I took this picture a couple of years ago in Paris, when I was there doing thesis research. Leave it to the French to take recycling to a whole new chic level.
I took this picture a couple of years ago in Paris, when I was there doing thesis research. Leave it to the French to take recycling to a whole new chic level.
I spent part of last week in Atlanta, visiting some of my favorite people, places and things. I love that no matter where I go and what I do, I always manage to find a bit of France. This time: It was Napoleon III in all his mustachioed glory.
About a month ago, I visited my mother in Virginia for her birthday. Mom is a big Thomas Jefferson buff, and has probably read every single solitary thing ever written about him. So my sister, brother-in-law and I took her down to Charlottesville to visit his home Monticello. As you can see from his tombstone, Jefferson wanted to be remembered for these three accomplishments:
I would like to point out that his tombstone says nothing about his gardening prowess, about how he was someone who brought back all manner of interesting vegetables from his travels and exchanged seeds with his neighbors and really lit it up with his green thumbery (a word I just invented to get the snark out of my system). Although Jefferson was innovative in his garden designs and techniques, he actually messed up a lot of things (just like I do) and, in fact, died in debt because of his storied plots (which I hope not to do). These facts are deceiving when you look around the grounds of Monticello and see things like this:
Or even this:
And then you think “Well, why can’t I grow White Spanish onions that get that big and full? Come to think of it, why can’t I grow onions, period?” Hearing the tour guides tell stories about his gardening struggles, you realize Jefferson might have asked himself the same question at some point. And then you kind of like how that little fact brings a certain someone’s favorite founding father down to Earth a wee bit.
Ending thought: I wonder if he struggled with pesky red ants too.
My little backyard plot has been producing Ichiban eggplant. I am the only person in my household who will eat eggplant voluntarily, so I’ve been looking for ways to trick the other two folks in this household into eating it too. Otherwise, I will be drawing a lot of uneaten eggplant for the rest of the summer.
I found the solution to my eggplant problem Saturday night: Fried eggplant crisps, a small plate on Beausoleil’s dinner menu.
Here’s what you do: You skin the eggplant, then slice it into thin rounds. Then, you prepare three separate bowls, one with flour, the second with an egg white wash, the third with Italian-seasoned Panko bread crumbs. Put the rounds into the egg wash first, then into the flour, then back into the egg wash and then into the Panko crumbs. Fry the rounds in a cast-iron skillet full of hot vegetable oil until they are golden brown. Drain the rounds on paper towels and then season lightly with sea salt. Serve with a tangy marinara.
And finally, web addresses of a few things I liked from this Virginia trip that I think you might like too:
* Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. The founding father’s home, gardens and family cemetery are open for tours every day (except Christmas). Visit the web site for more details.
*L’Etoile Restaurant. About 10 minutes from Monticello, the restaurant offers French-Virginian style dining Tuesday-Saturday. The menu showcases fresh and seasonal ingredients, so it is subject to change from time to time. When I visited, they had an excellent hanger steak with roasted potatoes and asparagus, a delicious Korean braised pork belly, and a tender seared duck breast with caramelized local peaches. Definitely worth a visit!
* Riverby Books. My mother is also a big fan of Fredericksburg, Va, so we spent the day there the day after her birthday. She and I both like independently owned bookstores and this one is a new addition to my favorites list. There’s great overstuffed vintage chairs, and an interesting mix of used books, old maps, antiques and other little what-nots.
This blog has had a major case of summer hours for the past two months. It’s partly because of travel, partly because of work and partly because of the usual sweep of family life when school is out of session. Since I last posted, I went to South Florida and (among other things) learned how to cook Greek food, sat in a near-deafening bar in my hometown and watched Miss USA contestants wage karaoke war, and ventured deep into the heart of Texas to discover a treasure trove of European historical manuscripts. I’ve sampled microbrews with my mother in a Northern Virginia RV park (Seriously), bought matching French National Soccer team jerseys with my daughter (oh, la tristesse), and done a fair amount of home improvement projects in this old house, which we moved into a little more than a year ago now.
