Archive for December 2007

Bellodgia, Muguet Des Bois, and Other Memories

December 25th, 2007 — 7:14pm

I recently bought myself several bottles of perfume — Bellodgia, Muguet Des Bois, Je Reviens, and Love’s Lemon. I don’t wear perfume, but I bought them purefly for nostalgia. My mother mother wore Bellodgia (and Shalimar). I thought I loved it, with its notes of carnation and rose, but when I got my box and smelled it, it smelled like an old woman. Nix that.

My sister wore Je Reviens, and I remember loving it on her. Now, it smells powdery and sweet. A very young fragrance. Nix that too.

Love’s Lemon smells like slightly spoiled table wax. Uh, nope.

But Muguet des Bois still stands the test of time for me. It’s light, and green,and smells like fresh cut lilies of the valley. It reminds me of another fragrance I used to love – Diorissimo. Open, fresh, and full of possibility. Or maybe that’s my memory of how I felt at 14, when I would spray this scent on, and go out to meet the world.

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Absinthe-Take 1

December 23rd, 2007 — 11:36am

Last night, my husband Scott and I went to our good friends Rebecca and Bill’s house. They built a fire, took out some glasses, and we all poured ourselves a shot of Absinthe.

We clinked then quaffed.

The anise flavor was instantly apparent. Then my lips went numb and the back of my throat burned. After the shock lessened, I could detect the herby qualities of the lemon balm and tarragon. And, was I imagining it? A smell of damp cat? The Absinthe reminded me of something, what was it?

Paregoric! That morphine, anise-oil based old-fashioned anti-diahrreah medicine used in the 19th century!

What do you think? I asked my loved ones.

“If I had a bad cold, I could see taking a few sips,” Scott said.

“I can’t deal with it,” Rebecca said.

Bill and I took a few more sips, shrugged our shoulders, then took out the guitar and began singing “For What It’s Worth,” by Buffalo Springfield.

I did have a general feeling of well being, but it’s hard to say if it was the Absinthe, the fire, the friendship, the music, or some combination thereof.

It may take a few more tries to understand the drinks charms. I’ll report back soon.

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December 22nd, 2007 — 10:14am

Absinthe, the turbo-charged, alcohol-laden, green fairy liquor of legend has been illegal in the United States for almost 100 years. Until now. St. Georges Spirits, a distillery in Alameda, Calif., near where I live in Berkeley, has just released a limited run.

Of course, I ordered a bottle.

“We’ll put you on the wait list,” the nice man at D&M Liquors in San Francisco said.

So I waited. Then I got the call. “The absinthe has landed.”

“I’ll take a bottle,” I said without hesitation, giving him my credit card number.

“By the way, how much is it?” I though to ask before I hung up.

“$95.00,” said the man. “Without shipping.”

Expensive — but no matter. I will drink it for the sake of culinary curiosity, and my long standing respect for altered states.

“By the way,” I asked him, “what is the deal with hallucinating on absinthe?”

“Don’t worry,” he replied, “you’ll pass out long before that happens.”

I read about the release of St. George in the New York Times, which said that while this particular absinthe had the usual anise and fennel flavoring, but it was subtle, unlike less refined absinthes. The St George also had layers of lemon balm, hyssop, tarragon and other botanicals.

My bottle is scheduled to arrive next week. Frankly, I can’t wait.

Oscar Wilde said: “After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see them as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.”

I’ll let you know.

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Anne of Green Gables

December 19th, 2007 — 8:49am

Most girls read this book when they’re ten. I never did. So I decided to read it now at 47.

I loved it. Anne is a heroine in every sense of the word — overcoming the circumstances of her birth and her life by the sheer force of her passionate intelligence.

But what really moved me is the utter joy she takes at being alive in the world. After burying Matthew, the beloved old bachelor who, along with his sister Marilla, adopted Anne when she was 11, she says, “Dear old world…you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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My Friend Tracy

December 14th, 2007 — 4:43pm

Two months ago, I got a call from an editor at Backpacker Magazine: “Hi, I’m Tracy Ross,” says the voice. “I wrote this piece coming up in the January issue and I want to work with you to get pr.”

“I want this to go all the way, even to Oprah,” she says.

I’ve been doing pr for 20 years and I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard those words. Tracy didn’t see me roll my eyes but I said, “send me the piece and I’ll get back to you.”

In “The Source of All Things”, she tells the story of how her step-father molested her for the first time in the family trailer at her favorite campsite on Idaho’s Redfish Lake. “Sandpaper is crawling on my skin,” she writes. “At least that’s what I think it is, until I feel hot breath against my cheek.” It was the first of dozens of molestations, which would span the next 6 years, and haunt Tracy for 3 decades into adulthood.
Continue reading »

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Slow Food – Slow Blog

December 11th, 2007 — 11:57am

I’ve been so busy of late, hence, the infrequency of my blog posts. And, I’m off to Boulder in a few hours for a Backpacker Magazine sales meeting (I work for three main magazines — Yoga Journal, Vegetarian Times, and Backpacker).

Some recent musings:

I went to a Slow Food event in Sonoma the other week. We visited the Dry Creek Olive Nursery in the Anderson Valley, and learned how these magnificent trees grow from saplings to fruit bearing adults. We moved on to their olive oil mill and watched the press in action. We visited on community day, which means people came with their 1 pound, 5 pound, 10 pound buckets of olives to be pressed into oil.

I am just beginning to learn about olive oil, and have learned that bitterness is a positive attribute — not so good is mustiness and fustiness! How great is that!

We then had a slow food lunch prepared by Franco Dunn, the former chef of Santi Restaurant in Geyserville. I was blown away. We started with a salad of fresh greens, persimmon and pomegranate, followed by home made dry cured meats including a transcendent breasciola. The lardo I could leave, but tried it anyway. Not sure what the fuss is over that particular dish. Our main course was wild boar in a chianti reduction served over soft polenta and bitter greens.It was sublime. Desert was a plate of local cheeses made by Pugs’ Leap, local quince paste and local honey.

If all this sounds precious, it wasn’t. We sat at long wooden tables. The fire roared in the fireplace. Bottles of wine were out for all to enjoy. Everywhere I turned there were wonderful, fascinating people – a mushroom forager, a cheese maker, two bakers, and they were only my immediate neighbors. Convivial is the word that springs to mind. I felt that this was the way meals used to be, and I was nourished on every level.

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Circus Oz

December 1st, 2007 — 6:41pm

I went to see Australia’s Circus Oz today with my family. It was fantastic! The trapeze work was incredible, the acts funny and subversive, and the experience delightful and suprising. It’s only in Berkeley today and tomorrow, but if you can, go see it. As they say, run don’t walk!

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