Tag Archives: Halifax

A mother’s dream of a culinary adventure

If you have followed me for a while, you will know that food plays a major role in my life: I love to prepare and share it for and with friends, and I love to eat and talk about it. So it was with great delight when I started watching this passion carried on in my children.

Concentrating

I am clearly concentrating very hard on the flavours and textures

You know you have a serious cook in your house when ...

You know you have a serious cook in your house when …

One daughter, Natalie, has taken such a liking to it that she has decided to make it her career.  Having considered attending Le Cordon Bleu, she ended up choosing to learn ‘on the job’ instead, working her way up. Since February, she has been cooking at the most delightful and adventurous Halifax restaurant and cocktail bar, Field Guide (if you have not yet eaten there, you must!). There, she has been learning about locally sourced ingredients and how to combine them, how to keep a menu fresh and constantly changing, depending on availability of local ingredients,  and about culinary techniques and methods.

It was an incredible treat to have her make good on a birthday promise when she prepared a five-course meal for myself and my guests last Sunday. It was her first time creating & executing a menu on her own. The result was stunning, and made even better by sommelier Damian Lidgard’s wine pairings. It is with great delight that I share these photos of the evening with you!

Fall is in the air and at the table

Fall is in the air and at the table

Offering a predinner sparkling is traditional in my German family, especially with my brother Thomas. In this case, we had Champalou Vouvray Traditional Sparkling from the Loire, France

The ‘caviar’ in this very light and fresh first course is made through a molecular cooking method. The burst of flavour of these little gems of preserved lemon oil was amazing.
Wine pairing: Planters Ridge Tidal Bay, a local wine.

Halibut crudo with Lemon Oil caviar, Radish, Thai chillies, Beet greens.

Halibut crudo with Lemon Oil caviar, Radish, Thai chillies, Baby Beet Greens.

The second course was a amazingly complex salad. How brazen to combine such strong flavours. It worked really well!
Wine: Leitz Eins Zwei Dry Riesling 2014

Salad with arugula and tarragon, mint, red onion,orange

Salad with arugula and tarragon, mint, red onion,orange

The third course presented a tough pairing, but well done with Brunier Megaphone Rouge from the Rhone, France. The whole fresh cherry tomatoes were added to the sauce at the last minute and barely warmed – perfect!

Squid with chorizo and tomatoes, peppers and garlic aioli

Squid with chorizo and tomatoes, peppers and garlic aioli

I am still impressed that Natalie, a strict vegetarian for almost her entire life, was able to cook lamb so perfectly; the blue cheese sauce was an incredible counterpoint. This fourth course was accompanied by  Brancaia Chianti Classico Riserva 2011

Lamb with blue cheese and pear and fennel salad

Lamb with blue cheese and pear and fennel salad

Oh my: fresh figs. Such a treat, and so well presented! Deliciously paired with Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Herrenweg 2010

Roasted figgs with ricotta. Honey and Rosemary glaze, toasted hazelnut

Roasted figgs with ricotta. Honey and Rosemary glaze, toasted hazelnut

You can tell when in the evening I stopped taking photos with my iPhone and started using a real camera. Like hand-crafting something – it just gives a different feel, doesn’t it?

What a treat to have friends who are sommeliers!

What a treat to have friends who are sommeliers!

Thank you so much, Natalie. You have created a true culinary dream for this mother! Thank you, Damian, for such an excellent job in supporting Natalie’s menu. What a night!

What a feast!

What a feast!

 

Love from Coast to Coast, and over the pond!

I just finished two outdoor summer art markets: first in Halifax, then in Vancouver, British Columbia, returning today from the West Coast.  As much as I enjoy making things in my studio, it is always such a delight to bring my work in front of real life people. The jewellery I create is meant to adorn bodies, and it is meant to bring delight to the wearer. And so it is always wonderful to explain the processes of head and hand, which are involved in the making of my pieces.

My lovely Vancouverite assistant 'Bob' shows off how well the 'Meeting' rings stack

My lovely Vancouverite assistant ‘Bob’ shows off how well the ‘Meeting’ rings stack. She loves jewellery!

This year, I again had some wonderful encounters during the summer shows.

In Halifax, I met Pati, who was visiting from the US, and who fell head over heels in love with this one footer ring with Aquamarine. And how delightful to speak to Vivian, whose adult children Luca and Julia are about to part ways for the first time, going to colleges away from each other. Vivian wanted to keep her children connected by way of each one having a Onefooter ring. I love such stories!

In Vancouver, I had another good couple of tales:

This was the view of Vancouver from near where I was staying

This was the view of Vancouver from near where I was staying

There was another head-over-heels for an Aquamarine set in 18k yellow gold, when Kathy put it on her finger. Luckily, I had that second one!

