Thursday, September 26, 2013

Music For Autumn

Here in the Washington D.C. area

the weather has turned.

It is beautiful...

brisk & invigorating.

This is one of my favorite times of the year

and for some reason, for me it seems to marry 

perfectly with a couple composers' works.

If you are not already familiar with the piano music of 

Deodat de Severac

you should run to your local store and grab up copies of his works. 

His spirited & colorful depictions of his native Languedoc 

in pieces like - 

En Languedoc,

Baigneuses au Soleil,

and Cerdana


the fresh, crisp beauty 

that is 



Songs from the Auvergne 

seem perfect for this time of year as well. 

"Chants d'Auvergne (French pronunciation: ​[ʃɑ̃ dovɛːʁɲ]; English: Songs from the Auvergne) is a collection of folk songs from the Auvergne region of France arranged for soprano voice and orchestra or piano by Joseph Canteloube between 1923 and 1930. The songs are in the local language, Occitan. The best known of the songs is the "Baïlèro", which has been frequently recorded and performed in slight variations of Canteloube's arrangement, such as for choir or instrumental instead of the original soprano solo." -  Wiki

There are many great performances of 

Songs of the Auvergne.

I have fine recordings by 

Netania Davrath, Arleen Auger, Victoria de los Angeles, and Dawn Upshaw.

Step outside into the changed, dimming light,

and breath some of this fresh air into your lungs. 

Be sure to accompany this with 

some of this brilliant, colorful,

glorious music!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Old Friends/New Friends - Knife in the Water

Many years ago...

when I was a little boy,

I stumbled upon this brilliant Polanski flick.

I was particularly taken by the soundtrack

and scenes of the sailboat out of control 

accompanied by this 

darting, probing 



there is a lot of tension on board 

as a handsome hitchhiker

joins this couple for a sail.

Polanski & Komeda

created a masterpiece here.

One that I have loved 

for many years.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dining in D.C. - Wildwood Kitchen

For many years

I've been enjoying the 

Culinary Artistry of Chef Robert Wiedmaier.

My family and I have had many splendid

meals at the very elegant

Marcel's downtown.

And of course, 

Chef Wiedmaier has been busy with his Belgian themed,  

and more casual restaurants 

Brasserie Beck and Mussel Bar. 

Most recently

we've seen the opening of 

Wildwood Kitchen

in the Wildwood Shopping Center 

in Bethesda. 

I've dined there a number of times and it is 

very, very good!

The ambience is 

modern, casual, and perhaps even a bit rustic.

The service... knowledgeable & friendly.

And the food...

every bite has been delicious!

You must try some of these gorgeous, 

light & crispy Sardines!

They will come as a revelation to many.

The Fennel, Endive, and Shrimp Salad 

was also a lovely way to start off.

Duck freak that I am,

I could not pass up theirs and it was superb!

My brother Eric feasted on their uber unctuous

Short Ribs.

I don't recall if either of us uttered a word 

as we made short order of these fantastic entrees.

For dessert we shared

this Rice Pudding with Lemongrass...

and Wildwood Kitchen's 

chocolate moussey, and crunchy

Kit Kat Bar like dessert 

that chefs have been presenting for the past quarter century or so.

Desserts were very good, 

just a tad less exciting than the savories.

Freshly ground, single origin estate coffee

brewed in French Press was a

perfect way to end the evening!

All in all,

I've been to Wildwood Kitchen three times

and I know I'll be going back again & again. 

How nice to have this quality food, service, and ambience 

in the neighborhood!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Old Friends, New Friends - Low Strung

Welcome back Dear Readers,

Dear Friends.

If you're fond of the music

of rock legends


The Beatles,

The Stones,

or perhaps...

The Who,


think you'd enjoy it performed in a new light...

by an amazing group

of classically trained cellists

for example...


Low Strung 

is just what you're looking for!

Low Strung


11 bright minds,

classically trained 


sharing their view & shedding new light 

on these 20th Century 


These cats swing!

And I know you'll love them!

For more information on 

Low Strung

and to support them in their endeavors

please go to:

and be sure to 

vote for Low Strung 

in the 

Students With Drive Competition


Friday, March 15, 2013

Dining in D.C. - Home or Not So at Home at Range

For many months,

years actually,

I'd been meaning to head north on 270

to Frederick, MD

to Bryan Voltaggio's 

much lauded 


I had heard many good things 

about the place & about Bryan,

but as someone whose blood pressure goes up anytime I venture north of Rockville,

I just never made it there. 

 So I was thrilled when I heard that he was 

opening a place in Chevy Chase.

