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Renaissance festival in Bavaria

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Mindelheim is one of those old towns in Bavaria that man could just fall in love with. This Swabian village (it’s just 90 kilometers far from München) has been around for the better part of several thousand years, yet is incredibly modern and an all around great place to hang out for a few days. Besides the fun festivals and astonishing Bavarian countryside, the museums here are just aces.

Let’s begin with the city tour: the town center of Mindelheim reflects the typical structure of a medieval settlement. The most important municipal buildings such as the town hall or churches are arranged around a central market square. Like many other German cities, Mindelheim’s used to be surrounded by a city wall. As in most cases, this wall is now incomplete as it was partially torn down in the 19th century to make room for modern buildings. Nevertheless, the remaining parts of the wall and some gates give a good impression of the original state.

And what medieval town is complete without a castle? Above the city the Castle Mindelburg is a striking 12th century beauty that was once used as an army hospital Sorry, there’s not too much visiting inside, because it’s now housing the offices of a book publishing company and a restaurant, but at least you can have all the “Kodak Moments” you want outside. The castle was not changed much in the last centuries. The complete annex displays the typical structure of a European fortress, including a donjon. This architectural ensemble is used to stage several festivals and markets such as the Georg Frundsberg’s festival which is held every three years.

What else you can see before participating in the festival?

The Textile Museum has a relatively new exhibit on religious garments from the Middle Ages to modern day. Another exhibit takes a look at clothing trends from the late 19th century to the early 20th; great for the fashionista in all of us.

One of the more unique museums you’ll find in all of Germany is the Swabian Tower Clock Museum. Housed in the old Silvester kirche (Silvester Church) are some of the oldest watches and other instruments of time telling, the oldest dates to the 16th century. However Mindelheim’s Local History Museum is filled with other displays of cultural life, including traditional Bavarian costumes, and art.

The South Swabian Archaeological Museum has exhibits on life here in the Alb during the days of the last Ice Age, when the Romans traveled the area, and daily life of the early Middle Ages.P1160068

And what medieval town is complete without a medieval procession?

The Frundsberg Festring Mindelheim which is celebrated every three years was founded on July 19, in 1977 by initiative of seven inhabitants of Mindelheim as a public, incorporated association listed in the register of associations without any confessional or political motivation whatsoever. The Frundsberg Festring is committed to the maintenance and continual further development of the Frundsberg Festival, the reenactment of the medieval times in tradition, music and all sorts of performances as well as the preservation of Mindelheim living carnival tradition. For these purposes, the association pursues the foundation and promotion of historical and musical groups, the planning, organization and performance of the triennially Frundsberg Festival and engages in permanent quality-improvement activities. Besides, the Frundsberg Festring acts as a holding organization for several different historical and two carnival departments as well as numerous sections. People of Mindelheim celebrate the Frundsberg Festival a whole row of medieval shops, medieval craftsmen at work, and the great parade is the medieval procession.

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In sticking with Mindelheim’s medieval feeling, the Frundsbergfest was a big fun way of looking at medieval life (fun now, but life was hard back then) and a celebration to Knight and Field Captain Landsknecht of George von Frundsberg (who was a German military leader in the 16th century in the service of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and the Imperial house of Habsburg). There were plenty of historical costumes, good hearty local food (wild bore), concerts, and all out revelry for a few days around the town.

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An other miracle in Bavaria: the Facade painting

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Traditional Bavarian frescoes (artistic facade painting or open air art ) are dotted all over Alpenwelt Karlwendel. Nowhere else in Upper Bavaria will you see so many frescoes dating from the 18th Century as in Mittenwald, Krün and Wallgau. Today, artists still turn facades into “lively picture books”, as J. W. Goethe, the great German poet called them. The themes, fairy tales, religious scenes or architectural trompe-l’œils found on many homes and buildings.

Lüftlmalerei or trompe-l’œils

Outdoor mural, or fresco’s -Lüftlmalerei in German, or trompe l’oeil in French-technic originates in the Baroque period, when it refers to perspectival illusionism. But trompe-l’œil dates much further back. It was (and is) often employed in murals. Instances from Greek and Roman times are known, for instance in Pompeii. How can I explain: a typical trompe-l’œil mural might depict a window, door, or hallway, intended to suggest a larger room. A version of an oft-told ancient Greek story concerns a contest between two renowned painters. Zeuxis (born around 464 BC) produced a still life painting so convincing that birds flew down to peck at the painted grapes. A rival,  Parrhausis, asked Zeuxis to judge one of his paintings that was behind a pair of tattered curtains in his study. Parrhasius asked Zeuxis to pull back the curtains, but when Zeuxis tried, he could not, as the curtains were included in Parrhasius’s painting—making Parrhasius the winner.

