MOI, J’AIME: POTERIE NOT

poterie not cassoulet bowlAh, Autumn. L’automne. C’est un saison de mistes et mellow fruitfulness, etcetera, et bien sur, le cassoulet. Mmm. Cassoulet. Avec les haricots, et les saucisses, et le canard – c’est comme un ‘bean stew’, mais pas exactement. This dish delicieux from Castelnaudary in the south west corner of la belle France is best cooked and served dans a ‘cassole’ – preferablement one made by the artisans chez ‘Poterie Not‘…

poterie not freres collage 1Franglais aside, Poterie Not is one of the oldest potteries in the south of France and was taken over by the Not family in 1947. Nowadays, the workforce consists of two brothers and a cousin – Robert, Jean-Pierre and Philippe Not – who dig up clay from behind the building and expertly model it into rustic ‘Cassoles’ – Cassoulet bowls. You can see them in action on this film and on this one, too. It’s mesmerising to watch them at work.

poterie not freres castelnaudaryTheir rustic studio is on the banks of the Canal du Midi near the village of Mas Sainte Puelle and it’s well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area. Every Cassole is stamped with the Poterie Not Frères mark and glazed inside but left rough and unglazed on the exterior; I love the hasty, careless fashion with which the glaze is slapped on – it often trickles down the edges of the bowl, in fact. This is fuss-free, no-frills craft at its best, resulting in imperfect yet functional and incredibly beautiful pieces.

poterie not freres cassole cassoulet bowlCassoulet itself has a fascinating history. During the 100 Years War in the 14th century, Edward the Black Prince besieged the town of Castelnaudary. According to legend, when the inhabitants were down to their last supplies they scraped together what was left – beans and meat – and ate the resulting mixture. Fortified by cassoulet, they soon got rid of the English, who retreated back to England where they belonged, the cheeky beggars.

poterie not freres wood storeA lot of wood is needed to fire up the enormous kiln! The Aude region dwellers are very proud of their famous dish and there’s even a ‘Grand Brotherhood of Cassoulet’ (Grande Confrerie du Cassoulet) – a rather mysterious group of be-robed fanatics who dedicate their lives to preserving the ancient traditions of cassoulet cooking and promoting the official recipe. It’s all a bit Knight’s Templar. It’s cheap to buy bowls directly from the pottery (a large one is about 15 Euros), but they only sell wholesale, so their Cassoles cost a bit more online. You can buy them from Le Marche au Naturel, along with white haricot beans for making cassoulet and tins of the readymade stuff, to be warmed up on winter evenings when you can’t be bothered to cook. Team it with a good, rich, red wine et voila. Parfait, cheri.

poterie not freres collage 3

Filed in: DESIGN, OOT AND ABOOT

BACK TO BASICS AT LDF 2014

LDF 14 highlightsArtisanal skills and exciting new ethical design brands stood out for me at Tent London and designjunction this week. Clockwise, from top left: Recycled, hand-made glass and hammered brass cups made in East Africa, via innovative new fair-trade studio, Otago; New, tactile wooden stacking bowls from Chilean brand Bravo; This elegant ‘Carvel’ chair in wind-felled larch is inspired by Irish boat-making. Designed by architect Andrew Clancy (under his new design label, Déanta Design) and made by Matthew O’Malley, it is part of the beautiful Design and Crafts Council Ireland ‘Weathering’ exhibition. (Many of the exhibitors have their work stocked by Makers & Brothers, which is well worth a peep); Hand-crafted accessories in oak and cherry from new eco-friendly studio Tanti (an archaic word for ‘worthwhile’) which has just launched in Leicestershire and uses sustainably-sourced British wood.

common thread anou

anou rugs common thread ethical

It was also a real treat to see the new Common Thread project rugs from inspiring Moroccan collective, Anou, created in collaboration with designer Sabrina Kraus Lopez via the British Council. Such beautiful designs, so intricately woven.

common thread weaving anou

Filed in: DESIGN, ONLINE FINDS, OOT AND ABOOT
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

BROCANTE-ING WITH DOUBLE MERRICK

double merrick brocanteDesigner Merrick Angle, of Double Merrick fame, kindly gave me a whistle-stop tour of some of his favourite French brocantes (junk shops) this summer. We explored a huge secondhand shop called Le Monde Allant Vers (in Eymoutiers, Limousin region) and an amazing once-a-week pop-up Le Secours Populaire charity shop, housed in an old holiday camp (which was pretty cool in itself!) in Treignac…

brocante shops in limousin region franceI bought a kitsch 1960s framed Mary photo (for just 1 Euro), a pretty ‘caramels au miel pur des Alpes’ toffee tin and a fabulous old wedding photograph filled with fascinating characters, some of whom are posing at the windows:

brocante vintage wedding photoFound a couple of old ‘Collection Rustica’ books, too, which I couldn’t resist…

collection rustica books french vintageMerrick’s eclectic home is a treasure trove of inspiring vintage finds as you might imagine if you’re familiar with his retro-inspired prints. Check out his chic ‘Chicoree’ storage tin and this fabulously melodramatic old advert…

double merrick vintage shopping

Filed in: LA BROCANTE (AKA VINTAGE TAT), OOT AND ABOOT

SUMMER IN ‘THE WILD’

ellie tennant vintage camping bell tentAfter a very hectic few months work-wise, we’ve finally escaped London to live in our tent for a bit. We stayed on some peaceful farms and now we’re camping in a forest beside a beautiful river. With decent local wine at just 2 Euros a bottle and a nearby lake for refreshing (aka cold!) swims, it’s going to be hard to return to the city…

