Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Simple, Healthy, And Delicious Seafood Cocktail~

Photo credit: Steven Mark Needham

Les Fermes de Marie is the leading 5-star hotel in Megève, France, where a charming French Alps-style of life reigns. The photos remind me of when my son was about 8-years old, and instead of going to my parent's house for Thanksgiving as was the tradition, we went skiing instead. 

After a day of racing down trails and through mogul runs we had a simple dinner by a fire in a chalet at the foot of slopes. It was my favorite Thanksgiving of all time, better than any dinner in the finest 5-star restaurant in the world...simply because I was with my son and as usual laughing our heads off over what I later can never recall. Silly, delightful things...

Who knew he'd one day decide to go attend grad school in Paris, become a French citizen and not return to the U.S.! Kids ;) He found the perfect lady who loves to travel as much as he does and are considering a move to Switzerland...

Simple, Healthy, And Delicious Seafood Cocktail~

This is good wherever you are...and makes 8 servings.


3/4 pound cooked large shrimp (peeled, deveined, tails removed), halved crosswise
1/2 pound fresh lump crabmeat, cartilage removed
1/2 pound fresh lobster meat, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup finely diced carrot
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1 tablespoon drained tiny capers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon finely minced red or green jalapeño pepper, ribs and seeds removed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup highest quality extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)


1. Place the shrimp, crab, lobster, carrot, celery and capers in a large bowl. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold together the ingredients, being careful not to break up the crab too much. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Add the jalapeño pepper and parsley, then carefully fold in the olive oil and lemon juice, tasting as you go along. Adjust the seasonings and serve immediately, or chill for up to 6 hours. Divide seafood between 8 wine glasses for serving.

Nutrition per serving: 170 calories, 1g carbs, 19g protein, 9g fat, 115mg cholesterol

Skiing Megève: (HERE). "A Kiss To Build A Dream On": (HERE). Thank you so much for stopping by...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Paris vs New York~

"The life of a designer is a fight against the visual 
ugliness with good design"~

Yesterday, a stroll down to the beach at sunset amplified my Inner Physics Nerd realization that everything is a pattern that reverberates with a miraculously integrated whole. Paris versus New York by graphic artist, Vahram Muratyan, reflects that kind of design coherence that's won him a Zillion fans. 

I Heart NYC as much as anyone, but say "Paris" and I'm one of the BeeGees atop the Eiffel Tower belting out, "You Don't Know What It's Like To Love Somebody The Way I Love You": (HERE). Yes, all capitals. It's Paris! ;)

The above restaurant:  Relais and Châteaux Eleven Madison Park, is ranked among the top four in the world. Executive chef, Daniel Humm, conjures artfully innovative French cuisine based on freshest seasonal ingredients. The 3 Michelin Star restaurant's dramatic art deco adds luster to the occasion of your unforgettable meal.

Graphic Artists On Their Craft: 

There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for. ~Milton Glaser

The public is more familiar with bad design than good design. It is, in effect, conditioned to prefer bad design, because that is what it lives with. The new becomes threatening, the old reassuring. ~Paul Rand

You can have an art experience in front of a Rembrandt… or in front of a piece of graphic design. ~Stefan Sagmeister

A designer knows perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Know thy users. They don’t think like you do. ~Joshua Brewe

I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares, as opposed to ugly things. That’s my intent. ~Saul Bass

I strive for two things in design: simplicity and clarity. Great design is born of those two things. ~Jeffrey Zeldman

Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration. ~Massimo Vignelli

Thank you so much for stopping by. Design Ted Talks: (HERE)

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Gripping Vineyard Tale And Angelic Harp~

For wine lovers on your holiday gift list: Vanity Fair journalist, Maximillian Potter, has set-down an edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting story in his, “Shadows in the Vineyard” about the real-life plot to poison the world's greatest wine: Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.

Its famously gracious owner-winemaker, Aubert de Villaine, could never have envisioned unfolding a letter sent by a convicted criminal who was lurking in the forest just above his Burgandy, France vineyard. The message was simple: Hand over one million euro ransom or his historically famous vines would be destroyed—

“Shadows In The Vineyard” envelopes the reader in an atmosphere akin to that of Van Gogh paintings. On one side extravagant excess and even greed, on the creative side a relentlessly religious devotion to the land and every micro detail involved in the creation of its product.

The boutique Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is bio-dynamically farmed in Cote d’Or limestone-rich soils that have been planted in vineyards since ancient Romans farmed there.

Its history includes the Dukes of Burgundy that acquired the vineyard in the 13th century from monks. Ownership passed to Prince de Conti, first cousin of Louis XV of France, in 1760.

When the Prince died in 1776, his son carried on. The vineyard then exchanged through families between 1794 and 1869.

In 1910, Aubert de Villaine’s grandfather, Edmond Gaudin de Villaine, established the trademark, “Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.”

Growing up, Aubert de Villaine, observed the unending dedication of his grandfather and his father—but questioning a life in the vines studied political science in Paris.

By the early 1960s he'd moved to Northern California wine country where he fell in love with an American girl from the old winegrowing de la Guerra family, early developers of Santa Barbara.

He returned to France with new wife, Pamela, and a newly realized zeal to create Grand Cru wines. The couple never had children, but poured all they had into their offspring wines.

