SOME THINGS just don’t change. The Riviera, described nearly a century ago by F. Scott Fitzgerald as a “playground” with a “fairy blue” sea, is still coasting on its mythic allure. Every summer, the palm-fringed stretch from Monaco to St. RaphaÃ«l is the place where the whole world descends “to forget or rejoice, to hide its face or have its fling,” as the writer aptly observed.
But when Fitzgerald set sail across the Atlantic with his wife and daughter in 1924, his plan was to escape to a place where they could “live on practically nothing a year.” Having unwittingly become the spokesman for the Jazz Age with “This Side of Paradise” (1920), Fitzgerald could no longer afford the extravagant lifestyle that came with it. He and Zelda decided to flee their hectic social life in New York, where continuous partying prevented the writer from concentrating on his third novel, “The Great Gatsby.”
Back then, with sunbathing not yet in vogue, the Riviera in the summer was dirt cheap and desertedâ”like going to Palm Beach for July,” as Fitzgerald put it. The couple rented a villa on a lush hillside in St. RaphaÃ«l, “a little red town built close to the sea, with gay red-roofed houses and an air of repressed carnival about it,” where Fitzgerald worked on “Gatsby.”
All That Jazz
Dress like a Fitzgerald on your next trip to the Riviera.
Much has changed since he penned one of the most defining novels of the 20th centuryâwhose fourth incarnation on the silver screen hits European cinemas beginning May 15âbut you can still enjoy the excesses of Fitzgerald’s “hot sweet south of France.”
Start your tour, Ã la “Winter Dreams” (1922), on the golf course. Just a stone’s throw from the Fitzgeralds’ Villa Marie in St. RaphaÃ«l, the pine-shaded Valescure Golf Club is known for its short, narrow fairways, difficult roughs and a splendid Old English-style clubhouse. â¬75 a round; 725 avenue des Golfs, St. RaphaÃ«l; golfdevalescure.com
On your way out of town, stop for a cool drink at the seafront Hotel Excelsior, and imagine Fitzgerald puffing away on a Chesterfield at one of St. RaphaÃ«l’s oldest watering holes after a hard day’s work. Promenade du PrÃ©sident RenÃ© Coty; excelsior-hotel.com
From here, follow the Fitzgeralds in their little blue Renault down the winding coastal roadâthe red rocks of the Esterel and turquoise shallows are still spectacularâto the Cap d’Antibes. Scott and Zelda came here regularly to visit their friends Gerald and Sara Murphy. Gerald, an heir to the Mark Cross leather-goods company and visionary painter of proto-Pop Art, and Sara, a beauty known for her joie de vivre (she became Picasso’s secret muse), were the Riviera’s original trendsetters.
Their charismatic style still shines brightly at the outset of “Tender is the Night” (1934), as Dick and Nicole Diverâmodeled on the Murphysâtake over the curved sandy beach at La Garoupe with elaborate picnics and illustrious friends. Off the page, Sara elegantly “sunned” her strand of pearls on the tiny cove, while Gerald played the latest jazz records on his portable phonograph. Fitzgerald preferred to lie in the shade, nursing a bottle of gin. Zelda, as the Murphys’ daughter, Honoria, later recalled, was “a strikingly beautiful womanâblond and soft and tanned,” who always had a peony in her hair or pinned to her dress.
Today, at the far corner of La Garoupe, the bronzed and the beautiful flock to La Plage Keller. Follow them for a toes-in-the-sand languorous lunch washed down with Champagne. The Mediterranean-style dishes range from petits farcis and fried squid to lobster and truffle ravioli. Lunch from about â¬60; chemin de la Garoupe, Antibes; restaurant-plage-cesar-antibes.fr
Or, in the spirit of the Murphys’ caviar-and Champagne-parties, head for the hills of Vence to the ChÃ¢teau Saint-Martin & Spa for an extravagant La Prairie massage, with rich caviar cream. From â¬120; 2490 avenue des Templiers, Vence; chateau-st-martin.com
When the Murphys first discovered the pink seaside HÃ´tel du Capâthe Hotel des Etrangers in “Tender is the Night”âhidden away on a lush mini-peninsula, they immediately fell in love with it, persuading the owner to keep it open during the summer. While their new home, the Villa America, was being built, the hotel became their private headquarters to entertain their friends: the Count and Countess Ãtienne de Beaumont, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso and his first wife Olga Khokhlova, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, Rudolph Valentino and, of course, the Fitzgeralds.
Scott and Zelda would probably not feel out of place with the glitzy Bellini-sipping crowd that now lounges on the HÃ´tel du Cap’s pool terrace. Rooms from â¬800; blvd. JF Kennedy, BP 29, Antibes; hotel-du-cap-eden-roc.com
Their alcohol-fueled antics, howeverâsmashing handblown wineglasses and lobbing ashtraysâwould likely not play out so well today. As self-avowed “excitement eaters,” the couple would liven up the evenings at the hotel by diving off 11-meter-high rocks into the pitch-dark sea. One night, Zelda took off her black lace panties and tossed them to her hosts, prompting others to strip down and skinny-dip in the pool. “One could get away with more on the summer Riviera, and whatever happened seemed to have something to do with art,” Fitzgerald wrote to his editor, Maxwell Perkins.
Take a dip of your own into the Jazz Age at L’Antiquaire et la Mode. This Cannes store is a treasure trove of rare vintage threads, from sequined dresses to jewelry and shoes. 8 rue HÃ©lÃ¨ne Vagliono, Cannes; +33-493-99-13-08
For something more modern, try the St. James boutique in Nice. Their striped MariniÃ¨re jerseys are as fashionable (and ubiquitous) today as they were in the ’20s, after Murphy and Picasso made them de rigueur among the Riviera set. 11 place Ile de BeautÃ©, Nice;
You’ll wish you were in spats or a flapper dress when you step into les annÃ©es folles at Eilenroc, the Belle Epoque villa and vast rose gardens on the Cap d’Antibes where Scott and Zelda were frequently spotted swanning about, hobnobbing with European royalty. Once owned by the Count and Countess de Beaumont, it is now a restored landmark, replete with their original furnishings.
