Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday Sepia

.....and the painted ponies go 'round and 'round.........

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding - Did You See It?

Well it was quite like most weddings you go to, wasn't it?  There were a few fashion hits, and a few fashion misses! (Beatrice and Eugenie, uh, hello?!)  Kate and her family were paragons of restraint.  And that extended from the simplicity of her dress right through her bouquet and the lovely trees lining the aisle at Westminster vs. masses of flowery garlands, which one might more normally expect.   My favorite parts were: the sermon, the music, especially the choir boys, and the beautiful beautiful horses.  It was very picturesque wasn't it ?  (With the exception of the VW buses taking everyone to the Palace -sez Mr. Paradis.  He liked that Aston Martin tho'!)  The Brits know how to do it.  It helps that they still embrace color, braid, and a big hat.

I did like the sentiment expressed that marriage is about bringing out the best in each other.   For the record, I did not wake up at 3:00 a.m. to take that in!

So now the special moment is over.  Hope the rest of your weekend is full of many others.  Cheers!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hollywood Market Color Stories

The Hollywood Market is under threat.  It might be there for yet another 3 Sundays.  But after that, someone wants the Sunday access to their parking ramp restored.  RESULT:  Four city-block lengths of vendors with nowhere to sell their goods and at least three other farmers markets under threat.  (Since they are also managed by the Hollywood entity.)  This would never happen in Paris, would it? 

Meanwhile I could always get my vegetables and fruit (and shellfish and plants!) from elsewhere, a CSA for example. (Community Supported Agriculture.)  But that would mean having a box of vegetables I did not choose delivered to me weekly.  And hubby and I would miss having a stroll in the sunshine up and down the length of stalls, listening to the Bluegrass guys, the jazzy guys, and the grizzled Japanese folkie shouting out songs of insurrection.  No more balloon animals, Afro-mystic lavender vendors, Latino-Persian fruit and avocado purveyors, Thai-ladies-with-orchids.  No more Hollywood "downtown" fashions.  No more expresso in a paper cup.

Anybody out there doing CSA's?   Is it good enough?  Or will I just have to start doing my farmer's marketing solo, on Wednesdays?  With noone to help me carry all the bags?  Or help with the pressing decisions?  

It's a lonely prospect!  Dontcha feel for me?  And p.s. if these pictures come out AGAIN as empty rectangles with question marks in the center (like my head feels when this sort of thing happens) give me your input.  (If it's happened to you.)  So I don't have to spend an hour on blogger figuring out what happened?!

Cheers!  Happy Royal Wedding Viewing - to all those who love a spectacle and are not too proud!  (wink.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hollywood - Could These Photos.......




about it?  Or is it still romantic?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Corner View - What's For Lunch

"It's like a Fairyland" I heard a lady sigh on leaving Petersham Nurseries.

On Monday I posted the recipe here for the Chef, Skye Gyngell's delicious chocolate mousse from her

second cookbook, My Favorite Ingredients.

I've also posted before about Petersham Nurseries here.  From a visit just about two years ago.

The Cafe at Petersham Nurseries has just received one Michelin star.

To lunch in a setting like this....

is truly like a dream.

What more could you really want?  Beautiful flowers.  A warm colorful atmosphere.

Anyone have any objections to lunching here?

Alright, shall I book us in then?

For more Corner View Lunches:  jane ian - bonnie - joyce - kim - kay -trinsch - ritva - francesca - state of bliss cabrizette - isabelle - janis -kari - jgy - lise - cate - otli - dorte - b -sophie - mcgillicutty - sunnymama -daan - ibb - pienduzz - kelleyn - ninjasammi - theresa - cherry b - juliette -shokoofeh - cole - grey lemon -lucylaine - lynn - skywriting - anna -dorit - conny - l´atelier - kamana -anne marie - rosamaría - victoria -tikjewit - juniper - annabel - andrea -valerie - merel soisses - mlle paradiscacahuete - wander chow - barbara -emily - tally - nadine - matilda - don -flowtops - susanna - tania - dana -ingrid - tzivia - mezza - lollipop - mari

Monday, April 25, 2011

Oh Happy Day

It's odd, isn't it?  Some of us are very much less happy for William and "Catherine" this week than we were for Charles and Diana's marriage.  Could it be simply because Diana was so pretty and luminous and the perfect embodiment of an English rose with her height and her hair and her peaches-and-cream complexion and those long eyelashes?   Kate is pretty, but she is so in kind of an ordinary, girl-next-door way.  Does this explain her less-so appeal?  Or are we all just so much older, world weary, cynical (been there, done that) that we just don't invest ourselves emotionally in people we don't know like that anymore? 

