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October 23, 2004

Sunie

Off to meet Sunie at St. Paul's Chapel for our Ground Zero sonic memorial soundwalk.

Posted by BKG at 02:28 PM | Comments (0)

Megafoods

There's a chill in the air. The light is silver. Somehow it seems time for megafood. Spirulina and other seaweeds (I still cannot get myself to call them "sea vegetables"), flax (whole seeds, ground, and oil), walnuts and walnut oil, blackberries (with their seeds), sesame seeds, my own sprouts, lots of leafy greens (so much surface--a blotter for pesticides--which is why organic is so important), steel cut oats, lots of whole grains, pumpkin, and canola, grapeseed, flaxseed, walnut, and olive oils (rich in omega 3), also foods rich in pectin like quince and apple.

Posted by BKG at 02:20 PM | Comments (0)

Home delivery

Experimenting with Fresh Direct and Urban Organic. This is an effort to get good quality organic produce at a reasonable price and on a regular basis. I hate our local Met supermarket. Morton Williams too. And, between finding the time to shop and then shlepping everything home--and the exorbitant prices--I thought it time to try alternatives. My favorite is still the 4th Street Food Coop, a blast from the past. Oh, did I mention Whole Foods? Another one of my pet peeves. Just too precious--and expensive. Marion says they are doing a good job. So we shall see. Fresh Direct delivers tomorrow and Urban Organic on Wednesday.

Posted by BKG at 02:17 PM | Comments (1)

October 22, 2004

Ian writes about Max

Ian has written a beautiful piece about Max for The Listener in New Zealand. Next thing you know, Matt will add Ian to the Team Gimblett portrait!

ACTION MAN
Max Gimblett�s in good shape. Yes, that�s a bad pun, and no, it�s not. A hale and hearty almost 70 years of age, Max works out, plays squash, hasn�t touched a drop in decades, is full of mirth and easy tears, and the shaped canvasses that have characterized his work since the �crisis� of 1982 (see later) are looking great too.
I ask him if he�s happy about the exhibition, The Brush of All Things, curated by Wystan Curnow for Auckland Art Gallery (and now at Wellington City Gallery). Max�s eyes fill with tears � that�s a yes. Some of the emotion comes from a sense of rightness: there have been many dealer shows in New Zealand and the U.S.A. where he and his wife Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett live, but this is the first time a sample with the emotional outline of a personal journey has come home.
�Home�? What�s this about? Max has been a contented denizen of New York City for more than thirty years. Let�s talk about this �home�, and while we�re at it, let�s talk about some other big words: wisdom, beauty, and self, for starters. �O.K.,� says Max optimistically, as is his way. �Sounds good.�

