Archive | February 2012

Taking A Break

"White Roses," by Vanessa Bell

For my regular readers, I wanted to let you know I’ll be on retreat for the next six weeks, spending some much-needed time on my novel, reflecting on my plans for the blog, and generally getting my head screwed back on straight. I’ve been finding I’m spread a bit thin, perhaps losing some perspective, and need to spend a bit of time regrouping and prioritizing better. A retreat is definitely in order. I’ll be back posting again around the first or middle part of April.

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Lent: Entering the Beauty of the Desert

Taken from the border of the wilderness area in Joshua Tree National Monument

Seeds of contemplation on the beauty of the desert on the eve of Lent. . . .

* “I will allure her into the desert and speak to her heart.” Hosea 2:16

* “In silence and hope will your strength be.” Isaiah 30:15

* “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

* “Make of yourself a capacity and I will make of myself a torrent.” — Words of Christ to Blessed Angela of Foligno

* ” She lived in solitude, and now in solitude has built her nest; and in solitude he guides her, he alone, who also bears in solitude the wounds of love.” — St. John of the Cross

* “Solitude is not emptiness for we are walking toward an oasis where someone we love is waiting.” — St. Therese of Lisieux

Beauty Break: A Poetic Interlude

 

"The Shrine," by John William Waterhouse

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever;
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but will still keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing,
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkened ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old, and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
‘Gainst the hot season; the mid forest brake,
 Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.
 
Nor do we merely feel these essences
For one short hour; no, even as the trees
That whisper round the temple become soon
Dear as the temple’s self, so does the moon,
The passion poesy,
glories infinite,
Haunt us till they become a cheering light
Unto our souls, and bound to us so fast,
That, whether there be shine, or gloom o’ercast,
They alway must be with us, or we die.
 
From “Endymion,” by John Keats 

Beauty Break: “The Parisian” at Tavern On 2

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” — Benjamin Franklin

The above quote appears on the menu at Tavern On 2, a lovely little gastropub in Long Beach we had the pleasure of visiting for breakfast with a friend one recent early Saturday morning. Franklin’s quote is a worthy motto for, on my visit, it was once more impressed upon me that beautiful wine (or beer) and delectable food are two gifts that truly make life worth living.

Tavern On 2 is a tiny place. It’s got a great cafe atmosphere, with a small patio for sidewalk dining (complete with cozy space heaters that make it possible to eat outside even in inclement beach weather, which we did). Great old red brick walls and high ceilings line the long narrow dining room. It definitely borrows from the classic European cafe ambience and style.

The menu is ecelctic with a decidedly French twist. There is no bar in this little place; however beer, wine, and champagne are served all day. My friend ordered a mimosa, which appeared as a mix of citrus juice in a little carafe and a split of champagne, enabling him to mix the cocktail to his liking. And I was inspired to forgo the (unfortunately) lackluster coffee for a full flute of Lambertini Spumanti, a sparkling rose that paired perfectly with my dish.

And that dish is really the subject of this post because it was a truly lovely beauty break breakfast. So, beginning from the bottom up: “The Parisian” is a thick slice of toasted brioche smothered in a homemade bechamel sauce that would make Julia Child proud — it was perfect and carried just the requisite hint of nutmeg and the right amount of salt to make it truly divine. Atop this bed of brioche were two slices of fried ham, a slice of gruyere, and more béchamel. These layers were repeated one more time and then finished with perfectly scrambled eggs and a fresh sprinkle of bright green parsley. The dish was truly inspired — simple ingredients, put together artfully to make the best of comfort food on a cold, cloudy morning. It was not only beautiful to look at, it tasted magnificent. The sparkling rose — which I would never have typically ordered for breakfast — and a small bottle of Acqua Panna just put the meal over the top for me. For a brief moment, I was transported out of LA to a sidewalk cafe in Paris…….dreamy and so relaxing.

If you’re a SoCal local or happen to be in the area, be sure and stop by Tavern On 2 for a sublime culinary beauty break!