Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Eyes of Manet and Morisot

What did they see that we can't?

Edouard Manet (detail) by Carolus-Duran

Le Repose (Berthe Morisot detail) by Edouard Manet

Happy 102nd Birthday Dad!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The French Tarte is now an LLC with a new space

So, this past Monday, after signing a three-year lease on space in the Hope Artiste Village (home of the "Winter Farmer's Market"), Susie drove right over to the nearest relevant bureaucrat in downtown Providence and registered as an LLC. Voila!

the Farmers' Winter Market is down this hall every Saturday morning from November to May

The doorway will most likely be in the far corner, where the wall to the left meets the brick

Next she met with her contractor, Joe Pakuris, to go over the details of exactly what will happen when and by whom. HAV will be tackling several issues up front: putting in the electrical panel box, repairing the wood floor (Susie will be tiling her kitchen work space), and putting up a partition wall. Anyway, we'll have more details about all this as they unfold -- along with photos, as well.

The plan is to have the commercial kitchen space up and running by April 1.

Stay tuned!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monet Family in their Garden at Argenteuil by Edouard Manet

Painted in 1874. Detail, showing Jean Monet and his mother Camille:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hyde Park, London by Claude Monet

Two detail views, 1871:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Provincetown and Cape Cod

Well, Friday we had our first real look this year at winter. (Halloween was a terrible pop at winter's power, I admit, at least for folks up north.) But last Saturday was a gorgeous day here in southern New England, chilly to be sure, but sunny and bright with a promise to keep the ice gods at bay.

So, for no particular reason, other than I've never been before, I suggested to Susie a day trip to the very tip of Cape Cod. And so, we went.

We left home mid-morning. Traffic was light, making for stress-free driving as we cruised in peace (con tranquilo) up I-195, passing Fall River ("Lizzie Borden took an axe. . . "), New Bedford ("For a whale of a good time. . . "), and Moby Dick's Bar & Grille. When the interstate ended we switched to Route 25 then across the Cape Cod Canal onto Route 6a to Route 6 and back onto 6a for the scenic tour, as we plunged ever deeper into the crazy quilt of the Cape itself.

"The Tourists"
Driving past Sandwich, Barnstable, Cummaquid ("Cummaquid?"), Yarmouth, Dennis and Brewster where we stopped at an incredible kitchen store, The Cook Shop. A fantastic selection of condiments, wide variety of tools, bakeware and cookware. And they're friendly folks (with a public bathroom in the back).

Beyond Brewster, Eastham, Orleans and Wellfleet, the land seemed to change dramatically and so did the homes. No more the rolling terrain, the quaint cottages, now we were being squeezed onto sand with row after row of tiny cabins seemingly designed for circus performers, broken up only by the numerous taffy and fudge shops thankfully closed until May.

After about two and a half hours on the road, we reached Provincetown itself, finding our way onto Commercial Street, passing homes sited cheek-by-jowl, all sitting in solitude, quietly awaiting the onslaught of humanity that would come this way this May.

Our first thought as we crawled up the narrow confines of Commercial street seeking the center of Pilgrim World was how incredibly funky (in a good way, I think) this place is: the small homes, the virtually non-existent streets, the art on the street, Fantastic!

But nearly every thing was closed so we considered ourselves lucky when we found a restaurant open for lunch. Fanizzi's was right on Commercial Street and, more importantly, right on the water. (Oddly enough, though the city seemed dead, we found what appeared to be the last parking space on the street -- for in fact we were not alone. There seemed to be people popping in and out of cars everywhere.

Anyway, we didn't have to wait long for a table even though the place was packed. We even got a table with a view. The food was OK, service friendly but rushed, but the view was incredible.

Spring rolls for starters (over-fried and oddly tough we thought):

Susan had a Caesar with grilled chicken (not bad):

And I had fresh cod (locally caught I was told), fried with cheddar on a toasted bun with fries.

I thought the fish tasted rather bland and the fries had an unusual crispy coating, which didn't have an impact on the flavor one way or the other. The slaw, however, was not the typical sloppy mayonnaise mess but a crisp, tasty vinegar concoction that was actually quite good.

We washed the meal down with an inexpensive but crisp vinho verde (Portugal). Oh, and we skipped dessert.

