Friday, December 31, 2010

Why Not Your Baby? (Gene Clark Lyric)

She wore a blue dress when she walked in the room,
And in her eyes the look I saw was filled with gloom.
Is this the question I would answer all too soon?
Come tell your friend what's wrong with you.

Why don't you call me your baby anymore?
Am I so changed from some strange love that went before?
Is this the change of mind that I've been designed for?
Why not your baby anymore?

Those words we spoke they only seemed to block our way.
The truth rang out when you called me and called my name.
I don't know what I can do or I can say.
Your good friends also find a way.

Why don't you call me your baby anymore?
Am I so changed from some strange love that went before?
Is this the change of mind that I've been designed for?
Why not your baby anymore?

Why Not Your Baby? -- Dillard & Clark

Top:  Fernand Khnopff, The Veil, 1887, Charcoal and graphite 
on stumping on ivory wove paper, laid down on wood pulp board,
Art Institute of Chicago
Middle: Ante-chamber in white marble, Villa Khnopff, 41 Avenue des Courses, Brussels, 1900-2 (demolished)
Lower:  Exterior View, Villa Khnopff, inscribed above doorway "On n'a que soi".

Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's Just Business (New Normal)

Hans von Maree, Self-Portrait with Lembach, 1863

      Watching Pierre Morel’s exciting 2008 film Taken (a sort of “emblem movie” for appropriately protective fathers of daughters) two nights ago, I was reminded of what is, for me, the ugliest phrase in the English language when Gerard Watkins, the actor who plays the “white slave” trader Patrice Saint-Clair, explains to Liam Neeson that abducting and selling his daughter Kim wasn’t  “personal”; it was “just business”.

Fernand Khnopff, The Abandoned City, 1904 


     The Saint-Clair character soon receives his just deserts, but the dialogue summed up for me our current three-years-and-counting Depression zeitgeist, where what I used to consider normal and acceptable behavior has been abandoned completely and so many people seem to have shed and exchanged their human skin and affect for something rough, horny and caustic.  This “new normal” seems to dominate interpersonal relationships, including especially business relationships, where the former customary courtesies have largely disappeared, as well as attitudes expressed in the media (including, I find, the new so-called “social media”), where snideness, sarcasm and a fixation on the grotesque have become the lingua franca across all genres. 

James Ensor, Intrigue, 1911

     Business cycles work themselves out, of course, over time (the tide does come in, the tide does go out), but I wonder whether this violent, malevolent  and denaturing outlook and approach to life will ever change.   As my  wife sometimes observes, leaving your house often seems like stepping into a wildlife survival show on the Discovery Channel.

     Still, when I pause and try to think calmly, I find that this has been the usual year of miracles for us.  That isn’t an overstatement and I feel blessed to be able to breathe, see, take them in and occasionally appreciate them enough.   To more than compensate for some of the era’s damage there have been some precious new friendships that I know will last me the rest of my life, ones that I really needed to have, and even a couple of old, shattered links that have mended.  There’s more than that, a lot more, but discussing the miracles in one’s life seems and is unseemly, at least in a large group.

Fernand Khnopff, Still Water, 1894

Apart from the pictures that frequently cross my mind, entertain and surprise me, I often find myself thinking of and sustained by these words:

     The first is very short, the few lines that conclude Tom Clark’s poem Nimble Rays Of Day Bring Oxygen To Her Blood, that go:

A leaf spins itself
The leaf's a roof
Over the trembling flower

Everything's safe there
Because nothing that breathes
Air is alone in this world

     The second is the (surprising) conclusion of Claude Levi-Strauss’s Tristes Tropiques, which reads:

“Farewell to savages, then, farewell to journeying!  And instead, during the brief intervals in which humanity can bear to interrupt its hive-like labours, let us grasp the essence of what our species has been and still is, beyond thought and beneath society; an essence that may be vouchsafed to us in a mineral more beautiful than any work of Man:  in the scent, more subtly evolved than our books, that lingers in the heart of a lily; or in the wink of an eye, heavy with patience, serenity, and mutual forgiveness, that sometimes, through an involuntary understanding , one can exchange with a cat.”

