Until this year I did not realise that pumpkins had two types of flowers. yes I knew their cousin zucchini had 2 types but it never crossed my mind that pumpkins would too. This is my second year with pumpkins growing, last year I didn’t take a close look at the flowers, but this year I did.
I also planted Gramma which is another relative of pumpkin, mainly used for Gramma Pie. My other pumpkin vine is a butternut and one of those is almost ripe.
The first flowers I saw on my pumpkin were tall and upright on thin stems so I got excited and thought I would soon have pumpkins. I waited and waited and nothing happened, they just wilted and died.
Then after about 5 weeks and the vines getting longer I noticed a flower low down with a swelling on the base and the flower closed. Pumpkin!! I promptly took a photo. The next day I went out to check it again and it had dropped off. But I found another one. So I scurried in to consult Aunty Google and discovered that the males always show up first. The females show up when the vine hits a certain length (about 3meters) the first one or two may abort. There are always more males than females and if you want to breed true to type only have one kind growing with in 2 km. Much like chillies they cross breed very easily.
I have to hand pollinate as bees are practically non existent in my neighbourhood. Over summer I think I may have seen about 5. I use a cotton swab and pretend like a bee, visit the boy then visit the girl.
I hope that the one in the photo above is a Gramma as it has been too long between Gramma pies. If I do have success with it I will do a post about Gramma Pie but it looks like it may be a little way off. The flower part has dropped off today and it looks a little bigger.
My first butternut probably has another three or four weeks of ripening to do before it will be ready to pick. Full size has been reached and the skin has started to change colour.
I have to thank one of my high school classmates, Julianne Turner, for supplying me with the Gramma Seeds.
Will post more from my garden in the future and will let you know how my pumpkins/gramma are going.
Who doesn’t love the knock on the door from a delivery man. Today I received my new teapot that I ordered from Analogue Life, along with a sencha cup(tea cup for green tea) that I ordered as well.
This is a replacement one as the first one went to a new home.
I like this one as it has a square shaped knob on the lid which gives a bit more character.
The teapot is by Hisao Iwashimizu of Kukan Chuzo and is called Egg teapot. Obviously the name indicates that it has a slight egg shape. It is made of cast iron with an enamel interior and holds 300ml of green tea. It also features a delightful roughened surface that looks almost like the surface of the moon. It also has a removable mesh strainer which makes disposing of pesky tea leaves much easier.
Some of the best cast iron ware comes from Iwate Prefecture in Japan. I discovered Hisao Iwashimizu’s pieces on a show called The Mark of Beauty which airs on NHK World. It was a half hour episode about NambuTetsubin.
Not having much awareness about Japanese cast iron it was a fascinating show to watch. It primarily dealt with Nambu Tetsubin,which is the Japanese name for cast iron kettles. The kettles featured in the show are quite amazing, especially when you see the antique pieces.
The difference between cast iron kettles and teapots is that the kettles are not enameled on the interior where as the teapots are. The kettles are used for bringing the water to temperature and are able to withstand direct heat, and the teapots are purely for brewing the tea in.
Below is a link to a site that has some more information and videos:
Well it is time to get back blogging. There have been some changes in my life and I have been a bit down and off blogging. From now on my travels and dining will be predominantly solo. Although I have high hopes of dragging my mother to Tokyo for a week and introducing her to the delights and sights of that remarkable city.
Over the past few months my dining out has been a bit restricted. I have to say though that I have been enjoying a quick bite at the bar at Rockpool Est 1989 in Bridge Street.
My dalliances at Rockpool started after a wonderful exhibition at Charles Billich Gallery where I got to meet the fabulous artist and his lovely wife Christa. As it was still early I decided to treat myself to a little supper.
I sat at the bar which gives a fantastic view of the crew working their magic. I ordered Prawn and sesame toasted finger sandwich, a glass of Andre Jacquart ‘Experience’ Blanc de Blancs Champagne (from Vertus in France) followed by the cheese selection. So good that I have had the same three items a further 2 times as my pre Opera dinner ( yes I was gifted some tickets to the Opera and have thus far seen: The Pearlfishers, La Boheme and The Barber Of Seville).
The cheese selection also included honey and a wonderful white peach puree which was sublime with the softer cheeses. The chefs have also been very kind and sweet my last two visits and sent out a little extra of scrumptious chicken wings with Konbu butter, topped with caviar. So generous and SO delicious, if you know my feelings about fishy things, you might bes hocked that I actually enjoyed the caviar with the chicken wing, but this is a sensational menu item.
