Saturday, November 30, 2019

A Benoit Thanksgiving

Thank you Benoit for thinking of hungry Americains👍🏻 
And for thinking you are serving a Very American traditional dinner. 
And thank you PBers Bonnie and Rob for taking me to divine Benoit at 20, rue St. Martin. 
BENOIT  opened in 1912 by the Petit family. 
Alain Ducasse took it over in 2005 but has maintained all their classic French bistro traditions. 

The special menu says 'Dinde fermier (free-range)something something aux champignons airelles (wild mushrooms) something something' with cranberry sauce and gravy (46€).
Reading it on the menu it didn't sound like 
that much, so I ordered my fav starter, snails. Big mistake. I am still repenting. Splish splash in the pool 🏊‍♀️
They didn't mention we would get an 'amuse bouche' - a tiny cup of velouté(creamy soup) de panin(a kind of white turnip) with crunchy bits of chestnut in the bottom for contrast.
Why did I eat every snail🐌? If anyone had said to me you will someday move to Paris & eat snails 🐌 2 days in a row I would have socked them silly.
The main course. The stuffing is the squarish block of wild mushrooms 🍄 , plus mystery bits. We got both dark & white turkey 🦃 meat. Très riche. FYI I read somewhere turkey breast/dinde is the most frequently eaten meat in France. The little pan on the left contains an individual escallop
 of potate douce (sweet potato to you) with plenty of maple syrup (something else the French are mad for - usually Canadian). Just above - a big slab of butter 🧈 from their own fermier. We were told this after the dinner. I wanted to ask for the butter back but was restrained by my companions. On the left a small bowl of cranberry sauce. Fortunately my dear friends from Vermont wanted none, so I ate all of the lingonberry sauce myself. Bear helped out. I passed on the gravy so it balanced out. The 2 whitish strips are turnip again.
The waiter assured us they do not normally serve ‘American-style’ food like this. Does this look American 🇺🇸 to you aside from the gravy boat. Not that I'm complaining, just stating a fact. FYI it was all extremely
 delish with great service. Benoit gets E for effort. We were hesitant whether to get a dessert.
Their baba au rhum is famous. We settled on 1 order of 3 flavors of home-made ice cream (from their own farmer)as sort of a digestive. They kept bringing us freshly baked madeleines. A little plate of marshmallows, more madeleines and little ganache chocolates. I imagined we would be skipping the usual I-ate-too-much feeling. No way. We needed cranes 🏗️ to get out of there. 
             Oh la la la la la.
Outside a Christmas marché by Tour St. Jacques. 
Crossing my bridge a lovely light show as always. I hope you very much enjoyed your turkey too🎉. 
Please Keep Bear 🐻 in Paris 
with letters from my Paris Etsy shopFYI 🐻 is 🏊‍♀️like crazy to work it off today and the rest of the week.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

A Russian Tea Room Thanksgiving

A while back I did illustrated menus for the RUSSIAN TEA ROOM.
Recently I received a teaser for their new Thanksgiving menu. On the spur of the moment I emailed a message back, 'Isn't it time for some new bears?' Shortly after I heard from an unfamiliar email, 'Send us some sketches'! The conversation ensued.
Sketches went back and forth.
Please put the waiters in Cossack outfits. Can one be playing the balalaika? I responded, What about dancing bears instead?
I watch dancers doing KAZATSKAS on Youtube.
I even tried a few steps myself with arms folded etc.
You have to get into the spirit of things after all. Maybe eating some caviar is a better idea?
Please run over to The Russian Tea Room at 150 West 57th street and have some caviar and Champagne 🍾 on me. Tell them I sent you. No problem. Udachi 👍🏻Das Vedanya. I hope you enjoy your turkey. Keep Bear in Paris with letter subscriptions from my Etsy shop. FYI 🐻 More news tomorrow on Bear's Thanksgiving dinner at Benoit.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Leonardo at the Louvre