Fernand Khnopff, The Sphinx, 1896

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

After Nine Months of Tests, French Scientists Identify Head of France's King Henry IV

     In this combination digital image made available by Jean-Noel Vignal and Isabelle Huynh-Charlier Wednesday Dec. 15, 2010, a reconstruction of the face France's King Henry IV is seen, left, and his skull with the reconstruction overlaid is seen at right. After nine months of tests, researchers in France have identified the head of France's King Henry IV, who was assassinated in 1610 aged 57. The scientific tests helped identify the late monarch's embalmed head, which was shuffled between private collections ever since it disappeared during the French Revolution in 1793. AP Photo/Jean-Noel Vignal and Isabelle Huynh-Charlier.

By: Maria Cheng, AP Medical Writer

LONDON (AP).- After nine months of tests, researchers in France have identified the head of France's King Henry IV, who was assassinated in 1610 aged 57.

     The scientific tests helped identify the late monarch's embalmed head, which was shuffled between private collections ever since it disappeared during the French Revolution in 1793.

     The results of the research identifying Henry IV's head were published online Wednesday in the medical journal, BMJ.

     Henry IV was buried in the Basilica of Saint Denis near Paris, but during the frenzy of the French Revolution, the royal graves were dug up and revolutionaries chopped off Henry's head, which was then snatched.

     "This case was considered with the same (level of severity) as if it were a recent forensic case," said Philippe Charlier, a forensic medical examiner of University Hospital R Poincare in Garches, France, who led the team.

     Charlier and 19 colleagues ran a battery of forensic tests on King Henry IV's head this year.

     As one of France's best-loved monarchs, Henry IV was credited with brokering peace between Catholics and Protestants, kick-starting the French economy and building Parisian landmarks including the Pont Neuf bridge and Place des Vosges square. He was the first of the Bourbon monarchs and grandfather of the Sun King Louis XIV.

     In the scientists' examinations of the monarch's head, they found features often seen in the king's portraits, including a dark lesion above his right nostril. They also found a healed bone fracture above his upper left jaw, which matched a stab wound the king suffered during an assassination attempt in 1594.

     Radiocarbon testing confirmed the head dated from the 17th-century. Charlier and colleagues also compared the embalmed head to an autopsy report describing the particular embalming process used for French kings, written by the king's surgeon. Perfumers on the team used their professionally trained noses to identify specific embalming substances in the mouth used to hide nasty odors.

     The French researchers also created a digital facial reconstruction and ran computer tomography scans which showed the skull was consistent with all known portraits of Henry IV and the plaster mold made of his face just after his death.

     Frank Ruehli, of the University of Zurich and the Swiss Mummy project said the research was credible but that it would been more persuasive if the French scientists had found DNA evidence.

     "They've narrowed it down considerably and it probably is Henry IV," he said. "But without the final DNA proof it is hard to say absolutely who it is." Ruehli was not linked to the research.

     Still, Ruehli said the French scientists did the next best thing, by matching evidence of Henry IV's facial lesion and healed wounds to historical documentation of those traits, which were likely unique to the monarch.

     The discovery comes at the end of King Henry IV year in France, which marks 400 years since the monarch, also known as the "Green Gallant," was murdered.

     Next year, France will hold a national Mass and funeral for Henry IV. His head will then be reburied alongside the rest of the country's former kings and queens, in the Basilica of Saint Denis.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Warrior (Johnny Osbourne; Bunny Wailer); Quaker Peace Testimony

Tell me what you’re fighting for.

Why must there be so much war?

You fight against your brothers every day

The price of war you'll surely have to pay.

You must be warrior  

Or a warmonger.  

You must be warrior  

Or a warmonger.

You'll soon find out

If you are warrior.

Everyday there’s always so much fighting.

There must be someone to be always backbiting.

When I see people fight, I sidestep it.

Follow my footsteps and you won’t ever regret it.

