Thursday, May 26, 2016

Window shopping in Paris

Wonderful antique jewelry in a Paris window.  

The expression for "window-shopping" in French is faire du lèche-vitrines (literally, "window-licking"). By far Paris, France has some of the most beautiful window displays in all of the world. I love walking around Paris different districts, window shopping, especially for antiques.  The photo's of antique jewelry was talking across the street from my favorate Paris Roman Catholic church Saint-Sulpice, in the Luxembourg Quarter of the 6th arrondissement. 

Church of Saint-Sulpice, Paris

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

My latest painting titled "Cast iron gallery Belle"

My latest painting titled "Cast iron gallery Belle", Available. 

This morning I completed my latest painting titled "Cast iron gallery Belle". This painting was started in Dec of 2010 when I was living in Baltimore, Maryland. I was confident I would complete the painting at that time that I dated it. Finally 6 years latter It was completed this morning May 25th 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. This painting was a part of about 40 unfinished canvases I have started over the years, that are in various stages of unfinishedness. 

The painting Shows a Southern Belle holding a fan in blue dress standing on a ornate cast iron gallery.  On the gallery is a terracotta potted orange tree. A open guillotine window shows a cut crystal gasolier chandelier in a upstairs room. The building is salmon colored stucco walls. A French Quarter balcony can be small or stretch the length of the building. You see most the balconies in the French Quarter of New Orleans. You will also see a number of cast iron galleries. A Gallery is generally wider than a balcony as it is supported to the ground by posts or columns often the width of a sidewalk.   

Ironwork is so associated with Old New Orleans that it may come as a surprise to some that wrought iron (worked by hand) and later cast iron are Victorian additions and not original to the oldest French Colonial masonry townhouses. Balconies and porches were bounded by tall wooden columns. Decorative ironwork, derived from Spanish architecture, mimicked another famous Spanish product: lace, and offered an ornate visual contrast to otherwise sober, handsome fronts. Wrought iron was popular in New Orleans during the Spanish colonial period 1760's to 1803. Hand made wrought iron was still used after 1803 when New Orleans became American up until the mid 19th century. During the mid 19th century the more ornate cast iron work is often floral or leafy, adorned with French fleur-de-lis and coquilles, or shells (associated with Saint Jacques and religious pilgrims), also abound.

New Orleans Creole Micaela Leonarda Antonia Almonester, Baroness de Pontalba use of visually appealing lacy decorative cast iron railings on buildings she was building on Jackson square between 1848-1850, set the style for balconies throughout the French Quarter on older and new buildings. Famously, the railings on the Baroness buildings feature the intertwined letters “A” and “P” signifying the two families, Almonester and Pontalba, who were so responsible for the architectural  face New Orleans presents to the world.

A cut crystal gasolier chandelier can be seen thru the guillotine window.

The architecture of the building is Italianate in style. 

Italianate style Features, Balanced, symmetrical rectangular shape. all, narrow, double-paned  Arch-headed windows with hood moldings, brackets and cornices. Balconies with wrought-iron railings, or Renaissance balustrading, Carved decorative keystones. 

My latest painting titled "Cast iron gallery Belle", Available. 

If you would like to follow the progression of my artwork and these paintings please visit and like my facebook page 


Blueberry crumble for dessert!

Homemade blueberry crumble displayed in a late 18th century cornflower decorated plate pick up at a Paris flea market for one euro. The coin silver spoon is American late 18th century. The Old Paris porcelain vase dates from the 1850's and the watercolor is Italian 1820's. 

It's Blueberry season in Mobile, Alabama. The photo's in this post are from last year. Every year around this time I visit my birth town of Mobile, Alabama. I love to go Blueberry picking at Betty’s Berry Farm in Tanner Williams Alabama. I also make my yearly Blueberry crumble. Betty’s Berry Farm has been open 21 years providing high quality, healthy blueberries.

Blueberry crumble displayed in a 1820's English Regency silver tray with a mid 18th century Italian engraving in background. 


1 pkg. frozen or 3 c. blueberries

2 tbsp. lemon juice

2/3 c. packed brown sugar

1/2 c. flour

2/3 c. quick oats

1/3 c. butter

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

Spread blueberries in square baking dish, 8 x 8 x 2 inches. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix remaining ingredients, sprinkle over berries.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake about 40 minutes or until topping is light brown and berries are hot. Serve warm with cream or ice cream.