So I will not be back in to Rockpool for a little while as my next Opera is not until June when I see Carmen. Might have to try something else on the bar menu. They still have the fabulous honey and spelt bread but sadly I am trying to cut back on my bread consumption. I wonder if it would be bad form to just order the bread and a glass of champagne? Yes/No?
Any way Life is getting back on track again and I hope to start posting a bit more regularly again.
Our final day saw us with stunning blue sky again and free time until our departures.
We set off for a walk around the main part of Geneva with plans to stop at the Patek Philippe boutique and the Vacheron Constantin boutique.
Looking back across the Pont du Mont Blanc.
Our first stop was the Patek Philippe Boutique. Located on Rue du Rhone and facing the lake, the salon has maintained the heritage feel of the building and the interiors. Gorgeous embossed and gilded wall paper and many antiques fill the space.
Watches are elegantly displayed and service is impeccable.
After Patek Philippe we headed to the Vacheron Constantin Salon where Mr. CA4G was wanting to see the vintage pieces they had for sale. It was great to see a high end brand actively buying, servicing and reselling their own historic pieces.
While the salon is housed in an old building the interior is thoroughly light and modern with subtle references to the past.
Then it was time for a bit of exploring. Walking the cobble stoned streets was an exciting experience and great way to see the town. I would hate to walk these streets in heels. The local ladies were mostly in elegant flats or low heels only some silly foreigners were in mega heels.
We found Christie’s Auction house. Alas no auction preview exhibition while we were there.
Perched on the hill above the city is the Cathedral of Saint Pierre. Built in the 12th century, the Cathedral became the local seat of the Protestant church in the 16th century when it also underwent some modifications. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to climb the 157 steps of the north tower for the views over the city and lake.
The Palais de Justice, the courthouse of Geneva and the street out front of it. The cafes were quite busy. I guess lawyers need to fuel up on caffiene like the rest of us.
Then it was time to head to M.A.D. Gallery and visit Max Busser.
The items for sale in M.A.D. Gallery are very eclectic and quite visionary. The Machine Lights by Frank Buchwald are quite amazing and I could see some of these in our house(anyone got the winning Lotto numbers for me?). Prior to making these unique lights Frank Buchwald was a freelance artist and science fiction illustrator. He then moved on to making metal furniture and in 1993, entirely self taught, he started producing the lamps.
Machine Light Type No. 1. I could see this in a movie featuring a mad scientist.
Machine Lights Type No. 3, this would sit nicely on our mantelpiece.
While the art is important at M.A.D. Gallery, Max Busser also has the fantastic mechanical wrist art that is M.B&F Watches. Mr. CA4G was keen to show me the HM6, also known as Space Pirate, that he saw in Singapore earlier this year. Max was inspired to design this watch by a cartoon he used to watch as child called Capitaine Flam.
The front two bubbles tell the hour on the left and the minutes on the right. The central sapphire crystal dome houses a tourbillon which has an articulated titanium cover that can be raised and lowered by the wearer. The rear two bubbles contain the twin spherical turbines that automatically regulate the winding system in case of excessive speed to reduce stress and wear. Very technical and very complicated.
Watches like this continue to astound me due the amount of research that goes in to the design and the movement. The sapphire crystal is incredibly hard to do as each dome is shaped from a block of crystal. Out of every 100 crystal domes produced there is around an 80% reject rate. Incredibly time consuming and costly. Makes you appreciate why mechanical timepieces like this cost what they do.
Who doesn’t love robots, especially these Melchior ones, designed by M.B&F and built by L’Epee 1839. These are table clocks that put boring run of the mill table clocks to shame. The dome on the head houses the movement . The body has jumping hours and minute indicators and the eyes are retrograde seconds indicators, the dome on top reveals the regulator which governs the clocks precision . The left forearm detaches to become the winding key. The good thing? With 40 day power reserve you don’t need to wind it too often.
And Max’s latest idea was a clock in the shape of a spider. Yep, not my cup of tea. Called Arachnophobia, Max Busser’s over active imagination was inspired by the giant spider sculpture “Maman” by Louise Bourgeois and bought to life by L’Epee 1839. The legs are articulated and it can either sit on a desk or be mounted on a wall.
Arachnophobia on the wall and Damien Beneteau’s kinetic sculpture ‘Spatial Variation’ in front.
Some of our favourite pieces were the ‘comma men’ by Chinese artist Xia Hang. These delightful, highly polished stainless steel sculptures are quite whimsical and fun.
