Langoustine au casier

Image courtesy of Anne-Sophie Pic

This is one of Anne-Sophie Pic’s signature dishes. It consists of grilled crayfish in butter, with a sauce flavored with green apple, celery, anise, and cinnamon leaf. The sauce constitutes the most interesting element of this dish and Pic developed it with the aim of it being complex in the making but simple in tasting. She wanted to have an elaborate sauce that still had distinguishable ingredients. I can’t tell you if she succeeded since I haven’t tried it (yet!) but it doesn’t look too shabby to me.

Anne-Sophie Pic is the daughter and granddaughter of chefs; but she did not decide to become one herself until she already had completed business studies. She’s a self-taught chef who is always seeking to develop flavors and tastes. She experiments with little known ingredients and different modes of preparation. Her style of cuisine is really simple but it’s also very sophisticated. You can discover more here.

Unicorn stamp seal

Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

This steatite seal from the Indus Valley dates back to between 2600 and 1900 BCE. I got acquainted with this type of seals last year while doing my MA because I had to work on a portfolio that included a similar seal. But before I share some fun facts about them with you, let me remind you that seals had an important administrative function in antiquity. They were used to mark and to close off things (you would press them in hot wax or clay and it would imprint the design on it).

So this seal has a representation of a unicorn. At Mohenjodaro, a major Indus Valley site, 75% of the excavated seals represented animals, and the vast majority of those were unicorns. Some scholars believe that the animals represent different social statuses. That little motif next to the unicorn is very common as well, and is considered to be an offering table. Almost all the Indus Valley seals also have writing on them, but unfortunately the language is still undecipherable.

I’d like to come back to the unicorn motif for a bit. It’s the only mythical creature represented on seals from this civilization; but mythical animals are not uncommon in any sort of iconography from the majority of cultures around the world. I find them interesting because they’re usually combinations of actual animals and it always made me wonder what makes people select specific features from specific animals to create hybrids out of them. Research interests anyone?

Anyway you can see this seal at the Met in New York (stay tuned for the review). I am trying my best to also promote smaller museums; but I also give a lot of importance to the aesthetics of this blog, and this is why you often see objects from major museums. The smaller ones don’t always have an accessible online catalog with HD pictures, and a lot of research goes into every post on this blog so I’m not taking the easy solution here. For example, I know that there is an important collection of Indus Valley seals at the New Delhi National Museum so go check it out if you happen to be around there.

Floral Fashion Portrait-Sakura

Image courtesy of Sunny Gu

I know I’ve been posting lots of flowers and hummingbirds lately but I couldn’t resist showing you guys this stunning illustration by Los Angeles based illustrator Sunny Gu. This one is part of a series created in 2011; and I seriously had such a hard time picking just one illustration because they are all so beautiful. As most of Gu’s illustrations, it is done in watercolor. The cherry blossoms here are used as a symbol for femininity, love, and nature renewal.

I discovered this artist on Instagram (you can follow me by clicking here); she has a very girly and colorful universe that takes inspiration from nature and fashion. She’s a young and up and coming illustrator, and I highly suggest you check out more of her art here. She also has an etsy store if you’re interested in buying some of her art. Stay tuned for more pretty things.

Orchids and Hummingbird

Image courtesy of the Museum of Fine arts

This stunning oil on canvas by Martin Johnson Heade is on view at the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston). It was executed between 1875 and 1883, and is part of a series of paintings pairing hummingbirds and orchids or passion flowers. The hummingbird was one of Heade’s preferred subjects, and they are almost part f his artistic signature. This style of realistic exotic landscapes allowed  him to stand out among his contemporaries and are what make of Heade such a unique artist. I discovered him while visiting the MFA, but his works are distributed among several museums around the world, and I will definitely post some more as he is one of my favorite painters.

Christopher Kane Resort 2011

Image courtesy of style.com

I selected this look from the Christopher Kane Resort 2011 collection because the galaxy/nebula print really became iconic after this. This particular outfit is my favorite, I love the effect of the jacket, but you can make up your own mind by checking out the rest of the collection right here.

No No Ikebana

Image courtesy of the Guggenheim Museum

This series of 3 chromogenic prints by Sharon Lockhart, 2003, show Ikebana arranged by Haruko Takeichi. Ikebana is the Japanese art of aesthetically arranging florals. Takeichi is part of a rural community that creates Ikebana with vegetables and crops as a response to the elitist aspect of the art. These photographs were taken over the course of a month as Lockhart is interested in showing the effects of time on the composition. At the Guggenheim, they are displayed side by side in three separate frames; which I think serves this purpose better than stacking them on top of each other. Stay tuned for a review of the Guggenheim and head over to Sharon Lockhart’s website if you’d like to check out more of her art.

Walking Across Beacon Hill

Snapchat--622479766898907588Note: I’m not great with pictures, especially since these are taken from my snapchat story but I’m getting better.

I decided to visit Beacon Hill on a rainy day in Boston. It’s a good option if you want to walk around the city but do things that are less touristy than the Freedom Trail. It was a short walk, about an hour, but you can stop by to visit some sites on the way. Beacon Hill is a 19th century historic district with a lot of charm. It is quite a high end residential neighborhood located in the center of Boston.

I started at the Massachusetts State House (picture below), which you can get to by taking the T to Park Street. You can visit the State House for free. I then walked along Beacon Street, which overlooks Boston Common; and turned up onto Joy Street to reach Mount Vernon Street. Mount Vernon Street is a picturesque alley with many notable buildings, such at the Nichols House Museum (at number 55), which I wanted to visit but I got there after opening hours.

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About halfway down Mount Vernon Street, I turned onto Louisburg Square, which notably housed Senator John Kerry and Louisa May Alcott. I then walked across Lewis Street to reach Acorn Street (pictured below), a tiny pedestrian cobblestone alley that is believed to be the most photographed street in America. It is filled with tiny houses that were originally inhabited by servants of the families who lived in the large houses on the main streets.

I walked on Acorn Street then reached West Cedar Street, then walked down to Chestnut street until I reached Charles street. This is the most commercial street of Beacon Hill and is filled with cute boutiques, antiques shops, and local bakeries and restaurants. I strolled along there for a while and this is where I finished my walk.

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To learn more about Beacon Hill and check out the itinerary I followed, head here. All in all, it’s a charming neighborhood, probably my favorite in Boston and I really enjoyed my walk there.

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Glass Flower

Photo courtesy of Curious Expeditions on Flickr

Yes yes this flower is made of glass. And it’s part of a collection of 4000 glass flowers exhibited at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. I was so mind blown when I saw them in real life. If you happen to be in the Boston area it’s something you really shouldn’t miss. Really, I’m having trouble writing and finding pictures that do justice to how breathtaking these are. This collection is so realistic, as it was created as a study collection for Harvard professor George Lincoln Goodale by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka between 1887 and 1936. There are 847 species of flowers in this collection, which includes every part of the flower, including some sections and fruits. Most flowers were made by heating glass, but some parts are blown glass. They are sometimes made using colored glass and sometimes painted after they were shaped. Again, I can’t really convey how cool these flowers are in a blog post so make sure you check them out if you can.