The Wilsons have about seven acres of blueberries and about 3,000 bushes, which they planted themselves. They started with the original 21 rows and about 5 years ago added another 10 rows at the rear of the property. Betty's offers 10 different varieties of blueberries and sell between 6,000 and 8,000 pounds of blueberries. 

Betty Wilson and her husband Jack have spent the past 25 years operating Betty's Berry Farm on Driskell Loop Road in Wilmer, Alabama. The experience of picking your own blueberries is surpassed only by the bounty of blueberries you can bring home for next to nothing. Betty charges only $1.50 per pound. Betty's husbands hobbies are antique cars.

Bettie is now selling flowers grown on her land. 

Betty' Berry Farm

3667 Driskell Loop Rd. N

Wilmer Al. 36587 



Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Feeding swans in the French Village of Creil

Feeding swans on the Oise River in the village of Creil. 

Last Summer I spent a week in the French Village of Creil. Only 46 km from Paris. Creil was not my main destination. It was a place I used as a base. I wanted to sight see around the area of the Picardy region. In the 18th and 19th century Creil was known for faience. A few months before traveling to France and visiting the village of Creil, I bought a pair of early 19th century period Empire Creil faience plates in a New Orleans thrift store. Not knowing about modern Creil I thought it was a lovely French village of wonderful antique faience. Little did I know it is one of the worse villages in France for crime. I rented a house across the street from the train station and upon my arrival and leaving the train station I felt like I was in the Bronx circa 1980! I had never seen some many people standing around in France that appeared to be up to no good. 

Creil will never win a beautiful village of France award.  During World War II, from 1943, the city suffered heavy bombing destroying much of the historic buildings in the city.  Creil served both air base for Luftwaffe (air base on the current) and key rail hub, and is near the quarries of Saint-Maximin and Saint Leu-d'Esserent that are the basis for V1 of the German army. A great deal of the city was built after World War II in cold architecture. As a Leo I always look for beauty where no one sees it.  The beauty I saw in Creil was the beautiful swans and baby cygnets. Every morning on the walk to get my croissant I would feed this family of swans on the Oise River.


You can see the City Hall, on the island of St. Mauritius: Built near the site of the ruins of the old castle and collegiate Two Cities, it was inaugurated on 7 June 1903

Two Grisaille faience plates I bought in New Orleans were made by the Creil factory with transferware by Stone, Coquerel and Legros d'Anisy in Paris during the French Empire period.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

My birthday lunch at world's famous Antoine's Restaurant 1840

Omelette Alaska Antoine  
Antoine’s very special dessert, filled with vanilla ice cream with pound cake on the bottom and egg white meringue on top flambeed on the outside to perfection. The presentation of Baked Alaska for two (Please note: This special dessert must be ordered in advance.) 

Last Summer I spent a month in France for my birthday. I arrived back to New Orleans at the end of Aug. My birthday is Aug 2th. As a Leo I celebrate my birthday the whole month of August. Last year the celebrations spilled out into the next month as New Orleans friends treated me to lunch and dinner for my birthday during the month of September. One of these memorable outings was held at world famous Antoine's Restaurant. having been established in 1840 by Antoine Alciatore of Bordeaux France where I just came back from spending almost two weeks. Antoine's is a Louisiana Creole cuisine restaurant located at 713 rue St. Louis (St. Louis Street) in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. It has the distinction of being the oldest family run restaurant in the United States. 

Scarlett and Rhett enjoy fine dining at Antoine's on their honeymoon in New Orleans.

The birthday party of friends. 

This New Orleans institution, it is notable for being the "inventor" of several famous dishes, such as Oysters Rockefeller, Pompano en Papillote, Eggs Sardou and Pigeonneaux Paradis. Antoine's Cookbook, compiled by Roy F. Guste (the fifth-generation proprietor) features hundreds of recipes from the Antoine's tradition. The restaurant is also known for its VIP patrons (including several U.S. presidents and Pope John Paul II).

Me to the right wearing a wonderful Hermès silk scarf, a birthday gift from my friend Judy in the hat. 

Antoine's features a 25,000 bottle capacity wine storage and 14 dining rooms of varying sizes and themes, with several featuring Mardi Gras krewe memorabilia. The lengthy menu (originally only in French, now in French and English) features classic French-Creole dishes. By tradition, Antoine's is closed to the general public on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Mardi Gras. The restaurant can be reserved for private parties on these "Closed Days." Advance reservations are required for dining during Mardi Gras and on weekends. The executive chef as of November 2012 is Michael Regua.

