Paris is a Beloved City

I am very sad about yesterday’s shootings in Paris. It is such a beautiful, magic place, populated with wonderful, friendly people who enjoy life and rich with history, architecture, art, cuisine and culture.  My heart is heavy for the victims of the shootings and their families, and for all Parisians as they struggle to recover from the shock and horror of the violence.

My tiny contribution to the healing process and return to normalcy is to reinforce the positives. Today’s post is just a quick couple of photos I snapped on my iPhone as part of a texting dialogue with my son while I was walking along the Seine. He traveled with me to Paris 5 years ago and we had an amazing experience, but that is literally another story (click here for “The Thankful Foreigner”).  He has great memories of Paris, and longs to return.

Me:  “I’m at the Pont Neuf!”

My son:  “Photos, please!”

Me:  (photos below)

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The Pont Neuf Bridge over the Seine
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The Eiffel Tower, way in the distance, from the base of the Post Neuf Bridge

My son:  “Wow! you went on the right day!”

It was after work on a Friday, a glorious afternoon, and I was due to fly out the next morning.  After depositing my computer in my hotel, I walked around for hours, along the Seine, through parks (including the Tuileries Garden), past the Louvre, and down the Champs-Elyseés, absorbing the sights and culture.  Paris is a beloved city of the world, and cannot ever be ruined by individuals or groups doing evil deeds.

More raving over Paris can be found in these posts:

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Postcards from Montmartre

More random photos from an extremely pleasant afternoon in the Montmartre section of Paris.

Flowering trees and shutters, seen from the viewpoint of Renoir’s Gardens, otherwise known as the Museum of Montmartre.

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The Eiffel Tower framed by ancient oaks, a few steps from the famous Steps of Montmartre.

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More to come…

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

April in Paris: Rue des Martyrs

fullsizeoutput_535I have the good fortune to be in Paris over the weekend, and stumbled upon the Rue des Martyrs (Street of Martyrs for those of us who don’t “parlez vous francais”).  What a wonderful street!  Vibrant colors, great smells from a variety of cafés, fantastic people-watching, actually, make that people-and-dog-watching, a myriad of store and tiny boutiques and, the most tempting to me, a marvelous array of food and flower shops.  It was like an extended farmers’ market.  What a great street for an afternoon walk on a beautiful April day in Paris.

Foodie heaven!

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Back at the hotel, I did some quick internet research on the Rue des Martyrs and found a review of a book that raves about this magic street even more than I did just now.  Published in November of 2016, The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs, was written by Elaine Sciolino, the former Paris Bureau Chief of the New York Times.  Reviewer Sinclair McKay from the Telegraph (London) said in January of this year: “She argues with seductive force that here is where you will find the undying soul of the city; real Parisians from all walks of life – the “intimate, human side of Paris”, somewhere with ‘the feel of a small village’.

Yes! That’s exactly how it felt just now when I was traversing down this authentic, neighborhood-feeling street.  I learned from the article that, along with 60 other streets / neighborhoods in Paris, the Rue des Martyrs is protected from ever having chain businesses move in.

If one artisan business moves out, it can only be replaced with another. Only the French would dare to try and hold back the ineluctable corporatist forces that have conquered the rest of us.

So of course I ordered the book from Amazon, of course I will go back to the Rue des Martyrs the next time in Paris armed with all of my new knowledge, and of course I took lots of photos to share with you.  But just the food and flower shops – I have my priorities.

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Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: The Importance of Hats (and Bandanas)

The fifth post in a series about the New Orleans Jazz Festival covering food (restaurants and recipes), fun, music and travel tips.

In the run-up to our Jazz Fest trip in early May, we are building anticipation by looking back at past good times in New Orleans and sharing our travel tips. So many of you have had your own wonderful experiences in New Orleans, so I’ve asked for guest bloggers and content on the Glover Gardens Cookbook Facebook page (and – it’s not too late for you to contribute).

This plea reaped a reward for me, a NOLA-experienced friend who provided worthy content in the form of pictures and home truths.  Therefore, this post is a serious discussion about The Importance of Hats at Jazz Fest.  According to my friend Nancy:

The importance of hats at Jazzfest cannot be emphasized enough! Then, of course, one finds much whimsy, and with luck, a lovely friend.

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Nancy and me, and Jimmy Buffet in the background – it was a straw hat-theme that year, as you can see all around us
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A new friend we made, with an asparagus fern straw hat – a NOLA original!
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A NOLA hat with a Mardi Gras theme
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My wide-brimmed black hat provided just the right amount of protection from the sun

Nancy also emphasized the importance and versatility of bandanas as a Jazz Fest accessory:

I highly recommend including bandanas! I have about 7 that I bought for a dollar each at Walmart.  Very good for covering burnable décolletage or back of the neck.  Easy travel gear! So many colors!

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Nancy rockin’ the bandana; David in the canvas safari hat
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Yet another of Nancy’s $1 bandanas – so many colors!

Seriously, it can be very, very hot in New Orleans in early May, and the sun is as strong as their chicory-laden coffee and those marvelous drinks they call Hurricanes.  A hat and bandana are required for a successful Jazz Fest outing.

