Holiday guest post! // Noël à Dijon!

One of my BFFs, Dianne, is now living in Dijon, France with her husband!  (They’ve been living in Spain, where her husband is from, for the past four years.)  She has a blog documenting their new French life: Au soleil, su la pluie.  Dan and I are trying to plan a trip to visit them this spring!  I’ve asked her to send me a piece of Christmas Noël in her little town, and that’s exactly what she’s done!  Thank you so much, Dianne!  Miss you! xo

The Christmas season has been so very jolie in Dijon, here’s to enjoying the season a la vie en rose!

Garlands of lights canopy the streets and twinkle at night and boughs of holly and mistletoe are decking out the city and mini Charlie Brown trees brighten the sidewalks with their green and
red bulbs.

On the weekends regal plazas have become children’s ski parks and the scent of vin chaud and roasting chestnuts fills the air and make the perfect snack for keeping warm and shopping.

(That’s Dianne – the one with the Santa hat, not the dude with the oysters!)

The market is busy with people lining up to get cheese, foie gras, turkey, escargot, and oysters for their Christmas Réveillon feasts. And everyday local bakeries are taking orders for the annual buttercream wonders bûche de Noël.

Want to add some France to your celebration? Enjoy a bûche de Noël (try the bake-along recipe!), string some pain d’épice (gingerbread) cookies onto the tree, spice up some warm mulled wine and if you’re brave enough some garlicky escargot-and most of all enjoy the time with family and friends!

Joyeaux noel a tous!


why tartine?

It’s pretty clear that I love Tartine – the bakery, the cookbooks, the restaurant Bar Tartine (which I haven’t even spoken of yet!), and I am obviously such a fan of the owners – they have celebrity status in my eyes – we’re talking major, like Brad and Angelina famous.  Before I started this whole project at the end of September, I did not have Tartine on the brain like I do now.  It did have a special loaf-sized place in my heart, though, as I’ve already mentioned nearly two trillion times over the past two months or so. 

On the flight home from my latest trip to San Francisco, I spent a leg of my journey next to an adorable couple and their sweet little daughter.  As we were talking, I was still on cloud nine from the amazing trip.  (No, that’s not a drug reference.)  I was metaphorically high from the amazing time I had, as I’ve already spelled out in great detail here, here and here, so I was telling them about my project/blog with even more excitement than usually is the case.  They were either very intrigued and interested, or were very good actors convincing me of such things.  After I told the lovely woman I started this whole thing because I just love Tartine, and really missed it, she said, “Okay, but why do you love it so much?”  That’s a great question no one had really asked before, and I realize I haven’t really gone in depth about the real why.

Why Tartine? 

I’ve always loved bakeries.  Over the past four years, I’ve been to Europe twice, spending time in Southern France and the northwest part of Italy.  Traveling through Southern France, and visiting smaller towns where everyone makes daily trips to the one local bakery, made me fall in love with the concept of having “your regular bakery” – a place like Cheers where everybody knows your name.  Except, Sam is an older woman and she’s serving baguettes and croissants instead of beer and scotch on the rocks.  One visit in particular, we stopped to grab a bite to eat in a quaint boulangerie when we were passing through the small village of Pourrières, France.  The town was so very tiny, and the woman working was adorable and so eager to see travelers.  She got especially happy when I started speaking French with her.  Some guys who looked like they were in the middle of the Tour de France popped in, greeted her by name, and didn’t even order anything in particular.  She just threw together some things for them and they gave her some money.  One of them kissed her on the cheek.  I was so swept up in the moment, I felt like I was in any one of the French movies I was obsessed with in high school.  I had to fight the urge to leap over the counter and give her a kiss on the cheek, like I knew her or something, before we left. 

Exhibit A: the boulangerie in Pourrières, France

Exhibit B: Peering through the window at the woman I did not kiss.

It’s more than just loving the food, although that’s what gets a person hooked to any bakery.  As far as Tartine goes, I love the style of the actual brick-and-mortar bakery, that it’s right on the corner, the people working are happy to be there and seem like we could be pals, the art on the walls is always beautiful to look at, and the music is always right on.  Come on!  There’s an accordion player like every other Friday evening.  It’s magical, especially if you were one of the gazillion ladies in the world (like myself) who was obsessed with the movie Amélie. Tartine is the perfect American translation of that French bakery I’d always envisioned and wanted to frequent.

As you read their cookbooks, it’s impossible not to fall deeper into admiration and respect, or what I call true love, with the bakery.  You read about what brought Chad and Liz (yeah, I think we’re on a first name basis here) to the bakery in the Mission of San Francisco, and the dedication, love and passion for the craft of baking becomes even more clear.  I am all about supporting a business where relaying all of that to the customers, and audience of at-home bakers.  It’s apparent that is of the utmost importance to the folks at Tartine, and it’s what makes me love that bakery the way I do.