Wine, the intellectual part of the meal – Alexandre Dumas

Picture this – a wonderfully sunny day with the perfect temperature, blue skies, at a cottage by a beach, sitting on the patio as the sun sets, immersing yourself in succulent light fare for dinner with friends. On the table are perfectly barbecued meats, possibly some bread, a salad but definitely some wine. There is hardly a social gathering without wine, is there?

Thought to be as old as 6000 BC, wine has come a long way. Part of it , unfortunately is associated with the “frou frouness ” of tasting. Wine writers everywhere have written over and over again that it is just fine to drink what you like and yet with the class of sommeliers, oenologists, wine clubs & vintners, it becomes this self-confidence shaking unnecessarily over hyped experience.

Yes, it is true that if you picked a barolo to go with a meal of a light flaky fish, the taste of the barolo will over power it. The rule of thumb is to stick light with light, full bodied with heavier, meatier dishes. Pick a wine that complements the natural flavor of the food in front of you. If you know what wine went into making the dish, drink the same wine. If a bordeaux was used in the beef bourguignon then drink a bordeaux with it. Think about whether the food you are about to eat is spicy – like Indian or chinese food, more often than not this kind of food will overpower the taste of the wine. It is best to stick to beer in such cases but a spicy and dry wine like a Gewürztraminer works well. Geography can help make decisions easier too, if you are about to eat pasta, stick to the Italian section of your wine list, it narrows down your decision by that much. If all else fails there is nothing wrong in asking your waiter/waitress for a suggestion – ofcourse this only works in places that are not your local TGI Fridays or Applebees.

Wine was made to enjoy, to relish, to savor – strip away the excess and it will leave you with a smooth finish.

Wine, the intellectual part of the meal – Alexandre Dumas

Street Fair a La Fete Nationale

Took some time off from blogging, I have to go back on my word of trying to post everyday. Sometimes, words and pictures fail me – what can I say?

This weekend was rather uneventful for me, except maybe Bastille day on 60th street….it was all things French, read crepes, mimes, can can dancers, raffles giving away trips to Paris and macaroons. There is nothing there that isn’t clichéd and that is exactly why you go to these street fairs.  It is a completely fun way of spending a  sunday afternoon, instead of being curled up in front of the telly. For someone who thinks she is a francophile, this was perfect.

Street Fair a La Fete Nationale

Children…make for amazing subjects

People in general make for amazing subjects but children are even better. There is an exceptional innocence to them that is nonpareil, and translates beautifully in pictures. It is like photographing a perfect reflection in a stationery pool of water. Naughtiness, happiness, sadness, they all just permeate right through to their faces. People in general can be captured that way, as long as they are candid shots. Children are no different, if you let them play or do their thing , unobstructed, and capture them – those are the best shots. My muses are my niece and nephews. Love them to death and they crack me up (remember the Cosby show – Kids say the darnest things?).  They are my most favorite people on earth. Here are some candids and one posed shot….click on the image to enlarge the picture.

Children…make for amazing subjects

Art, food and photography….huh?

Three years ago when I visited the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art, NY) they had a plaque somewhere at the beginning that read …

“What is Painting? Do you sense how all the parts of a good picture are involved with each other, not just placed side by side? Art is a creation for the eye and can only be hinted at with words.”

Photography is not different is it? Considering it is an art form in itself, those words fit. Pictures are a product of a subject and certain elements that collude beautifully.

Food photography is an art form. There are some rules but they are meant to be broken. There are some concepts but in the end you could compose it the way you want. You may want to show abundance but often you want a “tighter” shot. Confusing, isn’t it? As a newbie I definitely am. I have one rule of thumb for photography or art of any kind, if you like it and think you can put it in a frame and hang it and see it everyday as you walk by it and not feel bored, then its a keeper! I’ve experimented with food and photography for a while, some not so good and some not bad at all.  If you are looking for tips on food photography, my go to is Michael Ray’s blog. He is an accomplished and well established food photographer who almost offers a tutorial on his blog for food photography. Here is his blog – http://www.foodportfolio.com/blog/#blog. And here are my experiments with natural light and food.