This list is by means a comprehensive rundown of the past few months. But it does paint a picture, no?
Finally, there is the garden, which is producing plenty of tasty treats. One of the most exciting: Butternut squash, which is pictured above. I tried to grow these in my last garden, but an unexpected frost wiped out all of my plants. This year, I was determined to make sure that didn’t happen. So far…knock wood.
More dispatches to come.
My husband sent me to Paris for my 40th birthday. When I tell people about it, they say “Oh that must have been so romantic for you two.” They look either disappointed or surprised when I say “Oh, I went alone. And it was really beyond perfect.” And that’s nothing against him, because my husband is beyond perfect. But because of his perfection, he understands that I really like going to Paris by myself. There’s nothing better than setting your own schedule, following your own interests, getting lost — and then found — in that beautiful city.
I posted the above picture because it reminded me of the last full day of this particular trip. I had spent the day walking through the rain, stopping here and there to pick up a few things I could bring back home with me to the States. I ducked into this cafe at the end of my walk to dry off and have a drink. But as I sat there and really settled in, I lost myself in watching all the people walk through or past this front door. It was pretty fun, holding court at that spot and (I’ll admit) eavesdropping on the people around me and watching them come and go. When I asked for the bill, the waiter brought me newspapers and another drink. I told him he misunderstood me. He said that no, he really didn’t. “You look like you’re enjoying yourself. Stay longer,” he told me.
He was right. So I did.
And that afternoon was one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given, right up there with my daughter, this wonderful birthday jaunt and so much more.
That’s why I enjoyed Stephanie Rosenbloom’s “Solo in Paris” article in yesterday’s Sunday New York Times Travel section. My husband likes to joke about the way I take a lot of pictures of the green park chairs in the Jardin du Luxembourg (“You really like those chairs, don’t you?” he smirks), so it was nice to see that Rosenbloom’s story featured them too. And there were great touches throughout the piece about lingering over cold, briny oysters and white wine, and spending a luxe evening at the Palais Garnier. More than anything, she captured the feeling you get after staying in Paris for an extended period of time:
Could I bring back with me the feeling that I had cultivated here?
At my feet, two men with a wheelbarrow were tending to the tulips. I saw a shadow of myself on the dirt path, and of the buds on delicate branches above me, on the verge of opening. I looked down at my oxfords, covered in a fine layer of dust.
Whether it’s dust on your shoes or (for me) yellowed chestnut tree leaves tucked into the pages of a journal, it’s the little things that make a solo trip to the City of Light a must and why I’ll book another one the first chance I get.
I’ll end on this note, another one of those special Paris moments I’ve had while wandering around last year:
There are a lot of goofy quizzes on the Internet. Among other things you can find out which 1970s music star you are (I got Olivia Newton John) and where you’re really supposed to live (I got Paris, bien sur). My recent favorite is “How French Are You?” which features some of the worst stereotypes about the people, from how much you strike, to how much you complain or cut in line. Of the 90 questions on the quiz, I clicked 65, which apparently makes me:
as French as Jean Dujardin eating camembert on the Canal Saint Martin. You’re pretty French. You know good food and good wine and although you’re a pessimist who complains a lot, you always know how to enjoy life.
I can’t argue with this.
France Marks 70 Years of Women’s Voting Rights (France24.com) Today marks the 70th anniversary of women’s suffrage in France, a measure signed into law by General Charles de Gaulle, who headed the provisional government at that time. Women cast their first ballots a year later, during the country’s first elections after German occupation. There’s a great video on the France 24 website of women casting those first votes, and a roundup of Western countries where women were already voting before les femmes joined the fray. The role of women in French politics has grown slowly. In 1993, only 5.7 percent of seats in France’s Parliament were occupied by women – barely more than that after the end of World War II. The lack of women in politics prompted France to pass a law in 2000 requiring political parties to present an equal number of men and women on voting lists, making it the first country to do so. But men still heavily dominate French politics. Seventy-three percent of the National Assembly is comprised of men, while the Senate is 78 percent men.
