"Gather ye rose-buds while ye may." Robert Herrick

"Gather ye rose-buds while ye may." Robert Herrick

Hello Friends!

Friends, Romans, countrymen...y'all. Foodies, gardeners, artists and collectors - let's gather together to share and possibly learn a thing or two in the mix.

Donna Baker

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Paris Antiques and Ham Fair

While at the Jambone Antiques Fair this spring, my heart quickened as I hurried over to this beautiful miniature staircase. I've always wanted one; love all things old and architectural. That is until I saw the price. 2000euros or about $3000. USD! I didn't even look at the price of this next one as I couldn't have gotten it home anyway. But, it was a fine staircase too.

Just a few more things I spied. I did make a couple of purchases which I will have to photograph soon. Loved the faux bois table and fairy aierie. There were lots of things to die for - that is die when you saw the prices. Paris was extremely expensive. The dollar was valued around 63cents and the euro was fluctuating around 1.45. I don't know how anyone affords to go there right now, much less live there. I'm still smarting over the little staircase. I spent 400euros that day on two purchases. Guess what they were?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Puttin' On The Ritz

Sorry, this was next door to the Ritz. Nevertheless, we attended a function at the Ritz Hotel in Paris (more about that later). Here are a few shots I took from inside. It was beautiful. I think this patio area was my favorite place in the hotel.

One of my partners in crime, Mary Kay, in a large seating area.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Le Jules Verne

Want to see what $375.oo per person looks like in a famous Paris restaurant? Le Jules Verne has its own entry into the Eiffel Tower. It is modern, Michelin starred, the famed Alain Ducasse for a chef and beautiful. The wait time for reservations is weeks to months. But $375.oo per person? Was it worth the price? You'll have to wait till the bottom to find out.
We never did use the thin silver fork and knife. Guess it was just for looks. We didn't use half the serve ware before it was all removed and replaced with new pieces. Someone said they have to weigh all the silverware etc. so they will know how much weight is added to the Eiffel Tower.

This fabulous plate was puzzling until they flipped it over to the front.

Did I say that wine, water and other beverages were not included in the prix fix? We did get many different courses. In fact, I don't remember what everything was, or remembered to take pictures of all the courses, but it all tasted wonderful; the presentations exquisite. Except, for the... you'll find out later.

I think my camera overexposed this little dish. I believe it was a tan colored chestnut soup. Of course, the champagne could also have made me forget which dish it was. Good though. Very silky consistancy.
I must say I have no memory of this little thing. Nut, tiny pastry? I'm sure I put it in my mouth.

I do remember this dish was grilled endive but can't remember the rest. Only, that it was good.

Oh no. Someone hold my nose.

Very good.

Two kinds of fish with sauce, though I'm not a big fan of the foam fad that has passed its heyday. Sorry chef.

Beef fillet over a bed of spinach.

Some kind of flan with a fresh fruit confit and caramel sauce.

Cannelle of ice cream with candied hazelnuts. There was also another ice cream cannelle served after this. It was white so maybe limon?

Chocolate truffles, marshmallow, macarons, cookies; we could hardly eat by then.

This chocolate confection was the same size as the nuts or is it bolts, used on the Eiffel Tower. It was very good but by then, we were stuffed.

So, what was it that I did not like? The eighth picture from the top. You guessed it. The quintessential French favorite. Fois Graaas. Though not as pungent nor dirty tasting as beef and chicken liver, the foie was delicately flavored then the gras liver whang hits the taste buds. Okay. Maybe not a whang, but my mouth said liver. Blech! Okay, I hate liver, but I'm sure it was wonderful for the liver lovers.

So, it was a once in a life time meal. Le Jules Verne was gorgeous and you need to go just to see the futuristic bathroom. It is in the Eiffel Tower. The view was spectacular. I did get to taste freshly shaved truffles (loved them). And, the tower didn't tip over as we left.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Paris Trip

Just now looking at the photos I took during my Paris trip this spring. I'll put up different ones from time to time. Did I mention that we flew first class? Yes, we did. It was the first time and probably the last time. But oh good Lord, it will be hard to ever fly coach again. We boarded and were promptly served champagne and orange juice; mimosas anyone? After warm nuts and marinated cheese, appetizers were served. More wine? Okay. Homemade wheat rolls or French bread. Piped butter? Of course. Grilled shrimp with horseradish dipping sauce and smoked salmon with fresh dill? Mais oui! Couldn't find the salad picture, but it was perfect baby greens with Roquefort cheese dressing of course.
Did I mention that the meal was served on tablecloths with no plastic containers anywhere? Here is a baked cheesy tortellini dish which was very good. Notice the glass on the right for shredded parmasean cheese. Don't know where they stored all the tablewares.

The beef fillet was thick and medium rare with another creamy horseradish topping. Mashed potatoes and grilled tomato made this plate pretty incredible. Could you eat another bite? You could after seeing the dessert cart roll past.

The vanilla ice cream was flecked with vanilla beans, the pecans fresh and the fudge topping hot. Yes, whipped cream too. Best sundae I've had. Don't know how they pulled that off. Believe it or not, they also served snacks later on. Two famous Texas chefs, Dean Fearing and Stephen Pyles, came up with the menu. Yea Texas. They did a great job considering it was airline food.

Each seat back had a screen for new movie releases or television shows. When time for sleep, the seats lay back to 90 degrees. Just so you know, I couldn't sleep anyway.

Morning, you were fed again. Each seat had a travel bag with toothpaste, brush, eye cover thingys, socks and more. Now you know how the other half travels and may I say, it was such a treat.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

excerpt from "Cherry Blossoms" (2008)

One of the final scenes from CHERRY BLOSSOMS. (You must read previous post to make sense of this post). On the last morning of Rudi's life, in his wife's kimono, he readies himself and walks to the lake near Mr Fuji. Here, he begins his butoh dance to honor his dead wife, who then joins him for this last dance. There are a few more scenes, but the last two are so diverse; say so much about life - one's own life as opposed to how others' view it. I want you to watch this film so I won't tell more except that CHERRY BLOSSOMS is about the interplay between fulfillment and regret; happiness and sorrow. The use of the cherry blossoms symbolized beauty, impermanence and new beginnings. You just have to see this beautiful film.

Friday, April 1, 2011


I saw this movie the other night. Though not for everyone, I thought it profound... and beautiful... and heartbreaking: I think my life has been changed by it. CHERRY BLOSSOMS is a German film by Doris Dorrie from 2008. I saw it on the Sundance Channel. Set in Japan, it is about the end of life journey of an aging German couple. At the wife Trudi's prompting, they decide to take the trip she's always wanted, to Japan. Unbeknownst to her husband Rudi, the wife keeps his terminal diagnosis from him. Trudi had always loved Japan and her people, its culture; she had longed to travel there and study butoh dancing and see Mt. Fuji, but life, family, the rearing of their children got in the way. Her husband had always dismissed her dancing dreams and made a life for himself through his work. During a beautiful scene at the Baltic Sea on their journey to Japan, Trudi suddenly dies. Rudi is left alone, bereft and after burying her, heads to Japan to stay with his youngest son, who is not too happy having him there nor does he understand his father. Wearing his wife's clothing, her pearls; Rudi wonders around Tokyo trying to make sense of their loss; wants to somehow make it all up to his wife. One day he comes upon a young butoh dancer performing under cherry blossoms in a park. Though he is dressed in his wife's clothes, Yu, the dancer, doesn't respond; understands why he wears them. They journey together to find meaning. Watch the above video, THE DANCE OF SHADOWS. I'll talk more of butoh later. And the rest of this beautiful movie.