Could it be because both Charles and Diana tended to wear their hearts more on their sleeves, were more open to all of "us", were more vulnerable, and gave us greater access to their insides.  And this made us happy?  Like we could be close to the "Royals". 

William and Kate seem like quite nice young people but they have NO intention of letting ANYBODY "out here" get that close in.  We are less happy about that but it looks like, as a result of their circumspection, they have a better shot of finding their very own enduring HAPPINESS. 

Best of luck to them.  But I still don't understand why we have to buy souvenirs of their marriage!  

Steinberg and Tolkien, Kings Road

Huh, why matches you might ask?  (Oh! To light the eternal flame of L-U-V-V?)

Cath Kidston

Kate and Wills tea towel?  Because L-U-V-V can be messy?

Emma Bridgewater at a Notting Hill Charity Shop, Westbourne Grove

A mug for 20 Pounds??????  (That's about 35 dollars!)   Well the proceeds DO go to Charity.....and I have always liked the Matthew Rice illustrations for E. B. (the one on the right)..........hmmm, hmmmm

Not sure who by, but also at the Charity Shop

And finally - I think the likenesses are quite good -  the 100% percent organic cotton screen printed reusable  Will and Kate grocery totebag!  With - so thoughtful, little Corgis at the happy couple's feet!

Artist unknown

And Rob Ryan's got in on the act too?  Or, who's got a magnifying glass, is it just a RR wannabe?

Now tell me, would you?  Buy royal wedding souvenirs?  Please explain why?  And will you be watching?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Monday Bites - Skye Gyngell

It's Chocolate Mousse.  YES.  Chocolate Mousse with Caramel Sauce.  Can you spell:  THICK-AS-A-BRICK????  Yet it is not heavy.  This dessert, like any good mousse, melts on the mouth and disappears before you hardly know it.  And YES.  Mr. Paradis ate THE WHOLE THING ALL BY HIMSELF!  (That big yellow dollop is English cream covered with caramel.)

Normally I am not a fan of these trendy salty-caramel plus anemic chocolate something variations that are everywhere unavoidable in order for people to prove that they are truly "gourmets" these days.  It's a bit of a bore to me, really.  (And if I have a bit of an attitude, it must be because I'm watching James May's Wine Travels and his stroppiness will have rubbed off on me.  Sorry.) But listen, really, THIS CHOCOLATE WITH CARAMEL combination is A DREAM.   And probably because the chocolate is not really very sweet at all.  While the caramel is what brings the sweetness, in a light seductive way.  It is not heavy salty caramel.  (Whew!  Thx Be to G-d!)

And how lucky are you today because I have the recipe for the marvel right here for you?  It appears in this book: 

(And sidenote:  remember that post I did the other week about the blue-green and red color story here?  Well NOW what do you think?  Could the inspiration have come from here?  It's a subtley striking cover, no?)

Which I brought home with me last summer and haven't really cooked out of.  (Did I really just say that?!)  If you don't know who Skye Gyngell is, you should.  She is a newly famous chef who just received a Michelin star and cooks at Petersham Nurseries.  Which I have posted about previously here.  And which I will post about again.  Her food is pretty unpretentious visually, which may be why the book did not get me rushing into the kitchen with it.  But I was reminded by my second visit to the Cafe that her flavors can make a person delirious with joy.  That comes from thoughtful, careful handling of ingredients, excellent quality ingredients (most of the vegetables are grown onsite at the Nurseries), and letting those ingredients speak for themselves in rustic-graceful ways.  This is NOT grill and garnish cooking however much you'd like to think it might be.  So.  Recipe?  Yes:

10 1/2 oz good quality dark chocolate min. 64% cocoa solids, broken into pieces
8 organic eggs, separated
1/2  cup superfine sugar
pinch of sea salt

For the salty caramel:  1 1/4 cups superfine sugar, 1 3/4 cups water, generous pinch of sea salt

So in Skye Gyngell's words:

Melt the chocolate slowly in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, then remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Meanwhile beat the eggyolks and half the sugar together in a bowl until pale and thick.  Slowly incorporate the melted chocolate.

In a clean bowl, whisk the eggwhites with the salt until soft peaks form, then gradually whisk in the remaining sugar. Carefully fold the eggwhites into the chocolate mixture, a third at  a time until evenly combined.  Pour into a large bowl, cover and place in the refrigerator to set.

Salty Caramel:

Take this salty caramel as far as you dare.  It takes a little courage, but I take it to where I can just smell the burn.  Visually I love a rich, dark caramel; one that is too pale looks - and tastes - insipid.  This is a good example of all our senses playing a role in our cooking - sight, sound, smell, and of course, taste.

