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Imagine a world with no limits...what would you eat? Where would you go to eat? Who would you share these Divine Delights with? ...Read More

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From young root clippings in dry, arduous conditions to fruit bursting with the essence of the surrounding countryside, grapes are cultivated over a long period of time to bring you an explosion of sensory impact...Read More

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Where does inspiration come from? Travel has always been a vehicle to carry an artist off in a new direction. Travel, it has been said, purifies the mind, body and soul.Read More

Archive for Country

Kerala Boats – Travel Through The Intracoastal Waterways By Boat

Oil painting by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar titled "Kerala Waterway Workers" (c)2017

Oil painting by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar titled “Kerala Waterway Workers” (c)2017

Kerala boats are unique to the Malabar Coast and dot the intracoastal waterways that lie parallel to the Andaman sea. These boats are a significant part of the local economy as they bring important commercially grown produce such as rice, coconuts, bananas and spices to the coast for distribution. These boats are capable of carrying the equivalent of 3 trucks.

Oil painting by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar titled "Kerala Waterway Workers" (c)2017

Oil painting by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar titled “Kerala Waterway Workers” (c)2017

These Kerala boats are called vallams in the Malayalam language, native to Kerala. Vallams are canoes made from local wood called ‘Anjali’ or jack-wood and deeply oiled with a black resin from the kernel of cashews, a locally grown produce. The black silhouette of the canoe on the water is a signature of the waterways. Racing canoes are much longer and can hold up to a hundred oarsmen. These often have more prominent prows with carvings and paint. But it is the common Kerala boat that I loved seeing on the still waters being pulled along by poles and paddles.

 

Oil painting by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar, Kerala Boat

Oil painting by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar, Kerala Boat.

These two oil paintings on canvas of Kerala Boats measure 36″ x 18″. The solitary boat moored alongside the river is typical of the boats used to move people and cargo. The oil painting with the two workers transporting wooden planks was captured after sunset on the waterway to Alleppey. We were traveling north on a Government Ferry from Quilon (Kollam) after spending considerable time on Lighthouse Beach in Trivandrum.

Kettuvallam (Converted rice barge for Kerala Tourism); Kerala Boat, Houseboat; Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar photography; copyright 2002

Kettuvallam – Converted rice barge moored alongside a rice paddy on the waterway to Alleppey, Kerala India. Photography by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar (c)2002.

 

Kettuvallams are the large houseboats covered in intricate bamboo and palm leaves. Everything is tied together with coir or rope made from coconut fibers. From what I recall, there is not a single nail or screw holding these canoe planks together…just the coir. These larger Kerala boats are in the 60-70′ length with a 15′ beam. The houseboats are converted barges and designed for the tourist industry. The pace is slow and leisurely, which is ideal for anyone birdwatching, photographing the local riverscape or wishing to just take in the journey and relax all day long and night.

Kerala Waterways are hot, humid and immensely beautiful under the blazing Indian sun. It is easy to spot kingfishers, sea eagles, water snakes and water rats. Fish jump and birds skim the surface seeking insects.

Along the shore people wash dishes, shower or bathe. Bamboo outhouses line the river. The waters are brackish. Salt water from the sea doesn’t penetrate the intracoastal waters due to a natural and artificially supported breakwater. The lakes, lagoons and rivers are fed by mountain streams inland.

At night, just after sunset, women in a stunning array of jewel tones sarees walk single file along the river. The rich color against the palm frond backdrop is perfectly reflected in the silvery water is simply beautiful to behold.

Kerala boats; women in sarees along the Kerala waterways India. Photography by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar

Kerala boats; women in sarees along the Kerala waterways India. Photography by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar (c)2002.

Converted rice barge for Kerala Tourism. Photography by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar (c)2002.

Kerala boat: Converted rice barge for Kerala Tourism. Photography by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar (c)2002.

Scenic Kerala Waterways at sun down. Photography by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar (c)2002.

Scenic Kerala Waterways at sun down. Photography by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar (c)2002.

Hindu Fire Ceremony As Still Life Painting

Hindu Fire Ceremony, oil painter Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar, Art, India

Hindu Fire Ceremony by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar (signed with her Hindu name “Amrita”)

A Hindu Fire Ceremony is something to behold. The natural ingredients are dried cow patties, mango sticks, ghee (clarified butter), dried grasses and string made from coir, marigolds, rice, copper bowls and basic clay bricks present a lovely collection of textures and harmonious colors.

This oil painting is on cotton canvas and measures 20″x24″.

