Most people think of raspberries as a mid-summer fruit, but I seem to have a variety that crops late, and that suits me just fine.
As we head through September I have trouble keeping up with my raspberry crop, they are working overtime to produce huge juicy fruit, that is calling out to me.
Some of the raspberries are picked and simply frozen on trays, ready to use as a raspberry coulis in the middle of winter, but of course the largest part of the crop is transformed into raspberry jam, a favourite in this house.
A favorite with me too, …. why? Because nothing could be easier!
From me to you, this is the simplest jam recipe you will every find; foolproof and delicious.
one: pick your raspberries
two: weigh them
three: measure out an equal weight of sugar
four: tip sugar and fruit into a wide jam saucepan
five: bring to the boil, stir to make sure that the sugar and fruit is well mixed and pop a couple of saucers into the deep freeze for testing the jam
six: make a quick phone call/put together a bouquet/ bring in your laundry from the garden ….. whatever …. just wait for about 15 minutes then stir the bubbling fruit mix and spoon a little on to one of the cold plates
seven: wait a minute then push the ‘jam’ with your finger. If it crinkles then you are done! If it is still very fluid then let it boil a few minutes more.
eight: with raspberry jam you are looking for a fresh, summer flavour, so be sure not to over cook the fruit. Once you think it is ready to set then turn off the heat and let it cool a little before ladling into warm glass jars (I always put mine in the dishwasher before I’m going to make jam to be sure they are clean and warm)
nine: leave to cool
ten: label, tie down, gift, whatever …. what is sure is that you will enjoy!
My girlfriend Marie-Laure Daveau Queysanne is an antique dealer at the Paris flea market at St Ouen. She has her shop in the marché Paul Bert which is the part of St Ouen that I go to the most often because I love the feel of the place and the mix of vendors, and of course it’s on the doorstep of the restaurant Ma Cocotte ! (a detail that I rarely waste!)
The first time we met I noticed Marie Laure from afar. The flea markets are predominantly masculine, I’d say that over 60 per cent of the vendors are men, which is pretty typical of the antiquing world here. Marie-Laure stands out in the crowd, with her beautiful white hair, easy smile and casual chic clothing. She is ‘petite’, feminine and she walks with a confident and energetic stride.
She has that French chic for mixing a black two-piece suit, with leopard print trainers, a crisp white shirt and beautiful designer jewellry which are part of her signature style.
She lives just on the outskirts in Paris, in a house that resembles her: cosy, feminine and filled with objects and pieces that each have a meaning or hold a memory. The colours and textures are strong and generous.
A charming garden that is filled with summer roses , and indoors the careful arrangement of objects, furniture and eclectic art.
Marie Laure has sold at the Paris flea market for many years. It is only open from Friday to Monday, but the remainder of the week is quickly filled. It’s important that each stand changes its display regularly, and if a piece of furniture doesn’t sell straight away then it may be removed for a few weeks, and brought out again with a different mix of objects, to show it in a new light.
A big part of my pleasure in going to St Ouen, is wandering around, enjoying the vignettes created to lure in prospective clients. These dealers are all creative, beauty loving professionals, who deal in treasure every day without ever growing blasé and losing their eye. And of course they all love to add flowers to their stand; Each Friday, a florist sets up a temporary base, as she delivers flowers to the stands and vendors all over the market.
A specialised dealer like Marie Laure knows her clientele well. During the week she spends time sourcing new items to sell, and preparing her next display.
Most of the stands at the flea market are quite small, and at the weekend, as you walk down the narrow alleys, it’s not unusual to see vendors sitting together sharing a coffee or even playing cards. Because selling antiques is not just question of choosing your speciality, and sourcing the special pieces, it is also a waiting game.
The different parts of the flea market are referred to as ‘markets’ or ‘villages’. And there is definitely a village feel about them. It would honestly be impossible to visit the whole place in a day, or even a weekend, so most buyers have their favourite vendors and favourite markets and return regularly to see what’s new.
Each vendor has their speciality, be it art, kitchen ware, antique jewellry, or furniture. Marie Laure has created her niche in art and furniture by designers with whom she has a personal connection.
On her stand this week she has works of art by Fabrice Penaux, an artist who she met and immediately liked several years ago. She regularly shows his work
She also has a personal connection to the sculptor and furniture designer Alexandre Noll. She has known his family for years and at the moment she has several pieces of furniture from the Atelier Noll, as well as jewellry by Catherine Noll, the granddaughter.
If you would like to meet Marie Laure and check out her selection of antiques, then I invite you to to St Ouen and visit the Marché Paul Bert, alley 2 , stand 127. Like most of the vendors she does not have a website and prefers to talk to her clients than to sell on-line, but you can see some of her pictures on her Instagram page HERE.
If you are in France this weekend then you need to know about the French Heritage Days, or Les Journées du Patrimoine.
Back in 1983, the French Ministry for Culture decided that all French citizens had the right to see inside the many magnificent buildings that make up the country’s heritage. From the Presidential palace, l’Elysée, as well as other ministerial buildings like the national archives in the photo above, but also private homes and gardens of architectural interest.
With time the movement has spread to many other European countries, and in France this year there will be over 17,000 buildings open to the public.
If you have ever longed to see inside a château, or to check out the corridors of a ministry, or even to take a guided tour of a railway station or a fortified farm then this is your opportunity. There are other visits linked to traditions and craftsmanship, such as a tour of bell maker’s foundry in Normandy, or a potters workshop in the Loire.
There is a very good website that helps you see exactly what is happening in each part of France, as well as in Paris , click HERE to see more.