Friday, December 4, 2020

Book Review: Interior Voyages by Matthieu Salvaing


Interior Voyages by Matthieu Salvaing, Rizzoli New York, 2020. Photography © Matthieu Salvaing.]  

Matthieu Salvaing was only 16 years old when he created his first significant photographic work, a photo documentary set in Andalusia. Soon afterwards, he worked on a collaboration with Oscar Niemeyer, the famous architect; this friendship and new found collaboration helped to foster a love for architecture and interior design in Salvaing, which was soon reflected in  his photography work.

Today, Salvaing is best known for his distinct, unique eye that captures more than a simple interior: Salvaing's well-crafted style is designed to evoke feelings, emotions, and the unique personal styles associated homes, hotels and other distinct interior spaces.

 

Interior Voyages by Matthieu Salvaing, Rizzoli New York, 2020. Photography © Matthieu Salvaing.]

The interiors explored in 'Interior Voyages' are not only homes: they include hotels, old-fashioned film sets, creative spaces and more. Flipping through the pages is always a surprise, as you never know what location will show up next. One of the more interesting residences explored in this book is the home that Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatra once shared, located in Acapulco; fans of these and other notable figures with distinct homes will no doubt enjoy them viewed through the highly creative, intimate lens of Matthieu Salvaing.

Interior Voyages by Matthieu Salvaing, Rizzoli New York, 2020. Photography © Matthieu Salvaing.]

The stunning high quality matte photographs featured in 'Interior Voyages' capture highly evocative moments in time. A seemingly forgotten corner of a luxury hotel; a old film set that evokes a world that has radically changed since its faux-walls were first erected; classical rococo interiors, filled with famous art and gilding; eclectic studio spaces, cluttered with art and supplies; and much more. Sometimes the photographs capture an entire room, but more often it captures something small, memorable, distinct. A corner, a table, a space you might find yourself drawn to in person.

One of the most intriguing features of 'Interior Voyages'--aside from the photographs themselves--is the page quality. Rizzoli is no stranger to high quality book production, but the stunning, smooth matte quality of the photography pages in this book jumps out immediately as soon as you open the book for the first time. They make it a true pleasure to flip through each page, taking in the evocative interiors and intricate details that Salvaing captures in every photograph.

Interior Voyages by Matthieu Salvaing, Rizzoli New York, 2020. Photography © Matthieu Salvaing.]
  

The book is a photography book in every sense of the word. There is a short introduction, and each interior is preceded by a location and several-sentence description; other than that, the book is simply a journey through Salvaing photographs, an experience to be savored.

If you are a fan of Salvaing's work, 'Interior Voyages' is an absolute must-buy. If you are a fan of interior design, interiors as a whole, and unique spaces captured through a highly creative eye, then I also recommend checking out 'Interior Voyages.'

[A review copy of this publication was provided to me by the publisher.]

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Book Review: Petite Patisserie: 180 Easy Recipes for Elegant French Treats

 

 © Petite Patisserieby Christophe Felder and Camille Lesecq,Rizzoli New York, 2020.Photography ©Laurent Fau.

Petite Patisserie: 180 Easy Recipes for Elegant French Treats is the latest collaboration between Christophe Felder and Camille Lesecq, two renowned pastry chefs whose current ventures include Les Pâtissiers, a patisserie operating in Mutzig, Alsace.

French-style patisseries are popular around their world for their tendency towards indulgence, whether that indulgence shows itself through a rich tart or a delicate flaky pastry that melts in your mouth. 'Petite Patisserie' features an astonishing 180 recipes that cover a breadth of French and French-inspired patisserie goodies; you will find a seemingly endless list of brioches, cakes, madeleines, napoleons, tarts, petits fours, and even a fanciful children's party cake titled "Madame Chicken Licken." (The fun, silly children’s cakes are listed at the end in a section appropriately titled: Funday.)

Each section of this recipe book is broken up into days of the week, with each ‘day’ evoking a certain culinary theme. As the days continue, the recipes become more complex. Before the proper recipes begin, the book includes a series of basic recipes that you can refer to for creating pastries, creams, pastes and other building-blocks used throughout the book.

