Writer and voyager, taster, ogler and sniffer of world food, lover of art, architecture and design. Former owner of art gallery and cooking school.
Posted in Amsterdam on June 17, 2013
We were actually on the way to Amsterdam’s Russian outpost, the Hermitage Museum and we had changed our route somewhat so when we passed this museum by accident we decided it was our duty to squeeze in another museum.
The chic basement entry for the public.
Abraham Willet and Louisa Holthuysen, a married couple with different names, how progressive to retain separate identities, lived in this elegant mansion and together they acquired an art collection. On her Louisa’s death in 1895 all was bequeathed to the City of Amsterdam on the condition it be preserved and shared with the public. I could not find out much about Abraham except that he was the son of an affluent doctor. I suspect by the number of paintings of dogs in the house and that she left the estate to the government that they did not have children.
I like the rough edge tiles here, they are reminiscent of the hand-made tiles we have seen in Morocco. As I write this I am surrounded by the very same tiles in the kitchen of the house we have moved onto in Belgium.
These tiles are well-worn older versions of the new tiles in the public entry vestibule. Can anyone tell me what this oil filled bottle is hanging in the kitchen.
A kitchen cabinet displays its pretty plates.
I want, I want, no you don’t says the travelling Purser beside me.
The dining room was quite intimate. In addition to seeing a wonderful house decorated and furnished in the period there was also an exhibition here that was part of the programme Art Fashion and Design in various museums. See the plastic-metallic fabric bag draped on the chair. A pair of black lace eyelashes in the photo on the table below.
A section of the wall covering is tied back to show the original wall treatments.
And well there was more. Abraham’s collection mania – he was very proud of his acquisitions. Louisa would pass her time at the house receiving visitors between 3.30 and 5pm for visits not exceeding 20 minutes each.
The day before this visit we had peeped between iron fence posts into a pretty French style garden and took a couple of photos. At the time we did not know that the garden was at the rear of the Willet-Holthuysen House.
This is the view from inside the house gates. The garden is not the original but a reconstruction of the French symmetrical style in the 18th century. Fortunately we were able to see the garden too as it is only open a few days in the year so the day we found the museum was perfect timing. I hope you enjoyed the visit with me as much as I did.
Posted in World Art on June 16, 2013
Lyon is a mini Paris in terms of its engagement with contemporary art. This visit we looked beyond the usual tourist galleries and found the locals art scene. The contemporary art gallery here is known as MAC Lyon and some of the works are from its collection ‘Pour Mémoire, acquired from its own art Biennal, the last was in 2011. It was also showing a large body by two artists, Daniel Firman and Phillipe Droguet. Photos were allowed but of course without flash so some of the white walls appear to be sepia in tone. The 12th Biennal de Lyon takes place 12 September 2013 until 05 January 2014.
The ‘COBRA‘ group of artists – formed by artists Karel Appel, Constant, Corneille, Christine Dotremont, Asger Jorn and Joseph Noiret in 1948 in the Café Notre-Dame, Paris. They had a manifesto as such groups did – a unifying doctrine of using complete colour and form and antipathy towards the Surrealists and Marxists. Their work was inspired by primitive art and from childrens’ drawings.
Man Ray is well represented, we were also fortunate to see a large exhibition of his work in London this summer. These photographs , part of a larger series than you see here were commissioned by an Electricity company.
Malevich has a large body of work in the Stedelijk Museum collection.
When I had my art gallery in Brisbane I represented John Nixon the Australian artist who frequently referred to Malevich.
The first time I had encountered this artist, but I will save more of his work for a separate post.
Our Amsterdam landlord provided us with a ‘Museumkaart‘ and since the majority of museums charge 15 euro each for entry that was quite a saving. The Museumkaarts are around 45 euros and allow a year’s entry. We were also able to skip the queues, that is a bonus we lapped up. There were many more museums we visited and I will share them with you on another post.
I am always very happy when visiting a restored historic house when I find the kitchen open as it tells you even more about the occupants. Rembrandt’s kitchen with its fire burning day and night was the centre of activity in his house in cold Amsterdam.
But it is unlikely Rembrandt himself did any domestic work here. He did eat in the kitchen and it is likely he also slipped into the warm box bed when after his wife died he brought in a housekeeper who became his companion. The kitchen is spick and span today and is utterly charming to my eyes but probably back-breaking like all ancient kitchens, all that bending down and cooking on open fires would dampen even my spirits in the kitchen.
