Saturday, 4 December 2010

"O Holy Night" sung by Jussi Björling

The great - maybe the greatest of them all - Swedish tenor Jussi Björling´s rendition of  "O Holy Night" (sung in Swedish) has been part of my Christmas as long as I can remember. There is not better version of this beautiful song!

"O Holy Night" is included in this 2CD package of some of Björling´s finest recordings.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Brideshead Revisited

"Waugh's most deeply felt novel . . . Brideshead Revisited tells an absorbing story in imaginative terms . . . Mr. Waugh is very definitely an artist, with something like a genius for precision and clarity not surpassed by any novelist writing in English in his time."
 New York Times

Best series ever
Washington Post

Evelyn Waugh´s magnificent novel was dramatised by British Granada Television in the early 80´s. The series - altogether thirteen hous of television, shot enterily on location - deservedly became a huge success, and is, at least in my opinion, unsurpassed by any other television dramatisation.

Evelyn Waugh described his novel in a note to Lady Dorothy Lygon (the original model for Lady Cordelia Flyte):

"I am writing a very beautiful book, to bring tears, about very rich, beautiful, high born people who live in palaces and have no troubles except what they make themselves and those are mainly the demons of sex and drink which, after all, are easy to bear as troubles go nowadays".

Sadly, the technical quality of the complete series discs is not as good as one could wish, but nevertheless, this series is a must for everybody who enjoys watching quality television.

Here is an excerpt from the Granada television production:

Watch a documentary on the making of Brideshead revisited:

Thursday, 2 December 2010


A type of folk music that originated in the southern United States, typically played on banjos and guitars and characterized by rapid tempos and jazzlike improvisation.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language

My first live experience of American bluegrass music dates back to the late 70´s, when I heard the great banjo player J.D. Crowe and his New South perform at the Birchmere in Washington DC. I liked what I heard, and later there were many more visits to this legendary music hall, which still seems to be a lively place - although with less bluegrass music than in earlier times.

Here is one of my favourite Crowe pieces. It is nice to note that J.D. Crowe is still around and active.

The "father of bluegrass", the legendary Bill Monroe is not anymore with us, but his music lives on.

The Panama Hat

For us living in northern Europe, summer seems very far away. Still it is nice to think about, and plan for the warm season. On those sunny days you need a good hat, an original Panama hat, made in Equador! My own Panama hat was stolen last summer, so I have placed an order for a new one here.

A little bit of history:

When the Spanish conquerors arrived to what nowadays are known as the provinces of Guayas and Manabí on the Ecuadorian coast, they observed native Indians using straw hats which covered their ears and necks. These hats looked like headdresses, similar to those used by the nuns or widows in Europe at the time. It is this similarity that gave the hats the name of "Toquillas" (headdress in Spanish) and resulted in the straw from which they were made to be called "Toquilla Straw".
According to the legend, this native hat obtained its name when Teddy Roosevelt participated in the inauguration of the Panama Canal (1913). During the event he received an Ecuadorian straw hat as a gift, and without knowing the true origin, he thanked his guests for the gift mentioning it as a "Panama Hat".

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Yes, I left my heart in San Francisco ...

San Francisco is one of those magic places you just cannot forget. And there is no better singer to perform the famous song than the great Tony Bennett!

(Image by


Right now the Irish do not seem to have many reasons to smile, but one hopes that there is still some room for this.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Dido´s Lament

Dido´s lament from Purcell´s first and only all-sung opera Dido and
is one of most beatiful operatic arias. The opera was first
performed in 1689 at a girl´s schoool in Chelsea, London and is also
considered to be the the oldest known English opera.

Here the aria is performed by the Dame Janet Baker. The
recording may not be the best possible, but it does not detract from
Dame Janet´s superb singing and acting.



Thy hand, Belinda, darkness shades me,

On thy bosom let me rest,

More I would, but Death invades me;

Death is now a welcome guest.


When I am laid, am laid in earth, May my wrongs create

No trouble, no trouble in thy breast;

Remember me, remember me, but ah! forget my fate.

Remember me, but ah! forget my fate

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Memories of La Tante Claire

The name Pierre Koffmann has been synonymous with the finest French
food in England for the past 35 years.

Nick Lander/FT 2007

Like a legendary rock star going back on the road for one last triumphant tour, Koffmann has returned to his roots, while playing all the big hits.
Tracey MacLeod, The Independent Magazine

Eating in Michelin star restaurants is not something I do very often. This is mostly due to the fact that these restaurants are nowadays so outrageously expensive that you have to be either affluent or in possession of a large expense account in order to frequent them.

Fortunately, it was not always so.

Back in the late 80´s and early 90´s, while living in London, I had the privilege – and it was really a privilege –  to be one of the regular customers at Pierre Koffmann´s now legendary “La Tante Claire” in Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea. Mind you, it was not cheap, but e.g. lunches were not more expensive than in many other nearby restaurants. “La Tante Claire” was probably the closest to a perfect restaurant that I will ever experience. The food was out of this world – who could forget Koffman´s stuffed pig´s trotter with morels! - the service always friendly and highly professional and the interior beuatifully decorated in Art Deco style. No wonder that “La Tante Clair” was to become one of the few British restaurants with three Michelin stars.

The great news is that Koffmann last July returned to the London restaurant scene with his new “Koffmann´s” at the Berkeley Hotel. Next time you visit London, try out “Koffmann´s” for refined country cooking à la Gascogne – I know I will. Koffmann has according to a newspaper interview moved away from “Michelin food”, which also means that the prices are more affordable. But his signature dish, 
pig’s trotter with chicken mousseline, sweetbreads and morels is back on the menu!

Here is Koffman´s "self portrait" which he once drew for me as a memory of a good meal:

PS (7.1.2011)
I just found the recipe to one of Koffmann´s finest specialities, Souffle aux pistaches.
Check it out here.

If you are interested in more of Pierre Koffman´s recipes, his book "La Tante Claire, Recipes of a Masterchef" is a treasure trove. In the book Koffmann also offers interesting glimpses into his childhood in France and his way to the Michelin top stardom. Unfortunately the books seems to be out of print, but if you are lucky, you can find used copies.