Hand Over The Money Or The Grapes Die~

Two weeks after the first troubling but dismissed ransom note, another arrived. In it were precise drawings of Romanée-Conti indicating intimate knowledge of the vineyard. An "X" marked the spot where two vines had been poisoned and stated: leave one million euros in a suitcase at the designated location or the rest would soon die too.

A now alarmed de Villaine contacted officials in Paris. During the week of the demanded ransom delivery he was scheduled for a promotional U.S. tour. Thus a valued winery worker would make the 11PM drop-off in a cemetery, while surrounded by hidden police.

When a career armed robber was shortly caught, it was discovered that he’d constructed a lookout shack in the woods above the world famous winery. 

A Boutique Alternate~

For those of us who can’t exchange thousands of dollars for ounces of wine, the family partnership between Hyde Vineyard in Napa, the cousins of Pamela, and her husband, Aubert de Villaine, balances Old-World winemaking with spirited California grapes. The affordably priced wines benefit from de Villaine's philosophy and hands-on guidance. A famous tasting of "the wine of Kings"~ (HERE). 

Thank you so much for stopping by. Angelic girl, master of the harp: (HERE). May your cups runneth over with all the lovely things...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Magical Megève and Porcini Mushroom Recipe~

Audrey Hepburn in Charade filmed here~
Laughter, tinkling cocktail glasses, and the pop of champagne corks rise enticingly from Le Georges Bar at the Hotel Mont-Blanc in Megève ...the village conjured-up by Rothschilds in the 1920s to rival Switzerland's Saint-Moritz resort.

At noon, residents and visitors vie for ravishing views on the L'Alpette deck for lunch. And later resume skiing, skating, sledding, swimming, and spa visits con gusto. In summertime visitors hike, rock climb, bike the trails, and paraglide off mountaintops. Annually, there are enthusiastically attended International Snow Polo, Snow Golf, and other World Cup championships. 

The beautiful village has also provided backdrop for a few films including the opening scenes for the classic 1963 film Charade, starring Audrey Hepburn: (HERE). In real life, the Oscar winner lived 90-minutes away over the Alps in Switzerland...where she relished gardening, being a mother to her two sons, and cooking something delicious... 

Porcini Mushrooms and Polenta~
Serves 6-8


For the sauce-

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the mushrooms-

1 1/2 pounds mixed wild mushrooms such as maitake, chanterelle, shiitake
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the polenta-

1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups polenta
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons unsalted butter


In a small bowl, combine porcini mushrooms and 1 cup warm water. Let stand until mushrooms soften, about 30 minutes. Remove porcini mushrooms from the liquid, strain and reserve liquid. Finely chop the mushrooms.

Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat oven to 450°F. On two rimmed baking sheets, gently toss mushrooms with thyme and oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast mushrooms until edges are browned, about 10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté shallot until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, and sauté for 2 minutes more. Add white wine and bay leaf and increase heat; boil until most liquid evaporates, about 7 minutes. Add reserved chopped porcini mushrooms, vegetable stock, and reserved mushroom liquid. Boil until liquid is reduced to 1 cup, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf.

In a small bowl, stir butter and flour together until it forms a paste. Whisk the butter mixture into the mushroom sauce. Simmer until sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Make the polenta:

In a large saucepan, bring 6 cups water and the salt to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and whisk in the polenta, whisking constantly to make sure there are no lumps. Cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until thickened and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in the cheese, and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Serve polenta immediately topped with porcini sauce and roasted mushrooms.

French Wine recommendations from Kermit Lynch: (HERE). Thank you so much for stopping by. Audrey sings, "La Vie en Rose" (HERE).

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Things To Be Grateful For Today~

Photo Credit: Mark Thomas
I'm grateful for beauty, caring for nature, and for places like Martha's Vineyard that combine both. If you feel the urge to gather your crew and skadoo for Thanksgiving--the 18th century rental treasure above might be a place for you. With scenic private acres down a country lane on the Martha’s Vineyard waterfront, you'd enjoy privacy while being a short bike ride or stroll from charming Edgartown, and with the island to explore. 

This rental offers eight bedrooms, each with its own bath. And a private beach on Nantucket Sound: (HERE). 

And the following recipes will rev-up your holiday spirit, too. Epicurious received 100% reader thumbs-up on this:

Sour Cream–Horseradish Mashed Potatoes~
Serves 6 

Place 2 pounds of scrubbed and unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes in large saucepan; cover with cold water. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well. Peel and mash potatoes with 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter in large saucepan. 

Whisk together 1 cup sour cream, 1/3 cup chopped chives, and 1/4 cup horseradish in a medium bowl; then fold this sour cream mixture into potatoes. Season with sea salt. 

Thanksgiving Films~ Hannah and Her Sisters, Miracle on 34th Street, Pieces of April, Home For The HolidaysPlanes Trains And Automobiles.   

More Recipes~ Martha's Vineyard Blueberry Crisp. Island Chic Muffins, Thanksgiving means Dungeness Crab season, and, finally, Apple Brandy Cake.

The Chaos of Stars~  I was reminded today by lines from Chaos of Stars how extremely fortunate it is to hold that feeling of soulmate for another, even long after they are gone, that person you would choose again and again...

I'd choose you; 
In a hundred lifetimes,
In a hundred worlds,
In any version of reality,
I'd find you and 
I'd choose you...

Christina Perri's, A Thousand Years

With so much suffering in the world today, All-Star comic, Michael Jr., has created a brilliantly simple way to make life better right away for others, and thereby ourselves, too: (HERE).

Thank you so much for stopping by...