Are you an expatriate, Max? Is that what�s meant by �home�, even after all these productive years somewhere else? Now Max gets angry. Home is where your sense of self is deeply stirred. It�s where your sense of yourself is strong enough for you to let it go unprotected in your work and when you work. It�s wherever Barbara is � when she and Max were young, home became so when Barbara placed a piece of fine fabric in whatever accommodation their love was passing through. Besides, the word has such a feeble purchase on the robust, satisfying complexities of living in a geocultural space tensioned by locations, histories, and art, rather than merely by subway stations. Home is a trampoline for the spirit.
I�ve seen the sculptor Bill Culbert, who lives in Provence and London and visits New Zealand yearly during the Bluff oyster and whitebait seasons react with similar angry scorn to the idea that he�s �ex� anything simply because he chooses to live somewhere �else�. Even the term �belonging� seems insipid in the context of a discussion of �home�, if the teeming contemporary traffics and landings of people and cultures all over the place are to make better than small-talk sense or generate more than third drink passion. Before you can say �Venice�, �belonging� will transform perfectly good art into national identity. �Belonging� sags in a hammock between �roots� and �routes�, suburbanizing a prime site of cultural toing and froing. It sedates the hearty appetites most of us have for different ideas nurtured in other places by foreign cultures and cooked up in the globalising kitchens of media fusion. If you don�t agree with that statement, then you won�t be able to think of any good reason why other people somewhere �else� (like Venice) might be even a bit interested in what we do here aside from grow meat and make monocultural assertions on Fonterra�s �Milk� website. We need to embrace the likelihood that traffic might both enrich local culture and sharpen the definitions of its differences, while simultaneously advancing its global playtime. Think Pacific hip hop.
Zen rapper Max was born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1935, and has been resident in North America, and mostly in New York City, for more than forty years � that�s part of what makes home. He and Barbara have come back to New Zealand regularly, in ways both businesslike and emotional, for years � that�s another part. Max�s painting has often reached into a sense of Oceanic space and brilliance, learned also on the Pacific Coast of the USA, where he used to maintain a second studio in L.A. � that�s another part. I visited Max�s Western outpost once with a couple of my kids � they were impressed by the steel fortress of the studio�s security system: this Pacific had gangs and guns in it. And the work also reaches into Asia, into a mix of philosophies, practices, and places sampled in 1994 by Dianne and Peter Beatson�s exhibition at the Manawatu Art Gallery, The Crane and the Kotuku � Artistic Bridges between New Zealand and Japan � home is also back and forth along these bridges, and where they disclose friends like the Chinese American poet John Yau in New York.
What about wisdom? It comes with great mentors, says Max � with great traditions of discipline. If you don�t �get it�, you don�t get it. But if you think you�re wise, you�re not (and if you don�t think you are, it doesn�t follow that you might be). Being wise is remaining open to learning: it�s valuing ignorance. It�s not wanting to finish.
As Thomas McKevilley reminds us in a shrewd essay for the Brush of All Things catalogue, Max retro-entered the moment of high modernism in America as one born twenty years after and far away from the great American abstract expressionists Pollock, Kline, and Motherwell; also de Kooning, who introduces a narrative pressure to Max�s influences. His mentored American practice began as the baton of high art was being passed to the pop artists of the 1960s who wanted to be rid of the heroic and the transcendental, and as American modernism�s huge confidence began to break up on the Coney Island beach of the post-modern.
Seventeen years ago, at the height of neo-expressionist frenzies (not least around Max�s hood), Thomas McEvilley�s famous Artforum essay about the artist Agnes Martin, �Grey Geese Descending�, drew a careful line under the moment when the post-modern began to spin out, and suggested it might be time to look again at the thoughtfulness, the mentoring, of modernism�s rested wisdom. It seems easy, now, to say blithely that Max Gimblett�s an unabashed modernist from way back, with all the transcendentalism and heroics intact. But his persistence wasn�t just stubborn, or dumb, nor was it just a consequence of the time-lapse noticed by McEvilley. Max processed the disciplines of modernism, he stayed with them while finding ways to change his practice and take on new learning. He didn�t finish. From 1982, his monochromatic and colour-saturated paintings began to be shaped, most memorably as quatrefoils. They became physical � signs of action appeared that owed as much or more to Zen learning and traditions of bold brush ink calligraphy than to the �action painting� of the great abstract expressionists, with the possible exception of Franz Kline, though the gestures weren�t exclusively calligraphic � there were also pours, throws, pools, jabs, and spatters.
In The Brush of All Things there�s a big quatrefoil painting from 1995 called �Action Painting�. Yes, that�s a bad pun, and no, it�s not. The title�s a homage to the physicality of Jackson Pollock and the heyday of American abstract expressionism in the 1940s and 50s. But it�s also a way of measuring the distance Max Gimblett�s use of that teaching has enabled him to travel from it. The title�s an historical artifact, and the disciplines that have directed the work�s astonishingly fluent calligraphic choreography are now Rinzai Zen ones of �all mind/no mind�. They disclose a self unrestrained by distinction between body and consciousness: the impacts, swirls, and halts of paint beautifully within the container of the shaped canvas seem as thoughtless as they are perfectly articulated. There�s a sense of freedom that�s captured in something Max says in a lovely interview with Barbara (�How do you know when a work is finished?�) published in the Brush catalogue: �You can beat the mental thought process with your body movement. Get ahead of it. A lot of sport does that.� He also says, �� you might beat the personal identity, you might beat the narcissism, you might beat being caught up in any self-consciousness.�
