Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bon Voyage…and Bon Appetit!

Even with all the crazy stuff going on in the Huffington world right now, we do have our laser beam sights set on two special dates coming up this year: June and September. That’s when we’ll pack our bags, leave a forwarding email (or maybe not) and head off over the pond to gorgeous and glorious Provence with a group of fun, adventurous and hopefully hungry travelers.




It’s so fun when a trip can be healthfully hedonistic (and somehow it’s easy to do at Les Murets). It’s all about eating what’s ripe and in season so the flavors are bursting with every bite. It’s all about eating leisurely and taking one’s time to savor and enjoy every little bite.




DSC00932




Dinner’s ready at Les Murets




It’s all about lively conversation, meeting new people and finding common ground over simply but beautifully prepared meals.




Lunch group 2




It’s all about the ritual of the meal – a nicely set table, some candlelight and plenty of time to savor and relax.




Dinner at Les Murets




And the wine…well, the wine is simply sublime and a hugely integral part of the whole Provencal experience.




The Wines




Among lots of other things, we’re happy that our weeklong Provence tours pay due homage to the French tradition of honoring food and the special ceremony of the meal.




At lovely Les Murets, breakfast is as simple as a freshly-gathered egg, a slice of perfectly ripe Cavaillon melon (these are tiny and perfect little melons grown in Cavaillon…they look like mini-cantaloupes but the taste is nothing like you’ve had before…) and maybe a slice of fresh bread or croissant, smeared with locally produced jam and a sliver of slightly salty butter.




french_breakfast[1]




cavaillon melon




The days revolve around lunch: where, what and when. We time the market visits around the lunchtime destination so on Tuesday, it’s a tiny little restaurant in Oppede (a pretty as a picture village near Les Murets). The restaurant is a small little spot and everyone who works there wears about five hats. Jean-Marie is in charge (when he’s not managing his transportation company and driving tourists all over Provence) and we’re pretty sure the nice girl who takes the orders is also busy in the kitchen barking orders and plating the yummy salads and delish main dishes that make up lunch.




terrasse-du-petit-cafe[1]







Lunch in Oppede.




DSC00850[1]




We love this picture of lunchtime Provencal wine…with the Diet Cokes in the background!




Another favorite spot is gorgeous Ile-Sur-La-Sorgue, the antiquing capital of Provence. The market, brocante and antiques are feasts for the eyes and after a few hours, everyone needs a feast for the tummies. One of our preferred spots is a beautiful little spot off the beaten path. The menu is limited to the day’s offerings…and we’re always delighted with what is set down in front of us. (Plus, it’s sort of a hot spot and you never know who you’ll see…)




jardin_1-2_390x475[1]




The garden setting of our lunchtime pick in Ile Sur La Sorgue is divine…




jardin_5-3_390x475[1]
















It’s always fresh, creative and elegantly presented.




And, it wouldn’t be a trip to Provence without a stop at the well-known Bistro du Paradou. Loud, energetic and totally unpretentious, this little gem always seems to win awards for its amazing cheese tray – not to mention the eggplant appetizer and…if it’s Wednesday it’s rabbit, cooked to utter perfection.




favorite lunch - lamb, tomato, eggplant




Yum….




DSC00874[1]




Lots of ooohs and aaaahhs for the fabulous cheese tray.




Bistro de Paradou 1_PS edited-1[1]




Bistro du Paradou…could it be any prettier?




Over in nearby pretty Loumarin is La Cour de la Ferme, you get to sit outside on a terrace with umbrellas shading you from the sun. The menu is carefully chosen and is always perfect. The wine is sublime. The company is fun and relaxed. It’s nirvana. (And, the last time we were there, we were pretty sure Britsh author and Provencal celeb, Peter Mayle, was sitting near us.)




dessert




Dessert…




Favorite lunch - c'est fin!




Dessert: all gone.




But, the best meals of the trip always seem to happen right at home on Les Muret’s terrace. Whether it’s the magical Provencal light, the camaraderie of new and old friends sharing countless adventures over the week or the simple and fresh food, we’re not sure.




Dinner on the Veranda




One thing’s for certain: no matter how much delicious wine we drink and meals we inhale while we’re there, we never gain weight! Call it the French Paradox or what you will…we just call it a wonderful time and a little slice of heaven.




Cheers!




Cheers!




Ta ta.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Little HHH Make-Over…

Imagine our excitement when a dear friend (and art-loving client) came to us and told us that, according to the elves, she has been a very good girl. Santa had agreed to give her a mini-makeover for her living and dining room. Would Huff Harrington Home like to help? There were a few pieces that had already caught her eye…

Of course, we said oui, oui and oui and spun our little selves to sleep for many nights imagining what we could send her way.Now, the first thing you need to know is that this client’s home is already fabulous, gorgeous and filled to the brim with one-of-a-kind antiques, art and special “found” pieces that she has picked up in her many travels. The home has been photographed and published numerous times. This Madame possesses a very keen eye and has wonderful taste so we were anxious to listen carefully to what she had to say.


photo1

The Living Room: Before. It’s elegant, sophisticated and full of special, one-of-a-kind objets. We were worried…how could we possibly improve upon this?


photo2




The Living Room: Before. We love the lines of the pretty antique bench and the glass side tables that sit on the wall opposite wall to the armoire.