To take home your own piece of Art Deco, head to Nice’s antique district at the port. At Achille AntiquitÃ©s, you’ll find sculpted wood armchairs and desks with elaborate inlays, plus chandeliers, mirrors and Lalique objets d’art all from the 1920s. 13 rue Emmanuel Philibert, Nice;
The Fitzgeralds reveledâand rowedâin equally sumptuous evenings at La Colombe d’Or, in St.-Paul de Vence. When it came to restaurants, the Fitzgeralds avoided elaborate French cuisine. Even in the finest restaurants, Fitzgerald would often dismiss the waiter in poorly pronounced French and order a club sandwich. But they weren’t at La Colombe d’Or for the food. The artists’ haunt was the place to be seen. It still is. Dine on the star-packed leafy terrace, surrounded by original works by MirÃ³, Braque, Picasso and Chagall. Dinner from about â¬60; 1 place General de Gaulle, St.-Paul de Vence; la-colombe-dor.com
Monte Carlo was another surefire place for excitement. The Fitzgeralds would take the scenic Grande Corniche “through the twilight with the whole French Riviera twinkling below” for an evening at the casino. The Garnier-designed Monte-Carlo Casino, steeped in Old World glamour, remains the place for “excitement eaters” with money to burn. For a nightcap, order Fitzgerald’s favoritesâa gin fizz or mint julepâat the Bar AmÃ©ricain inside the gilded splendor of the HÃ´tel de Paris. Drinks, â¬24; place du Casino, Monaco; hoteldeparismontecarlo.com
“One could get away with more on the summer Riviera, and whatever happened seemed to have something to do with art.”
In 1926, with “Gatsby” a roaring critical success, the Fitzgeralds returned to the Riveria. renting the Villa St-Louis in Juan-les-Pins. Fitzgerald boasted to friends in New York that he’d found a big house on the shore with a private beach, near the casino.
The villa was later transformed into a small, family-run Art Deco gem, HÃ´tel Belles Rives, with one of the best terrace restaurants on the Riviera. Its furnishings, frescoes and fumoir have all been meticulously preserved by the current owner, Marianne Chauvin-EstÃ¨ne. “My favorite story is when Scott lured a local band inside the villa, then locked them in a bedroom upstairs,” says Ms. Chauvin-EstÃ¨ne. “He tossed away the key, forced them to play dance music all night for his guests and wouldn’t let them leave until sunrise.” Rooms from â¬175; 33 blvd. Edouard Baudoin, Juan-les-Pins; bellesrives.com
Ever since then, Juan-les-Pins has had jazz in its blood. You can get into the groove each July at Jazz Ã Juan, a festival featuring top-notch artists in a starlit seaside setting under the pines near the Fitzgeralds’ former digs. July 12-21; tickets from â¬19, jazzajuan.com
The couple spent their last summer spree on the CÃ´te d’Azur in 1929 in a less-fashionable part of Cannes. By then the stock market had crashed and the mood had soured. The Fitgeralds now avoided the celebrity circus at the HÃ´tel du Cap.
By the time “Tender is the Night” was published five years later, the Fitzgeralds and the Murphys had long since returned to America. Tragic events would mar their happiness, but the golden glow of those Riviera summers remained. As Sara Murphy later said: “It was like a great fair, and everybody was so young.”
Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful” is one of the half-dozen greatest American plays, yet its greatness has yet to be generally acknowledged. The reasons why aren’t hard to grasp. Like all of Foote’s plays, it’s a soft-spoken character study, the tale of a tired old woman from Texas who hasn’t seen her hometown in 20 years, longs to do so once more before she dies, and decides one day to go there. Nothing else happens, nor do the characters say anything especially memorable. They merely show you how ordinary people live their lives. The poetryâand “The Trip to Bountiful” is profoundly poeticâis between the lines. Yet no one with a receptive soul can fail to appreciate the play’s myriad beauties, and Michael Wilson’s new revival, in which Cicely Tyson returns to Broadway for the first time since 1983, is unforgettably excellent. I’ve never been more deeply moved by a theatrical production of any kind.
Originally written for television in 1953, “The Trip to Bountiful” had a brief run on Broadway that same year, then was filmed in 1985. But even though regional-theater productions have since become common, “The Trip to Bountiful” went unseen in New York until 2005, when it was mounted by the Signature Theatre Company. That revival, which starred Lois Smith, wasâand I don’t use the word casuallyâperfect. Had it transferred to Broadway, it would have decisively established the play as a masterpiece. Now Mr. Wilson, who worked closely with Foote throughout the playwright’s later years, has given “The Trip to Bountiful” a staging of like quality, one in which even the smallest parts are played with absolute comprehension.
Ms. Tyson is, of course, the star of the show, but she never indulges in the kind of notice-me exaggeration to which “stars” too often stoop. Indeed, what is most striking about her performance is its total lack of sentimentality. She speaks her lines in a cracked, vinegary old-lady voice in which no trace of self-pity can be heard, trusting to Foote to do the rest. If you’ve ever felt the fear of watching an increasingly frail parent try to keep on living her life the way she always has . . . well, you’ll feel it all over again as you watch Ms. Tyson on the stage of the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. That’s the measure of the truth of her acting.
The Trip to Bountiful
Stephen Sondheim Theatre
Through July 7
Part of what makes this production so fine is the unanimity with which Ms. Tyson’s colleagues support her magnificent performance. Cuba Gooding Jr., who plays her frustrated son, is exquisitely right, holding back his emotions until the climactic speech in which he opens his heart at last. Vanessa Williams, cast as her shrewish daughter-in-law, is boldly unafraid to be unlikable. Condola Rashad, one of Broadway’s finest young actresses, is simple and lovely as Thelma, the shy young bride whom Carrie meets and befriends on the bus to Bountiful. Arthur French and Tom Wopat are magically exact in the lesser but crucial roles of a ticket agent and a small-town sheriff. Mr. Wilson’s pivotal contribution to the proceedings is, as it should be, invisible: All you see are the gracefully poised results. You’re more likely to notice Jeff Cowie’s sets, which look naturalistically shabby at first glance but turn out to be aglow with rich implication.
Most of the parts in this production of “The Trip to Bountiful,” which takes place in Texas circa 1953, are played by black actors. “Nontraditional” casting, as it’s known in the theater business, can be both gratuitous and distracting, but at its best it’s capable of shedding fresh light on a familiar play. It works wonderfully well here, in part because it’s never stressed. Messrs. Wilson and Cowie leave it to you to notice such tiny details as the sign over the pay phone in the waiting room of a Houston bus station that says “Colored Only,” or the fact that the people in the room are reading Ebony, not Life. They believe in the intelligence of their audience, and they’re right to do so: Rarely have I seen theatergoers so immediately responsive as the ones who saw Monday’s performance.
All of which brings us back to the play itself. It doesn’t take a whole lot of thinking to figure out that Carrie Watts’s longing to see the town of Bountiful one last time is a metaphor for the human condition, and the only moment when “The Trip to Bountiful” falters is toward the end of the previous scene, when Foote puts words in her mouth that make his meaning slightly too explicit: “I expect someday people will come again and cut down the trees and plant the cotton and maybe even wear out the land again. . . . We’re part of all this. We left it but we can never lose what it has given us.” Carrie is telling us what the play itself has already told us, and we don’t need to hear it spelled out.
Otherwise, “The Trip to Bountiful” is without flaw. It says at least as much about the American national character as “The Glass Menagerie” or “Our Town,” and deserves to be seen at least as often as those two classicsâespecially when it’s done like this.