You must be warrior 

Or a warmonger. 

Soon find out if you are warrior.

From A Declaration to Charles II, 1660.  

The following includes what is considered the seminal statement of the Quaker peace witness:

We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world. The spirit of Christ, by which we are guided, is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil and again to move unto it; and we do certainly know, and so testify to the world, that the spirit of Christ, which leads us into all Truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world. 

Given forth under our names, and in behalf of the whole body of the Elect People of God who are called Quakers.

George Fox, Gerald Roberts, Henry Fell, Richard Hubberthorn, John Boulton, John Hinde, John Stubbs, Leonard Fell, John Furley, Jnr., Francis Howgill, Samuel Fisher, Thomas Moore

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

(Unexpected) New York Times Nostalgia -- "Correspondents' Choice: Restaurants and Recipes From Around the World"


     I haven't enjoyed reading the New York Times for a long time.
     Although I still marvel at the enterprise and energy that goes into publishing a daily multi-section broadsheet newspaper, and I admire unreservedly the reporting of certain old-style journalists like John Burns, the paper's London bureau chief and great Middle East correspondent, the internet era Times is basically an embarrassment, a sort of snootier version of the Daily Kos, less entertaining even than online journals like the Daily Beast (it's sad the way that publication co-opted and is ruining for a new generation of readers a perfectly good Evelyn Waugh literary invention) and Salon, which can sometimes be informative and entertaining, Joan "Peter Principle" Walsh notwithstanding.

 John Peter Zenger trial, New York City, 1735 

     The Times' main problem lies in its deliberate, determined and complete failure to respect the division between news reporting and editorial opinion.  Everything occupies (at best) the gray area they dishonestly and inconsistently identify as "news analysis", i.e., editorial writing disguised as straight reporting.  This is supposed to be John Peter Zenger's legacy?  It seems much more like Walter Duranty's.

Walter Duranty 

     The Times'  daily and Sunday "Op-Ed" pages are the sorriest of sorry messes.  Years ago, when Spy magazine was still being published, before Graydon Carter and Kurt Anderson both turned into Twilight Zone-ish self-parody robots, they would make cruel fun of former Times Managing Editor and later Op-Ed columnist (the page is sort of an elephant's graveyard for former Times reporters and editors) Abe Rosenthal by calling him Abe "I'm Writing As Bad As I Can" Rosenthal.   Now the paper publishes an entire page of writers competing with and beating the late Mr. Rosenthal for that title:  Thomas Friedman, Paul Krugman, Nicholas Kristof, Maureen Dowd, the unbelievably bad Charles Blow, Gail Collins (a close second to Blow for dumbest person and worst writer on any editorial page ever), and the scary-awful Frank Rich, whose preening moral exhibitionism actually exceeds that displayed by all of the preceding writers, a Guinness Record level achievement.

Abe Rosenthal

     Rich's December 11th article, Gay Bashing At The Smithsonian, established what might be an all-time low, stating as it does (without evidence or causal linkage because there is none) that since "most of the recent and well-publicized suicides by gay teens have occurred in Republican Congressional districts", the U.S. representatives in those districts bear special and specific responsibility for these tragedies. (Rich does not assign similar blame to congressmen in Democratic districts where suicides occurred.)  This article, which veered from thoughtlessly oversimplifying possible public funding implications on museum exhibition practices, to making libelous generalizations about human nature as it exists outside Frank Rich's small circle of friends, to a truly incredible discussion of the Rich family's preferred itinerary for mourning deceased AIDS victims they have known, which doubtless includes Times-funded first class travel to the west coast just so he can harp on it later in columns seemingly written without leaving bed, really needed to be read to be believed.  (Message:  Frank Rich's mourning is worthier than yours.) However, if I were you I wouldn't read it.  And I would also keep the television turned off until the Times permanently discontinues its ur-cute "and what section of the Times are you fluent in?" advertising campaign unless you've swallowed something caustic requiring the immediate administration of a drastic emetic.

