Home: Settled in….

It has been 3 weeks since we returned from Europe.  We hit the home front running:  Liz had a couple of catering gigs and returned to work at the law office.  We checked in on our condo in Park City and realized that our dishwasher no longer wished to work.  Nutcracker rehearsals and performances got under way and we spent Thanksgiving with Brett and Teri at their home in Mountain Green.  After the Nutcracker run, we started rehearsals for the annual Xmas concert at Ellen Eccles Theater.  I have two dances to play over the Xmas holiday; a big band dance and a funk band New Year’s Eve gig.  This winter (Feb), Liz and I will play a Valentine’s Day concert, and the run of My Fair Lady at the Ellen Eccles Theater.  Leaping Lulu, Liz’s celtic band, will play monthly dances which will culminate in their annual celtic celebration of music and dance in March.

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It is also time to line up the spring portion of the sabbatical.  Liz and I will leave March 18 and head to California.  I will be guest artist at University of the Pacific and will attend a band festival at Fresno State.  We will then head to our rented house in Cloverdale for 5 weeks.  I will be teaching lessons and conducting masterclasses at Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College.  When not “working”, we plan to taste wine through out the Sonoma and Napa Valley regions.  On April 1, we will travel to McMinnville, Oregon and try out Pinot Noir for which the region is famous.  We will end our trip visiting Liz’s folks and our dear friend Jack Maze in Vancouver, and Murali and Charlotte Venkataraman in the Okanagan Valley, BC.  We will stop off in Walla Walla Washington on our way home.  (The reds in Eastern Washington are pretty yummy.)  We should arrive home on May 14.

I will blog sparingly for the next few months, but will try and post pics as cool things happen.  Enjoy the Holidays and I will blog again in the New Year!

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Home!

A funny thing happened on the way to the airport.  We were planning on checking in online, and found out that about 1 month ago, Delta decided to scale back direct flights from SLC-CDG, and back.  Problem was, they never notified us.  So, Tuesday morning, I checked online to see how things were going for our Wed flight (Our plan was to check out of our apt on Tuesday and stay at a CDG airport for our Wed 10:45am departure).  We had been rebooked on at 1:45pm flight on Wednesday which connected in Seattle, arriving in SLC at 7:30pm.  Drag.

So, we packed up and took the RER to the airport.  We would then take a free hotel shuttle from CDG to the hotel.  But, since we were at the airport anyway, we decided to see a Delta agent and ask WTF?  Turns out, there was a Tuesday direct flight to SLC that we had just missed.  Is there a Seattle connecting flight this afternoon (Tuesday)?  Why yes, there is.  Well, we are here at the airport.  Let’s cancel the hotel and fly home.  We even ended up in Business Class for the Seattle to SLC leg of the flight.  In the end, we rolled into home at 10:05pm, and had been up for 22 hours.  Long day.

Interested in the numbers?  Here we go:

Almanac second half – Rained both days in Reit Im Winkl, Germany and threatened or did rain every day in Edingen (Heidelberg).  Gloomy in Kassel, and rained one day in Weimar, but gloomy the other 3 days.  Berlin rained 2 days, gloomy the other two.  Champagne was sunny all 4 days, and one rainy day out of 7 in Paris.

We stayed in 28 towns between Aug 2-Nov. 9.  The average was 3 nights.  We stayed at 16 airbnb’s, 1 bed and breakfast, 3 times with friends or relatives, at 2 airport hotels, and 8 hotels overall.  We traveled with Brett and Teri for about 10 days, stayed 2 nights with the Davis’s, 2 nights with Iris in Kassel, and 4 nights with our relatives in Scotland.  We averaged $108 per night, US dollars, for accommodations.

We spent a total of about 3 weeks in Austria, 2 weeks in Italy, 3 weeks in Germany, 4 weeks in France,  1 week in Ireland, just over a week in the rest of the UK, 4 nights in the Netherlands and 2 nights in Belgium.  We had the car for 60 days and logged 6700 Kilometers.  We also had a car for 5 days in Ireland.  I estimate that we purchased @4 cases of wine in all of the various wine regions.  We drank all of it…..except the 4 we brought home.