As always, 

I researched the place before my visit,

and was very excited about all their many, many, (did I say many?!) offerings.  

The menu includes:

Shellfish, Crudos & Caviar, Salumi, Salads, Pastas, Wood Oven items, Wood Grill items, 
Roasted items, 
Sides, a plethora of Desserts and Candies,
 and an extensive & reasonably priced wine list manned by not one BUT two sommeliers!

That said...
I could envision many happy meals there. 

With great anticipation,

I visited RANGE 

about a week ago. 

My experience there was mixed. 

RANGE is located in the Chevy Chase Pavillion on its second floor.

The large, semi circular dining room is glassed in and overlooks the 

Pavillion's atrium, H & M ads, and escalator... 

Not a particularly beautiful view. 

The modern & rather minimalist dining area, something I am usually quite fond of, 
was too monochromatic I'm afraid.

And on the late afternoon that I was there, without a flower or color in sight, 

it reminded me of a nuclear winter. 

The Heavy Metal/Punk like music that accompanied our meal 
was anything but conducive to savoring the beauty & subtlety 
of the food we tasted. 

And we tasted some wonderful things. 

The quality of the ingredients 

and the preparation of the food was all excellent. 

To start off we ordered:

 A half dozen Malpeque Oysters on the half shell

Duck Galantine with Poached Quince

Fluke on a bed of Fregola, with Fennel and Beets

Braised Pork Cheeks with Moustarda

Side of Salsify

The service was not great.

The Galantine arrived first, 
followed by 

the side of Salsify that we'd ordered to accompany our entrees, 

and then a dozen oysters.

(We'd ordered 6, they brought us 12, and when I brought this to their attention,
we were only charged for what we'd ordered.)

Our food was not coming out the way we'd ordered it. 

Just perhaps as it was ready?

Everything, from start to finish, was delicious though. 

Briny oysters. Silken Galantine. 

The cheeks were tender and rich. 

The moustarda a perfect contrast.  

My dining companion's fluke was sweet and perfectly cooked.

Then, if you're fond of sweets, you're in luck.

There are many desserts & candies to choose from.

We chose a 

Lemon Custard/Mango Gelato/Coconut dessert with a bit of passion fruit

and I ordered an espresso. 

The dessert was good BUT looked better than it actually was. 

My espresso arrived at the table without any sugar. 

I requested some, and the waiter returned 5 minutes later with a container filled with

NutraSweet & Sweet'N Lo.

By that time my espresso was cool and he still hadn't brought me sugar. 

Eventually he actually returned to the table with real sugar. 

By that time my espresso was a mute point. 

So my overall experience at RANGE was FAIR only.

Not So at Home at RANGE.

My suggestions for Bryan would include:

1. Change the music.

2. Color the room a bit with flowers and/or colorful pillows.

3. I would beg him to use table clothes and to train the servers to buff the table properly.
As it was, the hard top table was left wet and with crumbs. 

4. We ordered a bottle of sparkling mineral water and never saw it. My glass was rarely refilled. And I was thirsty. I can't stand when restaurants don't set the bottle on the table so I can serve myself if necessary. 

5. Other service glitches... the order of the plates ordered, proper coffee service etc... should be refined. 

The food was very, very good.

The menu is varied and extensive. 

Because of this, 

while I'm not dying to return,

there is so much more on the menu to explore that 

I can see myself heading back for another go. 

I just wish that my first experience there had been better.

When you're spending $50 - $100 per person for lunch 
the service and overall experience really should be superb.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Finally Finding Sugar Man

I watched the 




eventually uplifting

Searching For Sugar Man 

last night and was completely blown away!

Here was this uber-talented 


who, around 40 year ago, 

had written and performed 

all these beautiful tunes...

and I had never heard of him?!?!!?!?!

In the engaging

Searching For Sugar Man

director Malik Bendjelloul

tells the tale of 

Sixto Rodriguez

"the greatest 70's rock icon that never was."

It seems that while no one in the US had heard of him,

everyone in South Africa had!

There he was more popular than Elvis?!?!?!!?

His music reminded me of

Nick Drake,

Jose Feliciano,

and Roy Orbison.

All brilliant songsmiths.

And this great, largely unknown talent,

seemed to have evaporated into thin air. 

Many had heard that he'd shot himself dead during one of his performances.

Others, that he'd lit himself on fire and died in concert.

Fortunately for us...

he was, and is,


and living in Detroit. 

I could not wait to continue listening to him,

and getting to know him.

I ordered all of his available recordings.

You will want to do the same.

Don't miss the Sugar Man, 

his Art, 

and this insightful film!