Monthly Archives: November 2016



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Carnaval de Nice for a City Healing


Carnaval de Nice for a City Healing

Story & Slideshow by Skip Kaltenheuser


Sting recently played at the reopening of the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, marking the one year anniversary of the mad tragedy there. Other healing gestures will be in Nice, recovering from August’s shock and awe from a broken mind. The holiday season will provide some comfort, but a more boisterous defiance is coming. The incomprehensible act had me recall when I joined celebrants on a different occasion, watching fireworks from Nice’s Promenade des Anglais long ago. It’s a sadness now to envision the tragedy of Bastille Day, the vulnerability of those looking skyward.

But those who know the city, and who have felt the joy of crowds on the promenade – La Prom – can also recall the city’s irrepressible spirit. Among the occasions it shines brightest is Carnaval.

Starting in the 1700’s, much of the English aristocracy wintered in Nice, drawn to the splendid coastal panorama. Egalitarian roots were planted in 1820, when a rough winter brought beggars from the north. The English dreamed up a project for them, constructing a walkway, paid for by the English barrister and reverend, Lewis Way. Christian charity at its best and most coveted.

The beautiful Mediterranean backdrop is a good fit for one of the most artful and whimsical cities in Europe. Art museums are an embarrassment of riches, from the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art to museums specific to individual artists including Matisse and Chagall, with loads more up and down the Cote d’Azur. Contemporary galleries that stretch the imagination testify to the quality of artists still drawn to the magnetic region.

Overlooking the beach It is hard to imagine a more innocent seven kilometers than when La Prom is filled with families. Baby carriages, skaters, bicyclists, skateboarders, walkers and joggers – it stays in happy motion beneath the palm trees. It is also hard to imagine a more artful place than when I was there in February of 2003, for Carnaval de Nice.

Read a carnaval snapshot  <>

One of Carnaval’s treats, the Batailles des Fleurs – Battles of Flowers – comprises five parades on La Prom, interspersed with other parades over a couple weeks. Twenty or so painstakingly decorated flower floats, each with thousands of stems refreshed on the design in a single day, carry costumed models throwing one and a half million or more locally grown flowers at the crowd. Floats are accompanied by artful dancers, bands, jugglers, acrobats and stilt walkers. It’s a jolting contrast, the recent tragedy and flowers flung at delighted crowds.

Satire reigns in other carnaval parades scattered over the celebration, including the parades of “big heads” and parades of a couple dozen or more elaborate two-ton floats built by volunteer artists over six months, based on winning themes submitted by cartoonists from around the world. The biggest worry was string in a can.

The satirical theme when I was there was the King of .comMedi, with plenty of hard jabs at media’s oppressive and intrusive aspects. I remember a float of a papier-mâché Larry King driving a giant tank, firing confetti from the turret with a CNN microphone at the end. Easy to reflect now on the pundits of major bellwether media that cheer-leaded for the invasion of Iraq. Shortly after that parade, the neo-diss and dats, Nut’nyahoo and the other geniuses got their way. Afghanistan was back-burnered and Iraq was invaded, unleashing waves of hell that destabilized the region, displaced desperate millions and lost the childhood of generations. It incubated Daesh and gave some broken minds wherever they might surface the illusion of higher purpose, even for massacre by lorry. As prescient was a float of a giant grim reaper with a video cam.

The port city is strengthened by its international melting pot. The loss Nice suffered won’t disappear as easily as a Carnaval’s King burned in effigy, taking away a year of woes. As with any senseless tragedy, there will always be wounds within surviving family and friends, tended to by whatever ways they find to cope. But this city’s artistic sensibilities and playful humor will survive any assault from madness. It is a perspective needed for France and Europe to avoid damaging backlash. This is a time not to diminish but to draw from the strength of people of different backgrounds finding common ground.

The 2017 Carnaval theme is the King of Energy. Perhaps global warming, another great displacement in the queue, is on the mind. It was on mine last summer, as the heat dome settled in, part of the hottest five years on record, Donald.

For counter-programming, any part of the year is a good time to uncork a lunch bottle of rose’ on the French Riviera, but if you want to join Nice poking fun at society’s foibles, check out Nice Carnaval. <>  Nice tourism, < tourism. <> The 2017 Carnaval is Feb. 11th-26th.

Whenever you explore, bet on the triumph of Nice culture over those unable to grasp and embrace it. LIberte’, Equalite’, Fraternite’. That shouldn’t be a hard sell.



