Monday, February 25, 2008

Rhode Island Flower Show, 2008

Once again the title of this day's entry pretty much says it all.

What it doesn't say is that Susie, Dorothy and I walked from our apartment to the convention center -- it took us all of about 20 minutes -- and so beat the traffic headaches that seem to plague Americans seeking to participate in large-scale events.

The title also doesn't tell you that it was an absolutely gorgeous Sunday afternoon for a leisurely walk into downtown.

Nor would you discern from the heading that the show was overpriced and generally underwhelming -- although I did get a good opportunity to experiment with my new macro lens -- or that it was a fairly juvenile experience. I mean that literally. All the displays were geared toward children's books and stories; and the only bookshop vendor I saw ("Other Tiger") on the fifth level, had two signs posted:"It's all about the children." Right.

The juried section was also quite understated as well and we were sorely disappointed that theren't more individual displays. No orchid organization was represented, at least none that I saw -- and in fact the only orchids I came across were being hawked in two vendor booths only ("why ma'am that pot alone is worth $40 and I'll let the whole thing go for $70 because I don't to talk it back with me to New York. . . ") The carnivorous plant society was stuck way up on the fifth floor, pretty much out of every one's way.

And speaking of vendors one was hard-pressed to figure out if this was a garden show or a what: bathroom fixtures, T-shirt silk-screening, jewelry, clothing, handbags and the like. Frankly I felt a bit violated: they took $16 bucks so that I could walk around an indoor shopping mall.

Still, the girl playing Sleeping Beauty was impressive -- she had certainly found her way into a zen state.

Of course we got in on the tail end of the show, that's true, when some of the arrangements were starting to show a bit of weariness.

But hey, see for yourself.



If you can't see the YouTube version with music, click here to access just the photos themselves.

Ciao,

Steve

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Getting very close to Food at Gracie's

A couple of weeks back I had the good fortune to take some food shots at Gracie's one afternoon using a wonderful macro lens; Chef Joe Hafner did all the styling. Anyway this was my first foray into serious food photography you might say. Here are a few of the better images (and there weren't many):

Friday, February 22, 2008

Another week in Providence

Another week gone by -- another week not knowing about my dad, another week of sitting in front of the computer shuffling stuff around on Amazon, eBay, craigslist, of working on photo books, photo collections, another week for Susie in the kitchen at Gracie's, another week of producing wonderful things for people to eat. (photo: Gracie's in the early morning.)

It's Friday, 22 February and the snow started falling early this morning, just before dawn in fact. Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day -- I find that's the way it works here: incredibly beautiful weather followed by a storm sliding up the coast from the east. Mind you, we don't take it personally that the folks out west keep dumping snow on us -- no, we bear no grudges and wish you all well. But please stop it.

Rosemary came by yesterday evening -- she had been staying with her sister down in Little Compton while she pushes forward with her plan for setting up bike tours through the farms and vineyards of southeastern Rhode Island. Anyway, she came by around 6 and we had a little wine and cheese -- and some wonderful bread from Seven Stars bakery just over on Broadway and caught up on all the news. Of course much of the conversation turned on what is happening in Winter Harbor with Gerrish's cafe -- plenty of speculation naturally -- and we all three agreed it was a really fantastic summer last year. I truly miss my daily walks out on Schoodic Point, that's for sure. We all wish Peter and Michael good luck in selling a real local treasure.

Anyway, the three of us chatted for a little while and then grabbed our coats and walked the three blocks or so to Nick's on Broadway for dinner. (Susie and I had eaten brunch there a couple of Sundays ago.) The place was virtually empty when we arrived -- although by the time we left it had started to fill up nicely.

We each had a glass of prosecco and continued our Gerrish talk -- and, as we usually do, just talked about food in general: how to make it, where to get it, that sort of thing. The wine list was short but well-priced, with a good selection by the glass and half-bottles; we settled on a half bottle of King Estate Pinot Gris in fact. Very nice touch indeed.

And speaking of food, Susan had the salmon, which looked delicious while Rosemary and I each had the roasted sea scallops on butter squash/sweet potato puree:

For dessert Susie and Rosemary split the trio special, sorbet, a bread pudding and chocolate pudding-thing quietly hiding under a massive layer of whipped cream:

The service was friendly, the food very good and the walk back to our flat bracing -- the night was crisp, clear with a nearly full (?) moon.

