Africa, Asia, Auer Chocolates, California, Caribbean, Central America, Europe, Latin Grammy, Los Angeles International New Music Festival, Mezcal, Middle East, North America, Song Hong Chamber Ensemble of Hanoi, South America, Tambuco Percussion Ensemble, Travel
Today is the first anniversary of my LA International New Music Festival blog. What a rewarding journey thus far – I’m making a great meal tonight to celebrate, as your encouraging readership is the best surprise imaginable!
88 countries around the globe. 5300 readers for 49 posts. 20 countries from Asia, 16 from the Americas (North, Central and South), 31 from Europe, 8 from Africa, and 5 from the Middle East. But let’s not stop there. God bless the island countries of Planet Earth for adding 8 more locations from Mayotte to Jamaica, Cape Verde to Mauritius. I should have started this sooner!
A big THANK YOU to all my readers!
I’ve reached 88 countries around the world, with 20 in Asia. Vietnam, Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Philippines, Laos, India, Taiwan, Indonesia, New Zealand, South Korea, Cambodia, Myanmar, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and the Las Vegas rival of Macao.
A great believer in the concept of the Americas, from North to Central to South, I’ve reached the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Belize, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador.
As my most recent posts have gone back to my student days in Vienna, I’m happy to share the 31 European countries that enjoy reading my blog. Sure, it’s a mixed up train schedule list of countries from the UK to Scandinavia and the Balkans, Eastern and Western Europe (after reading Finnegans Wake cover to cover Europe will never be the same, ever). Here goes: The UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Switzerland, Russia, Austria, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Norway, Portugal, Greece, Slovenia, Armenia, Macedonia, Ukraine, Ireland, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Denmark, Georgia, Estonia, Kyrgyzstan, and Azerbaijan
And thank God for island nations in the oceans of earth. So far 8 read my posts and I hope to visit them all! Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mauritius, Cape Verde, Panama, Barbados, and Mayotte (which is an island above Madagascar that remains a French colony, according Google, which seems to know everything).
And who knew? The Middle East and Africa are also taking a look at my posts: Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Benin, South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Cameroon, Algeria, Sudan, Angola.
Food and travel are also part of my posts, as I launched my blog on September 17th for good luck. Today would have been my mom’s 96th birthday and I think she’s watching out for me even now. But growing up in a restaurant was a sure fire way to master multi-tasking, skills I’ve translated into running an ensemble.
The main idea of my blog is to answer the most often asked question I’ve received for almost 30 years now. “How do you make your programs?” One thing I can tell you for sure is that ideas need company, and company means food and drink. Very little on Planet Earth is independent so talking over ideas is part of the job.
So I thought I’d go into some global cuisine eye-candy for fun!
Sometimes a digression becomes the point. I’ll be back writing about Vienna, Bayreuth and Old Hollywood very soon. And here’s one clue as to how I program. After passionate research, thought and reflection, nuance and decisiveness have to meet. And often you need to just do the obvious, but all the preparation gives you confidence when you face the music.
And after all I was born in Los Angeles and today is my mom’s birthday. She gave me insight into the obvious of where I was born. Hollywood.
Knowing that Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall thought highly of her and asked that she serve their Hollywood wedding reception just feels better each passing year. But Slim passed away this year, on my wife’s birthday of August 12, just as John Cage had done in 1992. It makes honoring these inspirations even more straightforward. It’s an obvious moment for Jan and me today.
So I’m cooking an entree in my mother’s pot of a chicken in sake and dashi broth (mom would have loved my experimenting and Japan has been on my mind a lot lately, another blog post to come). We have shiso leaves growing in our garden and I’ve rubbed the chicken with our favorite Japanese taste and togarashi pepper from Asakusa in Tokyo. There is a sake shop in San Francisco that had a sake in stock we have searched for for years, as it’s the favorite brew of our best friends in Japan, Ippei and Mitsuyo Matsumoto. Finally tracking a bottle down here in the States after 14 years of searching will be a joy tonight with dinner!
The hors d’oeuvres (mom spoke culinary French) is Celery Victor, which was dreamed up in San Francisco by Chef Victor Hirtzler of the St. Francis Hotel, where my mom worked very briefly in the 1930s before settling in LA. Braise the celery in a great chicken stock (ask me for my secret) and mix a vinaigrette with Dijon and the poaching liquid and chives. Chill and serve with celery leaves as a garnish. An Old School taste.
For dessert I’d frozen cherries from the Hollywood Farmers Market in June. My mom loved cherries, something she passed on to her son. My parents even retired to Cherry Valley, east of LA, and I’ve always thought the name of the small farming town had something to do with their decision. Poach the cherries in a little water, then heat separately some black currant jam and kirschwasser. Mix and chill (there is a theme here – prepare ahead of time for a great meal). And we’ll whip some cream to top it off and live it up.
And then do the obvious. Watch a movie in honor of two of my mom’s favorites.
If there was a night for us to watch To Have and Have Not in honor of Bacall’s passing with today being my mom’s birthday, this would be the night.
And like a great concert program, just do the obvious out of all the choices you can make. Or like my blog, go ahead, launch yours on an auspicious date for you. I’ll be back to regular posts later this week, roaming from Vienna to Bayreuth and reporting on a recent trip to San Francisco. And look for new stories from Old Hollywood courtesy of some wonderful family photos I’m scanning.
Mae West was right. You only live once, but if you do it right, once should be enough.
Thanks for reading and giving my blog its Happy First Anniversary!
Best, best, best,