Friday, February 20, 2009


Berkeley is definitively a unique little town. At a party a couple of weekends ago, after a wonderful concert of Brahms and Beethoven, played by a friend, I talked and reminisced about the old days, the days when I arrived, plucked freshly from the riverside of the Seine. Berkeley was in the throws of hippidom with fabulous stores of natural foods in bulk, a supermarket with a kiddie corral, hot tubs to soak in after dancing to Stevie ,tons of footed birkenstocks, and cheap living. But for French expatriate foodies like me: no croissant but in one lonely bakery,and not very good at that ( they were may be a total of 2 bakeries then),no fresh bread, no artisan style or european cheeses, no good chocolates. All that deprivation weighed hard in my heart until quaint shops started opening,by americans who after trips and internships in France mostly, had learned the fine craft of hand made foods.Cocolat, Pig by the tail, Acme breads, Semiffredi's, Charles chocolates, Shaffenberger, and now Chocolatier Blue., a unique chocolate maker, dedicated to organic seasonal ingredients, with an incredible expertly final touch.No bad for a little far from France.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

pink and blue

the soft greenish- pink French tulips opened to a darker shade and revealed their bold center: Aegean blue doilie around fuzzy purple fingers and a bold orange heart.

Monday, February 16, 2009

report from Napa

We were going to have a sense of getting away, and of trying a new place. Yountville, town of sybaritic pleasures, was our" not too far" destination.It is home to many world renowned restaurants and this one, that I didn't know.....We left under sheets of rain that lasted through the day , and I am sure that part of the pleasure of: windowns flung open to the warm air outside, would have added a bit to our experience. Despite the wet and cold, we enjoyed Redd,a restaurant with a minimalist decor in tones of grey and white, with the wall of nice art and cushy flannel banquettes.The food is contemporary Californian, with a casual bistrot style in the presentation. Ingredients are top quality, service is very pleasant, and the A card that I will give it is in the details:warm milk served with coffee, fresh ginger gratings in my bloody mary ....

Friday, February 13, 2009

spring or not

Blossoms are pushed out by the last warm week of January, and then rain, rain, hail, and more rain drench them and scatter them to the ground.This year we had one morning to enjoy them. I picked a small branch thinking I was going to incorporate it in my "spring inspired-time to nest and sing" painting, but afterwards, i decided against it and painted over the flowery branch. Now you can see both.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

a tale of wine and house

I am a bit confused. I try to eat local, seasonal,low fat,high fiber,lots of greens,you get the picture.Then, with it , I might indulge ( French after all, and you know what hedonists they are )in a little vino. It is good for the heart and for everything else ( what about that famous reveristrol or something ).The problem is that grapes are the crop with just about the most pesticides known to men.And that is a bit disturbing. It seems that it is kept on the down low, with a minimum of wineries converting to organic grapes and wine. So it seems natural to seek those if you want to stay away from nasty chemicals. It is not an easy prescription as some of the organic wines that I have sampled are either bad or too expensive. But I want to influence, modestly, you might say, by my shopping choice. Will you join me ? Do you know any good organic wines? here is one I drink these days. At least the label is honest.And that is a good thing.

Another thing that we need in life is a roof over our worried heads. I have come to admire a good friend for always coming through in realizing her dreams. Who have you heard say " I want to move to paris and work there ...." but find themselves carried on by the current of life and keeping that vision as a golden fantasy ringed with pink clouds at the end of the day ? Not that friend. Loving architecture and the Modern sensibility, she had always known that she wanted to build a house. Consider it done.
Beautiful, clean lines, a touch of scandinavia meets weathered wooden facades of the West coast, and with a lofty interior with the greatest orange stone kitchen counter : the dream is real and the living gracious. You go,my friend. You are an inspiration.

After leaving the house and driving home, we stopped for a minute on the local beach.It was a cold day.Only a couple of para gliders-surfers were around and we watched them, wondering how they could be bare feet in such cold water...

Friday, February 6, 2009

foodie arty

It was like a siren call from the island of North Berkeley to my home bound desk.The enchanting music and the delicious pizzas were on my mind as I maneuvered my" boat" of a car under a drizzle to its rocky shore.I was not a lonely sailor as I approached the land of good cheap food and wine.There was the usual line, recession proof slice of pizza at $2.50,drinks $1.50.Ahhh, the sourdough crust with the daily changing toppings, Ahhh the Caribbean beat played live that makes your head nod yes, yes and yes.And there is the people watching, the musings at relationships and favorite destination for weekday lunch.hands down. It was time to drop in on my friend C who owns a gallery.The good thing is that you know for sure that she will be there, at her desk, and ready to chat and share a tea.stores are closing around, and the street, for a Friday afternoon seemed a tad deserted.worrisome.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

ze kitchen galerie

My dear friend F and I went to ze kitchen galerie as far as 4 or 5 years ago. It was my idea to check out this new modern restaurant ,set in a beautiful part of town, down a little cobbled street from the Seine.It was innovative, bold in flavors and as colorful as their walls covered with bright modern art.foams, food in glasses, fresh tumeric, humorous ( after all the ze in the name refers to the way the French cannot prononce the sound "the" and say it "ze")interesting people.On their site, they call themselves a "atelier-restaurant-galerie" which is what my kitchen feels like sometimes, so here is the outpost of the ZE, my own kitchen gallery:

Monday, February 2, 2009

on cue

February 1 is the day  to expect blossoms  to pop out on tree branches. There is a heat surge around that week, but then usually rain comes back and washes the petals away, too soon. California has the best spring ( early) and the best lingering fall ( till November).Sometimes it is warmer in an afternoon of February ( like now) than smack in the summer when the fog sticks hard to the sky.Taking advantage of the soft breezes carrying flowery scents, we decided to head to the beach ( 40 minutes from home) and have a pique nique.

After a satisfying meal, that included potato chips ( chips and sun and I am in vacation mode), i took a little nap and with my head on the sand I saw interesting patterns and lines:

Finally recovered from indulgence, we took the coastal trail , and after climbing the hill where you see this view, we turned the corner and faced the Pacific:flat,sparkling,still . A man,sitting crossed legged, with a ribbon across his forehead , was meditating.It was so quiet, only the boues far away were casting a church like bell sound.