Max says at one point in the same interview that Jackson Pollock was �a master of completion�, and a bit later that �there�s something unpleasant about the two words �completion� and �finished�.� In �Action Painting�, Max seems to be saying it�s possible and necessary for him to admire Pollock�s bloody-minded heroic staying-in the painting till it was done, while also developing strategies to escape that material lock-down and its attendant anguish. And in another terrific, lucid interview from 2002 with Anne Kirker, the curator of The Language of Drawing exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery, Max says of ink drawing that �it is a form of meditation�. As such, the drawing and on occasion the painting can�t be �finished� � rather, perhaps, the work comes to or wakes up in the world where the artist is putting his brush down, turning his back, and going through to the kitchen for caffeine and sugar and, with luck, a smooch.
Well, we seem to have done �home�, �wisdom�, and �self� without finishing any of them. That�s all right. Time for a story. �Beauty� might make an appearance.
As a staunch modernist, Max is also a staunch internationalist, whose passion for his art is matched by his passion for damn-nuisance causes. Max�s frequent e-mail spams with anti-Republican chain letters, alternative website connections, and rabble-rousing blasts have probably got him on some National Security database down at FBI Central � along with half the population of the remnants of New York�s Bowery, Soho and Lower East Side art loft community that have survived the gentrifying urban renewal processes of the 1990s. The members of this cotton-top community of internationalist lefties, crazy artists, and Zen radicals, if they didn�t self-destruct, might recognize a familiar spirit abroad in the polyvocal internationalism of hip-hop. And I�d even have to say, watching Max whirl into big kungfu action at one of his canvasses, the guy can get down. In the Kirker interview he says, �The language of modern dance is a parallel sensation in my studio when I�m painting.� The words �action� and �gesture� slide away from art towards bodies in motion.
On September 11th 2001, all suited up on a cultural mission, I found myself shut out of the New York hotel I�d left shortly before the catastrophe of the twin towers. Max and Barbara took me in, hooked up an e-mail connection I could talk to home on, fed me, and let me tear around the TV channels looking for a way out. They let me make a grand mess in their kitchen while attempting to get home to the Pacific by cooking seafoods from it. The air outside their Bowery loft was full of dust, and there was no way of getting past the security lines at 14th St., even if there�d been somewhere better to go, which there wasn�t, except home. There was nowhere better to go partly because they made it easy to be at home with them. A couple of days went by. I made the occasional foray out. They indulged me with the Chinese wet markets. Barbara worked away within an immense catacomb of books under a cone of light, like a Talmud scholar. Max�s studio looked fresh and empty and ready for some action. But how could anyone achieve the lucid state of mind required to make art as a �form of meditation� when huge trucks were still tearing up and down outside through the smoky dust day and night?
One morning, I woke to the sound of music and emphatic thumps on the floor of the studio. There were occasional yells. It sounded as though a substantial dance workout was under way. It was. �At every step the pure wind rises,� asserts Rinzai. It sounded more like a hurricane. The days were long, with lunch-breaks. Max was back at work. The studio filled with an astonishing daily quota. We invented a grandiose new work naming ritual. The paintings seemed to be simultaneously somewhere the racket outside wasn�t, and filled with what was outside: whirling destruction, light and colour through dust, phoenixes of hope rising, bones, reincarnations.
Max showed me the Spirit Box cabinet of drawers filled with the jeweler Warwick Freeman�s realizations of Max�s death mask skulls, drawn by former studio manager Todd Strothers. Signs of mortality but not, in Max�s scheme of things, macabre or morbid, they nonetheless seemed in the context of the enormous catastrophe outside the studio to be fearsome warnings about pride and confidence. In the figurative drawing from four years earlier, �Fuckin� Charmer� (1997), a grimacing raver with wild tongue rants from the surface of the paper, partially obscuring the serenely smiling profile of � a woman? There are narratives reaching for the surfaces of many of the works in this exhibition, as Wystan Curnow observes in his canny notes.
You might expect the narrative of 9/11, the bones and skulls of mortality, the political rage, to now break those surfaces. Max used to look at the Towers from his studio window. But the circular Jade, Tiger, and Onyx paintings of 2003 are among the most serene he�s ever made. Their splendid shiny surfaces throw back light � it would be easy to say �illumination� � not fire and smoke. They make it necessary to think again about responsible ways to use words like �beauty�. The simple diagrammatic internal intersections of the four circle components of the red and gold quatrefoil painting Sky Gate (2003) form the shape of a lotus or frangipani � it now seems to have been sweetly implicit in all the hundreds of quatrefoils. More violent � �distressing� is Curnow�s good word � are earlier, pre 9/11 works such as Crucifixion � after Peter Gabriel (1989-91). It�s as though another �crisis� has enabled Max to move his learning along, and the path it�s found for him is a radical purpose for beauty, a beauty that interpolates itself like grey geese calmly descending into blindly reactive situations whose enraged oppositions are cranking each other up towards apocalypse.
Reflecting on his collaborations with Max, and the fact of having not seen him since 9/11, his friend the poet John Yau wrote in October 2001, �I know I will go to Max�s studio soon. Something unexpected always happens when we work together.� I don�t know, these old modernists. There�s no stopping them, thank god.

