Monday, April 28, 2014

La Villa Corse~ Missing Paris Day

This restaurant, just down the street from us in the 15th in Paris,
La Villa Corse,
is the location of a scene in my novel.
It's the place my protagonist has her first date with the love interest,
a semi-blind date set up by her sister.

The restaurant has divine Corsican food
with items like fried squid with thyme olive oil;
cannelloni with chard and fresh mint;
coastal farmed pig with chestnut juice and apple puree;
St. Jacques over risotto with fresh truffles,
 Corsican cheeeses and Creme Brulee with Corsican clementines.
The menu also changes with the seasons. 

I do love this place for the food...
but I also loved it for its interior:
rich ochre and amber colors adorning the walls and chairs,
Corsican reds and golden hues with crimson lampshades,
billowing burgundy door curtains,
even the restrooms were decked out in 
ocean sunset colors.

So on this recent visit, 
I stopped by to sit and sip a glass of something
while I took a few more notes for my scene. 

But guess what? 
They've updated! 

Instead of the warm, glowing Italian sunset colors,
they've modernized with basic black, white and gray
with some purple to splash it up. 

Oh well, at least in my novel
there will be a lasting tribute
to the once warm, blushing, Italian interior. 
And my protagonist will be able to enjoy it. 
But I may be going to their other location for the food!

Click here to see La Villa Corse. 
Or visit at
164 Boulevard de Grenelle,
75015 Paris
Open: Mon-Sat

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Goldfinch~ Teaser Tuesday

Hosted by MizB at should be reading.

Here's how to play:

*Grab your current read
*Open to a  page
*Share a few “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
*Please no spoilers!
*Share the title and author.

Today's pick happens to be the newest Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction. A friend just loaned me the book and then emailed to say Donna Tartt had won. I'm only a little way in but already her writing has me enthralled. In this quote, the character (a 13-year old New Yorker) describes his mother (P.7):

"Her death the dividing mark: Before and After. And though it's a bleak thing to admit all these years later, still I've never met anyone who made me feel loved the way she did. Everything came alive in her company; she cast a charmed theatrical light about her so that to see anything through her eyes was to see it in brighter colors than ordinary--I remember a few weeks before she died, eating a late supper with her in an Italian restaurant down in the Village, and how she grasped my sleeve at the sudden, almost painful loveliness of a birthday cake with lit candles being carried in procession from the kitchen, faint circle of light wavering in across the dark ceiling and then the cake set down to blaze amidst the family, beatifying an old lady's face, smiles all around, waiters stepping away with their hands behind their backs---just an ordinary birthday dinner you might see anywhere in an inexpensive downtown restaurant, and I'm sure I wouldn't even remember it had she not died so soon after, but I thought about it again and again after her death and indeed I'll probably think about it all my life: that candlelit circle, a tableau vivant of the daily, commonplace happiness that was lost when I lost her. 

She was beautiful, too. That's almost secondary; but still, she was...And yet she was wholly herself: a rarity. I cannot recall ever seeing another person who really resembled her. She had black hair, fair skin that freckled in summer, china-blue eyes with a lot of light in them; and in the slant of her cheekbones there was such an eccentric mixture of the tribal and the Celtic Twilight that sometimes people guessed she was Icelandic. In fact, she was half Irish, half Cherokee, from a town in Kansas near the Oklahoma border; and she liked to make me laugh by calling herself an Okie even though she was as glossy and nervy and stylish as a racehorse. That exotic character unfortunately comes out a little too stark and unforgiving in photographs---her freckles covered with makeup, her hair pulled back in a ponytail at the nape of her neck like some nobleman in The Tale of Genji --and what doesn't come across at all is her warmth, her merry, unpredictable quality, which is what I loved about her most. It's clear from the stillness she emanates in pictures, how much she mistrusted the camera; she gives off a watchful, tigerish air of steeling herself against attack. But in life she wasn't like that. She moved with the thrilling quickness, gestures sudden and light, always perched on the edge of her chair like some long elegant marsh-bird about to startle and fly away. I loved the sandalwood perfume she wore, rough and unexpected, and I loved the rustle of her starched shirt when she swooped down to kiss me on the forehead. And her laugh was enough to make you want to kick over what you were doing and follow her down the street. Wherever she went, men looked at her out of the corner of their eyes, and sometimes they used to look at her in a way that bothered me a little. 

Her death was my fault." 

Whew! If that doesn't get you...

Stephen King calls it "a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade." 
And in a Huffington Post video interview, Tartt states, "The journey that I want to take the reader on always is the journey that I loved most as a child: just this galloping, gleeful, you-don't-know-what's-going-to-happen-next."  

That is enough to make me want to drop everything and be still. 
If any of you have read it, let me know your thoughts! 

For the Huffington Post interview and video, click HERE.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Victory Comes ~Buddhist Thought for the Day

(Photo from the Portland, OR Japanese Gardens)

"Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines,
but it is to the one who endures
that the final victory comes." ~ Buddha

I'm back from the Whidbey Island Marathon,  
 where I walked 13.1 miles in my very first half marathon.

It was a lovely Girls' weekend with fabulous women,
good food, gorgeous weather and a beautiful course. 
I had more pain than expected   
(due to a pesky, slightly weighted fanny pack) 
but made it across the finish line. 
Now I can't wait for next year! 
And am thinking about doing the Happy Girls Half Marathon 
in Sisters, Oregon in November.

A friend is on his way to Boston
to run one more Boston Marathon
after last year's tragic event. 
Sending out endurance energy and good thoughts!

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen) 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Printemps in Paris

Printemps is springing everywhere in Paris! 

Just a few blocks from our apartment,
les arbres are blooming all around the Eiffel Tower. 

And little shoots and leaves
are popping out all over. 

As I have been training to walk a half marathon on Whidbey Island next weekend,
I spent even more hours walking Paris than usual.

I took a break and ate a picnic lunch on a bench 
in the Luxembourg Gardens one day
and this was my view...

Everyone who heard where I was in March said the same thing:
'Ah, springtime in Paris!'

She's famous for that. 
And I thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

Happy Printemps to you! 

(All photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Le Train Bleu

So as promised,
here are a few more photos of the birthday dinner restaurant
with food photos. 

As mentioned, 
Le Train Bleu is located right inside the Gare de Lyon
with a lovely, sweeping staircase
leading up to the door.

And a menu sits at the bottom of the staircase. 

One of our dinner party members had the traditional Foie Gras.
I know.
I love it.
I'm sorry. 

My entree was a new concept of Foie Gras for me: 
They called it 'Royale de foie gras de canard et duxelle de champignons,
en cappuccino de celeri-rave'. 
It. Was. To. Die. For!

At first, I couldn't help looking at the block of foie gras on someone else's plate across from me,
bemoaning the fact that I had clearly ordered wrong.
Then I TASTED mine!
Floating foie gras in a cup
with a mushroom something-or-other on the bottom. 
Oh mon dieu! 
And the nice man sitting across from me
shared his block of FG with me anyway! 
So I got double the dose.  

He also shared his Noix de Saint-Jacques 
with spinach, endive and fennel. 

I had the Boeuf brase facon bourgeoise
with carrots and jus a glace. 

And then came the cheese,
which I couldn't finish. 

And Baba au Rhum
(Love when they leave the bottle!)

My niece had the Tiramisu
(which she also shared.)

And out the window was a view of the trains
coming in and leaving the station. 

I wandered about and took a few other view photos
on various shelves.

All in all, it was the perfect evening
with the big surprise at a sweet little bistro before dinner. 
I'll be back next week 
with photos of magical Paris!

(All photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)