France’s Silent Tea Revolution (BBC News) When I worked in Washington, D.C., I had a French roommate. When her mother came to visit, we used to make sure we were well-equipped with Lapsang Souchong tea, her morning drink of choice. Up until this particular point in time, I thought the French were more of a coffee-oriented people, but I learned that wasn’t the case. Ever-resourceful, my roommate would brew mint leaves from our backyard for a mid-afternoon restorative. And, we’d go tea-shopping in Chinatown even when her mother wasn’t coming to town. So I enjoyed this story about how tea culture is strengthening in the hexagon, between the delicate and refined French blends and wonderful tea salons that dot the City of Light. What you find is that tea has been in France longer than it has been in Great Britain. The reason why more people associate it with Brits is because it was a popular drink instead of a drink for a wealthy few, as it was in France. News that coffee was bad for you changed all that, and more of the French began looking for a replacement. They rediscovered tea and, as you might figure, began putting their own Gallic twist on it, pairing it with cheeses, among other things.
Paris’s Haut Marais: From Shabby to Chic (WSJ.com) When I was in Paris finishing my thesis research a couple of years ago, I rented an apartment in the Marais. My first favorite memory of staying in that neighborhood was walking to picture-perfect Jacques Genin, buying a finger-sized eclair and almost weeping when I sunk my teeth into that first, perfectly creamy bite. My second favorite memory: Discovering the Repetto store on Rue des Francs Bourgeois. The Wall Street Journal looks at how real estate prices are skyrocketing in this part of town, once ground zero for the French nobility. “Five years ago nobody wanted to be here,” says Nicolas Wibaux, a Marais-based agent for Paris real-estate firm Daniel Féau. “Now everybody wants to be here.” In the past five years, the average Paris apartment has increased by about 25%, to $1,056 a square foot. In prime areas of Haut Marais, prices in the same period jumped by 35.2% to 41.2%, reaching as high as $1,535 a square foot.
French Village Fights for Right to Use Its Name (rfi.fr) The Laguiole council is appealing to France’s 36,000 local councils to come to its aid, claiming that it is the victim of a “supernatural catastrophe” following a Paris court’s refusal to uphold its case against Gilbert Szajner, who lives in the Val de Marne département just outside Paris. Szajner patented the Laguiole brand in 1993 for 38 different types of products, among them knives, tableclothes and cigarette lighters. But Szajner has had his wares made in China and Pakistan, while the town itself has been making its own distinctively designed knife since 1829. In 1997 local officials took Szajner to court, accusing him of dishonest trading practices and carrying out “harming its name, its image and its reputation”. After a long legal wrangle, the court threw out the case a few weeks ago and ordered the village to pay 100,000 euros in costs to Szajner.
Julie Galle Baggenstoss worked as a journalist before she took the plunge and followed her passion. Now she’s bringing flamenco to a wide variety of audiences in the United States. She has performed and choreographed Flamenco with the Atlanta Opera, Georgia State University’s School of Music, The Latin American Association, Coves Darden P.R.E., and at universities and museums from the Southeast to the Midwest. She also teaches flamenco for Emory University’s dance program and for organizations such as the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, the Foreign Language Association of Georgia, and Georgia Public Libraries. She spoke with me recently about her work, flamenco’s rich history and about following your passion. Here are excerpts from that conversation:
How do you explain flamenco – real flamenco – to a general audience?
I tell people that Flamenco is an improvised art form based on poetry that was most likely first composed extemporaneously during a gathering of family and friends during late-night hours. That usually stops people in their tracks and gives them pause, because they normally envision a wild-haired woman in a low-cut, polka-dotted dress doing this animal-like dance with castanets. The setting straight goes on from there with a quick history lesson about how immigrating Gypsies covered the old Spanish ‘romances’ (sung poems) to begin forming a musical expression in Andalucía that eventually gave way to Flamenco. Along the way, the Gypsies as a group faced discrimination, prejudice, persecution, and this gave them much to sing about. When their lifestyle was finally embraced during the period of romanticism in the 1800s, poets and impresarios brought Flamenco to the limelight to be celebrated in literate and on stages around the world. What we have seen on stage since then is the expression of those same poems through song, music, and dance. Sometimes the expression veers far from its original form, such as a line of topless men clicking their feet in unison. Sometimes the expression is very much in line, when we see a solo singer, a solo guitarist, and a solo dancer conversing non-verbally while the people around them clap their hands rhythmically and shout cheers of encouragement. That is the expression that brings the goose bumps, and that is when you know you are seeing the real thing.
