LOBSTERS

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Today Saturday 16 May was the first day live lobsters were available on the market place. Yesterday was setting day and the fishers went out to sea to harvest lobsters. So today long line ups of Islanders in 45F weather, respecting the 2 metres or 6 feet apart rule of social distancing could be seen outside shops selling seafood. It is a tradition to have your first feed of lobster, it is like Beaujolais Nouveau.

Until about 1960 eating lobster was not popular, lobster was poor people food, in schools the poor kid ate lobster sandwiches while the rich kids ate baloney on white bread. I know it is laughable but that was the way back then, how things have changed.

In the maritimes lobster is fished everywhere but they do not all taste the same. Also lobster trapped in one region does not travel or is not exported to another region, this is done to protect markets and the fishers. So in Caraquet in New Brunswick the fishers will sell their lobsters in N.B. In PEI it is sold only in PEI and exported to foreign markets. We do not get lobsters from Nova Scotia though their season starts earlier than ours in PEI. No we do not have Maine lobster, considered foreign. Though on international markets PEI competes with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and the US market. Usually Canada wins because of our dollar being 0.25 to 0.30 cents cheaper than the US dollar.

Lobster is a rich meat and usually a one pound beast is enough for a satisfying meal. Many tourist will try the 2 pound lobster and some brave soul may go for a 3 pound lobster, but I cannot imagine how you do that, it is sooo rich tasting. Also the price in a restaurant can start at $30 for a one pound lobster and will go up with weight. At the fish store today the little canner sold for $6.99 and the one pound lobster sold for $9.99.  You will pay more if you want only the meat. You can buy it cooked or live. What you should look for when buying a live lobster is the long antennae, if they are intact this means that the beast is not stressed and was not involved in fights with other lobsters, it’s a sign of quality.

Cooking your lobster at home,  remember only fresh Sea water never tap water. Do follow carefully cooking time, over cook it and it’s uneatable and chewy. The meat should be like butter. Lobster is good served with lemon wedge or if  you prefer with hot melted butter but that is not necessary since the meat is rich tasting. 81WA8rHCDIL._SL1500_

The claws are powerful and be careful not to put you hand or fingers near them, it can be painful and very unpleasant and they don’t let go. In 1990, The U.S. National Institutes of Health tested lobster for cholesterol content and found that it was just as low in cholesterol, fat and calories as chicken and turkey. (Just watch out for the butter!)

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So tomorrow Sunday we will go get some lobsters across the street at the Water Prince restaurant for our dinner.

 

 

May 15, Setting Day

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Today is a very important day in the Maritimes. Setting Day is 2 weeks late this year due to the Pandemic. Fishers are nervous and anxious about this day but following established rules, all should go well. Lobster traps are set today and this means that we will have PEI Lobsters available in the next day or so.

The current price in fish stores is $9 a pound uncooked and $10 cooked. However the Island is still closed to visitors until further notice, so the pricing may stay low with only local demand.

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The boats set out at dawn from various harbours around the Island.

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YouTube or not

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Yesterday I had an idea, I was watching someone’s video on YouTube where this person was talking about pet projects like interior decorating, cocktails, cuisine, books, etc.  It started me thinking that maybe I should have a YouTube channel instead of a written blog. I could present whatever topic and it would be recorded live with graphics and nice background. Several people do it, from their kitchen, living room, bedroom, Office or with a moving scenery behind them like the ocean. It would be different I think. However I remember doing short videos for YouTube during my political campaign, I did 7 videos and each one took a lot of time. Writing a text first of all that was concise and to the point. Then filming it and editing it, several days could be spent doing this. So when you go to YouTube and you have someone presenting, remember that they did not do this in 5 minutes and it is not spur of the moment.

This is an example of what I did then. I had help because I am not fluent in the techno side of making videos. It was fun but it was work.

Another challenge is the content and visuals must always be different in a video. When writing it is a lot easier, you expand on one ideas and write it down, put up a few pictures and voilà.

The other challenge is the equipment, doing video requires a lot of equipment from the camera to the microphone, lights, etc. You can do it yourself yes but you can also require someone to help you out. I would really have to study the whole thing carefully and see if it is worth it.

Now that I have more than 1000 entries and close to 500 followers here on this blog, I feel I have written a big book about life and events.