Later on the art of painting frescoes became a folk-based variation of the Baroque trompe l’œil phenomenon. The images are painted onto the fresh lime render on the house wall using fresco techniques. In a chemical reaction, the colors “silicify” with the plaster, which makes the pictures waterproof and durable.

Bavaria and Tirol, specially Oberammergau, Mittenwald are all famous for their “Lüftlmalerei-s (the name Lüftlmalerei may be derived from an Oberammergau house, called Zum Lüftl, which was the home of a facade painter, Franz Seraph Zwinck (1748–1792). In the past in some villages it’s traditional to hire-a facade painter to decorate the front mural of the house. They tell stories of traditional life and the deeply rooted beliefs of the inhabitants: Woodworkers and raftsmen go about their hard labours, St. Christopher carries the Baby Jesus over the river and a great celebration is underway in a merry inn scene.

In Mittenwald in the Werdenfelser region at the foot of the Karlwendel you will notice immediately that pictures adorn the walls of the old houses. The colorful works often tell stories from the Bible, such as of The Resurrection and The Agony in the Garden, or depict fires and floods but also popular the Sun-dial theme.

And also in the neighboring villages, many paintings have endured to this day, a lot of them are more facade art. For instance the facade of the Hotel Rheinischer Hof in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in which two mountaineers from different eras are climbing a mountain together. “Traditional fresco painting used mineral pigments and tended to represent rural and religious scenes, as was common in the 18th century”.Mittenwald 032

Mural paintings also in Switzerland

Stein am Rhein (at Constance lake) is widely regarded as Switzerland’s best preserved medieval small town. The immense cultural heritage of this city is a major source of pride to the citizens of Stein am Rhein. As children, they learn about the colorful stories told by the painted facades of historic buildings. These paintings, some biblical or historical in nature depict tales of wine, vineyards, crafts, festivals and a full range of human conditions.  Themes vary from history or mythology, commerce or warfare to morality.  Originally, the wealthy residents of these decidedly upscale dwellings had these frescoes applied as highly visible testimony to their affluence. These wonderfully frescoed buildings are windows that offer an amazing clarity on The Middle Ages. Go and see how vibrant the colors still are even after more than 200 years!

 

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Tutzing, the fishing village with the castle

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Tutzing is a municipality in the district of Starnberg in Bavaria, Germany, on the west bank of the Lake Starnberg. Just 40 km south-west of Munich and with good views of the Alps, the town was traditionally a favorite vacation spot for those living in the city. The town of 7,000 is home to many commuters to Munich, as well as to retirees.  Tutzing station is both a terminus of Munich’s S -Bahn rail network and a regional train hub serving Innsbruck, Mittenwald, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Reutte, Kochel and Oberammergau.

Tutzing is equipped with a regional hospital and various clinics. It hosts the conference centre Evangelische Akademie Tutzing, founded in 1947. Tourists and cyclists continue to visit, often while circling the lake or starting or ending a hike. Horseback riding is possible from a number of nearby farms.

The history of Tutzing

The fishing village of Tutzing was first mentioned in a chronicle of the monastery of Benediktbeuren in the 11th century. In this chronicle a place called “Dutcingun” was mentioned in connection with donations to the monastery. The castle comprised a farm, a mill and six half farms in those days. Around the year 1480 the Munich patrician family called Dichtl purchased the village of Tutzing. In 1519 Bernhard Dichtl, the senior, obtained jurisdiction of the county and was thus entitled to raise taxes from his people and to enforce law and order. The county existed for more than three centuries until the year of the revolution 1848 and was ruled by its authorities living in the castle.

The Hallberger period

The ingenious publisher Eduard von Hallberger (1822- 1880), deriving from an old Swabian-Franconian line of priests, was owner of the Tutzing castle from 1869 to 1880. The founder of the Deutsche Verlagsanstalt publishing company, Stuttgart rebuilt this property and turned it into a luxurious meeting facility for the world of literature and upper class society. Southern flair was given to the property by Eduard Hallberger in 1878. The publisher ordered the building of a lake terrace and the pergola of columns by the shore in 1878. Palm trees, cherubs, vases and fountains added an interesting variety to the newly designed park. Coloured engraving by Julius Lange (1874).

