Sunday, November 22, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
This is the only gothic church in Rome, but from the outside it presents a simple unremarkable white facade with a single rose window. In front is Bernini's obelisk placed over an elephant, and within view is the side and back of the Pantheon. St. Catherine di Siena is buried under the main altar. There is a tomb by Bernini in a chapel to the left of the main altar. The rose windows and pointed arches are a sharp contrast to the dominant baroque style one more often sees in Roman churches. The impression is sublime, feminine, warm and welcoming.
Michelangelo's Christ Victorious is here to the left of the altar.
So worth the visit, although it's not even in the top ten churches in Rome. So much to see!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
This place, called Rincon de Something, a Pupuseria right next to Pazzo Gelato, on Sunset in Silver Lake, is just so yummy. The tamales are fine-grained like polenta, and the pupusas crispy and doughy in the center. Great with cheese and zucchini filling. Mango smoothie was delish!
Silver Lake, Darn it! You are a dieters minefield!
Monday, July 27, 2009
How about all that tension when Alberto and Lance stood on the podium together--yeesh! And Cav flying across the line one more time--gorgeous!
But now it's over, and it's time for my Tour de France post partum depression. When this hits, it helps to have a plan.
TOP TEN THINGS MARGARET CAN DO NOW THAT THE TOUR IS OVER
10. Sort through clothes and purge old stuff--not so exciting.
9. Pet the cats--always helps in a pinch.
8. Get hooked on BBC America sci-fi shows--Bad news is, Dr. Who and Torchwood are not in full series mode anymore.
7. Bike to work and try to win that Disney Commuter Assistance Grand Prize--a Disney cruise--a long shot, but something to think about, and biking to work almost always clears my head.
6. Start swimming again at least once per week, or more--tough to do with the summer hours schedule.
5. Lose those pesky extra 3 to 5 lbs--really doesn't sound fun, but will definitely help the mood.
4. Finish the Twilight series--This should kill at least 3 or 4 days of solid, obsessed reading.
3. Watch Italian TV--those wacky variety shows and the glimpses of Rome--always amusing.
2. Train for the Disney Half Marathon and the Nautica Malibu Triathlon--need to do it, and it's endorphins to the rescue!
1. Plan for the fall trip to Italy.
Well, these ideas are a start. Send your suggestions.
Hey, at least the Tour of Ireland starts up on Versus in August!
Friday, July 24, 2009
Go, Cav! I still want to see you in Green in Paris!
So here's what's happened this week. 3 grueling alpine stages saw Lance going across the gap twice to hold onto third while Contador showed everyone who's boss. And today, Cavendish, winner of Milan San Remo this year, and his team, showed everyone he can climb, too. George Hincapie, who has been riding for 2 days with a possibly broken collarbone, pulls him forward, then another Columbia teammmate pulls, and Cav shoots to victory again! Lance cunningly grabs 4 more seconds in front of Bradley Wiggins, and it's fun, fun, fun!
Tomorrow, Mont Ventoux! Big last commercial-free hour on Versus. Big mountain where Lance came in second twice but never won. Does he still dream of a stage win? Sure. Can he do it, or is it even an Astana priority now that Contador is so comfortably ensconced in yellow? We'll see! Either way, I'm up really early tomorrow!
Today's stage pairing? For Cav, some crab baps from the pier on the Isle of Man, and some Okell's beer, which has a high purity rating, I'm told. Cav's purity rating? Wouldn't you like to know!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
From Bourg St. Maurice to Le Grand Bornand, it's lots of gorgeous forbidding mountain vistas. Beautiful to look at but hellacious to climb. Today is the Queen Stage of the Tour de France, and randomly, Thor Hushovd, the sprinter, is out in front of the breakaway.
Can Lance hang on today and then kick some butt in the time trial tomorrow? Maybe. My money's on Contador, but a podium for Lance would really be something.
So today, we are close to the south of Burgundy, and the Northern Rhone. Let's try some Cote Rotie Clusel Roch, mostly Syrah, perhaps a bit of white Viognier. It's from the northern Rhone, where the Mistral winds can make it really cold. Such hearty flavors pair well with the gamy rich ones of lamb. I love lamb.
It's heating up in the peloton, and Saturday is Mont Ventoux, the moment of truth, the Giant of Provence. Should be exciting!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Big Alpine stage today, which calls for a hearty vintage from the Val d'Aosta, a northwest mountain valley in Italy where the course winds before returning to France, with a final climb at the Col du Petit St. Bernard, and then a descent to the finish.
This is the area of Italy where you can ski or 'board across the border and end up in France. We're right at the edge of Montblanc, the highest peak in the Alps.
Today, let's try a dry hearty red blend, a Nus Rouge DOC, with some local cured meats like Motzetta, a dry-cured beef. We'll tell ourselves we need the rich food because of the high altitude. Sure.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Why did Garmin help AG2R chase? Is Astana telling the truth, because it sure looked like they wanted to reel Hincapie in. George thinks they did, and said so at the finish, and the look of betrayal on his face will haunt my dreams tonight. So what the heck happened? Is Contador in control now, or is Lance? What is Bruyneel thinking? And Cav DQed at the sprint finish? After like a week of "let it ride" in the GC, this is not the kind of shake-up I want in my fine old sport of cycling. Where's the old-fashioned pre-war gentlemanliness? No, George is not in yellow. He's 5 seconds off. Robbed. I can't help but thinking his old team captain, Mr. Lance Armstrong, had something to do with that. And it rankles.
