Posts from July 2010

10 Minute Circus, Puppets, Musical Commute, La Strada Festival, Graz, July 30-August 7

Did I get you lost as far as the location for the soon to open La Strada Festival is concerned.

To clarify things, Graz is in Austria.

Rather than pigeonhole itself as a theater or music festival, La Strada offers performances in many forms from circus to percussion and in-between shades. They open doors to our imagination.


Performances take place indoors and in the streets.

It brings together talent from many countries including Circo Ripopolo from Belgium, not sure if they will perform their 10 minute circus piece, Fazzoletto.

I also noted La Grosse Couture (France). Should I call them a brass band? They will perform to commuters, at stops, on buses and trams? Which conductor will lead.

A multi-faceted event, La Strada takes place from July 30 to August 7, 2010 in Graz, Austria.

You could combine the Art experience with day trips to some of the scenic vineyards from the area.

What Vintage is Your Caravan, My Cool Caravan Interview with Chris Haddon

Having a caravan and the vehicle to tow it gives you a sense of freedom, you can just decide to get up and go as long as your destination has a campground nearby.

Besides the most up to date models, Vintage caravans are in the limelight and not just as 'museum' pieces but as vehicles that people actually use, whether for work or leisure.

A book by Jane Field-Lewis and Chris Haddon titled My Cool Caravan (photographs by Hilary Walker) published by Anova Books is making a big splash in the UK and beyond.

I thought it made for a perfect mid-summer theme and was happy that Chris Haddon agreed to a short interview.

Here's what rolled off my tongue and Chris answers.

Q: Chris, Did 'My Cool Caravan' get rolling with the website or was the book first?

The website was something we always had in mind. When the book was green lighted, it pushed us to get the website live in order to build a community of enthusiasts.

Q: After our initial contact, I realized that your daily job is at Media Pie, was your day job connected to the book in some way since you designed sites like Kiss My Airstream?

To be able to fuse a hobby with work is great . When I came across Kiss My Airstream it was too great an opportunity to miss.


Q: Some people renovate vintage caravans to fit modern needs (computers, etc), did you ever work in a caravan? 

I have always have a passion for Airstreams so when I needed a home office from which to run my business an Airstream seemed logical (it is in the book). I happily work in there all day and night when deadlines dictate. 

Q: How did you find the vehicles featured in the book?

Through a lot of research and referrals,  we posted messages in magazines and on forums asking for people to submit their 'cool caravans' for consideration. For some of the content it was just being in the right place at the right time. Franks caravan would not have been included if it was not for someone mentioning a comment about an unusual caravan made of aircraft parts.


Q: Did you start the book project with Jane Field-Lewis first and bring photographer Hilary Walker aboard later? How did you and Jane share the book writing duties?

Jane and I have known each other for about three years now. We met while caravanning at a site in Sussex. We both had unusual caravans, Jane's being an 80's Monza and mine an Airstream. So we got chatting and kept in touch. A neighbor of Jane is a book agent and she told Jane to do a book proposal to submit to publishers - the rest is history. Once we got the book deal, Jane spoke with Hilary who she had worked with before and Hilary jumped at the opportunity - she was a real asset and put her heart and soul into the book.

I worked on locating the caravans, arranging the shoots and locations etc. Jane then styled the caravans (natural choice as she is a stylist) and Hilary took the photos. The writing was done in tandem with Jane.

Q: Is there a thriving Vintage Caravan online community in the UK? Are there major events where aficionados come and show their gems?

Very much so. The media has picked up on 'cool caravanning' which is in part why the book is doing so well. The economic and environmental issues have also helped. There are shows throughout the UK but the biggest media interest will be at Vintage At Goodwood which we are attending. We have arranged for 40 cool caravans to be on display for the weekend - the event looks like it's going to be a massive success. Vintage fashion, music, food, art and more in one place!

Q: Besides the renovation side, do people share recipes and tips for the caravan crowd in the same way that there are recipes and tips for the camping buffs?

Yes, the community we have gathered on Facebook for example really help each other out. So if someone has a problem or question an answer is only a few clicks away.

Q: Outside the UK, which countries show the most enthusiasm for this 'vintage caravan' scene?

To be honest all countries have 'Cool caravan' fans from Holland to Japan, Australia to America - everyone seems to be catching onto the trend 

Q: Has your book 'My Cool Caravan' garnered interest beyond the 'vintage' fans themselves? In that case what attracts readers most?

Yes, this is one of things that has surprised us the most. We are selling the books to interior designers, historians and pretty much everyone in between. We wanted to get the balance of the book just right - not too technical but not too design oriented and the personal stories helped everyone relate to the reason why someone chooses vintage over new.

Q: If you were do take one of the vehicles showcased in your book on a trip, which one would you choose and where would you go?

Tough one… I would have to say a 'Canned Ham'  and the trip would be across America and Canada but with no deadline on reaching the destination.

Thanks, Chris!