In what ways has your background in journalism aided you in your ability to share flamenco’s story with a variety of audiences?
My journalism background helps in three ways. First, I am fortunate to know how to conduct research, including interviews. I primarily work as a teaching artist, meaning I use Flamenco as a vehicle to teach toward curriculum goals, such as Spanish language, geography, history, team building, problem solving, and communication. My shows are based on literature and real people who became legends in Flamenco. I routinely dig way beyond the stage to get information that reveals the Gypsy culture and Spanish history that makes Flamenco what it is and has been.
My role as television and Web producer gave me experience in coordinating live bodies, production equipment, managers and talent. The same rules apply to live theater production, except there are no live signals to route – yet!
Finally, years in the newsroom taught me what matters to the media. I know how to write a press release, because I know which ones I ignored when I was on the receiving end of them. I know how to build a database of qualified contacts for public relations, publicity, promotion, and sales, and I know the difference between those roles.
Why did you make the leap from journalism to flamenco and what were the biggest challenges you faced in making that leap? How did you overcome those challenges?
I leapt at a time when work as a freelance writer was not fulfilling and the phone was ringing off the hook for a Flamenco dancer. The jobs for Flamenco were exciting, and I began to work with interesting musicians. I thought I would cross the two pursuits. That eventually happened, but not as I expected. And, that was frustrating at first. I thought I would sell stories about the back roads of Spain or the unknown treasures of the big Spanish cities to which I traveled to study Flamenco. At first it was a setback that I was not selling work this way. But, later I realized that I could tell stories about Flamenco, Spain, and the wonderful real-life characters whom I encountered. And, with this, I became a teaching artist going to work in schools, lecture halls, and universities. I kept up the dance training to stay employed in the typical dance setting, as well.
A major challenge was figuring out the markets for Flamenco, because at the time that I began working, there was not much shape to Flamenco arts where I lived in Atlanta. There was not much precedent for programming, pricing, market segmentation, quality, etc., specific to Flamenco, because so few people had taken the path previously. I received guidance from some professional musicians, dancers, and talent agents, and then applied the rules of their industries to Flamenco. I shaped the market for myself and just didn’t look back. I created a number of products to leverage Flamenco to serve markets, such as schools and social organizations, rather than the traditional American Flamenco employers, such as restaurants in need of live entertainment.
In what ways has your life as a flamenco teacher and performer changed since you first began?
I am now deeply interested in the history and cultural significance of Flamenco and how the past influences the present. I came into Flamenco as a dancer, wanting to learn to move in a new form. Along the way, I took classes from a teacher who taught me about the music. I discovered how the dancers are musicians, right along with the guitarists and singers. I traveled to Spain to study, where I met some of the icons, descendants of legends, authors whose work I had studied, artists whom I adored on stage. Their support through friendship and teaching, led me to want to explain the human stories that created – and today sustain – Flamenco. So, that is part of the work that I do in education and performance.
Also, as a business owner, I have learned to be headstrong and well-prepared in pursuits that seem like unreachable dreams. Business strategies aside, I have learned to look up, because that is direction of faith and success.
How have you built a community of people and groups that are as interested in and passionate about flamenco as you are?
I formed a grass-roots marketing company called jaleolé in 2004, with a partner and a team of very dedicated, passionate volunteers. Now that I look back, I will boast that we shaped the Flamenco scene in Atlanta for nearly 10 years. The company promoted Flamenco events to Flamenco aficionados, as well as the general public. We motivated some big players to talk about and present Flamenco in Atlanta. As a result, there are now teachers and performers in Atlanta working on the base that we put in place. I lectured, wrote, published, produced, placed performers in all kinds of performances from sidewalks to theater stages, and put students on stage annually as part of my role as co-founder of the company. The energy of that work is still circulating, and the evidence is everywhere.
