Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Some Tasty Tidbits


The Pipistrellos know how to keep occupied
Ravi Zupa screen print, Thrilling, 2020

Dear Reader, it has been utterly remiss of me to neglect the something-to-eat creed of this blog, so you must be positively starving by now! These neglectful tendencies do come from being thoroughly distracted by the cardboard box we've been stuffing ourselves in during these days of No Fun Allowed, for Thrills can always be found around the casa. Anyway, all that is officially behind us (again) as from today, so after a trip to the shoppes for some ingredients, I can now supply some tasty tidbits. 

Behold, dinner tonight:

Chilli con Carne
nota bene: Artist's Impression

As ever, the finished result lacks the vibrant colouring of the suggested photographic rendering in the recipe book but experience informs us that we've made this many times and it's always delicious, so allowances must be made for what inevitably ends up on the plate. Unlike over at Dear Brother's place, we've not the Master Chef flourishes around here.

It was Mr. P's idea for chilli con carne. I'd had in mind a batch of  Romanesque fagioli, and had been soaking some borlotti and cannellini beans for this purpose when Mr. P declared he wished otherwise. For added vits & mins, I tossed in some English spinach, and was able to use the leftover stock and dripping from some oxtail I'd slow-cooked in a bottle of red wine for an, ahem, beefed up macaroni & cheese last week. Also delicious!

Macaroni & cheese with oxtail is not the only variation on the nursery norm found around here, for it also occasionally gets made with crab meat when I want to get super fancy. (You can see where on the beast the oxtail purports to come from, in the illustration above.)

In other one-dish delights, the season for Brussels sprouts spaghetti carbonara is now over, for it is Spring in this neck o' the woods. Bucatini carbonara is another legacy recipe from Ol' Boyfriend Marco, but as the humble Brussels sprout is a brassica close to my heart, I/we adore this variation with sautéed shredded sprouts alongside the requisite cured porky bit* that is found kicking around the bottom of the fridge. 

The Humble Sprout, a.k.a. Pipistrello's Favourite Vegetable
Christine Stephenson watercolour

While this adored winter vegetable is over for this year, I did chance upon a couple of bunches of something unmarked but green and healthy-looking a few weeks ago at our local weekend growers' market and tossed them into the basket without even enquiring into their bona fides. Imagine my surprise and delight when, upon cooking, the mystery green proved to be broccoletti! 

Quelle surprise! Broccoletti!

This divine bitter green from the brassica family was a seasonal staple in my in-law's vegetable patch, the seeds for which were originally smuggled over from Italy decades earlier in someone's luggage**. We never see it in our local greengrocery, so in Normal Circumstances, it necessitates a journey by aeroplane to visit Brother-In-Law, who diligently grows it.

For why do I buy unlabelled greenery? I've been on & off making weekly batches of what I call Covid-Greens these past two years, as partly of my housewifely prophylactic ministrations, and which variously come in the shape of dandelion, milk thistle, kale in its variations, or any other unidentifiable weedy greens that can be found. They get some decent wilting then get sautéed with the usual suspects: aglio/olio/peperoncino and sometimes some anchovy because I can't help myself, and make a delicious (and sometimes rather obvious) bit of veg on the side. Well, delicious in the world of Pipistrello.

So what else is on the plate at the moment? I can tell you oysters are pretty divine right now, and navel oranges and grapefruit are a gift from the gods (and there are some Seville oranges also kicking around in the fridge awaiting my marmalading them, for I have promised that after last year's slothful approach to home preserving, I cannot pass another year without home-made marmalade), and mandarins are pulling out all stops with the fancy Dekapons and Afourers now becoming commonplace.

But in the one-a-day department, the newest and tastiest apple on the block is the diminutive Rockit. Not much bigger than a crab apple, and crisp and delicious, and so adorable. Just look at them:

Tiny little Rockits

Cuter than a cat in a cardboard box!

* I no longer pretend my home curing of a bit of pork belly is going to be bacon, for it always finishes up as a dead ringer for pancetta, which is more versatile in my book, anyway, and lasts an age if you forget it's there.

** Most likely hidden in socks or knickers, if the apocryphal tales are to be believed.

Image credits: 1: RaviZupa.com; 2, 6: Flying With Hands; 3: via Pinterest; 4: PaintingsOfPlants.com; 5: AllThingsSicilianAndMore.com

Saturday, 18 September 2021

And Another Thing

Lo! A two-for-one Deal: Danish Flag and Dutch Delftware
Sand Holm, Still Life With Art Nouveau Ceramics [& idem], 1919

Carrying on from last week's Danish musing, Dear Reader, there were murmurings about things Dutch needing to be spoken of, suggesting perhaps Delftware and other products of their Golden Age. But the direction this post heads is toward a Documentary, viz., The New Rijksmuseum (2014)*

The Old Rijksmuseum, 1878

Amsterdam is another city Your Correspondent hasn't visited [woe!] but in lieu of this deficiency, I have become rather fond of the beguiling portal, the Rijksstudio, that is the digitised collection of its famous national museum, the Rijskmuseum. You can often find me there, rootling around looking for delicious images, usually as blog fodder. Such is the joy of the digital age!

Like many cultural institutions that have had to think up inventive ways to enrich the lives of us all in These Trying Times, the Pipistrello's local temple to artistic stuffs, the AGNSW, has been doing its bit in compensating for the cultural freeze, especially for those holding languishing memberships. 

Imagine my delight when they recently sent out a link to watch a documentary film of the renovation of this Dutch National Treasure Chest. And so marvellous did this film prove to be, I watched it twice!

For why? Unexpected drama comes as ambition meets parochial and bureaucratic obstacles for the building to be renovated and the entrance reimagined. Aesthetic objections, a cyclists' union, a shocking resignation, high emotions and professional disappointments loom over the project as the months and years tick over. 