Personal Story About This Hindu Fire Ceremony

Half way through my husband Anand’s Munja’s Hindu fire ceremony, the fire that was built using dried cow-patties, a few twigs and fueled heavily by ghee started smoking to high heavens. The recreation hall doors were all open, and the wind was changing directions causing the priests to lean left then right in a weak attempt to avoid the smoke as they chanted their lines. I ran around the room closing windows and doors trying to channel the smoke between the gents, but each time the wind outwitted me.

Anand, patient as ever and acting respectful, was completely smoked out as the flames worked to steady themselves in the clocking breeze.

I turned to his Uncle Kumar and said, “I know Anand, as a scientist, must be hating every minute of this and he is probably staying put to make this part of the ceremony end fast. Can’t we do something about the smoke?”

Kumar-mama just laughed and said, “Don’t you know Annie, it is a holy fire making holy smoke that will purify Anand.” Right. All I understood was that my sweetheart had to inhale the ash and smoke from burning cow dung, which motivated me to make one more attempt to channel the draft. When I successfully directed the smoke between the Pandits and away from Anand, sure enough it was all over in another two minutes.

Hindu fire ceremonies are pleasant enough. Between the chanting of the priests to the gods and the simple offerings it is a reflective time. If you ever have a chance to sit through one take it!

 

 

 

Hotel Del – Coronado Island, San Diego – 2012 Christmas Tree

Visiting some of the more famous trees at Christmas time is such a pleasure. Click the tree several times to see the full image and zoom in on some of the decor. Happy Holidays, everyone!

This is a photo of the main Christmas tree in the lobby of the Hotel Del, Coronado Island, San Diego, CA.

Hotel Del Christmas Tree 2012

Restaurants in the Heart of Bordeaux, France

in Food, France, Restaurant     

September is a beautiful month in Bordeaux, and the day after we landed we went out in search of a good meal.  M de Monbadon’s menu was printed rather than handwritten and the offerings seemed uninteresting.  C’yusha, whose chef recently came from the great Table de Calvet, was closed for lunch the day we visited.

Le Loup, 66 rue Loup, was a familiar and reasonably priced alternative.  Run by the same brother-sister pair for 18 years,  the restaurant has operated in the building since 1932.  The 17 euro menu offered a salad of goat cheese lightly fried in bread crumbs with vinaigrette with verve, followed by a tender couple of pork medallions in mushroom sauce with potatoes fried in duck fat.  Dessert was simple:  fruit cocktail with lemon sorbet.  The scallops in a sauce of honey, grapefruit  and tangelos were dreamy, mopped up by rye bread we had bought at Paul bakery.  We ordered a half bottle of Chateau Falfas 2005, Cotes de Bourg.   It was tannic and needed another  5 years, since the 2005 year was very sunny and the wines strong.  We conversed with the couple next to us in their 80’s and narrowly escaped without buying either of the two properties they were selling:  a 900 square feet apartment in Old Bordeaux, and a huge country estate between Bergerac and Perigueux! 

Friday, with great pleasure, we met our friends Patricia and Daniel Bain at the new fancy Regent Hotel Brasserie for lunch.  Since we saw them 2 years ago in Martel, the beautiful stone town where Daniel had been restoring stone houses,  they had decamped to Bordeaux, where their 13 year old son Oscar is in a new school.  They now have a new project and are renting a townhouse in the center of Bordeaux, complete with beautiful wood terrace and walls painted a combination of robin’s egg blue, bright yellow and red (not their taste in colors!).  It was wonderful to see them in such good spirits, looking well.

To celebrate Catalina’s birthday, we all ordered the 22 euro 2-course menu, a heap of tiny fried smelt,  with a glass of tartar sauce for dipping.  Some in our group did not appreciate the fish’s tiny eyes looking up at them!  The main course was either a white cod with snails in parsley butter sauce, or tender chicken rolled around perfectly cooked foie gras, wrapped in a green leaf that might have been lettuce.  Several people noted that the 2001 Graves red we ordered had slightly off flavors, but we nonetheless managed to down it all.

P&D invited us to their home, and fed us delicious chocolates and macaroons.  Hopefully it won’t be long before we see them in the gite.

Claudia, Steve, Catalina

Bordeaux’s Far-Flung Satellite Restaurants

Bordeaux’s Far-Flung Satellite Restaurants
Sallying forth in the 5 passenger Opel Zafira that we had picked up at the Bordeaux St. Jean train station, we headed for the Saturday market in Bazas south of Bordeaux.  We were ecstatic to see the sausage wizard, Patrick from Aveyron, and he was equally happy to see us after a 2 year absence.  We picked up lean pork herb sausage, duck sausages, chorizo, smoked ham, smoked duck breasts and a dense wheat and seed bread.  We bought a riot of fresh fruits and vegetables, and then went to our favorite restaurant for lunch.

