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Category: Culture (page 4 of 27)

Boxing Day Hunts

The first images from today’s Boxing Day hunts over in England are starting to show up on flickr and other news sources, with strong turnouts being reported all over the country:

I always enjoy checking these out after Christmas – see more on flickr.

The Distant Music of the Hounds

Skimming through a new book of E.B. White quotations led me to a short essay he wrote about Christmas, which is luckily available online in The New Yorker’s archive section:

To perceive Christmas through its wrapping becomes more difficult with every year. There was a little device we noticed in one of the sporting-goods stores – a trumpet that hunters hold to their ears so that they can hear the distant music of the hounds. Something of the sort is needed now to hear the incredibly distant sound of Christmas in these times, through the dark, material woods that surround it. “Silent Night,” canned and distributed in thundering repetition in the department stores, has become one of the greatest of all noisemakers, almost like the rattles and whistles of Election Night.

Continue reading more.

While first published in 1949, it still feels relevant today. The essay was later republished in the The Second Tree from the Corner under the title of “The Distant Music of the Hounds”.

The Aran Islands – Another World

My first introduction to the Aran Islands was through the photography of Bill Doyle. Doyle, who passed away last year at the age of 85, was often referred to as Ireland’s Cartier-Bresson and had a knack for artfully capturing the scenes of the world around him. During his trips to the islands, he was able to photograph many of the people and their daily activities and in 1999 a collection of these pictures were published together in a single volume titled The Aran Islands – Another World (while now out of print, it is still possible to find it at affordable prices on the used market).

The book itself seems to also be a main inspiration behind the Inis Meain clothing line, and indeed, just about every Inis Meain stockist I’ve visited seems to have a copy of it on hand. Bill Doyle’s other book, Images of Dublin, is also worth checking out.

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Game Day

Vintage football photography via the Library of Congress (largely from a collection that came from the Chicago Daily News).


La France Travaille – The Seafarers

Published during the early 1930’s to highlight the various trades and professions in France, La France Travaille captures a snapshot of time with photography and essays by a number of noteworthy French writers. There were over a dozen volumes created, and I’ve managed to gather most of them over the past several years – the photos in this first post are from the issue for Gens de Mer (seafarers) and show fishermen, boat crews, and longshoremen, all at work around the coasts of Brittany.

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Hearty Meals for Fall

My favorite season brings my favorite dishes and it’s now time for squashes, chanterelles, slow roasts, and Dogfish Punkin Ale. While I’m always learning new recipes and techniques, there are a set of meals that I routinely make which I’ve pulled from my two main cooking inspirations: Thomas Keller’s cookbooks and Le Pichet, a local restaurant. All of these are relatively inexpensive and easy to make:

Butternut Squash Souprecipe
This recipe is time consuming but worth it. For turning the squash mixture into a soup, I use a food mill instead of a blender (this one in particular) – this works well for most soups I make, and if it’s for an occasion where presentation is important, I also put the soup through a fine sieve to make the texture consistent.

Roasted Chicken on a Bed of Root Vegetablesrecipe
My favorite part about making this is that there is not much of a mess to clean up afterwards – all of the work can be done in a single roasting pan or cast iron roaster and I often just cut up the vegetables right over the pan with a paring knife without bothering with a board.

Baked Eggs (Oeufs en Cocotte)
This is a nice treat for anytime of the day. Basic steps, borrowed from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking: boil some water, turn your oven up to 375F, line the inside of a ramekin with butter, crack two eggs into the ramekin, pour in a little bit of cream or olive oil, add salt and pepper, place the ramekin into a deep sided baking dish, pour the boiling water into the baking dish so that the water comes up to about half the height of the ramekin (this will help the eggs cook through consistently), place the baking dish with the ramekin in it inside the oven for about 10-16 minutes depending on how firm you’d like the eggs to be.

There are countless variations and techniques for this, and you can add all sorts of ingredients. At Le Pichet for example, they have a signature egg dish which is baked under a broiler called Oeufs Plats, Jambon et Fromage (eggs cooked with ham and cheese).

Sauerkraut Platter (Choucroute Garnie)
Choucroute Garnie is very common in France and Germany, and it is basically cooked sauerkraut served with different preparations of pork (I prefer bratwurst, blood sausage, and pork loin). While my method is not this complicated, I like the steps outlined in this piece on Saveur.com and will try it next time I make it:

He began by melting a generous dollop of duck fat in a Dutch oven, the first step in making silky sauerkraut. He pointed out that it’s also important to rinse the choucroute before putting it into the pot: “In the end, the flavor should be delicate, like wine, not brine.” After seasoning the fermented cabbage with salt and pouring in a few cups of dry Alsatian riesling, he added a bouquet garni of bay leaves, cloves, and juniper berries. Now it was time to add the cured pork. There were two types of slab bacon, salty and smoky, and échine, a delicious cut from the back of the pig’s neck that I’m sorry to say isn’t available in the United States. While the pork and sauerkraut baked in the oven, chef Schillinger simmered the sausages on the stovetop: frankfurter-like knackwursts; garlicky, cumin-flecked Montbéliards; and mild, white boudins blancs. A thick round of boudin noir, or blood sausage, was cooked separately and sliced before serving.

Note the use of a bouquet garni, an important part of many preparations. If I have leeks on hand, I make them by binding up the herbs into two wrapped leaves. For a drink pairing with this dish, try a hard cider – my favorite being a recent vintage of the common Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouché Brut de Normandie.


Classe Tous Risques

With help from Criterion I’ve been on a Belmondo kick lately, even watching Pierrot le Fou, a seemingly bizarre art film that I still have not figured out. Classe Tous Risques was much more approachable however, and is a nice bridge between film noir and old gang films. Common for stories of this type, it portrays themes of friendship and loyalty among criminals and unlike many film noir movies, it is fairly gritty.

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19th Century British Military Uniforms

Plate scans from British Military Uniforms by James Laver, published in 1948.

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The Bespoke Driving Suit

Photographer and author Lara Platman recently posted an interesting gallery of pictures showing Marek Reichman being fitted for a vintage inspired driving suit made by Henry Poole & Co. The jacket and matching plus fours are definitely unusual, as are the details you can see built into the jacket, but they will not be out of place when he is wearing them at the Goodwood Revival where it is custom to dress up in period clothing (no modern cars allowed). More information is available in a post on her blog and on the design of the jacket:

The pockets contain leather dividers for spark plugs, tyre pressure gauge and spanners along with a pocket for the oily rag have all been specially placed within the suit…

Very appropriate for the Director of Design at Aston Martin. Also noteworthy – Lara Platman has a new book out on Harris Tweed which I first learned about through James at 10engines. I have a copy on the way from Amazon and hope to do a short review on it later this week.

Goodwood Revival, 2010. Photo by Peter Barwick.

Making of Le Mans

A 14 minute video for your Saturday afternoon.

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