Since 2009, I have facilitated a ‘cuadro’ class that provides education and a weekly jam session for students of Flamenco guitar, singing, and dance. Prior to this concept, Atlanta was a city of dancers without accompanists. To know Flamenco is to know that dancers and guitarists exist in the art form to accompany the singing. So, a silo of dancers – without live music – was unfulfilling. Five years after the first workshop, the students of the program are playing guitar and singing in classes and performances in groups across Atlanta. It is satisfying to know that Flamenco is taking shape in such a holistic way.
How have you engaged Spanish artists in your mission to build interest in flamenco? What have you learned from them in your efforts to teach, perform and lecture about the art?
The answer to this question is unending.
I have presented some of the top Flamenco artists in Spain in performance and education. I have asked them to lecture and spend time in fiestas with local aficionados to break the wall of artist and fan. These gracious artists have created electricity, tears, inspiration, awe. But the best moments have been when they have interacted one-on-one with local aficionados, in a casual manner, to shed light on what it means to be a Flamenco, rather than a super star.
I believe Flamenco is like coffee. If you can get it in Spain, or from Spanish Flamenco artists, then it’s a shot of espresso. Outside of that, it’s café au lait: tastes great, but it’s just coffee with chicory and steamed milk. And, chicory as my grandfather used to tell me in New Orleans, is ersatz. The audiences and the students know the difference.
The more I learn about the art of Flamenco, the less I want to teach, perform, or lecture about it. Instead, I just want to put the Spanish artists out there to do it. I am continually humbled by the people whom I meet through research and study. They are incredible artists, but that’s not what stops me. It is that their families created this, and they carry with them the spirits of the generations before them, a cultural legacy that includes oppression, perseverance, pride, creativity, innovation, controversy, and misunderstandings of all sorts. The more I know, the more I want to tell these stories, accurately.
What’s a typical day for you like?
My schedule is completely random. At the moment, it looks a little like a jack-o-lantern. Three days a week, I rehearse in the mornings before heading to teach at Emory University, where I instruct students who are earning credit for their dance degrees or to fulfill an elective requirement. Right after class, I crack my latest Flamenco read for about an hour. Then, I am off to class where I am a student of Spanish culture and literature, a base for a graduate degree down the road. I pick up my kids from school; we tackle their homework; we play a game or craft a bit; we cook and eat dinner; I run out the door. Evening classes or rehearsals last about 2 hours in a dance studio, and then it is home for some creative time: a novel, a favorite blog, on a rare occasion a movie. On the other two days (of a 5-day workweek), I am in the studio for 4-6 hours working on technique and repertoire, and I take about 2 hours to handle the “business of Flamenco” for myself. I update my website. order flyers, book shows, write contracts, follow-up with potential clients, apologize for late responses, and of course put out dramatic fires of all kinds. Saturdays and Sundays often turn into workdays, as well, depending on bookings. Several times a month, this schedule is interrupted by arts-in-education performances. I leave home for those at 6:30 a.m., after loading my car with sound and stage equipment. I drive for 30-90 minutes to a school, and then I set up my show. I perform for 1-2 hours, break down, and then return to my neighborhood just in time to pick up my lovely children from school. More than once, I have walked through my children’s after-school scene in full Flamenco regalia because my commute butted up against carpool. My kids just are not aware of it anymore. It’s always a juggling act with the schedule.
I remember one time, I had to do a performance during the last 30 minutes of one of those Spanish culture classes at the university, where I attend class as a student. I walked into the class with all of the stage make-up, hair in a bun, huge earrings, and a ruffled shirt. When the moment struck, I stood up and walked out of the class in the middle of the lecture. I closed the door, and in the hallway swapped my street skirt for my performance skirt. I glided down the stairwell and got into a waiting car outside of the building. The driver took me around the corner while I changed into my Flamenco dance shoes. I got on stage 15 minutes later inside the ballroom at the Georgia Aquarium and performed for a dazzling (I hope) 5 minutes.