19/10/04

Posted by BKG at 10:51 PM | Comments (0)

Berries, walnuts, and oats

Definitely believe in the whole foods approach, rather than vitamin pills, nutritional supplements, nutriceuticals, and special diets. That said, looking for ways to address our specific health issues, I'm finding the basics of a tailored diet in berries (blackberries), walnuts, oats, soy, whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. Fish too, but I worry about the pollutants. So, a vegetarian even vegan approach, especially a truly whole grain diet, would be best. At home, that is the way I cook and what I truly love best, but outside, it is restrictive. Tantamount to being condemned to boring food with few if any choices and in quarantine in so many dining situations, a few of them divine.

Posted by BKG at 01:26 PM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2004

Shawna climbing

shawna_climbing.jpg Late at night, we talk for free thanks to skype, sometimes conferencing with Shawna in Hamilton, Elaine in Thorndale, and me in Manhattan. I use aqua plastic headphones with microphone attached that I bought at Radio Shack years ago when Doron promised me--he was in Israel and all of 10 years old--that he would actually talk to me if I would communicate via the computer. I got the headphones, but the conversation never happened--until now. Tuesdays, late at night, I log on for a report about the pathology class that day. What organ in what food container was pulled from the fridge? Yesterday it was an enormous tumor, attached to a kidney, in a 15 kilogram plastic honey bucket, so heavy the professor could not lift it. The first week it was a gall bladder with lots of gall stones in tupperware, which the professor dropped, with all the students scrambling to collect the gallstones rolling on the floor. We are all thrilled that Shawna is in medical school and feel like we are too! Nice to know that she is also having fun, like climbing this weekend. Here is what she wrote in her email: "Attached are some pictures of the small contraption that I climbed while camping on the weekend. There were four levels of 'stuff':
1. A rope ladder
2. Wooden beams on angles
3. Tires/ropes/wood
4. Tires
You should get a sense it from the pictures. Yes, it was a little bit crazy. But, I had a harness and 5 other people holding me up."

Posted by BKG at 08:18 PM | Comments (0)

Tuning the piano

piano.jpg Eugenie, the piano tuner, was here today and took the piano apart. It is a Nordheimer piano, made in Toronto, and from the serial number she found, 18836, we determined that it must have been made around 1913. She even found the original bits of silk inside the action. She says the piano was rebuilt, the soundboard carefully repaired with dowels, and the hammers are virtually new. We have some serious vacuuming and dusting to do. She'll be back on Monday to do more work on it so it is in playing form, though if truth be told, it actually needs even more work than that. It will do for now. A. & S. Nordheimer Co. was established in the early 1840s in what is now Ontario and is considered "the oldest brand name in use in Canadian music."
Originally booked the tuner in anticipation of having musical colleagues gather to honor Sharman, but opted for a quiet evening with her on our own. Thought of cancelling. It is all about my ambivalence about my classical music training for all those many years. The piano marks a place. Annie found it for me. We had it shipped from Toronto to New York. Eugenie says I should take three lessons with someone who would free me up, help me exorcise the demons of the restrictions of my classical past--technique and interpretation, without composition or improvisation or ensemble playing--in a word, without all the fun that klezmer bands are having.