By MARK YOST
Say “Civil War” and “Pennsylvania,” and Gettysburg immediately comes to mind. Visitors to that site know the cyclorama by the French artist Paul Philippoteaux, a massive work that measures 27 feet high and 359 feet in circumference and currently hangs in the new visitor’s center near the battlefield. Now, just 40 miles north of Gettysburg, “Objects of Valor: Commemorating the Civil War in Pennsylvania,” a new permanent exhibit at the State Museum of Pennsylvania, is bringing the war and its most famous battle alive through a rotating selection of smaller but still compelling objects from its collections.
Shown on the walls of the large, one-room gallery and in nine display cases are the battle flags, pistols, swords, uniforms and cannon balls one would expect to find in any battlefield retrospective. Among the more impressive pieces now on display is a regimental drum from the Logan Guards, a Lewistown, Pa., unit that was one of the first to answer President Abraham Lincoln’s call to arms. Also shown are the Colt revolvers presented to Gen. Joseph Knipe by his Seventh Cavalry staff, resplendent with nickel-plated frames, gilded cylinders and ivory grips; a chair from Union Gen. George Meade’s Gettysburg headquarters; the musket used by 69-year-old civilian John L. Burns to help hold off the early Confederate advances; and a kepi with a bullet hole in it worn by Private George W. Linn.
But the centerpiece of “Objects of Valor” is Peter F. Rothermel’s “Battle of Gettysburg: Pickett’s Charge,” which measures 16 feet high and 32 feet wide, and is the largest depiction of the battle on one canvas. It took Rothermel three years of research and 18 months of painting to complete the work, which was commissioned by the commonwealth for $25,000 in 1867 and debuted at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music on Dec. 20, 1870.
About 10 yards in front of the painting is an interactive kiosk that explains the painting’s history and allows visitors to focus in on certain historically important aspects of the battle scene. For instance, the kiosk explains that Rothermel’s deliberate perspective puts the viewer 125 yards from the copse of trees just below Cemetery Ridge in an area of the battle line known as “the Angle,” a jog in the stone wall defended by the Philadelphia Brigade. The viewer is facing the Union line, a perspective that Rothermel thought was important in depicting the Union’s repulse of Confederate forces.
The artist did painstaking research on the battle, interviewing participants of high and low rank, and some of his early sketches and maps are on display nearby. While he went out of his way to get faces and uniforms right, he decided to include critical leaders and events that happened over several days rather than to capture a single moment. So, for example, he included Gen. Meade, who was not at the scene of the battle, and action on Little Round Top that had actually taken place the day before Pickett’s Charge.
A year after the painting was completed, the work traveled to Boston, Pittsburgh and Chicago, where it was damaged in the Great Chicago Fire. It was carried back to Pittsburgh, where Rothermel had it relined, and was later shown at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Afterward it hung in Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park for nearly 20 years before being relocated to the new Executive Building in Harrisburg in 1894. It found its current home in 1964.
Hanging alongside Rothermel’s signature piece are four 5Â½-by-3-foot companion pieces by the artist, all part of that $25,000 commission and painted from 1871 to 1872.
“Charge of the Louisiana Tigers and Repulse” takes place at sunset on the second day of the battle and shows the Fifth Maine Battery raking the left flank of the Confederate assault on East Cemetery Hill. “Pennsylvania Reserves at Plum Run” takes place on the evening of the second day and depicts the counterattack into the “Valley of Death” below Little Round Top. “Battle of the First Day and Death of Reynolds” shows Union Gen. John Reynolds in the foreground on a stretcher, dying from the head wound he suffered at Herbst Wood, a geographic feature in the center of the painting that was crucial in delaying the Confederate advance. And “Repulse of General Johnson’s Division by General Geary’s White Star Division” depicts the seven-hour battle for Culp’s Hill, a piece of strategic high ground that was basically the last thrust by the Confederate forces against the Union right flank. Gen. Geary is on the right side of the painting under the White Star flag, amid his troops, who stretch from the bottom of the canvas and up the right side. Across the top two thirds of the painting is the futile advance by the Confederate forces.
One final work, Rothermel’s “Charge of Pennsylvania Reserves in Plum Run,” was commissioned by the adjutant general’s office in 1881. It is larger than the other four paintings and shows the battle from behind the Union lines. Several Union officers are depicted on horseback and on foot, pointing their swordsâand their menâtoward the Confederate lines, which are blurry in the distance, partially obscured by smoke but visible enough to show that the Union forces are decimating the Confederates.
An impressive work in an impressive show.
Mr. Yost is a writer in Houston.
A version of this article appeared May 15, 2013, on page D5 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Capturing Gettysburg.
Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” is a tale told idiotically, full of noise and furor, signifying next to nothing.
The production is not insipid, let’s give it that. An exercise in absurdist excess, this fourth screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role, means to dramatize the excesses of the Jazz Age, with hints of Weimar decadence thrown in for bad measure. But that’s a banality by this late date, and it’s as far as Mr. Luhrmann goes in making sense of the book. The film’s only governing principle is maximalismâeverything has been made as big as possible, apart from conversational interludes, when big feelings are displayed, like bullet points, by actors striking static poses.
For a while the sheer scale of the thing keeps you engaged, if not agog. (I watched through 3-D glasses that weren’t worth the bother.) Gatsby’s mansion is a cross between Neuschwanstein Castle and what San Simeon might have been if Hearst had been more gregarious; partygoers swarm like cicadas, and make as much of a racket. A road trip between Long Island and Manhattan takes on the thunderous intensity of a Grand Prix; the mere arrival of Gatsby’s gorgeous yellow Duesenberg in Nick Carraway’s driveway is enough to set teacups rattling on a kitchen shelf. (Nick, the novel’s narrator and aspiring writer, is played by Tobey Maguire.) Fitzgerald’s valley of ashes, a desolate strip half way between West Egg and New York City, has become an expressionist Hades where doomed workers slave away on giant slag heaps. (That’s as close as the movie comes to the author’s complex attitude toward American capitalism.)
The artistic elephantiasis takes many forms. When young James Gatz, who hasn’t yet transformed himself into Jay Gatsby, first encounters his benefactor-to-be, Dan Cody, he doesn’t just row a borrowed rowboat out to Cody’s yacht on Lake Superior, as in the book; Gatz saves Cody and his vessel from incipient calamity during a storm of sufficient ferocity to scuttle the Titanic. And when the camera first catches sight of the fully formed Gatsby, presiding like a god over one of his parties, fireworks fill the summer sky behind him and a symphony orchestra summons up the majestic strains of “Rhapsody in Blue.”
