Monday, October 24, 2016

Visual Monday -- a Little Street Art, A Little Journal Illustration. . . and a wee bit of Food as well. . .

 We had a wonderful weekend -- a tour of the Portes Ouvertes of some of the wine chateaux of the Fronsac appellation on Saturday. I was brave enough to contribute my very obviously fait-main, rustic tarte aux pommes. Pater couldn't see the problem, dear sweet man that he is, insisting that it tasted good (well, butter, sugar, flour, apples, cinnamon, duh!) and appearance didn't matter. Hello, we're in France! But there was no parchment paper, no pie plate, no rolling pin, a completely different recipe than I usually follow because we haven't figured out lard yet. . . .Are you curious? Have I no shame? Here's a photo, but promise me you'll immediately erase this from your memory bank and not hold it against me. . .

I know! Shocking, right? And there was the most delicious -- and beautiful! -- tarte tatin displayed on the table just a few desserts over. . . . Ah well.

So on to happier images. I thought it might be time to begin sharing some of the wonderful examples of street art I've collected over the past several weeks -- and perhaps end by sharing an example of my own image-making, a page from my illustrated journal. The photo at the top of the page is from a wall in Rome's Monti neighbourhood; the portrait below is from Bordeaux, not far from where we'll be heading this afternoon for our language lesson.
 And this photo below, also taken in a street not far off St. Catherine in downtown Bordeaux, is very reminiscent of one that looks down on traffic from a building not far from our new home in Vancouver -- I'll show you when I get back there. . .
And then the ones below were all snapped (along with many more!) on our day walking up to Paris's Belleville neighbourhood. . . .
This one caught my eye because there's something about quite Miss.Tic about it -- and the signature suggests that's not accidental -- MisseKat is a bit of a copycat, non?

 Here a sweet homage to Edith Piaf's chanson, Mon Dieu. These streets of Belleville were her old stomping ground. . .
 As for the following three photos, I wish I'd managed to combine them in a Panorama shot, but there was considerable traffic between me and those hilarious faces. . . .


 So much talent . . .
 And is this the work of Fred Le Chevalier? It seems to resemble his, but I can't find confirmation despite some considerable time scrolling through images.
Believe me, I have many more photos of street art to sort through, and I will be sharing those with you before long, but perhaps it's time to sneak in a page from my own efforts to be creative with lines on surfaces. . .  Here's my most recent page, trying to capture some of the exuberance of the dahlias we brought home from the market last week.
 Above, my IG collage of the dahlias, Market to Table, and below, my attempt to squeeze some of that floral flamboyance onto a page in my journal. I wrestled for a while with whether to use the Portrait or the Landscape orientation of the page, and I have to admit that I find it tough to "shrink" an image enough to fit it on the page in effective proportions. As well, the tiny, portable watercolour kit I travel with . . . well, I know that a poor worker always blames her tools, so I'll refrain from saying what I want to, but I did find myself wishing for my tubes of watercolour back home. . .
Lunchtime here now. Time to slice the baguette I picked up after my run this morning, and make sandwiches from the last of the 23Euro roast chicken Paul picked up the other day. Yes, probably the most expensive chicken we'll ever purchase (I certainly hope so, at least!) and he's still trying to justify it. I will say that the second meal we made of it, last night's dinner, was the best chicken soup I've ever made and I might even say immodestly that it's the best I've ever eaten.  Leeks, fresh canellini beans, carrots, potatoes, and an entire chicken carcass. Yummy!

Okay, over to you now. How is your week starting off? Any comments about homely pie or striking street art or whatever else you'd care to share this last Daylights Savings Monday of October (for many of us, at least)? 

44 comments:

  1. There is such talent among street artists. Apple crumble (crisp) could be introduced as a Canadian dish. My mum never made the pastry version and we enjoyed it. Your illustrated journal will be a treasure to keep. I'm starting the week
    with a discussion of Anne Enright's The Gathering which I read a few months ago.
    Hopefully, I remember something. Losing Daylight Savings Time was always so sad when we worked. November is a dark month and Monsieur and I have no plans to travel south until Christmas. Oh well! Twenty-three euros is a lot for a roast chicken but the French chickens always look delicious. You could always make soup. Happy Monday!