After lunch we drove through town down to where the fishing fleet was tied up -- yes, I'm told they do indeed fish for cod here although there were no fish mongers to be found.

But there was a nice view of the town from the docks:

All was quiet along the docks so we cruised back into town and few minutes later found us circling the spot where, it is claimed, the pilgrims first landed. (This was certainly before someone told them they were supposed to land at Plymouth because the t-shirt shops were already up and running).

We then followed the road around the end of the Cape, past the airport and down the other side, occasionally striking off toward one of the numerous beaches. The enormous parking lots were empty and so were the dunes and the beaches themselves. Peaceful and enjoyable were it not for the arctic winds and brutal temperature.

Opting not to go surfing or swimming we started our way back off the Cape. Back onto Route 6 cut off on Route 28 to Chatham and quickly realized this was a poor choice: the place was one long strip mall and we could just imagine the anguish it must produce in the thousands of drivers who fell compelled to travel this way int he summer.

So we crawled along enjoying the twilight mixed with the never-ending lights of the shops, stores and various other harbors of consumerism until we were back across the canal and on I195 heading west to Westminster Street in Providence.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sunset across Eye 95 in Providence

While walking home from work the other late afternoon I caught sight of this incredible sight across the commuter traffic snarled on I-95 in Providence:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Morisot and Manet together of course

Le Repos (left), study of Berthe Morisot by Edouard Manet; Manet (right) by Carolus-Duran

From the collection of the RISD Museum.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Young Lady in 1866 by Edouard Manet

The model is Manet's favorite: Victorine Meurine.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Faustine Leo by Karl-Heinrich Lehmann

Painted in 1842 when Faustine was just 10 years old by her cousin. She would die in 1865.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Megaliths of Brittany and Providence

Just a year ago this week -- just a year! - Susie and I joined friends Richard and Pauline in southern Brittany for a power tour through the neolithic stone passage graves and incredible stone alignments that dot the countryside around Carnac, just off the Golf of Morbihan. And what an experience that was!

The odd thing is, yesterday, New Year's Day 2012, Susie and I went for a casual stroll through Swan Point Cemetery on the east side of Providence. Beautifully secured along the banks of the Seekonk River, I found myself walking through a part of the cemetery I had never been to before, closer to the entrance and away from the river. Anyway, before I could say "Grand Menhir," I came face-to-face with the "Megalith of Swan Point," the centerpiece of a tranquil bit of green known as the Memorial Grove Garden.

The Swan Point stone is ancient to be sure but we know why it sits there brooding in its shadowy glen. But those thousands of stone standing like so many soldiers in line after line in southern Brittany, stones that were quarried, hauled and put into place some 5,000 years before the birth of Christ, they remain one of the puzzle of the ages.

Who did it? Why? How? When?

Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Year's Eve in Rubetown

Well, it's happened again -- just when I was starting to get used to one year they go and change it for a newer model. Ah, the funny ways of man (and woman come to think of it).

Although the menu was limited, what struck me -- and I think everyone at the table agreed -- this was one of those very rare times that everything on the menu seemed appealing.

After the first course, which we all shared, I started with the duck pastrami; everyone else had the tartlet.

Along with the starters, we shared a bottle of pinot gris from Willamette Valley. For the third course Dorothy had the lamb rack, Dick had the chop, and Susie had the scallops:

I had the 3-grain cassoulet:

The main course was accompanied by a bottle of Brouilly. We all shared the cheese course (scrumptious). For dessert I had the ice cream with caramel sauce, Susie had tarragon pound cake and Dick and Dorothy both had the molten chocolate cake.

We all thought the food universally delicious, the portions right and the pacing spot on as well. Bruce, Beau and the crew at New River's did a spectacular job of making a special evening truly enjoyable -- well worth the $65 per person.

Leaving the restaurant I felt the evening air was only slightly crisp and smacked more of late fall than winter. As we walked leisurely back to the car we were amazed at how quiet the city was, wondering what was really happening with the Providence Bright Night (i.e., "First Night") program. Oddly typical in a city noted for being typically odd.

Happy New Year!!

The Salon d'Or Homburg (details) by William Frith

The Salon d'Or Homburg (detail above and below), 1871, by William Powell Frith

From the collection of the RISD Museum.