Our client spent an hour or so with Sam (our interiors wizard) and the two of them came up with a nice little wish-list of what the homeowner would love to see.




She wanted a new look for her dining room and was willing to replace the light fixture and the table and chairs for something with a little more oomph. She also requested something that was a little more “user-friendly” for her pretty living room, although we were having a hard time envisioning anything prettier than what was already there.




photo5




The Dining Room: Before. Our client was preparing for a party so the rest of the chairs had been moved out. We love the existing Italian slipped chairs.




(And, by the way, what made this even more fun is that the Madame was going out of town for a few days. We had carte blanche to do as we wished while she was gone…)







So, first on the list was a long, clean-lined white linen sofa that we had custom ordered for HHH several months ago. It’s bench-made by a small California company, took forever to arrive but when it did, we all fell in love with it. It’s squishy and comfy but very, very good-looking. We would constantly find clients lounging on it, texting furiously as they took a little break from the madness. To us, that is the sign of a good sofa.Then there was a crunchy and texturey low-slung coffee table that looked and felt like driftwood. The client adores the the beach and we loved that she wanted to incorporate that passion into the room. And, to pick up on that beachy, casual and relaxed vibe, there were two extraordinary chandeliers that she immediately gravitated to.


9080[1]




We weren’t sure which one the client would end up with….




9078[1]

Madame, our client, had spotted some other things at the store. There was a fantastic, 19th century oak dining table that seats twelve at the drop of the hat. Ann and Linda found it in Belgium and recognized it immediately as the perfect example of the authentic Belgian-Dutch design that is so hot right now. Aged and limed oak, graceful but strong lines and incredibly functional and strong: this is a table to linger at and pass down to future generations. Our client spotted a set of nicely-shaped neutral upholstered chairs to go with the table. (We recommended new chairs as opposed to antiques because we find the old styles simply aren’t as comfortable for lounging around the table as we know this client likes to do.)


32-350x350[1]





We thought these would be a nice counter-point to the woodsy Dutch dining table our client fell in love with.So, in a pouring December rain, we packed up the truck (our loyal guys from Distinguished Transport in Atlanta helped us out) and drove off to the client’s home. And then the fun began.With Sam leading the charge, we rearranged, rehung, repositioned and then sprinkled the whole concoction with a smattering of gorgeous accoutrements.


The pretty living room, before. Pretty darn gorgeous and hard to improve.




photo9

And, after…


P1030709




P1030711

The new living room: the yummy linen sofa sits where the armoire used to be and is flanked by two scrolled iron lamps. And there’s the texture-y driftwood coffee table now accessorized with some of the the client’s books, a horn bowl and two mounted tortoise shells. The client’s own abstract (by Bonnie Beauchamp Cooke) hangs over the sofa. We’re crazy about the interior Frenchy shutters and couldn’t resist adding a walnut table topped by another mixed media figurative painting by Tracy Sharp. And, we do adore the trio of crystal obelisks and the African antelope horns, all framed by graceful windows.


P1030730

The armoire moved to the opposite wall and is now flanked by two slip covered armchairs…one of them sports our very favorite Union Jack pillows (done in a very cheeky pale blue…)


P1030714

Looking into the dining room….


P1030716

Here’s the impressive 19th century Dutch dining table, the homeowner’s own rustic buffet and lovely Louis Philippe mirror…and an edgy abstract by George Marks. We love the pattern that the driftwood lantern throws up on the ceiling. Sam also insisted that we remove the seagrass rug…and voila: the room feels even more spacious. The French doors lead to a cozy little porch that the owners use all the time.


P1030722

We couldn’t live without the existing Italian armchairs having a major role in the room…we love the play of curvy Italianate married with chunky and strong Dutch. Quite the European union.


P1030743

The homeowner already had the crusty buffet and Sam had the brilliant inspiration to pair it with an elegant Louis Philippe mirror that the client already owned.












P1030732



The dining room with George Marx’s abstract hanging behind the table.




P1030740

Flanked by two floor-to-ceiling windows, this curvy French table is the perfect backdrop for crystal, African antelope horns and a sexy painting by Tracy Sharp.






The story has a happy ending: the client arrived home with lamps softly glowing, candles lit and everything looking cozy and inviting. She was happy and loves her new spaces. And we were thrilled with the results of our very first professional “install” -- and can’t wait for the next chance to mix, marry and merge all the things we love.Ta ta.