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    1. I did think about a crisp, but we're limited here in options for baking/serving dishes. I also thought about seeing if I could find some peanut butter and bringing our favourite cookies, those still being something of a novelty here.
      I really enjoyed The Gathering -- well, enjoyed is probably not the right word for a novel that made me squirm in parts, but I do admire Enright's writing, and you remind me that I haven't read her latest yet. . . .Time to store up reading material for those long dark months ahead.

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  2. I hope it was free range and corn fed at that price Frances, but well done for making sure nothing went to waste - quite good value really. I'm sure your tarte au pommes tasted wonderful and that's the important thing - it's not Bake Off (the British final is this Wednesday and I am really looking forward to it - sad eh?). Your watercolour is lovely, free and vibrant and a lot better than I could attempt!

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    1. Paul said it must have been a very happy chicken (and he groaned at the difference in price for the ones we saw at the market this weekend -- I still can't quite understand how he came to pay such a price!)
      I've never seen the Bake Off show, but it seems to be quite a phenomenon -- nope, I wouldn't qualify.
      And I have to say, every time I hear someone say that my painting is much better than they could attempt, I have to protest because that's what I thought of my own potential until three years ago. . . Seriously, if I can. . . .

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  3. Long-time reader, first-time commenter, but I am too familiar with the challenges of pie-making in France not to share my hard-earned workarounds. In case you want to try again! 1) A wine bottle (ideally empty, but full works in a pinch) makes an excellent rolling pin. 2) French butter has a higher fat content, making it softer when worked, so make sure to refrigerate dough before rolling.

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    1. Thanks, Ellie, and yes, I've committed to trying again. I have a bit of a reputation back home as a very decent pie-maker (blackberry and apple being my specialties), so I'd like to see if I can transfer some of those skills. I did end up using a wile bottle as a roller, on the advice of other commenters, but I didn't know that about French butter (and usually, at home, I make my pie crust with lard, which is different again). I'll be careful to pop it in the fridge for longer before I roll it out. Thank you! And thanks for commenting for the first time -- I hope to hear from you again (although you're also very welcome to read quietly).

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  4. I wonder what happened to your apple pie? Was it eaten? Was it finished even? Then why worry about the shape?
    I had to google Miss Tic. The things I am learning from reading this blog...
    I love your dahlias! You not only captured the colours but also this special feature that dahlias have: round, sometimes drooping flowers at the end of very straight, long, naked stems. So beautiful!

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    1. It's true, Eleonore, almost all of it was eaten -- your common-sense attitude is very close to my husband's. I'd still like to make a "prettier" version, but really, it did fulfil its purpose, so I should be content.
      You're very kind about my dahlias. I tend to focus on the flaws (as we do, right?!), but I did enjoy capturing something of their essence -- they have such rich colours!

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  5. Your postings are such a pleasure to read. I love the artwork--on the city walls as well as on your journal pages. The dahlias do indeed capture the essence of the originals. Never mind the French standards of perfection which can be downright intimidating. I confess the pie gave me a giggle, although it is a fine demonstration of New World culture: practicality, enthusiasm, improvisation. Perhaps a new name to legitimize its rustic nature (and perhaps imply that its appearance is deliberate): tarte rustique à la canadienne?

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    1. Thanks, Elle. So glad you're enjoying the posts. And yes, that pie is definitely giggle-worthy, although I wasn't giggling when it came out of the oven (it did look considerably better before we tried to remove it from the foil) -- Yes! I like your solution, and next time I'll be sure to make an elaborate label.

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  6. Those dahlias are gorgeous (and if that's what you produce with sub optimal materials, just think what you will do when your back home with your pukka paints). I have an issue with street art so I leave its contemplation to others. Many of those who leave graffiti behind them are talented artists - and many sites are 'legal' - but not all of them are by any means.

    I once made an apple tart for the French family I was staying with as a 15 year old exchange student. Maman - who never ate dessert - even had a slice and wanted to be shown how to make it. So please proffer your pies with pride. French tartes look and taste divine but I have an inkling that not so many of them come from the home kitchen, meaning that those that do have an added lustre.

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    1. You're not the only one with street art reservations, Ceri, and I respect your position. Thanks for the kind words re my watercolour.
      I'm going to try again with the tarte and we'll see. That one was tough to feel proud of, honestly, although I suppose I'm pleased that I made the effort. Good for you to take that on at 15!