The built in cabinets seem well ahead of his time, even the continuous stone bench and the fitted stone sink I would be happy to work with today. The tap at the top right looks like a modern invention. See the long handle above the tap, it was for pumping water up so that would definitely have saved countless trips to the well and back.
The copper bucket with strainer would have served many purposes.
An enormous fireplace with kitchenalia of the times.
The bed in the kitchen – it is short as were the people and they slept more in a seated position than lying flat position.
Objects found outside the kitchen courtyard area – in a former cesspit when the house was renovated in 1997. Before sewers were laid the houses had cesspits. It was for the disposal of household scraps and toilet waste.
Elegant glassware, pewter and ceramics of the 17th century.
Rembrandt preferred to buy art rather than pay his house off so he was eventually bankrupted and the contents were sold off. The curators have been able to read the records of the sale catalogue to assess just what would have been in the house, therefore most of the furniture and objects are faithful reproductions or antiques closely resemble his original furniture and objects.
Travelling and using other peoples kitchens is a challenge. Celia is always adding to her kitchen but this is a way to try out other kitchens and kitchenalia without buying!
Not knowing where everything is kept, making sense of other peoples ideas of how to equip a kitchen can be annoying and so far I haven’t come across any fabulous items or gadgetry I want to appropriate or replicate.
But we love the experience of shopping at local markets and that is where discoveries are made, with the seasonal ingredients available in markets specialist shops and even supermarkets on our travels. Twice we have had coffee makers that Americans use ‘dripolater’ style. No one wants to offer an espresso machine. I have one for our paying guests in our Tasmanian home so I kinda expect one when I rent homes/apartments that are more expensive than my home. I have to get over that one.
We bought a new knife at the market today in Provence, so disappointed that good knives are not a priority in rentals either.
Posted in Kitchen on May 2, 2013
Dearest Celia - (she who leads the sharing of this discussion) I may not be as regular as you but I will try.
Here is my May offering. I will be travelling soon and cooking in temporary kitchens so watch this space for kitchens abroad.
This is an original Tagine, witness the small hole in the top to allow steam to escape.
The dessert is Bonet, a northern Italian version of French Creme Caramel. With the addition of amaretti biscuits, rum and chocolate it is unctuous and delicious. The Bonet made in the straight sided souffle dish went to our other neighbours who have been giving us eggs from their Chinese Silkie Bantams.
I have a new batch of my home-made red sweet chilli sauce. I made some last year but every time I opened the fridge door I felt compelled to shake it as it separated. I have now learned the trick of adding a little potato flour a good tip as it suspends the chilli rather than have it slither down to the bottom of the bottle.
I always keep Amaretti biscuits in my pantry, this time I have bought two boxes for $5, a special at Pennisi in Brisbane’s Woolloongabba. This brand is are softer in texture than most Amaretti. I used the drier version Amaretti biscuits I already had in the cupboard for the Bonet in case you are wondering.
I have replaced two Sunbeam Oskar mini processors in my Toowong kitchen and then the Sunbeam mini broke down in the Tasmanian kitchen last year so I am not longer wedded to buying that brand! So here is my new Cuisineart mini processor. I have a large processor too but find a small one very handy for pestos, pastes, mayonnaise etc but when I began the search for a small processor only two brands had holes in the top to allow you to drip oil through the lid.
Old houses require constant maintenance and you have to love them to put up with the cost and then there are further issues to find the right tradespeople and craftspeople to give you quality restoration work.
We have lived in this post Federation ‘Queenslander’ house for 18 years, we only intended to live in it for around 8 years but we liked it so much we stayed. We had tried to sell it two years ago and as real estate is still in the doldrums we took it off the open market.
But in the meantime when there is a problem we get right onto it, like the window that nearly fell out recently after the wind slammed the front door one too many times.
I rang an old friend who used to have a glass business and he had retired so I started searching for someone to fix it. One craftsman I found in the phone book told me he was up north fixing up a church, to send him an email and he would get back to me, well I sent the email but he did not reply. So it was on to the next option of finding someone. John went into a restoration hardware store and was given the number of a fellow also named John. He turned out to be the answer. He came out, assessed it, gave us a quote and once we appointed him he returned with a glass disc he inserted as a temporary measure. I was so happy as it still let the light in the hallway whilst our panel was being restored. The phone book glass craftsman told me he would be inserting a panel of ply so I was much happier with John’s temporary alternative.