As thre three of us walked up to the front door (what we call the "hearse" door, under the portico), we said au revoir to Rosemary -- and wished her well in her new adventure.

And us? Our adventure continues -- every single day. . .

Wish you were here,

Steve

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Siena, Italy, June 25, 1994

A look back to the trip that started it all. Susan and I went to Italy for the very first time in June of 1994. The two of us first spent a week at a farmhouse in Umbria and then joined Susan's brother Dick and his wife Dorothy for two weeks at a villa just outside of Siena.

After we said goodbye to Dick and Dorothy, they headed south to Rome and we drove north to Lake Como and Bellagio for four days before heading for home. What a great ride we've had so far!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day from Providence

Well it's better late than never I suppose. I trust you all had an interesting and gratifying Valentine's Day?!

This last week has been entertaining and in some ways very satisfying for the two of us here in Providence.

Susan continues to grow into a pretty phenomenal pastry chef and her dessert ideas continue to tempt the taste buds of Chef Joe Hafner.

For Valentine's Day the restaurant added a plate of 5 mini-profiteroles for two, using three different cream fillings. Earlier that evening Dick and Dorothy drove down from Douglas, MA, to join us at home for dinner: eye of the round beef roast stuffed with Cashel blue cheese, washed down with a 1990 Silver Oak cabernet. Afterwards the four of us drove downtown to Gracie's where we found seats at the bar and ordered sparkling Spanish cava and two plates of these new desserts.

Wish you had been there! The profiteroles were incredible!

No wonder I'm starting to put on weight. Of course I sit on front of the computer most of the time and that doesn't help my waistline. (I do miss walking all the time in Florence and Paris.) Still, I have had the good fortune to do some freelance food and event photography during the past week and I hope there will be more of that work to come.

On a somewhat more somber note the medical college in Chicago has agreed to the DNA testing and that process is now underway. We hope to have the results back soon -- we'll keep you posted.

We also remembered the passing of Susan's father, just nine short years ago this past Sunday, the 10th.

I've attached a short video of some footage I shot in Lincoln, Rhode Island, this past fall that I'd like to dedicate to Tunis and to the men who did such incredible things so many years ago.

I've posted a few other new short videos on YouTube and of course put them here on the blog as well; something to while away the winter hours.

Until we meet again, take care, stay cool, keep calm, and remember walk, don't run for the exits. . .

Steve

Friday, February 15, 2008

Nuit blanche at the Citroën Store

Nuit blanche, or "white night," is the one night of the year when Paris stays open all night and even a few Metro trains run until dawn. Many museums are open for free until the wee hours and there are these incredible series of bonfires in the Tuileries!

Anyway, after meeting up with friend Diane the three of us had dinner just off the Champs Elysses and then strolled down that grand boulevard heading to the Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries, the Louvre and beyond. Along the way we stopped into the new (?) Citroën store. Tres cool.

Gerrish for Sale!

That's right sports fan! For all you folks who dropped by to visit to J. M. Gerrish 's Provisions and Market (let's just call if "cafe" shall we?) last year, either virtually or in person, it is back on the auction block again.

Eager to know more?

Well, you're in luck!

Just click here and all your questions will be answered by the realty folks in Maine. (I still want 1% Peter!)

So if you've got an extra half a million in cash and want to open your own little cafe in one of the coolest spots on the eastern seaboard, then hop aboard the Maine train and head on over to the western side of Frenchman's Bay and check out Winter Harbor. Those folks are hungry for good food and can't wait to meet you. . .

Chow for now. . .

Thursday, February 14, 2008

90 seconds on the Trocadero

I shot this with my point and shoot little Canon. Not too shabby, eh? Anyway, I think the visuals say it all -- and so does Tony.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

"Art of the Tart" at Gracie's

No, this isn't about a cheap woman who paints. It's about food. Really good food. Last Monday night, 4 February, Susie and chef Joe Hafner gave a class in the kitchen at Gracie's, "The Art of the Tart," or, how to make great tart dough. (photo: Joe, Susie and Cara gearing up or the tart demo!)

