Film…and Fromage

(Photo of Bruno Toussaint, Fabrice Humbert, and me, by Wendy Rohm)12916711_10206764390247902_494156039573775405_o

Where can you enjoy the passion and erudition of Cinema Master Bruno Toussaint followed by a gourmet cheese tasting with assorted wines? Only at Paris Writers’ Retreats sponsored by the Rohm Agency pariswritersretreat.com. Bruno entertained and enlightened us with a weekend of insights into the art of story telling through image and sound. His outlines are clear and to the point, with rich video illustrations from the likes of Stanley Kubrick, Francis Coppola, Andrew Stanton, and Darren Aronofsky. Against a soothing background of bâteaux-mouches gliding by on the Seine just outside a tall French window, lively discussions and inspired readings by our ensemble cast of witty luminaries (novelists, non-fiction writers, and searchers) added to the festivities, guided by Bruno’s skilful moderating and sense of humor. Then, each evening he initiated us into the artistry and mysteries of fromage:

DSC02673The Master presents platter number one (plan américain), in ascending order of sophistication,DSC02670cutting to the chase in a close up (knife clicks metallically on ceramic surface).

DSC02671Dolly out for daring knee-shot of our hostess, behind her always-stunning table (still-life chiaroscuro painstakingly researched at the Louvre).

Leading ladies in group shot by Fabrice…12977285_10206772563532229_3692852297497162057_oAliss, Anne, Karin, Wendy, Bruno, Susan, Letitia (laughter, toasts, clinking of glasses).

12967904_10206764660254652_2240648670203855480_oDialogs with our leading men, photo by Wendy…

 

DSC02665 Establishing shot from Wendy’s door towards Notre Dame.DSC02663Zoom out, looking west from Pont Marie (Parisian traffic noise in the distance)…

To be continued…

Dreaming on the Sky

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Looking up, projecting inner visions on the sky, our infinite screen, opens imagination.  What do we want to take with us into the New Year?  What do we want to leave behind?  What bridges do we want to cross?  What do we love so much that we can’t not do it?  When we put our hearts fully into a dream, it changes us and our “reality.” Most people hate the word commitment, but here’s another way to look at it:

“As long as we are not committed, doubt reigns, the ability to withdraw remains and inefficiency always prevails. Concerning all acts of initiative and creativity, there is an elementary truth,the ignorance of which has countless consequences and aborts splendid projects. At the moment we fully commit, Providence also goes into motion. To help us, all sorts of things take shape, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise. An entire chain of events, of situations and decisions create in our favor all manner of unplanned incidents, meetings, and material support that we would never have dreamed of encountering on our path…Everything you can do or dream of doing, you can venture. Audacity contains genius, power, and magic.”  Goethe, The Power of Commitment

Let’s throw our big dreams for ourselves and the world into the sky: health, happiness, creativity, abundance. No dream too big to come true.

Happy New Year! xxxx Aliss

 

Love Forever True

DSC02401I’m inspired by these two creatures living on the canal around the corner from my building. Year in year out I see them swimming together, cob and pen, raising their cygnets, feeding, flying over the water.

If there’s one thing I wish everyone for the New Year, it’s love.

xxxx Aliss

 

Yet In Thy Dark Street Shineth

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Joyeuses Fêtes=Merry Christmas and Happy New Year=Happy Holidays

The waters of life continue to flow in tears of sorrow and tears of joy. My friend Marilyn lost her young daughter this week and yet in darkness she was a source of light, giving thanks for the years they had together and allowing her child’s life to give life to others. Thank you to everyone in distant countries holding her in their thoughts. I believe the love we send out is never lost and maybe even saves the world. As we start another trip around our sun, our moon reflecting its light, I’m grateful for my family, friends, and home. Wishing you all radiance….

Christmas Countdown

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This is our advent calendar, one of my favorite Christmas rituals 🙂
Every night from December 1st to 24th, I put a china figurine
(collected from years of Epiphany king cakes) into one of the little drawers with a tiny chocolate. I start out with toys and animals and gradually
switch to the Nativity theme so that a tiny baby Jesus in the manger is in
the last drawer. It’s pretty intense, like being the Tooth Fairy every night for three and a half weeks, but my son loves it, of course. Sometimes I forget to do it before I fall asleep and have to run frantically to my secret figurine and chocolate hiding places, and sneak them into the calendar before he sees me! When my daughter was at home, I was doing double
duty with her calendar, a big felt hanging Christmas tree
with numbered pockets. Traditionally, the treat is just a piece of chocolate, but one year in a commercial calendar I bought, there were little plastic
gumball machine toys in the windows as well. I could never find one of
those again but saved the toys and put them in the next year’s
calendar compartments with a chocolate. It was always really fun seeing
how the kids reacted to a tiny plastic hotdog, a roulette wheel, or a pair of
dice. Then I got the idea to use the king cake “fèves” (“beans”) 🙂
Trying to keep journaling, something I’ve done since childhood. Unstructured-blowing-off-steam-not-meant-for-prime-time, it helps me stay focused and make sense of non-stop barrages of information we all get every day. When I look back over the last month’s notes, I see changes, more fear, but also more love. If you have thoughts, please let me know.
Thank you everyone for checking in and liking or following my blog! It’s really carried me these past few weeks since November 13th. I love doing it and love your feedback!

Everybody’s Birthday

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In Montmartre today, Le Progrès caught my eye and matched my spirits.

7 rue des 3 Fréres, 75018 Paris, France (Montmartre) +33 1 42 64 07 37

In other news, we all got some pretty cool gifts over the weekend: COP21 agreement signed by almost 200 countries and a better consensus in the French regional elections.The Return of the Light feels like everybody’s birthday… Happy Birthday everybody!

Recipe for celebrations:

Deviled Quail Eggs with Red Caviar and Fresh Dill

Adapted from a pre-revolutionary Russian dish I tasted with Gleb Vladimirovich Tchijoff.

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You will need: a lot of time and patience, 18 quail eggs, dijon mustard, mayo,  a few drops of milk, red caviar (trout, salmon, lumpfish), and sprigs of fresh dill (plus water and vinegar for boiling, ice for cooling).

First off, quail eggs are the size of olives, so this is like making doll food. For best results, delicately place the quail eggs in a pan of warm water and bring to a boil, for 3-4 minutes depending on how you like your eggs, medium or very hard boiled. Lift them out of the pan into a dish of ice water. When cool, gently tap the eggs on a hard surface and then roll them in your palms to loosen the speckled shells. Try to slip your fingers under the membrane around the eggs to slide the shells off as smoothly as possible. If the eggs are too fresh the shells will stick and the whites will tear. This isn’t too serious because you’ll be able to shape them back together with the yolk mixture when it’s ready. Warning: this takes time!

When the shells are off, cut the eggs in half with a very sharp knife, scoop  the yolks into a bowl, and using a fork, mix with a tablespoon of dijon mustard, a teaspoon or so of mayo and just enough milk to get a creamy texture. With a tiny spoon, fill the whites with yolk mixture, sprinkle with grains of red caviar and tiny branches of dill. Chill and array on a pretty plate.

Your guests will be amazed 🙂

xxxx Love, Aliss

(PS In the original recipe, you just hard boil the eggs, cut in half and top with red caviar and dill. I like the deviled version even though it’s ridiculously work-intensive…)