This has been a fabulous trip.  We performed and attended concerts.  We hit museums and points of interest.  We tasted wine from so many notable wine regions.  After 3 months, it was time to come home.  For the next few months, we will be playing concerts, celebrating the holidays with family and friends and awaiting our next big sabbatical trip (mid March to mid May:  California and Canada.

I may or may not blog the spring trip.  I have thoroughly enjoyed blogging this trip, to be sure.  I hope that you have enjoyed following along.  We were safe and happy the entire time.  Europe and the UK are wonderful places to visit.  I highly recommend it!

Food Issue……

As promised, Liz and I, along with Bill and Beth Saul, had lunch at Auguste, a single star Michelin restaurant in Paris.  The price fixe lunch special was 3 courses (Entree, Plat, Dessert) for 37Euro.  The menu was as follows:

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If you don’t speak French, the menu included a choice of gazpacho or pate in a pastry; fish or chicken, and yellow plums or Grand Marnier souffle for dessert.  Of course, we start with an amuse bouche (amuse your mouth).

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Buckwheat tartlette with caviar and cauliflower mousse with potato crisp. ( Liz apologizes for fuzzy pics.  Tough to get a good shot with the wait staff hovering.)

Since there were two choices for each course, we were able to taste both menus.  The gazpacho was cold tomato soup, with avocado and heirloom red and yellow tomato.  A white cheese sorbet was served on the side.

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The greenery was an anise sprig or two.  The other appetizer was a pate loaf in puff pastry served cold with pickled onions, consomme jelly and baby parsley.  Grape reduction sauce was then poured over the pate.

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Liz had pollack with artichokes, baby onions and asparagus in cherry foam sauce sprinkled with tempura anchovies.

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I opted for the parmesan crusted chicken, with onion, asparagus, and mushrooms served with a yellow carrot puree.

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We paired this lunch with a Riesling from Alsace, France.

For dessert, I had yellow plums,  with white chocolate whipping cream, white chocolate leaf and yellow plum puree.

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Liz (of course) chose the Grand Marnier Souffle.  It was accompanied with a white cheese sorbet.  I was able to have one very small spoonful.

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Finally, with coffee, they served a tiny almond tart.

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We agreed that the soup, fish and souffle were our favorites.  Yet another fabulous meal on our European adventure!  This too caps off the Paris portion of our trip.  Tomorrow, we take the RER train back to CDG.  We stay the night in Roissy en France (the little town next to the airport) and shuttle over to the airport bright and early on Wed morning.  I will send one final blog upon arrival in Utah.  See you back over the pond!

Paris!

I figured I would wait another day or two and post Paris all at once.  But a bit of down time on Sunday evening allows me to blog about this city, albeit with only one day to go (That day being Monday.  Lunch at Auguste will take place and I will send a food blog about that Mich Star restaurant shortly there after.).

As aforementioned, we dropped off the car last Tuesday and made our train trip into St Germain/St Michel area.  Our one bedroom apartment is 96 steps up on the 5th floor, facing the courtyard.  We set out that afternoon to the theater where we would be hearing a flute recital on Sunday (today).  We figured we would get our tix printed but alas, they were closed.  It was a beautiful day and the walk along the river was particularly nice.

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So was the view of the Eiffel Tower, located near the theater where said flute recital would be taking place:

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We had also purchased tickets to hear the Orchestre d’ Paris, the first class philharmonic in Paris.  The concert consisted of Berlioz Romeo and Juliet, 4 Interludes from Peter Grimes by Britten, and Pelleas et Melisande Suite by Debussy.  The brand new concert hall is out on the ring which was a 30 minute train ride from downtown.  The orchestra played exquisitely; the lighter French orchestral style was a stark contrast to the German style of playing heard in most American Orchestras.