Posted by BKG at 02:47 AM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2004

Pomegranate molasses

pomegranates2.jpg Ilana asked about the difference between pomegranate molasses and pomegranate syrup. The molasses, which you can make yourself, is basically the juice boiled down until it is thick and dark. Pomegranates can vary considerably in flavor, sweetness, and tartness, depending on where they are grown, so it might be necessary to add sugar and possibly lemon. Brands of pomegranate molasses vary. Some are too sweet for my taste or a little thin. The best selection in New York is at Kalustyan's, which has syrups and pastes made not only from pomegranates, but also from grapes, mulberries, and other fruits. Pomegranate molasses ("called nasrahab in Georgian and dibs rumman in Arabic") is used in Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey--basically wherever pomegranates have a long history. My favorites are the Lebanese ones and especially Cortas. I find the Iranian ones too sweet.

Pomegranate syrup is a thinner version of the molasses. So is grenadine. Added water and red food coloring make grenadine clear and bright red. Think Shirley Temples. These days you are lucky if there is any pomegranate in grenadine, which is just "flavored" syrup and mainly chemical.

Here is a glorious recipe for Persian greens, with pomegranate molasses, another two for a walnut pomegranate spread, and a fourth for Syrian lentils. For source, click on the name of the recipe.

Sweet and Sour Greens with Quince and Pomegranate

1 pound assorted bitter greens, including collards, mustard greens, kale, etc.
1 tbs fruity olive oil
2 tsp finely chopped shallots
3 cloves garlic, crushed and finely minced
1 large ripe quince, peeled, cored, quartered

The cooking syrup for the quince:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
water to cover the quince in the saucepan
1 large cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
6 whole cloves

The sauce for the greens:
1/4 cup pomegranate concentrate (also known as pomegranate molasses)
3 Tbs white wine vinegar

The garnish:
Olive oil
1/2 cup red bell pepper, cut into thin julienne

1. Wash the greens well. Remove woody stems, where necessary. Pile the leaves of each kind separately. Roll them into compact cylinders and slice crosswise into thin shreds. Set aside.

2. Make the cooking syrup for the quince by combining the sugar, water, and spices in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, add the quince, reduce to a simmer, and cook over low heat, for about 12-15 minutes, or until the quince is tender but not mushy. (Quince is actually quite forgiving of overcooking.) When done, remove the quince, cut into � inch cubes, and mound in the center of a heated serving platter. Keep warm, covered, in a 200 degree oven. Sieve the syrup, discarding the solids, and set aside.

3. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet until hot. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic and shallots. Cook stirring constantly for about 2 minutes or until they are tender, but not browned. Add the greens, and cook stirring until they are just wilted but bright green, about 2 minutes. Remove the platter from the oven and arrange the greens over the quince.

4. Add the pomegranate concentrate and the vinegar to the quince syrup and boil until the liquid lightly coats a spoon. In a small saute pan coated with a film of oil, stir-fry the pepper just until slightly wilted. Pour the sauce over the greens and garnish with the red pepper shreds.

Middle Eastern Walnut and Pomegranate Spread or Muhammara, from Grand Central Baking Company.
Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 cup walnut pieces
1 red bell pepper, roasted., peeled and seeded (may used canned prepared peppers)
1/4 cup chopped Italian leaf parsley
1 clove of garlic
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 tbsp Olive oil
1 tbsp Pomegranate Molasses
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tps freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Put the walnuts in the food processor. Cut the flesh into chunks and put in processor with the nuts. Add remaining ingredients and process until a spreadable consistency. (It will not be completely smooth)
Refrigerate and serve chilled or at room temperature as a spread for crostini, flat bread or slices of fresh baguette.

Paula Wolfert's Mouhamara
Makes about 3 cups

2 1/2 lb red bell peppers
1 small hot chili, such as Fresno or hot Hungarian, or substitute Turkish red pepper paste to taste
1 1/2 cups (about 6 oz.) walnuts, coarsely ground
1/2 cup wheat crackers, crumbled
1 Tb lemon juice
2 Tb pomegranate molasses or more to taste
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 Tb olive oil

Garnish: 2 tsp toasted pine nuts, drizzle of olive oil, good pinch of ground cumin. For best results, make the recipe at least one day in advance. Roast the red bell peppers and the chili either over coals or a gas burner or under an electric broiler, turning frequently until blackened and blistered all over, about 12 minutes. Place in a covered bowl to steam 10 minutes (this loosens the skin). Rub off the skins, membranes, and seeds. Spread the bell peppers, smooth side up, on a paper towel and let drain 10 minutes.

