I was six years old when I came upon Louis Kahn's magnificent creation at the Jonas Salk Institute in California. I first saw the black and white photos in the pages of the Time and Life magazines Mother subscribed to. I carefully cut them out and savored them. Looking back, I don't think I understood the timeless architecture, although that day would come. I wanted to go see it because for me it seemed a fantasy playground.
I was intrigued by the infinity stream flowing the entire length of the courtyard, then falling into pools and the ocean beyond. My imagination ran wild with dreams of racing my bike through the courtyard and playing tag with my friends – a childhood fantasy.
Later, in art and design schools, I studied the structure and functions of Kahn's architecture. I came to understand the Institute's lofty mission of creating a world class laboratory for breakthroughs in medicine. I understood Jonas Salk's place in history as discoverer of the polio vaccine in the 1950s and how the two men worked together to create this campus.
I recently had the opportunity to tour the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. The childhood fantasy was fun but the real thing took my breath away. When you enter the campus you are met by groves of orange and eucalyptus trees and the fragrance of citrus and ocean air. You follow the infinity stream and watch the blue sky merge into the blue Pacific. Then the genius of the architecture comes into focus. I thought about those pictures in the magazines.
That boy in Newark got to realize his fantasy in ways he could never have dreamed.
Living the Al-Fresco Life
"Joey, put the napkins on the table and make sure you have an accurate count!" Mother called out through the screen door as she finished slicing the ripe beefsteak tomatoes for the buttermilk biscuits that were in the oven baking. The weather was warm and we were going to eat outside with friends and family in our North Carolina backyard.
As usual, we had more than enough food – guests brought trays of deviled eggs, casseroles, salads and breads to add to an already full table. I remember my aunts conjuring up two big punch bowls, one for the adults and one for us kids. What a feast we had that evening, with the sky above and B.B. King working his magic on the record player.
Uncle Allen was there that night. I loved to listen to him tell stories about his time in Europe in World War II. Not war stories, but people stories – I was interested in hearing how people live in Europe.
And he told me that in Europe they would dine al fresco. I hadn't heard the term and I asked him what that meant. He told me we were doing that tonight – we were dining al fresco.
I have lived on the West Coast for many years now and I still love dining that way. It's a wonderful way of extending your home into nature. It's amazing what you can do with table and chairs, some flowers, a fun tablecloth and cool napkins.
Twelve Things I Can't Live Without (right now)
Avocado oil – It's rich in Oleic acid, a very healthy fat. Great for cooking.
Tea Tree Tingle body wash – This is an invigorating way to start your day. (www.traderjoes.com)
Perrier water. I keep a stockpile – so refreshing – try the citron (lemon). (www.amazon.com)
Jimmy Choo – Man. Eau De Toilette. This is a great fragrance for day or evening.
Turkish Apricots – Accent salads, poultry dishes, oatmeal etc. A great source of fiber.
My Brooks running shoes for men and women because I spend a lot of time outdoors in Southern California. So comfortable. (www.brooksrunning.com or www.amazon.com)
My Collection of Succulents. Ok, I'll be truthful with you – I haven't mastered the care of them, but I love them and I'm learning.
Beach Candle – Henri Bendel Home, New York. These candles are fabulously scented and burn very slowly. Enjoy!
Earl Grey French Blue Tea – Mariage Freres Paris. I love making iced tea with this blend. (www.mariagefreres.com)
My Throw pillows from Target. If you need a punch of color or texture this is the best bargain in town. (www.target.com)
Art on 30th in San Diego. Thank you Kate, Kerstin and Pam for the warm welcome. I love painting there. (www.arton30th.com)
Last but not least my family: I love you more than you will ever know.
The New Wine Country Cookbook: Recipes from California's Central Coast
by Brigit Binns, 2013. This is a great read and a beautiful book.
Malibu Farm Cookbook: Recipes from the California Coast
by Helene Henderson, 2016. California is known for it's fresh produce year around and this has great recipes.
California Moderne and the Mid-Century Dream
by Richard Rapaport, 2014. A must read if you're a modern and mid-century novice or collector this will keep your interest to the last page.
