Monday, April 28, 2014

Les Halles

 Last summer while in Paris I visited the renovation site of Les Halles, where there was a wonderful exhibit of old photos documenting the history of this grand old market.

Once known as "the belly of Paris" Les Halles remained the largest & most important open air market in France up until the mid twentieth century. The 800 year old steel & glass pavilions were the hub of food distribution for the entire city.

Bustling with activity the market was the mother of all French markets & the heart beat of the city of lights.

However, the overriding success of the market came to be it's eventual downfall. Due to traffic congestion bottlenecking the city center & the growing problems of sanitation, the market was shut down & moved to outlying suburbs. 

 The 1960's saw the beautiful pavilions torn down leaving a gapping whole in the landscape that remained vacant for several years to come.

Redevelopment of the area was controversial from the start. Parisians looked on with skeptical curiosity as the "modern" underground shopping mall & metro station began construction.

Unfortunately the hope for the new commercial space was never realized. Claustrophobic & difficult to navigate the colossal design was never embraced by the public & slowly fell into urban decline.

Today Les Halles is undergoing yet another transformation in hopes of uplifting & revitalizing one of Paris' most historic ares. The renovation should be completed by 2016. I look forward to returning to Paris at that time to see just how it has all turned out.

I am linking up with Paulita & her Dreaming of France meme.

The photos above were my shots of some of the oversized photos in the exhibition at the construction site.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Salad for Earth Day

Yesterday, Tuesday April 22, was Earth Day.
With a nod to this occasion I made a salad.

I bought some ramps (or wild leeks) at a farmers market. Although ramps resemble scallions their flavor is a cross between garlic & onions & has deliciously tender leaves. They grow wild from South Carolina up to Canada. The young women who were selling these had foraged for them in the north Georgia woods. 

Using the ramps as inspiration for my Earth Day salad I built it with other locally grown greens, two kinds of kale, arugula & lettuces all found at the same lovely little farmers market .

 I loved these tiny turnips which added a slightly pungent flavor to the rest of the mild & bitter greens.

I dressed the salad with my usual vinaigrette. 

Macerate one clove of garlic in salt & mash at the bottom of a bowl
Add one large spoonful of a good quality vinegar or lemon juice
( when using lemon juice you can also add a dollop of mustard & drizzle of honey but for this salad I just wanted the simplest of flavors )
Then three large spoonfuls of your favorite oil
Mix & voila!

This was certainly a perfect salad to dine on for Earth Day with all of its freshly harvested greens & earthy flavors. But the ramps were indeed the star.

 I like to think that everyday is Earth Day…. in which case ….wishing you a very happy one! 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Le Potager

 I love the French tradition of the potager, or the kitchen garden. With the weather warming & spring in the air, I am thinking of these vegetable gardens so prevalent in the French countryside.

This is the time of year when the soil is tilled, seeds planted & watered & gardens awaken.

I love the smell of the earth & the neat new rows of tiny lettuces, carrots, beans & tomatoes.

I worry sometimes though because the tradition of the potager is for the most part kept alive by the older generation. Not many of the younger generation, with their busy lives & many conveniences, are interested in doing the work that a garden requires.

But for now, I am enjoying daydreaming of their beauty, of springtime & new beginnings.  I  look forward to the time when I will be back in France to see them dotting the landscape, as I know just what treasures they are.

It won't be long now either. I have made my flight reservations & will be traveling to France at the end of May.

With these thoughts of France, the countryside & the potager, I am linking up with Paulita at An Accidental Blog & her Dreaming of France meme.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Angel Oak Tree

There are places in & around Charleston that are favorites of both locals & tourists alike. I have been enjoying the discovery of many of these special locations since my move to Charleston. 
 The Angel Oak Tree on John's Island
 is one such spot. I have been hearing this tree spoken of with great reverence for a long time now & finally I got to see it for myself.

First of all, photographs simply cannot do justice to the sight of this magnificent tree.
One is filled with awe in its presence. I admit to feeling overcome with emotion as I stood under its massive branches.

The Angel Oak Tree is a  Southern live oak, which is native to the South Carolina low country. There seems to be quite a bit of discrepancy about just how old it is. Some say between 400-500 years old while others believe it could be as old as 1500 years. Unfortunately, scientists have not been able to actually calibrate its exact age. 

 Live oaks are not known for their height but for their shade coverage. 
The Angel Oak stands 66.5 ft (20m) tall, & measures 28 ft (8.5m) in circumference. It produces shade covering 17,200 square feet (1,600 meters). The branches are so long that many of them have been propped up to help support their weight, while others grow along & in some cases into the ground. The longest branch measures 187 ft from trunk to tip.

The Angel Oak has been in the news a lot lately, as developers have tried to encroach on its habitat. Luckily though, the Angel Oak has many friends & after years of court battles, conservation groups were finally able to raise enough money to buy the surrounding forest that protects & nurtures the tree.  

One cannot help but feel a sense of reverence as one stands underneath the arms of this majestic tree.

Some believe the Angel Oak to be the oldest living plant in the southeast United States. If you would like to know more about other "oldest" trees & plants these links  *  *  may be of interest to you.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Birthday Wishes

very  HapPy  Birthday 
to our grandson

We loved getting to spend so much time with you.

Hope you have a really awesome day!