Friday, June 04, 2010

Inside the Chateau

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Chateau Dumas. It was a sweltering day in July 2005 when my Mum and I turned into the driveway. At first we thought the Coach House was
the Chateau - it’s the first building you see - and I remember my heart sank. Only temporarily, though - that first sight of the Chateau as you pass through the Coach House completely takes your breath away. Even now I can’t quite come to terms with its scale and the fact that the exterior is rendered in a subtle soft shade of pink.

We were met in the courtyard gardens by the owner Madame Constantin. Monsieur C, a talented painter, had died and she was planning to move to Paris. She led us inside to a square room with polished stone tiles. It felt like entering a cave. The entire room, including the ceiling was painted deep orange and the walls were hung with huge painted canvases. Classical Doric columns had been skillfully painted on the walls at regular intervals around the room and pieces of Napoleonic-style furniture had been arranged between them. We picked our way by the light of table lamps.

The dining room was equally impenetrable. It was painted a deep red (ceiling too) with a head of Julius Caesar painted on one wall, huge paintings on the others and a life-size marble statue in the chimney recess. The salon was no different except it was stuffed full of Biedermeier style sofas upholstered in acid lemon fabric and the curtains and shutters were drawn against the intense heat. This pattern of closed shutters, dark walls and ceilings, trompe l’oeil wall art and huge paintings continued and by the time we reached the first floor the only difference was that deep greens and turquoises had also been added!

Two hours later and all we’d managed to view was the Chateau. We still had the Coach House, swimming pool and barn to go! By the end, Mum and I were totally overwhelmed but utterly exhilarated. That evening was spent planning, plotting and working on a strategy to convince my husband that we simply had to buy Chateau Dumas.

Guest Post by Lizzie Ezekial, owner of Chateau Dumas

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Last Call for France!

As many of you know, we have started taking groups of women to France every summer for our Chateau Getaway. We stay in the lovely, 18th century Chateau Dumas just an hour north of Toulouse. Besides immersing ourself in the countryside of the South of France, we visit flea markets, brocantes, a hundred year old hat factory (where you can design your own hat), local craftsmen, and food markets. We spend a day with a master dyer learning how to dye our old linens with woad, as well as learn jewelry and flower making. We still have a few spots left in our first week, July 17th - 24th - let me know if you yearn to live in a chateau for a week and dream in French! It's a magical trip! Here's a peek at our getaway last summer....more to come!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Lucky 13

The Restaurant: The Bazaar at SLS by Jose Andres

The Food:

Sweet potato chips
Yogurt, tamarind, star anise

Modern and traditional

Tortilla de patatas ìnew wayî
Potato foam, egg 63, caramelized onions

Jicama wraps
Mint, basil, pickled ginger, cucumbers and coconut dressing

Organized Caesar
Quail egg, parmesan

Apple and fennel
Manchego cheese, walnuts, Sherry vinegar

Baby beets
Citrus, pistachio, Sherry dressing

Not your everyday Caprese
Cherry tomatoes, liquid mozzarella

Baby Japanese peaches and kiwi
Greek yogurt and zataar

Brussels sprouts
Lemon purÈe, apricots, grapes, lemon air

Seared persimmons with JamÛn IbÈrico Fermin
Pedro XimÈnez reduction, walnuts
Ottoman carrot fritters
Apricots, pistachio sauce

Watermelon tomato skewers
Pedro XimÈnez reduction, lemon dressing

Jicama wrapped guacamole
Micro cilantro, corn chips

The olives actually exploded in your mouth......and that was just the beginning!

Sofia heard (from Anderson Cooper on 60 minutes) that nobody could get into The Bazaar - it was booked all season. Sofia got on-line, made reservations for Memorial Day and we got in. Last night, John, Sofia, Gracie and I had our minds blown at this totally unique, nitrogen air, foam food-infused, restaurant in Los Angeles. Sofia said the best part of the night was when the waiter come over to the table, pointed at her and said - "She really get's it - I can tell she's the one who's running this night - she loves the food!" And it was true - Sofia was in her element. This morning, the teenager (!) came out to breakfast and said "Mom - it was really all about the experience!" And now I know.