It’s a moment that makes you smile, even if you recall that Woody Allen used Gershwin’s anthem, and fireworks, to far greater effect in the preface of “Manhattan.” There’s something touchingâagain, for a whileâin the filmmaker’s desire to please, in his fevered efforts to define a time in American history by the way it looks. (He’s so eager to cram in pieces of period detail that one camera pullback reveals high-steel workers constructing a skyscraper, even though it’s the middle of the night.) But many of the borrowingsâfrom Busby Berkeley, from “The Crowd,” from “Citizen Kane”âbegin to ring hollow, especially because Mr. Luhrmann borrows, well beyond the point of self-parody, from the same bag of tricks he opened up more than a decade ago in “Moulin Rouge!”
The problem isn’t those tricks per se. When the camera swoops and darts ecstatically, or in this case plummets into Manhattan’s stone canyons, the effect can be impressive, never mind that Spider-Man has claimed such aerobatics for his own. One fleeting but striking image is that of an apartment building, with each window expanding or contracting, like a window on the screen of a giant computer, as it frames a half-seen life.
Nor is the music problematic, notwithstanding the film’s much-hyped use of hip-hop, or the presence of the rapper Jay-Z as one of the producers. In fact, the hip-hop is used judiciously; it kicks in mainly during party scenes, when there’s monstrous pounding from other sources, and it’s no more intrusive than all the other efforts to heighten the story’s reality. (The screenplay is credited to Mr. Luhrmann and Craig Pearce. Catherine Martin designed the lustrous production and the stunning costumes. Simon Duggan did the cinematography, which seemed of variable quality at the studio screening I attended.)
What’s intractably wrong with the film is that there’s no reality to heighten; it’s a spectacle in search of a soul. For all of its glittery fragmentation, “Moulin Rouge!” came around to moments of genuine passion. None of these new trappings means a thing because the people who populate them are stylish sticks, unsinged by the spark of life.
That’s almost surely not the fault of the actors, for the director turns them into lifelike props. Mr. DiCaprio, who’s no more comfortable with the phrase “old sport” than Robert Redford was in the previous version, is elaborately sincere when he isn’t frowning like Jack Nicholson; being charming like, well, Leonardo DiCaprio, or being mysterious, except that people who are genuinely mysterious don’t look mysterious. Carey Mulligan’s Daisy is either languorous or amorous, not a lot in between. Mr. Maguire’s Nick is cheerlessly impressionable. Joel Edgerton’s Tom is charmlessly brutish. Elizabeth Debicki’s Jordan Baker is a flouncing cipher. And Mr. Luhrmann uses Amitabh Bachchan, a legendary star in his native India, to make the Jewish gangster Meyer Wolfshiem a leering Fagin.
Given the lifelessness of the enterprise, there’s little point in belaboring its failure to convey the novel’s themes, let alone the emotional and social resonance of what has come to be considered a masterpiece of world literature. Although the hero created himself out of the whole cloth of romantic yearning, we see almost nothing of that self-creation, only the conflicted result. Although the Nick of the novel arrives at a new and tragic understanding of the American Dream, the Nick on screen can’t be more than an earnest observer, since any vestige of the story’s tragic sense has been replaced by melodramatic sadness.
This dreadful film even derogates the artistry of Fitzgerald, who wrote “The Great Gatsby” while living on Long Island and in Europe. In a deviation from the book that amounts to a calumny against literary history, Nick, the author’s surrogate, is discovered in a psychiatric hospital where, as an aging alcoholic, he struggles to comprehend the vanished figure at the center of the long-ago story, and finally completes his treatment by writing the novel. It’s literature as therapy, and Gatsby as Rosebud.
‘Something in the Air’
As a longtime admirer of Olivier Assayas, I’ve heaped praise on his previous two films: “Summer Hours,” a richly textured drama that examines the emotional content of material possessions, and “Carlos,” which isn’t a single film, but an epic achievement, starring Edgar RamÃrez, in the form of a 5Â½-hour miniseries about the international terrorist of the 1970s and early 1980s.
“Something in the Air” is a fictionalized reminiscence of the writer-director’s youthful involvement in radical politicsâhigh-school revolutionaries seized by the drama of their day and graduating from distributing mimeographed pamphlets to throwing Molotov cocktails. Too bad it isn’t more engagingâand dramaticâthan it is, but this new film, in French with English subtitles, is still worth seeing for what it says of the turbulent state of France in the early 1970s, when Mr. Assayas was a high-school student in Paris, and of the zigzag pursuitâof painting, beautiful girls and independence from a demanding fatherâthat finally culminated in his becoming the filmmaker he was meant to be.
‘Django Unchained’ (2012)
Leonardo DiCaprio is deliciously expansive as Calvin Candie, a pretentious fool of a plantation owner, in a Quentin Tarantino film that is wildly extravagant, ferociously violent, ludicrously lurid and outrageously entertaining, yet also, remarkably, very much about the pernicious lunacy of racism and, yes, slavery’s singular horrors. This reminds us of at least two things relevant to “The Great Gatsby”âthat Mr. DiCaprio is a fine actor when he’s given substantial material, and that stylistic extravagance, far from being the hollow thing it is in Baz Luhrmann’s hands, can be an effective adjunct to artistry.
‘An Education’ (2009)
Here’s another reminderâthat Carey Mulligan, who is so inexpressively decorative as Gatsby’s Daisy, has done superb work in recent years, most notably in this tale of an English schoolgirl’s hard-won wisdom. The time is 1961, a year before the outbreak of Beatlemania, in a London that Ms. Mulligan’s Jenny, at the age of 16, finds sedate if not downright sedative. Peter Sarsgaard is David, the ostensible sophisticate who awakens her, and seduces her. Lone Scherfig directed from Nick Hornby’s screenplay, which took its inspiration, in the fullest sense of the word, from a short memoir by Lynn Barber.
‘Irma Vep’ (1996)
Olivier Assayas wrote and directed this delightful French-language film about the perils of filmmaking and, not incidentally, vampires. The matchless Maggie Cheung plays a version of herselfâa Hong Kong martial-arts star named Maggie who speaks no French. Jean-Pierre LÃ©aud (the star of so many classic New Wave films by FranÃ§ois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard) is RenÃ© Vidal, a New Wave director who wants to keep from being completely washed up by remaking the silent serial “Les Vampires” with Maggie as his leading lady. Nathalie Richard is ZoÃ«, a wardrobe mistress with a special feeling for Maggie’s body.
A version of this article appeared May 10, 2013, on page D1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The Grating ‘Gatsby’The Grating ‘Gatsby’.
PEOPLE THROW around the word “icon” but rarely think what it means for a culture to spontaneously decide that something is sacred. As of 2013, the phrase “Chevrolet Corvette” has been in the lexicon for 60 years, and somehow this product from the Chevrolet division of General Motors,
this widget, has become an object of veneration for lots of people in varying states of excitement and delusion.
