Bronte Bistro In Joseph Beth–Too Much Overlooked

IsabellaBronte Bistro has turned into our default Sunday Brunch place. It can get busy, it’s convenient, and the food is good. The price is reasonable. The coffee is spectacular. The Salads are fresh and they put a lot of effort into coming up with new things for the inveterate dieter and weight watcher. They also have some lovely offerings for those who are not on a perpetual diet.

This Sunday I had the Mediterranean wrap. It came in a whole wheat-ish wrap with lots of spinach, ripe olives, fresh feta and hummus/bulgar pilaf. Very tasty. Not soaring in calories. The menu says it comes with aoli but so far I have not seen any evidence of it whether or not I asked for it to be omitted. The only odd part is the mass of tortilla chips which come along the side. What have they got to do with the Middle East? Well…I guess they could not think of something more suitable. Maybe a nice fruit cup, regular potato chips (kettle cooked with black pepper) or something. It isn’t a deal breaker, just an anomaly.

My husband loved his quiche. It was a very well done vegetable quiche with cheddar cheese. Though it was not the orthodox sort of quiche, it was very good indeed. The crust was not soggy, and the accompaniments were delicious fruit and greens.

Every time I go to Bronte I am pleased with what I get. It’s never super memorable and won’t make 16 stars in the Michelin Guide, but it is always very good, good enough to look forward to. It’s a great date spot because you are going to be more interested in your company than the food, or if you are an old couple it’s great because you won’t get any surprises. The service is always good and there is the fun of the bookstore after to pick up a coveted tome which has been touted by the NY Times and there are the “gifts” as well which are very nice indeed (soaps and Vera Bradley totes, funny tee shirts, and an excellent selection of stationary for those of us who still put pen to paper).

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This blog was brought to you by Possets Perfume which is right now featuring their Summer Collection: Poetry inspired by classics like Beowulf and Byron to the moderns like Ginsberg, and an adorable mini collection of haiku! Investigate it here at Possets. 

Yin Yoga is a Dish Best Served Cold

Yoga CollectionI thought that taking a hot yin yoga class would be the next best thing to heaven. There is a hot yoga studio near me that is a real treat. They offer hot yin and I was really looking forward to taking it there. I have been practicing yin yoga for about 6 months and am seeing impressing results. How much better it would be if it were in a hot room so my muscles could stretch out, the ligaments could elongate  and the rest of my connective tissue would respond by releasing into a heavenly gossamer strand of bliss. I was looking forward and shot out the door after dinner to the Hot Yoga Studio.

I was appropriately dressed, had my mat, extra towels for sweating, my water bottle was at the ready. Our instructor looked like he really knew what he was talking about. The photo of him doing the peacock in the lobby didn’t hurt his reputation. Tall, dark, and handsome….this was going to be rousing entertainment.

I entered the practice room and unrolled my mat. Cripes! I had forgotten how hot Hot Yoga is. Phew! I lay down on the mat and relaxed. I almost slipped into a deep snooze when the teacher came in and started the instructions in a soothing voice. This was going to be a piece of cake. I do pretty well in my cold room yin class and so this would take me for miles.

At first I noticed no change at all. We did a few preliminary poses which were familiar and not too taxing. It was pretty much the same thing. However, when we moved into more demanding poses, the oddest thing started to happen: it hurt. This was not just simple stretching and release pains, this was hard pain. I held the poses but it was obvious that the heat was making the exercise a lot tougher.

I can do the pigeon (aka swan) pose all day in the cold room yin yoga class I take. In the hot room, YEOUCH! Arggggh! I could not wait to get out of it. I swear it hurt 20% more than in a cold room. At first I thought that was my mind playing tricks on me. It can’t be that heat causes yin to be harder…but it did for me. The teacher came over and adjusted me I became an agent for agony. I waited for him to leave and untwisted myself into my customary simple swan. It hurt. I was puzzled as it always had a good feeling edge to it in the past. Not this time.

When we got around to doing the Frog I was in trouble and I didn’t even know it. This is the deep hip opening pose and it’s hard to do under the best of circumstances. I was pretty proud of my progress. In that hot room everything was working against me. My knees drove into the floor like a Catholic on unpadded kneelers on Good Friday (I DO know what that feels like). ARGGGGH! I quickly levitated myself onto my yoga mat for some relief. But now I was resting on my forearms which were on the floor and digging in profoundly, deeply, and paaaainfully. I was in agony. My front end and back end were being tortured simultaneously. I stood the pain for the supposed gain of release. Every time my hips released I was rewarded with a bit of skin being abraded from my knees because the sweat and stickiness of the mat were now working against me.

I sweat rivers. I shook. I figured that if I held it long enough I would release this pain and go into the bliss zone like I do in cold yin.

Not a chance.

Finally, we got to the resting phase of class where we all lay on our backs and relaxed. I fought hard to stay in one spot. I swear I wanted to leap up, grab all of my things and race out of that hell hole of a room, never to return. But I fought myself and stayed on my back until the teacher indicated we could leave.

I bet that hot yin effects everyone differently. Surely some people swear by it. We had a good teacher (his handsomeness notwithstanding), a clean and lovely environment, but it just hit  me the very wrong way. Alas.

I have taken hot flow before and enjoyed it. Done that several times. But I must conclude that for me…yin is a dish best served cold.

This introduction to yoga has been brought to you by Possets Perfume, marvelous perfume oils which are simply Bottled Happiness!  Intriguing, original, and beautifully wearable. Take a look, you won’t be sorry. 