Les Remparts, 49 place de la Cathedrale, Bazas.  This restaurant was just sold to new owners from far away.  Who knows what cuisine they will offer…  But for today, we savored a rich lamb tajine with apricots and pistachios on couscous.  Cat, John and Trudy chose the 3 course menus for 25 euros.  The first courses, Bazas beef terrine with a small salad, or sweet melon with Bayonne ham, were delicious.  The wine was a 2008 Coquillas Pessac Leognan.  It had an intense aroma of violets and blackberries with a taste to match.  Main courses were tender white cod on braised vegetables, Madras curry chicken (mild) with pineapple and steamed white rice.  Dessert:  flat apple tart with ice cream, an assortment of sorbets (pear, cassis, mandarin orange) accompanied by dense, bitter warm chocolate sauce and a side dish of Chantilly cream.  A terra cotta dish held crème brulee, excellent.  We rated the meal an A.  We also ordered a half bottle of white Graves, Chateau Brondelle, 2010.
Clos Mirande, Montagne St. Emilion (05 57 74 50 16).  We reserved for Sunday lunch in their casual bistro.  The restaurant was opened a year and a half ago.  As an entree (the entering, or first course), Steve ordered a green salad, and we also ordered terrines of rabbit with a parsley garlic sauce and salad.  Main courses were:  perfectly cooked sole with lemon butter, fricassee of guinea fowl game bird, braised with black grapes, mushrooms and honey, or tender layers of pork stacked then wrapped in bacon, sitting on a slice of eggplant.  It was accompanied by zucchini, carrots and turnips.  We asked the lady for a recommendation as to a local wine, and it was a good one:  2006 Chateau Vieux Rocher Montagne de St Emilion.  We also ordered a glass of white to go with the fish.  This was the best meal we have had in France so far on this trip!

Claudia, Steve, Catalina, John, Trudy

Fireworks for Sale – Garberville, CA

Two octogenarians are selling fireworks to send disadvantaged teens to summer camp in Richardson’s Grove, a Humboldt County redwood forest camp. Marie Moore, 82 (L) and Rose Butler, 80 (R) are busy ladies and just won’t slow down! Rose has 33 tomato plants and loves to garden. Her family, at one time, was the caretaker for Benbow Inn when it was for sale. They were the picture of small town America and I asked them if they would be so kind to pose for me. Happy Independence Day!

This is a photo of Marie Moore and Rose Butler of Garberville, CA in their fireworks sales booth.

The Real Sparklers of Garberville, CA

Terranea Resort and Beauty in the Eye of the Dessert Beholder

I can’t help myself; I see beauty everywhere, especially in Nature. Next, I see beauty in objects that Nature inspired, like cake. And I take photo after photo of those moments that catch my eye because I love to share, make greeting cards or paintings from them and of course, they provide me with thousands of vivid memories or inspiration.

It was a beautiful day on the coast. Sea birds, birds of prey, dolphins and whales spouting in the water made it a magical day atop the bluffs in Palos Verde, CA. It wasn’t quite happy hour; more like afternoon tea. A coffee and small bite of something decadent was just the ticket and Sea Beans Cafe inside the hotel grounds is just the thing a traveler needs for a little pick-me-up. Here are some of my images from my visit to this cafe at Terranea in January.

This is a photo of the chalkboard menu inside the Sea Beans Cafe at Terranea Resort.

This has YUMMM written all over it.

This is a photo of the dessert display case inside the Sea Beans Cafe at Terranea Resort.

What's not to like? I'll take one of everything.

This is a photo of candy signage in front of a tray of gourmet chocolates.

Stop and think about this for a moment. Read the sign again and let your imagination take flight. Yes, two servings will help confirm that you got the tasting notes correct!

This is a photo of handmade chocolate cups filled with Tiramisu dessert at Sea Beans Cafe in Terranea Resort.

It does more than pick you up...it leaves you changed forever.

This is a photo of a pecan tartlette.

For times when you feel a bit nutty.

This is a photo of a a fruit tartlette at Sea Beans Cafe in Terranea Resort.

Sigh.

Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas Nevada – Fun Stuff I Saw

Inside the hotel, there are numerous areas that have been decorated in a fantastical manner. The artsy touches and designs change with the season and are always spectacular, designed to be whimsical and take one’s breath away. As my visit coincided with Mother’s Day and Springtime, the presentation was along the lines of “April showers bring May flowers, what do Mayflowers bring?” –the answer might surprise you. Take a look!

