Fashion Tea and Petites Madeleines
If you're in the Philadelphia area, you can attend the book-signing party for Birds of a Feather Shop Together, a book of fashion fairytales gorgeously illustrated by Bil Donovan. It's September 13 at Hotel Palomar Philadelphia in the Burnham Ballroom. You can buy tickets here. And not only will you be leaving with your own signed copy of this stunning book to take home, but also meet Bil who is just lovely.
A while back, Bil Donovan sent me images for Twinings' new limited edition Earl Grey flavours which feature his illustrations, to be sold in the European market. I was so excited about this collaboration between the English tea kings and Dior Beauty's resident artist (among many other designations); firstly, to be able to have Bil's gorgeous work greet me in my kitchen everyday is an absolute delight, and ultimately I was overjoyed by the fact that illustration is proving to be seen as fresh and desirable and worthy of investment by commercial entities, rather than a forgotten artform of days gone by (more proof of that to come). It's just very reassuring that in our trend-driven digital age, the value of the beauty of traditional fashion illustration is being upheld and celebrated.
However, in my haste to get these boxes into my kitchen I went out and bought some that feature the current packaging which is more dramatic in black, not realising there was a previous edition thus leaving me very confused because it didn't look like Bil's style! I don't know who these ladies belong to, but in their saturated watercolour couture they are a lovely accompaniment to your morning cup of tea.
And as for the petites madeleines, the French crispy cakey cookie that I love but would forget about when not in Paris (which you can even buy in vending machines if you're desperate), I've found they are really easy to make and even easier to eat. Especially if you make the mini ones like I did. I used a silicone mould and it worked brilliantly, no sticking whatsoever so none of the nice crispy shell was lost.
And being French, they have a history. They go back to the 18th century in the French town of Commercy, in the region of Lorraine. The story goes that a girl name Madeleine made them for Stanislaw Lezczynski, Duke of Lorraine, who loved them so much that he then gave some to his daughter, Marie, the wife of Louis XV. And royal endorsement will make anything skyrocket to wild popularity, so here we are!
You can find the recipe I used at Joy of Baking, and I added a splash of rosewater which I could taste in the batter, but of course it lost its richness when baked so maybe some rose essence would help maintain the flavour. I'm still trying to find some test this out, and lemon poppyseed are next. Chocolate is inevitable.