The Buffet table at your holiday resort looks stunning, the food arranged with aesthetic attention to detail, and dominating the centre is a beautiful carving in ice, a pagoda, a ‘plane, a fantasie in ice with coloured lights making it dance and dazzle, or a bird, its neck an opaque white and the translucent wings poised as though to take flight. In a few hours it will have dissolved into a puddle.
The people who create these centrepieces are artists in ice, men and women who have the ability to create these beautiful animals, birds, and flowers in frozen water to add a shimmering brilliance to the tables. And they do this knowing it will all disappear in a few hours. Performance art? Or art installation?
Khun Panas Suchantra at the Dusit Thani Resort in Hua Hin, Thailand, was the resident artist in this ephemeral medium when I was last there. He is involved in every aspect of the work, from the early discussions with the F & B Manager, the chef, and the General Manager if the event is of importance.
I watched him work on various carvings over a three week period and never tired of the theatricality of the scene as he chipped and chopped, moved around with speed (the ice continues to melt as he works on it) and created delicate ice flowers and feathered wings with the precision of a mathematician.
Most ice-carving artists use many different types of chisels, plus a saw, to get their effects. Initally, a V-angle chisel is used to score the outline and to draw on the uncut ice, gouge chisels with their round tipped blades are used for making patterns, and flat chisels are for shaving. The saw is used for cutting and carving (see photograph below).
Khun Panas often works outdoors in a covered Pagoda overlooking the sea, a piece of performance art that is much appreciated by the visitors to the hotel who gather round to watch in silence, as a solid block of ice is transformed into a three-dimensional sculpture.
As he works, the mateial starts to melt and there is a sense of urgency about his actions but with a few quick movements he saws off a piece of the block on which he outlines a shape before beginning to chisel away the excess.
With the outer shape of the subject delineated he starts on the base cutting into the ice to enhance the main figure. After that it seems but a very short time before the ice-carving is complete, to be taken into the kitchens and stored in the freezer until it is ready to be placed centre table at the buffet.
Japan is the country that has elevated ice sculpting to high art: you only have to look at the Winter Festival in Sapporo to see what visions they create. It goes without saying therefore, that the best and most expensive tools come from that country, seasoned by years of experience in making Samurai swords.
Debbie’s theme this week for One Word Sunday is SPRING.
So, I dashed into the garden with my camera and took these signs of spring today before the coming heatwave shrivels them up – if we believe the weather forecast, that is. But if we do bask in tropical heat from Tuesday, I won’t mind as the thought of warm weather at the moment just makes me sing.
Link to One Word Sunday at Debbie’s here.
I tried to find something other than horses that could be associated with Equine but I’ve hit a blank wall, so here are three from different countries.
And what could gleam more than the highly polished antique cars in the Beaulieu Motoer Museum in Hampshire, UK.
And still gleaming, what about the white terraces formed from sedimentary rock deposits of hot springs at Pamukkale in Turkey.
Jagged means mountains and rocks to me, pieces of wood and jagged edges on textiles but for want of either textile or wood, I offer you some rocks in France and mountains in Switzerland.
Buffets come in many sizes and from budget to stratospheric. I think one of the finest ways to enjoy buffet food (and the safest) is street food in Thailand or Singapore where it is always served fresh and hot from the pan (unlike hotel food which is often cooked much earlier and then put on display). These pictures are all from Thailand’s night-markets where it’s fun to meet up with friends, grab a table and go from stall to stall buying your food and sharing – a true buffet experience.
And here’s the bit of posh from my favourite hotel in Thailand, the Dusit Thani in Hua Hin.
A few days ago, reading a reference to a part of London I once worked in, took me back to my favourite pub there, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street, one of the oldest pubs in the City of London. There has been a pub at this location since 1538 but it was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and rebuilt a couple of years after that. Its atmosphere speaks to me of another time and another place, and as one would expect, it has many literary connections. The etching below of Ye Olde Cheshire Cat dates from 1887 and is from a collection in the British Library.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is a labyrinth of rooms connected by jumbled up passageways but no one is quite sure which parts are original. Some of its earlier wainscoting has gone, most of the interior wood panelling dates from the nineteenth century, but it is claimed that the extensive vaulted cellars below, belonged to a 13th-century Carmelite monastery which once occupied the site.
The pub looks deceptively small from outside, but once entered you will find nooks and crannies in the rooms both upstairs and downstairs, with open fireplaces in winter. The “chophouse” (restaurant) is on the ground floor and the pub serves an excellent selection of ales, wines and spirits.
In A Tale of Two Cities, Sidney Carton leads Charles Darnay through Fleet Street “up a covered alleyway into a tavern” where they dined after Darnay’s acquittal and today, patrons still enter via the narrow alley by the side.
The interior walls are decorated with plaques detailing the many literary figures that patronised the pub over the centuries. The famous Dr. Johnson lived just down the street and there is a plaque there to him which is not surprising, aone to Charles Dickens whose characters haunt this area of London, but it was a surprise to find the likes of American Mark Twain, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and P.G. Wodehouse, all regular visitors, honoured in the same way. P.G. Wodehouse famously mentioned the pub in one of his letters when he wrote “I looked in at the Garrick at lunchtime, took one glance …… at the mob, and went off to lunch by myself at the Cheshire Cheese”.
Although Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is very much on the tourist route along Fleet Street down to The Tower of London and the city, it is still ‘the local’ for those who work in the area and anyone wandering in from the street will immediately feel they are in a London pub. There is a buzz, an atmosphere, and an indefinable aura of the past about the place. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Johnson’s cat wandered in looking for the good Doctor.
No prizes for guessing where this Silent Sunday is taking place.
I’m trying to avoid green fields and green trees, so bear with me while I struggle. I found a few, so here goes.
It was in the small Spanish fishing villages of Lloret de Mar and Tossa de Mar that the torrid romance of Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra played out in the 1950s. More than a romance between singer and actress, this was a passion of operatic proportions played out between the singer, the actress and the matador, because Ava was also having an affair with Catalan matador, Mario Cabré.
In 1950 Sinatra came to Spain to be with Ava who was living in Tossa de Mar while shooting Pandora and the Flying Dutchman. They tried to be discreet about their affair but as the Matador publicly dedicated every bull he killed to Ava, this proved impossible. Sinatra divorced his wife in 1951 and married Ava the same year.
In 1953, the pair split up, but Sinatra came back looking for her at Christmas of that year by which time, Gardner was having an affair with another bullfighter, the famous Luis Miguel Dominguín. Sinatra and Ava made up and moved to Madrid where their life was lived out in public in night-clubs and restaurants, their frequent booze-fuelled fights ensuring the affair remained front-page news. They divorced in 1957.
Gardner became an alcoholic. She had a stroke which left her unable to speak properly and the only person she would speak to in her last years was Frank Sinatra who telephoned her regularly. She said he had always been the love of her life.
Ava’s charm and friendliness won over the people of the two villages and both towns erected a statue to her. The one below is in Tossa de Mar, the one above from Lloret de Mar taken on a visit I made in the early days of this century. I think the Tossa one is more beautiful but the Lloret one was meant to symbolise her role in The Barefoot Contessa.