels to hold the herbs such as lavender or herbs de ProvenceIMG_2789

They are the perfect container for the olives and Italian beans on this Charcuterie spread.  As well, add sprigs of rosemary for scenting the table.IMG_2781

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They are ideal for serving jams and jellies, or a French mustard perhaps.  IMG_2788 An herb pot with orange marmalade is an unusual and clever way to serve your jelly at morning breakfast.

Fill one with coarse sea salt and place next to the stove.  They make great candle holders as well – the perfect votive for a table.  They are also great conversation pieces when used in any capacity at mealtime!

At $9 each they are a perfect little gift. These herb pots can be found at Aubergine Antiques in Fairhope, AL.

Au Revoir!!  A La Prochaine!!

 

 

French Olive Jars

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French olive jars originated from Biot, France -A small potting village in the south of France – “Jarres de Biot” are made from hand, without mold or wheel.  The jars are made from grey clay from Vaugrenier and red clay from Clausonnes – a mix of the two clays achieve the perfect desired color.  After the mixing of the clays, the round bottom is laid out then circled ropes of clay are stacked on top – sized to give the form of the jarre.  When the form is complete the clay is smoothed inside and out by hand, then dried before the kiln and varnish.  Once completed the olive jars were used to store flour, other food items and last but not least they were used to store olives – typically in brine and oils.

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Glaze drips like the green and brown drips in the above picture is very desirable.  This “drip” is often referred to as “mother-in-laws-tears”.  These drips of color are derived from the glaze of a jar above it dripping onto the jar below during the firing process. This hand made process, the rim color and the drips are what makes them so special and highly sought after by collectors.blog olive jars 2016

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Biot is still making jars and the patina and forms are unique for the region.  Jarriers leave their seals of production typically on the neck of the jars (or perhaps on the side or bottom), but the most unique feature to the Biot jar is the honey colored glaze at the neck of the jar as seen in the picture below.

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Biot jars can stand alone with a single topiary

biot jar with topiary

Or in a group with architectural elements biot jars with architectural element

These jars are special to own.  If you would like to have one you can visit RF Antiques in downtown Fairhope, AL where many selections can be found.  Rob Fargason, the eldest son of Ann and Peter Fargason, travels extensively throughout France including Biot.  He has selectively hand picked just the right jars from this area of France. RF Antiques houses the olive jars from this region  where you can shop and see first hand the beauty of these jars.  OR, you can travel yourself to Biot, France where jarriers are still hand making these type jars.

Biot is a very picturesque and very popular medieval village that’s actually about 2500 years old. And, is still known today as a Potters’ Village.  It sits on a hilltop only 4 km from the Mediterranean beaches between Antibes and Nice.

antibes near biot

village of biot

biot flowers

Au revoir!!  A la prochaine!!