Saturday, October 22, 2011

Phoenix - Beckett's Table

Beckett's Table has been open for a few months and I finally had an opportunity to enjoy a wonderful dinner.  We had reservations so our table was ready when we arrived. I have noticed driving by in the past that the parking lot is full, so I recommend reservations so that you won't have to wait.  We made reservations a week in advance because it was "Phoenix Restaurant Week" and this place was bound to be full (and it was!)

We split appetizers so that we could have some of both.
This was chicken meatballs and smokey tomato sauce, roasted onions, eggplant & peppers, bread crumbs and basil.  Very tasty.

We also had a vegetable chop salad, razz cherries, pepitas, cucumber, carrot, fennel, potato, tomato, green beans, celery, red bells, corn, champagne basil vinaigrette.  This was good too.

For our entry we both had the same thing: Steamed white bass with farmer's market organics.
 The other choices were Fire Roasted green chili pork stew with corn bread, cotija cheese or J's Meatloaf, cream yukon mashed, green beans, mushroom gravy.

Included in the $30 fixed price was a glass of house red wine (or white or beer).

Dessert was a choice of "award winning fig and pecan pie, with cream cheese citrus zest ice cream. (Yes, cream cheese ice and creamy.)

You could also have Chocolate dipped bacon s'mores, caramel, house-made marshmallows, whipped peanut butter, graham cracker.  Sounded good.

I highly recommend a dinner here.  The service was good and timing of the courses allowed plenty of time to relax, chat, and enjoy good company and good food.

Click here to go to Beckett's Table on the web.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Versailles - A Garden in Four Seasons

Versailles: A Garden in Four Seasons 

The sumptuous palace and gardens of Versailles represented both Louis XIV’s celebration of himself and a perfectly balanced integration of art and nature. Millions of tourists have long admired the gardens for their inexhaustible source of new life and enduring mystery. The allĂ©es and parterres resonate with memories of pomps and promenades, feasts and follies. As a monument to the Sun King, the solar symbolism of Apollo reigns over both architecture and ornament at Versailles, yet French classicism dominates the gardens, imposing a strict geometrical order on the forest, shaping the flowerbeds and boxwood, and brightening the bosky depths with fountains and statuary.  [Book Description]

Photographer Jacques Dubois presents Versailles through the cycle of the seasons and the shifting intensities of their light. His evocative images show the great facades, the stone goddesses, the flowers and pools, the masks, columns, and towering trees transformed by the ever-shifting forces of nature. Brief essays provide historical perspective and insight into the development of this enduring landmark. This gorgeous book will be treasured by visitors to Versailles as well as any garden lover.   [Book Description]

I've visited Versaille in each season to see the differences in colors and perspectives.  It's easy to think "Oh, it will just be the same." But each season brings something new, with the changing light, the weather, and the crowds. Sunshine, rain, snow.  It all makes such a difference in the look and feel of the gardens.  Here are a few comparisons from my trips.  My first trip to Versaille was in the Summer of 2007. I toured the Palace, and walked the center part of the gardens.  I was fascinated by the statues and water ponds. In the fall of 2009, I wanted to go to see what the trees looked like with full color, and discovered the other areas of the grounds that were now open, such as the Trianon.  In the winter of  2010, I was amazed with the snow cover, iced over ponds, and stillness of the grounds.  It was beautiful, and freezing!  In the spring of 2011, I had read some additional literature and books on the gardens, and, to my delight, discovered that there were more water fountains, grottos and delightful areas hidden amoung the trees.  The trip from Paris to Versaille is very easy and is a short train ride.  More and more rooms are renovated, and opened, at the Palace although I have gone just to see the Gardens. The fountains are all running on the weekends in the Spring and Summer. Check the website for exact dates and times.  You can buy a ticket just to visit the gardens if you have already seen the Palace interior. (The Gardens are free during the week.)  Okay, on to the photographs and the seasons.

Note: I will add my Summer 2007 pictures soon.
The Front Entrance
Fall 2009
Notice that the left facade is under renovation.  The palace is in a constant state of renovation to restore it to the former condition.
The open plaza leading to the gates is all cobblestone. This is not a problem in dry weather.

Winter 2010
The facade update has been completed. The gold trim is brilliant.
The cobblestone is slushy and hides puddles of cold wet surprises.

Spring 2011
The cobblestones are wet and slippery, and water is running down hill.

Side Gardens
Fall 2009

Winter 2010

Spring 2011

Water Parterres
Large reflecting pools on the first level at the Chateau's back.
Fall 2009

Winter 2010
Ice covers the ponds and the fountains are still.  Snows lays on the statues around the pool.
The gold statue in the background is from a special exhibit.

Spring 2011
The grass is green and the fountains are active.

The Grand Perspective
From "the king's viewing point"
Fountain of Latona, mother of Apollo and Diana, in the center of the Grand Perspective.
Fall 2009. The trees are just beginning to turn color.

Winter 2010
Snow covers the ground and the trees have all dropped their leaves.

Spring 2011
The fountains are active from April to October, and the Gardens come alive.
White blossoms can be seen on the trees in the forested area.

More books on the Gardens at Versailles (Amazon affiliate links)
Versailles: The History of the Gardens and Their Sculpture
Versailles Gardens
Gardens of Versailles
Territorial Ambitions and the Gardens of Versailles (Cambridge Cultural Social Studies)
Gardens of the World VERSAILLES Paris, France
Marie-Antoinette and the Last Garden at Versailles
The Gardens of Le Notre at Versailles: Plans by Jean Chaufourier
Key to the Panorama of the palace and garden of Versailles. Painted by J. Vanderlyn.