Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Good Coffee? In Paris? Mais oui!

As I said in my summer catch up post a couple of weeks ago (here), I have a friend who spent a delightful wintry Christmas in Paris (reads shades of green over this~!!). Catching up with her about her trip, and chatting about coffee in Paris, reminded me of a post I have been meaning to write for quite some time.

When I first returned to Paris after an absence of more than 10 years, I had a wonderful time amid the excitement of revisiting the city; exploring it with my young family and through my children's eyes.

However, with everything to love about sitting and eating in a cafe in Paris, the coffee being served was not, and became my one great disappointment on that trip.  It seemed that 'good coffee' and 'Paris' did not want to be in the same sentence.

'Flat white' at Kooka Boora
As someone who thoroughly enjoys a velvety 'flat white' to start the day, and someone willing to go out of my way to 'get a good one', a trickle of bitter brown liquid and some warmed packaged heat-treated milk, does not constitute a coffee to be savoured.  Merely one to be endured.

On starting my little business, and therefore making more regular trips, I decided to be a lot more prepared and did some online research before I headed off again.

Well, I am certainly not the only one in the blogosphere to have been politely trying all sorts of combinations of un caféun café crèmeun crème or un express to find out what seems most like the Australian 'flat white' or 'latte' (for an technical explanation see here).  As it turned out there were many like-minded individuals saying: the French are great at so many things but 'what the ...?' when it came to Parisian coffee!

Kooka Boora Café
And boy did that research pay off!  Not only did I find some great coffee, but some quirkly little cafes and places to visit, in areas I may not have otherwise explored~!

And over the last few years, the wheels of change are steadily turning and this will now be one of the things I look forward to on my upcoming buying trip.

Here are my absolute and favourite top two that are definitely worth going out of your way to find:

KB Café Shop
1. KB Café Shop, 53 rue Trudaine / 62 rue des Martyrs, 9th 
(aka Kooka Boora Café, KB Café)

When travelling I love to live like a local, and rarely visit 'expat enclaves'.  Here I make a major exception.  Excellent coffee, excellent choice of coffee, fast friendly service.  Ceiling high windows, loads of lovely light.  And an atmosphere that is a hybrid of Australian-relaxed and Paris-hip, rolled into one.  Good speed on the free wifi too, if you are in need of some of that also.

Coutume Café image via riccolo

2. Coutume Café, 47 rue de Babylone, 7th

A little out of the way unless you are staying in the 7th, and coincidentally also Australian part-owned, Coutume Cafe has been winning awards for its coffee since it opened in 2011.  It roasts it's own great blend, which is bought and served by other cafes!  To get your bearings: it's around the corner from arguably the best department store in Paris, Le Bon Marché, and 20 minutes walk in one direction is Musée d'Orsay, and about 20 minutes walk in another is the Champ de Mars and La Tour Eiffel.  In a quiet streeet, but the cafe has it's own vibey atmosphere.  A great pit stop if you are planning one of those lovely walks in Paris!  Excellent food and free wifi also. 

KB Cafe, Pigalle
Behind these two is a long list of good cafes, serving good coffee, that I have tried from lists created by others.  So here I share my 'go to guides' for my future trips, from others whose judgement I have found to be excellent.  My advice here is to print them off or save them to your phone, so that you can find something on the go.

David Lebovitz
(I love working my way through David Lebowitz's recommendations on anything food related!) 
** my starting point and have worked my way through most of this list

HiP Paris Blog

Good Coffee in Paris
*latest ones to check out while you're there

Hope you have as much fun exploring these as I did!


Monday, February 18, 2013

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wooden Skis and Boat Oars

Imported from France: the wooden boat oars pictured below and vintage wooden snow skis, recently arrived and in stock now at the Woolloongabba Antique Centre.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Special Order ... Vintage Bally Poster

Do you remember I found and framed a great poster a couple of months back (here)?  As is always the way, a lot of people were interested but it sat in the store for awhile before it sold.  Then just since Christmas I have had several people asking after it and whether I could find another!