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Since we heard Berlioz live, we figured we might as well visit him dead as well:

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On Friday evening, we had hoped to get tix to the Ballet, performed by the Paris Opera at Palais Garnier.  It was sold out, at least on line, but we had heard that you might be able to get tix if you showed up on game day.  So, over we went and sure enough, scored two balcony seats for 10euro each.  This theater is at least as grand as La Scala:

The side hall, the entry way area, the front, the stage, and a buffoon:

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Here is the program:

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The dancing and playing were second to none.  All I can say is WOW.  On Saturday, there was a free organ concert at Notre Dame.  What is clear was that this was one of 9 concerts that were competitive.  We never found out what the competition was for, but since all of organists listed seemed like seasoned veterans, we figured maybe it was concert auditions for the organ gig at the church.

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Our concert was Samedi 5 novembre listed above.

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I posted a night time shot of the front of the church in my last post.  Here is a pic from the back, along with a shot of the organ:

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We did the usual stuff starting with Sacred Heart:

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And St. Sulpice:

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That triumphant arc thing:

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The Louvre:

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Moulin Rouge:

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And nearby, the last standing moulin in Paris:

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Musee d’Orsay:

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And the Rodin Musee:

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Finally, Sunday morning (today), we hit the flute recital.  Pahud is one of the premier soloists of our day, and is the soloist for the Berlin Philharmonic:

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Flute and guitar was a nice change to the usual flute and piano recital.

That’s it for now.  Stay tuned for the lunch extravaganza tomorrow.  I hope to have some phab, phoodie, photos!

The Running Tally….

This sabbatical trip is all about music…..and wine.  I mentioned all of the wine regions that we have visited in a previous post.  But I haven’t tallied the concerts we have experienced.  Here is a list, as far as the memory goes:

Eisenstadt, Austria – 3 concerts – Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn

Vienna, Austria – 1 concert, Haydn

Pottersdorf, Austria – 1 concert, Haydn

Dublin, Ireland – 3 pub concerts

Cork, Ireland – 1 pub concert

Galway – 1 pub concert

Gourock, Scotland – 1 Celtic Festival

London –  3 concerts – Evensong, The Book of Mormon Musical, Bruckner at The Proms (Royal Albert Hall)

Amsterdam – 1 Play, 1 dance recital in the park, 1 Organ recital

Brussels – The MIM – Musical Instrument Museum

Bordeaux, France – Organ Recital – Bach, Reger

Milan, Italy – La Scala – B Britten – The Turn of the Screw

Luca, Italy – Puccini aria recital

Venice, Italy – Vivaldi 4 Seasons

Innsbruck, Austria – Early Music Ensemble – Bach, Handel and Vivaldi

Berlin, Germany – Berliner Philharmonic Lunch Series and evening concert – Mozart, Enescu

Paris, France – Orchestre de Paris – Berlioz, Debussy, Britten,  Organ Recital at Notre Dame, trying to get tix to Ballet (Opera d’s Paris) at Palais Garnier for Friday night.

I think that  that covers the biggies.

We had plenty of company on this 3 month journey:  Brett Perozzi and Teri Bladen spent the Italy leg of the trip with us (10 days), we met up with Dirk and Paula Davis from Logan in Germany (2 nights), spent 2 nights with our new friends (that we met in Brunate/Lake Como) Iris and Alfons in Kassel, Germany (2 nights), and ate dinner and a Michelin Star lunch (this coming Monday at Auguste) with Bill and Beth Saul (from Logan) in Paris.

We still have a few days to go and are enjoying our time in Paris.  I will end this blog with a pic or two from “Par-ee”.

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I will post the Paris blog on Monday or Tuesday evening.  We fly back on Wed, Nov. 9.  Til then!

Champagne!

I blog to you from Paris, where we have already changed our clocks by falling back one hour.  Our drive from Hautvillers, France to CDG took about 1:45 min and turning in the car took about 3 minutes.  A shout out to short term leasing in the Euro zone with AutoEurope.  I highly recommend, and much less expensive than a regular rental (when hiring a car for such a long period of time).  60 days and 6700 kilometers later, we turned the car in, in pristine condition.