Steve and his wife looked for a long time, and wanted to know every detail behind the design and making of the Onefooter series. Their favourite line was “the ring is forged in various directions, just like life pushes and pulls you”. I was delighted when they chose this design to celebrate their 25th(!) wedding anniversary! Steve was sure to document ever detail of this decision and purchase, and said it was surely to be found under the hashtag #25thAnniversary (or is it #TwentyfifthAnniversary ?). Let me know if you find anything!

Here they are, practising for the actual celebration a few weeks out.

They do!!!

They do!!!

"You may kiss the bride!"

“You may kiss the bride!”

Alexandra from London was a complete hoot when she purchased this ring, encouraged by her her two teenage daughters and her brother Edward, who pointed out the very favourable exchange rate.  It was almost difficult to let go of this one, one of my most beloved creations of this last phase: a Onefooter ring in 18k yellow gold, set with this brilliantly gorgeous burgundy sapphire. “Happy 21st anniversary, dahhhling me!” she exclaimed, beaming as she admired the ring on her own hand.

18k yellow gold Onefootere ring with 0.93ct burgundy sapphire ... YUM!

18k yellow gold Onefootere ring with 0.93ct burgundy sapphire … YUM!

I love love love making people happy. And I love that I get to make things with my hands that do just that!

Check this out: I am the feature artist for Vancouver's Circle Craft Christmas Market 2015!

Check this out: I am the feature artist for Vancouver’s Circle Craft Christmas Market 2015!

I already look forward to returning to CircleCraft for the November 11-15th Christmas Market, but first I’ll head to NYC for the trade-only NYNow. I take great care to decide which galleries get to represent my work, and so I look forward to meeting new gallery owners there.

Ingredient: Passion

I just celebrated a birthday – 45 and the most content I have been all my life. I love this.

Last night, I took myself for a massage, mmmmmmhhhhh.  Then my main squeeze and I went for drinks and a bite to eat at a lovely hip local watering hole called “Fieldguide“.

This was the spectacular view from my little cubicle at the Northumberland Massage School Clinic

This was the spectacular view from my little cubicle at the Northumberland Massage School Clinic

Being the age I am, mixed drinks don’t have the same appeal they used to. But heck – this was my birthday! So I ordered my favourite: a ‘dark and stormy’ – something I was introduce to while sailing classic wooden boats during the Antigua Classics. This drink consists of rum, lime juice, and spicy ginger beer. But at the Fieldguide (BTW, that link to a Coast article is really worth following up on, just sayin’), they take their ingredients very, very seriously – and so don’t just use bottled ginger beer, but instead they press fresh ginger through their juicer to prepare that drink. Yikes, I’ll tell you  – it makes a difference in how it goes into your body! There is plant life in it, plant alive-ness.

The food in the place is similarly alive: like the speckled trout sashimi in a home-made dashi (made not from fish-flakes, as traditional dashi would be, but from the the smoked meats of the charcuterie next door!), which is held at bay (literally) by a purée of house-made kimchi and local carrots.

Fieldguide's Speckled Trout Sashimi in Dashi, with Carrot and Kimchi Purée

Fieldguide’s Speckled Trout Sashimi in Dashi, with Carrot and Kimchi Purée

Friggin brilliant, if you’d ask me.
Don’t get too attached to the idea – the menu changes every week or two, as local ingredients allow.  These folks even make their own syrups for their drinks, and their own butter. They buy what is locally available, in seasons … go figure!

I was watching Shane Beehan, the award-winning bartender, mix a second drink for me (blush) – I had asked him to make something specifically for me, that had fruit but wasn’t too sweet, and that would have some kick to it. The man loves a challenge. The result was perfect, I was amazed.   My companion commented that Shane seems to enter the trance of a ‘whirling dervish’ when he mixes those drinks! And I, as a maker, commented on the fact that I truly believe that passion goes right into what we make.  It was such an interesting experience for me to understand that commonality between us as artists: like Fieldguide’s chefs, this bartender’s every heart and soul goes into every single work of art-drink he puts in front of you. And I feel the same about the body adornments I create!

Contently yours,
Dorothée

My daughter Natalie took this photo of a shadow behind me on the wall. Thanks for the birthday crown, Natalie!

My daughter Natalie took this photo of a shadow behind me on the wall. Thanks for the birthday crown, Natalie!

 

 

London – the adornment

I had such a very busy 2014 – that ‘year of the horse’ sure went at a gallop! So it was with great pleasure that 2015 greeted me with the opportunity to create some brand new, one-of-a-kind work.

I had applied to participate in an industry-only special exhibition opportunity, called “[email protected]“. It is part of ACTS – the Atlantic Craft Trade Show. This is a wonderful Halifax tradition, where gallery owners shop for their hand-crafted Maritime items, directly from the makers. The show also beings in, every year, gallery owners from across North America – a great opportunity for local makers! I have written about my participation in the wholesale side of that wonderful annual event before.