In 1873 Johannes Brahms spent four summer months in Tutzing, completing his String Quartets Opus 51 and writing the Haydn Variations. A small lakeside park is dedicated to him, and a plaque stands near the large house where he lived and worked.19575188_1912858708962275_2373205786108314369_o

Tutzing castle-a place of arts
The heirs of Eduard Hallberger were not able to keep the property. Therefore it was sold in the year 1921. Marczell von Nemes (born as Moses Klein), son of a Jewish choirmaster with Hungarian roots, bought the Tutzing castle and park to have a location in order to present his extensive collection of art pieces originating from various parts of Europe to an interested public. Nemes is considered to have rediscovered El Greco which is why he became well-known in the history of art. Most pieces attracting the attention of art enthusiasts in the castle and park found their places here during the Nemes era. Marczell of Nemes died in 1930.
During the period of the Third Reich the castle was property of the Hackelsberger family. A memorial plaque reminds of the industrial and catholic politician Albert Hackelsberger in the inner court yard. He lost his life in a prison of the German Gestapo in 1940. During the Nazi period, Trutskirch-Tutzing (Dornier), a forced-labor factory for the Dornier-Werke GmbH aircraft concern, was a sub-camp of Dachau Concentration Camp. The town was also a stop on the “trail of tears” of inmates forcibly marched south in 1945; a plaque at the town hall commemorates them.19620573_1912859552295524_8415665676496435158_o

The Evangelische Akademie Tutzing
In the 1940-ies Tutzing castle was owned by the Kaselowsky family and Rudolf Oetker, who was a baking powder producer from Bielefeld. However, the two owners soon left it to the Innere Mission (i.e. a German charity organisation) as a recovery facility for soldiers who had returned from war until bishop Hans Meiser purchased the property for the Protestant-Lutheran church in Bavaria in 1947. Since then the traditional castle of Tutzing has served as a conference location to the Evangelische Akademie Tutzing. The Evangelische Akademie Tutzing offers you the premises of the Tutzing castle for events during the week from Monday to Friday.

The Tutzing castle has its own restaurant with a capacity of 110 seats available as well as additional rooms for banquets, buffets, concerts and other festive events. Moreover you will find a number of local restaurants offering Bavarian and international cuisine in the vicinity of the castle. The best ice cream parlor is the Eiscafé Corallo where my favorite ice cream is the watermelon and almost all of what the Italian profi makes.

The most famous festival is the Fishmonger’s Wedding, it’s a historical event organized every four years by the city Tutzing.

Maria Callas footsteps in Italy

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Italy was where Maria Callas began her career, lived in many cities, fell in love, and sang

The “La Divina” arrived in Verona from the U.S. New York in 1947 because she had to meet Giovanni Zenatello, impressario of the Arena Opera Festival who engaged her for La Gioconda, the opera to be performed that season. On June 27th Maria Callas had already been in Verona, she’s staying at the modest hotel Accademia, (today a luxury hotel). For dinner she went to Pedavena restaurant in Bra square, almost in front of the Roman amphitheater (today in the beautiful building where Pedavena was, there’s a restaurant). There she met Giovanni Battista Meneghini, a wealthy industrialist, with a passion for the opera who soon began courting her. In August Maria Callas song in the Arena directed by Tullio Serafin.
Reviews were good but success didn’t come yet. In 1947 she song in Florence and in many other Italian cities. Two years later in 1949, unable to find a replacement for Carosio, Maestro Serafin asked Callas to sing Elvira in I Puritani at La Fenice in Venice. It’s an enormous success, it was the turning point in Maria Callas career.
In 1950 she debuted at the Scala theater in Milan and it’s the beginning of a long period of success in which both the audience and critics loved her.

The Wedding at Filippini Church

In the meantime, after a long courtship, Maria Callas accepted to marry Giovanni Battista Meneghini. The wedding was celebrated in a side room of the church of Filippini in Verona. Maria’s a Greek orthodox Christian, and she didn’t want to convert to Catholicism so that the wedding couldn’t be performed as an official rite. Meneghini left the management of his factory and became the manager of his wife.