Why? Let’s resist, if we can, jingoism: “America’s Sports Car,” etc. And let’s be wary of nostalgia. The good old days of Buz and Tod, and Buzz and Neil, weren’t all that good. The Corvette catalog includes at least two decades of mediocre cars, and this now-much-ballyhooed nameplate of Chevrolet barely survived GM’s recent bankruptcy.
Yet when Chevrolet unveiled the seventh-generation Corvette (the C7) at the Detroit auto show in January, people went crazy, an entire culture checked in. Clearly, we’re invested.
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As you look over these images of the seven generations of Corvette design, notice the increasing rigidity of the format. It comes to us as settled law that a Corvette is: front-engine; V8-powered; rear drive; with plastic (and more recently carbon) composite body panels; a fastback roofline and rakish windscreen angle; and a luxurious axle-to-dash length. As an industrial design, the Corvette is deeply bound by its heritage.
Take the engine. More for sentiment than for any compelling engineering reason, the Corvette engine is, almost has to be, a pushrod, overhead-valve V8 (in the C7, the code-named LT1 engine), the heir to the original small-block, 265-cubic-inch V8 that Corvette patriarch Zora Arkus-Duntov stuffed under the hood of the 1955 Corvette, turning the once-effete roadster into a hot rod.
That momentâwhen raw American horsepower met the continental roadster’s lithe designâis the center panel in the Corvette’s Sistine Chapel.
Some of this is vice remembered as virtue. Over the decades, GM’s lack of investment and other kinds of foot-dragging left the Corvette dated and at a disadvantage to European and Japanese sports cars. The Corvette passed through eras when it was widely regarded as tacky and clueless, a car for upwardly mobile plumbers and overcompensating accountants.
But a strange thing happened to Corvette on its way to irrelevance: It became relevant again. For example, the car’s half-century-old design conceptâa lightweight space-frame chassis with a plastic composite bodyâhas at last found the materials and precision construction techniques necessary to make it reasonably buildable. New Corvettes are tough, lightweight, rock-solid machines, immune to the cowl shake that plagued older models. The C7 Corvetteâwhich revives the Stingray name and will likely start around $50,000âreplaces the former steel chassis with an advanced welded-aluminum structure. It also increases the use of costly carbon-fiber body panels (the hood and roof) and other composite materials, to save weight. Exotic car makers around the world are, if not imitating the Corvette’s construction method, duplicating it in principle.
A similar case can be made for the old-school pushrod engine: The Corvette’s new 6.2-liter LT1 V8 is dressed with modern direct-injection cylinder heads, with variable cam phasing and cylinder deactivation (to save fuel during periods of light load, the engine will interrupt fuel flow to four of the eight cylinders). These algorithm-driven engine controls allow the LT1âwith a valvetrain architecture that dates back to the Eisenhower administrationâto produce an estimated 450 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque, enough to launch the car to 60 mph in less than four seconds, GM promises, while at the same time returning highway mileage of around 28 mpg.
Still retained is the V8′s leathery smack of an exhaust note, which in the C7 will be belted out from a polished quad-pipe exhaust. Hell. Yeah.
There’s risk in the Corvette’s brand of ancestor worship. For instance, it’s not at all clear how the Corvette formula will survive ever-stricter fuel-economy standards. A turbo-V6 Corvette hybrid may seem unthinkable, but it will probably happen. Will the myth unravel right there?
Also, because so much of the car is mechanically preordained from generation to generation, the car’s styling must carry the weight of the new. The C7′s styling is one of insistent futurism, a form vocabulary of strakes, light-catching creases and occasionally hectic angles. It pulls back from the brink of overwrought, but just barely.
Subtlety was never one of the car’s strong suits, anyway. The point is, the Corvette, the much-beloved, often-mocked all-American sports car, is cool again, and it has become cool by standing on first principles and having the world come around to it.
And even if you never plan to set foot in a Corvette, you should be glad. Historically, whenever Corvette prospers, so does America.
Email Dan at
Six Decades of ‘Vette
It is NFL rookie minicamp time, with newly-drafted rookies getting fitted in their new uniforms and receiving more than anything else, a ton of hyperbole from their coaches.
Rookie minicamp was where Jets linebacker DeMario Davis got compared with Ray Lewis and Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell, a historic flop, was said to have the “wow” factor.
The Journal analyzed more than a decade of comments made at rookie minicamps, which are held annually in late April or early May. The results, not surprisingly, were amusing. Head coaches, assistants and teammates all rushed to say as many nice things as possible. Last weekend, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh was talking about tight end Murphy Holloway’s skills. “He can catch. He has nice ball skills. He showed that he has no problem snatching the ball.” Holloway was released by Harbaugh on Tuesday.
—Jonathan Clegg and Kevin Clark
A version of this article appeared May 8, 2013, on page D6 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: A Player That’s Just Like Ray Lewis….
STANDING A FEW miles above the Earth’s surface, I stared down at the glaciers and ridges of New Zealand’s Southern Alps and gulped. My legs were dangling out of an airplane, and in a few seconds it would be time for me to jump.
I suffer from what the French call l’appel du vide, or “the call of the void.” (The closest English equivalent might be “death wish.”) It’s an urge, when you reach the edge of a high drop, to throw yourself into the great beyond. It has called to me at the edges of cliffs, on the observation deck of the Empire State Building and even at the top of stepladders when I’ve been changing light bulbs. It’s a feeling that starts in the pit of my stomachâand it has engendered in me a profound terror of heights.
This was the day I gave in to the call.
A harness resembling a giant BabyBjÃ¶rn tethered me to jumping instructor Zack Yusaf, my back to his chest. He rocked back and forth, gathering momentum for our jump. We were about to leap from 19,500 feet, making one of the highest commercial sky-dives in the world that doesn’t require customized planes and breathing equipment.
Far, far below me, the country’s highest mountain, Mount Cook, reared up, looking distant yet strangely clear, as if in a Google Earth image. I could see Franz Josef Glacier, one of only two glaciers in the world to pass through rain forests, grinding its way from the mountains to the lush, temperate jungle along the shore.
We’d taken off from near Franz Josef, a township of about 330 whose economy revolves around the glacier of the same name. Companies offer adventure travelers the opportunity to hike the glacier, helicopter over it or jump out of planes above it. In fact, up and down the country’s west side, outfitters crowd pretty little mountain burgs, peddling the chance to confront one’s fear, breathlessly selling the region as the “adventure capital of the world.”
“The impact on your life that the act you are now contemplating will have cannot be overstated,” one brochure gravely (if awkwardly) asserted. “You must choose.”
And choose I didâan outfitter called Skydive Franz. At the time, the company advertised its 18,000-foot tandem jump as the highest in New Zealand. But the owner, James Meldrum, offered to let me try his upcoming offering: 19,500 feet, roughly 1,000 feet short of the summit of Mount McKinley, North America’s tallest peak. In a bid to seize the, ahem, high ground against the competition, Mr. Meldrum plans to introduce the option on June 1.
