Monday, October 31, 2011

Scallop Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Anchovy Crumbs

I would like to share this simple but tasty recipe with you but it belongs to the Financial Times.  It is another winner from the column of the chef Rowley Leigh.  If it looks good to you here you can read the whole article at:

Suffice it to say that you need to find a source of very fresh scallops which we can find here in Nice at the market at Liberation.  There we have four fresh fish stalls and one dedicated to all kinds of Mediterranean shellfish.

Monsieur and his sous chef, Roger were the ones hard at work in the kitchen so I did not see the process, only enjoyed the results.  Spaghetti and cherry tomatoes and scallops don't quite do it alone .  Its the bread crumb and anchovy mixture that really adds flavor to the mild scallops.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Spaghetti with Tomatoes, fresh and cooked

My beloved Monsieur is a tomato freak.  I guess that is the modern way of saying that he is obsessed with tomatoes.  He used to eat so many that he developed an allergy to the whole family of "nightshades" which include, potatoes, eggplant , tobacco, tomatoes and peppers.  At least that is my theory on the mysterious allergy that came and went. 

 For about 10 years he couldn't touch the stuff but suddenly he can again.  Now he is making up for those years with great gobs of fresh tomatoes appearing every weekend as he scours his favorite haunts for the best and most flavorful.  

I am pretty sure that this version of his tomato sauce contains several red and yellow varieties that he carefully blanched, seeded, and cored  removing the hard inner white bits.  He is nothing if not thorough.  He believes strongly that this makes a difference in the outcome.   

Maybe he is right although I am less finicky.  Lately we had a guest who is the best amateur cook we know to sample the dish you see here.  Monsieur gave me all the credit for adding the cherry tomatoes on top which was inspired if I do say so and adds the needed sweetness,  but really the dish is his signature "assiette".

  Our friend pronounced it the winner for best tomato sauce she had ever eaten.  Oh, did I say that the secret ingredient is wine syrup, that he adds during the simmering phase.  EE-umm, EE-umm (Yumm, Yumm) as the FRench are wont to say.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

More drawings....

I realized from my last post that I often choose to draw the model from the back.  Besides liking the curves of backs and buttocks,  I think backs are easier to draw than faces.   There is also the system of first come first choice of place in the class.  Funnily enough many students choose to face the model as if they can somehow capture more of his/her essence.  

Still it looks like I have a few portraits and full frontals...

    That I have done over the years...

       I even tried to get a resemblance of one of my brothers with watercolors, but it shows more about his energy than his features, actually.

  This is one of my favorites.  It was done after my teacher, Patrice Juige, suggested that I work with my left hand.  I really couldn't help myself from trying to "perfect" lines all the time which is much easier with my right hand ( je suis droitier) .

But this one shows that it is more interesting to keep the scribble quality and not erase.  This picture is worked with both left and right hands....hard to break the habit of "picture perfect".


Saturday, October 22, 2011

From the studio

Charcoal of Julie

                                                                       Oil sketch

                                                   Charcoal of Antoine's dancer's back


                                                               Croquis of Alicia

                                                              Pen and Ink

As you can see I never have developed a distinctive personal style.  I think that I just draw according to whatever influence I have had at the time.  When I see something inspirational, I want to take off from it and see if I can do the style or push it further.    According to Picasso this is an entirely acceptable method of proceeding.   I think his quote was " bad artists copy, good artists steal".

I have started back to my class in etching and in preparation for some 15x20 cm plaques in copper and in zinc, I took some pictures of drawings I had done in art classes over the years.

  I spent some years studying the human form with a live model.  These are some of the photos that I can now print into the exact size I need for the etchings.     Since, you asked, I will post them a few at a time.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Poilâne Bread

Here is a glimpse of the fascinating information that one finds on the website of a bakery, arguably the most famous and most dedicated in France, that of the family: Poilâne

In 1969, Lionel Poilâne met Salvador Dali. The artist soon began to order objects and sculptures made of bread. In 1971, he even ordered a whole bedroom made out of bread. The Spanish artist wanted to find out if he had mice in his house!
Other artists followed: Man Ray, the Lalannes, César…

The Manufactory
At the beginning of the 1980s, Poilane had two Parisian shops. However, this was not enough to respond to the growing demand. Lionel Poilâne and his wife – an architect and designer – conceived a manufactory. The challenge consisted in creating the same bread in larger proportions. The facility the bakery owner and his wife designed has 24 wood-fire ovens where each baker works as if he were in one of the shops.