IMG_8198

acorns

IMG_8280

camping vintage ellie tennant

Filed in: BACK TO NATURE, OOT AND ABOOT

WHEN NATURE CALLS

Just spotted a quirky little feature I did in the new issue of The Simple Things magazine, about a very beautiful vintage garden ‘lav’, filled with rustic accessories. Is ‘toilet envy’ a (simple) thing? It is now…!

vintage toilet ellie tennant

vintage toilet

Filed in: FEATURES, INNIT, THOUGH, LA BROCANTE (AKA VINTAGE TAT), OOT AND ABOOT

BOWLED OVER

ellie tennant beautiful bowlsTop left: salt and pepper pinch pots in pale grey, West Elm and vintage studio pottery salt pot, Ardingly; Top right: Andalucia porridge bowl, Habitat; Bottom right: A trio of tiny bowls (top left is by Icelandic ceramicist Anna Mikaelsdottir – inspired by lava, it contains ashes from Eyjafjallajokull volcano, right is a paper-thin gold-edged bowl by London ceramicist Fliff Carr via Roost Living, bottom left is a small Thai stoneware bowl from Boon Choo Ceramic, Koh Samui); Bottom left: a stoneware bowl in ‘MW’ glaze from Winchcombe Pottery in the Cotswolds.

Filed in: DESIGN, LA BROCANTE (AKA VINTAGE TAT)
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

TILES, TIDES AND TIME FOR TEA

Ellie Tennant Welbeck Tiles Rock Pool CafeTalented ceramicist Brenda Bates, of Welbeck Tiles, has opened a beautiful new seaside café in Mousehole, near Penzance, Cornwall. The ‘Rock Pool‘ – which is perched on a cliff above a natural rock pool – is filled with her impressive collection of vintage Swan teapots as well as her chic tiles. I loved styling it and writing about it for Homes & Antiques magazine (July issue – out now). On sunny days like today, I really wish I was taking a dip in Cornwall rather than sitting at a desk in London!

swan teapots brenda batesBrenda’s collection of vintage ephemera and treasures was a pleasure to plunder – like being in a prop hire warehouse! She has some amazing old Cornish postcards, maps and tourist guides, which have inspired her tile designs over the years.

vintage seaside drinking glassesRifling through Brenda’s boxes of coastal-themed ephemera was a real treat and, just when I thought we’d seen the lot, she produced yet another collection – this time of 1950s toiletries in fabulously patterned gift boxes. I couldn’t resist using one of the prettiest paper-wrapped soaps as a prop…

turquoise basin vintage soap

Filed in: FEATURES, INNIT, THOUGH, OOT AND ABOOT

MAY TREATS

ellie-tennant-interiorsClockwise from top left: My ‘new’ vintage stool, from Lovely & Co; Vintage Welsh Caernafon blanket – made in the Derw Mill and found on eBay. (Check out these beautiful cushions by Sparrow & Co. too, which are made from the same vintage blankets); Oak roller towel rail and striped towel for the recently-renovated kitchen from Towels-R-Us (!);  A pleasing old wooden chopping board from a charity shop, picked up as a prop but now very much at home.

Filed in: LA BROCANTE (AKA VINTAGE TAT), ONLINE FINDS
Tags: , , , , , , ,

WILD GARLIC PESTO #FORAGINGFAIL

Skipping through the verdant Surrey woodland recently, we gathered fresh wild garlic leaves. I picked happily, the husband, less so. He was: ‘very concerned about the possibility of dog wee’ and ‘suspicious’ that we were: ‘actually picking poisonous-and-very-similar-looking Lily of the Valley leaves.’  Anyway, risk assessment completed, we filled a massive basket and later that day I merrily made a vat of Wild Garlic pesto, using this excellent River Cottage recipe.

wild garlic pesto river cottage recipeSadly, I forgot to blanch the leaves first and, as the plants had flowered, the resulting pesto is more than a just little bit bitter. It has been branded, since, by various pesto-pasta-eating experts as: ‘grassy’, ‘unpleasant’ and ‘inedible’. So I’m delighted I made four massive Kilner jars of the stuff. Still, it looks nice enough in a photo.

Filed in: FORAGING, INNIT, THOUGH, OOT AND ABOOT

LADY IN RED

I went to the excellent Littleton Auction a few weeks ago, intending to bid on a pair of rather delicious vintage Danish teak and leather armchairs. Sadly, there was a savvy dealer there who had also spotted them and they went for way more than my (meagre) budget in the end, but I didn’t leave empty handed as I spotted this 1960s oil painting of a lady in red by an artist called Bill Sly…

bill sly artistThere’s something about her expression that intrigues me. She looks a bit narked – as if she’s had to sit and pose for hours on end and she’s getting fed up of it. She’s found a new home in our living room and, even though those bloody gorgeous Danish chairs still haunt me, she’s a pretty good consolation prize.

Filed in: LA BROCANTE (AKA VINTAGE TAT), OOT AND ABOOT
Tags: , , , , , ,