Monday, 31 March 2014

"Le Coussin de Lyon"

In 1643, an epidemic was wreaking havoc in the city of Lyon. The aldermen, walking in procession up the hill Fourvière, made an offering to the Virgin Mary, a wax candle that weighed 7 pounds and a gold sovereign coin on its own silk cushion. It must have worked, because every year since then, the magistrates of Lyon go the Fourvière to renew the aldermen's vows while three cannon shots are fired in the city.

The silk cushion inspired chocolate makers to come up with a treat that is available in a presentation box which resembles a silk cushion. This cushion, or "coussin", is reputed to be the most well-known specialty of the Rhone-Alpes region. (It's hard not to get side-tracked on this - what if they'd been inspired by the 7-pound candle??)

I bought one of these treats and a couple of their descendants when I was in Lyon, and Marcel and I have tested them for you.

 That's the "coussin" at 12:00 - yes, it is green!  It is a type of almond paste that is filled with a chocolate ganache, and there is a subtle orange flavor of curaçao. This confection gets points for two things: it is actually pretty light in the mouth - not what I expected with almond paste - and it is not too sweet. Anyone who loves good dark chocolate will probably be disappointed (me), whereas anyone who loves Christmas sugarplums, like dates stuffed with almond paste, will probably find these quite good (Marcel).

I actually preferred the more recent versions: the pink and the very dark blue ones are almond paste with fruit paste inside, and the yellow and orange ones are almond paste with a firm citrus cream inside. The little white roll on the bottom is a "quenelle", in honor of something you find on every menu in Lyon. Of course this one is not a fish quenelle (I had one of those while I was there - it had a lobster sauce, and it was quite tasty), it is white chocolate filled with a coffee praline chocolate ganache.

I bought these at Voisin - check it out.

Monday, 24 March 2014


As Quimper has its peinteuses, so Lyon has its traboules (in both cases, these words are directly related to the culture of their city). A traboule is a pedestrian passageway between two (or more) buildings that takes you from one street to another without having to go around the corner.

So last week I was in Lyon, doing some scouting for the trip in September - it's a great city, and the weather was sunny and 70°. I checked out a number of sites (see future blogs) and met with the person doing the trip logistics. We toured the hotel (also a future blog) and finalized details. And just before we parted, I asked her how to find the traboules, because I hadn't seen any and there are more than 200 of them!

She showed me on my map how to find them, and off I went. It wasn't quite so easy as that, because a lot of them are not marked, and as in many cities in France, there are large and somewhat forbidding doors at the entries to many buildings or their courtyards. But I finally found one about where I thought it should be, and it had a plaque, which helped. The large, somewhat shabby wooden door opened as I was standing there, and a mother came out with her two children, one in a stroller. I held the door for her and then I went in.

As it turned out, I picked a good one! It is known as the "Long Traboule" because it goes through four courtyards and four buildings. The owners have an agreement with the city of Lyon to leave it open in the daytime and the city keeps it clean. I sort of snuck down a passageway, and at the end on the left, there was a courtyard, with a group and their guide - I was in the right place. So I continued through to the other side, passing other courtyards and buildings. I came out on the street parallel to where I went in, just like I was supposed to!

We will have a tour of the traboules during our stay in Lyon, but if you'd like more info ahead of time, here is an interesting website:

Merci aux Lyonnais pour les photos !

Friday, 14 March 2014

The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance

This is a splendid book by internationally renowned potter Edmund de Waal, who sought out the history of a large collection of netsuke that he inherited (hence the title of the book). He allotted several months to this project and it took several years. It's a fascinating story that includes some of the major European banking families and the devastation of their empire during World War II.

So how is it in any way connected to the Quimper Club meeting in Nice??

One of the excursions at the meeting is a visit to the villa of Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild at Cap Ferrat (a wonderful villa with fabulous gardens). Edmund de Waal is a member of the Ephrussi family ...

The book is well-written and is a very good read!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

A new blog, a new beginning

Welcome to the QCI Members blog, a new sister blog to the now defunct love quimper? the original Quimper Club International blog.
Although love quimper has been retired for some time it still continues to receive visitors daily.
In a recent survey, undertaken for the QCI,  club members mentioned how much they missed the resource that the blog provided.

As you may already know the QCI annual meeting this year is to be held in Nice, France September 11- 15,.
To entice and inform us all an amazing amount of information has been gathered much of it appears on the QCI website and some will be printed in the next edition of Le Journal, the Club's newsletter.

This blog has been created as a place for members to not only indulge their love of pottery but also to discuss travel plans, tips and ideas.
Please leave a comment to let us know that you have visited and if you want to join in as a blogger and share something with the us, simply send an email and we'll get you started.