“Then, a funny thing happened: I didn’t hit the ground.”
Leading up to the jump, I’d had to wait for three frustrating days for the cloud cover coming from the Tasman Sea to clearâclouds not only spoil the view, but prevent jumpers from spotting their landing zones. We finally got crystalline skies with barely a wisp of cloud.
The airfield and jump zone are about 5 miles outside town, surrounded by green cow pastures. A couple of small sheds held jump suits, a coffee maker and a computer for editing videos of jumps. In a third shed, three dread-locked dudes were in a parachute-packing frenzy, folding silk and winding up cords. A Pilatus PC-6 Porter, a Swiss-made, single-engine turboprop plane, was being fueled up nearby.
With me were two Kiwis, also height averse and making their first jumps. We quietly donned bright red jump suits. Just before we climbed into the Porter, Mr. Yusaf explained how to sit on the edge of the plane once the hatch was open and showed me how to tuck my feet underneath the fuselage. On the count of three, he said, we would just roll out into the cold, clear air. “It’s going to be awesome,” he said.
There were nine of us in the Porter: three jumpers, three instructors, two photographers and Mr. Meldrum, who was piloting. There were no seats, and we sat on the floor in a tight bunch while Mr. Yusaf pointed out some of the higher mountains through the window. As we climbed, he would occasionally show us the altimeter strapped to his wrist.
When we hit 10,000 feet, the instructors passed out oxygen lines and we slipped the masks over our noses and mouths. I started to feel a tingle in my fingers that indicated I was nearly hyperventilating. In a fit of denial, I decided to chalk it up to altitude rather than fear.
At 19,500 feet, Mr. Yusaf slid open the Porter’s metal hatch. The icy wind slapped me in the face, and he yelled into my ear to swing my legs out. Puffing heavily and squeezing shut my eyes, I did so, acutely aware that nothing lay between me and a 3.7-mile fall. Mr. Yusaf began rocking. As instructed, I gripped the harness’s shoulder straps. One rock, two rocks, threeâand we were in the sky.
Glaciers and mountains, lakes and green fields tumbled past my eyes as I spun and flipped in the air, the wind tearing a wild, guttural scream from my throat.
But after a few moments, a funny thing happened: I didn’t hit the ground.
Mr. Yusaf tapped my shoulderâthe signal that I could loosen my death grip on the harnessâand I began to relax. The earth wasn’t rushing up at us; instead we seemed to float above it. The 125 mile-per-hour wind filled my eyes and mouth, but I found it almost refreshing. We spun, effortlessly; I had no sense of my own weight. We clowned with Rhys Kempen, the director and chief safety officer for Skydive Franz, who had jumped seconds before and was photographing us. It was actuallyâ¦fun.
And then, after a too-short 85 seconds, Mr. Yusaf popped our parachute. I had expected a vertebrae-jarring snap, but this was almost gentle. Pulling the control lines, he steered us in a loop down to a cow pasture near the runway. Just before our landing, he pulled down hard on both lines, filling the ‘chute with air and slowing us down. We lifted our legs and slid across the grass on our derriÃ¨res.
Afterward, I was drunk on thrill. I pumped the air and swore a lot. My fear of heights lay quivering at my feet, defeatedâfor now. Whether I was a complete person, as some of the adventure brochures suggested I would become, was open to debate. But ultimately, everyone has their own reason for jumping, Mr. Kempen said.
“Some people see it as a rite of passage,” he said. “People don’t want to go through life being boring.”
“And,” he added, “you can’t get views like that without going up there.”
The Lowdown: Franz Josef, New Zealand
Getting There: Franz Josef Township is about a five-hour bus ride from Queenstown, New Zealand.
Staying There: Lodging options range from the charmingly low-budget Chateau Franz hostel (from around $80 for double studios, chateaufranz.co.nz
) to the luxurious Te Waonui Forest Retreat, a rough-sawn cedar resort. From $580 per night, tewaonui.co.nz
Skydiving There: Skydive Franz offers tandem jumps from heights of 12,000 to 19,500 feet, starting at about $250. The higher the jump, the higher the price.
Other Activities: You can take guided tours of the glacier with Franz Josef Glacier Guides (franzjosefglacier.com
), buzz the glaciers by air with Air Safaris (airsafaris.co.nz) or just take nature walks that provide fantastic views of the landscape. (Mind the warning signs about unstable ice.) After a long day of exploring, relax in the Glacier Hot Pools. About $19 for a day in the public pools, $65 for 45 minutes in a private pool for two, glacierhotpools.co.nz
A version of this article appeared April 27, 2013, on page D7 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: OneGiantLeap.
Story By: by Dan Charles
Say the words “crop insurance” and most people start to yawn. For years, few nonfarmers knew much about these government-subsidized insurance policies, and even fewer found any fault with them. After all, who could criticize a safety net for farmers that saves them from getting wiped out by floods or drought?
But consider this: According to a new analysis, crop insurance allowed corn and soybean farmers not only to survive last year’s epic drought, but it also allowed them to make bigger profits than they would have in a normal year. A big chunk of those profits were provided through taxpayer subsidies. In fact, crop insurance has grown into the largest subsidy that the government provides to America’s farmers.
“We really saw, in 2012, how the crop insurance program performs,” he says. “It kind of reveals itself.”
What’s revealed, first of all, is the fact that the vast majority of farmers are signing up for a version of insurance that Babcock calls the “Cadillac.” This kind of policy covers two different kinds of losses: lower harvests or lower prices.
Here’s why it’s Cadillac insurance and why it ends up costing taxpayers billions of dollars. Last year, farmers got a poor harvest. At the same time, because corn and soybeans were in short supply, prices soared, which benefited farmers greatly. The insurance, however, paid farmers for the lost yield â but paid them at the higher, post-drought market price. Essentially, farmers reaped the drought’s benefits, yet were protected from its harm.
“Those farmers made more money than they anticipated making when they planted the crop. That’s clear,” says Babcock.
In all, payouts added up to $16 billion last year, a new record, most of which was paid by taxpayers. According to Babcock, if farmers had instead signed up for another kind of crop insurance, which simply pays a farmer for revenue that’s lost because of crop failure, payouts would have come to just $6 billion.
According to Babcock, the government should limit its subsidies to this simpler, “plain-Jane” insurance policy, which is a perfectly adequate safety net for farmers. Under the current system, he says, government subsidies make “Cadillac” insurance artificially cheap, dramatically driving up the cost of the program. (On average, the premiums that farmers pay cover only about 40 percent of the cost of crop insurance.) “It just seems to me that a lot of money could be saved,” he says.