Here is John the glass artist with the panel all renewed, the glass is now cleaned and put it back in as though it had never left its home.
The design in our ‘high waisted’ front door, he tells me is a ‘Dog Rose’ but I cannot find any other examples of Dog Roses. The style is a really a combination of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles. All the original glass is still there but with one more slam all that glass would have landed on the floor.
Before I go on, remember I do not review, I just tell it as it is and if I go anywhere where I feel the restaurant falls short of my expectations I just don’t blog it.
The restaurant and bar is in the narrow lane behind Brisbane’s Queen Street, for those who do not live in Queensland, it is the main street of the city, most of which is a Mall. Burnett Lane was just an access lane for deliveries but now it has become a cool address. It is directly behind the back entrance of the Chifley hotel so should not be hard to find now that I have told you that. I was only armed with the number and caught it on a square of brown metal angled on the side of the building as I walked up from the Albert Street end.
The materials used for the patterning must make it impervious to car tyres.
Now to the restaurant. We loved the design, rustic finishes where the walls are stripped bare. We liked the bespoke crafted tables, chairs are classic Bentwoods and the banquette although a little hard when I first plopped down was covered in whole dark leather hides.
We shared everything and for two people the servings were ideal. The generous serve of two soft shell crabs plated up San Choy Bau style so we made our own crispy parcels. That mayo with quince and jalapeno was masterful simplicity.
Just when we thought we have stopped and left room for dessert we were served the orange braised pork shoulder surprise.
I know it looks mushy but what a wonderfully weird concoction. We did not mind that we skipped dessert but chef be warned, we will be back for dessert another time.
Something that we noticed was that the kitchen ran very smoothly and although we could see straight into the kitchen, there was no fuss, no hysterics or orders being barked. Owner Simon Livingstone of restaurant Piaf fame at Southbank should be pleased. It has been open for over a year now and not being a full-time resident of Brisbane anymore, it has taken me some time to get there, now I want to go back very soon.
As we departed we noticed a coat, bag and umbrella rack, something Brisbane restaurants overlook.
The Survey Co, 32 Burnett Lane, Brisbane
Phone 07 3012 8725
I drive along the very busy Coronation Drive almost every day and have wondered what the revamped hotel and restaurant must look like inside. It is one of Brisbane’s most interesting pub buildings and has managed to survive flooding and the ravages of time, not to mention the pollution since it is a main thoroughfare from the western suburbs into the city. See the photo at the base of this post to see how rustic and quiet the road was back in the 1940′s.
The large grill is fronted by a horizontal gas flame that is both a decorative feature and warmer for the plated up dishes.
I chose the Wagyu Rump and our friends went for a classic of Eye fillet and Fillet Mignon. Choices of baked potato or chips were hard for most of us to resist. Wagyu is one of several breeds that are genetically predisposed to marbling with a high percentage of unsaturated fat.
Could not resist Bernaise sauce to go with my Wagyu and those chips were wonderful. All the steaks were cooked and served exactly the degree of ‘doneness’ we ordered.
There is even a little peep-hole on the street for the cakes.
If you want to see more of the menu you can go to The Regatta Hotel’s website where you can download a copy.
Posted in Kitchen on April 2, 2013
My friend Celia’s regular post of what is in my kitchen is always inspiring to keep track of our own busy kitchen.
I actually bought this whisk on the day I met up with Celia in Sydney at the Museum of Contemporary Art. I quite like the look and function of my new purple and pink kitchen whisk from the MCA shop – it is from Copenhagen and described on the box as a ‘sculpturesque’ space-saving whisk for the kitchen drawer or to hang on the wall.
Blue sheathed knife found on street on my walk, it was still in its plastic packaging so I know it was from Tarjay…
So took down the remaining round white plate on the other side before it went the way of the other one and put up our Indonesian rice strainer – its on the other side of the oven extractor hood just to add a bit of symmetry. They are at the right height for me to reach up and take them down use them to wash rice.
My friend Barb Heath has returned from her lovely Tunbridge house in Tasmania with some apple cheese (same texture as fruit pastes) that she made from her Cox’s Orange Pippin apples. Barb called over with this piece on the weekend and said she followed a recipe by Sally Wise.