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Amsterdam’s Beautiful Meandering Canals in Early Summer

July 8, 2014 by  

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Below is a series of photos of the architecture and culture of Amsterdam.  This summer I was there for a few days in May on my way to Samos Greece and then for a week’s stay on my return form Samos. I learned from a Dutch friend of direct charters from Amsterdam to Samos so we decided to make it our transfer port.

I was moved by the many beautiful canals of this city that lives well with water. My hometown of New Orleans could learn a great deal from the Dutch. This post covers the many interesting doors found on the homes and businesses that line the canals. Here is a collection.

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Our Top Six for Great Bites in New Orleans

June 15, 2014 by  

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Below are our top six meals in New Orleans from meals we’ve had this past year.

High Hat – Cecil’s salad, oyster and fennel soup, seared Gulf fish with shrimp and potato hash. It is located at 4500 Freret Street, (504) 754-1336

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Dominique’s on Magazine - Louisiana Oysters
 cauliflower crème fraiche, scotch bonnet roasted tomato, house-made potato chips; cauliflower soup with duck; Maple Leaf Duck Leg Confit with citrus fleur de sel, frisee, local spinach, pear, apple cider & baudoin cane syrup vinaigrette; Morgan Ranch Braised Wagyu Beef Short Rib 
local root vegetable puree, red wine jus; Almond Nouga  tine
crème praline, house-made pecan vanilla ice cream; chocolate lava cake. It is located at 4213 Magazine St, (504) 891-9282

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Chiba – crawfish fried rice; steamed buns: grouper, oyster, short ribs; shrimp[ tempura, eel and avocado roll, bananas foster egg roll, It is located at 8312 Oak St, (504) 826-9119

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Ba Chi Canteen, spring egg rolls, fries with kim chi, steamed buns: spicy catfish, coconut curry shrimp, vermillicelli with car grilled pork and shrimp. It is located at 7900 Maple St, (504) 373-5628

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Dante’s Kitchen: Duck Ham & Candied Pumpkin Salad with mixed greens, goat gouda, spicy pecans, citrus chili vinaingrette; Steamed Mussels with sweet potato broth, coconut, tomatoes, fennel, tarragon, Ras el hanout; Thit Kho Lettuce Wraps with braised pork belly, Bibb lettuce, housemade XO sauce, pickled carrots, cilantro; Whole Roasted Fish Myanmar Style with ginger, lemongrass, sugarcane broth, shiso-cilantro salad; Dark Chocolate Torte with cayenne chocolate sauce, dulce de leche abuelita ice cream. It is located at 736 Dante St, (504) 861-3121

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Jacque Imo’s – eggplant with oyster stuffing and mushroom cream sauce, spinach salad with fried oyster, garlic snails with pasta, panned rabbit with shrimp tasso pasta, crème bruele. It is located at 8324 Oak St, (504) 861-0886

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46 Musical Acts in New Orleans Do Not Disappoint

May 14, 2014 by  

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We continue to enjoy the variety of music that New Orleans offers. Here are just a few of the 46 acts we have caught so far in 2014 in order of appearance. They illustrate just some of the variety of great music in this city. The fist five are featured in this post and then the next one covers the second five. You can follow the links to learn more about some New Orleans muscians and venues.

The NOLA Loves Philippines Benefit was held at RocknBowl earlier this year.  James Andrews played with the Crescent City Allstars (see below). I had recently seen James at his aunt’s place in Treme, the Ooh Poo Pah Doo Bar.  Also appearing over the winter were the Bone Tone Brass Band, Bucktown AllStars, and the John Gros Band.

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Jon Cleary played his usual great Tuesday solo act at Chicki Wah Wah on doing old school R&B and NOLA standards, as well as his own music.

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We saw Aurora Nealand and Tom McDermott do their Thursday gig at Buffa’s.

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We returned to Buffa’s for their Saturday jazz brunch with the Shotgun Jazz Band. It was a slimed down version of the band with three players.

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We went to Ogden After Hours on 2/20 to see the 101 Drummers with Big Chief Juan Pardo of the Golden Commanches with Lionel Batiste Jr., Ajay Mallory, Boubacaar Cisokoo, and Chris Jones on drums and bongos. T This is just one of  the many Ogden shows we have attended. You can see Juan’s son joining the group below.

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Creole Tomato Festival in New Orleans

May 2, 2014 by  

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Here is a 16″ x 20″ painting of Creole Tomatoes, a species grown in Louisiana. Every June there is a Creole Tomato Festival in New Orleans at the French Market.

The Arts Council of New Orleans has markets which occur generally on the last Saturday at Palmer Park in New Orleans, at the corner of S. Carrolton and S. Claiborne.

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Bright Yellow Lemons from Samos Greece

February 6, 2014 by  

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Here is a 24″ x 24″ acrylic painting of some Greek lemons I took while in Samos Greece this past summer.  Samos is a Greek island in the eastern Aegean Sea, south of Chios, north of Patmos and the Dodecanese, and off the coast of Asia Minor, from which it is separated by the 1.6-kilometre-wide Mycale Strait. Enjoy!