 

 © Petite Patisserieby Christophe Felder and Camille Lesecq,Rizzoli New York, 2020.Photography ©Laurent Fau.

Each recipe is laid out in a simple, informative manner that makes them easy to read, understand and follow along as you bake. I found that the recipes were detailed enough to keep you on track, without being so overly complex that they were overwhelming. The recipes even include notes for substitutions or other helpful hints for the best outcome. Each recipe features a photo of the final product, and if you’re like me, your book will soon be stuffed with bookmarks for delicious goods you want to try next based on the photos alone. (To quote my 4 year old niece, who sat next to me while I did a flip through: “Oh, these look yumm-mmy.”)

Like many others, I’ve spent some of my extended time at home over the past few months practicing my baking skills. With that in mind, I wanted to try a few recipes that intimidated me instead of sticking to ones I know I could (however messily) pull off. There are tons of recipes in this book that I want to try out someday, but fate intervened through a great sale on a bulk bag of nice quality pistachios, so I stuck with three pistachio-heavy recipes. The three I choice were a pistachio custard tart, pistachio blondies, and pistachio panna cotta. The recipes all call for pistachio paste, and the book provides a handy recipe for making your own, although you could certainly do these recipes with a pre-made paste if you wish.

I won’t pretend that my results looked as beautiful as the ones featured in this book (and I did make an amateur mistake with my blondies which promoted a retry!) but I’m not a professional chef nor a food designer, so I didn't expect them to come out picture perfect.

 What matters most to me--the taste!--is what shined through. I love pistachios and pistachio flavors, so these recipes really hit the spot for me. I do recommend that if you are going to make your own pistachio paste and you’ve never done it before (and I certainty hadn’t) you should 1) spring for nice quality pistachios, because they are forming the base of the paste, so the nicer they are the nicer the paste will taste; and 2) make sure your food processor can finely grind down the pistachios, as I ended up having to emergency-borrow a better processor to get the results I needed.

 © Petite Patisserieby Christophe Felder and Camille Lesecq,Rizzoli New York, 2020.Photography ©Laurent Fau.

While many of the recipes do look intimidating, the instructions are clear and helpful enough that I feel that that many of them (particularly the simpler recipes) can be tackled with some patience and the willingness to try, try again.

I recommend this book for anyone with a love of French patisserie and a readiness to try out some delicious, well-planned recipes that are sure to appease your craving for something delicious.



[A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher]

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Book Review: A Georgian Heroine, the Intriguing Life of Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs by Joanne Major and Sarah Murden



A Georgian Heroine: The Intriguing Life of Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs by Joanne Major and Sarah Murden is an exploration of the life of a woman who, though not a major public figure kept in the public eye down the centuries like some of her contemporaries, nonetheless led a life that was at turns tragic and triumphant.

Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs, who would later prefer to go by "Charlotte," was born into a respectable family with some, though not exceptional, wealth. The primary events of Charlotte's story as covered in this book begin with horror: she was targeted by a neighbor who kidnapped, raped and imprisoned her. When she was finally able to return home, her father was so shocked at her appearance that he challenged the neighbor to a duel. 

Although she managed to escape him once, she was later brought back under his control after being kidnapped and taken by barge to a secluded estate. She would later manage to leave with the assistance of Benjamin Hunt Biggs, and she turned to France, where she--like many others--was swept up in the events of the French Revolution. After her time in France, she took to both writing and politics in an effort to share her story and make an impact on the world around her. She was involved in some form of espionage and her correspondence from her later years is at turns politically adventurous and bittersweet, particularly in regards to her re-connection with and old flame.

The snippets from her little known play, What Is She? stood out to me for incorporating what can easily be read as Charlotte's sentiments regarding her own experiences.

"But where [to] find such a lover, such sincerity? Where is the man who has not to reproach himself with the misery of women? Is there a female who has not, some time in her life, been the victim of her sensibility? ... At an age when our hearts are tender, and our reason weak, we make the choice which is to fix our destiny forever..."

