Muriel Grateau's shop on the rue de Beaune in the St. Germain.
Now, I'd never know this exquisite little shop existed, if not for Ina Garten (boy, do I miss her column in House Beautiful...) and her Barefoot in Paris cookbook. In the appendix, she shares her personal "best of Paris", and us being who we are, we ripped it out of our copy and made our way in Paris through Ina's eyes. This was several years ago, and after a few visits to Mme Grateau's, a year and a half ago, we finally bit the bullet and bought a set of napkins.
Now, this may seem like a no brainer, but literally, there are one hundred shades of napkins arranged in a full light spectrum on a low counter in the front of the store- white to black with every shade of color in between. It's a display, needless to say, that really catches the eye! People spend hours and often call on Mme Grateau herself to help with the final selection. On our first go-round, we decided on a shade of brown that blended with our mid-century Finn Juhl teak dining table. They are a beautiful color. This trip, we had brought a fabric sample with us to get the shade of green we wanted just right, and we added a set of olive colored napkins to go with the brown and the vintage Dansk flamestone dishes that I've collected over the years, which have a fluted edge of matte dark brown surrounding a off-white, round glazed center.
All made their joint debut this past Saturday, and they didn't disappoint! With the table leaf in, two extra chairs pulled from other rooms (my grandnother's painted Hitchcock chairs), lemon trees harvested for the center bowl, roses arranged, and the table set for eight mixing the Dansk with my Apilco white porcelain pasta bowls, we set out to have an enjoyable evening with great food, drink, and friends. More about the flowers and rest of table setting later, but the point of this post is that, when I went to launder the napkins, I found grease stains... Had I not noticed these before (they were in the brown napkins)? How was I going to clean them (I couldn't very well ignore them, on the brown cloth they all but screamed at me!)? Now with white linen, I never have a problem. I simply soak overnight in Biz (OxyClean is good, too) and then launder. But dark colored linen?!
Google to the rescue. On the internet, we found an answer forum where someone shared that soaking the spots with Dawn dish soap, leaving overnight, and then laundering would not only rid the napkins of the offending grease stains, but not harm the colored napkins. It worked. I'm officially a believer and will never be far from a bottle of Dawn. I believe in linen- and now I believe in Dawn!