Maria Callas in Zevio

When she’s not on a tour, Maria Callas lived with her husband in his villa in Zevio, in the countryside south of Verona. Her years in Zevio were quiet and serene. She practiced in the beautiful park of the villa. People of the village climbed on the wall surrounding the building to hear her singing.
When she’s not too busy she enjoyed cooking, she prepared typical dishes of Veronese cuisine: pearà, risotto al tastasal, pastissada.
She liked the bar Sport on Santa Toscana square and bar Commercio on Marconi square and she visited them quite often with her husband.
Now, the town of Zevio, together with the Maria Callas Foundation has undergone an important project to celebrate the presence of the “Divina” in the Veronese countryside.
In the old town hall a museum was created in which the collection of Maria Callas memorabilias are displayed collected in more than 40 years by one of Maria Callas greatest fan, Giancarlo Tanzi. It’s a collection of thousands of pictures, old records, magazines, dresses of the great singer. The museum has been operating for December 2007 and it’s followed by a concert hall hosting operas and international events.P1150616

Maria Callas in Sirmione

Maria Callas and Giovanni Battista Meneghini spent few weeks in their villa in the heart of  Sirmione at Lake Garda, away from the crowd. Maria Callas arrived at Sirmione for the first time in 1952 and spent 7 summer holidays there (until their bitter divorce). Today, in the heart of Sirmione peninsula, people still admire the beautiful and elegant villa in which Maria Callas spent the best years of her life. Local people still remember her as a simple and friendly lady. She often stopped for an aperitivo at Caffé Grand Italia.
But in 1959 Maria Callas met Aristotele Onassis and left her husband. It’s the beginning of that tragic relationship that would lead her to downfall and she never came back to Sirmione, but she always missed Lake Garda and its atmosphere.

The transformation

Callas’s international career began in 1947 when opera singers were expected to be overweight. But at 108 kg Callas felt miserable and regarded herself ugly and unlovable. When the director Luchino Visconti told her to lose 30 kg before he would work with her, she dropped 40 kg. She then went on to lose another 8 kg. When she lost that incredible 40 kilograms in one year she transformed herself from fat and dowdy opera singer into svelte and elegant diva. But the pressure to stay thin was tremendous for the food-lover soprano, whose newly published personal papers show how she tried to comfort herself during her tormented battles with her weight.

According to legend, Callas’s enormous weight loss came about because she deliberately swallowed a tapeworm. Bruno Tosi, president of the International Maria Callas Association, said she did have to have treatment for worms, possibly because of her fondness for raw steak, but she dropped the weight by following a diet based on consuming iodine.

“It was a dangerous treatment because it affected the central nervous system and changed her metabolism, but she turned into a beautiful swan”- said Tosi.

Callas began a habit of meticulous recipe collecting, scribbling down instructions for her favorite dishes as she traveled the world. She would ‘steal’ recipes from famous cooks in hotels, writing them on scraps of paper and stuffing them into her handbag. But they were for food she herself would never eat. “She loved food, especially cakes and puddings, but lived mostly on steak and salad”- said Callas expert Bruno Tosi, who was allowed the handwritten recipes to publish for the first time in Italy. “Writing down these recipes was a vicarious pleasure because she rarely allowed herself to taste any of them.”

Callas never ate pasta and favored meals of rare beef or steak tartare. However all the time -and during her love affair with the Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis – she collected recipes: tomato omelettes, veal l’oriental, bechamel sauce with capers, mustard sauce, golden pound cake, chocolate beignets and a cake she called ‘my cake’ which was heavy and laden with sugar. The recipes were sent back to her personal cook, who served them at Callas’s dinner parties. While her guests tucked in, Callas ate only a few morsels. She rarely drank wine, but liked champagne because it was less calorific. She was like many women, struggling her entire life with her weight,’ said Tosi.

In spite of her diet Callas died at age of 53, in Paris in 1977, still heartbroken at Onassis leaving her to marry Jackie Kennedy. But in Italy, 41 years after her death, Italians still love her. In Venice the Ponte della Fenice bridge was renamed Ponte (Bridge) Maria Callas after 100,000 signatures were gathered by the Maria Callas International Association. In Sirmione, park, restaurant, streets are called after her.