Congress is once again starting work on a new version of the farm bill, which sets the rules for crop insurance. It tried to pass a new bill last year, but failed.
ON THE FIRST WARM NIGHT of the year in Paris, the horse-chestnut trees along the Champs-ÃlysÃ©es are freshly veiled with new leaves. Just off the avenue, at Lasserre, a glamorous old luxury-liner of a restaurant, the elegant and habitually blasÃ© crowd can’t help grinning at the cancan moment this place is famous for. Late in the evening, as many diners are lingering over dessert, the roof overhead silently glides open to reveal the night sky.
The real revelation at Lasserre this spring isn’t in the stars, however, but on the menu. For the first time, this establishment power-tableârenowned for dishes like Pigeon AndrÃ© Malraux (pigeon stuffed with foie gras) and Poularde de Bresse en Demi-Deuil (capon with black truffles tucked under its skin)âis offering a vegetarian tasting menu.
Photos: Au Revoir, Foie GrasâGuten Tag, Greens
“There’s been a growing demand for vegetarian dishes from our clientele, which is very international,” said chef Christophe Moret. The grandson of a truck farmer, Mr. Moret grew up in the Loire Valley, one of France’s most famous vegetable patches. He came to Lasserre two years ago after working as head chef at Alain Ducasse au Plaza AthÃ©nÃ©e, also in Paris. “In France,” Mr. Moret continued, “there’s still this default idea of vegetarian food as some sort of punishment, and it’s just not true. In fact, one of my first gastronomic memories is eating delicious first-of-the-season peas from my grandfather’s garden.”
Though I’ve known and admired Mr. Moret’s cooking for many years, I’ll confess I was expecting to be underwhelmed by his vegetarian menu. I anticipated feeling a little deprived in the midst of other diners eating lobster and lamb (you may have guessed I am not habitually a vegetarian). And yet, to my surprise, it was one of the best dinners I’ve eaten during the last year.
It wasn’t the only meal among my recent favorites that was vegetarian from soup to nuts. During a trip to Zurich the week before, I’d noticed that most of the best restaurants in Switzerland’s business capital, including the trendy Clouds, a Michelin one-star, are now offering vegetarian menus alongside their conventional ones. Tipped off by local friends, I’d had a superb vegetarian meal by chef Antonio Colaianni at Mesa. The elegance of his panna cotta with baby peas, finger lime “caviar” and crisp rice flakes was the prelude to a meal that included the best pasta dish I’ve ever had: maccheroncini, freshly made by the chef’s mother, tossed with tomato water, morel mushrooms, sweet datterini tomatoes, fava beans and broccoli rabe. A few months earlier, at &Samhoud Places, Amsterdam’s new Michelin two-star, I had a vegetarian menu so good I’ve returned twice to try different versions.
It was at Lasserre, though, that I finally got it: Europe is in the midst of a green revolution. After more than 25 years of dining professionally at the best restaurants in the old world, I thought I knew that the crucial building blocks of flavor are long-simmered meat or seafood stocks and deglazed pan juices. But Lasserre’s vegetarian menu was seriously good, without relying on the flavor-builders I’d previously considered essential. A first course of baby vegetables dressed with a borscht vinaigrette, served in a pool of herb-steeped soy milk, was light years from the monks’ fare I’d feared. Next up, a veloutÃ© of baby peas with gnocchi made of just-set cheese was sublime. But what really fascinated me was the menu’s main course: spelt and citron garnished with a “primavera” that included asparagus, runner beans, radishes, baby leeks and carrots. If Mr. Moret’s cooking draws on the tenets of la nouvelle cuisineâthe movement launched in the 1970s that sought to make French cooking lighter and fresherâit was still grounded in the traditions of classical haute cuisine.
“The spectrum of tastes and textures was so complete, I did not notice the absence of anything bovine.”
In retrospect, the meal that heralded the new green cuisine now sprouting up in most major European cities was one I had 20 years ago, at chef Pietro Leemann’s Joia, in Milan. Arriving for dinner on an autumn night, I’d been looking forward to tucking into a nice cotoletta alla Milanese, the breaded veal chop that’s one of that city’s classic dishes, and was crestfallen to see a menu emblazoned with the slogan “Alta Cucina Naturale” (“Natural Haute Cuisine”). Yet I ate an excellent risotto with radicchio, and a superbly earthy and fleshy wild mushroom ragÃ¹. When Mr. Leemann stopped by the table at the end of the meal, I learned he’d been vegetarian since 1985, because he believes in the “evolution of nutrition for ourselves and the planet.” I also learned that he’d trained with the great Swiss chef FrÃ©dy Girardet. “I believe vegetarian cooking is inevitable,” Mr. Leemann added. If I had my doubts, I had to admit his cooking was exceptional. Joia, which has a Michelin star, thrives to this day.
Two decades later, I am convinced we’ve left the hair-shirt brand of vegetarian gastronomy behind. What’s more, thanks to chef-owner Moshik Roth, I’m confident that meat- and fish-free cooking can succeed in throwing off its deadly earnestness along with its puritanical baggage. Last year, the Israeli-Dutch chef closed his Michelin two-star, ‘t Brouwerskolkje, outside of Amsterdam, and moved to a duplex space in the city’s Oosterdokseiland district. On my first visit to the cool, contemporary dining room at &Samhoud Places, I ordered the vegetarian tasting menu out of curiosity. Mr. Roth established his cosmopolitan compass points with a flight of very good hors d’oeuvres: shiitake-stuffed dim sum with bok choy wrappers; a mini riff on Alsatian tarte flambÃ©e made with cream, onions and Munster, served on a Chinese soup spoon; a Pisco-and-lime cocktail; and a Central European-inflected ice cream cone of beetroot and horseradish. But it was the tasting plate entitled “Tomato/Lasagne Bolognese/Chili Sin Carne/Cheeseburger” that fully conveyed Mr. Roth’s galvanic talent and Falstaffian brio.
The spectrum of tastes and textures in these elegant miniatures was so complete that without being told, I might not have noticed the absence of anything bovine. The chef was clearly cocking a snook at me, and I loved it.
From this Pop Art plate, the meal became infinitely more sophisticated. A composition of multi-colored beets in a lemongrass and coconut-milk foam sprinkled with amber pearls of miso was technically fascinating. An artichoke sauced with a tofu Hollandaise laced with RÃ©my Martin XO laid to rest any lingering prejudices regarding vegetable-based cooking as penitential. “With my vegetarian menu, I wanted to prove that meat and seafood are completely optional in creating gastronomic pleasure,” said Mr. Roth as we chatted after dinner. “Acidity in various tones can stand in for the umami of meat juicesâalthough miso can be a rather brilliant joker in the vegetarian kitchen, too.”
No one’s ever going to wean me entirely off of langoustines and thick, juicy veal chops. But I now see the sense in something Lasserre’s Mr. Moret told me: “Meat, fowl and fish taste even better when they’re an occasional pleasure.”
