24 March 2013

The PB Murals: The Countryside Wall

The corner showing the market wall and the countryside wall, above the boulangerie
The final wall in my series of murals at PB Boulangerie Bistro, in Wellfleet, MA, is all about the countryside surrounding Lyon and some very important players in the gastronomic life of the city.
 It's fair to say that wine is at least as important as food, in this region of France. While Lyon lies between Beaujolais, Burgundy and the Rhône-Alpes (and is technically situated in the Rhône-Alpes region), Beaujolais is the prevalent wine in the area, so I painted vineyards of Gamay grapes, the primary grape used in the production of this wine. Here, workers are picking the grapes to go into the season's vintage.
The gamay grape is deep purple at it's ripest. I painted my grapes a little brighter so they would show up from a distance.
The rooster is one of the most common symbols of France, but it also means good luck for a chef to have a rooster in his restaurant.
The signs point to the two big wine making regions around Lyon.
Joseph Rispoli, father of Chef Philippe, along with eleven of his buddies - all of whom are movers and shakers in the world of French food and wine - got together and bought a vineyard in Régnié, which has just begun to produce wine. The vigneron (winemaker) is Patrick Péchard, one of the twelve gourmet pals. The bottle pictured on the barrel is their wine, a Beaujolais-Villages called Cuvée Croix Penet. (I am writing a separate post about this group and their wine - coming soon.)
The goose who has wandered up to Joseph is a foie gras producing goose. Not only is foie gras adored all over France, but it is a staple of Chef Philippe's menu at PB Bistro. I personally can't get enough of his Seared Foie Gras with Tarte Tatin and Candied Nuts, deglazed with Sherry Vinegar. It is sweet, salty, savory, nutty, crunchy, smooth... rich and earthy, piquant and unexpected - every bite a delight for the senses! (I'll have to order it again soon, so I can take a picture to share - how's that for an excuse?!)
The pigs are so important for the vast array of charcuterie that comes from France, especially Lyon. From pâtés to sausages to hams, charcuterie in all its forms can be found on every restaurant and home table. Chef Philippe makes his own charcuterie at PB Bistro.
 The best beef in France comes from the cattle raised in and around Charolles, in the Bourgogne region, near Lyon.
A fun video of Charolais cattle being shown off at an annual festival - French pride in their animals is clearly evident!
Dotting the hillsides behind the cows are sheep and goats. Cheeses from this region come from the milk of all three animals. Some cheeses are made with a mixture of two.
Rolling hillsides with charming red-roofed towns dot the landscape. The red roofs originated with the Romans, who created terra cotta here. Almost every town has its own little antique church. Often, unexpected treasures of art, such as murals, can be discovered within their walls.
The Romans occupied this area as long ago as 43BC and Roman ruins are still plentiful in the countryside around Lyon. Here, I have painted the remains of an aqueduct, built by the Romans to carry water from local rivers to the towns, as well as to vineyards and fields for irrigation. And yes, the Gallo-Romans planted vines for wine here, all those centuries ago. Fragments of pottery found in an ancient vineyard near Gevrey-Chambertin date it to the 1st century BC.

23 March 2013

The PB Murals: The Market Wall

Le marché - the market scene - is another that might be found in any French town or city. Here I have focused on Lyonnais specialties.
The chickens in their charming wooden crate are Poulets de Bresse, an exquisitely tasty chicken raised near Lyon and considered to be the best chicken in France, if not the world. They are corn fed and free range. The great Lyonnais chef, Paul Bocuse, has helped to make them known world-wide, but they have been classified as AOC (appellation d'origine contrôlée - a trademark of local authenticity) since 1862. A fun fact about the Bresse chickens is that they are thought to be similar to the French flag (le tricolor de bleu/blanc/rouge) - blue legs, white feathers and red crests.
This video features a young, award-winning éléveur of volailles de Bresse. To those who aren't sure how Bresse could be so much better, he says, "Once you have it on your plate you will immediately know the difference."
The cheese seller offers local cheeses, such as St. MarcellinReblochonfromages de chèvresarôme de LyonComté and Époisses. (I just happen to adore all of these cheeses, tops among them being St. Marcellin and Epoisses. Jack is a Reblochon lover.)
 A selection of our favorite cheeses - all from the area around Lyon (l to r): ReblochonSt. MarcellinÉpoisses & Comté