     But, as I hoped to be saying earlier in this post than now, this is meant to be a happy article based on my rediscovery of the excellent New York Times book, Correspondents' Choice: Restaurants and Recipes From Around the World (ed. Lee Foster; Quadrangle Books, 1974), a circumglobal tour of restaurant recommendations and recipes collected by New York Times reporters 35 years ago during the now-vanished era of multitudinous news bureaus in international capitals staffed by old-style foreign correspondents who opened windows and shed light for American readers (including this one) on far-away, romantic-sounding places.

     The book covers 62 countries  -- from Argentina to (former) Yugoslavia -- and a great many cities within those countries.  As the subtitle indicates, intrepid Times reporters provide essays and recipes telling how to eat enjoyably and comfortably in these sometimes familiar and sometimes extremely exotic locations. It is an extremely interesting, entertaining and well-written volume and I'm surprised it has faded into such obscurity that I was easily able to pick up several copies on the internet yesterday at very reasonable prices.

     I can only give a few excerpts of Correspondents' Choice's riches here (my selections would all be nice to sample during our northeast U.S. winter), but if you enjoy these, love reading books about travel, food and the way people who live differently than you do dine, and long for the days, as I do, when journalists seemed like explorers who respected your role as members of a curious, intelligent, paying audience meant to be served, rather than armchair bores hectoring you and high-five-ing each other on 24-hour "pundit television", I suggest you purchase a copy or check one out from your public library.   This book, incidentally, belonged to my mother and I inherited it from her.  After she passed away, our local librarian told me that she was the most disciplined reader she had ever met.   This post is dedicated to her.  She liked the New York Times quite a bit and probably would disagree with most of what I say here.

I.  Greece (Athens) -- Gerofinikas by Mario S. Modiano:

"Wrapped around the trunk of an ancient palm tree that gives it its name, this is the restaurant I like best in all of Athens.  It's the kind of place where each hors d'oeuvre is a masterpiece.  It's also a good setting for a Balkan spy novel as it happens to be a favorite dining spot of domestic and foreign intelligence men.  Those in the know can see them dining here regularly and eyeing one another with ill-disguised suspicion." 

Eggplant Salad (based on the recipe of Gerofinikas, Athens)

At Gerofinikas this cold spread is made with eggplants that have been seared over a hot charcoal fire until their skins are charred.  Purists insist that the charcoal imparts a unique flavor, but cooks without a charcoal fire find that putting the egglants under a hot broiler and turning them until all the skin is charred makes an acceptable substitute.

5 pounds eggplant
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
juice of 3 lemons
1 1/4 cups olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar

1.  Broil the eggplants whole over charcoal or in a broiler, turning them occasionally, until all the skin is charred and the eggplants are tender.  The eggplants are done when a knife goes through them easily.  Remove from heat and let cool enough to handle.

2.  Put cold water in a bowl large enough to hold the eggplants and add 1 tablespoon salt and the juice of 2 lemons.  Stir.

3. Peel the eggplants or cut them in half and spoon out the meat in large pieces. Put the eggplant flesh in a bowl of water.  Let cool.

4.  In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon salt, and the sugar.

5.  Remove the eggplant from the water, place in another large bowl, and mash quickly.  Blend in the olive oil mixture and beat, by hand or machine, until the eggplant spread is smooth and creamy.  Chill before serving.

Yield:  8 to 10 appetizer servings; more as a cocktail spread.

II.  Nepal (Katmandu) -- The Yak and Yeti by Judith Weinraub:

"For many people Katmandu, capital city of the mountainous Central Asian country of Nepal, conjures up visions only of Everest and the Himalayas, Sherpas, Ghurkhas, and hippies.  But for those in the know, the real tourist attaction here is Boris Nicolevitch Lissanevitch and his fabled restaurant, the Yak and Yeti.  An erstwhile dancer with Diaghilev's Ballet Russe, Boris, as he is known to everybody who is anybody in Katmandu, was running a club called The 300 in Calcutta, India in 1951, when he was induced to come here by King Tribhuvana, then Nepal's monarch, to run Nepal's first deluxe hotel.   Its cozy arcaded red brick chimney lounge and high-camp dining room and ballroom (complete with wonderful primitive murals by the wife of a one-time British ambassador) are housed on the first floor of a rambling old royal palace."