You can find photos, updates, events via My Cool Caravan website

I'll try to tackle 'Camping Recipes' sometimes in August

Eating in August, What's Opened in Paris besides Le Crabe Marteau

You have to trust someone who has been tirelessly tasting and testing many Parisian restaurants over the past years.

I will take John Talbott's word seriously regarding Eating in August (John Talbott's Paris, July 19, 2010) on what's Open in Paris...

Amongst his recommendations gleaned from Le Figaro (article in French), I would be curious to know if Le Crabe Marteau (pictured below) is as tasty and unpretentious as it sounds. The original Crabe Marteau is in Brest.


Gayot offered some options for Summer Dining in Paris, Where to Eat When Chefs Flee the Heat but since the piece is from 2008, you might want to check first that this still stands.

More recent it seems is We are Open in August (Bonjour Paris) by Margaret Kemp.

I wonder how many cities around Europe get affected by a wave of vacation closings.

Do you know of restaurateurs who see the summer months as an opportunity to stage their entry on a less crowded scene?

We would like to hear from you.

Haute Boule, Models Get the Ball Rolling for Petanque in St Tropez, Bankers in London

I always liked playing Petanque with my friends and my cousins during my many summer vacations in the Pyrenees Orientales.

I did not have much success in the tournaments.

I was a bit amused to find out that Petanque is becoming a hit with actors and models alike.

That's what Jon Henley reports in How boules got cool (Guardian, July 28) illustrated with a photo of model "Karolina Kurkova (second left) beside actors Joshua Jackson and Diane Kruger during a game of boules at the Chanel party in St-Tropez in May".

So much so that this game of the people has been co-opted by "chic labels such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton are currently flogging designer pétanque sets in soft leather cases for £1,500; and where the country's biggest boules manufacturer, Obut, has just launched a new line in tattooed steel for style-conscious teenage pétanquistes" writes Jon Henley.

On June 19, a Pétanque Tournament sponsored by Ricard at Chelsea Garden turned into A Day of Sun and Fun for some 900 people in London.


Who did you play Pétanque with last?

Famous or infamous?

(* illustration from 'A Day of Fun and Sun' in

My Mothers Clothes Photo Exhibit, Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta, Opens July 29

I have mentioned photo exhibits in London, New York, Paris, Tokyo and other places.

While writing a book review on The Lee Bros, I discovered some interesting work shared by the Jackson Fine Art gallery in Atlanta.

I especially liked the slices of life shared by Oraien Catledge on the neighborhood of Cabbagetown from mills and workers from the Appalachia to trendy lofts.

Clothing offers its own look at periods of time and inspiration for re-creation.

Opening on July 29, 2010 at Jackson Fine Art is MY MOTHERS CLOTHES featuring the work of Jeannette Montgomery Barron

She was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1956 and studied at the International Center of Photography in New York.


The exhibit runs for a month (until August 28, 2010)

(* photography from Jackson Fine Art exhibit page)

Rose Wines I Have Not Tasted, From Qu'es Aquo and Perles de Rose to Chateau de Bellet

If summer is a marathon, my Rosé wine tasting has been lacking pace or regularity.

My 'must-should try' list is getting longer by the week.

Today I add three of them.

We start with Mas Cal Demoura 'Qu'es Aquo' 2009, a Languedoc blend of Cinsault & Grenache (mostly) plus some Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan. The wine got its name following the reaction of the first few people who tasted the first vintage and expressed surprise at its deep color and rich aromas. Qu'es Aquo could be translated to What's this.

Suggested food pairing include Tuna Tartar with Ginger and Mediterranean Fare.

I originally checked Mas Cal Demoura as it was cited as an example of the race to quality in Languedoc wines by B.Guibert of Mas de Daumas Gassac.


Next is Perles de Rosé (Vin de pays des Coteaux du Libron) by Domaine de Bachellery, a pale Rosé, lighter, made of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Muscat in fluctuating percentages depending on the vintage and the winemaker's inspiration. Muscat should bring a hint of sweetness on the finish.

Good company for melon and prosciutto or grilled meats, they say... Cotes du Libron area is located north of Beziers.

Last a Rosé from Nice picked as wine of the week in Buzz Vins, a French wine site with a flair for discoveries by Bettane and Desseauve.

The Chateau de Bellet vineyards are located in the hills within the Nice city limits and this Rosé wine is mostly made with Braquet (also the name of an old local family) rounded with Grenache and Cinsault. Fleur d' oranger and fine spices dominate. Tastes like summer, calls for a pissaladiere according to Buzz Vins.

On the lookout for New Wines from the South of France, Rosemary George tasting notes from The annual wine salon in Aniane (Taste Languedoc, July 25), will surely help.

P.S: I could not find a good photo of the Chateau Bellet label otherwise I would have used it.

The Hybrid House, Designing with the Elements in Mind by Catherine Vaneck

The term hybrid is now most widely used for cars.

As Catherine Vaneck illustrates in The Hybrid House (Gibbs Smith, 2010), it has a broader meaning.

