Posts Tagged ‘foodies’

Four Disasterous Dinners

November 1, 2010


Thanksgiving will be here soon. My favorite holiday and I remember the first dinner I made when I became a newlywed. Parents, hubby’s and mine, gathered in the dining end of the living room and hubby carried the beautifully browned bird to the table. I had been worried about my mother-in-laws opinion of my cooking. She had been cooking and baking since she was twelve when her mother passed away and she became the cook for her father, two working older brothers and a younger sister; a job at which she excelled.
My hubby flourished the knife, stuck the two-pronged fork (a set given as a wedding present) into our first turkey and began to carve. Halfway through dinner I realized I had never removed the giblets or the neck. They were still in the little bag stuck in the cavity. Fortune smiled-no one noticed.
The second misadventure happened when my hubby invited long-time friends from his dance class to dinner. It was spring and asparagus beckoned. I trimmed the stalks and rinsed but not enough-the sand remained. Ignored by all. It took a few years and many more dance classes before that dinner was mentioned. Hey-that’s what friends are for and it said dancers have iron stomachs.
Friday-in the days when Catholics just permitted fish-no meat allowed I invited two close friends for dinner and hubby spent hours extracting the meat from lobsters. I made a delectable salad and placed the bowl in the fridge. A few hours before dinner – horror of horrors – I opened the door of the fridge and placed a bottle of white wine on the same shelf. The bowl of lobster slid out of the fridge and smashed in fragments. Lobster, mayonnaise, celery and glass all lay in a shiny, glop of a mess on the kitchen floor. My poor guests had tuna fish that night.
Then there is the tale of Lasagna. Vegetable Lasagna with Marinara sauce – baked ahead and frozen. Misreading the directions, I baked the dish for one hour and served. Still frozen. I checked the directions. When frozen-bake for two hours.
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October 6, 2010

I will do almost anything to keep from cleaning. Dusting, using the vacuum cleaner, washing the floors, sinks, and toilets. And I can just about sew on a button-my grandmother saved me from flunking sewing class in school. Cooking is fun and sometimes a way to relax but I want to spend my time writing. A mystery, a non-fiction article and a blog.
Walking, for me, lends itself to ideas and reading stimulates. Theatre and museums and dinner in a lovely, comfortable restaurant are my favorite ways to spend leisure time. Travel is exciting and opens my mind to new ideas, new foods, lives that are different from mine and yet-the same in so many ways.
I caught the travel bug at an early age and have never stopped wanting to travel. So many stories Is it inspiration? Perhaps it’s the adventure.
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Canal Saint-Martin

September 16, 2010

The Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay, the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysees, the Jardin des Tuileries and the Arc de Triomphe, whew! It’s time for my husband and me to catch our breath, time to enjoy a leisurely cruise on the Canal Saint-Martin from Parc de la Villette to Port de L’Arsenal.
In the 19th century, Napoleon planned an 81-mile waterway that would supply the citizens of Paris with fresh drinking water and Saint-Martin is one part of the system; the canal runs underground for one-and-a-half miles between Bastille and Republique and ends in the 19th arrondissement where it joins Canais Ourcq and Saint-Denis.
The cruise takes us through the canal’s four double locks and two swing bridges; our boat slowly rises, the gates open and our canal boat glides though the water. We steal a look at young Parisian lovers strolling across a foot bridge, who stop to share a kiss under a chestnut tree on the quay while the rest of the world drifts by.
The Marcel Carnes film Hotel du Nord, filmed in 1938 and starring Arletty, Jean Pierre Aumont and Annabella, replicated the canal. The original hotel can be seen at 102 Quai de Jemmapes. A bit more recent is Amelie, a motion picture where the star, Audrey Tatou, portrays a shy and mischievous sprite who skims stones across the water.
Our boat drifts past the tenth arrondissement, a few metro stops from the center of Paris and once the exclusive home of the working class; today the arrondissement attracts the artistic, creative and imaginative who have succumbed to the canal’s charm and lower rents. Boutiques, cafes, bars and the fashionable have followed the trend-setting artists.
Bikers follow a path that ends near Claye Souilly just outside Paris while ramblers breath in the air along the canal side path that extends from Republique to Parc de la Villette where the Cite des Sciences et de l’industrie is located. Walking encourages the appetite and picnickers often pause for a light repast along the quay. Lunch and a refreshing drink may also be enjoyed in one of the many cafes or bars close to the canal.
As I glanced at the sides of the passage, petite mussels spit streams of water in our direction; a comment perhaps. We had enjoyed huge bowls of mussels and frites the evening before at Leon de Bruxelles, a chain of moderately priced seafood restaurants who specialize in succulent mussels cooked in a variety of styles. Internet address:
The Canauxrama boat may be boarded at 8:45 am and 2:30 pm at the Arsenal Marina -50 Boulevard de la Bastille (Public transportation to the Arsenal – by tube to Station Bastille, by bus – lines 20, 29, 65, 86, 87, 91) or from the Bassin de la Villette at 13, Quai de la Loire at 9:45 am and 2:45 pm (Public transportation to the Bassin – by tube to Station Jaures, by bus – lines 26, 48, 2, 5, 7.) The cost is 13 euros for adults, 8 euros for children under 12 and free for children under six. Reservations are necessary. The narrated cruise takes approximately three hours. Canauxrama, Basin del la Villette, 12 Quai de la Loire, 57019 Paris, telephone 01 42391500
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The House of Twining