I have been looking for another Vintage "Bally J" poster just like it to frame again, and my searches until now haven't come up with another the same size and condition.

But the timing must have been just right!

This one is a little larger than the other, but you don't really get a choice in what is available at the time - this is vintage after all!

Once it arrived, I was too nervous of it's condition to touch it, and took it straight to my framer for the big reveal.  And as we unrolled it slowly and carefully, we discovered it was in absolutely fantastic condition!

A few little fold marks here and there, from where it was rolled as paper, but nothing that didn't add a touch of character.  It travelled particularly well, as it had already been adhered to an excellent quality canvas and so will be preserved very well for years to come.

Next choice: to decide on a frame stock; and the customer had requested white wood - beautiful, simple, classic choice.

Final measuring was a little difficult and required two people to hold the canvas so it did not stretch or sag, as the poster and the canvas was larger than the counter!

It has taken about three weeks to source and frame, and is due for completion at the end of this week.  I'm really looking forward to see how this one turns out - it's like re-visiting an old friend to see this poster again!

I'm off on a buying trip in the next couple of months (more on that another time), so is there something you just can't seem to find?  Let me know, and I'll see what I can find through my contacts now or when I go!

All the best,

Monday, February 11, 2013

Flower Markets

I was doing the rounds of the auction houses this morning, when on the street I came across these lovely rusty pots, with cascading foliage of white and green bouganvillea.

Inspired by this pretty spot of greenery, I decided to head to the flower markets on my way back - to pick up my own little something green to brighten my 'neutrals and naturals' inspired office.

Little did I know the visual flower-lovers feast that awaited me when I walked into the coldroom!  With St Valentine's Day approaching, the markets have hundreds of square metres of roses: pink, yellows, and at least 4 different shades of red!

I was literally blown away.  And the staff were working their hands as fast as they could - wrapping hundreds of sets of red roses singly and by the dozen in preparation for Thursday's onslaught.

After taking a stack of pics, what did I pick up for myself?  Just my two little bunches of green which are brightening my desk right now.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Horsing Around with Vintage Equestrian

As you see from this collection of images, that I have squirrelled away in my own house inspiration file, I do love a line up of riding boots in a hallway.  Love that vintage equestrian look.  

Not in a contrived way, but showing how the inhabitants live and what they like ... a bit of dirt on the boots ... a few scuffs on the shoes ... vintage leather, wooden boot stays and vintage painted country scenes.

I don't know why I love it or where this desire comes from for me ... and may hark back to some equestrian gene .... perhaps from my great grandma Kirkwood, who was apparently a brilliant horsewoman, having lived on the family property since she was married.  And as family legend would have it, Connie was still riding horses only a few years before she died at the age of 96.

No boots here but that's all it needs to be perfect!

Even a run of wellington boots and shoes some how screams to me,  "I have life!", "I am lived in!".  

What do you think?  Do you like a horsey equestrian look?  Or do you like a lighter touch but enjoy a run of shoes near the door?  Or ~ do you have no choice because that is where the family leaves them!

Love to hear your thoughts.

Have a great weekend; we have one of our last few quietish ones before kid's sports takes over nearly every weekend day until August!  So I have a few projects on to clean and paint some lovely items to put out at the Woolloongabba Store next week, and will play show and share with you next week also!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wicker Trunk and Riding Boots

These vintage french riding boots and the french wicker trunk are currently available at the Woolloongabba store.  I love that these two pairs of boots, with the original wooden boot-stays, look like two different body shapes side by side ... one curvaceous and one lean and straight!

On these ones there is a stamped detail in french on each individual wooden sections of the boot stays - "G" or "D" - gauche (left) and droit (right).  A lovely detail in an old script.

Just so the pieces were not jumbled when the wearer was hurriedly getting out of the boots.  It's these very simple but practical touches I love on items from a bygone era......

For ideas on how these come up beautifully in hallways, I'll post more images tomorrow.


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