Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Foraging for Nasturtiums

A bouquet of nasturtiums on my table

I love nasturtiums, probably because they were my mother's favorite flower, and I am so lucky to be living in Berkeley where the colorful blooms pop up everywhere throughout June. They thrive in our Northern California climate. When I want flowers on my table, I head to the streets and forage. No one seems to mind that I pluck their cheerful nasturtiums into beautiful bouquets and head straight home to put them in water. In fact, strangers start conversations while I'm snipping, commenting on the beauty of my bounty, probably assuming I'm picking from my own garden.

I've picked in the flat lands

I've picked in the hills
And most often I pluck from a side yard in the Gourmet Ghetto

During nasturtium season I enjoy the freshly foraged flowers on my dining room table and on a recent Sunday afternoon my guests raved about the vivid centerpieces at an alfresco lunch on our deck.

The red wine BBQ chicken is still on the grill

Monday, June 5, 2017

A Visit to Menton and Musée Jean Cocteau

 Jean Cocteau (July 5, 1889 — October 11, 1963) was a French artist,  poet, novelist, playwright, designer, and film director. He wrote the the novel Les Enfants Terribles in 1929  and produced  thousands of drawings, paintings, films and ceramic works. Above is the spectacular museum in Menton, France which was built by the city to house their collection of his paintings, drawings, and films. The idea for the museum came about when the art collector Severin Wunderman donated 1500 Cocteau works to Menton in 2005 with the condition that the town build a dedicated Cocteau museum. And what a museum Menton built. My Lonely Planet guide book says: "This futuristic, low-rise building is a wonderful space to make sense of Cocteau's eclectic work." When I read this glowing report, I reserved a day at the end of our 2016 Provence trip to visit Menton and the museum. It's only an hour's drive from Nice on an auto route high above the spectacular Mediterranean coast.

In case you think Cocteau's works are relegated to museums and dusty bookshelves, this Memorial day weekend's performance of Les Enfants Terrible in San Francisco will set you straight. Theatre Parallel performed a dance-opera spectacle of Cocteau's 1929 novel set to an operatic score by Phillip Glass, to honor his 80 birthday. It was quite a surreal experience

Cocteau's drawings and paintings are awe inspiring in their variety, and they unfold as you make your way around the museum.

In the collection was a striking painting by Cocteau's contemporary, Sonia Delauney.

Une Jolie Village, as our cab driver described Menton when I told him we had driven there the previous day. But it had been a Monday and the market across the street from the museum was closed, as was the three star restaurant in town, plus it's on the Italian border... So we'll have to return. I can't wait!