Handpainted umbrellas with large colorful poppies hang upside down from wires in an artistic show, under the glass ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Icelandic Poppy Painted Umbrellas Overhead

This is a photo of hand painted umbrellas hanging from various wires in the ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.

Poppies always delight the eye

This is a photo of umbrellas hanging from the ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

This is a photo of hand painted umbrellas in detail as they hang from the ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Seriously, what's not to love?

This is a photo of hand painted umbrellas as viewed through an archway into a garden.

I want to have cocktails under these umbrellas!

This is a photo of the garden scene behind the concierge desk at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.

Maybe after a few cocktails I'd feel like Alice...

This is a photo of large planters with flowers tucked into a large fountain basin at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Genius! No need to throw out your old fountain, stuff it full of planters. But make sure they've had a few cocktails first.

This is an image of a vintage Schwinn bicycle resting against a ticket booth in a flower bed inside the Bellagio Hotel and Casino Conservatory of Flowers, as part of an artistic display.

No locks needed

This is a photo of the heron bird sculptures made from moss, seashells and paint inside the Conservatory of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Bigger than life herons

This is an image of a floral sculpture at the Conservatory in the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Floral Sculpture or Floral Painting?

This is a detail of the floral sculpture inside the Conservatory at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

All I could think of when I saw this masterpiece was, "Wow!"

This is a photo of the painting referenced by the floral sculpture inside the Conservatory of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

The floral sculpture is inspired by this painting by David Hockney. The original is inside the Bellagio Hotel in the Fine Art Gallery.

This is a detail of the floral sculpture inside the Conservatory of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Someone gets an "A+" for artistic cleverness. How I wish it was me...

This is a photo of a handcrafted butterfly that hangs from the ceiling inside the Conservatory of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Butterfly Magic!

This is a photo of a large pink butterfly resting against a handcrafted tree inside the Conservatory of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Butterflies are best seen from a distance. Up close, they are quite creepy.

This is a photo of a handcrafted tree with pink blossoms and butterflies inside the Conservatory of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Blossoms and Butterfly...how much more enchantment can a person handle?

This is a photo of my daughter Arabella inside the Conservatory of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.

Arabella inside the Bellagio Conservatory

Urban Foraging in San Diego, CA – “Annie’s Rose Canyon Wild Mustard”

My friend and neighbor, Kieth Beatty, who is a retired biochemist, causally invited me to go pick mustard down the street in Rose Canyon here in San Diego. What a strange idea, I thought at first, then I got excited about the notion of a short hike into the canyon down the street from where we live. I’m not a big mustard fan, but I was game to try my hand at foraging in Nature; after all, 2012 is right around the corner and maybe it’s time I learn a thing or two about living off the land…heh-heh…and to learn what the expression “it doesn’t cut the mustard” means.
Watch Kieth cut the mustard!

This is a photo of mustard growing in Rose Canyon Mustard, San Diego, CA.

Keith contemplating where to start picking.

This is a photo of Kieth Beatty picking mustard flowers in Rose Canyon, San Diego, CA.

30 minutes of picking yields about 5 oz. of mustard.

At 8AM we marched down the street with brown paper bags in hand and Keith began educating me on mustard. It’s been in the human diet for as long as scientists and researchers can determine. It has few predators, snails for one, and returns each year.

Mustard stems are delicate and when they die back, the stem is fragile and breaks easily. If something couldn’t cut the mustard, it was generally useless as a tool.

This is a photo of wild mustard growing in San Diego, CA.

The patch of mustard flowers I harvested.

Keith tends to think in terms of anti-aging, antioxidants, vitamins and getting enough natural stuff in his diet to be healthy.  He looks at plants for their concentrated goodness as only Nature can provide. In particular, he seeks out sources of lutein which is a yellow pigment found in fruits, veggies and other plants like mustard which are critical for the well being of the eyes. A mere 6 mg of lutein per day is all you need to greatly reduce your risk of macular degeneration. Why not have healthy eyes?

This is a photo of the mustard plant.

Mustard Up Close and Personal

Mustard is delicate and the flowers and seeds at the top of the stem are lovely and soft. It is easy to pinch them off and just as easy to harvest the large spiky leaves at the bottom. Most animals won’t touch mustard as it is bitter. Humans have figured out that adding vinegar to the leaves neutralizes the bitterness and makes the greens palatable. Most gourmet mustard today has wine vinegar in them and today I used a white wine vinegar from Italy to make my mustard.

This is a photo of the nettles we crushed getting to the mustard.