Poulet aux champignons - 
Chicken breast sautéed with fresh mushrooms, butter and garlic.

Huitres en coquille a la Rockefeller (notre creation) - 
Louisiana Gulf Oysters baked on the half shell with the original Rockefeller sauce created by Antoine's in 1889.

Omelette Alaska Antoine  
Antoine’s very special dessert, filled with vanilla ice cream with pound cake on the bottom and egg white meringue on top flambeed on the outside to perfection. The presentation of Baked Alaska for two (Please note: This special dessert must be ordered in advance.) 

In the late 1800s Antoine's son Jules took over running the restaurant. Jules perfected the recipes for what would become its signature dishes, including oysters Rockefeller, escargots a la bourguignonne, souffleed potatoes and baked Alaska.

Jules also acquired property around the original restaurant as it became available, including a former slave quarters and carriage house. Antoine's eventually could accommodate 800 people in its 14 dining rooms. Each dining room was decorated according to a theme, many of the themes referencing a Mardi Gras krewe, such as Rex, Proteus, Twelfth Night or Maison Verte.

Baked Alaska (also known as glace au four, omelette à la norvégienne, Norwegian omelette and omelette surprise) is a dessert food consisting of ice cream and cake topped with browned meringue.

The dish is made of ice cream placed in a pie dish lined with slices of sponge cake or Christmas pudding and topped with meringue. The entire dessert is then placed in an extremely hot oven for a brief time, long enough to firm the meringue. The meringue is an effective insulator, and the short cooking time prevents the heat from getting through to the ice cream.

The most common claim about the name "Baked Alaska" is that it was coined at Delmonico's Restaurant by their chef-de-cuisine Charles Ranhofer in 1876 to honor the recently acquired American territory of Alaska. However, no period account exists of this happening and the name would not be used until later. Ranhofer himself referred to the dish as "Alaska Florida" in 1894, apparently referring to the contrast between extremes of heat and cold. The name "omelette à la norvégienne"/"Norwegian omelette" similarly refers to the low temperature of Norway.

February 1 is Baked Alaska Day in the United States.

Cellars are not practical in New Orleans because the water table basically begins a couple of inches below the surface. Therefore, Antoine's has what is best described as a "wine alley", a corridor 165 feet (50 m) long, lined by wine racks and carefully air-conditioned. Guests who are present at closing time are sometimes offered a tour of Antoine's, which includes the 14 dining rooms and many display cases full of Antoine's memorabilia.

Antoine is also known for Cafe Brulot, a drink made from coffee, orange liqueur, cinnamon stick, sugar, cloves and lemon peels. At Antoine's, the coffee is customarily flamed when it is served as part of a dessert course.

The architecture of the main dining room is amazing with original moldings and columns. 

During Prohibition, Antoine's served alcohol in coffee cups that were carried through the ladies restroom into the Mystery Room, one of the themed dining rooms.

The restaurant closed the Japanese Room at the beginning of World War II. It remained closed for 43 years.

Antoine's requires all aspiring servers to spend two to three years in its apprentice program before they "make waiter."

The main dining room at Antoine's 

Dinner at Antoine's, a 1947 murder mystery by Frances Parkinson Keyes, begins with a dinner party in the 1840 Room and includes another dinner party at Antoine's near the end. Antoine's itself is not pivotal to the plot, which hinges on the murder of a woman from a snobbish-but-impoverished old Creole family, just as she was beginning to face a serious chronic illness. Rather, Antoine's is part of the ambiance of New Orleans, which Keyes depicts as an exotic, half-foreign city whose ways are not easily understood by outsiders, especially those from the North. The novel is notable for its use of the "least likely person" motif in revealing the identity of the murderer, and for a final plot twist that renders the murder and its aftermath even more tragic. Antoine's is mentioned in other novels by Keyes, including Once on Esplanade, Crescent Carnival, The River Road, and its sequel, Vail D'Alvery. Dinner at Antoine's was Keyes's best-selling and best-known book.

If you are visiting New Orleans "No New Orleans trip is complete" without a "sumptuous" French-Creole meal at this "classic of all classics" (established 1840) "in the heart of the French Quarter", where "oysters Rockefeller was invented"; the "elegant" setting is "composed of many period rooms" that boast "museum-quality artifacts" ("ask for a guided tour"), so even if prices are thoroughly modern, everything else is a "throwback to a more gracious time"

Antoine's Restaurant

713 St Louis St, New Orleans, LA 70130