Baby Vegetable Salad With Herbed Soy Milk
At Lasserre, Christophe Moret makes this salad using whatever vegetables are freshest and best at that moment. Using the quantities listed below as a guide, feel free to substitute whatever looks good at the market now.
Active Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 2Â½ hours Serves: 4
For the herbed soy milk:
Â½ cup soy milk
Leaves from Â½ small bunch fresh mint
Â½ small bunch fresh chervil
1 small bunch fresh sorrel
Â½ bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
Â½ bunch borage
For the borscht vinaigrette:
1 cup beet juice
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
3 1/3 tablespoons fruity olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the cooked vegetables:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 pound carrots, thinly sliced lengthwise
Â¼ pound fennel, thinly sliced lengthwise
Â¼ pound zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
For the salad:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground
black pepper, to taste
1/3 pound carrots, julienned
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
Â¼ pound celery, thinly sliced
Â¼ pound baby zucchini, thinly sliced into rounds
10 whole baby radishes, thinly sliced into rounds
For the garnish:
Small head romaine lettuce,
separated into individual leaves
Â½ pound fresh baby fava beans, shelled
Â½ pound fresh baby peas, shelled
What To Do
1. Make the herbed soy milk: PurÃ©e soy milk and herbs in a blender at high speed. Let stand 2 hours at room temperature, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve and discard herb pulp. Divide herbed soy milk among four shallow soup bowls and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.
2. Make the borscht vinaigrette: Heat beet juice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced by two-thirds. Add vinegar, oil, salt and pepper, and whisk to emulsify. Set aside.
3. Cook vegetables and dress salad: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a sautÃ© pan set over medium heat. Add carrots, fennel and zucchini, and sautÃ© until slightly softened but still al dente, 3-5 minutes. Combine 2 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a large bowl, add cooked and salad vegetables and toss to coat.
4. To serve: Remove soup bowls from refrigerator. Arrange 3 or 4 romaine leaves in each bowl, then divide vegetable mixture among bowls. Sprinkle fava beans and peas over each bowl and drizzle with borscht vinaigrette.
Spelt Primavera with Herbed Yogurt Sauce
Christophe Moret of Lasserre, in Paris, uses nutty-tasting spelt in this recipe. You can find the grain at specialty and health food markets, or online at bobsredmill.com. Farro and pearl barley would work well in this dish, too.
Active Time: 1 hour Total Time: 8 hours (includes soaking spelt) Serves: 4
For the yogurt sauce:
1 cup Greek-style yogurt
1 bunch chives, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, to taste
Piment d’Espelette, to taste
For the spelt:
1 white onion, finely chopped
3 1/3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup spelt, soaked in cold water overnight and drained
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 Meyer lemon, with peel, finely diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups vegetable stock
For the vegetable primavera:
Â¼ pound snow peas
Â¼ pound haricots verts
Â¼ pound sugar snap peas
1 small head broccoli, cut into small florets and stalks discarded
Â½ small head romanesco or 1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets
16 stalks green asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces
1 teaspoon olive oil
For the pea purÃ©e:
1 pound fresh baby peas, shelled
2 cups vegetable stock
What To Do
1. Make the yogurt sauce: Mix yogurt with herbs, oil, salt and piment d’Espelette. Consistency should be loose enough to drizzle.
2. Make the spelt: In a sauce pan over medium heat, sautÃ© onion in oil until transparent, 5-7 minutes. Add spelt, garam masala and half of lemon. SautÃ© until spelt begins to become transparent around the edges, 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add enough vegetable stock to cover spelt. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until grain is tender but still al dente, about 20 minutes. Cover with lid and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, make the vegetable primavera: Blanch each vegetable in boiling water, transferring to a bowl of ice water as you go. Drain vegetables and set aside.
4. Make the pea purÃ©e: Heat peas in a small non-stick sautÃ© pan over medium-high heat, 1-2 minutes. Add vegetable stock and cook until peas are just tender, 5 minutes. Drain peas, transfer to a food processor or blender and purÃ©e until smooth, adding a little stock if necessary to make a slightly loose consistency.
5. To serve: Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a sautÃ© pan set over low-medium heat, add vegetables and cook until warm, 2-3 minutes. Add pea purÃ©e and stir to lightly coat vegetables. Divide spelt among four warmed plates, top with vegetables, garnish with some of remaining diced lemon and lightly drizzle with yogurt sauce.
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A version of this article appeared April 20, 2013, on page D1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: LaNouvelleVeg.
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The presence of Lebanese singer Myriam Fares on the front row did not take the attention away from upcoming designer Rami Kadiâs collection, which started off like a breath of fresh air. With playful frills in short skirts Kadi quickly built the tempo as the gowns got bigger and more luxurious than the last. A product of Rabih Kayrouzâ Starch Foundation, the young designer proved why heâs built a reputation for his craftsmanship as intricate embroidery sat over beautiful cut-to-curve dresses that screamed glam. Highlights include a silk organza draped gown that was cut high above the knee on the front and an embroidered lace dress with the bottom in metallic yarn.
As he took his bow in a pastel-coloured tuxedo jacket, every one in the packed venue seem to acknowledge heâs arrived in the UAE.
Showing right after Rami Kadiâs dreamscape of a collection, Doha-based designer Lama Al Moatassem brought structure and order to the catwalk on Saturday evening via her label Toujouri. Practical and wearable, she went for copper and shine for the more elegant evening wear and pink, green and turquoise for her kaftans. Collars were on gowns and a jumpsuit paired with a silver belt, which got a huge round of applause. But our pick was the evening coat, sans collar, paired with a silver belt that gave it just the pizzazz it needed.
It was a case of saving the best for last as Hollywood celebrity favourite Michael Cinco took to the stage and wowed on his home turf. As if Cinco had a tight grip on the neck of every one attending his packed show on Saturday night, loud gasps were heard each time a model walked into the spotlight.
Starting off with a set of form-fitting pale nudes featuring his signature rich embroidery on sheer and lace, models slowly made their way to the end of the catwalk, building the anticipation with each sure trot. Then, as hints of his second set, all in black, appeared, it became clear Cinco was taking us back in time to live with the Russian Czars as headgear turned into crowns. Attention to detail was apparent on each piece as one got progressively more intricate than the other. There was lots of sensuality in the dark, extravagant set as Cinco played effectively, as he has always done, with Swarovski embellishments and his knowledge of fabric.
One collective wow â when a sequined gown red on top faded to black as it progressed down and ended with a massive ruffled train â was followed by another as the trains became bigger. By the time the final piece came, with the mother of all trains and in pale nude harking back to his first set of the evening, the audience was already on its feet, cheering the designer, who, after all these years, still has a lot to give.