For the salty caramel place the sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small heavy pan over very low heat, and without stirring, let the sugar dissolve.  Once dissolved, turn up the heat till fairly high and bring to a boil.  Cook until the caramel begins to color; this will take at least 5 minutes.  When it starts to brown around the sides - watch it carefully - as it will then darken quite quickly.

Once the caramel has reached a deep mahogany color, quickly and carefully pour in the remaining 1 1/4 cups of water.  Cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes to loosen the caramel and ensure that it doesn't set hard.  Finally, throw in the salt, stir once or twice, then remove from the heat.  Pour into a heatproof bowl, let cool and then let chill.

To serve, spoon the chocolate mousse onto plates and serve with the salty caramel and cream (which Skye Gyngell assumes you must always have on hand in your frig as any proper English person does, because it is not called for in the ingredients list!)  Looking at the picture closer, and remembering my little taste - I don't think this is really like most kinds of cream you'll find in the U.S.  So you could experiment with whipped cream, mascarpone, Devon (clotted) cream from your gourmet store or creme fraiche.

Sadly it may be that the Petersham Nurseries Cafe has been spoiled by its success.  Reviews you may find seem to class the service as not so great, the menu overpriced for food that is just, "fine".  I remember my first meal there two years ago was one of those that I still crave and dream about.  This last time it was good, but despite a huge number of cooks in the kitchen (maybe that was the problem) my main course was not as memorably exquisite.   If you're in doubt, on both occasions, Skye Gyngell was on the premises which was reassuring, and hubby - who can be a tough customer - was very happy with his meal.


On the other hand, you could just buy the book, published in the U.S. by Ten Speed Press here.   Do yourself a great favor.  And channel your inner Skye.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Something Sepia

Coming or going?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Spring Weekend Everybody!

So what's it going to be ham, lamb or just Easter Eggs?

We don't celebrate Easter at our house but I hope it's a happy Sunday at yours.   However you spend it. 

I realized today that it was not so much the other stuff about Easter - the chocolate, the egg decorating, the new outfits, the solemnity of "event" and anticipation at Catholic church.  Or even the Easter egg hunts -  that I loved when I was a kid.  Mostly I loved it because it was almost the first real day of spring where I was living.  When the grass was really green and lush again, and the earth was moist and opened up to the sun and you could smell it as you bent down looking for eggs and felt the sun on your neck and the top of your head.  The tree limbs had little pale green buds flocking them that shivered in the still cool breezes.

We always had ham at our house when I was growing up.  But this year, I could go for a nice lamb something with those braided shiny breads wrapped round a bright red egg that my Greek neighbors or the Portuguese ladies in Toronto would do.  (Probably I am mixing up these two traditions).  Instead I'm planning on making a sunny Easter-y yellow bouillabaisse.  If I can find any saffron in my cupboard.

Today is Earth Day too.  I will not be the first person to say that every day is Earth Day.  When we move off the planet we can call it something else.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Not Quite Marie Claire Maison

It's true, Marie Claire Maison has been, for a long time, a VERY FAVORITE

decorating magazine here in Monde Paradis.  And I can't be alone, because what gets the most hits of  

of all the posts at Passage Paradis in almost two years?  Marie Claire Maison Greatest Hits post, here.

I should just give it up and do a decorating blog, no?

 Makes ya think!  Anyway, since Friday came so quick this week

and the Easter Hols makes for a little lazy dreaminess, here's a little collection

of visual hits that have washed up on the shores of Paradise

Rice Catalog, via Bright Bazaar as above

some of them are from Will Taylor at Bright Bazaar, a person after my own chromatic heart, others a bit of everywhere with, as you will have noted, a starker but still striking allure.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Curbside Gardens, L.A. - You Could Do This Too!

Taking a break from the London pics, wanted to share something with you.

What a great deal you can do with only a little bit of space.

Who needs giant swaths of raised beds and endless zucchinis?  (Your neigbors, maybe not so much!)

How about JUST ENOUGH to feed a modest household?

This one is less photogenic but the plantings are inspired:

fraises des bois at the front, fava beans second, soft butter lettuce heads,

More fava beans, an artichoke, a lemon tree, and blackberry vines on the entry railing.  It's a bee-you-ti-ful thing, is it not?    I would only try to get a redcurb marker so people couldn't park right up against your garden.  And the garbage bin?  I would lose it!

Inspiring?  Inspired?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I find English sweets fascinating.

Their colors are so different from the kind you find in America.  I guess they're thinking of butter.....I think of egg yolks.  And I find that very unappetizing.  So you know, just to look at.   I'd rather eat chocolate!

Monday, April 18, 2011

What Londoners Do

On a sunny day.

They spill out onto

the streets.

Cause you never know


 you might




they end up


a pub.  In fact, it's very likely.