Hanging on one wall was one of the most unique musical instruments we have ever seen. Ulrich Teuffel began making and designing guitars when he was 14. At age 30 he radically changed his approach to guitar making by focusing on conceptual design. His BirdFish design is now ranked among the best guitars in the world and used by people such as Billy Gibbons(ZZTop), David Torn, Kirk Hammett(Metallica) and many more.
Mr. CA4G has a thing for steam engines and has looked at these Bohm Stirling pieces on line. They do not rely on water to generate energy but heat from a small flame that heats up the engine and gets it going.
There was even one that can be placed over a mug of coffee and is activated by the heat rising off the hot liquid, also acts as a coffee insulator.
Also on exhibit were the works of Damien Beneteau. Originally a photographer, Damien began working with light and creating kinetic ‘light sculptures’. Moving parts within the pieces change the way light plays on them. Quite mesmerizing and somehow hypnotic.
It was great to finally meet Max Busser and visit M.A.D Gallery. As my flight left earlier I had to depart and left Mr. CA4G to enjoy a catch up and lunch with Max.
We had a wonderful 5 days in Geneva and were very glad to have had the chance to go.
We would like to thank James Kennedy and the team from LK Boutique for inviting us on the tour, Patek Philippe for their wonderful hospitality and the opportunity to visit the factories and learn more about their watch making and design processes.
Our wine dinner at work way back in June was St Hallett from the Barossa Valley.
Our canapes were corn fritters with aioli, potato and leek soup and pork, veal and mushroom terrine with chutney. These were accompanied by 2014 St Hallett Eden Valley Riesling .
Our first course was a dish that I used to help make at Astral restaurant, a ravioli of lobster and salmon served with a ginger and treacle beurre blanc. This was very popular with our attendees. Served with 2014 St Hallett Poachers Semillon Sauvignon Blanc.
Our main course was a Sous vide pork loin in cider, Czech bread dumpling, braised red cabbage and cider gravy. After removing the skin and setting it aside, I rubbed the pork loin with a spice mix of juniper berries, ground dried orange, salt and rosemary then marinated it over night in cider. Then we bagged the loins with some of the cider marinade, vacuum sealed them and slow cooked 4 hours. The pork was nice and tender with a hint of the spice rub which really had our diners asking where the orange was. As Mr. CA4G’s heritage is Czech I really wanted to pair the pork with the bread dumpling that his mother used to make. A great alternative to potato, the dumpling really soaks up the sauce. The main was served with St Hallett Blackwell Shiraz from two vintages, 2008 and 2013.
As our last wine for the night was to be another red, 2012 St Hallett Old Block Shiraz. I decided to serve a cheese plate with house made breads. The cheeses were Trinity Cellars Jersey Brie, L’Artisan Fermier and Trinity cellars blue. The L’Artisan Fermier is like an Australian version of Morbier. The breads we made were walnut bread, lavosh and oat crackers. The walnut bread is a staple on our cheese plates in the restaurant, the lavosh I have made before and makes a nice crisp addition to the plate. I have been wanting to make the oat crackers for some time and this dinner was the perfect opportunity. Who knew they were so easy to make?? We also added some honey to go with the blue cheese, grapes, walnuts and Maggie Beer quince paste.
I will be posting recipes for the breads in the future so keep an eye out for them!
Our venue for dinner was Auberge d’Onex, located in the suburb of Onex on the southern side of Geneva. Nestled amongst a lush garden, Auberge d’Onex is housed in the building that was originally the clubhouse of the first golf club in Geneva. Cuisine is Italian and the owner/maître d’ is a very vivacious host.
Auberge d’Onex is a homely and cosy restaurant, dark wood exposed beams on the ceiling, floral curtains, white clothed tables with comfortable wooden chairs.
Red wine was the drink of the night, a lovely 3 year old Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico.
Baskets of bread were dotted around the table with some fantastic olive oil to dip it in. Antipasti was served from platters and included, grilled asparagus, grilled witlof, burrata cheese, artichokes, sausage, salamis, whitebait, grilled eggplant. My favourite had to be the burrata cheese, so creamy and soft. Servings were quite generous.
Main was a large whole fish that the staff bought out on a trolley and served to us with some caponata. Not being much of a fish eater I had veal scallopine.
Before dessert bowls of peaches, plums, grapes, fresh dates, kiwi berries and small mangoes, were placed on the table.
We had a choice of 6 desserts served from the dessert trolley. We were also offered grappa and house made Limoncello with dessert. I chose meringata and promptly forgot to take a photo, while Mr. CA4G had the tiramisu.
