Atlantis Alumni

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Adventures in La-La Land

Photo: fresh-made Key Lime Pie at Blue Plate Oysterette

We flew this morning from Philadelphia directly to LA. After picking up our rental car at the Airport, it took us about 40 minutes to drive 8 miles to our B n’ B near West Hollywood. That proved how crazy the traffic is in this sprawling city. Everything is crammed together: all of the stores, businesses, restaurants, public buildings and colonial Spanish-style houses where millions of people live. Unlike Eastern cities with separate sections for public and business, or shopping or residential neighborhoods, such separation does not seem characteristic for the city of the Angels. And there are palm trees, golden grass-covered hills and tropical flowers everywhere. In short, this seems almost like another country. Our B & B is an exotic old house full of kitsch and Hollywood memorabilia. For dinner we drove to a West Hollywood eatery, in a trendy part of the city full of fascinating and pricey restaurants. We ate at Blue Plate Oysterette, which was an excellent seafood place. Among other dishes we sampled oysters Rockerfeller, a halibut with fried sprouts, and seared trout with Japanese miyake mushrooms garnished with orange butter. The desserts were totally decadent: a lemony blueberry crumble and a home-made, circular-shaped key lime pie which melted on the tongue. Jim is gearing up for his big diving day off Catalina Island tomorrow, while Dan plans to revisit LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. –Dan

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Spring! At Last!

Yes, Spring flowers are beautiful. Here in Philadelphia we have daffodils and Magnolia trees and Cherry Blossom trees in full bloom. My orchid plant has also bloomed for the third time since I received it last March as a get-well gift from friends Cindy and Patrick. Our local department store "Macy's" hosts an indoor flower display. It's great to be through with the worst of winter.

Friday, March 18, 2016

St. Patrick's Day Parade Photos

For the past 25 years, the GLBT community has fought a running battle against the forces of anti-gay bigotry on the part of the organizers of the New York City St. Patrick's Day parade. Finally, justice prevailed last year when the parade organizers finally agreed to allow a GLBT group to march proudly under their own banner. It was my great pleasure to join the marchers in the historic event on March 17, 2016.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Lavish Final Dinner At A De Luxe St. Barth Restaurant

For our last dinner in St. Bart’s we enjoyed a lavish meal in St-Jean, at On the Rocks. It was a considerable change from lunch, where we dined with all French speaking customers, seated at small tables, watching soccer games on TV. On the Rocks is a creation of super-star Chef Jean-Georges Vongrichten, who owns the famed restaurant in New York. Plus, Eden Rock has one of the most unusual perches on St. Bart’s. The views were spectacular, and at some points we watched distant fire works. They may have been interrupted by rain showers, but it hardly mattered and we were delighted to be at a table overlooking the turquoise bay, brilliantly illuminated by lights at the Eden Rock resort. Jim started by ordering a ‘rum Manhattan’ a rather sweet cocktail. Dan’s first course was the squid and mushrooms in a thick parsley sauce, atop a ‘tomato carpaccio.’ The squid was too chewy, but the presentation was elegant as always at On the Rocks. Dan’s entrĂ©e redeemed the evening, as did the rest of the meal. The main course was a ‘candied filet of salmon’ on a puree of carrots, served with appetizing pearl onions, beets, parsnip slivers, etc. Jim’s snapper was covered with nuts and seeds and was also a taste treat. His dessert was the rich gateau au chocolat, a thin slice of a chocolate cake served with vanilla ice cream. Dan has ordered the unique banana soufflĂ© before and it was just as good this time. We drove back to Gustavia with great memories at the end of this stay on St.Bart’s. --Dan

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Au Regal St. Barth: Authentic French Lunch

Today’s lunch was at the well-known Corossol restaurant Au Regal. With its colorful exterior, painted in Caribbean yellows, it looks like a house and inside, in the unpretentious interior seems like a sports bar since almost all the customers are following the soccer games on the TV. The food is a combination of French and creole. While the green salad was ordinary, the main dishes were great. Jim had the Octopus Fricassee, in a mild red sauce served with rice and legumes. Dan ordered the langouste or lobster, which has a piquant garlic and parsley butter sauce on top. Like the octopus, it was very tender. For desserts there are only ice creams, but they are served like a parfait in a large glass with plenty of Chantilly whipped cream. Jim had coconut ice cream with a chocolate sauce while Dan’s rum raisin was drenched in the familiar and wonderful vanilla rum. For an ethnic and unique lunch on St. Barth Au Regal is a great choice.-Dan (pictured with the heavily rum-infused delicious dessert)

Another Great Day Of Scuba Diving In St. Barth

Friday morning at 9 AM dive operator John Servetto of St. Barth Big Blue took us out to Le Pain de Sucre for our first dive of the day. However, the high winds and rough surf prevented us from diving that site. John took the boat back closer to shore within the marine preserve near Les Gros Islets. We entered the water, submerged, and once on the bottom we made a short underwater swim to the wreck of the Dakar. The Dakar sank in 1998 during hurricane Georges and sits at about 45 feet depth. We circled the wreck then we swam back to the reef to complete the dive. The second dive was also at Les Gros Islets. The average depth is less than at Le Pain de Sucre, which usually means more bottom time for the diver and more light for photography. Visability underwater was excellent today and sunny conditions made for enjoyable photography. I also used my fill flash quite a bit today, so this batch of photographs is quite colorful. It was a fun day of diving, my last for this trip.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Of Art and the Architectural History of Gustavia

This morning we walked from our villa to the far end of the town of Gustavia, to near the Hotel de Ville, the main government building of the Collective. (A Collective is sort of like a Department of France.) Nearby the modern Hotel de Ville there is an old 18th century building known as Wall House, built when the Swedes ruled the island. It houses a museum which usually has exhibits of the island’s history. But currently there are two displays quite different. One is a show of watercolors by the contemporary enigmatic Italian artist Francesco Clemente. Some of these show Caribbean people carrying baskets on their heads, but others were inspired by words from Homer’s Illiad, and often incorporate lines from that poet, in English, right on top of the images. Many of these beautiful watercolors are done wet paint onto water-logged paper which produces a flowing and dream-like world in the medium. The second exhibit at the Museum showed architecture in Gustavia from the 18th century through today, and charts how the West Indies style grew, disappeared and then reoccurred locally. Some of the buildings featured in the exhibit are unique wooden and stone structures unlike anywhere else in the Caribbean. The exhibit illustrates how modern architectural styles replicated the look of the original stone and wood houses until the real estate price boom of the late 20th century. Then modern materials and styles were used in construction. –Dan

Brigantin Building

Wall House, the town museum

Architecture Exhibit

Dinzey House, the only remaining all-wood house in Gustavia

Watercolor of Gustavia ca 1798.