August 30, 2010

I love London, the theatre, the streets, museums and castles and tea. Tea always tastes better in London and on day, my husband and I discovered Twining’s.
H.R. Twining & Co., Ltd, London, a trailblazer in specialty teas for almost three centuries began with the purchase of Tom’s Coffee House by Thomas Twining in 1706. Located in the rear of its present site at 216 Strand, it attracted gentlemen who engaged in serious discussions and scalawags who frittered away time in frivolous chatter while indulging in brandy, rum and arrack (an alcoholic drink distilled from rice or molasses) and drinking water from Bath and Bristol. Thomas soon offered a new drink that had begun to gain favor with the public – tea. Of course, a woman of social standing never placed her dainty foot inside a coffee house; a lady would wait in her carriage while a manservant fetched the refreshment.
Eleven years later, Thomas opened The Golden Lyon. Despite high taxes and dire warnings issued by the medical profession and the church against the brew, tea became fashionable and members of Court Circles and the Royal Household patronized the establishment.
In 1797, Tom’s grandson, Richard Twining, built a doorway on the Strand opposite the Royal Courts of Justice. Above the shop’s Royal Crest, centered between two colorful Chinese figures, he incorporated the symbol of the Golden Lyon, attracting the eye of the beholder to The House of Twining. Today, the fragrance of choice teas and coffees still wafts past the entrance offering an irresistible invitation to the passer-by. Teas range from Prince of Wales, Orange Pekoe, Earl Grey, Darjeeling, China Black or Lady Grey to the finest Assam plus a selection of over 13 different types of coffee.
Accompanying the teas are an assortment of fine crackers and jams, neckties, aprons, tea towels, mirrors, bone china mugs, cups and saucers, coffee makers, limited edition teapots and teapots shaped like bears, vegetables and birdhouses.
A portrait of the founder, attributed to William Hogarth, welcomes memorabilia addicts to the Museum at the rear of the shop. Displayed are a copy of the Royal Warrant issued to Richard Twining II by Queen Victoria in 1837, a Buddha, carved from the roots of a tea bush, invoices dating back to 1715 and pictures of Thomas and his son Daniel on a 1737 tea wrapper. Maps and advertisements for tea, coffee, chocolate, sage and snuff adorn the walls along with prints of tea trading. One that appeared in the London Chronicle, in 1770, states business would continue as usual despite a warehouse fire.
The back room is also home to Victorian tea tins, the first Twining illustrated advertisement for packet tea (introduced during the 19th century,) and 19th century tea scales. Models and photos of delivery vans (with and without horses,) and an Edwardian double teapot are exhibited along with a T.I.P. – To Insure Promptness – box. The box was nailed to the wall in coffee houses and parched patrons who desired good service would place money in the box.
Damaged during the Second World War, 216 Strand was rebuilt in 1952 ensuring its reputation as the oldest company (Teamen to connoisseurs, by appointment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II) to have traded continuously on the same site.
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