Wednesday, November 24, 2010

IT’S BEGINNING TO FEEL A LOT LIKE (HOLIDAY TIME) & HOTEL CHOCOLAT GIFTAWAY

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Ev'rywhere you go;
Take a look in the five and ten glistening once again
With candy canes and silver lanes aglow.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Toys in ev'ry store
But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be
On your own front door.
- Meredith Willson


Stepping outside into the rare glow of sunshine I am kissed by the cool, crisp chill of winter in the air. That special humidity that whispers snow tickles my nose and once again I am excited by the hint of another change of season. I slip on my gloves, tuck my hands deep into my pockets and there is a newfound briskness in my step inspired by the upcoming holiday season electrifying the day.

I love autumn, but this year autumn has meant nothing but rain, rain and more rain. No bright sunny days, no bundling up in gaily-colored sweaters to protect against a joyful, dizzy drop of temperatures, no crunch of golden and red foliage underfoot, only gray, damp days, matted, sticky swaths of dead leaves lying like an old forgotten scarf in the gutter and a disagreeable wet rawness seeping underneath our clothes and into our homes, chilling us to the bone. No pleasure at all.

But with Jack Frost now nipping at our noses, I am starting to get excited! We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, so there is no rational line drawn precisely in between the pages of the calendar, no great November-December divide that signals the go-ahead for the official kick off of the Christmas season. Here in France, the decorations are now being hung up and down every street, swags of lights strung across the roads from shop to shop, streetlamp to streetlamp. White fluffy reindeer and polar bears, tiny elves and princess dolls are finding their way into winter scenes in every store window, snowy white, silver and gold deck every hall, garlands of green and red wind up staircases and grace window displays all over town. Candy store windows are being stacked with beribboned boxes of holiday delights and wine shops are no doubt clearing space for the extra crates of Champagne. No, I don’t celebrate Christmas but no doubt my readers know how much I love the season!



It’s been absolutely crazy in our private little kingdom here what with Simon coming home to visit then leaving for an impromptu trip to New York and, be still my motherly heart, not thinking to contact us for 4 days to let us know he had arrived at his friend’s apartment in one piece. I have been working like a madwoman on projects as yet to be told day and night and even roping my men into the action, handing out duties as a mother doles out cookies to her little ones. Husband’s Mac died and joined wayward, bored, computerless Simon in pushing little old mom out of her desk chair and taking over her laptop, leaving her like a rudderless tugboat in the great ocean, rubbing her hands in worry and pacing back and forth across the wooden floors. I’ve been cooking and baking, testing two fabulous cookbooks (soon to be posted!), organizing the first From Plate to Page workshop and packing for my long-awaited girls’ weekend in London with Meeta, Jeanne and Hilda.



So through all of this as well as the long, long month of rain, I simply had no time to cook or bake anything for this post…. BUT….

As I am now so excited by the lighting of the first Hanukkah candle on Wednesday, December 1st (and JP has already selected our gift for this year YAY! Something absolutely frivolous but simply gorgeous!), I have decided to offer you two gifts: a few favorite Hanukkah dishes that I created and posted over this past year, sweet and savory meals to be eaten and enjoyed all year round yet perfect for this Jewish holiday (just follow the links!) AND CHOCOLATE!!!


The kind, generous people at Hotel Chocolat, British Cocoa Grower & Chocolatier, presented me with a box of their LUXE Classic Christmas Selection of luxury chocolates and they have offered to send one lucky Life’s a Feast reader the same sensational box of chocolates! I am privileged to be living in a city filled with chocolatiers and have become quite the connoisseur so when I received my box of Hotel Chocolat chocolates I was a bit skeptical. JP’s eyes lit up and he dove in. I hesitated – well I always do, just wanting to select the right flavor! But I worried that I wouldn’t like these chocolates. I mean, I’ve been spoiled by the best chocolates French artisans have to offer! Oh, ever the worrywart! My hand hovered over each chocolate, dark, milk, filled or not. When I finally slipped the first into my mouth all doubt disappeared as the creamy chocolate slid over my tongue, the meltingly smooth praline filling blended with the perfectly balanced chocolate and I was convinced that I was holding in my hands stunning, top quality luxury chocolates. The dark chocolate is smooth yet rich and peppery, the milk creamy and not too sweet. And whether filled with meltingly smooth praline, mouth-warming truffle, liquor- or fruit-infused ganache or soft caramel, each and every one is fabulous! JP and I select one – or two – every evening as we settle down together on the sofa with our after-dinner glass of wine and our only complaint is that soon, oh much too soon, the box will be empty.


