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Gotta thirst at the end of a day?  Well, there is no shortage of colourful, solutions to be concocted–by you yourself or by a licensed professional (image from here).   Cocktails are back.  Lucky us.

Cocktails in a row

The mixed drink for adults that goes beyond the quick and simple rye and ginger, rum and coke, scotch and water, tequila and tequila is very much in favour just now and shows no sign of retreating any time soon.

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It’s all about variety, visual panache, and finding the ONE for you.  You’ll find plenty advice, history, images, recipes, stories at your fingertips, e.g at cocktail builder  or imbibe.

Funny how things come and go.  Not so long ago, the thing to do was to keep everything simple, including your brain buzzing beverage of choice.  Open the bottle, pour a healthy slug, add something a child might drink, and repeat as necessary–or just make a giant jugful.

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But now, it’s all about multiple ingredients, hard to find, mixed in just the right proportion, requiring some care and skill, served in a special glass, beautiful to look at.

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They say the cocktail craze started way back before we let television in the house.  Almost a hundred years ago, people of means and money looking to fill the void between the afternoon nap and dinner decided the thing to do was to have friends over for drinks, real drinks, stiff drinks crafted with expertise made from hard-to-get components, just like their hats and furniture.

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Great design above by Beverley Nichols found here.

Invitation to a cocktail party circa 1925

Invitation to a cocktail party circa 1925

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Actually, the invitation looks more fun and interesting than the party (photo from here; you can acquire the invitation here)

Those who looked into it seriously say the cocktail hour was born sometime between 1917 and 1924, somewhere between London and America, moving inevitably from houses to bars, cafes, nightclubs, fund raisers…

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The bunch above are slurping their cocktails during prohibition in America, meaning you needed a password to get in and you had to lie to your mom when you got home. From this article.

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This crowd is on the town Berlin at a time when, it seems, nothing was prohibited (and just before just about everything was prohibited).

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Wherever you are, the cocktail seems to be best consumed in the presence of someone you think is swell.

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Or at least someone you used to think was swell.  This is a fine photo by Irving Penn was taken in Lima and found at this eye-opening site.

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Then again, some gals just like to put on their best cocktail hat and go it alone.

 

OK, so back to the here and the now.  Below is the bar at the Brasserie NYC in the one and only Seagram’s building where, we can tell you, you will not go wrong in acquiring a satisfying cocktail, New York style: big, quick, yummy, and served by someone who won’t make you feel like you don’t deserve this.

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If you find yourself near NYC or just thinking it, it would be a fine occasion to have a Manhattan cocktail.

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Recipe here; image from (yes) Booze & Yarn.

Wherever you are, spare an hour late in a day to seek out seat at the bar somewhere in your town.  Give the bartender a chance to try something new on you–or challenge him/her with something little known.

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At the r of l, our official cocktail is the negroni.

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Why?  it tastes really good in any season and any time of day, it only has 3 ingredients, and it goes very well with any activity, whether you are being quiet and reflective (wondering where you put that note reminding you to do something) or hosting a gathering of 20 friends and neighbours in celebration of the fact that you have 20 friends and neighbours. (Image above, History, and more from Swide)

Find your cocktail, find your reason to sip it.

 

 

 

 

Those of us who like to cook up a storm will lavish no end of attention on a meal. So it’s not surprising that the visual chefs of the world, the artists and designers, have turned their talents to the platforms we provide to serve up the goodies.  Picasso took to creating dishy plates fairly late in his career, and as usual he did it entirely his own way.  Above from him found here.

Mr P turned his hand to plate making over and over and generated a pile of amazing work, including this great one with a couple of dozen petit visages that was up for auction, reported by the London Telegraph. 

After he was done making all the plates, Picasso, always willing to help around the house, moved on to jugs like this cutie seen here.  (a previous RofL post had reason to present a fish jug by PP).

