Monday, February 17, 2014

Smart Phones Not Allowed

It seems that French chefs 
(and some New York chefs as well)
are not happy with the amount of cell phone photography 
going on in their restaurants. 

They are debating using photos of
cell phones with a red circle and a slash on the menus
to indicate that taking photos of your dish
is no longer allowed. 

Many chefs are complaining that,
not only does it leave the food cold
and their creations broadcast across social media,
taking away the element of surprise for future patrons
or possible copy-cat problems,
people tend to behave badly
distracting other diners 
from their own unique experience. 

Um...I'm guilty.
Don't get me wrong,
I haven't climbed on chairs
or rearranged tables to get a good shot
(as the chefs are complaining)
but I have rearranged glasses and silverware
and occasionally asked the other diners at my table 
if they wouldn't mind waiting before taking a bite 
so I can get a shot of their plate. 

But I never use a flash
or disturb others in the restaurant. 

I have occasionally been told not to take a photo of a display
such as at Laduree. 
But I did take photos of their creations on my plate. 

 I feel a little funny about being told I can't do something
if I'm not disturbing anyone else. 
It's true that it is the chef's creation
but I am paying for it. 
But then we get into the etiquette
of how to take photos without bothering others. 

What's your feeling? 

 (Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)
Photos from Restaurant des Sens in Montpellier, France
and Laduree on the Champs Elysee, Paris

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Old Town Nafplion, Part 1

(Arvanitia, city beach around the corner from us 
at the end of Old Town and beneath Palamidi Fortress and Akronafplia.) 

Last November, right after Thanksgiving,
we made an emergency roof repair trip to Greece,
knowing that our roof (and interior) could not withstand another winter of rain
without some patching. 

And we arrived in the midst of a major rain storm
which meant water flowing down the steps like a waterfall
and dripping into our bedroom.

But that's not what I want to show you. 

From the ancient rock wall of Akronafplia,
where some of the stone is still Byzantine,
one can look out over the rooftops
of old town Nafplion.

The old town and the bay lie on one side 
with the tiny island of Bourtzi in the background...

...on the other side... 
the Mediterranean.

Just next to us,
the fortress of Palamidi sits atop the hillside
looking over the city and far beyond. 

The ancient entrance to the old town
is the symbolic gate between the old and new towns.

A few shots of one of my favorite walks in Greece
(which you can see more of Here)

which always has a plethora of lovingly-tended altars...

as well as wild prickly pear
and bougainvillea.

The walk swings around Akronafplia
and back into old town
just in front of Bourtzi.

I took several shots of these palm trees,
their gorgeous seeds in full color.
Sadly, that same week,
I witnessed workers hacking them off.
They all now stand bare along the shore.

The walk along the water brings us to our favorite spot
for a sunset drink

looking out over the bay,
Bourtzi and the sailboats. 

Our roof fix turned out far better than we'd hoped
(a true fix rather than a patch
and new tile to replace the beautiful but water-damaged parquet wood floors.)
We're hoping it won't take us as long to return.
Friends to see, walks to take,
books to write. 

*All photos copyright: Kirsten Steen
May not be reproduced.*

Monday, February 3, 2014

Faulkner on American Writers in Paris Tour

On Rue Vaugirard in the 6th arrondissement
sits the Hotel Luxembourg Parc,
(just across from the Luxembourg gardens)
a 4-star hotel
which was once
Le Grand Hotel des Principautes.

In 1925,
as Le Grand Hotel des Principautes,
it was the home of William Faulkner 
for four months. 

According to one French blog,
he didn't mix much with The Lost Generation,
preferring instead the company of the park's
children and workers.

And though the hotel has been renovated,
the entrance moved from rue Servandoni to Vaugirard,
and the name changed,
it still holds a plaque
'Faulkner was here'
in autumn of 1925.

Oh to have seen these streets in 
the fall of '25.

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)