Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bach in Marsh Chapel

Yesterday, I attended a really interesting lecture recital in Marsh Chapel at Boston University. It was given by Emily Rideout and it covered various movements from JS Bach's cantatas and focused on the use of the viola as an obbligato instrument in those cantatas. It was a really fascinating project that I think deserves some attention amongst violists and Bach scholars.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hot Pillows of Love topped with Powdered Sugar

If you know what I'm talking about in the title of this entry, chances are you're from Louisiana or you've at least heard of Cafe du Monde in Jackson Square, New Orleans. But for anyone who doesn't know, I'm talking about BEIGNETS! There isn't much better when they are hot out of the fryer and served with a steamy mug of hot chocolate or cafe au lait, if you're doing it Louisiana style. I was inspired to write about them when I read Shannon Lane's post on her travel blog about her recent trip there. Nothing better than the bittersweet feeling of a wave of nostalgia!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Artisan Cheeses of Washington State

I've already written a rather lengthy post about my trip to Seattle to visit friends this past summer, but I also wanted to take some time to write in detail about the cheeses that I ate while I was there. My job exposes me to a lot of different artisanal and farmstead cheeses on a daily basis. It's one of the greatest luxuries and most serious dangers at the same time. Getting paid to learn about cheese, wine, and food is pretty great except for the damage it does to my waistline. I've had many of the best from New England and examples from California are not all that uncommon on our cart. We've even had cheeses from my home state of Louisiana and right now there is one from Texas on the cart called Hoya Santa that I'm pretty excited about. However, I've never seen anything from Washington, so I was very pleasantly surprised at how good the cheese was and how friendly the folks who make it and sell it are.

My Escapades with Thai Curry

I never thought I would be making a foray into the Asian cooking department, but I've recently discovered from my weekly menu planning how easy and delicious Thai curry is, not to mention how well it keeps in the fridge. It even seems to get better as it simmers. I suppose this should be no surprise since it is essentially a stew.

Fixin' Up a Supper with New Inspiration

Yesterday, a package arrived in the mail from my mom. She's always sending me such lovely and thoughtful gifts. I opened it up to find a cookbook inside to add to my growing collection. A Streetcar Named Delicious by Todd-Michael St. Pierre focuses on the food of New Orleans from the Cajun and Creole cooking traditions.

Program Notes for The Arneis Ensemble Concert on 12/10/2009

Arnold Bax wrote the Quintet for Oboe and Strings in 1923 for renowned oboist, Leon Goossens. It was the first piece ever dedicated to the emerging soloist. The piece, no doubt, was meant to showcase his incredible facility on the oboe from a technical and expressive standpoint. In fact, the piece is a significant challenge for the entire ensemble. The string writing is virtuosic, atmospheric, and at times downright awkward.

The first movement begins with a few chords played by the strings in a grand swell of tonality followed by the statement of the theme in the oboe that becomes a ritornello through repetition over the course of the movement. Bax uses plenty of augmented seconds and “snap” rhythms to evoke the wailing sonority of Celtic keening. The movement follows a typical form of a slow rhapsodic introduction, followed by a fast section, and then a return to the opening material at the end.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

This Week at the Majestic: Playing with Fire

The usual Tuesday ritual of cooking commenced this afternoon with a trip to the market. I put a couple layers of warm clothing, my winter coat, and gloves and headed out into the chilly afternoon up the block to the grocery. I had Christmas music playing on my iPhone and I couldn't help but be in a good mood. There were lovely clear skies and despite the cold, it was a nice day. With what I bought at the grocery, I made: Thai chicken curry, Indian cauliflower curry, pork roast, candied turnip soup, garlic and rosemary chicken legs, and meatballs with caramelized onions in Cognac cream.

A Triumphant Return to Music with Bach's "Wedding" Cantata

Seven or so years ago, Teri Newville and I attended graduate school together at the New England Conservatory. It wasn't the easiest of times for either of us. We both wanted to hone our skills as performers and heading to Boston for grad school was our way of doing that. What we found at NEC was a fiercely competitive and high pressure environment that made us both eventually need a break from a life of music-ing.

Delicious Sunchokes for the Winter

Sunchokes are a rather uncommon but delicious root vegetable that I was introduced to a few years ago around this time of year. I was reminded of them when they popped up on the menu at the restaurant that I work at a few days ago. They are also more commonly known as Jerusalem Artichokes, but they are neither from Jerusalem, nor are they an artichoke. It's theorized that the Jerusalem part is a corruption of the word girasole, as they were called by Europeans who discovered the plant which is indigenous to North America. An early French explorer, Samuel de Champlain, in particular sent the roots back to Europe and compared their flavor to the European artichoke after being introduced to them by Native Americans, hence the artichoke part of the name. To avoid confusion, many have begun to refer to them by the name Sunchoke, a combination of sunflower and artichoke.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Duck Fat is More Than Worth the Drive

Hop in the car, drive about two hours north, and follow your nose to the smell of potatoes frying in a bubbling cauldron of rendered duck fat. You wind up having the best lunch of you life at the café named for the signature ingredient, Duck Fat, in Portland, Maine. Whenever Dan and I happen to be in Portland, we are always sure to stop by once or sometimes twice just to get our fix on everything that we love to eat from their menu.

A Bit of Sunny Spain Right Here in Brookline

Taberna de Haro is a great little place in Brookline that you might drive by everyday and hardly think about. It's situated on Beacon Street on the inbound side across from the St. Mary's Stop on the Green Line. I can't imagine it seats more than about 40 guests at capacity, and in the summer, it boasts a lovely patio in front that might double it's guest potential to about 80 crammed to the gills!

Joan Tower's "Island Prelude" for Oboe and Strings

Joan Tower is one of America's preeminent composers writing music today. She has received many of Classical Music's top honors and has been commissioned to write works for many of our nation's leading ensembles and performers. She has been called, "one of the most successful woman composers of all time" by the New Yorker, and in my personal opinion, has written one of the most exciting pieces for the oboe in the past 50 years.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

An Homage to Sherry

Sherry is a terribly underestimated, misunderstood, and overlooked wine. Sadly, a lot of folks seem to associate it with something sweet that is to be enjoyed after dinner, or something that only old ladies drink when it's too early to knock back a vodka martini or a scotch on the rocks. However, I would like to convince you that Sherry is a world-class wine that deserves a little more recognition and appreciation than it currently receives.