The creation and construction of wonderful plates for our food or just feasting our eyes has a long tradition and master practitioners in every era.  The above was made about 1460 somewhere in Spain and is now residing (see here) in the wonderful Musee des arts Decoratifs in Paris.

This swell bird (“Coq”) plate also lives in the Musee des arts Decoratifs (well worth a visit, we think). It is the work of Jacques Besnard in 1930. Find it here  and be sure to look around the site for much more.

You say plates, we say Fornasetti, namely Piero Fornasetti (1913 – 1988) the incomparable Italian designer who put his signature style–and often this particular woman’s face–on all sorts of household goods, including plates. They are still available and still much loved.  The three above can be had at Barney’s, go here.

Well, you take a current design star like David Chipperfield and ask him to create a line of dishes and cups for Alessi and here’s what you get: a lovely tribute to one of our favourite artists, Giorgio Morandi, seen here.   More on Mr Morandi in this NYT article.  More on Mr Chipperfield in the RofL library here.

The Dutch de stijl movement from the first half of the 20th century continues to inspire designers.  The above set of plates borrows–or steals, say the designers, London retailer Darkroom–the strong colour and shape from the movement, which was also applied to textiles and paper goods.  Found here.

This nifty plate is from a design by Nikolai Suetin done in the so-called Suprematist style in 1905, auctioned recently, and reported here.

When the world was black and white and the smart set chowed down in the living room wearing the same clothes they wore to the office, plates came in lots of shapes and sizes and colours to handle the new trends, like fondue, crab dip, and miniature marshmallow/pineapple cube salad.  Go back here.

Jetting back to our own time, we seem quite comfortable dishing food out on both the exquisite and the goofball, sometimes in the same meal.  This swedish bear plate found here.  What do you think you’d serve on that?  Gumballs and goat cheese croquettes?

And this from our youth is a fine depiction of the  magnificent Hopalong Cassidy  on a plate by  Kimmerle Milnazik discovered at the unforgettable Plate Lady website.  No question what you’d serve up here: fresh carrots and sugar cubes, we reckon.

Just a few more in the cupboard.  Above jaunty thing is by a remarkable American artist Howard Kottler, found here.   More of him to be found at the Smithsonian Institute.

And we complete the meal with another American artist Molly Hatch who, among other things designs plates in groups so you only see the whole picture when they are all together–say on your large dining table or here.

If you care about food, we think you should care about what you put the food on, whether it is a blank white canvas or a handsome cowboy.  If we are what we eat, maybe we are also, a little bit, what we eat OFF.

Genoa is very old and very new.  The layout of the city and the famous harbour are said to be fundamentally unchanged since Christopher Columbus was a boy here in the 1440’s.  But if you stop and look, you will see modern life at its best thriving, proudly, in Genoa today.  Above is the breakfast room at a hotel in Genoa called Palazzo Cicala, which overlooks a very nifty cathedral, San Lorenzo.

If you stepped outside the hotel–and tilted your head a bit–this is what you’d see.  Photo from here.

 

The architect, Renzo Piano still works from his native Genoa, and he has been busy for more than 20 years adding ideas, structures, and life to the city, especially on the old harbour.  He designed one of the world’s largest aquariums there, along with a biosphere (above), seen here.

This is a structure/sculpture called Bigo,  designed by Mr P to celebrate the hardworking cranes of the Genoan docks that, along with thick-backed shore workers, have loaded and unloaded the world’s heavy goods for a long, long time.  One of the arms of the Bigo now lifts tourists above the harbour for a gull’s eye view.  Photo above here.

This painting of the harbour, done more than 400 years ago by a man called Grassi, shows the busy-ness of the place back in the age of wooden boats and sails.  More here

The above image is of the harbour about a hundred years earlier, around the time that Genoa’s own C. Columbus set out (with Spanish boats and hopes) for America.  It shows the fortifications necessary to keep a harbour secure for its customers.

The lighthouse on the left in the above ancient print still stands at the entrance to the Genoa harbour, and people say it’s the oldest anywhere. Its red cross on a white background is the emblem of Genoa and has come to symbolize “help available” all over the place.