Ukrainian Borsch (based on the recipe of the Yak and Yeti, Katmandu)

According to Ashok Sharma, the maitre d'hotel of the Yak and Yeti, the ingredients of a good borsch vary with the season. The two essential vegetables are beets and cabbage, and they are used in greater proportion in winter than in summer.  Conversely, in summer there are more tomatoes in the soup than in winter. Other vegetables that can be used in addition to those listed below are turnips and leeks.

3 pounds soup bones with meat (beef or a combination of veal and chicken)
2 quarts water
2 medium onions, quartered
4 tablespoons butter (approximately)
2 cups shredded cabbage (red or white or a combination)
4 medium beets, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, sliced
2 large potatoes, cut into chunks
2 ribs celery, sliced
2 large tomatoes, quartered
black pepper


sour cream
finely chopped scallions
chopped dill (optional)

1.  In a large pot, simmer the bones and water, partially covered, for 2 hours.  Remove meat from bones, return meat to the broth and discard bones.  Skim the fat from the broth.

2.  Saute the onions in butter and add to the broth together with the cabbage, beets, carrots, potatoes, celery and tomatoes. Cover and simmer very gently for about 2 hours.  Season with salt and pepper.

3.  To serve: ladle the soup with bits of meat and pieces of vegetables into large soup bowls. Top with sour cream, chopped scallions and, if available, some chopped dill.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

III. Rumania (Bucharest) -- Bucuresti by James Feron:

"Westerners do not find Rumanian cuisine exceptional, and the Bucuresti is about as good a place to dine as there is in this capital.  Formerly the Capsa restaurant, it was frequented by pre-war society and its pink walls, black-painted woodwork and chandeliers recall the 1930s.  The caviar at the Bucuresti is black and genuine, unlike the poisonous-looking orange stuff masquerading elsewhere in town as Manchurian caviar.  One dish to try is mititei, meatballs made of beef, pork and herbs and grilled over charcoal."


Mititei  (based on the recipe of the Bucuresti, Bucharest)

At the Bucuresti these Rumanian meatballs are grilled over charcoal.  If charcoal grilling is inconvenient, season the meatballs with charcoal powder and put them under the broiler.

1 cup beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon each of black pepper, dried rosemary, marjoram and savory
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 pound coarsely ground lean beef
1/4 pound coasely ground pork loin

1.  Bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan, add the garlic, spices and baking soda; simmer for a few minutes.  Remove from heat.

2.  Thoroughly mix the ground beef and pork and place the meat in a non-metallic dish.  Add the seasoned stock and blend well.  Refrigerate the mixture for 24 hours.

3.  When you are ready to cook the meat, shape it into 4 oblong patties, about 4 inches by 1 1/2 inches.  (As hor d'oeuvres, each patty can be divided into 4 pieces, making 16 small meatballs.  Grill the patties over a charcoal fire or season them with charcoal powder and put them under the broiler.

Yield:  2 main dish servings or 16 appetizer meatballs.

ACravan note to readers:  The Bucuresti is once again open as the Capsa restaurant in Bucharest's Capsa Hotel (pictured above) in post-Ceausescu Romania.

IV.  Italy (Rome) -- Ristorante Nino by Paul Hoffman:

"This always-crowded place -- just two L-shaped rooms -- off the Piazza di Spagna is my favorite when food, rather than profound or confidential talk is the main purpose of the meal.  The tables are so close together that one inevitably picks up interesting snatches of the other patrons' conversations, mostly in Italian. Quite a lot of amusing or shocking things are said in such a way as to allow people all around to share in the fun.  Nino is good for lunch, possibly after a shopping expedition in the nearby Via Condotti with its elegant stores, and even better for dinner.  The best time is after 9 p.m. when models from the high-fashion houses that are all over the area come in and go ravenously through their high-protein diets."