 

More photos

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The project of rebuilding the City Palace in Berlin is now coming to a close. Though a few days ago it was announced that there will be a delay to opening up the new museum because of Covid19 only 70% of workers are accessing the site at this time, social distancing etc. On the web cam you can see that all the workers outside are keeping a good distance from each other. Inside the building is pretty much completed what is missing now are the technical permissions from inspectors, sign off on all phases of this project and that is another delay. Given that this is a massive project and with many technical aspects, I am not surprised.

Here are photos of the completed dome minus the famous lantern on top which is coming in a few weeks to be installed by helicopter. I still want to see that and there will be a YouTube video about it for sure, not everyday you install a 16 ton lantern all the way up there.

Another fantastic project under way now, in Russia this time, is the completion of the renovations at the Alexander Palace in Tsarkoe Selo near St-Pertersburg.

The palace was the last residence of Tsar Nicholas II and his family before their arrest and deportation to their place of execution. He and his family have been rehabilitated by the Russian authorities and deemed victims of Bolchevik terror in 1918. The restoration required an army of gifted artisans to recreate rooms from rumble. Though in that typical ghoulish aspect of Bolchevik thinking every object belonging to the Imperial family was saved and warehoused and archived.

I will put up some photos of that restoration, it is quite marvellous, so much hard work, the Palace is re-opening to visitors in 2022.

Berlin the copper clad dome of the City Palace free of its scaffolding.

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This morning 13 May, view from the Crown Prince Palais. The blue ring inscription around the dome is a prayer to God, the dome area was a Lutheran Chapel.

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A closer view from the Commandature Palace, housing Bertelsmann a media, services and education company that operates in about 50 countries around the world. It includes the broadcaster RTL Group. This company had the former palace of the Commandant of the guards re-built on Unter Den Linden avenue some 10 years ago.

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View of the North Side of the City Palace from the Lust Garden. In this reconstruction of the Palace a restaurant has been added on the roof, it should have quite a nice view of the city. Looks like Spring has arrived in Berlin, the Linden trees are in leaf.

 

One Thousand Posts

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WordPress tells me I have now written one thousand entries on this blog. I use to be with Blogspot and I am sure I wrote a few hundreds on that site also.

I just finished reading Wild Olives by William Graves, written in 1995 for the centenary of his father author and poet Robert Graves, it is a biography and a family story of their life in the small mountain village of Deia in Majorca. Robert Graves lived most of his life there before and after the Second World War and the Spanish Civil War. A strange book, full of family recriminations and regrets. William was the oldest surviving son of Robert Graves and one of 8 children his father had with his two wives, Nancy Nicolson and Beryl Pritchard. Robert Graves also had loads of young nymphette his muses he called them, girls as young as 17 who moved in with him, his wife and the kids. Drugs, wild parties and celebrity lifestyle spanning the period from 1946-1985. The English would say that Robert Graves was eccentric, E.F. Benson in his book called them Freaks.  You feel no attachment to these people and frankly found the whole book strange, somewhat distateful.

Yes Robert Graves was probably the English Poet of the XXth century and he is best remembered for his book I Claudius and Goodbye to all that. The book also covers at lenght the life of a bunch of ex-pats in Majorca, friends of R.G. which is not endearing. Though to the credit of Robert Graves and his children, they all spoke several languages including Spanish and Catalan with the Majorcan accent. The children went to school in Palma and in England. University for them was Oxford.

Robert Graves was the big alpha male type, he justified seducing young women he fancied as a need for his inspiration for his poetic prose, developing the theme of satisfying the White Goddess. He did write celebrated poems and his books became required reading in the UK school system. His second wife Beryl Pritchard was 20 years his junior and put up with it, paying little attention to the muses and befriending some of them. William Graves in his book narrates his own childhood and the many difficulties he and his siblings had living with a world famous father who expected everyone to obey him in everything. A man who held Court at his house Canellun receiving many other famous people of the period an endless stream it seems. What did the people of Deia think of all this, William tells us that they were in awe of his father who could make things happen in the village and surrounding area in the years of the Fascist dictatorship of General Franco.

W. said to me do we really need to know all the imperfections of a famous person? We enjoy their work so why not leave it at that. When William Graves wrote this book, his mother Beryl was still alive, a person he describes as very private, she died in Deia in 2003. William as executor of this father’s Estate now runs the Robert Graves Literary Foundation at Canellun, the family home in Deia.