This painting of a ceremony that may never have happened is weird and beautiful, from here. It is among the many many treasures of the swell Maritime Museum in Genoa.

 

       

Another example of old Genoa meets new Genoa is the street called via Garibaldi (pic above left found here), whose amazing palaces (along with those of an adjacent street)  were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006.  Outside, these buildings tell you a lot about what people fancied in the 1500’s.  Like great heavy doors and great scary doorknockers.

They also cared about eye catching colours combined with the kind of craftsmanship we are unlikely to see again.  Seen at Wapedia here

 

Inside, past the (heavy, scary) doors of these places, you might see almost anything (these neat chairs in Palazzo Bianco, photo here)

 

Silence and solitude and arches gently hued.  And this is a public building!  Nice image and more from here.

 

Or you’ll find a swish contemporary furniture store called  via garibaldi 12, which is its address.  See more

Hungry???

Genoa claims both Pesto sauce and Focaccia as its own, .

And there is seafood in endless variety, some of it spooky, all of it tasty, wherever you turn.

Above, dinner for two, outdoors, in a plain but life filled Genoan piazza, yummy to the end.

 

Just go, when you get a chance.

and go back often.

Two pics above from here.

If you’ve spent any time around people who fish, you’ve probably noticed that they are a generally a gentle bunch, long on smiles and short on sentences, and very very patient.  Among those who fish, those who prefer fly fishing are distinguished by their preference to be in beautiful places while fishing.

This is Austria.

And above is somewhere in Idaho.

This person is fly fishing at night.  Somewhere nice.

Look at that scene behind this man: it’s like a calendar.  Put on your rubber pants and wade in.

Or just stand in a sunbeam on the rocky shore of a lake in South Dakota.  Here

South to Argentina, above, with a flyrod

North to Scotland, on the River Tay, above.

You don’t always need rubber pants to fish, or any pants at all, in Scotland

At the end of the line, these are the flies, the beautiful tiny feather sculptures used to lure the fish.  Most are hand made.

The ‘Silver Doctor’ above is a mixed wing full dressed salmon fly. Invented by James Wright, 1850. Wright was an award winning fly tier. So says fish4flies.

Off to Iceland, nice photo seen here

Wading in Canadian waters, above, with a mountainscape you want to kiss.

This above os Elk River, Fernie, BC, Canada (Pic’s by Ravens Eye Photography at the 2009 Canadian National FlyFishing Championships) seen here.

Well, we have to go now.  The fish are waiting, and so are some of the most beautiful spots on earth.  This one is in New Zealand: Taupo, Nelson & Southland.

Give yourself a treat sometime.  Go fish.  And if you can, go where the fly fishing is good.  It’s probably one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever see.

When’s the last time you had yourself a good old fashioned picnic. Above from here

The thing about a picnic is that it can be for 200 or just 2, as here on a bench in Central Park, NY.

Or you could just go by yourself. From Time Out New York.

This couple is picnicking in, or just beyond, San Francisco.

Still in SF, above shot is a happy crowd in Delores Park, and some are having a picnic.

In times gone by, a picnic was a big event in the life of a family, etched in your memory. Above is a picnic story from Life magazine seen here.

Fancy people like to dress up when they picnic. These are people from Vogue, seen here.

If you go to Paris, you picnic. By the River. Above pic from here.

Still in Paris (why leave?). picnicking with crafty rachel.

But Paris is also black and white, and sometimes a picnic is just a bench and two hungry people. From here.

These people are picnicking in the UAE. Just like it was Pismo Beach. Seen here.

And these didn’t get to where they wanted to go–because of the Icelandic Volcano–so they had a picnic just where they were, at the airport. See here.

Wherever you go, make sure you take your picnic condiment set, OK?

Get that blanket, get that summer novel, make that potato salad, and get on down to your favourite park or beach. A picnic is a wonderful thing, for 25 people, or 2 or 1.