Garden, Home, Hospitality, Juliet Rome Shop


I wondered this morning if you would serve us ortolan, a fellow book lover quipped as she left our home. She was joking, of course, as the practice of eating this French delicacy has, fortunately, for animal lovers like me who equate it with barbarism, been outlawed. I was, however, preoccupied from the last page of our June book, “The Paris Novel,” by esteemed food critic Ruth Reichl, with how to place tasting notes on display.

Paris loves a soft, buttery croissant with a crisp crust. On a kitchen counter in front of me every day is a framed postcard from a visit with my mother one May to Burgundy and the village of Villeneuve to Auberge la Lucarne aux Chouettes, the French inn owned by Leslie Caron, who played Madame Audel in the 2000 romance/comedy “Chocolat.” As best I could, I reproduced and plated the strawberry shortcake we enjoyed in that beautiful spot, using a recipe I found for further reference. Whether hers was made with crumbly shortcake or puff pastry, I do not know. I used puff pastry, Devonshire cream instead of whipped cream (p77, “Beyond Parsley, KC Junior League cookbook), lemon curd (p255, “Puttin’ on the Peachtree,” DeKalb County, Georgia, Junior League cookbook) and mixed summer berries, and dusted the plate with confectioner’s sugar. We were, after all, at this seating at my table, only two days from the 4th of July. We would be, for an hour, like Leslie Caron, Americans in Paris.

Elsewhere in the storyline … “The flavor is so green I feel like I’m eating color,” says the book’s heroine, Stella. That line, emphasis on the word green, sent me meandering for a week down memory lane, same trip, recalling a hillside walk to Judith Pillsbury’s private garden in Provence, in Bonnieux. (Pillsbury’s husband was the great-grandson of flour company founder Charles Alfred Pillsbury). I most remember the pea gravel. I remember it used inside a hushed, dark, inner garden sanctum, although the story and images I just found here do not support this. I long to incorporate it into the landscape. Once, at one of my favorite shops in the entire world, Pear Tree Design & Antiques, I discovered the pea gravel I carry in my mind in a store set. The shopkeeper was kind enough to give me a small brown bag of it. (I know what you’re thinking.) Hoping to use it on the book club table, I opened every drawer in our home earmarked for this kind of thing. Literally minutes ago, looking for a gardening tag, I found it, by chance, in a dusty file marked landscape.

I shared my memory of the green of Paris with my book club friends and then, later, wondering if my memory had construed something different than reality, found this:

“French gardens usually incorporate a cool color palette that emphasizes greens and whites—think boxwood and stone gravel pathways. Rows of lavender bring in purple and reflecting pools the cool blues. Because ornamental flowers were rare in France in the 17th century, the color palette was limited. Trees, bushes, and topiary had to stand out in other ways, so they were trimmed in geometric forms. For décor, the greys and blues of an iron bench, pergola, or trellis reinforce the cool color scheme. Introducing water features like reflecting ponds, pools and fountains plays up the geometric patterns as they are often in circular or rectangular shapes.” —Elements of French Garden Design, by Eye of the Day Garden Design Center

There is a reason I love topiaries and moss balls in design.

I bought a Sprengeri fern (caution: toxic to dogs and cats) for the center of the table, where I would have placed the pea gravel, and potted and placed (using a protective green French tray with pads, in case you’re wondering) a white dragon leaf begonia on the adjacent piano. A week later, these touches of green and white make me happy.

All of this to say, experiences that become memories that become storylines set a happy table. As does the fountain of friendship and circular conversation at the green center of it.

*Featured image and my reference recipe at

Meanwhile, in all things Paris, I was relocating the goose at the Juliet Rome space. An elderly woman neared as I was taking a photo of flowers. Are you photographing the goose, she asked? She moved closer to it. That’s a lovely goose. Moving to touch it … That’s a real goose! Stepping back … I don’t go in for that. As she walked briskly away, I said to her, I just read a few very interesting articles about an apartment in Paris that was opened after 70 years and … Curious, she circled back … What about that apartment? I replied, the heirs uncovered a stuffed OSTRICH! In case you are curious, the discovery inspired another book I love, “A Paris Apartment,” by Michelle Gable. Wouldn’t a book like that set a table!

About Laurie

Laurie Carney is a strategist, writer, editor and account executive in her professional life. She is at home with her husband Jeffrey, also a strategist and creative director/writer, and silly rescue Poshie, Bonnie (aka Golden Bear). She has four beautiful children now that her son and daughter are happily married and five small grands playing starring roles.
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