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Sunday, June 29, 2008
BTW that was his fourth stroke on the way to a score of six. I had a three.
I hit a miracle shot 160 yards through the trees to 20 feet off the green, pin high. I then proceed to chip through the green twice and two-putt for an eight.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Celebrate the solstice with a Provencal-style seasonal feast
Georgeanne Brennan, Special to The Chronicle
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
It's two days before the summer solstice, and my friends in Provence are getting ready for their annual summer solstice party, participating in the age-old ritual marking the longest day of the year.
I can just picture it: Thick lamb chops and spicy merguez sausages sizzle on the grill as they're brushed with branches of wild rosemary dipped in olive oil. Long, brightly covered tables are set out on the grass terrace overlooking the fields. Pastis and rosé are poured liberally, and platters of tapenade toasts and bowls of olives are passed around the crowd.
At 10 p.m., when it's time to sit down to dinner, the sky is still lavender with the waning light. The traditional bonfire is stacked waist high with wood gathered from the nearby forest and will be lit at midnight, with much fanfare and dancing. In the old days, the village boys would jump over the fire, showing off for admiring girls.
I won't be there this time, so I'm having a solstice celebration here, where I'll raise a glass of my husband's rosé to our friends in the Old World, toasting the long days of summer.
In Provence, the summer solstice is called the Feast of St. Jean, and is celebrated all over the region with special meals and with pilgrimages to local churches and holy spots. Oily firewood and dried shrubs that will burn most brilliantly - juniper, olive and rosemary - are stacked in town squares. The bonfires offer the same sense of community as our fireworks displays do on the Fourth of July. The food on this occasion varies from a dramatic centerpiece, like a roasted wild boar or lamb stuffed with rice, herbs and vegetables to more simple fare like grilled sausages and chops, the French equivalent of hot dogs and hamburgers.
The open markets and gardens are full of zucchini, eggplant and basil, which are turned into appetizers, salads and side dishes. It's the beginning of the summer vegetable season, which means there are tomatoes for salads, appetizers and sauces. Dessert will be something with the season's fresh fruit - peaches, nectarines, apricots or cherries.
For my own summer solstice party - one that anyone can easily do - I'm keeping things simple. Eschewing my natural inclination to roast a whole beast, I'll offer skewers of grilled halibut - equally good and far less work to prepare. Cherry tomatoes from the garden, stuffed with herbed goat cheese, make an easy appetizer, and can be made a day ahead. Tender golden beets, sliced and topped with fresh mozzarella and basil, are also easy to prepare, and the beets can be cooked in advance.
For a first course, I decided on new potatoes, since I have lots of those, freshly dug from the garden, mixed with some young arugula. To accompany the halibut, a luscious romesco sauce and some baby zucchini, all served with crusty loaves of bread.
My dessert is a departure from my usual fruit tart - a fresh peach tiramisu, with ladyfingers well-drenched in hazelnut liqueur, made a day in advance. A simple summer meal like this one can be served any time in the next few months, during the long warm days and evenings, cooking outside, and celebrating the abundance of the season's fruits and vegetables.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
I think this will be the last time we take a connecting flight to/from Europe.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
And so, our final gastronomic extravaganza before heading home, was the...
It was not like any art museum we have ever seen and lived up to its advance billing. Much effort and thought have gone into integrating audio, video, and digital features into the displays, providing a truly unique perspective and experience. As an example, a display of Dogon masks are supplemented with video of the traditional Dogon dance, as it was recorded in the 30's the 70's, and in 2001. This was a particularly interesting exhibit for us, as we visited the Dogon escarpment and observed their traditional dance last fall.
A NYT Review provides some background information on some interesting politics surrounding the museum's creation, and the legacy that Jacques Chirac hoped to create for himself with its construction. I also learned from the article that "primitive art" is a pejorative and no longer politically correct. Who knew?
Vincent also suggested that we get there early before the museum opens to avoid the lines, so...
... we were que'd up when it opened at 11.
First stop was the museum cafe (located on the grounds but not actually in the museum) for coffee, croissants and pictures. Note the interesting tower in the background. It appears to be an exact duplicate of the tower displayed outside the Paris Casino in Las Vegas. Not sure why the French are copying Las Vegas casinos. Then...
... into the museum itself. There were signs prohibiting photographs, but I interpreted that to mean only pictures without flash when security was not looking. I took a few discreet shots as we toured the museum:
This was part of the Dogon mask exhibit. Sigrid and I bought a mask on our first Africa tour that we were told was Dogon in origin. After our visit to Mali in the fall, we did not see any masks that resembled the one we have on display at home (left). However, this one on display in the museum, though obviously much older, is remarkably similar.
This crystal skull is displayed in the America's section. The display has been used to promote the museum, capitalizing on the recent Indiana Jones movie, but the description casts doubt on the authenticity, saying that it was probably fabricated in the early 19th century.
An interactive video display to show the journeys of exploration where many of the Oceania and Asian pieces were collected. Unfortunately, in the middle of the display is a large dialog box saying “Windows Error”. They should have used Macs.
An out of focus shot of a "spirit hook" from Papua New Guinea. To be precise, it is not a focus problem but motion blur, as I could not hold the camera still enough. Sorry, it was the best I could do under the circumstances. You try sneaking shots in low light with a point and shoot camera. If you click on the picture to expand it, you can see reflection of the furtive photographer on the left side using an underhand point and click technique. Despite the poor quality, I decided to include the picture because of the similarity to a piece we collected (left) on the trip to New Gunea.
We spent considerably more time at the museum than we planned, so decided to forgo a return visit to Musee d'Orsay, head back to the room and pack for the journey home.