The subtitle Designing with Sun, Wind, Water and Earth reminds us that we should always keep the elements in mind.

Better results, better efficiency and sustainability can be achieved by using a combination of techniques and materials, old and new.

New uses for wood and prefab homes seem to provide ways to reduce costs and waste.

  Hybrid house

In an earlier book titled Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter, Catherine Vaneck photographed many straw bale homes including one by owner-builder Elsa LeGuern in my native Brittany.

On a practical note Catherine Vaneck lists 10 everyday actions to save energy (Gibbs Smith Blog, July 7)

Women rule for Green Day # 137

Previously: Party, Don't Pollute, Contemporary And Green Bamboo Cups, Plates, Trays by Ekobo

Maria Elia Maps Her Passions on Freshly Baked This Is Maria Elia

I got in touch with London based chef Maria Elia as she was heading for Greece for a women chefs only festival.

Maria Elia maps her passions on freshly baked This Is Maria Elia site which just launched.


Need ideas for your next Meatless Monday, check her Vegetarian Recipes, for example The tomato, feta, almond and date baklava (details below *):

"Baklava is usually sweet, but I always like to think outside the box, and I find that once I do this, a whole new culinary world opens up before me. This recipe doesn’t break any rules, but it certainly makes a wonderful-tasting dish combining my love of eclectic Greek flavours. Serves 6-8

100ml olive oil
5 Spanish onions, halved and finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
pinch of granulated sugar
a bunch of dill, finely chopped (or 3 teaspoons dried)
10 vine plum tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped (reserve half of the juices)
3 teaspoons tomato purée
1 packet filo pastry (9 sheets)
150g melted butter
60g blanched almonds, whizzed to a crumble
100g Medjool dates, stoned and finely sliced
250g feta cheese, crumbled
4 tablespoons clear honey

Heat the olive oil in a large-bottomed pan. Gently fry the onions over a low heat, add the garlic, cinnamon and sugar and increase the heat. Fry for about 12 minutes, until caramelised. Add the dill, tomatoes and half of their juices and the tomato purée and cook for a further 10 minutes, until reduced. Season to taste.

Unfold the pastry and cut in half; keep it covered with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out. Brush a baking tray (approximately 30 x 20cm) with melted butter, line the tin with a sheet of filo, brush with butter and repeat until you have a 3-layer thickness.

Unfold the pastry and cut in half; keep it covered with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out. Brush a baking tray (approximately 30 x 20cm) with melted butter, line the tin with a sheet of filo, brush with butter and repeat until you have a 3-layer thickness.

Unfold the pastry and cut in half; keep it covered with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out. Brush a baking tray (approximately 30 x 20cm) with melted butter, line the tin with a sheet of filo, brush with butter and repeat until you have a 3-layer thickness.

Spread half the onion mixture over the pastry, top with half the almonds, the dates and half the feta. Sandwich 3 layers of filo together, brushing each with melted butter and place on top of the onion and feta mix. Top with the remaining onions, almonds and feta and again top with a 3-layer thickness of filo. Lightly score the top, cutting diamonds (see photo) or squares, brush with butter and splash with a little water. Place on a baking tray and cook for 30–35 minutes until golden.

Leave to cool a little before serving, then drizzle each portion with honey. Serve with a Fennel Salad and some tzatziki."


This baklava is one of the many creative dishes you will find in her cookbook The Modern Vegetarian (Kyle Books).

Read Emily Ho's Review (The Kitchn, January 2010)

(* Recipe use courtesy of Maria Elia, baklava photographed by Jonathan Gregson)

Languedoc Wines that Jazz it Up like Charlie Mingus, Castelmaure

I am not a Font fanatic or expert yet when I visit an online destination, look at a book, a poster for an event or a wine label, I can appreciate a good looking Typeset.


The label on the 2007 Castelmaure Corbieres is poetry in motion more than technical sheet (if you speak French)...

Body and soul as is the Castelmaure homepage with vivid black and white photos and the castanets of Isabel's Table Dance (Charlie Mingus, Tijuana Moods) as its soundtrack.

The self described insolent and independent vignerons of Castelamaure created this Corbieres with 40 % Syrah, 35 % Grenache and 25 % Carignan.

"Black currents, wild berries on the nose accented by spices and scents of the garrigue, gentle tannins, seductive yet powerful, will conquer you" according to Cave Part des Anges.

Born in the small village of Embres & Castelmaure (population: 154 in 2007).

All I have to do now is taste it.

Thanks to Steph Poulart for wine spotting.

1 Copy Left, Kristin Hersh Crooked Contest Extended Until Midnight, June 26

Since we have 1 Copy Left for the Taking (Unsigned) we decided to extend the Crooked Kristin Hersh Contest until Midnight (US Eastern Time) on Monday, July 26, 2010.


You will find all Crooked Contest Details HERE.

Winners will be announced on Tuesday, July 27, 2010 .