Be sure to visit the Hotel Chocolat website and just ogle the amazing selection of chocolates. And don’t forget the holidays! They have an amazing array of dazzling holiday gift boxes from gorgeous Christmas Crackers and Advent Calendars, to special Christmas Tree Boxes and luxurious Stocking Fillers and Wreaths. It makes a girl wish she did celebrate Christmas... well, she can still enjoy the fabulous chocolates, can't she?

Hotel Chocolat will directly send a box of Christmas Chocolates to one lucky winner here in Europe. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post (please leave either your e-mail address or twitter handle so I can contact you) by Friday, December 3 and I will randomly select the winner to be announced in my post immediately following this date. You can also tweet about the Giftaway (be sure to use #hotelchocolat and @lifesafeast in your tweet so I can find you) by Friday December 3, 12am CET. If you do both – you have two chances of winning the box.

And do take a minute to read this delightful little interview of fabulous blogger Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella for Australia's Mylookbook in which she recounts her "celebrity blogger" status, discusses her wonderful, entertaining blog as well as her future book and mentions two of her favorite blogs... Thanks so very much, my friend, for the honor. Much! Cake for you!

Any questions? Then off you go.


A Thanksgiving Dessert Recipe From a Thanksgivingless American: don't miss my latest story and a fabulous Chestnut-Chocolate recipe on Huffington Post Food.

And for a little dessert:


Silver bells, silver bells
It's Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, hear them sing
Soon it will be Christmas day

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks.
Dressed in holiday style
In the air
There's a feeling
of Christmas
Children laughing
People passing
Meeting smile after smile
And on ev'ry street corner you'll hear
- Jay Livingston & Ray Evans



45 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Those chocolates are so pretty and must taste wonderful! Great recipes.

Yes, aurumn has been sad here.

Cheers,

Rosa

Heavenly Housewife said...

Ooooh, am i the first to post daaaahling? I think I should win just for that :).
I can just imagine that holidays at your house are pretty awesome, I am sure you pull out all the stops. My mouth is watering at your lovely food pictures.
*kisses* HH

Heavenly Housewife said...

damn, i wasnt the first to post *foot stomp*!

Jamie said...

@Heavenly Housewife: No, you weren't the first to post but you were the first to make me laugh out loud and for that you should win!!! xo

Vimeri said...

hmmm... chocolate jummy

Barbara Bakes said...

I can't win the chocolates, but I am a bit jealous of your girls trip to London. Have a great time. Happy Holidays!

Please Do Not Feed The Animals. said...

Ooh yes please!
Happy Hannukkah!

Laurel said...

Wow! These look incredible. Pick me!

Brenna [fabuleuxdestin] said...

everything looks so delicious. I made pierogis about a month ago - but they look nothing like yours! I would love to win some chocolate :)

Brenna [fabuleuxdestin] said...

@fabdestinbrenna

Astrid said...

lovely post. and so many lovely and yummy recipes make me drool and swoon for the holiday season too...

Jennifurla said...

Lovely post

Ananda Rajashekar said...

All those chocolate makes me drool want just all of them :P

Debugcooking said...

What a lovely post..and slap yr sons back for keeping you worried LOL!A chocolate giveaway..yes pls..send one my way ;-)Like last time twitter is going to be on fire with u spice gals rocking LOndon...And cant wait to join you at the 1st P2P workshop

Abhinav said...

Dammit woman, I've just had my dinner, and you made me hungry! :|

Michele AKA 5am Foodie said...

I'm doing my first lot of Christmas baking today and am loving it! Some of those chocolates would go very well with a platter of holiday treats...

The Pleasure Monger said...

I love how JP and you settle down for chocolates and wine after dinner, that's exactly what I love to do!!

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Do NOT enter me for this wonderful giveaway as I seriously do not need to win the chocolate but I just wanted to say how much I'm looking forward to seeing you on Saturday and how awesome that Lorraine name checked your blog like that - top recommendation!

Nive said...

wow..drool-worthy chocolates...thanks for this giveaway...

ramvinayak_81@rediffmail.com

Jeanne @ CookSister! said...

We actually had a fantastic Fall - all crispy days and drifts of Autumn leaves. You should have visited :) The choccies look divine - can't wait to open my box!

Lael Hazan @educatedpalate said...

Hello there gorgeous!
Today is Thanksgiving and I'm thankful to have found your blog and count you as an internet friend. As usual, your writing makes me drool. I've never tried that brand of chocolates; however, I'm happy to experiment :) My girls have gotten into baking and I think your cookies may be made this weekend! We just need to get the sprinkles.
I wish you a happy getting ready for every holiday with food!
Ciao,
Lael

Jamie said...