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  7. Street art is great but yours is much better. It's funny cooking away from home. You think all is well and then realise a vital piece of equipment is necessary. Happened to me a lot lately. My what a pricey chicken. Hope it was delicious at that price :) B x

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    1. So true! And especially when one's kitchen has evolved over decades and decades.
      Believe me, we told ourselves it was delicious! Still shaking our heads ;-)

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  8. I think your pie looks very homely, and I mean that as a compliment. What I like, and admire, is that you tackled it in unfamiliar surroundings with no proper kitchen equipment AND took it to a dinner with total strangers, in a land of exquisite patisserie! That takes courage! Your painting of dhalias is so full of light and movement, love it X

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    1. Thanks, Penny! Yes, it did take courage -- and confidence in the goodness of my friend's friends, never having met them but knowing her own goodness -- and, of course, as so often, the courage might just have been linked to a little goofiness! ;-)

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  9. The apple tart looks tasty...it reminds me a bit of a Jamie Oliver dessert that he calls Eton Mess. It looks messy but the flavours are spectacular.
    BTW I absolutely love the watercolour...it should be framed as a travel memento.

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    1. Ha! Calligraphy label to read "Tarte rustique Canadienne, autrement dite Apple Mess" -- I love it!
      And that's very kind of you re the watercolour. Somehow they always look better in photographs. . or simply with distance, I suppose.

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  10. I TOTALLY get the expensive chicken especially if it was already roasted and thus smelled wonderful and the shopper was hungry. The water colors are great fun, so vivid and dynamic and full of memories.

    ceci

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    1. Yes, I think this was precisely the circumstance. And, of course, compared to going out for dinner, it was a great savings!

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  11. I have a bit of a reputation within my group of friends as a keen cook, but I think that means I'm even MORE reliant on my own trusty tools, ingredients and techniques, so cooking in an unfamiliar place can be really challenging. When we were volunteering in Peru I remember trying to make a quince and apple crumble (crisp/cobbler) in a totally weird/broken oven, without weighing scales, etc. It wasn't my best ... But we all ate it.
    And I love your dahlias. They are so exuberant, just like the flowers themselves! But how on earth to get that electric pink with just a travel watercolour kit?

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    1. You have a reputation across the seas and in another hemisphere as a brilliant foodie! I suspect your quince and apple crumble would have been delicious. . . but I think there's something to what you say, the more we refine our own techniques, the more we might enjoy relying on certain approaches -- another way that travel shakes us up, and I think it's good, in the long run.
      No way to get that electric pink that I know of! My cadmium red in the little kit gave that almost-neon orange, and I had to content myself with that. I've decided I want to know more about colour-mixing when I get back home...

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  12. Bringing something - anything - to a French pot-luck must be the scariest thing in the world. But they will probably have been pleased with themselves for being adventurous and tasting (and enjoying) foreign cuisine - so exotic! I don't know what I would bring - perhaps follow your biscuit instinct and do Scottish shortbread?
    Such a pity that you don't have BBC and the Great British Bake Off. But even better than the programme itself is the weekly review of it - Another Slice. I have pulled a chest muscle recently doing Pilates, and I just did it another damage this week laughing so uncontrollably at the 'failed bakes' section that viewers send in. I love it that we can send up the whole perfectionism in life thing, and admit that Britain is also a nation of bakers like me who forget the vital ingredient/launch out on something way beyond their capabilities. Do see if you can access the stills gallery at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p030klgk/p030zxs1
    I guarantee you will view your apple tart as a work of art.

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    1. They were a lovely crowd, Linda, and I needn't have been anxious, really, but I would have loved to show what I could do -- ego, all ego! ;-)
      I'm going to see if I can find those stills. . . I could use a chuckle and also some implied commiseration.

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  13. An apple tart in a strange kitchen in a strange country, to share with others unknown. How very generous as well as brave. I'm sure it was delicious, and that is all that matters.

    I'm enjoying your photos of street art as well, but truly, your dahlias are magical. You capture their exuberance and that sense of too-good-to-be-true tentativeness I always see in them, that sense that they are so incredibly real, and yet so incredibly impossible. Or maybe that's just me.

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  14. love, love, love!! your dahlias in vase painting--the freshness of the colour, the use of water--well done!!

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    1. Thank you! I need another watercolour class, but meanwhile, I'm playing and having fun. . .