In a food processor, grind the walnuts, crackers, lemon juice, molasses, cumin, salt, and sugar until smooth. Add the bell peppers; process until pureed and creamy. With the machine on, add the oil in a thin stream. Add the chili to taste. (If the paste is too thick, thin with 1-2 Tb water.) Refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to mellow. When ready to serve transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle the pine nuts and cumin on top and drizzle with oil.

Adas bi' l-Hamid (Syria): Lentils with Lemon
From: Mediterranean Feast: The Story of the Birth of the Celebrated Cuisines of the Mediterranean, from the Merchants of Venice to the Barbary Corsairs, with More Than 500 Recipes, by Clifford A. Wright (William Morrow & Co., 1999).

The appearance of pomegranate molasses in the cooked vegetable dishes of Syria usually indicates that the dish is influenced by an Aleppine cook. Syria has long been famous for its pomegranates and Aleppo for its cuisine. The great Umayyad dynasty in Syria in the eighth century was noted for its agricultural achievements as much as its military ones. A branch of the Umayyad dynasty was found in Spain, too. The Spanish Umayyad caliph Abd-ar-Rabman I (756-788), perhaps the greatest Arab general who ever lived, defeating in turn his Abbasid enemies in Iraq as well as Charlemagne, sent one of his agents to Syria to bring back an exquisite new pomegranate called the safari, which he planted in the garden park surrounding his palace of al-Rusafa outside of Cordoba.

The combination of pomegranate, garlic, and fresh coriander is a Syrian favorite in this recipe given to me by Nadia Koudmani, a Palestinian living in Damascus. It is one of my favorite lentil recipes, yet no one in Syria could tell me why it is called "with lemon" rather than "with chard," with "garlic and coriander," or "with pomegranate," the other important flavors in the dish.
The garlic should be mashed in a mortar with a pestle � the food processor will not work. Some people find this to be a very garlicky recipe, but it is an authentic recipe and I happen to like it this way, though you can feel free to cut the garlic in half if you must.

1-1/2 cups dried green or brown lentils,
picked over and rinsed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil,
plus extra for drizzling
5 large Swiss chard leaves, washed well,
stems removed, and sliced into thin strips crosswise
2 tablespoons mashed garlic
(about 8 large garlic cloves)
3/4 cup finely chopped fresh coriander
(cilantro, leaves from 1 to 2 bunches)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

1. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil and cook the lentils until tender, 20 to 45 minutes, check often because the cooking time varies depending on the age of the lentils. Drain and set aside.

2. In a medium-size nonreactive skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat, then cook the Swiss chard until it wilts, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and drain off any liquid. Set aside.

3. In the same skillet, beat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and coriander and cook until sizzling, 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium, add the Swiss chard, drained lentils, and water, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the lemon juice and pomegranate molasses and continue cooking until the lentils look mushy, about another 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle a small amount of olive oil over it before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

Posted by BKG at 09:30 PM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2004

