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December 31, 2008

Ornaments: Taxi!


Since most of our ornaments are from the various places we've been, Tammi and I decided to show some love to the hometown. Next year, I want to find a Brooklyn ornament...

Paris: Party


Now, I tend to halt my voyeuristic tendencies at actually peeking through windows, but in this case it was required. We heard this party from a block away. The dulcet tones of Elton John and a dozen others singing 'Tiny Dancer' echoed through the empty street.

We stopped for a moment to enjoy the spectacle and hear the next track in the sing-along, which was 'Grease Lightning.'

Paris Obervations: Flamel


Here's a little something for the Harry Potter fans. Our Apartment was a block away from a street named after Nicolas Flamel, someone I had no idea had been a real person until I saw this sign.

December 30, 2008

Paris: Musee d'Orsay


I love Musee d'Orsay. It's such a beautiful space, regardless of the art inside, which is also great. Sadly, we only got to pop in for a little while on this trip, mostly due to a miscalculation of distance on my part. I sort of thought that it was a quick walk from the Eiffel Tower, which is is decidedly not. An hour or so later, we got there, wiped out with about an hour left before it closed for the evening.

In any case, the building is a former train station, which may account for my fascination with it. The arched ceilings above and the gorgeous use of the wide open space within make me wish they'd shut down Grand Central Station and dedicate it to art in a similar manner.

Paris Observations: Smoking


When I heard that France had barred smoking in bars and restaurants, I assumed that this law would be flouted, much like traffic laws tend to be. Shockingly, I found that people really followed it.

On the one hand, seeing the familiar site of smokers huddled in the cold in front of bars, restaurants and office buildings reminded me a little too much of home. On the other, I was profoundly happy to spend the entire trip without tobacco smoke infesting my clothes and hair.

December 29, 2008

Paris: Sarko Paste-Ups

IMG_8232, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The French may love Obama hands down, but Sarkozy doesn't have quite the popularity. One morning these paste-ups were all all over central Paris. I still only have vague notions of what the messages say, but could tell they weren't particularly flattering. I eventually figured out that one translates to "Yes We Can outsource thousands of jobs from France."

By the evening, they were shredded. I don't know if those were fans of Sarkozy or Obama acolytes offended by the comparison

Paris Observations: Obama Love


Everywhere we went in Paris, we saw our new president looking back at us. There were signs and life-size cutouts and T-shirts all over.

Tammi bought a bobblehead there that says "Yes! We! Can!" when bobbled or otherwise nudged or jostled, which now greets us when we walk in the house.

Paris Observations: Boys will be Boys

IMG_6820 - Version 2

Generally, this would be a POTD, but I just had to comment on the idea of kids growing up in a place with art - including nudes and such - surrounding them at all times. I think it's awesome.

December 28, 2008

Paris: Beer Bar Disappointment


I was psyched when Tammi and I stumbled upon La Pinte, the Belgian Beer bar I posted a photo from a while back. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to find it again, but there it was.

But then I walked in. Giant plasma screens playing football matches were the first hint that something was amiss. The English-speaking, though welcome, was another. But really, the photo above says it all. The gorgeous taps that used to host a rotating selection of obscure beers have been retired and are now used as drying racks for pitchers. Four or five narrow chrome taps replace one of the original taps, piping through nothing more rare or tasty than Kronenberg or Heineken.

Sad, sad, sad.

December 25, 2008

Ornaments: Tubing Santa


Purchased in Aspen, CO. January 2008.

December 24, 2008

Published: Untitled

IMG_9454, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

In all the hubbub over the last few months, I never got a chance to mention that some of my graffiti photos have been published. The book is called Untitled. Street Art in the Counter Culture. Most of my shots are from the 11 Spring Street project,, which I have posted in my Grand Closing set.

Ornaments: Cajun Santa


Purchased in New Orleans. October 2008.

December 23, 2008

Paris Observations: Legends of Christmas

IMG_0575, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

This display in the windows of BHV, a department store in the Marais, was labeled "Legends of Christmas." Personally, I don't remember any Christmas stories about dragons or unicorns, so I'm guessing this is something culturally specific.

December 22, 2008

Porchetta Class at The Astor Center


I'm ridiculously behind in posting this. And at this point, I'm so behind on posting anything that there's much more to say, but here's the start.

On Friday, December 12th, I attended a class at The Astor Center led by Nate Appleman and Shelly Lindgren from A16 in San Francisco.

In a bit of serendipity, I discovered the class in November just a day after deciding that I wanted to make some sort of Porchetta for next weekend's Holiday Party. Except I had no idea how to do it. I was going to wing it, but then I came across this.

I've mentioned Porchetta before, but for the uninitiated, it is roast pig, usually whole, seasoned with salt, rosemary, garlic and fennel that is rolled and roasted. What you get is meltingly tender meat, scented with the herbs in every bite and surrounded by crispy skin. It's amazing.