 

 

 

 

 

My Oscar night

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Light! Camera! Photo! That is no way for anyone to watch the academy awards. I couldn’t make it to the Kodak theatre “this year”, thus last week I created my own glamour on the Oscar night with a vintage Hollywood bash at home. Eaten in front of the television, of course invite my own “Rat Pack” over it was a great fun.846x

The menu was:

Horse d’oeuvres: Smoked salmon roulades

Main course:        Pork fillet with French potato salad

Dessert:                Rasp and strawberry tiramisu

Setting the table/the scene: I sent invites in film canister with an awards ballot tucked inside. (downloaded from oscar.com)

The décor was: white, black palette accented with white, grey and black candles

I arranged flowers into vases of varying heights-(such as white tulips, lilies) and on the buffet, and lower arrangements on the coffee table. I entertained my guests with best song nominees from the past year (some classics downloads).

The winner was… I placed an Oscar ballots tray for completed ballots near the front door. After guests arrived, I passed out pens and had each guests pick another guests ballot to score during the show. During commercials I tested my friends Tinseltown knowledge with trivia questions.

For instance: What does Oscar stand for? What film and sequel both won a best picture Oscar? What was the first X-rated film to win best picture? etc.

Prizes were a bottle of champagne, and I gave some trivia champs gift certifications to a local movie theater ticket and a DVD of a past best picture winner

Recipes

Smoked salmon roulades

Ingredients for 12: whipped cream cheese at room temperature, 3 tbsp chopped fresh dill, chives, salt, pepper smoked salmon, thiny sliced

In a small bowl combine cream cheese, chives, salt and pepper. On clean work surface place 11×30 sheet of plastic wrap, with shorter sides positioned to the right and left. Carefully center a piece of salmon vertically on plastic wrap about 3 from the short side at left. Continue to lay pieces of salmon, overlapping each other about 1, until all salmon is used. Finished salmon layer should measure about 6×24 and should end about 3 from the right edge of plastic wrap. Using a cakefrosting metal spatula, gently spread cream cheese mixture over salmon. Sprinkle with dill. Starting at long side, roll up salmon into a log and wrap in plastic. Secure ends. Place on baking sheet and refrigerate until serving time. Then unwrap the salmon roll and slice into half thick pieces, which will resemble pinwheels. Arrange on platter and accompany with toast points if desired.pork-fillet2

Pork fillet: 6 oranges, 5t sugar, 2 garlic cloves, 2 pork fillets, 300g baby spinach, 1/4C pecans, 100g mange tout, half spoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Dijon, 1 tbsp olive oil

For the glaze:
3 oranges, juiced and 1 zested
4 Tbs sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 pork fillets
Salt and pepper

For the salad:
300g baby spinach
¼ cup pecan nuts, toasted and chopped
100g mange tout, halved
3 oranges, segmented

For the dressing:
2 Tbs orange juice
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar
1 tbs olive oil

Methods:

Combine the ingredients for the glaze in a pot and bring to boil.
Reduce the liquid until a syrupy consistency.
Season the pork with salt and pepper then brush with the glaze and fry in lightly oiled pan for about 5 minutes per side.
Continue basting with the glaze until the pork is cooked through.
Combine the salad ingredients  in a large bowl
Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing  and pour over the salad and toss
Serve the pork fillet sliced on top of the salad.

French potato salad

Ingredients: 1/4 cup dry white wine, 1/4 cup olive oil, 4 green onions, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons drained capers, 1 teaspoon of dill, 1 teaspoon of thyme, 1 teaspoon of estragon, 3 1/4 pounds of 2 1/2-inch-diameter red-skinned potatoes

Methods: 1. Whisk first 7 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. (It can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before continuing.)

2. Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 35 minutes. Drain. Return potatoes to pot. Place pot over low heat until liquid from potatoes evaporates, about 2 minutes.

3. Cut warm potatoes into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Add to dressing. Toss gently to coat. Let stand at least 1 hour at room temperature. Toss again and serve.

Rasp and strawberry tiramisu

Place this recipe on top of a completely cooled homemade or store-bought cheesecake or tiramisu

Ingredients: 2 cups raspberries, 1/2 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar divided, 3 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered

In a bowl of food processor combine raspberries and half cup sugar. Pour into stainer. Using rubber spatula, press raspberry mixture through to remove seeds. Add strawberries to raspberry mixture. Refrigerate until ready to serve.img_0892

 

Picknick with Claude Monet

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51PSE02HX7LAfter an exhusted non-stop touring in the beautiful French capital I had a rest at my Parisian godmother’s. After the dinner our conversation was somehow diverted to Monet’s house in, Giverny. -By the way where is Giverny?-I asked Sylvie.- She responded it shortly: -Beside Vernon.-

All right, and where is Vernon?-

– In Normandy, more precisely circa 80 kilometres from Paris.-Why? Do you want to go there? His garden is breathtaking! The waterlilies in his pond look exactly like in his paintings.