At the end of the book William Graves warns the reader that the village of Deia and the Isle of Majorca are no longer as he wrote about them. He spoke of a period in time whose actors are all gone now. From a simple village Deia in the 1960 and 70’s became first a hippie stop over and then a retreat for the wealthy German and British ex-pats. As he says the rustic Deia I knew no longer exist.

His father after 1975 suffered from senile dementia and became with time a confuse and then quiet vacant figure in a wheelchair and the celebrity seekers continued to come to Canellun to see the great man and get a photo.

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Robert von Ranke Graves, 1895-1985.

Another Covid day

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So this Monday we have lovely sunny and warm weather, so I went for an hour long walk to the end of our street and along the Hillsborough River to Victoria Park which is the former Royal Park of the Lieutenant Governor’s Residence. It’s a very big park about 90 acres of forest and parkland. On one side is the Residence of the L.G. with its 10 acres of manicured park and old trees. The grounds are usually open but the L.G. told the groundskeeper to close the gates during the pandemic.

It is so quiet and pleasant to walk along the streets by the river with its beautiful parks and old trees, mansions and nice homes. No cars and just a few people who seeing you coming simply take their distances.

I was at the supermarket yesterday and I just became anxious, nervous and tired of the place. There was not many people in the store it was quiet and no waiting at the cashier station. Still I just dislike it and find people in general to be self centred and not aware of their surroundings. I only go now about once every 8 days and try to go early to avoid people. There is stress in all of this and I am also tired of constantly sanitizing everything.

We are in PEI in a privilege situation in North America and Canada, no cases and no one sick or recovering. The down side, people immediately feel over confident thinking its over and let’s return to before 11 March when it all started.  Our Island borders are still closed but there is a lot of political pressure to re-open to allow people from elsewhere in Canada and the USA to come to their Summer cottages. Like many I am firmly against such an idea, Canada has 70,000 cases now most of them in Quebec and Ontario the two most populous provinces. With numbers still climbing each day though not as fast. Montreal is a real disaster area, it is so bad that the Government of Quebec may quarantine the entire Island of Montreal some 4 million people to flatten the curve.

We will have a quiet Summer in PEI our tourism traffic is down 90% and now operators are hoping in Islanders as customers, renting camp grounds and staying in resorts or renting a cottage by the beach.

Here are some pictures of what we have been cooking or got from the Water Prince restaurant across the street from us now open for take-out. You may know this restaurant where many celebrities comes for a lobster. It is a simply unpretentious place but the food is superb and we know the owner and his son and all the staff. Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee ate there a few years ago.

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Malpeque Oysters on the half shell prepared for us at the Water Prince. A nice appetizer for dinner.

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Haligut and chips. At the moment Halibut is in Season and I prefer it to Haddock.

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Made at home, puff pastry stuffed with meat and vegetables served with Brocolletti.

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Pastry stuffed with raspberry jam and sliced almonds.

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Made this meat pie with vegetables for an evening dinner.

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A 3 lbs Pork Roast in a cast iron pan, using a marinade of garlic, thyme, rosemary and Cayenne pepper. The cast iron pan is perfect and it goes into the oven. It was soooo good.

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Banana Foster a New Orleans recipe with Rum, brown sugar and vanilla ice cream.

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Banana Bread,  Nicky and Nora love a piece of banana in the morning after their breakfast. So we had too many bananas and made bread out of the more ripe ones.

 

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James Duncan – Charlottetown’s Biggest Bankrupt — Sailstrait

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I read the new entry in the blog Sailstrait of Harry Holman, who for years was the PEI Chief Archivist. Harry knows his stuff and he knows it in detail, he wrote the history of the house were we live currently. I knew that it was the Duncan family home and the Hon. James Duncan was a shipbuilder in PEI. However there was lots of details I did not know and was very surprised to read it all in Harry’s entry. Suddenly I do not look at the building in the same way now nor the land surrounding the house and the incredible physical changes that have occurred in the last 200 years.

Here is the story of our house on Water Street.