@Lael Hazan @educatedpalate: Lovely Lael your comments always make me smile! And YAY I hope your girls make these butter cookies because they are the best I have ever tried! Maybe Turkey shapes? Although Hanukkah is only a few days away. I am very thankful and happy to have met you (and Giuliano) and I love our "chats". I so look forward to the day when we are friends not only on internet but in real life as well! Happy Thanksgiving!

Guide2MidiPyrenees said...

HiJamie,
Those chocolates look absoloutely georgous!! Perfect for Christmas Eve sat in front of a roaring fire with you favourite tipple!

Love the recipes on here as well. Will have to try some soon.

Guide2MP on Twitter

Guide2MidiPyrenees said...

HiJamie,
Those chocolates look absoloutely georgous!! Perfect for Christmas Eve sat in front of a roaring fire with you favourite tipple!

Love the recipes on here as well. Will have to try some soon.

Guide2MP on Twitter

GStaples said...

Wish I lived in Europe, those chocolates look too perfect to indulge in, but I would! Good luck to who ever wins, eat one for me!

tasteofbeirut said...

This box of chocolates looks so fun! Love the ones shaped like a Xmas tree. All of this makes me realize I am missing out here, need to go get me some decent chocolates for the holiday!

Choclette said...

Those pierogi look really good. And so do those chocolates of course.

@choclette8

Heather Davis said...

I do love hotel chocolat! Great selection of foods for the season too.

Junglefrog said...

Ah that lovely feeling of frost in the air... Did you get your first snow yet? It started snowing today which meant total chaos on the roads but since I didn't have to go anywhere I was left to enjoy the white crispness! I've been far too absent lately but hope to catch up soon!

Honiebuk said...

I ADORE Hotel Chocolat's chocolates - any time of the year. If my other half dred to bring me anything but for any occasion I'd sulk, lol.

They are beautiful, hand crafted,exquisite and mouth wateringly tasty. If you have not tried hotel Chocolat yet - I recommend you do.

You lucky, lucky lady for getting to review for Hotel Chocolat.

I would be ecstatic if I had this in my Christmas box - so yes please, I would like very much to win.

Re-tweeted with #HotelChocolat and Lifes a Feast for you.

katiez said...

I used to love going to Nantes this time of year - to the Christmas market and to all the chocolate shops. We haven't found as nice a market here yet; this year we're trying Toulouse. Happy Chocolate Season!

Michelle @ Greedy Gourmet said...

I think it's time I actually get to taste the stuff instead of organising giveaways for others! :-)

Jenn said...

Gorgeous recipes for the holiday season, and what a beautiful giveaway! Oooh would love some tasty chocolates! I'm @jenncuisine on twitter :)

lo81 said...

Love love love Hotel Chocolat!!

An Open Book said...

i love ur pictures and recipes so so much...
the chocs look great as well

shaz said...

I wish i Lived in Europe, but sadly I am so far away and cannot attend page to plate or win any chocolates :( Never mind, I will just feast my eyes on the pretty pictures :) Have a great holiday season Jamie.

carole said...

Wow, it all looks so delicious! I'm feeling all festive just looking at your food, the chocolates look amazing too.... yum...

Pierce said...

I love chocolate! I think it's entwined with my inner soul...chocolate is pure happiness.

Love the photos you shared, looks like some great dining at your place!

asiangrrl said...

What, no love for your US readers who looooove chocolat? Harrumph. I almost licked my monitor while reading this post, Jamie. I don't celebrate holidays, but I would happily eat any meal you cooked for me. And, here, autumn is happily winter.

5minutespeace said...

Hotel Chocolat's chocolates are just delicious and a lovely treat. They're so nicely presented...wouldn't stay that way for long.

Love the Meredith Wilson song you started with, I love Christmas songs.

Can I ask what camera you use to photograph your food? looks so professional, I want to try and make it all.

Thanks for the competition. Hope you had a chocolatey advent calendar this morning.

I'm on twitter @5_minutespeace

Lucy

Nuts about Food said...

As a chocaholic, I just had to leave a comment! Not that I need chocolate to leave a post on your lovely blog.

My Little Expat Kitchen said...

I'm such a chocoholic, I can't help but wanting these divine looking chocolates :)
Magda

Anonymous said...

All alone in Paris on the first day of Hanukkah. I would love some chocolate to keep me company.

-nathan

nekoneronya@gmail.com

Helene said...

I would love to be in Europe and taste all of these great chocolates. What a magnifique box that you received.

Victoria (The District Chocoholic) said...

AHHHHHHHHH I found this post just in time. I need more HC!

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