Unfortunately, I spend a lot less time on my art that I would like, and I am working the phone and e-mail a lot more than I would like!
What sort of plans do you have for 2014?
I am reaching into markets outside of Atlanta. I am taking my arts-in-ed on the road in Louisiana, Florida, and Alabama. I hope to also perform for adult audiences in those markets, with strong Spanish and U.S.-based Flamenco artists on stage with me.
I am forming participants of my cuadro class into a semi-professional performing group. There’s a very dedicated and talented core of aficionados who are playing guitar, singing, and dancing well. They are ready to go on stage in excellent, very exciting venues.
I will spend more time researching a few interesting characters in Flamenco, including a dancer who caught the eye of Thomas Edison, a homeless man-turned Grammy winner, and the neighborhood of Triana in Seville.
As someone who has pursued her passion for one of the most passionate dance forms there is, what advice do you have for people grappling with whether to pursue their own passions?
A life built on passion is much different than a life built on someone else’s passion. Living for your passion can lead to funny decisions. To that end, I advise the following. Get a good business plan and revise it often. Get a network of honest critics from a variety of backgrounds, and remember that your loved ones should not be part of that because they will always only be positive. Hire an accountant, and realize that $30 in the bank is not $0 or -$30 in the bank. Balance your worlds: work, personal, ambition, family, romance, health. Balance is important. It is difficult to be the navigator and the pilot in the giant ship of entrepreneurship. One feels like everything has to be done now. To address that, create a project management plan, phase product releases, and schedule time for breaks. Take a walk to solve a problem. Have a beer at lunch. Take a day off! Most of all, you must believe always in what you are doing. If you lose your mojo, then you are done.
I’m as guilty as the next person of sending work emails after hours so I can get one thing off of the following day’s to-do list. To wit: The email I sent LSU about the class I’d like to teach in Fall 2014 left my inbox at 9:20 p.m. Monday night. Yes, it probably could have waited until Tuesday morning, but I console myself thinking about how my husband was up far later than I was sending emails that probably could have waited too.
This sets up my latest argument for why our family needs to pack up and move to France.
Yesterday, French employers’ federations and labor unions signed a new, legally binding agreement that requires staffers to turn off their work phones after 6 p.m. The deal affects one million workers in the technology and consultancy sectors, and aims to keep workers from feeling pressured to look at or respond to job-related requests after hours. When I saw this story, I thought “Well, how about that? That’s more proof that the French have some shred of good sense about work-life balance. Vive la France! Let’s move!”
So I took this tale to the mister who said that it sounded really nice (in an exhausted sort of “Oh boy, here we go again. Another argument for moving to France.” way). But he added that he actually didn’t feel the pressure to respond to after-hours emails. He only felt the pressure to send the missives that happen to be the root of the problem. And before I could exclaim, “but we could move to France and reform ourselves (after we bang our heads on the wall sorting through all the requisite residency paperwork),” he actually found a way of tying up all his work-related loose ends by 6 p.m.
Husband: 1, Paige: 0
But the battle rages on…
Blogger, cookbook author and former Chez Panisse pastry chef David Lebovitz has a new book of stories and recipes out called My Paris Kitchen. What I love about the book is that it puts a culinary twist on this centuries-old question the French like to ask themselves: What does it mean to be French? Lebovitz answers this in his own inimitable way, illustrating how global influences from India to North Africa and even his native United States have shaped classic French cuisine. Plus, you get a tantalizing taste of what he might serve with cocktails or for dinner on a given day.
And that’s what makes it so difficult to decide what to cook first. It all looks so good and, better yet, accessible for the average home cook.
Last night I chose to make his chicken with mustard sauce recipe, the dish featured on the cover. It was a tricky choice because my husband and daughter are not big fans of mustard and if I ever want to use it in a dish, I have to sneak it in and refuse to answer them if they ask me what’s in the chicken. When my daughter asked me what I was making last night, I replied “Chicken in Awesome Sauce” because by then I had dipped my spoon into the skillet enough to know that the sauce was, indeed, beyond awesome.