I had heard of A16 during my research for my last visit to SF in the summer, but never made it out there. I just found out I'll be going back to SF in two weeks, so I'm definitely going to check it out. I don't know if Porchetta is on the menu, but from the morsel handed out at the session, and the rummaging through the A16 book I picked up while there, they definitely have food I need to eat.

After the jump, my notes on how to turn that fine specimen above into this:


To Debone:
-Start cutting along the rib cage

-Slice along to the back on either side, stopping at the backbone.

-Work your way down towards the hips.

-Below rib cage, cut down to backbone, cutting away from meat.

-When you get to the hips, cut around leg sockets.

-Feel around the bone and cut away from meat.

-Pull hips upwards and cut away from meat towards the head.


-Once cut all the way up to the head, pull all the way back, snap neck and remove bones.

[You can start seasoning from here or remove shoulder and leg bones. This will allow the seasoning to flavor the meat more quickly.]

-Cut around shoulder blades and remove.

-To remove upper leg bone, cut around bone, grip like a handle and pull backwards, snapping from sinews. Cut around to remove. Repeat.

-Flatten out pig and find the thinner areas along the abdomen.

-To ensure an even cooking, use chunks of organs or leg meat to even out the thickness in those areas.

To season: Do 2 days in advance.

-Salt generously. It will take more salt than you think.

-Season thoroughly with minced garlic and rosemary and ground fennel.

Appleman finished it off with a trick he learned some time ago: cover the entire inside of the pig with thin slices of lemon.

-Roll pig tightly.

-Salt exterior.



-Make one 'solid' tie around neck and shoulder.

-Making loops, tie all the way back up to the legs.

-If oven space is at a premium, the pig can be doubled over, head over tail and tied again. Like so:



-Roast on oven rack, with a pan or baking sheet filled with wine or other flavored liquid.

-Cook at 300 degrees for 5 hours (for a 35 lbs pig).

-Finish at 500 degrees for 20 minutes.

If you can't get the whole pig in the oven, Appleman suggested cutting off the head and cooking it separately by braising then roasting it.

December 17, 2008

Ornaments: Hawaiian Flip-Flops

IMG_1379.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Purchased in Hawaii, November 2005.

December 5, 2008

Photo of the Day: Noel

IMG_7538 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Store Window. Paris. 2008.

December 4, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Dak

IMG_7531 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

St. Germain des Pres, Left Bank. Paris. France. 2008.

Photo of the Day: Pont

IMG_6200, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Paris. 2008.

Paris Observations: La Mode

IMG_8278, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Yes, even the kids are stylish. Check out the little boots matching her mother's.

Paris: VeLib

IMG_6694, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Nearly everything in central Paris seems pretty close to everything else, but isn't quite. The Metro seems to stop every 5 blocks or so, but rarely in quite the right direction for where I want to go, so we usually end up walking.

The walking often adds up though, and what seems like a quick walk around the corner ends up being a whole day on our feet.

Enter VeLib, the free bike rentals that are ALL over the city. Everywhere we go there is a VeLib 'station,' a dock of 10-30 bikes and a machine to purchase a rental from. The best part is that it's free for the first half hour which is about as long as we'd ever need them to get from point A to point B.

The downside: We've never managed to get them to work. For whatever reason, they just won't accept any card that we've tried to use. We've been trying for the entire time we've been here with no success. Unfortunately there seems to be no support for them to speak of. The website has just about the worst English translation I've ever seen, so it's no help at all.

So, our 'great' disappointment of our honeymoon is that we weren't able to ride around on our little bikes to go shopping or to get to a museum. All things considered, not that big a deal.

December 3, 2008

Photo of the Day: The Blind Leading the Blind

IMG_6713, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I'll be rolling out some photos regularly for the next week or so. Hopefully with the wedding and the honeymoon all done, I'll be able able to get back to posting on a regular basis.

Paris Observations: RollerBlading Police

IMG_7420 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

One night we came across cops cruising around on Rollerblades. A few minutes later, we say them giving a driver a ticket. Sadly, we didn't see how they pulled over the car, but that would have been a sight to see.

December 1, 2008

Food Finds: Microwave Lamb Tagine

IMG_6439, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The local Daily Monop, the Parisian equivalent of a bodega or 7-11 has a fascinating selection of TV Dinners, including this Lamb Tagine.

I'm totally against lean cuisines and other such nasty microwave meals, but if there was a selection of meals like this, I might reconsider it as a quick meal in a pinch.

Paris: Sunrise on the Seine

IMG_6564, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

On our first morning waking up in Paris, I discovered that the sun doesn't rise in Paris until well after 8am. So, Tammi and I ran out of the apartment down the block to th river to see the sun come up together.

The weather was feeling slightly less romantic, as the cloud covering obscured a good deal of the view. Still, it was a great start for our trip.

Afterwards, we grabbed some pain au chocolat and warm beverages and quickly went back to bed.