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  15. Oh,my comment get lost!
    So,in a couple of words:
    I could imagine your "Apple Tart Mess" with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream-delicious!
    I love your watercolour diary(what a great idea!) and dahlias are really beautiful (both the real and coloured)!
    Dottoressa

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    1. Ah Dottoressa, you're so clever! This is exactly what I thought -- a scoop of vanilla ice cream was exactly what it needed and it would have covered a multitude of sins. Or, chez nous, we might have had one of the g'daughter squirt from a can of crème fouettée -- very tacky, the can, yes, and we prefer to whip our own, but the can makes a pretty pattern and the resulting mound of chantilly would have hidden my homely pastry. ;-)

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  16. I'll bet that apple tart tasted DEE-vine! I love the street art you've collected here. It's one of the things I enjoy seeing in different locales. Your dahlias are gorgeous and your rendition captures their liveliness. Thanks for the confirmation about the Puffers in Paris too... ;-)

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    1. It wasn't bad, that tart, I will admit. Found some parchment paper here and I think I'll make another attempt this weekend.
      Puffers in Paris. . . other than all those tapping cigarette ash on the sidewalk outside every cafe. . . ;-)

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  17. Oh I have much to say , but time does not allow today. Great street art !
    And your dahlia drawing made me smile . I love it . Wonderful memory in your journal. Good for you :)

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    1. Thank you! We'll catch up -- a long, long chat in December 'kay?

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  18. Frances, thank you for the marvelous street art, so varied and so cheeky/sly!

    Your watercolour skills are really improving; the dahlias are a delight. I am glad you are enjoying Bordeaux so much. The tarte tasted delicious I am sure, but the differences in flour, and water content in butter, (or did you say you used lard?) between countries could trip the most adept baker up. I of course know you are a very good baker, so posting that shot was very brave (tongue in cheek). Brenda

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    1. You're very welcome and thank YOU, Brenda!
      I didn't use lard, but I usually do -- haven't seen it on the supermarket shelves yet, but I haven't looked hard.
      Thanks for testifying to my baking skills ;-)

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  19. A French fashion blogger in Bordeaux for you :)

    http://www.le-blog-enfin-moi.com

    Marie-Odile

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  20. Echoing Marie-Odile's recommendation. I have been following on Instagram but only just now got to the blog. VERY tempted by a styling consultation. And imagine the bliss of a 12 month course. I just read out the cost of a half day styling session to my husband and daughter. Husband choked on his muesli (to be expected - he is Scottish and an accountant), and daughter, ever practical, said "I'll do it for you instead". No support there then.

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    1. I've begun following, but haven't spotted the invitation (or cost) for styling consultation or cost. Suspect I might prefer to spend on a pair of shoes ;-)

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  21. I'm with Une Femme.. bet that tart tasted divine. My culinary skills are pretty basic... but my Mum did say once that I was a "tasty cook" which made me beam with pride. I fear though that the ladies of my book club are more impressed with appearance than they will admit. I began to despair at the increasingly elaborate meals they served at what was supposed to be a "simple light supper" to accompany our book discussions. That's probably why I have switched my allegiance to a different book group where we dine out or do pot luck and who cares it's all about the wine and the books anyway.
    Your dahlias are gorgeous. I love them. I aspire to be able to do the same!

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    1. I love your mom's expression, even if it hints a bit at cannibalism ;-)
      We'll have to talk someday about book clubs. I hope to be able to join one or form one in our new 'hood, but I've experienced some of what you're talking about in the past. Wine and books, you've got that right!
      As for the dahlias, when you hit your stride again, I know you'll be painting great stuff!

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  22. Oh, the dahlia picture is already lovely and will be such a special memory of this time. I admire you for bringing anything to a potluck in France. I am not a pie baker and am planning on my first apple pie this weekend so thank you for encouraging me to my best and enjoy time with friends.

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    1. Oooh, report back! What fun to be baking a first apple pie! My dad's advice was always to work the dough as quickly and as lightly as possible. And then my husband worked with someone who rolled the dough between two sheets of wax paper to prevent sticking -- I adopted that method quickly and swear by it. Have fun!

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  23. I love the panoramic dental flossers !
    And as for the chicken ? French chickens are more expensive than local ones here in Holland but are ten times tastier , probably because they're allowed more time to grow .

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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