Sometimes I feel like this is my theme song when it comes to tricking those two into eating things that I like:
Here’s what you need to make this:
1/2 cup and 3 TBS of Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. of smoked paprika
4 chicken legs and 4 chicken thighs
1 cup diced bacon
1 diced small onion
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 cup of white wine
1 TBS mustard seeds
2-3 TBS heavy cream
chopped fresh parsley to finish
1. In a bowl, mix 1/2 cup of the mustard with paprika, pepper and salt. Put the chicken pieces in the mixture and cover them with it, rubbing some of the sauce underneath the skin.
2. Heat a skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the bacon, cooking it until brown. Remove the bacon and drain it.
3. Leave 1 TBS bacon fat in the pan, then add onion and cook for five minutes until translucent. Stir in thyme, cook for another few minutes and scrape into a bowl big enough to fit the chicken.
4. Put chicken in the pan (adding olive oil, if necessary) and brown it well on both sides on medium-high heat. As Lebovitz advises, good brown color makes for a great tasting sauce.
Here’s the chicken when it first went into the pan. Please don’t deduct points because I used leg/thigh pieces.
5. When the chicken is well-browned, remove it from the pan and put it in the bowl with the onions. Then add wine to the hot pan and scrape up the fond (a.k.a. really tasty bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan).
Scraping up the fond. Loving the smell. Mmm…sauce.
6. Put the chicken, bacon and onions back into the pan, cover and cook on low to medium heat until the chicken is cooked through. This should take about 15 minutes.
7. Then, remove the pan from the stove, stir in the remaining Dijon mustard, mustard seeds and cream. Top with parsley and serve with linguine noodles (you gotta sop up that awesome sauce with something) and haricots verts.
The husband usually hates mustard, but liked this tremendously. The child was a little less convinced (but she is a work in progress; I tend to take a Karen Le Billon approach to her eating habits, anyway…trying, trying, trying again). Me? I loved this and will absolutely make it again.
And so, the new score:
Husband: 1, Paige: 1
We shall see what the next inning brings…
Lebovitz had a great behind-the-scenes post this week about what went into making his recent book. Aside from all the gorgeous photography and anecdotes about rose wine consumed, I really appreciated the look at the often-agonizing process of seeing a book into print. Few people know that the proposal stage alone can take almost a year in some cases, sometimes requiring total overhauls and reshapings along the way. He writes:
Writing a book is an all-consuming process, at least for me. My Paris Kitchen started out as a non-cookbook proposal that took me nearly eight months to write. People who want to write a book are always astonished when I tell them that it takes that long (at least it takes me that long), to write a proposal. But it’s the most important part of the cookbook process. It’s where you clarify and distill your ideas, and create your vision of the book. And in turn, it allows the publisher to grasp your idea of your book, who you are, and the intended audience…
After I sent the publisher at Ten Speed Press the proposal I had slaved over, he sent me a message: “You should do a book of recipes about how you cook. What is your Paris cooking?”
Grrr, eight months down the drain. But as a writer, sometimes you write and write and write for hours, thinking you came up with something brilliant. Then you go back and reread it the next day, and delete the whole thing. And start all over again.
But the point is, he persevered and has a really gorgeous book to show for it. His account is inspiring to me at a time when I’ve just finished a total overhaul of my own book proposal. So he gave me faith…and great chicken. And sometimes that’s all a girl can ask for.
A recent report in the French newspaper Les Echos said that the Palais Garnier was the fifth most-visited monument in Paris during 2013. There has been a 44 percent increase in visits to the building since 2010, in part because of its increasing number of events and exhibits. Known as the backdrop for the novel and Broadway musical The Phantom of the Opera, the Opera Garnier still stages operas and ballets as well as concerts with the occasional pop star like George Michael. But it also has one of the most rich and remarkable archives I’ve ever seen, the contents of which serve as an endless source of wonder for nerds like me and as the basis for many excellent exhibitions.
Here is a photo from a recent costume exhibit it had:
Have you ever been to the Palais Garnier? If so, what did you think of it? If not, you should definitely put this building on your must-see list if you ever plan a trip to Paris.