The table in front features Pascaline Rispoli, mother of Chef Philippe, selling her homemade confitures (jams). While she does not really sell at the market in Lyon, her wonderful jams are available for purchase at PB...while they last. (If you miss out on getting some, just wait until Pascaline visits again!)
A selection of Pascaline's delectable jams at PB Boulangerie Bistro
The charcutier (cured meat seller) has hams, pâtés and other prepared meats beloved in Lyon. The poissoniers (fish sellers) in the foreground are offering local fish, as well as imported Cape Cod lobsters & Wellfleet oysters. This is fairly unrealistic, but we couldn’t resist! Even the people looking at the fish are Cape Codders on vacation. She is sporting her French straw market bag and he wears espadrilles, both newly purchased on this vacation.
Pigeons (squabs) are hunted and cooked in many French homes and restaurants.
Cooked squab is very flavorful - like a cross between dark meat chicken and duck.
The guignol (puppet theater) is another cherished tradition in Lyon. PB has some Lyonnais guinol puppets on display in their bistro.
In the upper left corner of this wall is the coat of arms of Lyon and the map in the upper right corner shows Lyon’s location in France.

22 March 2013

The PB Murals: The Vieux Lyon Wall

Vieux Lyon (meaning Old Lyon) is the oldest part of the city, dating to at least Roman times. In 942, Lyon became part of the Kingdom of Burgundy, and later, in 1307, became part of the Kingdom of France. 

This photo (above) of La Place de la Trinité was my inspiration for this wall

The remarkably charming buildings in this part of Lyon are plaster colored in the wonderful pink, peach & ochre tones you see here. Medieval and renaissance architectural details abound here. The streets are cobblestone.

The organ grinder with his limonaire (crank organ music box or hurdy gurdy), similar to the one played and celebrated at PB Bistro, is a common site in Lyon. Many still keep a traditional little monkey as their sidekick. He attracts customers and collects donations, and I suppose, is the organ grinder's best pal. 
I gave my organ grinder (picture on right) the look of a gitan (gypsy) with his purple vest and yellow silk neckerchief with red polka dots. (See my two most popular posts, ever - both on French gypsies here and here.)

At PB Bistro - the wonderfully entertaining William (pronounced weel-YAHM), playing the limonaire during a recent upbeat evening
The sidewalk dining bistro scene is typical of such settings, all over France. The charcuterie platter with mustard, cornichons and sliced baguette is commonly enjoyed in Lyon. I decided to put university students at the bistro table in the mural, as a reminiscence of my own student days in France. We felt we were so sophisticated and grown-up, drinking wine for lunch and eating such amazing foods, and the truth is...I still believe we were!
The blackboard has a menu du jour that would be seen at many a Lyonnais bistro, including Bugnes de Lyon (miniature beignets). This particular menu was dreamed up for me by Pascaline, Philippe's maman.
The chef (who bears a slight resemblance to PB's own Philippe Rispoli) is standing in front of a Bouchon Lyonnais, a sort of restaurant typical of and specific to Lyon. Bouchons are bistros, serving traditional cuisine lyonnaise, such as homemade sausages, duck pâté, and other charcuteries, fish quenelles (dumplings), coq au vin, chicken stuffed with morels, and other hearty foods.

The épicerie is a grocery store which carries fresh produce and dairy products. As in this picture, épiceries display their products out on the sidewalk in all but the most inclement weather.
The baker represents both a boulanger (breads chef) and a pâtissier (pastry chef), both of whom are so important to the daily life of French citizens... and to the customers and staff at PB!  As in France, the French bakers at PB Boulangerie are there all night, every night, baking everything fresh for the next morning.
Above, just a small hint of the outstanding pastries and breads displayed at PB Boulangerie.
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