This time, I decided to apply to be featured as a one-of-a-kind artist in their special highlight section, the [email protected]. I knew that it would bring a great challenge to me: to create brand new one-of-a-kind pieces.  Still only getting on my own financial feet after my divorce, I had really been too preoccupied just to find audiences of my existing work, to have had the time to be truly creative for new work. I often tried, but as I would say to my friends “design cannot happen in a hurry!”  I needed time and space to devote to the creative process, in order to open the door for real fresh ideas to develop.

My participation in [email protected] gave me the perfect excuse. I had no choice but to lock myself into my studio, turn computer and phone off, and go at it. I did this the minute I returned from Europe.  And I ended up spending a lot of time in that studio … some days even through the whole day and night, finally hitting my pillow at 5am, only to rise again by 8am to keep going. In fact, this wasn’t dissimilar to being back at NSCAD University, pulling a couple of all-nighters before a mid-term!

The funny thing is: I loved it! I had such a wonderful time feeling my creativity begin to flow again much more freely…. this must be what a runner feels like after a hiatus due to injury or something.  Maybe an athlete after a hiatus due to pregnancy? Because building my business has been a very satisfying and fruitful process, in itself. I do not want to equate it with an injury!

In any case, today I want to introduce you to the first of five pieces that were ultimately the result of this creative pursuit of excellence.  Let me know what you think!

As I am always interested in the study of line, I began there. But what emerged, without me really understanding how or why, was a series of necklaces, based on cities:  four European, and one colonial.

This is “London, England”:

 

"London, England". Sterling Silver, Chalcedony of various colours

“London, England” (detail) . Sterling Silver, Chalcedony of various colours (photo by Christina Arsenault)

I think this piece may be inspired by my studies of craft history, which involved Glasgow Art Nouveau artist and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh (June 7 1868 – December 10 1928), whose work I greatly admired. Especially his chairs, the London tea room, and his stained glass work remain vividly in my memory as lighting up darkened lecture hall screens, making such great sense to me.

I only vaguely remember how his work made me feel, and decided to name this piece ‘London’ based on those feelings, and based on my feelings of spending time in that great city with its logical subway maps and highlighted cultural gems. We could have a long conversation about this!

As for Charles Rennie, I have not yet looked him up again … but you can, if you follow the above link! Tell me if I was right to think his influence was there when I created this piece!

The whole necklace, including each hand-made link

The whole necklace, including each hand-made link  (photo by Christina Arsenault – thanks, Christina!)

 

Return of the Light

Real tree, real candles!

Real tree, real candles!

There was a time in my life when I wanted to become a “Contemporary Jewellery Historian”. I chose the best program, at the Royal College of Art in London, England.  Everything looked very promising. However, despite my best aspirations, my then-husband put a wrench in those wheels.In the end, I am very happy that instead, I ended up becoming a working jeweller and goldsmith: I love my job!!! But, if I did end up in a brain-over-hand career, I might perhaps have liked to study people and what they do, in one way or another; maybe anthropology. One of the things I would like to find out about is the use and fascination around lights at this time of year.

 

This traditional setting has an entire orchestra of little wooden angle figures

This traditional setting has an entire orchestra of little wooden angle figures

The child in awe before the angle choir .... such magic.

The child in awe before the angle choir …. I love this 1994 photo of my mother’s delight in introducing my young daughter to this magic.

The memories of my childhood, as well as my experiences of introducing my own children to the German traditions, revolve all around lots, and lots, and lots of candles. Real candles. No electric lights here! The magic of these traditions will never be erased from my consciousness. Even the lighting of the first candle of advent, on the first Sunday of four. The next Sunday, you light two, and so forth. We would sit by those candles lit on the wreath laid in the centre of the table, singing Christmas songs together, and delighting in the sweets my mother will have baked for the previous six weeks. 



I’ve been here, in Nova Scotia, for so many years now, away from those traditions. The outside display lights was not something I’m used to from my childhood. I love it though! The traditions we have adopted our own home here in Halifax, based on the traditions of Shambhala  culture, revolve around the solstice: the return of the light. After this day (this Sunday), the days begin to get longer again.

One of my favourite celebrations here in Halifax is called the Candlelight Ceremony. On the evening of the solstice, the community gathers, particularly the children. As each child enters, he or she receives a candle, which she will carefully carry to the front of the room, guided by an adult. As more and more children enter, the room becomes brighter and brighter, signifying the return of the light. But not only the room becomes brighter, the glow in each child’s eyes does, as well. That is my favorite part.

solstice, candlelight, Halifax Shambhala Centre

The Halifax Shambhala Centre, all decked out …

Songs are sung, stories are told, and the magic is created around this longest night of the year, and the return of the night. 

Whatever your traditional may be, dear reader: I hope that you will have a wonderful, warm, peaceful holiday, with time to reflect on every light that is in your life.  And if this has been a dark year for you, know that light returns to darkness.

Wishing you Very Happy Holidays!

My sister shows my then-tiny daughter the nativity scene and tree

My sister shows my then-tiny daughter the nativity scene and tree

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