Between the Steam Navigation Wharf (which had carried the names of Reddin’s Wharf and Pope’s Wharf) and the Ferry Wharf at the end of Prince Street lies a property of some significance to the history of Prince Edward Island. Here the foreshore stood at the foot of a high embankment and the waters were relatively […]

via James Duncan – Charlottetown’s Biggest Bankrupt — Sailstrait

Meals

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Recently a fellow blogger commented that we eat like Royalty. I don’t think we do but every morning as I rise early at the crack of Noon, my first question to Monsieur W is what will we have for dinner and his answer is always, what do we have in the garde manger? We always try to plan meals ahead so that it is all organized before meal time. These days with all the restrictions it is unlikely we will get a dinner invitation or go to a restaurant, they are ALL closed!

I also watch Sheryl on What’s for tea on YouTube and she plans her meals for the week, now I would not do that, but she does because she lives South of Glasgow Scotland and goes to Tesco to shop for specials. She is also very chatty on her channel. I do watch two other cuisine channels who will have some interesting recipes. Bonita in Newfoundland of Bonita’s Kitchen on YouTube specializes in NFLD cooking and specialty and I did find a couple of recipe she presented. One of them is the following recipe for a Cheddar Shrimp and Penne bake. Simple and easy to make, no fuss. She also presented the other day a Lobster Salad and again easy to make and so good looking. I am going to try that in the coming weeks when I can get some Lobster claws, I need 3 cup full. It’s the sort of thing you can prepare for a luncheon and everyone will think it was so fab!

So here is a sample of what was on the menu this past few days at Maison B&H.

Roast chicken with sage and roasted vegetables in a rich white wine sauce. We have been roasting radishes and they are quite good with other root vegetables.

Filet of steak with a baked potato

Osso Buco (veal) with a white rice and vegetables celery, carrots and onions in white wine sauce.

Wild Pacific Salmon and home made scallop potatoes in a cream sauce.

Tonight is the following recipe which only take 20 minute to prepare and 35 to cook.

Cheddar Shrimp and Penne

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked penne pasta
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided.
  • 1/2 cup of Parmesan
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined cooked medium shrimp

Directions

  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cook the garlic in butter over medium heat for 1 minute. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper until blended. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat; stir in 1 cup of cheese until melted. Remove from the heat.
  • Drain pasta; add the pasta, shrimp to cheese sauce, mix well. Transfer to a greased 2-qt. baking dish.
  • Cover and bake at 350° for 25 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with cheddar cheese remaining and add Parmesan. Bake 10-15 minutes longer or until bubbly.

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16 tons

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I did not know that you could lift with a giant helicopter some 16 tons. This is the weight of the Lantern to be installed on top of the dome, some 350 feet above ground, a delicate installation. Military grade helicopters can lift much more.

At the end of May this is what is schedule to happen, the lantern on the dome of the City Palace will be lifted up and delicately lowered and installed. The requirement is for a windless day, a certain stillness in the air so to speak. I am sure it will be quite the show to see this happen. It is also not clear how they will get the Lantern to the City Palace. The workshop is at some distance. Will they fly it over by helicopter to the site? Possibly.

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Here is a photo in the workshop with the balustrade and one bronze angel assembled. The entire Lantern is over 35 feet in height. This photo does not give a correct appreciation of the size of this Lantern which will sit at the top of the dome.

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You may recall that in an earlier post I mentioned that in rebuilding the City Palace in Berlin now known as the Humboldt Forum, it was important to involve the general public and reflect the historical past of Berlin from 1445.  It was King Frederick Wilhelm IV (1795-1861) who was a very religious man, who had the dome designed along Christian iconography. It is in direct contrast with the other palace courtyard with Greek gods of antiquity designed earlier by architect/sculptor Andreas Schlüter (1664-1714) who worked for the Prince Elector Frederick I. In the case of the Schlüterhof all the statues will be installed later this Summer I believe there is 12 total, all newly sculpted to replace the original which were badly damaged in 1945 which are now installed in a gallery of the Humboldt Forum museum.

 

The little film below show above the main entrance portico of the Honour Courtyard four statues representing Christian Virtues, each 3 meter tall, reproductions in Sandstone from photos and drawings. Faith, Love, Prayer, Hope, Christian virtues King Frederick Wilhelm IV wanted represented. It was part of his very conservative mindset.

Here is a little film on their installation recently in German with English subtitles.