Tuesday morning I took Bear to the LOUVRE to see the LEONARDO DA VINCI exhibit celebrating the 500th year anniversary of his death (1452-1519). An astonishing exhibition of 200 works including 11 of his total 15 paintings (some took 10 years to complete). This is primarily a drawing show so do your homework. If you're a former art student or art history major, no problem. You'll have seen these drawings repeatedly in old master drawing books.  
Seeing them 'in the flesh' is a wonderful shock. Otherwise YOUTUBE has a wealth of Da Vinci videos for pre-immersion. The first room you enter consists of Large bronze by Verrochio of “Christ and St Thomas” surrounded by charcoal value drawings on canvas, DRAPERY studies by Da Vinci of sculptor ANDREA DEL VERROCHIO when he served his apprenticeship in Florence as his assistant in 1468.
 Traditionally art school began with a year of endless black and white charcoal studies of plaster casts. How I hated doing CAST STUDIES. I hated the powdery charcoal all over my hands and everything else. Instead I did line drawings and always regretted missing out on this important basic process before working with color. To see so many Da Vinci early VALUE STUDIES in one place is thrilling but for the non-art student may be boring.Still its the groundwork for all his future masterpieces.
There are many small sketches. I was glad I brought a magnifying glass.
Leonardo did THUMBNAILS (called timbre in French and some are postage stamp-sized).
He worked from Greek casts for Leda and the swan.
Large monochromatic  'reflectograms' show you the original underdrawings beneath the completed oil painting, Saint Anne,theVirgin and infant Jesus playingwith a lamb.
This study of an outstretched arm is sublime.Everything is sublime here.
So many enigmatic smiles you don't miss the left-out Mona Lisa.
Pages of the Codex Atlanticus from Milan’s Ambrosian Library show him exploring geometry, optics and his fascination with flight. In Milan by chance I fell into the Leonardo3 museum containing 130 working models of machines he designed near Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Easy to grab a gelato after. No gelato at the Louvre sadly. I came home and fell into bed to recuperate. 
The crowds didn't seem too bad but I booked for 9:30am, the first time slot (PRE-BOOKING is mandatory).
Arrive at the Passage Richelieu entrance (not the pyramid) at least a 1/2 hour early. I brought along Bear and a magnifying glass and sketched the Passage while waiting. Leonardo da Vinci is on until February 24 at the LOUVRE. I hope you get to see it.Enjoy ParisBreakfast with your cuppa ☕️ and keep Bear in Paris with a letter subscription from my Etsy shopBear 🐻 is still snoozing zzzz

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Rendez-vous Carnet de Voyage part 2

A second helping from last weekend's RENDEZ-VOUS CARNET DE VOYAGE. More splendid big displays. 
Big images make a difference. JULIETTE PLISSON was there with a gorgeous giant blowup of her watercolor. 
I've thought of entering but my tiny CLAIRE FONTAINE 'sketchbooks' are just school notebooks. (See last picture).
Why is watercolor such a small medium? Its frustrating.
Tiny paintboxes. Tiny sketchbooks. Tiny brushes.
There are live drawing demos.
Tiny everything perfect for travel sketching but watercolor is not taken seriously by 'The Art World'.
Fortunately master watercolorist and painter of 1000s of small paintings, W.H.Turner, is coming to musee Jacquemart-Andre in March 2020. 
This time tomorrow I will be inside the Louvre looking at DA VINCI doodles. Full report to come. Another way to sharpen your drawing skills if you can't travel to Tahiti or its raining out is TVSketching. Put on something streaming like GOLD DIGGER and doodle. I'm better sketching indoors than outside. Try it. Bonne TVSketching PBers. Enjoy ParisBreakfast with your cuppa ☕️ and keep Bear in Paris with a letter subscription from my Etsy shop. Bear 🐻 is drawing🎨

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Rendez-vous Carnet de Voyage, Clermont-Ferrand

This year's the 5-day annual international travel sketchbook event,  RENDEZ-VOUS CARNET DE VOYAGE is all on one floor (including the fabulous chocolate chip cookies to be shown in next post).
Its much easier to navigate.
The Leporello accordion sketchbook is all over the expo.
Individual artist's stands are more explosive.
With color and pattern compared to previous year's exhibits.
There are areas where you sit and listen to audio travel adventures, browse books and possibly catch a few Zzzs before looking at more sketchbooks.
Irresistible art supplies and the publishers with even more books to browse and buy are enticing.
This is another place to bring a granny cart for take-aways.
Master sketcher, GABI CAMPANARIO from Seattle was invited to represent URBANSKETCHERS. If you're lucky to live in Seattle def take one of his workshops. Otherwise buy his terrific DRAWING BOOKS
Sonia Privat won a prize in show for her book AMANI.
Her drawings are strewn appropriately among old travel suitcases. Remember what those looked like? More to come soon. PS I had oysters for breakfast in the Sunday marché. Yum Carol in Clermont-Ferrand🎨