I haven’t been a big fan of champagne so spending 4 days in the region seemed a bit overkill.  But, a little knowledge and a lot of champagne goes a long way toward changing your mind!  Hautvillers is the cradle of champagne making, started by the monk Dom Perignon back in the 16 whatevers.  I start with the church/abbey in town where he is buried, and a short history (via pic) of the robed dude himself.  Here is his tomb and the history:

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Two monks buried here, and DP is on the left.  A close up:

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I think it says, “Here lies Dom Perignon. Try not to piss him off”, or something like that.  And the history:

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Notice the mention of St. Helena.  In Napa Valley, St Helena is one of the wine towns along the Napa road through the vineyards.  Ultimately, the Moet and Chandon families merged and took over Dom Perignon Champagne.  Although the bottling is done in Hautvillers, the caves and killer chateau are in nearby Epernay (10 min drive).

Here are some shots from around the Hautvillers area vineyards.  Our apartment is right in town and we walk a mere 100 meters to any of these locales:

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We didn’t expect the spectacular fall colors on the grape vine leaves.  I figured that by Nov, all of the leaves would have dropped, but alas, it was beautiful.

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In the above pic, the town in the distance is Epernay.  And of course, there are no towns nor vineyards with out a river; the river Marne which winds through the valley:

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We visited 7 wineries during our stay.  We first visited St Helena, one of only 7 that is run by a woman.  Not bad stuff.  We then stopped at Tribaut which had very good champagne.

Here’s the deal:  Reserve, Premiere and Grand Cru, all made to specification.  Slope of the vineyards often makes the difference between Premiere and the good stuff.  All 3 are quite good, however.  Entry level runs about 17Euro for Reserve, and from there, the sky’s the limit, as they say.  Champagne region only grows 3 grapes:  Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier.  The last grape is used to sweeten things up a bit.  So, most typically, they make a 100% Chard, a 100% Pinot, a Chard/Pinot blend, and a blend of all three Chard/Pinot/Meunier.  We liked some more than others, depending on the Vinter, not the grape combination.  Here is a typical menu from Tribaut, and a shot of our tasting:

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In Hautvillers and the surrounding villages, a tasting is 5Euro, and you choose any 3.  Pours are generally about 2.5 ounces, and you sit for an hour or so and enjoy each one.  It is more of a social event than a regular taste/spit/move on scene.  Locals come in and drink champagne more like one would at a wine bar.  And they usually order a bottle to drink right on premises.  Very laid back, and very social.  The big vinters like Moet Chandon are located in Epernay, and charge $15-30 for a tasting.  It includes a wine tour as well.   (The big wineries are housed along Rue de Champagne in Epernay.  Underneath the town are some 120kilometers of interconnecting caves.  Quite amazing.)  But, you only need one wine tour, so we decided to stay local, and visit with Daniel Etienne, who gave us a private tour.  His champagnes were some of the nicest we tasted:

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We took the pics after our tasting as a large group had come through for a tour.  We hadn’t taken any photos the first time through, so we tagged along and grabbed a few shots during the later tour.  His winery overlooked the Marne and was beautiful.

We ended up visiting a couple of more wineries over the next day or so and bought 3 bottles.  We plan to bring one bottle home for the upcoming holidays.  Finally, we had stayed away from the spirit that all of the wineries make; Ratafia.  It is a slightly sweetened liqueur or apertif style drink.  I figured it would be too sweet and didn’t opt to taste it….til the last day.  Needless to say, we bought a bottle to bring home.  Stuff is great!  It will be nice at Xmas with the clan.

So, to sum up wine tasting:  Loire Valley, Bordeaux, Aix en Provence, Cinque Terre, Marche region of Ascoli Piceno, Veneto (Venice region), Rhine Valley, North region of Germany, Champagne region.  We are allowed 4 bottles back into the US (None into Utah!)  So we will bring back the Ratafia, a Champagne (Etienne), an Amerone (Italy), and a Bordeaux Grand Cru.  Should be a fun Xmas!

One last blog to go:  Paris.  Ta Ta for Now!