Final lineup

oldtbilisi_alazanired_e_s.jpgLovely evening! Haidi brought Persian nougat (saffron and pistachio) from Dean & Deluca, Paul and Sonja brought delicious Australian wine ("closest to NZ" they could get on short notice), and Bruce and Holly brought museum wine (a semi-sweet red Georgian wine, Old Tbilisi Alzani , made from Saperavi 60%, Rkatsiteli 40%). Museological? According to the website: "Wine has been produced in Georgia since 5000 BC and the Georgian vineyards, located between the Black and Caspian seas below the Caucasus Mountains are widely acknowledged as the birthplace or �cradle of wine.� According to the label: "...Archeologists found Kvevri--clay vessel--in Georgia with the ornament of grape, which dates back 8000 years, and is the first wine storage vessel. Preserved in the State Museum of Georgia." Bottled in 2002 and ready to drink!
The lineup last night:
Chinese broccoli, blanched, with thick stems scored and plunged into boiling water first, and served with a little dark sesame oil and huge cloves of wonderful Rocambole garlic, from the Greenmarket, sauteed till golden.
Salad: Frisee, watercress, and amaranth, with a pile of thinly sliced red radish, dressed with olive oil and apple cider vinegar
Black longevity rice, in a nice round mound
Red beets, thinly sliced, steamed, and dressed with pomegranate molasses and Chinese flowering chives and cilantro
Carambola, sliced
Lotus root: peeled, thinly sliced, steamed, and dressed with fresh lime juice and thinly sliced fresh lemon grass
Three color carrots: thinly sliced in the length. Had hoped to do the julienne from earlier menu, but no time, dill, or parsley this time.
Roasted red onions with dried cranberries, balsamic, olive oil, brown sugar, and bay leaves
Roasted roots: wedges of white beets, daikon, and potatoes
Edamame: with sliced fresh shitake mushrooms and flat Chinese garlic chives
Dessert: assorted Chinese sweets, black and blonde sesame bars, preserved plums, haw flakes (hawthorn), Indonesian ginger candies, dried persimmons, and Persian saffron nougat.

nougat.jpghaw.jpg

On the haw flakes: "Crataegus pinnatifida , major 'Big Golden Star' or Chinese Haw: A very attractive species of hawthorn from northern China. The leaves turn bright red in autumn, and, unlike the common hawthorn, this tree has no thorns. The cultivar 'Big Golden Star' has been grown in China for many years specifically for its red edible fruits which are the size of small crab apples. The fruits can be made into syrups or preserves, or candied."

Posted by BKG at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)

October 06, 2004

Levenger's catalogue

The Levenger's catalogue arrived in the mail yesterday. Perfect bedside reading. Fantasies of an overwrought home office. I did order a wonderful editor's desk and footrest and bedside lamp from them years ago to celebrate a major cleanup. Ah, the thought of everything lined, covered, or bound in leather, made of wood, encased or boxed or wrapped, with excruciating attention to detail. Feels like the way to furnish the interior of a retired lawyer in Connecticut. So precious.

Posted by BKG at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)

Chinese broccoli

Woke up this morning, a deliciously crisp October day, with thoughts of Chinese broccoli, quickly sauteed with lots of garlic. Or, with mustard oil, turmeric, and chile, Madhur Jaffrey style.

Posted by BKG at 08:53 AM | Comments (0)

October 05, 2004

Dean & Deluca

Pomegranate.jpgChecked out Dean & Deluca on my way home from NYU tonight, after Pilates. For research purposes only--and a bottle of Lebanese pomegranate molasses. At $4.00, it is only 50 cents more than in the Indian shops, but wait! You can buy the same thing online, not including postage, for $12.95!
Outrageous prices. Dean & Deluca charging $2.00 a pound for squash, the very seasonal local varieties that are $2.00 each at the Greenmarket, weighing in at 4-6 pounds. To think that Chinatown is just a few blocks away and the best value in town. At Dean & Deluca, a tiny--and I mean tiny--jar of currant jelly from some effete French company was $30.00. Decadence of the first order. End of the day, so the prepared food was wilted and tired, but I always pick up a good idea or two. This time, a wild rice salad, with thinly sliced fresh shitake mushrooms, roasted pinenuts, and chopped flat parsley, and another salad of green limas (I'll substitute edamame), corn kernels, diced red peppers, diced red onions. Promising.

Posted by BKG at 08:46 PM | Comments (2)

Ly Daravuth

Daravuth is visiting from Phnom Penh, where he cordirects Reyum with Ingrid Muan. They have done extraordinary projects, exhibits, and books in this unique contemporary art space, right across the road from the museum and art school established by the French during the colonial period. In Daravuth's honor, my museum studies colleagues at NYU will gather at our place for drinks and light supper. Familiar favorites include:
Black longevity rice
Kabocha squash with dried tomato puree
Roasted white beet wedges
Julienned carrots with lemon, dill, parsley, and toasted mustard seeds
Sliced beets with pomegranate molasses
Edamame and fresh shitake mushrooms
Green salad
Roasted red onions with dried cranberries
Brenda's German apple cake
Maybe something else depending on what I find in Chinatown, the Greenmarket, and my refrigerator!

Posted by BKG at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)