Gamla Stan Surprise
Ah, finally after the long plane ride, a well needed slumber and a strong cup of coffee, I am ready to meet Stockholm.
I don't have much of a first-day agenda, but my rule of thumb is to visit the central city first and move out from there.
So I am headed to Gamla Stan, Swedish for The Old Town, on an island across from bustling downtown Stockholm. You can walk across a short bridge or you can take the Tunnelbana to the Gamla Stan stop, and when you set foot you are on cobblestone streets. This is where Stockholm started in the 13th century.
The island is a Euro-tourist's dream – a whimsical but prosperous medieval capital city, with narrow, winding, beautifully clean streets and alleys lined with charming shops and cafes in centuries-old buildings, a host of magnificent cathedrals, and as befits a capital city, a Royal Palace.
The Royal Palace is one of the city's leading sites and a big tourist draw. I got caught up in a crowd moving uphill toward the Palace and I decided it was best to go with the flow. Was this a normal tide of tourists or was there something special going on?
As we got closer there were sounds of a military orchestra and the staccato clatter of precisely paced horse shoes. I noticed that people were taking out their devices and becoming excited. The music grew louder and there was a commotion ahead.
When we reached the top of the hill we suddenly came upon the Royal Guards of Sweden, passing in front of us. Is this what's called the Changing of the Guard? Why yes, it is, the woman next to me said.
The men (and women) in their beautiful royal blue uniforms with their precise white piping with black leg length boots paraded by. I was particularly taken by their gold and silver Royal headdress, regal and distinctive.
It was an honor to witness the graceful, elegant procession towards the Royal Palace. Every spectator was quiet and respectful, but with the last flourish the crowd broke into a rousing cheer.
I was very lucky to have come upon this glorious pageantry, purely by following the tourist flow. That's how things sometimes happen when you're in another country – go with the flow and you'll be surprised.
Do You Tagine?
Entertaining at home is a gesture of love you share with family and friends. Opening your home to others is opening your heart and making memories happen.
When choosing a menu for a meal with friends, I like to include a little adventure, an element of surprise, something unexpected. A Moroccan dish can fit the bill.
I was very fortunate to have a friend share her knowledge of tagine cooking with me some years ago. Tagine is a stew cooked in a clay pot on top of the stove. The distinctive cookware, made or clay or ceramic, is also called a tagine. They're available online at Amazon.com.
This is an ancient method of cooking, originating with the Romans in North Africa. You use very basic ingredients – start with tender meat, add succulent vegetables, simmer in a buttery sauce with herbs, fruits, chilies and honeys in any proportion you desire. It's pretty close to a fool-proof dish.
Tagine cooking is slow cooking, so keep the heat level to a simmer. If it's too hot you could break the clay pot. Be careful!
When the dish is ready, serve it right out of the tagine. Tagines have their own unique shape and design that brings smiles to your company's faces.
Serve it with a green salad and a white wine.
SPICY CHICKEN TAGINE WITH APRICOTS, ROSEMARY, AND GINGER
From the book Tagine: Spicy stews from Morocco. This tagine is both fruity and spicy, though not too hot. The ginger and rosemary give a wonderful aroma! It can be made with chicken pieces, (I use boneless skinless breasts) pheasant or duck. Serves well with a buttery couscous and a leafy salad.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 sprigs rosemary, 1 finely chopped, the other 2 cut in half
- 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 red chilies, seeded and finely chopped
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
- ¾ cup dried apricot
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 (14 ounce) can plum tomatoes or 1 (14 ounce) can whole tomatoes, with their juice
- sea salt
- fresh ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons fresh basil, shredded
- Heat oil and butter in a tagine or heavy-based casserole dish.
- Stir in ginger, onion, chopped rosemary, and chilies and sauté until the onion begins to soften.
- Stir in halved rosemary sprigs and the cinnamon sticks.
- Add chicken and brown on both sides.
- Toss in the apricots and honey.
- Stir in plum tomatoes with their juice.
- Add a little water if necessary to ensure there is enough to cover the base of the tagine and submerge the apricots.
- Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to low.
- Cover with a lid and cook gently for 35 - 40 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle shredded basil over chicken.
- Serve immediately.