When I learned about the class I asked Joe if I could take a few photos and he was kind enough not only to allow me to intrude on this very personal evening but he fed me as well!

Joe and Cara had everything prepared for the savory portion of the evening's class, and Brendan had chosen the wines for the evening.

Joe:


Cara:


Brendan:

Susie demonstrated how to prepare two different dough recipes: a chocolate dough, followed by her personal favorite, a pate sableé with almonds (d'amandes). Using these two basic doughs she prepared three desserts for the evening's presentation: a chocolate ganache tart, a lemon-lime tart, and a pear-almond tart.




The class was small, only five people, but they were clearly a dedicated group of serious cooks, and the questions flew fast for most of the session.

"How do you. . . ?"

"Why do you . . . ?"

"Really?

"Why?"

These folks came to Gracie's that night for two reasons: to learn how to make good food better and then eat it. They certainly got what they bargained for.


After the demonstration, Joe and Cara fixed a delicious traditional quiche filled with bacon, leek and gruyere followed by a breast of duck cooked to perfection -- and believe me it tasted as good as it looks.


Brendan, the wine master at Gracie's paired a Ramey chardonnay with the quiche and then a Malbec from Argentina with the duck. With dessert we had a tokay from Hungary.

Everyone had a wonderful time and you can tell that Susie has, as Joe pointed rightly out, "hit her stride."

Wish you had been there!

Steve

Monday, February 04, 2008

Romano talks with Roberto Bechi

In February of 2005, during an extended trip to Siena, local guide and Siena expert Roberto Bechi and I began videotaping a series of interviews of Tuscans talking about living and working in Tuscany. This is, I believe, the very first one we did. Roberto's good friend "Romano" operates the last bottega in Florence, the Casa di Tessuti, or "house of treasures," a store where they sell absolutely incredible fabrics. And of course, Florence began her life as a source for some of the world's grandest fabrics.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Gracie's and Dad

Susan has, she tells me, undergone a sea change of late. She feels right at home working in the basement of Gracie's -- her desserts seem to be a smash, the people there have been supportive of her every step of the way. In the end it all came down to a matter of finding her own workflow, her own sense of place, her own "rhythm". (Rhythm: noun, a strong, repeated pattern of movement or sound.)

And so she has.

This coming Monday, when the restaurant is closed, Susie and Chef Joe Hafner will be doing a cooking demo of how to make savory and sweet tarts, followed by a dinner afterwards. I hope to get some photos to post online soon afterwards so stay tuned.

In the meantime the dessert menu continues to evolve as Susie tempts everyone around with her delicious creations. She is, as they say, in seventh heaven.

On a most somber note, the location of my dad's remains still remains unclear. Our lawyer attempted to call Dr. James Williams at Rush Medical College last Monday about the DNA testing and found himself talking to the "Risk Management Person" (RMP). The upshot of the conversation was that the college is adamantly opposed to testing. They say that through “polymorphic testing” they are convinced the body, which had lost its identification. No room for error. Nope. It’s 100% definitively Dad and that's that. The arrogance, uncaring attitude, complete and utter lack of communication and cooperation aside, once has to wonder why they are so obstinate about this. And at a teaching institution that is reportedly open to the free flow of ideas. Yeah right.

Anyway, this next week, we hope, to have clarification for certain about the testing issue.

Clearly things are taking an ugly turn and I suppose the hope in Chicago is that my brother and I will simply go away. Oh, and curiously the RMP told Jack, our lawyer in Vermont, that it was her understanding my brother and I were of different minds about this whole testing issue. An odd thing to say we thought, particularly since nothing could be further from the truth. But then I suspect we are getting further from the truth with each passing day. And we simply can’t help but wonder where we would be today had we not gotten the Decatur Herald Review involved back in January. It was their inquiries and those of Brintlinger’s Funeral Home that seemed to move someone to action. But what that action is now at issue.

Anyway, if you folks in Chicago are reading this please take note.

We are NOT going to simply fold our tents and go away. Rush Medical College and the Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois have treated our family with shocking insensitivity and, what's worse is the indifference they have shown to our father's memory. All this from an institution that purports to teach, teach mind you, the importance of caring and compassion to its students.

"Doctor heal thyself."