As the authors relate, Charlotte's version of events, both in regards to her second imprisonment and her years in France, do not always line up the known facts. For example, in some instances the authors tracked down moments where Charlotte claimed to have been in certain regions of France during the Revolution when the facts suggest she was in a different location altogether. What was her reason for lying, in this case? To spice up her story? Was she confusing her own experiences with that of someone else, and her memory was confused by time and stress? The answers are not always clear.

I greatly appreciated it when the authors pointed out that Charlotte may have been exaggerating or otherwise confusing her own narrative with those of the people around her. I also appreciated the amount of effort it must have taken to find the various letters and texts included in this book, all of which helped flesh out a greater understanding of Charlotte's unique life. 

 Retracing the steps of someone who did not necessarily make a big, public splash on history is not always easy. But Murden and Major have definitely stepped up to the plate in regards to fleshing out the life of Rachel Charlotte William Biggs as much as possible. 

I would recommend A Georgian Heroine: The Intriguing Life of Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs for anyone who is interested in learning about a little-known woman from history whose story, alternatively tragic and triumphant, deserves to be known.

[A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher]

Saturday, August 15, 2020

What They Said Saturday: "... the royal family forgetting themselves in their anxiety for those around them."

'What They Said' Saturday: a day for quotations of all kinds, including excerpts from letters written by Marie Antoinette and her contemporaries, memoirs, non-fiction, novels and everything in between.

 
 image: The Royal Family in the Temple, reproduced on a postcard
 
When the royal family was originally moved to the Temple, the Great Tower--where it was decreed the family would be held--was not yet prepared for residence, as it had been neglected in recent years. It was decided that the family would be temporarily kept in the little Tower, using furniture taken from the Tuileries, until the Great Tower could be properly furnished; and more importantly, until it could be properly fortified so that it could be kept isolated and guarded from the outside. 
 
In her memoirs, the duchesse de Tourzel recalls the early days of the family's captivity; the duchesse, along with her daughter and the Princesse de Lamballe, would later be arrested and taken away from the Temple. In the meantime, however, she recalls how the royal family enjoyed an uneasy yet intimate family life.

As the Queen's room was the largest, we occupied it during the day, the king also coming down to it early in the morning. ... a Commissioner of the Commune, who was changed every hour, was always in the room where they were. The royal family conversed to kindly with all of them that they succeeded in making an impression on several.

At meal-times we went down to a room underneath that of the Queen, which we used as a dining room, and at five o'clock in the evening their Majesties took a walk in the garden, for they dared not let Mgr. the Dauphin go out alone, for fear of giving the Commissioners the idea of taking possession of him. On this subject they several times heard very sinister remarks which they pretended they did not hear, and the promenade lasted sufficiently long for the two children to get the fresh air so necessary for them, the royal family forgetting themselves in their anxiety for those around them.

Friday, August 7, 2020

JSTOR Expanded Access: Royal "Matronage" of Women Artists in the Late-18th Century by Heidi A. Strobel

 JSTOR announced earlier this month that they will be provided expanded access through 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This expanded access includes free read-online access for 100 articles per month through December 31st, 2020.

Note: You will need to log in to a JSTOR account to access this article. Accounts are free, so sign up and enjoy!

Royal "Matronage" of Women Artists in the Late-18th Century by Heidi A. Strobel

An examination of the popular tendency for female nobility to support the patronage of women artists during the latter half of the 18th century.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Review: Poesie Perfumes 'In the Steps of Marie Antoinette' Collection

Review: Poesie Perfumes 'In the Steps of Marie Antoinette' Collection 



I love perfume, and over the past year I've dived headfirst into the world of indie fragrances. Poesie  has become one of my favorite indie perfume houses due to their diverse range of scents which range from

In 2019, Poesie released a special limited collection titled "In the Steps of Marie Antoinette," featuring 6 scents inspired by the queen of France. At the time the collection was released, I didn't have enough spending money to try them all--but thanks to Poesie's annual "Reissue Event," a limited-time event where you can order retired items from their catalog, I was finally able to collect all of them.


