Monday, January 25, 2010

Bar Hemingway

The hotel Ritz has always been a favorite of many of the world's wealthiest people and famous people that include King Edward VII, Elton John, Princess Diana, Greta Garbo and Charlie Chaplin. Luxurious suites have been named after some of its previous guests such as Coco Chanel who made the Ritz her home for more than thirty years and Ernest Hemingway who had a bar named after him.

The Bar Hemingway that was named after Ernest Hemingway, as it was his best loved bar, has been restored to its original appearance, with rich wood panelling on the walls and deep leather arm chairs. Adorning the walls there are original photographs that were taken by the author and they provide a record of places that inspired this famous writer.

The Bar Hemingway at the Ritz has been ranked as the best bar in the world by Forbes magazine, plus it is situated right in the heart of Paris near place de la Concorde square.

Under a sweeping decree in 2006, smoking has been banned in every commercial corner of “entertainment and conviviality” — from the toniest Parisian nightclub to the humblest village cafe.

No matter that cigarette is a French word. Or that the great icons of French creativity — Colette to Cocteau, Camus to Coco Chanel — all smoked. Or that Paris boasts a Museum of Smoking.

“We are not taking sides,” said Colin Peter Field, the head bartender at Bar Hemingway who was voted the world's best barman in 2001. The bar will continue to sell 40 to 50 types of upscale cigars and is studying plans to renovate its outdoor spaces to accommodate smokers.

To date there is no ban in effect on porcelain cigars....

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Apricot Confiture

Fresh apricots are plentiful and at the their peak in June in France. Apricot jam is one of the easiest jams to make because apricots have a medium amount of pectin so they do not tend to underset or overset. Jam making is a tradition well worth keeping when produce is in season to extend a little bit of summer all year long.

Apricot Confiture [kawn-fee-TYOOR] French for “jam” or “preserves”

2 1/2 pounds apricots, just ripe
3 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup of water
1 lemon, juiced

Place a few small saucers in the freezer to use to check the setting point.
Cut the apricots in half and remove the pits. Reserve four or five pits, and discard the rest. Cut the apricots into 1-inch pieces. Wrap the pits in a kitchen towel, and hit them with a hammer to break the hard outer shell, but keep the soft inner seed, which resembles an almond, intact.

Note: In France, the apricot pits are used in confections and confiture for flavoring. Remove them from the jam before ladling them into the jars, however, as they are poisonous if eaten.

In a large heavy-bottomed pot or jam pan, combine the apricots, sugar, soft inner seeds and water. Stir to combine.
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring occasionally with a long wooden spoon skimming foam as necessary, until reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. Test the jam when the juice has thickened and the bubbles are large. The setting point has been reached when a drop placed on a chilled saucer forms a skin that is visible when lightly pushed. Remove from the heat and ladle into dry, warm jars and process as normal.