So it gave the idea to visit Giverny but I didn’t know that then I will return with “his” cook book!

The house of Monet in Giverny

Monet, who was one of the most influential painters of modern times, lived for half his life in a famous house at Giverny. He had already discovered that little town whilst he was looking out of the train window in 1883. He became very enthusiastic about the spot. At the end of the 19th century the village was very placid, consisted of two streets on the hillside lined with low houses in a pink or green roughcast with slate roofs, their walls covered with wisteria and Virginia creeper. The streets were crossed by narrow lanes running down the hill. There were about 300 inhabitants only, most of  them farmers, and a few middle-class families, so he thought it would be perfect to live there with his large family. But he could only afford to buy a house there in 1890. He had moved in with his second wife Alice Hoschedé, with his two sons and her six children as he became the owner of the so called Cider-Press house and gardens. He lived there more than forty years. During this very long time, he layed out the house to his own tastes, adapting it to the needs of his family and professional life. When he bought the Cider-Press house (an apple-press located on the little square nearby gave its name to the quarter) it was much smaller but Monet enlarged it on both sides (the house is now 40 meter long per 5 meter deep only). The barn next to the house became his first studio, thanks to the addition of a wooden floor and of stairs leading to the main house. Monet, who mostly painted in the open air, needed a place where to store and finish his canvases. Above the studio, Monet had his own apartment, a large bedroom and a bathroom. The left side of the house was his side, where he could work and sleep. Monet, who didn’t care for fashion, which was very dark and heavy in Victorian times, had it painted the walls of the house in two tones of yellow. The walls were packed with Japanese engravings that Monet chose with an expert eye. For fifty years, he collected the prints by the best Japanese artists, especially Hokusai, Hiroshige and Utamaro. The dining room was connected to the kitchen to make service easier. Monet wanted a blue kitchen so that the guests would see the right color in harmony with the yellow dining room when the door to the kitchen was open. The walls of the kitchen were covered with tiles of Rouen. The coolness of the blue contrasted with the warm glow of the extended collection of coppers. An enormous coal and wood stove kept the kitchen very warm year round.

Monet was very happy in Giverny not only because his work finally achieved recognition but his growing success meant that that he was able to indulge his passion for comfort and good living. Family meals, special celebrations, luncheons with friends, picnics: all reflected the Monets’ love of good food. Just as the inspiration for many of Monet’s paintings was drawn from his beloved gardens and the surrounding Normandy landscape, so the meals served at Giverny were based upon superb ingredients from the kitchen-garden (a work of art in itself), the farmyard, and the French countryside. A moody, reserved, and very private man whose daily routine revolved totally around his painting, Monet nevertheless enjoyed entertaining his friends, many of whom were leading figures of the time. As well as his fellow Impressionists — in particular Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Degas and Cezanne — other regular guests included Rodin, Whistler, Maupassant, Valery, and one of Monet’s closest friends, the statesman Clemenceau. They came to dine in almost ritual form, first visiting Monet’s studio and the greenhouses, then having lunch at 11:30 (the time the family always dined, to enable Monet to make the most of the afternoon light). Tea would later be served under the lime trees or near the pond. Guests were never invited to dinner; because Monet went to bed very early in order to rise at dawn. All the guests were familiar with Monet’s rigid timetable. Monet was not only a very good cook himself but also he collected recipes and wrote a cooking journals. He had encountered in his travels or had come across in restaurants he frequented in Paris as well as recipes from friends, such as Cezanne’s “bouillabaisse” and Millet’s “petits pains.”