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The Annual Crescent City BBQ Blues Festival

January 19, 2014 by  

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The eight annual Crescent City BBQ Blues Festival was held on October 18 – 20, 2013 at Lafayette Square in the CBD in New Orleans. It was my first one but it will become an annual event for me. There were a mix of New Orleans blues bands and those from elsewhere, mostly the US South.

Great BBQ from a variety of traditions fueled the audience over the three days. On Saturday and Sunday there were two stages with performances timed so one started as the other finished. You did not have to make choices, like many other multi-stage events. You simply had to keep moving from one side of Lafayette Park to the other with no wait time between acts.

Saturday began with New Orleans’ own Guitar Lightning Lee, who played a significant role in the HBO series, Treme. I have seen him in town and he is one of the better blues players in the city.

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Blind Boy Paxton played a solo acoustic set. His strong presence carried the stage without needing an electric band behind him. It was the only solo act and he displayed a wide range of roots blues, playing the fiddle, harmonica, guitar, and banjo.

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Sonny Landreth is a master blues guitar player. However, I had seen him in the New England and was disappointed with the seeming lack of passion at that performance in a Worcester MA parking lot. Perhaps he was out of his element then, as his set at the BBQ Blues Fest did not disappoint. He got that blues guitar working quite well with a lot of energy. An artist did a painting of the band during the performance that was auctioned off for over $3,000 for a worthy cause.

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For me, the highlight of the day was Shemekia Copeland who displayed great passion in her performance. She grew up in Harlem. Her father was a famous blues player, Johnny Copeland, and she grew up with this career in mind. Shemekia told a great story about a talent day in her second grade class in Harlem in the 80s. The boys did hip hop and the girls mostly did Whitney Houston. Instead she sang old school blues. Her teacher called to complain to her parents about Shemekia singing about making love to an alligator, Her simply replied, “what do you expect, she is a blues singer.”

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Top photo credit only of James Cotton from offbeat.com - James Cotton, Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival, 2013, photo by Kim Welsh

Greece: The Magic of Samos Island

January 5, 2014 by  

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The island of Samos Greece has a very long history dating back before the 8th century BC with many waves of settlement. One local site mentions that: “The first settlers in the village of Mytilini on Samos originate from Lesbos. They arrived here around 1700 as immigrants and founded the village after an earthquake destroyed their houses on the island of Lesbos. Mytilini is set in a plain and is surrounded by agricultural fields where mainly grapes are grown for the making of wine and also some tobacco. Mytilini has about 2500 inhabitants, so it is quite large compared to some of the other villages on the island. Still it makes a very quiet impression and there are hardly any tourists here.”

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The town square is the main gathering place, along with the long main street that runs straight through town unlike the twisting and turning roads found in many villages. In the square there are several large screen TVs for sports events. For big festivals people come from other smaller villages to join in the celebration, music and food. Several good restaurants serve the square.  There is also a smaller square right on the main street seen below in the early morning before it gets populated.

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The local movie theater is unlike anything in the US. It has a very neighborhood feel like most things here. People chat and have drinks before hand. It is outdoors in a walled garden with tables next to the chairs. You can order food and drinks to have while watching the movie. You can also see the stars overhead. Most movies are in English with Greek subtitles and there are two intermissions. We had souvlaki with fried potatoes and wine. At the last intermission we enjoyed some wonderful complementary fried beignet type pastries with honey, called Lukomates.

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Shops on the long main street include the super market with both food and household items. Next to it is an excellent produce store with fresh fruits and vegetables of all types, as well as a large variety of nuts. There are many other shops covering a wide variety of goods and music club primarily for young people.

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At the end of World War Two Mytilini had about 7,000 inhabitants. During the four year civil war between the Communists who fought in the resistance and the exiled prior government, the population dropped to about 2,000. There was little work and people went elsewhere, often to other countries. As a result about half the houses in the town are abandoned. Those that are lived in are very well cared for but they are often located next to falling down houses. The houses are built right next to each other and often share a common wall to reduce the amount of construction.

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Above the town, it is very rural with goats, olives groves, and a few donkeys. You can also see the town football field which is on the western side of the town. The local football season runs from the end of September to May as it is too hot in the summer. The teams from towns on the island play each other. The champion of the island then plays the champions from other islands.

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The Village of Mytilini on Greece’s Samos Island

January 4, 2014 by  

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Join me on a visual journey through Mytilini, a mountian village in the island of Samos, Greece. Samos is located a mile off the Turkish coast. Twice I have spent over four weeks there, including this past August and September. Samos is an island that Americans seem to ignore unless they have relatives here. Most visitors are from Northern Europe and they gather in the seaside towns and resorts. Mytilini is a mountain village and tends to mostly bring in visitors who are seeing family.

Mytilene is located in the southeastern part of the island, north and east of the Bay of Gera. It has a land area of almost 42 miles and a population of around 40,000 people. The Greek National Road 36 connects Mytilene with Kalloni. Farmlands surround Mytilene, the mountains cover the west and to the north. Below you can see twenty images that we saw on the many walks we took around town.

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Top photo credit only: lesvos.com

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