Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ok, I've admitted it...


I've finally admitted it.
At a writing friend's surprise Birthday Tea Party yesterday, I announced it: 
"I......am a Cake Slut." 

My family knows it.
My co-workers guessed it. 
I've only just admitted it to myself 
and they say that's the first step.

"Hi, my name is Kirsten...
and I am a cake slut."

Jessica Maxwell, author of the wildly popular 
"Roll Around Heaven: An All True Accidental Spiritual Adventure"
all but accused me of it recently:
"I know you'd do anything for a piece of that cake." 

The cake, by the way (pictured above),
is her famous healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free 
Chocolate Cake with Cardamom Frosting and Ganesh Ganache
(the recipe soon to be revealed in her-we hope-forthcoming R.A.H. cookbook).

I'd tasted this conglomeration of goodness at one of Jessica's tea parties last spring and fell in deep infatuation with the combination of rich organic chocolate frosting,
 delicately fairy-dusted with a feather-light hint 
of its peppery-gingery-smokery flavor. 

It is a cake with a ghost...
 albeit a well-wishing, well-mannered friendly kind of ghost; 
the kind of ghost who watches over your friends and family,
tells your cat you're only a block from home and to run to the door,
and possibly plants the idea for cardamom paired with chocolate 
into the head of an adventuress-writing chef.
*****************

Um, my sluttiness does not extend itself to much else in my life. 
(Note the word 'much'.) 

When it comes to sweets,
 I can graciously turn down cubes and even whole bars of chocolate 
with a smile and slight shake of the head. 

Cookies?
Flat-disk temptations possibly from outer space meant to entrap our race 
with the need for 'more than just one'. 

Oreos? Who cares?!

Oatmeal-Raisin? No thanks.

Now, Peanut Butter Cookies?
These definitely come attached to some wicked kind of ghost,
 pulling a close second to the temptation of cake. 
But peanut butter comes from its own planet, don't you think?

Ice cream? 
Simply meant to go with cake. 

When we attend weddings, The Chef knows we cannot leave until champagne and cake have been had. 
He's escorted me to weddings for enough years to know better than to ask,
"Can we leave now?"

The answer/question to that question's answer is:
"Have they cut the cake yet?!" 
****************

A few more photos of the heavenly tea party:





To understand the significance of the flying chocolate pig...
you'll have to read the book: Roll Around Heaven
which you can find at JessicaMaxwell.com.

And one last Joyeux Anniversaire to the princess of the tea party! 
And  Merci to the hostess.
Birthday week is now officially over.

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)


Monday, May 23, 2011

Restaurant Laperouse~ Missing Paris Day


Thought you might enjoy these photos 
of the Restaurant Laperouse on the banks of the Seine.


I adore the exquisite old paintings found on ancient buildings in Paris,
frequently on the sides of what used to be,
and sometimes still are, boulangeries.


Founded in 1766, the restaurant and bar Laperouse
sit in an old, restored Parisian mansion along the quai
with a view of the Seine.


I'll have my kir in a window seat, thank you very much. 

Located at 51, Quai des Grands Augustins in the 6th,
see more photos and a glimpse of the ethereal interior at Laperouse Restaurant.


"Boire sans soif et faire l'amour en tout temps, Madame, il n'y a que ca qui nous distingue des autres betes." ~Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais

('Drinking without being thirsty 
and making love at any time, Madame, 
there is nothing else that distinguishes us from the other animals.')

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Knocking around Brittany


More photos of Brittany coming your way. 
You don't mind, do you?!




I love how this old Medieval house sags in the middle,
so making me wish I could see inside and walk the floors. 
Centuries of footsteps: children running, women cooking, animals pawing, mice scratching.
Imagine how many families have lived, loved, whispered in the night together here. 
********************************************

And no trip to the coast is complete
without these slimy little delicacies, le plat des huitres
Not my thing but The Chef adores them. 



Now THIS is MY thing:
I cannot tell you why I hate liver and 
LOVE Foie Gras! 
(Obviously I try not to think about the making of it.)


Paired with a Sauterne (a sweet white wine from the Sauterne region) and confit d'oignon,
it is absolutely one of my favorite French special treats. 
(My sister's ex-French-mother-in-law makes it for us nearly every visit!) 
So while the restaurant version is never quite as good,
this one was served in a way I've never had it before. 

The confit d'oignon was cooked down with 
Carambar (a children's caramel candy).
It was a fantastic combination!
I actually brought some caramel home
so I can try it with our own confit d'oignon.

And the jokes on the back of the Carambar wrappers
must have rubbed off on the food 
because we giggled like little children while we ate.
Or...
could've been the wine. 




These photos are just a glimpse at what this poor body had to endure this last visit. 
Needless to say, this girl is making healthy, low-cal/low-fat choices for awhile
trying to get the body back
(before the 30th high school reunion this summer). Zut alors!


While we'd traveled to Mont St. Michel and St. Malo a couple of times in past years,
we'd never gone further or explored the Brittany area. 
I fell in love with the very short glimpse I got of Fougeres
(another Medieval city we saw only briefly at dusk
for a quick crepe dinner before driving back to Paris--
pictures next time) and cannot wait to go back 
and explore next visit. 



(All photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dinan~ The prettiest Medieval town of Brittany



Just a hop, skip and about a 4-hour train ride west of Paris
is one of the most beautiful, and well-preserved, medieval cities in Brittany. 


Dinan, filled with 15th century half-timbered houses
and cobbled streets,


one of our first stops in Bretagne,
is also a tourist mecca of creperies, bars and restaurants
(under the watchful eye of ancient figurines). 


I am seriously just a fool for those waddle-and-daub houses
and their mingled energy of centuries past.


Only a very few left in Paris 
(thanks to Haussmann),
this town is so well-preserved as it luckily missed the bombing of WWII. 


A quick stop here on our way to St. Brieuc where we spent the night
before exploring the coast the next day. 
The weather graced us with summer-like temperatures over Easter weekend,
allowing us to sip our drinks in late afternoon sunshine
surrounded by towers and spires, 
named after the Duchesse Anne,
ruler of Breton until forced to marry French kings. 


The doors and windows of these fairytale cities
always make me want to climb through
to another time; 
a simpler (albeit 'slightly' more barbaric) time 
without cell phones and computers,
neon signs and Wall Street. 


A window in time~
I've always had a 'thing' for doors and windows,
incorporating them into my artwork
and basing an entire collection and art show
on their themes of passage, opportunity,
visual and spiritual bridges.

But as I stare at this time portal, wishing for it to speak to me, tell me its secrets,
where we'd travel to and when, who looked out and stared at this very space I'm sitting in,
what might have been cooking centuries ago behind those walls,
it's the smell of a savory crepe that brings me back.
Voila!
C'est la vie... dans cette siecle.