In 1997 Claire Joyes, the wife of Madame Monet’s great-grandson, decided it was worth to create a cook book from his recipe collection. She has spent years selecting the Monet’s favorites and writing a wonderfully evocative introductory text. All of the recipes have been artfully prepared and brought back to life in Monet’s own kitchen by master chef Joel Robuchon. Illustrated with some sumptuous reproduction of Monet’s paintings, spectacular original four-colour photographs of Giverny selected shots of finished dishes, and facsimile pages from the notebooks themselves. The book provides fascinating and unique insight the turn-of-the century lifestyle of one of the world’s most celebrated Impressionist painters.
Here are some recipes from the book:

2012. július 22 039Claude Monet’s Sorrel soup

Ingredients: 200 gr sorrel, chervil, 1 iceberg salad, 1 tbs of butter salt, pepper, 5 tbs of rice, 1-2 spoons of extra butter, 1 egg white

Wash and rinse everything (sorel, chervil, salad) cut, chop them into small pieces. Melt butter in a pan, soaté vegetables, salad, salt and pepper to taste. Pour over 1 litre of hot water, and cook for 15 minutes.

Add rice to soup, and cook until rice is well cooked. Whisk egg white adding a pinch of salt to it, then spoon on the top of the soup. To finish add 1 spoon of butter sprinkle with some fresh spring onion or crouton.

Pork chops Normandy

1/2 cup all-purpose flour, salt and pepper, to taste, 1/4 cup butter, 4 (8 ounce) bone-in pork chops (1/2 inch thick)

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced,1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 cup Calvados brandy, 1/2 cup apple cider, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325  degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. Place flour in a shallow dish and season to taste with salt and pepper. Dredge pork chops in flour to evenly coat both sides. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a skillet over medium heat; add pork chops, and cook until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Add mushrooms to the same skillet, and stir in 1 tablespoon butter. Cook mushrooms until tender. Remove skillet from heat.
  3. Pour the brandy over the pork chops, and carefully light with a match. Let the flames burn off,  then remove the pork chops to a serving plate, and keep warm in preheated oven.
  4. Using the same skillet, pour in the apple cider. Cook over medium heat until liquid is reduced by half. Add the cream to the skillet, and cook until reduced by half. Stir in the apple slices and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  5. Arrange the pork chops on 4 serving plates. Spoon the apple-mushroom sauce over the pork chops, and serve immediately.

Chicken a la Normande

Ingredients: 1 tbs olive oil, 2 tbs butter, 1.5kg chicken thigh fillets, halved, Ground nutmeg, 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced, 1 large brown onion, finely chopped, 125ml (1/2 cup) dry apple cider, 125ml (1/2 cup) chicken stock, 80ml      (1/3 cup) apple cider vinegar, 1/4 tsp dried thyme, 1 tbs plain flour, 2-3 tbs water, 2 Granny Smith apples, extra, peeled, cored, thinly sliced, 125g  (1/2 cup) sour cream

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Heat the oil and half the butter in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook one-third of the chicken for 2-3 minutes each side or until golden. Transfer to a large casserole dish. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Repeat, in 2 more batches, with the remaining chicken.
  2. Reduce heat to medium. Add the apple to the frying pan and cook for 2 minutes each side or until light golden. Place over the chicken in the dish. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook onion in pan, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add to the dish. Cover and bake for 40 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place the cider, stock, vinegar and thyme in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil. Combine the flour and a little water in a small bowl. Gradually add the flour mixture to the cider mixture, whisking constantly, until well combined. Stir until thick.  Simmer for 3 minutes.
  4.  Heat remaining butter in the frying pan over medium heat. Add the extra apple and cook for 3-4 minutes  each side or until golden.
  5. Add the sour cream to the cider mixture and stir over medium heat for 1 minute or until the sauce is just heated through.
  6. Transfer the chicken and apple mixture to a serving platter. Pour over the sauce and top with the apple rings. Serve this dish with mashed potato or steamed rice.

28_+PruimenclafoutisGreengage cake a la Normande

3/4 cup (110g) flour, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, pinch of salt, 1 kg greengages (a mix of varieties), 2 large eggs, at room temperature, 3/4 cup (150g) sugar, 3 tablespoons dark rum, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 8 tablespoons (115g) butter, salted or unsalted, melted and cooled to room temperature

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven.

2. Heavily butter an 8- or 9-inch (20-23cm) springform pan and place it on a baking sheet.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. Core the greengages, then dice them into 1-inch (3cm) pieces.

5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy then whisk in the sugar, then rum and vanilla. Whisk in half of the flour mixture, then gently stir in half of the melted butter

6. Stir in the remaining flour mixture, then the rest of the butter.

7. Fold in the greengages cubes until they’re well-coated with the batter and scrape them into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top a little with a spatula.

