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Artists’ Statement

Artists’ Statement

About My Drawings Primarily self-taught as an artist, my drawings reflect my evolving interests and ideas – from the influence of broad disciplines like architecture and design, to specific historical periods like the Bauhaus and Art Deco movements. I also find inspiration in the everyday […]

French Pear and Almond Tarte

French Pear and Almond Tarte

Flaky crust, ripe pears and sweet almonds. This recipe is based on the one on David Lebovitz’s blog. I have also included a link to his article about poaching pears. Ingredients 6 oz (170g) almond paste2 tsp sugar2 tsp flour3 oz (85g) butter, salted or unsalted, cubed, at room temperature1 large egg, plus one egg white, […]

Hot Club De Lyon

Hot Club De Lyon

Lyon has more than a dozen jazz clubs, some with long and storied histories.

I’m a sucker for live music. But finding live music venues in foreign countries, particularly when I don’t speak the language, can be tricky. How exciting it was to find that Hot Club De Lyon was literally next door to the apartment building where we were staying.

The club isn’t much from the outside. One could easily walk by the single-width store front and not even notice it. And from the street there is no way to tell what it’s like inside. Was it a concert setting with stadium seating or more of bar scene? Would it be awkward if we arrived partway through the first set?

Although we walked by the club several times a day, we couldn’t check it out or even ask any questions. It’s only open in the evening. After some deliberation, we decided to have dinner out, take our chances, and risk arriving a bit late.

As most things do when you just relax, it all worked out marvelously.

We arrived at Hot Club de Lyon about 30 minutes after the publicized start time. We entered the building through the thickly painted red doors and were perplexed. This isn’t a club, and we don’t hear any music. In fact, it was nearly silent. Do we have the wrong date? Are we at the right place?

We continued to walk to the back of the building and off to the right saw a door. A dark and narrow stairwell lead to the basement. We descended and, eventually, heard soft, muffled music.

At the bottom of the stairs, another door. This one sound-proofed. It opened onto a long hall lined with framed headshots, like the walls of Sardi’s. But instead of famous actors, the photos were of Jazz greats: Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Dizzi Gillespie, Chet Baker, and others.

The hallway lead to a small bar area, which was empty save for the bartender. We ordered two tickets, a couple beers, and peeked through the narrow doorway to see the Red Hill Quintet, a five-piece group playing jazz of the ’50s and ’60s.

The stage was raised and framed by a great stone arch. The entire room, the stage, the seating area, and even the bar, are inside a very old wine cellar. The arched ceiling and low walls all made with the same ancient brick-shaped stones.

I estimate that the venue holds 120 people max. Tonight there were three long rows of bleacher seats and about five rows of ten chairs, but browsing Google images I can see that the set up changes frequently. While the room for this show was only half full, the crowd was enthusiastic, clearly enjoying themselves. Everyone staying until the very end.

Memories are the souvenirs of traveling, and this is the kind of place one dreams about finding. My favorite quote from TripAdvisor says, “Great musicians have made ​​the reputation of this club… and many others rocked the roof of this magnificent vault.”

Roasted Butternut Squash Seeds

Roasted Butternut Squash Seeds

A single butternut squash yields about two tablespoons of seeds. Just as with pumpkins, these roasted butternut squash seeds make a tasty treat. Set aside the seeds next time you prepare butternut squash and have yourself a small and nutritious snack. Ingredients 2 Tbl Butternut […]

Our favorite spot: Le Broc’Bar

Our favorite spot: Le Broc’Bar

Lyon’s neighborhood bar for everyone Our visit to Lyon was to be a three-night layover on the way from Paris to Narbonne. We had reserved a fifth-floor walkup in the 1st arrondissement, the Presqu’île, but since we’d never been to Lyon we really didn’t know […]

Lyon’s Infamous Brasserie Georges

Lyon’s Infamous Brasserie Georges

Traditional French Bistro with a Magnificent Art Deco Backdrop

One reason I love traveling to a big city is that it is such a different experience from my own life. There are the physical differences: streets packed with vehicles and people, the hum of traffic and voices, even the light is different, bouncing off glass and steel and concrete. And there is so much to do: parks and gardens, museums, galleries, live music and restaurants. And it’s all right there. In easy reach of a subway or a bus or even just the sidewalk.

And traveling to a foreign city, where the language is one I don’t know or hardly understand, adds its own excitement. The feeling of being off-balance or out of place can be as exhilarating as stepping into a cold and open body of water.

Most of the time, finding out of the way places that the locals frequent is the ultimate goal. However, sometimes, even the places catering to tourists can be a blast. In Barcelona there’s Los Caracoles, in Lyon there’s Brasserie Georges.

Opened in 1836, Brasserie Georges is a monstrous place. The restaurant can accommodate over seven-hundred guests at each service. (One night in 2012 it served 3,245 meals!) The dining room itself is huge. The ceiling has to be 30′ high and the front of the building is floor to ceiling windows.

In 1924 Brasserie Georges was entirely redecorated in pure Art Deco style, and it is that design that it maintains today. Majestic glass chandeliers and harvest-themed frescos adorn the ceiling and ornate ceramic tile covers the floor. The seating is a gridded mix of booths and square tables that can easily be pushed together or apart to accommodate any size party.

And speaking of party

When we visited Brasserie Georges for dinner in December of 2018, it was just the two of us. For the servers it was probably just another Saturday night, but we felt as if we’d been invited to a grand affair. With so many patrons, so many tables, you would think we would have felt lost and insignificant, but it was just the opposite.

The wait staff, many in traditional black jackets and white floor-length aprons, was attentive and efficient. They understood and answered our questions. And the icing on the cake – we had the option to order from a menu written in English. For a haggard traveler looking for cultured comfort, this was a welcome relief.

The party feeling came from several factors. Being in such a large room with so many happy people brings its own excitement. In addition, there was a three-piece jazz band playing in the corner up front. Then–there were the sparklers.

About five minutes after we were seated, the lights in the room slowly dimmed, the band began to play Happy Birthday, and a waiter emerged from behind the doors of the kitchen carrying a white frosted birthday cake topped with a single shimmering, glittering sparkler. The entire restaurant sang along.

Ten, fifteen minutes later, the lights dimmed again. The band played, patrons sang. In the time we spent at Brasserie Georges, at least a dozen birthday cakes were delivered. The lights didn’t dim each time, the band didn’t play each time, the patrons didn’t sing each time. But always there was the sparkler, and the rubber-necking, and applause.

Ten paragraphs into this post and I realize I haven’t even mentioned the food. The menu was exactly what we wanted and expected from a traditional brasserie, and the food was very good. But it was the combination of atmosphere, service and food that will have me reliving this evening again and again. It was really something special.

The Ultimate Almond Croissant

The Ultimate Almond Croissant

And here I thought Plain was my favorite My favorite breakfast of all is a fresh and buttery croissant and a small cup of rich hot chocolate. Not surprisingly then, on every trip to France, we begin each morning with a visit to a patisserie. […]

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