Atomic Hors D'Ouevres (based on the recipe of Ristorante Nino, Rome)

2 whole pigs' feet about 1 1/2 pounds each, cleaned and scrubbed
1 pound boneless lean pork shoulder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 cup coarsely chopped parsley
3 cups thinly sliced red and/or green peppers
10-15 small sharp green Italian olives
3/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup wine vinegar
black pepper

1.  In a large pot place the pigs' feet, pork shoulder, garlic, rosemary, and enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil, cover pot, and simmer for about 3 hours or until meat is tender but not falling apart.  Lift out and cool.

2.  Remove the meat from the pigs' feet and discard the bones.  Cut all the meat into long thin strips.

3.  In a bowl toss together the meat, parsley, peppers, olives, olive oil, wine vinegar, salt and pepper.  Marinate 2 hours at room temperature before serving.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Yak, Katmandu, Nepal

Bucharest "Soul Map"

Gerofinikas, Athens, Interior

Nino, Rome, Exterior

New York Times, August 1, 1884

Monday, December 27, 2010

If You Have Ghosts (Roky Erickson Lyric and Link)

If you have ghosts you have everything.
If you have ghosts you have everything.
You can say anything you want,
and you can do anything you want.
If you have ghosts you have everything.

One never does that.
One never does that.
If you call it surprise there it is.
The moon to the left of me is a part of my thought is a part of me is me.
One never does that.

In the night I am real.
In the night I am real.
The moon to the left of me is a part of my thought is a part of me is me.
Whatever is the wind is a part of my thoughts is a part of me is me.
In the night I am real.

I don't want my fangs too long.
I don't want my fangs too long.
The moon to the left of me is a part of my thought is a part of me is me.
Whatever is the wind to the left of me is a part of my thoughts is a part of me is me.
I don't want my fangs too long.

If you have ghosts you have everything.
If you have ghosts you have everything.
If you have ghosts you have everything.
If you have ghosts you have everything.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day Cat (From London Daily Photo)

"This is Hodge, Samuel Johnson's cat immortalised in Gough Square and in festive mood, albeit a trifle cold. The bronze is complete with oysters, which Johnson used to feed his cat; at the time they were plentiful and the food of the poor."

From London Daily Photo (

Boxing Day Repast -- Pappardelle alla Leonardo

     I first enjoyed the recipe recorded here, Pappardelle alla Leonardo, at the restaurant Castellano at 138 West 55th Street in Manhattan, sometime during the early 1980s.

     For the first two or three years after it opened, Castellano was one of those New York media scene “restaurants of the moment” – very glamorous,  constantly filled with “boldface names”, always in the gossip columns.  That sort of celebrity status rarely lasts forever and after a couple of years, when the white-hot incandescence had cooled, Castellano settled down into being what it really always was: a warm and welcoming place that served excellent, traditional but imaginative, food.

     For years we often went there for drinks after work and sometimes for lunches or dinners.   I think the only people who visited the restaurant more frequently than we did were the famous modern architect Philip Johnson (unmistakable in his “architectural” black owl spectacles) and his companion, the art exhibition designer David Whitney.  I’m fairly certain that they both believed we were Philip Johnson groupies, which was kind of funny and a little off-putting.   I admired Johnson’s architecture and was interested in his life and career (especially after learning of his involvement in the American proto-fascist “Gray Shirt” movement in the 1930s, a more-than-off-putting episode), but our mutual admiration for Castellano was purely coincidental.

     Pappardelle alla Leonardo, as Castellano styled this preparation of broad, ribbon-shaped noodles in a gorgonzola cream sauce laced with walnuts and parsley (I assume Leonardo was a person associated with the restaurant’s management or a friend of the establishment), is extremely rich, delicious and suitable either for maintaining holiday cheer or raising dampened or damaged spirits.   I have included two versions here, which both appear to us to be extremely close to Castellano’s preparation, and I think they form a good basis for creating a recipe that pleases you.  