À la Reine

Scent Notes: fresh ripe tomato, cucumber, a bouquet of garden herbs, sweet soil, all damp from the summer rain

My Thoughts:

This scent is so, so green. I love that the emphasis is on the vegetable garden, rather than florals--not that there's anything wrong with florals, but I feel like most 'hameau de la reine' inspired scents I've tried before are heavy on the florals. This scent  makes me feel like I'm walking through a vegetable garden after the rain--moist garden dirt, spicy herbs, but then a vegetable sweetness from the juicy tomatoes and cucumbers. It's really amazing how this scent captures the very particular way that gardens smell after the rain... a sort of slightly sweet, slightly spicy earth tinged with vegetables and grass. 

Petit Trianon

Scent Notes: a freshly picked bouquet of wood violets, accented with jasmine sambac, tuberose and Madonna lily, sheer sandalwood

My Thoughts:

This is another scent that I picked up when the collection was originally released. I can't resist a Trianon inspired scent!  This is a very white floral scent, with hints of green underneath, but it is mostly the violets, jasmine and tuberose that stand out. The sandalwood provides a solid thread for the florals and overall the scent gives the impression of walking through a carefully cultivated garden. A very warm, floral scent. 

Rococo Paradise

Scent Notes: ripe strawberries, plush apricot, fresh grass, milk + honey, lavender sprigs

My Thoughts:

This is one of the scents I picked up last year, and it's one of my favorite scents in my collection. This scent smells it belongs in the scene from Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette where the queen and her entourage are picking strawberries and drinking fresh milk at the hameau de la reine. The milk provides a soft creaminess to the scent, which is complemented by the fresh grass and lavender. The strawberries add sweetness--it's more of a wild strawberry undertone, berries tinged with green. A naturally sweet and mellow scent overall.

Folly of Love

Scent Notes: Paradise apples, purple lilac blooms, white Bourbon roses, seductive vanilla

My Thoughts:

I didn't receive this scent until the 2020 reissue event, and truthfully I wish I had picked up a larger size! It is a very soft, summery fragrance. The lilacs and roses form nice floral base, while the apples bright the fragrance with a touch of sweet fruitiness. The vanilla takes awhile to come out, but when it does it adds a rounded softness to the delicate fragrance. I was originally a bit worried that the florals would be overbearing, but the apple note keeps things bright and youthful.

Infamous

Scent Notes: luscious white cake layered with sticky marshmallow creme and topped with mounds of vanilla frosting

My Thoughts:

Unfortunately, this is the only scent from the collection that I did not enjoy. The reason for this is that there is barely any scent at all on my skin. It has an extremely light throw, and I genuinely have to stick my nose right up to my skin to smell anything. Even then, all I can get is a very, very faint vanilla. This is pretty unusual for this company, as while I haven't always enjoyed every scent I've gotten from Poesie, none of them have been so non-existent in terms of scent. Maybe it was an off batch!

Versailles

Scent Notes: golden cake, intoxicating orange blossom, fluffy vanilla citrus icing, blood orange

My Thoughts:

I feel like “Versailles” is what I anticipated from Infamous.  It's not an extremely strong scent, but it has a light to medium throw comparable to other “cake” scents I’ve gotten from Poesie.  This one smells like a vanilla cake smothered in delicious, luscious vanilla-orange frosting. Rich and creamy and downright yummy.

Where to Get Them

"In the Steps of Marie Antoinette" was a limited collection, so the full collection is no longer available from Poesie. However, "Versailles" was added to the Poesie General Catalog based on its popularity so it is available for ordering on the shop page here. The scent does seem to sell out fairly regularly, but it is restocked regularly as well.

If you use Reddit, I would recommend checking out the Sunday IMAM Indie Marketplace thread, where you can sometimes find people selling or swapping discontinued scents. The Indie Marketplace thread is posted every Sunday.

Or you can put a pin in this and wait until 2021 when Poesie will likely do another Reissue event.


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

JSTOR Expanded Access: The French Revolution on Film: American and French Perspectives by Casey Harison

JSTOR announced earlier this month that they will be provided expanded access through 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This expanded access includes free read-online access for 100 articles per month through December 31st, 2020.

Note: You will need to log in to a JSTOR account to access this article. Accounts are free, so sign up and enjoy!

 image: a screenshot from La Marseillaise (1938)


An examination of the popular and contextual differences of how the French Revolution is depicted in American versus French cinema.