A First Shop Abroad in London
In June of 2000, Lionel Poilâne opened his first shop outside of France, in London. It took him over 2 years to obtain the permission to use a wood-fired oven: the Great Fire of London in 1666 began in a bakery.

Apollonia Poilâne, the daughter of Lionel Poilâne, took over the company in 2002 . She intends to follow her grand-father and father’s footsteps.

I remember the tragic news when Lionel and his wife (and dog) were killed on Halloween, 2002, while Lionel was piloting the helicopter.

Now his bread, most famously  a round, two-kilogram sourdough country bread referred to as a miche or pain Poilâne  lives on under the name of his daughter, Apollonia.  

 This bread is often referred to as wholewheat but in fact is not: the flour used is mostly so-called grey flour of 85% extraction (meaning that some but not all of the wheat bran is retained). According to Poilâne's website, the dough also contains 30% spelt, an ancestor of wheat.   As far as I can tell by eating it often, the quality has remained constant after Apollonia inherited the "toque de boulangier " and we still find the bread a treasure of artisanal baking.

  Poilane bread is what you might call  "rustic" or substantial and goes well with soups or sauces or as I enjoy it, toasted.  I have it for breakfast whenever Monsieur brings home a round or a half round.  It keeps well for a week in the open but is easily frozen for future use.

 It may interest you to know that Polane bread can be found in Nice in at least two locations: 

Galerie Lafayette ( Place Massena and at CAP3000), and La Poulette, charcuterie and cheese shop, at 12 Rue de la Prefecture in the old town of Nice.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More advice on how to give a cat a pill

I just received this method from Gail. So true , so true, Gail. 

 I am sipping a vodka as I write this after returning cat and  borrowed car in one piece from the vet.  I don't drink beer but I can relate to the humorous piece above.  

 Not only do we have a national one day strike which means all the cars were on the road, but after the vet I had to ask four drivers to move so I could get out of the minuscule bet parking. It took us 15 minutes to find corners to back into.   That done,  I was literally praying that I would not meet someone on my narrow road.  But no such luck, I had to reverse to the mouth of the road with a ditch on one side as a huge SUV barreled down on me. 

 I lead too sheltered a life.  That is certain.  I need to borrow the car more and get my driving mojo back.  

 ... but just thankful there is only one more day of the pill giving for me and for Bessie. 

   By the way,  after the vet today, we are in the clear.  Bessie was pronounced fit and ready to take on the ginger cat , the black cat, and Gladiator Junior, (the one with the collar that is always picking fights in the neighborhood).     By the way , Leslie and Roz, I tried the blanket technique for wrapping the cat before you give the pill ... and it worked like a charm.  

How to give a pill to a cat.


 I am looking after two kitties.  One was injured badly from a fall or a blow , maybe from a car but we don't see how, as her head is untouched.    The owner had to go to the states after postponing her trip for four days while the cat was in intensive care and an oxygen tent.  

I have never had to give pills to a cat before.  First is the awkward holding of the cat in one arm , the prying the mouth open and closing the mouth again without getting tangled up in feet , teeth and claws. Then there is the spitting out of the offending pill and the cat making a dash for it.  Of course, my arms are just short enough not to reach her under the bed so that I can begin all over again.  The second time is always accompanied with growls and hissing.  

But wait, there is another option.  You can grind up the pill and put in some water and shoot it into her mouth with a syringe.  The trick is getting just enough water for the syringe so you don't have to do it twice.    If you have to turn loose the cat will evaporate.  This worked great till my husband left on a business trip.  One to hold the cat the other to prepare the potion.