Curators, who imagine with undisguised passion how their collections will be showcased, endear and infect us with their enthusiasm, living and breathing their speciality as they do (even literally for the live-in caretaker), are still yet fearful the project will succumb to ennui and their precious works become forgotten as the time passes. 

Despite the outward signs of the project's highs and lows, quietly and without cessation the cleaners and restorers are busy busy on the million paintings, stucco, artefacts, you name it, in readiness for the eventual reopening of the museum that looms so large in the lives of all Amsterdam. And such a thorough going-over of everything and sufficient time passes that unknown treasure is even discovered within collections.

Like all Grand Designs, large or small, the whole exercise was beset by not only cost and deadline blowouts, but the peculiarly Dutch democratic process allowed for interference on a dramatic scale. All up, the museum was shut for a decade and the whole shebang cost half a billion euros.

Dutch filmmaker Oeke Hoogendijk was given a behind-the-scenes pass to chronicle this ambitious renovation project. Four hundred hours of footage was originally condensed into a two-part four-hour film, and then further cut down to this two-hour documentary. The result is a fascinating, gripping and mesmerisingly beautiful film. [I watched it twice, I tell you!]

This rather familiar lass now has a cheeky cupid behind her!
Johannes Vermeer, Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window, c. 1659

And if you love watching art restoration in the modern age, there is also the recent wonderful news about the unveiling of the transformation of this painting by the Dutch master Johannes Vermeer, courtesy of our Deutsche friends in Dresden, with an accompanying video of the alchemy behind the project.

Officially: Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Bannick Cocq
a.k.a.: The Night Watch, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1642

Of course, for something completely wild in the art restoration sphere, the Rijksmuseum website has devoted a whole corner to "Operation Night Watch", showcasing the study and restoration of its centrepiece painting by Rembrandt, wherein artificial intelligence "learned" his painting style to digitally recreate the severed and lost outer edges.

And on that futuristic note, where AI does something delightfully unexpected, I'm now done with D.

Gekalligrafeerd alfabet, Andries Hogeboom, Ambrosius Perling, Dutch calligraphy engraving, 1680 - 1701

* This is merely the official trailer found on the youtubes, but the documentary can be watched through various interweb links for free or small fee, depending on your location.

Image credits: 1: AskArt.com; 2: via Flickr; 3: Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister; 4, 5: Rijksmuseum

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

D is for ...

Print of the Capital D engraving from Libellus Novus Elementorum Latinorum by Jeremias Falck after Johann Christian Bierpfaf, c. 1650, Rijksmuseum Collection
... is for

Danish Design

There's a generous smattering of C20th Danish Design to be found around the Pipistrello Casa, and fulsome as we are in our appreciation of the marvellous stuffs the Kingdom of Denmark produces, it is notwithstanding our never once visiting this diminutive and interesting land, nor any of its Nordic neighbours. I know! ...

Copenhagen's be-flagged Tower of
Christiansborg Palace, a.k.a. Borgen*

Why it is that we, and Australians in general, have such a love affair with things Danish? And I speak not just of the delicious breakfast pastries and butter and feta and cheesy whatnots. It's true that the residents of this faraway land make gorgeous and useful things, (and fabulous drama for the telly), but bonus points must go toward Our Mary one day being their Queen. Isn't she just lovely? 

Behold some Mary Magic:

Gala-ed up in 2017 in rubies and caped splendour
(And so complementary with the FWH Wallpaper)

On hat duty for last weekend's
Flag Day in Copenhagen

But with regard to the subject at hand, viz. Danish-Designed Doodads, prithee, Dear Reader, step this way for some long-lived lovelies, notable for being heavy on the Bang & Olufsen stuffs:

My first mobile telephone (a stubborn refusal to own such ugly things was melted away one Xmas!):

Behold the B&O foray into 2G Mobile Telephonery,
The <sob!> now-defunct "Serene" on her docking station

After around a dozen years (!!) of petite clamshell service,
Her beautiful wizardry now lives in Ornamental Retirement

You've already met our beloved Belgian Bakelite telephone, but here are her young Danish cousins:

With bonus D-is-for Daffodils

Umm, yup, another one,
Propping up a shelf of To-Be-Reads

Yes, three telephones for two people in this day and age does seem to be, ahem, excessive. A  bit like the Sewing Machine Situation (and I have some news on that mini mania - there's now a Clare!)

And of course, what landline/s is/are complete without an Answering Machine?

Lo! There is also some audio joy, going strong since Mr. P's 40th birthday :) :

But for another more low-tech Doodad (and I shall not provide a pic of the Danish Art Deco sideboard as I know not the designer's name and besides, the telly sits atop and thus makes for a prosaic composition):

A rather more thrilling midcentury Raadvad Bread Guillotine,
For your rye-bread slicing needs

Today's Flying With Hands model
Demonstrating the Raadvad's utility

And for something somewhat larger but still proximate to the roost, we have the fruits of the creative genius of just one of Denmark's famous architects, viz. Jørn Utzon:

No prizes for guessing

That I speak of the Sydney Opera House

From which these various vantage points

Show somewhat less than the usual throngs of pedestrians

Who at times recently

Were often outnumbered by these perambulators

Nota bene: There are also some words to be spoken of the D-is-for-Dutch-Documentary variety, but that shall come as a Part II to this sufficiently long post.

* I hear tell that the excellent political drama Borgen is coming back for a fourth series in 2022!

Image credits: 1: Rijksmuseum; 2, 4: Forsvaret.dk; 3: via Pinterest; 12: Wikimedia Commons: all remaining: Flying With Hands

Bats In The Belfry