     Castellano is one of those places I wish I could revisit but cannot.  Like most restaurants, it seems, the business eventually ran its course and the place rather suddenly passed into history fairly early in the era when people began to think it acceptable to keep cell phones glued to their ears in public places, including  restaurants.   It was an elegant, comfortable, beautifully designed room (I’m sure this was important to Philip Johnson, who ate the same dinner of linguine with tiny clams every single evening; The Four Seasons, which he designed, was his daily lunch spot), and I can’t recall a single unpleasant moment spent at Castellano.  I’m quite sure that its passing is one of the reasons Manhattan means a lot less to me than it used to.

Richard Gere was a "bold-face" celebrity who frequented Castellano and appeared to be surgically connected to his cell phone.  Now that he himself is a restauranteur in Bedford, NY,  I wonder how he feels about this?

 Pappardelle With Gorgonzola and Walnuts (Skye Gangell Version)
For the sauce: 

100g/31/2 oz young walnuts
2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
150 ml/5 oz heavy cream
50g/2 oz Gorgonzola (preferably dolce, the softer, milder variety)
300 g/10 oz pasta (preferably pappardelle (either dried pasta or fresh pappardelle can be used; vary cooking times accordingly to cook al dente)

Crack the walnuts, remove the walnuts from their shells and pound with a pestle and mortar until they are in small pieces.  Sprinkle over the Parmesan and add the garlic.  Season with plenty of black pepper and a small amount of salt.  Pour in the cream and stir well to combine. 

Place a large pot of well-salted water on to boil and cook the pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, gently warm the sauce in a small saucepan.  Add the Gorgonzola and stir continuously while the cheese melts.  Now drain the pasta and dress with a generous knob of butter, spoon over the sauce and toss to combine.  Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Phillip Johnson, The Glass House, 1949, New Canaan, Connecticut

Pappardelle With Gongonzola, Mascarpone and Roasted Walnuts

500g/1 lb pappardelle pasta (either dried pasta or fresh pappardelle can be used; vary cooking times accordingly to cook al dente)


2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
300 g/10-12 oz Gorgonzola
300 g/10-12 oz Mascarpone
150 g/6 oz walnuts broken into pieces and dry roasted in a frying pan


Flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Freshly grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta in well-salted boiling water

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan, add the garlic and cook to soften (do not brown).  Add the herbs and cook for a few minutes, then add the cheeses and cook for a few minutes on low heat to melt.  Add half the walnuts.  

Combine the cheese sauce with the pasta, combining well.  

Serve topped with the remaining walnuts, parsley, Parmesan and black pepper.

Philip Johnson, The Glass House, 1949, New Canaan, Connecticut (Night View)

Leonardo da Vinci, Head of a Girl, ca. 1483, Silverpoint and white highlights on prepared paper, Biblioteca Reale, Turin

Boxing Day Song -- Blue Flower (Blaue Blume)

Blue Flower

Waiting for a sign from you,
Waiting for the signal to change.
Have you forgotten what true love can do?
Is this the end? 

Can we still be friends?
Walking through the city,
Your boots were high-heeled and shining bright.
The sun was sparkling on the shaft of your knife.
Blue flower in the morning rain, dying in my hand,
It was all in vain.
Superstar in your own private movie,
I wanted just a minor part.
But I'm no fool, I know you're cool,
I never really wanted your heart.
Before the dice were cast, 
I never would have dared to ask.
Your eyes are windows to another world.

Is this the end?
Can we still be friends?
With a cheetah on a chain,
No one dared to put you down.
It's not that cool with me around.
Blue flower in the morning rain, dying in my hand,
It was all in vain.
Superstar in your own private movie,
I wanted just a minor part.
But I'm no fool, I know you're cool,
I never really wanted your heart.

(Peter Blegvad -- Anthony Moore)


Blue Flower 1 (Slapp Happy live in Japan) 
Blue Flower 2 (Mazzy Star live on Later) 
Blue Flower 3 (Pale Saints live at Brixton Academy) 
Blue Flower 4 (Opal live at Siego, Rimini)