8. Bake the cake for 50 minute to 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake from the pan and carefully remove the sides of the cake pan, making sure no greengages are stuck to it. Serve with vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche.

As mad as a March hare

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FFB market 051With the coming Easter children usually put up us, by the way the logical question, that why the rabbit brings the chocolate eggs and not the hen?
To find the correct answer we have to go back to the ancient Greece where hares, like rabbits and eggs, were fertility symbols. Since birds lay eggs and rabbits and hares give birth to large litters in the early spring, these became symbols of the rising fertility of the earth at the March Equinox. Rabbits and hares are both prolific breeders. Female hares can conceive a second litter of offspring while still pregnant with the first. This phenomenon is known as superfetation. Lagomorphs mature sexually at an early age and can give birth to several litters a year (hence the saying, “to breed like bunnies”). 
Thus knowing all these facts it is not surprising that rabbits and hares should become fertility symbols, or that their springtime mating antics should enter into Easter folklore.

 
But another animals bring their successors into the world at Easter time as well, so why the hell is the sex maniac hare has become the symbol of the fertility? The answer is very simple: because in the ancient folk the birth of the rabbit litters meant for people the end of winter, the rebirth, rejuvenation etc. There is one more question to answer: why the rabbit became the responsible of the distribution of the red egg and not the fox, hen or the stork as they give birth to their litters in March as well? Probably because the rabbits lived near to the man, and they were always liked as a domestic animal, unlike the fox or the hen.

Finishing the thoughts of the Easter rabbit, the essence is, that the children believe it, that like Santa Claus, the rabbit brings a gift secretly to them.FFB market 044

The egg-laying rabbit and the egg painting

The precise origin of the ancient custom of decorating eggs  is not known, although evidently the blooming of many flowers in spring coincides with the use of the fertility symbol of eggs—and eggs boiled with some flowers change their color, bringing the spring into the homes. Many Christians of the Eastern Orthodox Church to this day typically dye their Easter eggs red, the color of blood, in recognition of the blood of the sacrificed Christ (and, of the renewal of life in springtime). Some also use the color green, in honor of the new foliage emerging after the long dead time of winter.

German Protestants wanted to retain the Catholic custom of eating colored eggs for Easter, but did not want to introduce their children to the Catholic rite of fasting. Eggs were forbidden to Catholics during the fast of Lent, which was the reason for the abundance of eggs at Easter time.

The idea of an egg-laying bunny came to the U.S. in the 18th century. German immigrants in the Pennsylvania Dutch area told their children about the “Osterhase” (sometimes spelled “Oschter Haws.Hase” means “hare”, not rabbit, and in Northwest European folklore the “Easter Bunny” indeed is a hare, not a rabbit. According to the legend, only good children received gifts of colored eggs in the nests that they made in their caps and bonnets before Easter. In 1835, Jakob Grimm wrote of long-standing similar myths in Germany itself. Grimm suggested that these derived from legends of the reconstructed continental Germanic goddess *Ostara.

In Britain, the hare was associated with the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre and whose pagan attributes were appropriated into the Christian tradition as the Easter Bunny. The hare also appears in English folklore in the saying “as mad as a March hare” and in the legend of the White Hare that alternatively tells of a witch who takes the form of a white hare and goes out looking for prey at night or of the spirit of a broken-hearted maiden who cannot rest and who haunts her unfaithful lover.

In Irish folklore, the hare is often associated with Sidh (Fairy) or other pagan elements. In these stories, characters who harm hares often suffer dreadful consequences.

However the Easter rabbit does not bring eggs in France and Belgium, but rather the Easter bells (cloches but Pâques) drop the eggs from the sky.
In England, America on the other hand adults hide eggs in the garden and the children need to hunt them.

Many cultures, including the Chinese, Japanese, and Mexican, see a hare in the pattern of dark patches in the moon; this tradition forms the basis of the Angelo Branduardi song “The Hare in the Moon”.

Decoration 008The hare was a popular motif in medieval church art. In ancient times it was widely believed that the hare was a hermaphrodite. The idea that a hare could reproduce without loss of virginity led to an association with the Virgin Mary, with hares sometimes occurring in Northern European paintings of the Virgin and Christ Child.

The hare was regarded as an animal sacred to Aphrodite and Eros because of its high libido. Live hares were often presented as a gift of love.