The third way is the easiest and the most cowardly.  That is to grind up the pill and put it in a special paste that you can spread on her paws.  The cat will also be annoyed with you for this so there is no way to win favor with your beast no matter what you do. 

 Today I couldn't stand the growls and hissing at me anymore so I let the cat sit in my garden for several hours as a reward for licking off her paste.  I watched her while I read and had my lunch and she just wanted to gaze a while and chase a dragon-fly... such simple desires.  I imagine the moment my back was turned though she would have made a dash somewhere.  Cats don't like to be curtailed or watched even.

 Finally she came over to me, asked for a rub down , talked her little cat speech and thanked me.  Yes, I know I am anthropomorphizing.  I  do that with the faith of an evangelist.  Great to be around a creature who can really live in the moment and not hold a grudge.  It occurs to me that cats are superior to humans.   

Friday, October 7, 2011


Croquis is the french word for what we would call quick sketching... done under ten minutes a pose.  Often if you have a class they will call for 2, 3 and 5 minute poses until you get to 10 minutes.  It is gestural drawing and it is refreshing to not expect too much of yourself.

 I was looking through my collection of drawings today for some ideas of things to engrave and I found these few that I had done over ten years ago.  The model was Alicia,  my favorite.  She was the model who let us draw her through all the stages of her pregnancy.  These were before that, of course, when I first started drawing.

  I am slowly easing back into art.  A lot of challenges are coming forward in my life right now, and I have tried to stay away from art for a while to work on these "other " projects .   But  sometimes you just have to give in to what saves you.

Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing

Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing

The world is full of women
who'd tell me I should be ashamed of myself
if they had the chance. Quit dancing.
Get some self-respect
and a day job.
Right. And minimum wage,
and varicose veins, just standing
in one place for eight hours
behind a glass counter
bundled up to the neck, instead of
naked as a meat sandwich.
Selling gloves, or something.
Instead of what I do sell.
You have to have talent
to peddle a thing so nebulous
and without material form.
Exploited, they'd say. Yes, any way
you cut it, but I've a choice
of how, and I'll take the money.

I do give value.
Like preachers, I sell vision,
like perfume ads, desire
or its facsimile. Like jokes
or war, it's all in the timing.
I sell men back their worse suspicions:
that everything's for sale,
and piecemeal. They gaze at me and see
a chain-saw murder just before it happens,
when thigh, ass, inkblot, crevice, tit, and nipple
are still connected.
Such hatred leaps in them,
my beery worshippers! That, or a bleary
hopeless love. Seeing the rows of heads
and upturned eyes, imploring
but ready to snap at my ankles,
I understand floods and earthquakes, and the urge
to step on ants. I keep the beat,
and dance for them because
they can't. The music smells like foxes,
crisp as heated metal
searing the nostrils
or humid as August, hazy and languorous
as a looted city the day after,
when all the rape's been done
already, and the killing,
and the survivors wander around
looking for garbage
to eat, and there's only a bleak exhaustion.
Speaking of which, it's the smiling
tires me out the most.
This, and the pretence
that I can't hear them.
And I can't, because I'm after all
a foreigner to them.
The speech here is all warty gutturals,
obvious as a slab of ham,
but I come from the province of the gods
where meanings are lilting and oblique.
I don't let on to everyone,
but lean close, and I'll whisper:
My mother was raped by a holy swan.
You believe that? You can take me out to dinner.
That's what we tell all the husbands.
There sure are a lot of dangerous birds around.

Not that anyone here
but you would understand.
The rest of them would like to watch me
and feel nothing. Reduce me to components
as in a clock factory or abattoir.
Crush out the mystery.
Wall me up alive
in my own body.
They'd like to see through me,
but nothing is more opaque
than absolute transparency.
Look--my feet don't hit the marble!
Like breath or a balloon, I'm rising,
I hover six inches in the air
in my blazing swan-egg of light.
You think I'm not a goddess?
Try me.
This is a torch song.
Touch me and you'll burn.

Margaret Atwood