And I have a feeling it's all about to shake apart again tomorrow. I don't feel like blogging about it Sunday morning while I'm on the edge of my seat. I expect to see the real tactics of Astana start to show. And I can't wait. I want it to wash the bad taste out of my mouth.
So, speaking of my mouth, here's my wine and food pairing for tomorrow's stage. It all starts in Pontarlier, France, and zips almost immediately into Switzerland, up and down some impressive hills, finishing in a town where I'd very much like to snowboard someday, Verbier, Switzerland.
The history of wine in Switzerland is obscure and interesting. People think the Celts started cultivating vines here more than 2500 years ago, way before Rome took over. Swiss wine doesn't often make it outside the country's borders because it's so well loved by the locals. Along the shores of Lake Leman, the most characteristic wine is a white called Chasselas, a single varietal. The Swiss wine council says its bright and crisp flavors pair well with fondue. Yummy.
Snowboarding, white wine, fondue. Now I'm starting to feel a bit better.... Bring on the chocolate.
Go, George, go!
Just watching the finish, so a little distracted. George is one of my favorites, and he's been in a breakaway that could put him first in the race!
So let's have some fancy Burgundy, Domaine Denis Mortet, since today's stage runs parallel to that famous wine region, and what the heck, Boeuf Bourguignon. A meal fit for Gorgeous George!
Friday, July 17, 2009
Welcome to Alsace!
I'm so very bummed that Levi Leipheimer is out of the Tour with a broken wrist! So unfair! We'll miss watching our favorite keychain rider! No, Levi! Say it ain't so! We love you, Man! Get better fast!
But today, there are some big big hills as they head into yet another French wine region, Alsace. Except, from time to time in history, this region has been part of Germany! One of the things I love about Europe is that at the borders of each country, they blend into each other, so near the French-Italian border, Italians speak with French-sounding "R"s. In Alsace France and Germany blend in their own way, and this region has its own character.
The grape varietals favored here are chiefly whites like Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Muscat Blanc a' Petit Grains, and Pinot Gris. AOC rules, aka the French's winemaking regulations, only allow the use of the Riesling and Gewurstraminer grapes, which are German varietals, in this region of Alsace. Although they've been making wine here for at least a thousand years, France only recognized this area as a distinct official AOC region in the 1960s! Go figure.
So let's try some crisp and delicious light Cave de Turckheim Gewurztraminer, and with it eat some baeckeoffe, a local pork and mutton stew that involves marinating and stewing the meat with veg in wine for 2 days, and then baking it between slices of potato! Now that's slow food! And it's comfort food, which I need because Levi is gone! At least Colmar looks like an effin fairy tale, for you fans of In Bruges. Look at the swans, dammit.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Another flat-ish stage with a gradual rise might go again to the Manx Missile Mark Cavendish. I just like typing 'Manx Missile'. Or it might go to a breakaway. Tomorrow, the Alpes, so while we're here... What's that popping sound? We're in Champagne! So let's go for some great stuff--Billecart-Salmon NV Brut Rose, Wine Spectator 90-pointer. It's a Rose but it's nice and dry brut-style. You may not know that unless a sparkling wine comes from this specific region of France, it's not actually Champagne--just sparkline wine. Champagnes are blends, and they include some Pinot Noir, which is the chief wine of Burgundy, due south of here.
Let's try this Billecart-Salmon with some strawberries, some rasberries and blueberries, and some fabulous fresh bread, and local cheese, Cendre du Champagne, which is cured in cinders. And now I'm thinking of Cinderella, French castles, and Tyler Farar's Cinderella story. This is the first Tour de France for the Garmin sprinter from Washington, and he's making quite an impression, having been the only sprinter that I've seen this year to beat Cav. Here's to the beauty of this classic gentleman's sport of cycling, and to the richness and variety of local food and wine traditions brought forward into our age.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Made of chenin blanc grapes and coming in several varieties from dry to sweet, Vouvray of the Loire is a great pairing for a kind of Touraine style pate called "rillette." Today is another flat sprinter's day rich with castles. Here in the Loire you can visit Chambord, with its double staircase designed for the French king by Leonardo da Vinci, and Chenenceau, pictured above, a showy place built across a river, with a great story of female rivalry, owned first by the lord's wife, and then by his mistress, Diane du Poitier, if memory serves. You must visit Chenenceau if in the Loire Valley for the first time.
Will Cav win again today and end the day in green? Will Team Astana hang tight one more day with no change to the GC standings? Cheers to that!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
If you want a gritty, exciting play-by-play of the storming of the Bastille, read Christopher Hibbert's THE DAYS OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. I read this with my mom on my first trip to Paris, and I will never forget the imagery. Human nature doesn't change over the centuries, and when you read about the brutality involved, it's hard to feel this historical event had much glory. Still, it's fascinating reading.
Order the book at Amazon.com
As the boys in spandex head from Limoges to Issoudin through gently rolling terrain, it's time to get excited about the Loire Valley, which has a rich oenology. For an aperitif and hors d'oeuvre, how about some fresh summer fruit--this is the garden spot of France--some local goat cheese and a light Sancerre full of fruity flavors?