Sunday, May 30, 2010

Healthy Cause

Beach Beauties

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Ladies on the beach at Cassis

Thirteen years ago, during her medical checkup for her fourth birthday, my daughter’s best friend was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes. As the friendship matured and we became closer to this sweet girl and her wonderful parents, we learned much more about the life threatening and disruptive effects of this disease and determined that we should try to do something, in our own small way, to help find a cure.

We’re fortunate to have a beautiful property in the South of France, Les Murets, and with the generous help of Delta Air Lines, we were able to offer our house as a live auction item for the Juvenile Diabetes Atlanta Gala. We were thrilled that it was very profitable for the cause. But you can’t offer the same thing year after year, so we needed to do something that would spice it up a little.

I’m not sure how this idea evolved, but I decided to throw myself in to the mix and offer a week at the house, with yours truly acting as the chef, chauffeur, tour guide and bottle washer (although it turns out there is nothing more efficient or helpful in a kitchen than a group of eight women, so I don’t think I ever washed a single bottle!). The week was a terrific success and set a record for any single item raised during the live auction of the JDRF Gala. Equally importantly, everyone bonded nicely and had a great time.

Many of the women on the original trip decided they wanted to do the trip again, and of course I was more than happy to oblige. So this year, four of the original group, along with two lovely newcomers, joined me for another trip of a lifetime – and with their generous contributions, they actually surpassed the amount raised several years ago. (All you have to do is attend a JDRF Gala, and your heart will be warmed by the number of generous and committed people who have poured their lives in to finding a cure for this disease.)

For me personally, this trip has magically turned in to the gift that keeps giving. What started off as a fundraising event for a cause that my family supports very personally, has actually now broadened in to another business venture that is a natural extension for Huff Harrington Fine Art. This year, we will lead four trips to Provence, each one with different people and slightly different interests.

Could I have ever asked for more when I originally suggested this trip to JDRF? I don’t think so. Although the JDRF family is the first to wish for its own demise, and of course I agree with that, (for that would mean a cure for diabetes), I have to say that I am enormously grateful to this organization for what it has brought me personally: The chance to share my passion and love with extraordinary people for the benefit of an important cause, and the chance to build another business venture that keeps our gallery growing, happy and healthy. I’d call that a wonderfully American win/win! We hope you enjoy the photos from this special trip to Remember.

P.S. We still have a few openings for our October 2 to 9, 2010 trip to Provence. For information, please call the Gallery or visit our website.

A Day in Cassis

A Calanque in Cassis

A Calanque in Cassis

Barbara and her toyIngenious Iphone: Never miss another photo-op

Sally and Terry on the beachThe idyllic Cote d'Azur - a memory that will last forever.

Dipping her toes in the Mediterranean Dipping toes in the Mediterranean

Vera in Cassis

Mediterranean port villages provide the best photo backdrops!


On the terrace

Home Sweet Home: on the terrace at Les Murets


A Day at the St. Remy Market

(for more pictures, see our last blog: Hooked On…Orange)

A vision in pink and orange

Dining al fresco – a vision in pink & orange

Eggplant perfection at le B du P

Eggplant perfection at Ann’s favorite restaurant – Le Bistrot du Paradou

Molly and Barbara with their Orange Striped Market bags

Pink & orange goodies from the market


At Edith Mezard's

At Edith Mezard’s, from which our delicious candles hail!


Chappelle Sainte Sixte

Our ladies of the Wind


Terri in the Wind

A vision in blue in St. Hillaire

Mary Beth St. Hilaire


For more information about the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, click here (national chapter) and here (Georgia chapter).




Monday, May 10, 2010

Heaven on Earth

Postcards from Paris...


Entrance to Le Train Bleu Restaurant in the Gare de Lyon, Paris

Anyone who has ever hopped on a train at the Gare de Lyon in Paris has probably been aware of Le Train Bleu, the venerable restaurant that sits up high over the quays and is decorated to the max in sumptuous 19th century rococo perfection. When Huffingtons take the train, it’s usually rush rush rush to a quick and fast connection, with no time to enjoy a croissant, let alone a fabulous four course meal. We’ve peaked into the restaurant, from time to time, and it has certainly piqued our interest. But the idea of actually sitting down to a sumptuous, leisurely meal there has been an elusive dream … until now.


It so happened that on Valentine’s day, this solo Huffington gave herself all the time in the world to make a train connection and decided to indulge herself in a romantic dinner for une, at Le Train Bleu. Reservations were made long in advance just to enhance the anticipation of this magical event.


I love my traveling companions and love my big and tall Valentine, but when in France, I have to admit, it’s a wonderful luxury to eat in a fine restaurant toute seule. My luncheon at Le Train Bleu was no exception. The French admire people who take the time to eat and who obviously enjoy a great meal. You will always get lots of attention and respect from the waiter for ordering with care and savoring the food. And if you go so far as to invite the sommelier for a little advice about wine, you will be the darling of the restaurant.

shipping expenses candles feb 2010 409 My dinner companion, watching over me.


I was very comfortable in my luxurious velvet tufted banquette with plenty of room to sit back, relax and enjoy the incredible décor (and snap a few pictures, surreptitiously). I started by ordering a lovely glass of Pommery champagne. When I heard that familiar “pop” (admittedly a sound that makes all of us Huffingtons jump with joy), I knew that we were off to a great start.


