Backtracking to Paris for a moment, Galeries Lafayette is another of my all-time favourite stores. The fashion floors are jaw-dropping. Name your favourite designer and they're there. The food floor is died-and-gone-to-heaven time with seemingly hand-picked cherries, meat cut with surgical skill, a vast briny choice of oysters and every condiment you can think of, including the blackcurrent mustard that I bought.
Across Boulevard Haussman is Lafayette Maison, four floors of gorgeousness for your home.
I'd promised myself an extravagant scented candle and, after much sniffing and dithering, walked away with one called "fleurs blanches" made by Gilles Dewavrin--whom I will immediately Google to see if a real M'sieu de Wavrin exists. He does and, wasting a pleasant five minutes at his site, www.gillesdewavrin.net/en/home I can only say I wish Mac would come up with a scratch-and-sniff laptop. Turns out my chosen candle is a blend of lilies, roses, carnations and jasmine, and will burn for 40 hours.
One floor down from the scented candles is the basement, filled with desirable kitchen stuff. Pots, pans, china, glasses--and little glasses. The restaurant tradition of starting dinner with an amuse has gone mainstream. I began my slide down the slippery slope with a cookbook on verrines. Then, obviously, I had to buy a half dozen little glasses. A couple of evenings ago, I launched them on their glassy gourmet career.
Like most of the verrines, this is just simple assembly and, if you've done your prep ahead of time, it only takes a couple of minutes to put together. The recipe doesn't say you should assmble it at the last moment but I reckon that it might end up looking like a dog's breakfast if you put it together ahead of time.
So, from the bottom up, we have:
1) layer of black tapenade
2) first layer of fresh mozzarella
3) layer of combined chopped fresh and sundried tomatoes
4) second layer of mozarella
5) layer of pesto
6) second layer of tomato mixture
...and a basil leaf on top, plus a couple of grissini.
P.S. I have a feeling that these little glasses will get used muchly for desserts. By the time you've made it through entrée, plat and cheese course, you really only want a few spoonfuls of sweetness. There's a certain lemon-and-white-chocolate mousse scribbled with dark chocolate that's calling my name...