Crushed Nettles; Collateral Damage in Rose Canyon.

To get close to the mustard we had to trample young nettles. At least, Keith and I think these are nettles. They’ve taken over the field we were in and according to Keith have taken over the area where he has harvested mustard blossoms in previous years. I did read in Wikipedia that a mustard seed can survive up to 60 years underground if it is at the right depth and somehow, I think this patch will make a comeback. And for all you urban foragers out there, this area has enough nettles to feed an army.

This is a photo of nettles from the point of view of my knee.

Young Nettles about to burst into bloom.

This is a photo of a yellow nettle flower.

Yellow is always the color to warn you of danger.

This is a photo of a glass bowl full of freshly picked, bright yellow mustard flowers.

WARNING: Hot, spicy mustard flowers!

This is a photo of the ingredients in my mustard flower recipe.

This is just guesswork for me: I read the ingredients on a jar of store bought mustard and am leading the way with courage and confidence!


At the risk of sounding redundant, here is my:

“MUSTARD FLOWER MUSTARD” RECIPE:
3 cloves raw garlic
1 tablespoon turmeric (for flavor, color, health)
1 tablespoon coriander powder with cumin in it 1 to 1 ratio
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
6-8 tablespoons of water
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
3 huge handfuls of fresh picked mustard flowers

In a food processor, put the vinegar, spices and garlic and pulse it until it is minced fine. Add a handful of flowers at a time until all flowers are minced into the seasoning before adding water a little bit at a time. NOTE: The mustard is rough, not smooth. This is a high fiber mustard in case you were wondering.

This is a photo of a mini-food chopper with mustard making ingredients in it.

Step 1: Garlic, Spices, Salt and Vinegar

The turmeric will stain plastic and silicon spatulas so use old ones if you care about staining your kitchen ware. I used a mini food chopper for the task and it was perfectly fine.

This is a photo of mustard flowers in a food processor with spices.

Add a handful of flowers at a time and pulse.

This is an image of a food processor with ground spices and mustard flowers in it.

Don't be scared. Something good can still come out of this. Just add water.

Outcome: I’m not sure if this is edible or not. I lifted the lid to my mini-chopper and the way the scent hit my brain can only be described as a pick axe that was suddenly inserted up my nose with intent to split my brain in two. The intense burning in my sinuses only served to make me take a step backwards and say, “Whoa!” On exhale, my sinuses relaxed and I stopped for a moment to consider the following: store bought mustard is over processed; this is undiluted mustard flowers, picked two hours ago in Nature. Old fashioned plasters and poultices for chest colds and coughs came to mind and the medicinal smell that singed my nostril’s mucosal lining made me race over to my computer to search the internet on mustard flower for warnings and recipes. Guess what? There are no recipes for “mustard made from mustard flowers” that I could find in a reasonable amount of time. That was a bit unnerving. There are books for sale with foraging recipes, but overall a few pages in to this subject and I was done with research.

Basically, mustard flowers aren’t toxic and they won’t kill me. I moved on to storing it. There is one tool in my kitchen, besides the power tools, that I just LOVE and can’t do without: a wide mouth funnel. Treat yourself to one and let it be your forever-kitchen-friend.

This is a photo of a Kerr jar with a metal wide mouth funnel on it.

Wide mouth funnels are in my top ten kitchen items to love.

There are countless sites stating that mustard flowers are edible and have been used in love potions, salads and garnishes and even given as gifts to symbolize spring and abundance. Some sites remind us to be careful because some people are highly allergic to mustard. Other sites tell delightful and charming stories of how paths were created by explorers to use in the springtime to return from whence they came.

This is a photo of the jar of mustard I produced from the flowers I found in Rose Canyon.

Annie's Rose Canyon Wild Mustard

This wild mustard is down right SPICY HOT! Think horseradish. My mouth was on fire from just a little teeny-tiny taste. I’m not prone to getting hysterical when my mouth is on fire from the occasional chili pepper in food, and in fact, I do enjoy a bit of heat in my food…but this…this was off the charts hot. This reminded me of the spicy hot Chinese mustard that I don’t enjoy because it is just too hot for my liking.

In the end, I am thrilled that I foraged and made something unusual and gourmet.  I will make sure that everyone who visits my home gets a taste of my first batch of homemade garlic and white wine vinegar mustard.

So, be honest with me: Is this something you would make and eat? I’d like to know.

Surfer Dude car in Laguna Beach

Note that this surfer has a tail, so maybe the dreadlocks are the mane of a lion?  And the board may have teeth!

Surfer dude car

Taken April 9, 2011

Close-up of surfer dude car

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