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The Grill-Meister’s hat plan involves a series of visors

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The Mad Hatter

And finally, just for fun (because the New Orleans Jazz Fest and hats inspire this sort of thing):

“Take off your hat,” the King said to the Hatter.
“It isn’t mine,” said the Hatter.
“Stolen!” the King exclaimed, turning to the jury, who instantly made a memorandum of the fact.
“I keep them to sell,” the Hatter added as an explanation; “I’ve none of my own. I’m a hatter.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: Bayona is a Foodie’s Delight

The fourth post in a series about the New Orleans Jazz Festival covering food (restaurants and recipes), fun, music and travel tips.

In the run-up to our Jazz Fest trip in early May, we are building anticipation by looking back at past good times in New Orleans.  So many wonderful experiences!  Magical and memorable performances by musicians: famous, less famous and not-famous-but-fabulous.  Festival food so good that it inspires poetry.  World-class restaurants run by award-winning chefs that serve dishes so beautiful and tasty you think you might be dreaming (like Dorothy in the Emerald City).  I can’t wait to get back!

On the topic of great restaurant meals, I’d like to start this post with a confession:  I have a “food crush” on New Orleans chef Susan Spicer.

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Susan Spicer at the entrance to Bayona, from the Times-Picayune archives via NOLA.com

Spicer’s career journey is the one I would have chosen if I’d known earlier I’d be in love with food all my life, and if I had more talent, and if I was from New Orleans, and if I wasn’t truly in love with my own career in knowledge management…well, you get the idea.  Who is Susan Spicer, you ask?  Said Chris Waddington of the New Orleans Times-Picayune in a 2015 profile:

Susan Spicer’s Bayona qualifies as a New Orleans culinary landmark. That happens when a restaurant lasts 25 years in the same French Quarter location, when the chef piles up critical kudos, launches new talents, expands on local traditions and pens a well-regarded cookbook.

He’s right, and then some!  She has a James Beard award!  She has been a guest actor on the HBO Show Treme, and is the basis for one of the characters!  I first learned of Spicer’s restaurant, Bayona, while scanning travel guide books during the one-hour flight from the Bayou City (Houston) to the Crescent City.  (This was before TripAdvisor was a thing.)  My friend Nancy and I were on a girls’ trek to Jazz Fest, our first time to make this particular trip together.  We dog-eared restaurants that piqued our interest and vowed to hit as many as we could in our 3 big days in the Big Easy.  Bayona was high on the list – it “had me” at Cream of Garlic soup (see recipe at the end of this post).  The Frommer’s review included this single-word sentence (about lamb topped with goat cheese):  “Heaven.”

img_1098Bayona was beyond perfection when we visited for lunch.  Nestled in a 200-year old Creole cottage in the French Quarter, it is a quiet retreat from the throbbing pulse of New Orleans.  Seated on the patio amidst huge tropical plants protected by surrounding 18th-century brick walls, you are aware from the first moment that you are in for something special.

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Photo from Bayona’s files via USA Today

And then, there’s the food.  I could try to describe it, but…words fail me.  Truly.  The dish below was so good that I had it again the next year when the Grill-Meister and I made the Jazz Fest trek, our first time in the Crescent City together.

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My Grilled Shrimp with Black Bean Cake and Orange-Coriander Sauce – wow!
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Mango Cheesecake Flan, Pistachio Crust, Blackberries, Ginger-Mint Syrup, Mango, and Pistachio Tuile – another wow!
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The cookbook is available on Amazon

When I dragged the (very willing) Grill-Meister to Bayona in 2012, we asked about Susan Spicer’s cookbook, Crescent City Cooking.  They sell copies at the restaurant. I made my “food crush” confession to our (excellent) waiter and we enthusiastically told him to add a cookbook to our bill.  A few minutes later, out came Susan with the cookbook!  She was incredibly gracious and autographed my copy.  The cookbook is wonderful, and my food-love and admiration for her continues.

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My copy of Crescent City Cooking; I just couldn’t resist using the photo with Godfrey meowing (perhaps he’s saying “take me to Bayona!”

Like the rest of New Orleans, Bayona doesn’t take itself too seriously (except for the food). The staff is warm, welcoming, fun, and perhaps a bit quirky.  The interior decor is bright and colorful.

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Quirky good humor on display
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The sign above a big bay window, which keeps the natural light pouring into the dining room
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Nancy and me at that first enchanting lunch in 2010; look how happy we are!

After Nancy and I did the first recon, and then went back the next year, the Grill-Meister was my Bayona date.  He had the Cream of Garlic Soup during his first Bayona experience.  Oh. My. Gosh!  The recipe was published on the internet, so I have repeated it here, courtesy of the Times-Picayune:

Makes 8 servings

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cups peeled and sliced onions
  • 2 cups peeled but not chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 7 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bouquet garni (parsley stems, thyme sprigs and bay leaf)
  • 3 cups stale bread, torn into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until they turn a deep golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Add the thyme, 6 cups of the chicken stock, and the bouquet garni and bring to a boil. Stir in the bread cubes and let simmer for 10 minutes, until the bread is soft. Remove the soup from the heat and cool for 10 minutes.

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Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook