Charles Bernstein Poetic Birthday Buffet

Charles Bernstein Poetic Birthday Buffet

This month is taken over, not to say consumed, by my dear 19th century comrade, Augustus Saint Gaudens. The deadline for the French project is due in a few weeks  — thus very little time to do anything else.  Fortunately our good friend Charles Bernstein had an important birthday, so I got to take a break and travel to Philadelphia where on 8 April the Kelly Writers House at UPenn had a superb party for the occasion.  The readings were great and you can read & hear more about it on Pierre Joris’ blog and except for the performance by Felix Bernstein and Sherry Bernstein I focused on the food, are you surprised?

They are complete foodies at the KWH and it was splendid! Program Coordinator Erin Gautsche has her own food blog, Veggicurious.com, and  director Al Filreis looks like a gourmand to me! I wanted to record a very nice detail about the party: All the dishes on the buffet were references to Charles Bernstein poems! As noticed by the director, Charles’ poetry doesn’t include a lot of food elements so it wasn’t easy. They dug deep enough into the poems of All the Whiskey in Heaven to create a beautiful, festive, delicious & poetic buffet! See for yourself and click on the photo to enlarge.  Sorry for the poor quality of the video recording.

March, march, march…

March, march, march…

MARCH—collage/drawing from N.P.  Calendar Series

Yeap! We are in March and I saw some crocuses “piercing” the ground on 71st street yesterday. It cheered me up. The general mood has been down with all the international and national events, catastrophes, health care mess… Even my hometown, Luchon, was seriously affected by a storm coming from the Southwest with winds at 200km/h. It killed one man, pulled out thousands of ancient trees, lifting roofs, and closing bars for one day! No one remembers seeing or hearing about such an event in a place that is so naturally sheltered from the wind. Who says there is no global warming? The same idiots who feel threatened by universal health care? The same idiots who worship a god that knows neither nature nor health. We need D.A Bennett  The Truth Seeker all over again, I just read that book and it is amazing how the problem of religion in politics has remained the same for two century ago and is far from being solved.

Anyhow, life must go on and I have been busy. The “d’Artagnan 25th Anniversary Art Show” at The World Bar is still on. Works by French painter Michel Calvet and 3 large collage/paintings of mine are on display.  The World Bar serves delicious cocktails and their $8 happy hour special is totally worth it. I had a “peace cocktail” concocted by the excellent (1/2 french) mixologist Jonathan, all fresh juices and premium liquors — a real treat! We will have another event there soon as the opening was affected by the storm. So don’t feel bad if you couldn’t make it; D’Artagan has agreed to provide us with more patés and saucisson for another event, so stay tune!

Below you will find my detailed calendar of events for March, four events still coming up, it is all exciting especially the Umami festival one, which is leading me into fascinating research about yeast and beer in Mesopotamian time. As a result of all this action the fridge as been consistently empty and home made Miso soup (see recipe here)and rice has become a staple.

Breakfast Rice

I cook two cups of brown rice twice a week and eat it in different forms. The breakfast version is becoming a house favorite and even Pierre who is not a brown rice aficionado really likes this one:

-Warm up some rice milk in a bottom of sauce pan. Add 1/2 cup of cooked rice per person, one small apple cut into small pieces, 1/2 banana, raisins, cranberries, goji berries, maple syrup. Just warm it up. Before serving add chopped roasted almonds, pistachios, walnuts. That’s a tasty healthy breakfast!

Chicken

When we finally made it to the coop a few days ago we got the making for a chicken soup. I had been craving it since Dawn Clements (now showing an amazing piece at the Whitney Biennial click here) served me the most delicious one at her studio in early February.  That recipe is also very easy:  throw it all in the pot and let it happen while the smell of the broth takes over the house. This is what I threw in the pot of cold water:
-1 organic chicken (with feet!)
-3 celery ribs
-3 carrots peeled and cut
-2 “fanned” leeks
-1 onion with 3 cloves planted in it
– 1 spice/herb bag with: fresh parsley, thyme, laurel leave, 1 cardamon pod, 6 blk pepper corn.
– Sea salt.
Then you can either delicately lift some of the meat and eat it separately or debone  the whole thing and return it in the pot. You will have to add some salt and pepper to taste and you can of course add some pasta or rice or potatoes. I just had a bowl and this is ever so restauring and satisfying.

Now the schedule and if I don’t see you there, please stay in touch!

Sunday March 7th
Sunday Best Reading Series
4PM $7
The Lounge, Hudson View Gardens
Pinehurst Avenue and 183rd Street
183rd & Pinehurst Avenue
New York City

Friday March 12th
UMAMI Festival
Featuring Sarah Klein, Murray’s Cheese, Tom Cat Bakery, Ithaca Beer Company
& NP w/ Rosie Hertlein ( violin)
6:30PM
click here for
reservations
Astor Center for Food and Wine
399 Lafayette (at 4th Street)

Sunday March 21
NP & Pierre Joris, Nick Flynn, Major Jackson, Douglas Unger
6PM
Poets for Peace at Erika’s
85-101 N. 3rd St # 508
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(between wythe and berry
and it is the bedford stop on the L train)

Monday March 29th
NP w/ Pierre Joris & Michael Bisio (bass)
THE LOCAL 269

269 E Houston Street NYC

Ongoing until Agust 2010
D’Artagnan 25th Anniversary Art Show
Michel Calvet / Nicole Peyrafitte / Jean-Pierre Rives
The World Bar /The Trump Tower
845 United Nation Plaza
New York NY 10017



Shikaakwa City Report

Shikaakwa City Report

Logan Stepping on the City
From the Logan Monument

I am back from Shikaakwa or ” Stinky Onion” or as we call it today Chicago. The name Chicago is believed to be the French deformation of what the Miami-Illinois called the wild onion growing along the Chicago River. As expected, the weather was cold but I was prepared for it and it didn’t bother me a bit, au contraire. I convinced — or rather lured— Pierre into some mega walks along Lake Michigan. He didn’t regret it. As for me, they:

npchicago

Impress memory

North Shore:
Sky    water    cityscape

Jade   turquoise   mauve-gold

Lincoln walking from his chair
Meeting with Schiller
Three mermaid boys & three cranes
at the Bates Fountain

Mist moist lost
Urbs in Horto

Tropical gardens?

npchicago

Town Shore:
Mi’kmaq memoirs
Abby
tethered sways
Rippled reflections
Magalie’s fluo yellow
That’s a wake up call
Logan rears up
Lincoln sits down
Vulva building opens
To sharp German poetry.

South Shore:npchicago
Ice   ducks   republic
Gris    black & white    gold again
Rounds  & sharps
Ice creaks   ducks call
Republic alone
Fathoms the White City
No looking back at plastered Beaux Arts
Or Palace of Fine Arts
Science and Industry to prevail?

*  *  *  *

npchicago

We had a marvelous dinner at Turquoise, a Turkish restaurant in Roscoe Village. Both my Patlicanli Islim Sarmasi  ­—Braised lamb shoulder wrapped in eggplant and lamb jus, and rice pilaf ($ 17.95) and Pierre’s Kusu Sis Kepab —Lamb seasoned, skewered , grilled, served with vegetables, rice pilaf, and yogurt sauce ($ 17.95) were exquisite. A delicate tomato sauce topped the skillfully folded and perfectly cooked eggplant filled with fragrant marinated morsels of tender lamb. The rice pilaf was fluffy and buttery. Pierre’s kepab was equally perfect. Upon arrival we were offered delicious home baked bread with a complementary plate of what I think was Patlican salatisi —Smoked eggplant, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, scallion and roasted red bell pepper. We were also offered each a Kazandibi — Caramelized butter, sugar and custard served with vanilla ice cream as a complementary dessert. We sat at the bar to catch the end of the Football game and Pierre ordered a Raki; it turned out to be on the house as we were the last ones and the register closed! Never had I experienced such generosity on visiting a restaurant for the first time.

After the wonderful bilingual Chicago Review reading at the Goethe Institute of Berlin poets —Christian Hawkey, Uljana Wolf & Monika Rinck — we had a good meal at the Armenian restaurant Sayat Nova. After Pierre’s reading at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago we had a not so good meal at The Italian Village but the company was beautiful & the conversation with poets Jennifer Scapettone, Natanaëlle (Nathalie) Stephens, Dan Godston & Jennifer Karmin very inspiring, so it didn’t matter. Dan, Jennifer, Pierre and I had a cozy nightcap at South Water Kitchen where we returned the next day for a light dinner before taking the train back to NYC.  There was also the rowdier night with Magalie Guérin a lovely French-Canadian painter. Magalie led the way to a bar/restaurant tour that began for cocktails at the Palmer House, to a fair Japanese restaurant  & to end with night cap at a Bar called Exchequer where we spent time trying to befriend a fierce Lithuanian waitress and comparing our accents!

*  *  *  *

npchicagoOn our first night in town we walked by the symphony hall and noticed that Pierre Boulez was conducting one of his 85th birthday concerts. We walked to the box office and got lucky enough to grab 2 of the last tickets! Watching Pierre Boulez conduct the orchestra is mesmerizing;  so elegant, so minimal I would dare to say almost liminal. The offering started with his own composition Livre pour Cordes, followed by Bartók’s Concerto for Two Pianos, Percussion and Orchestra and Stravinsky’ s The Firebird as the last piece. We read in the program that two nights later The Chicago Art Institute  presented a  Conversation with Maestro Boulez. “Mr. Bulless” —as the attendant who sold Pierre tickets called him— was reflecting on modernism with Phillip Husher, the CSO program annotator. Here are just a few of the notes I took during the talk:

— Importance to enhanced self teaching.
— The first “modern” composer was Beethoven.
— Paul Klee’s book on the Bauhaus lectures has been essential to his development.

—”Without Teleman I can live. Without Bach I cannot” —

*  *  *  *


And last but not least were my extended visits to the Art Institute & library educating myself in XIXe century sculpture and architecture with a focus on Augustus Saint Gaudens (1848-1907). The museum collection is a great place for me to absorb and contextualize the works by and information on his predecessors & contemporaries. The Art Institute owns beautiful ASG works, among them his bas-reliefs of Violet Sargent, Jules Bastien-Lepage & Amor Caritas.  There are also four of his major public art pieces in Chicago:
Lincoln Park: The Standing Lincoln  & The Bates Fountain —on the last one he collaborated with his former pupil Frederick MacMonnies.
Grant Park: The Seated Lincoln —behind the Art Institute—
The General Logan Memorial —Michigan Ave & 9th Street—

An other important fact is that Augustus Saint Gaudens was advisor on sculpture for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair —a.k.a The World’s Columbian Exposition or encore, The White City. He didn’t make any special work for the exposition but the first Diana that had been too big for the top of Madison Square Garden II found a home on top of the Agriculture Building designed by McKim, Mead & White.

The first version of Saint-Gaudens’ Diana is on top of the Agriculture Building, left.

Voilà the report for the Chicago trip. The train ride in the roomette was wonderful, we had no delays and the food was totally acceptable. I loved the interaction with the train personnel. The one thing I really dislike is the toilet in the roomette. That is the silliest invention ever, I would much prefer to have more space and a public john in the corridor. There would be many other observation to report but that will have to be  for another post. Thanks to all the welcoming people we met, hope to come back soon!



Abstractions & Voyage

Abstractions & Voyage

Georgia O’Keeffe, Series I—No. I, 1918. Oil on composition board, 19 3/4 × 16 in. (50.2 × 40.6 cm). Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas. Purchase with assistance from the Anne Burnett Tandy Accessions Fund 1995.8. © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Pierre and I are en route to Chicago. We will take the train tomorrow and we have reserved a “roomette”, that is a sleeping car for two with all meals included.  It is our 2oth anniversary and as we  both have work to do in Chicago (see the announcement for Pierre Joris’ reading at the end of the post) we decided that 40 hours of confinement —that is if there are no delays— will be  ideal to enjoy…or test our relationship!
More recipes and food reports will come soon. Meanwhile I am leaving you with a poem I wrote after a very inspiring visit to the Georgia O’Keefe: Abstraction show at the Whitney Museum. The piece was written using some titles of the paintings and a few lines from the Sarabeth’s advertisement brochure I had picked up at the coat check and used as a note pad. I read it at the Bowery Poetry Club on Sunday and you can read and hear it below. Voilà for now and off to the windy city!

Click here to hear the recording

January 7th, 2010 —
For & W/ Georgia O’Keeffe
By Nicole Peyrafitte

Inside a clam shell
In the evening
Clam shell again
Painted and pungent
Red Black & Night

Black place #1
Black place #2
Black place #3

A wonderful redefinition
Of yellow sweet peas
An impressive wave
In the pool
In the woods
In lake George
Pink & green

Alligator pears
Shipped to Alaska
Red & pink
Ballet skirt or
Electric light
We will not be responsible
For black abstraction

At the rodeo
Music pink & blue #2
On Wednesdays only
A train
At night
In the desert
Black white & blues

The touchstone; a portrait
Or jack in the pulpit
A piece of wood
Sandwiches, snacks, pastries, muffins
Coffee and desserts
All above the clouds in 1963
Special
Very special

Special #8
Special #12
Special #17

A tent door
At night
Everything she created
Blue & green
Though pelvis series
Red & yellow
Watch for the opening
My last door
Black door
With red
Yolk like
Ever morphing feelings
Cosmic walk
On
An
Untitled red wave
Eggshell abstraction with
Circle

———————————————————————————

For your information:
Pierre Joris’ reading in Chicago :
Chi Reading
Fri Jan 29 5:30pm

map

Joan Flasch Artists Book Center on the SAIC ‘campus,’
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
37 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL –
(312) 899-5170

Family Heirloom: Les Pannequets Saint-Louis

Family Heirloom: Les Pannequets Saint-Louis

Among all the family recipes Les Pannequets Saint-Louis is truly a unique one, et je pèse mes mots — that is: and I weigh my words — yes: unique, a word I almost never use.

Louis

My great grandfather Louis, Gabriel, Marcel, Marie, Peyrafitte (1858-1929) created this amazing recipe that we still make for very special occasions like this Christmas day when Pierre, Joseph, Miles and I gathered around our kitchen island for a true family food communion.
Pannequets
have been part of the French cuisine repertoire for a long time, though the word derives from the English “pancake”— from the middle English pan +cake that’s an easy one. The famous French chef, Auguste Escoffier, has several entries for pannequets in the Entremets section of his reference work Le Guide Culinaire. So does Joseph Favre in the Dictionnaire Universel de la Cuisine, mentioning an interesting version of pannequets au gingembre — with ginger. They both specify that it is a Patisserie Anglaise or English pastry. Not surprising at all, in fact, that my Pyrenean ancestors would be acquainted with English desserts. In the 1900’s the French Pyrenees were “invaded” by English tourists, the family hotel in Luchon even changed its name: the Hotel de la Poste became the Hotel Poste & Golf ! My family had sold some land so a golf course could be built for to the increasing (colonial) British clientele. Surfing the net to look for traces of my grandfather Joseph’s stay in England (he was there as a cook between 1902-08), I was quite astounded to find the following entry in  “The Gourmet’s Guide to Europe” by Algernon Bastard (probably published around 1903):

Throughout the mountain resorts of the Pyrenees, such as Luchon–Bagnères de Bigorre, Gavarnie, St-Sauveur; Cauterets–Eaux Bonnes, Eaux Chaudes, Oloron, etc., you can always, as was stated previously, rely upon getting an averagely well-served luncheon or dinner, and nothing more — trout and chicken, although excellent, being inevitable. But there is one splendid and notable exception, viz., the Hôtel de France at Argelès-Gazost, kept by Joseph Peyrafitte, known to his intimates as “Papa.” In his way he is as great an artist as the aforementioned Guichard; the main difference between the methods of the two professors being that the latter’s art is influenced by the traditions of the Parisian school, while the former is more of an impressionist, and does not hesitate to introduce local colour with broad effects, — merely a question of taste after all. For this reason you should not fail to pay a visit to Argelès to make the acquaintance of Monsieur Peyrafitte. Ask him to give you a luncheon such as he supplies to the golf club of which Lord Kilmaine is president, and for dinner (being always mindful of the value of local colour) consult him, over a glass of Quinquina and vermouth, as to some of the dishes mentioned earlier in this article. You won’t regret your visit.

The Joseph Peyrafitte (1849-1908) mentioned above is Louis’ brother and therefore my grand father Joseph Peyrafitte’s (1891-1973) uncle who was named after him. Louis & Joseph had married two sisters, Marie & Anna Secail. Anna moved to the Hôtel de France in Argelès-Gazost and Louis Peyrafitte came to Hotel de la Poste in Luchon. The marriages had been arranged by one of the Peyrafitte’s brothers who was a priest at the Vatican with one of the Secail brothers — also a priest. All this is documented — and left a magnificent family heirloom that I inherited: “the Chandelier” but that story is for another blog-post.  Both brothers had been classically trained cooks so one can easily understand how the inspiration for this recipe came about.



Hotel de la Poste in the late 1890’s

My father, Jean Peyrafitte, doesn’t remember his grandfather’s cooking very much  — he was 6 years old when his grandfather Louis died in 1929 — but he vividly remembers his father Joseph Peyrafitte (my grandfather and cooking mentor) making the Pannequet Saint-Louis.
At that time no “grande carte” was available at the restaurant, though there was a menu du jour which changed daily given that the clientele were “pensionnaires” —residents — who would stay for periods of 3 weeks or more.
My grandfather would occasionally put the pannequets on the menu but only during low season, as they are incredibly time consuming. The recipe was not written down until the mid 1960’s. At that point my dad decided to promote regional cooking and to upgrade the restaurant to a “grande carte,” hoping to get attention from the Guide Michelin and Parisian food critics. So he created a “grande carte” full of regional dishes like Pistache (mutton & bean stew), Peteram Luchonnais (lamb, veal, and mutton tripe), duck confit, etcetera.  My grandfather considered this food low class and believed that lobster and tournedos Rossini was more appropriated.

Carte

But my father pointed out that the clients could eat that food anywhere, but not our local specialties. That is when the pannequets Saint-Louis made their way to the dessert menu of the  grande carte and were listed as “Les Excellences to be ordered at the beginning of the meal (order for 2 minimum)”.

Now this is the part I remember. In the late 60’ my mother begged my grandfather to write the recipe down. He said he couldn’t as he knew it by instinct. She didn’t get discouraged. She stood by him as he was making them, weighed the ingredients one by one and made a note of it. I must say that without my mother (Renée Peyrafitte) most of the family memory would be gone.

When I called my parents to talk about the Pannequet Saint-Louis recipe I reassure them that I wasn’t going to give the recipe away. Mom said, “don’t worry no one else can make them anyway.” What she meant is that this recipe takes total dedication. When my grandfather grew old, it was she who was entrusted with the task of making them. She tried to teach a few cooks but the result was never satisfactory.  One of the reasons is that from making the batter to cooking them requires total and utterly focused attention. And if you don’t do that the best dessert in the world turns into the worst glob!

Nicole Peyrafitte

I must say that since a little girl I watched my grandfather & then my mother making them over and over. My favorite post of observation during “service” was in the corridor where I could survey all the action. As soon as I would hear an order for pannequets being “barked,” I would get into position to assist and taste!  I have memorized all the gestures. Unlike the regular crêpes the pannequet doesn’t get flipped (but come and see me do that Sunday at the 36th Annual New Year’s Marathon). Once one millimeter of the batter is poured into a hot and generously buttered cast iron pan, it is let to cook until almost, but not completely, dry. Then the edge of the dough next to the handle is gently detached with a spoon and if cooked perfectly the batter will roll down the pan like a cigarette helped only by little tap in the pan. A perfect pannequet Saint-Louis has a very lightly crisp skin on the outside and custard like consistency on the inside. While the texture melts in your mouth, the rum, almond, lemon & vanilla flavors lead you to gastronomic ecstasy!  I don’t know if my great grandfather named the pannequet “Saint”-Louis himself, but I doubt it — it sounds more like one of those mischievous puns my grandfather Joseph Peyrafitte was famous for!


Hotel de la Poste became Hotel Poste & Golf around 1905

Happy New Year, Bona Anada, Bonne Année!
And hope to see you Sunday for poetry and crêpes at the Poetry Project for the 36th Annual New Year’s Day Marathon Benefit Reading .

ps: You might enjoy reading these 2 posts about crêpes:
Crêpes History, Recipe + Video:
The Crêpe, the Theorist, the Chef and the Volunteer

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