After a fabulous dinner it was back to the hotel for our final sleep in Geneva.
After breakfast it was back on the bus and then to Plan les Ouates for our final visit to the Patek Philippe factory.
The morning saw us broken in to two groups again. One group went over to the service department while the other group was taken for a talk about the design and research and development of new watch models.
Our group first went for the design/R&D talk. Very interesting to hear how a watch is designed from sketch to model and then to prototyping. Sketches and 3D printed models are presented to a panel of 6 that includes Heads of design, R&D, Watchmaking, Mr and Mrs Stern. After deliberation and critiques, go ahead is either given or the piece goes back for refinement or changes. Some pieces may take a year or two of playing around with before the final design is set.
It was very interesting to see and handle the 3D models. Several sizes are presented; a life size one, a large one, and then case and bracelet(if not on a leather strap) separately. Prototypes are made from a base metal after the go ahead is given and mock up movements are installed. These are then presented and critiqued again.
We also saw examples of dial designs and prototypes. We saw samples of some enamel dials and the steps in their making. A sample piece (around 10cm x 10cm) is made first and then sent for approval. A sample strip of the colours used is also made up which is also presented witht he sample piece. Enamelists are true artisans and the work they do on such a small scale is astounding.
After our time learning about the design process it was time to swap with the other group and head to the service department.
In the service department we learnt about the amount of work and quality control that goes in to servicing Patek Philippe watches. We were then taken to see the head of vintage watch servicing . A team of 3, one master watchmaker and two junior watchmakers handle repairs and restorations of the vintage timepieces.
On display were some of the botch jobs that they are sent from people who just go to a bad watchmaker, rather than send their watch back to Patek Philippe. One watch had a paperclip used in the repair!
The head watchmaker is so skilled at his work that he is able to tell when a part he is machining is not right just by the sound it makes. He is also able to hear it across the desk on work one of the junior watchmakers is doing.
The restoration department has a ‘library’ of information built up by the head watchmaker. While some parts are available, quite often the restoration department needs to manufacture their own parts based on the components in the watch they are restoring. This requires meticulous measuring and skilled hands and eyes. This information is then stored for future reference in the ‘library’.
After our visit to the restoration and service department it was time for lunch. This time we had a three course lunch in the cafeteria.
Entrée was a tasing plate or borscht, foie gras mousse on a crouton, smoked salmon and cream cheese roulade.
Main was duck breast with plums, roesti and seasonal vegetables.
Dessert was a delicious orange and chocolate ring.
After lunch we stretched our legs and had a look at the site where Patek Philippe is constructing a new expansion of the factory. This new building will see Cadrans Fluckiger move from St. Imier to Geneva, the case and jewellery departments will also move to the main site, relocation of the service centre and a watchmaking school.
We then jumped on the bus for the short drive to the case and jewellery departments. We saw first hand the machining and finishing of the cases, from a lump of precious metal or a lump of steel the case comes to shape in a CNC machine. It takes hours for the case be finished in the CNC before it heads off for polishing.
The polishing department was quite fascinating as well. Depending on the type of finishing (shiny, brushed, matt) the polisher will have a different approach and finishing method to the process. Some pieces such as the Nautilus bracelet require both a brushed and shiny finish, this then requires the futher step of ‘blocking’ the polished areas before applying the brushed finish.
The jewellery department is where those pieces that require stones to be set in the dial or case are finished. Cuff links and ladies jewellery pieces are also produced here. We were very lucky to be able to meet the gemologist for Patek Philippe. He travels the world looking for some of the most amazing stones. For example a row of around 20 flawless Zambian emeralds, a suite of 6 perfect ‘pigeons blood’ rubies and many flawless diamonds in all sizes. The special stones don’t always get used straight away, it may take several years before a design comes along to utilize them. We were able to see one of the stone setters working on a pave diamond bracelet for a watch.
After our tour of the case and jewellery departments it was back to the main factory for the final part of our afternoon and tour. An hour of inspecting the current novelties and standard production pieces.
Trays of watches were passed down each side of the table, with plenty of time for looking, handling and asking questions. There were lots of exciting pieces to contemplate. I had two favourites, both from the ladies Gondolo range with a real art deco feel.
Of course Mr. CA4G is a watch fanatic so he ended up with a dream wish list of around 8 favourite pieces.
After a mesmerising hour and a half of watches, we wrapped up the official part of the tour and headed back to the hotel for a short respite before dinner.
Stay watching for our final dinner at Auberge D’Onex.