Sunday, August 1, 2010


This Sunday in the Valley is a special one, because it's my husband's birthday. It's been a lovely day--even though poor boy had to work--and tonight we'll celebrate at our favorite restaurant, Bistro Maison. Fabulous French food, excellent wine list. Can't wait! 

We've had gorgeous weather this weekend: cloudy, cool mornings and sunny afternoons, highs around 80. The mornings were perfect for gardening and the afternoons for reading and napping. I made a batch of marionberry jam (as addictive as crack!) this morning. Marionberries taste like a cross between a blackberry and a raspberry, and make the most fabulous jam. In fact, my marionberry jam is the only thing I've ever made that has been served in a fine restaurant. A chef friend used a jar of it to make a sauce for a wine dinner. I even got credit on the menu!

I've been re-reading Brideshead Revisited this week. I had recently read Mad World, an account of the Lygon family who were the inspiration for Brideshead. Evelyn Waugh has long been one of my favorite authors. I love his acerbic wit, his close observation of social mores--the anthropology of the drawing room and the cocktail party, as well as his use of language. I know some find him snobbish and mean, but I rather like that. The people he skewers generally deserve it. 

When I first read Brideshead (my paperback has photos from the PBS Masterpiece Theatre series on the cover, so more than 20 years ago), I was barely older than the youthful Charles and Sebastian. Now I, like Charles the narrator, am middle aged. It brings a new perspective to the book, and a different way of identifying with the characters. I always appreciated Waugh's wit, but underrated his compassion and humanity. The gentle, elegiac tone of Brideshead is inexpressibly moving.

These photos show the progression of Friday night's sunset--really a spectacular display. Clouds blew in at the last minute, cooling things down and providing a wonderful palette for the setting sun. 

Since I began this post, we went to dinner at Bistro Maison. Incroyable. A half bottle of Taittinger to start, then an enormous Antipasto plate with French ham, anchovies, potato-chickpea salad, roasted tomatoes and red peppers, salade, and bufalo mozzarella, accompanied by a bone-dry Sancerre. I had moules frites as my main dish, and the birthday boy had wild river-caught sturgeon with saffron beurre blanc, this accompanied by a half-bottle of Gigondas. For dessert, I had the chocolate lava cake with cherry amaretto ice cream and fresh cherries macerated in amaretto; birthday boy had a tasting of tawy ports--10, 20, 30, & 40 years old, with a bar of Schaffenberger 70% cacao chocolate. We are now sitting stupefied in the garden. 


This post has been rather disjointed. Highlights of the week: watching hummingbirds feed on the monarda, finches on the cornflowers, and chickadees at the bird feeder. Book group, with great discussion and much wine, topped off by a beautiful moon rise. A weekend of domestic joys, crowned with a stupendous dinner in honor of the love of my life. It doesn't get much better.

1 comment:

  1. Marionberries you say? I must find a batch.

    Happy BD to himself,and many happy more.

    What are your thoughts on Waughs correspondent Nancy Mitford. Penguin has just, or is about to release 5 of her classics