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An Annual Ode to Turkey Day


Natural Traveler’s Review of the Thanksgiving Menu at Keens Steakhouse in New York City

By JR Rosenthal, Food Editor

Executive Chef Bill Rodgers knows a thing or two about the concept of farm to table. In planning and formulating this year’s Thanksgiving menu, Rodgers has harkened back to the culinary mantra that local and sustainable reigns supreme.

“Several of the menu items for 2016 reflect my interest in promoting local purveyors, farmers and growers, “says Rodgers, who is known for riding his motorcycle into the most remote areas to investigate the best quality ingredients. “And so I was able to find a farm in rural Pennsylvania that is cultivating Asian pears; a creamery in Vermont that produces one of the best blue cheeses in the world; and a free-range game farm in the Hudson Valley that raises the best turkeys available.”

The latter reference is to a dish that is not new to the Keens Thanksgiving Menu: The Organic Free-Range Turkey from Quattro Farms in Pleasant Valley, New York, has been a mainstay on the menu here for years. Featured in the Keens T-Day roundup last year,  this Baron of turkeys  is so delicious and complex because the birds are raised of high-quality, locally-grown feeds and treated with the deference they deserve.

20161102_154415The four new dishes this year are bound to be classics: The list includes two new appetizers—Roasted Purple Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese, and Small Butternut Squash and Potato Dumplings with Brown Butter and Sage. And two new items in the soup and salad course: Chestnut Soup with Pancetta, and Mesclun Greens with Pennsylvania Pears, Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese and Candied Pecans.

Bayley Hazen is a cheese made from raw milk at the Jasper Hill Creamery in Greensboro Bend, Vermont. Bayley Hazen is the perfect blue cheese, as it evokes a creamy, buttery, grassy flavor, fudge-like texture and a psychedelic blue-grey color.

The Asian pears, produced in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania, are so succulent and subtle in flavor—the perfect counterpoint to the nutty tones of the Bayley Hazen. “I decided to add candied pecans instead of my original choice of candied walnuts to the salad, “said Rodgers, because pecans have a richer flavor that pairs perfectly with blue cheese and pear.”

Here are the chef’s descriptions of the four new items, followed by the full menu of delights served up on November 24. Enjoy!

Mesclun Greens with Pennsylvania Pears, Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese and Candied Pecans20161103_134417

Field lettuces with sliced Asian pears, watermelon radish, Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese and candied pecans dressed in a Dijon Vinaigrette made with mustard, rice and red wine vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, canola oil and peanut oil.

Chestnut Soup with Pancetta

A traditional holiday soup made with chestnuts, pancetta, onions, celery, chicken stock and milk, then garnished with crisp pancetta.

20161028_175440Small Butternut Squash and Potato Dumplings with Brown Butter and Sage

Delicate gnocchi made from roasted butternut squash, potatoes, eggs, flour, parmesan cheese, nutmeg and salt. The dumplings are sauteed with butter and finished with black trumpet mushrooms, shaved parmesan and sage butter.

Roasted Hudson Valley Purple Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese

Locally grown cauliflower poached in wine, water, butter, olive oil, lemon juice, bay leaf and crushed red pepper. Roasted in a 475 degree oven and served with a combination of whipped goat cheese, cream cheese and garnished with chopped chive.




Iced Relish Tray with carrots, celery, olives and house-made blue cheese dressing.



Starters (pick 1)

Iced Shrimp Cocktail

Roasted Purple Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese

Grilled Thick-cut Berkshire Bacon

Small Butternut Squash and Potato Dumplings with Brown Butter and Sage

Maryland Lump Crab Cakes


Soup and Salad (pick 1)

Chestnut Soup with Pancetta

Mesclun Greens with Pennsylvania Pears, Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese and Candied Pecans

Entrees (pick 1)

Organic Free-Range Turkey from Quattro Farms

Two 6-ounce double Colorado Lamb Chops

King’s Cut Prime Rib of Beef

12-ounce Prime Filet

Steamed Whole Maine Lobster

Sides (all are included)

Glazed Carrots

Smashed Candied Yams

Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes

Fine String Beans

House-made stuffing (aka dressing)

Desserts (pick 1)

Pecan Pie with Bourbon Cream

Assortment of Sorbets and Ice Creams

Lady M Chocolate Cake

Pumpkin Pie with Ginger Cream

Warm Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream


Keens Full Roast Coffee or Tea

$115 per person

$58 children under 12



Keens Steakhouse

72 W. 36th Street, New York City, New York 10018

Open 1 to 8:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day

Reservation Required