After that, a little “Amuse Bouche” (the only possible translation would be something like “tickle your appetite” ) of caviar, cucumber and sour cream followed by my first course, a somewhat heavy Saucisse en brioche, which was appropriately rich and delicious. After the champagne and the healthy red wine that followed, my lunch was a bit of a buttery blur, which entailed some wonderful veal in a white sauce accompanied by loads of winter veggies and followed by a sumptuous cheese course that was ripened to perfection.


As with many French restaurants, I found the first part of the meal quite speedy and efficient, while flagging down the bustling waiters for my final “addition” was much more of a challenge, almost to the point of a little panic. By the time I rushed to the train, put my bags up and sat down in my lovely solo seat, I heard the whistle blow and discovered that I’d made the connection with just one minute to spare. I know someone wiser might have skipped dessert to avoid this kind of rush, but this little gourmande had to have it all. Mmmmm …


Here’s a bit of advice to those who want to indulge in this marvelous experience but may not have two leisurely hours to spare: Order the 45 minute menu. My neighbors had it and it looked marvelous. The first course was foie gras (of course) followed by a piping hot Gigot d’Agneau et Gratin de Pommes de terre a la Fourme d’Ambert, which means lamb accompanied by sliced potatoes baked with a delicious bubbly (and marvelously smelly) cheese, followed by a café gourmand, which is always a wise choice because it is one of the few times in France that you can actually have your coffee and dessert at the same time (normally terribly frowned upon in French restaurants).

shipping expenses candles feb 2010 415

But regardless if you go quick and speedy, or slow and leisurely, the next time you are in Paris, treat yourself to a grand lunch at Le Train Bleu. The food, the comfy seats, the ambiance and the amazing decor all contribute to making it pretty darn close to heaven on earth.

shipping expenses candles feb 2010 421

Ta ta,


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Huffing it Alone

Postcards from Paris...


A Huffington is on her way to Paris, on a solo trip for a few days, and has been musing about the joys of solo travel …

La Femme Mysterieuse 24 x 20

La Femme Mysterieuse by Lorraine Christie

A quick disclaimer before I start: I love traveling with my family, friends and fellow Huffingtons and I’d never trade traveling with them for traveling alone. But having said that, there are times when you either have to travel solo or choose to, and when that happens, it can be a wonderful gift to be relished and appreciated. At least I think so, for the following reasons:

- You can spread out in the hotel room and take up as much room as you want

- Especially on those first jet lagged nights, you can toss and turn to your heart’s content, without bothering anyone

- You don’t have to worry about running out of hotel shampoo and you can use all the hangers in the closet (and take the top drawers in the dresser)

Hotel Room

- You can order room service! Or you can go out and buy your food and wine and make your own little dinner. (Sometimes I order something small from room service, just to get the set up and silverware, and complement that with take out from a local deli or “traiteur.”)

- You don’t ever have to say, “What do you want to do today? “

- You can go through a museum at your own pace, spending hours in front of a favorite painting, while skipping entire civilizations if you want to


- You can try on as many pairs of shoes as you want to


- You can say yes to the whipped cream on the hot chocolate

Hot Chocolate

- You can wear what you want the minute you step in (or out of) your room

Jackie O

- You can eavesdrop on interesting conversations (I heard all about a remarkable 19th century female artist – a contemporary of Manet, whom Cezanne worshiped, and who until now has been unknown – but couldn’t quite overhear her name, so she’s still unknown to me!)

- You can order however many courses you want without having to synchronize your meal in a restaurant

Dining Out

- You can justify a very expensive restaurant, because dinner or lunch is so much less when it’s just for one. I especially recommend doing this in France – and really all over Europe, I think -- where the restaurants will treat you with very much respect even if you are a woman dining by herself.

In fact I’ll end with a funny little anecdote. Several years ago, I was traveling alone on Mother’s Day. Never one to feel bereft, I decided to treat myself to a very nice restaurant and hotel for the night knowing that my sweet family would surely approve. I picked the Auberge de Noves, famous for its fine cuisine (and proximity to the Avignon train station where I had to catch an early morning train), and I ordered a full course meal delivered to my room.

Auberge du Noves

I was prepared to have a glass of ordinary wine to go along with it, but then I changed my mind and called the sommelier for some suggestions. He was thrilled and said it would be an honor, Madame, to match my meal with a perfectly complementary wine. After asking a few questions about what I liked and what I was eating, he brought me a very fine half bottle of Burgundy, a 1998 Saint-Joseph Domaine Courbis, for which I was too embarrassed to ask the price.

It turns out that it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had and the wine tasted like liquid velvet. It was perfection.

But after relishing every bite and sip, I started to feel a little guilty about the mysterious cost and worried about the wine bill that would face me in the morning. (And what a terrible downer from Mother’s Day to be doing dishes in the hotel dining room!) It’s fair to say that I lost sleep over it – even though there was nothing I could do.

When I finally checked out in the morning, I quickly perused the bill and braced myself for a horrible shock. But the shock was that this exquisite bottle of liquid velvet cost only $16! If I’d known it upfront, I would have been spared all that unnecessary (and so female) angst and could have just enjoyed the moment. But then again, traveling solo and treating ourselves takes some getting used to and it doesn’t always come naturally. So maybe the final point should be:

- Traveling solo is a treat: Enjoy it!