Do click on the image to view an enlarged version and to read about them.


Art, food and photography….huh?

Photos + Graphe’ = Photograph

Sir John Herschel coined the word,  ‘photograph’ drawn from the Greeks – Photo(light) + graphe’ (representation through lines or drawing) = Photograph(drawing with light). Try saying the word to yourself, it has a distinctly beautiful ring to it, especially when you enunciate ‘ph’. It is truly my favorite word.

I shoot with a Nikon D90, an amateur’s camera, an APS with 12.9 mega-pixels, a larger LCD and higher ISO range than its predecessors. The hope is to graduate to a Full Frame Canon like the Canon 1Ds Mark III or even a Canon 5d Mark II. The D90, is the sturdy bike which comes with training wheels. The training wheels(auto mode) come off and you learn to take pictures in the manual and aperture priority mode with manual focus, a tripod, adjusting ISO, shutter speeds and apertures. All the while experimenting and making more mistakes than good pictures. Your balance is shaky for a while, can’t break in time, you dismount incorrectly….and then after days of riding around you finally nail it. You know the camera inside out, you know the basic principles of good photography, you know exactly what f-stop to choose, and how sensitive your ISO should be and at what aperture, while you adjust your TTL flash or your newly invested speedlite, you know to check the exposure and adjust for it, you know your white balance…on that day, you are left less satisfied than on days you had nothing but bad pictures. Why? Because, today is the day you start yearning for a bigger, better camera with the ability of rendering an image quality on par with pros. I assure you that these days of yearning and inadequacy will continue for the rest of you life. The yearning for the best and latest out there and the inadequacy from the learning curve which comes attached to it.

I take online classes with John Greengo and he had a wonderfully realistic graph on how we graduate from a point and shoot to a Full Frame camera through our life, whilst juxtaposing our perception of knowledge.  Our perception of knowledge is very different from what we truly know, which is why most people believe that if they took some good shots with a point and shoot then they have an “eye” for this. One of the most disconcerting things about photography is that often what you see is not what you can capture. Example, shooting movement of any kind – if you saw it you missed it! But don’t be disheartened, once you grasp the basic principles(light, focus, shutter speeds, composition etc.,) and understand the equipment you require and use, it is possible to capture some of those moments. Simply put, a full frame is only as good as the one who wields it.

Do click on the images to see an enlarged version.

Photos + Graphe’ = Photograph

Spinach & Fontina Bruschetta

I intend posting atleast once everyday, since I missed out on yesterday…its two for one today!

I love food! Enough said, right? Fresh produce, the smell of a bakery or the smell of fresh seafood, its all very intoxicating for me. The closer, something I eat, is to its original flavor profile – the better. I don’t like to take salmon or mussels and cook them in a cornucopia of heady spices, I’d much rather use fresh and citric flavors to enhance the taste of the salmon. I’d rather cook the mussels in butter with white wine, fresh herbs and shallots. I have no qualms using those spices on a piece of tilapia though!

Sometimes making lunch or dinner is just such a chore. I  have often found myself, staring at the contents of my refridgerator, scratching my head. So when something comes along that seems easy and delicious and more importantly doable I dive straight ahead. I do love cooking and baking, there is something cathartic about beating the crap out of dough or the smell of garlic being sautéed in olive oil, or a batch of fresh cookies baking in the oven. I didn’t develop this recipe, I did use Giada de Laurentiis’ recipe (which can be found here – http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/bruschetta-with-fontina-and-greens-recipe/index.html) but I have some minor suggestions. Chopped frozen spinach works just as well and so does kale. If you did not use a garlic clove to rub on the ciabatta – don’t worry about it, it makes a very subtle difference and it still tastes bloody good. I used only one clove of garlic minced because I don’t like garlic to overpower my taste buds and I wanted the fontina to shine through, which it did. Smoked fontina works just as well. Somewhere down the line, you will see I am a cheese head!(no no not a packers fan, just love cheese, stinky and all).

Do click on the picture to see an enlarged version.


Spinach & Fontina Bruschetta