Writing With A Fountain Pen—Brown Ink

Erato, The muse of lyrical poetryWhen I write with brown ink or receive anything in brown ink, I always feel like the writer was making a special effort to be friendly and warm toward me. Brown ink is marvelous for love poetry and for a seemingly somber color, it has a lot of fun and joy about it. Also, there isn’t anything quite as nice as a pretty brown ink on a good cream colored paper (except the contrast of crisp white paper and snuggly sepia writing).

There are a great many different shades of brown in to choose from. I think of the continuum as going from the grey-brown of sepia to the glow of a red-orange. Each one has a place for your writing. If you have to say something very non-whimsical, I would say write it in a sepia sort of brown. Two great sepias which spring to mind are both from the Noodler’s Ink company and come in generous bottles which you may not live long enough to use up. Whaleman’s Sepia is a greyed almost purple brown; it just barely makes it over the line to brown…but it is. The other is Burma Road Brown and this one is almost a green shade when compared with Whaleman’s Sepia.

On the other end, a great fiery red-brown is Diamine Ancient Copper. As a bonus, this color really shades well and performs beautifully in all pens in which I have tried it. Pelikan Brown and Sheaffer Brown are also red/brown favorites. A lot of people love love love Diamine Burnt Sienna as well. To me, Ancient Copper takes the cake.

One of the offbeat colors you might want to investigate is Noodler’s Golden Brown. It is a very high shader,which makes it desireable, and it is a real unusual looking greenish brown which virtually guarantees you won’t be overlooked when you write with this color. Almost a mustard but dark enough to be read, it’s a perfect color for the iconoclast.

I must confess, that if I were going to copy out Ginsberg’s Howl in longhand, I think I would use more of an oxblood sort of color. Failing that, and if I absolutely had to use a brown ink for it, I would use MontBlanc’s Toffee Brown. Sounds like a strange choice from a staid ink maker like Mont Blanc BUT it is a red-brown with no shading and looks great no matter what you are writing or to whom you scribble. It would be correct whether you are a banker or an undertaker. Well, maybe not the latter but just about for everything else.

That should give you a good idea of what’s up with brown inks. You can find each of these on amazon.com if you decide you want to try out a brown ink in your fountain pen.

This blog was brought to you by Possets Perfume which is right now featuring their Summer Collection: Poetry inspired by classics like Beowulf and Byron to the moderns like Ginsberg, and an adorable mini collection of haiku! Investigate it here at Possets. 

Writing With Real Ink—Black and Blue

Erato, muse of lyric poetry.Since Possets Perfume is having a Poetry Collection for Summer of 2013, I think it quite fitting to talk about the accessories to poetry: pens, inks, papers and journals and anything else that the budding poet would need to practice their magic. We explored some good classic fountain pens on the last blog (scroll down if you missed it) so this time, let’s talk about ink.

The kind of ink I am telling you about comes in bottles and is a liquid with the viscosity of water. It comes in EVERY color and lucky for us, there has been a massive renaissance in the making of ink and pens in the past decade. Didn’t know that, did you? Neil Gaiman was spotted writing with a TWSBI fountain pen at a book signing within recent memory. Nice.

There are so many to suggest that I will try to break down the subject into several installments and present only those which are superior or possess some unusual property. You are guaranteed amusement and when you get through with this you will know 100% more than anyone else does about fountain pen ink.

The most classic of all colors is black. It’s always correct for whatever occasion and on whatever support (paper). Black ink goes from a mid-value grey to a jetty black. If you are looking for something in the lighter area, Waterman Black might be just the ticket for you. Waterman actually shades (produces interesting lighter and darker areas as you write), is quite easy to wash out of anything it spills on but is archival enough for any use. It’s wonderfully well bred and goes in any pen you put it in.

On the other hand, if you want the blackest possible black which is waterproof, fadeproof and really the height of modern ink making try Noodler’s Black. Noodler’s is a relatively new ink making company which has taken the country by storm. Noodler’s Black doesn’t feather on cheap paper, flows very well, does not shade, and is readily available.

Now, as for blue…that is a horse of a different color! There are all sorts of shades, intensities, variations, and kinds of blue to choose from (1). My favorite blue is China Blue by Diamine but that might be too light for some people. It goes down a medium blue but dries to a pretty cerulean after about 10 minutes. It also has a sort of sheen on some papers. My most popular blue is Akkerman’s Shocking Blue with I hesitate to recommend because it is very hard to get in the USA. It comes from Holland and it’s sort of a connoisseur’s dark pthalo blue with a huge coppery sheen. The rumor is that Diamine Majestic Blue is the very same ink, and much less expensive. Then again, you can’t go wrong with the cheap and personality-free Waterman Florida Blue which will wash out of a pen easily. On the other end of the excitement spectrum is Noodler’s Bay State Blue, the eye searingly intense mid blue which looks like ultramarine on steroids. This stuff stains everything and if you put it in a pen you have to dedicate that pen to BSB because it will be in there for ever! Proceed with caution here, you wild thing. Finally, I would like to mention Sailor Sky High Blue which is a gorgeous cerulean with a really pronounced reddish/purple sheen and it shades as well, when you write to someone in Sky High your message is unforgettable.

Where would you get these exotic inks? Search for them on amazon.com which is a treasure trove of goodies.

(1) There are zillions of blacks as well but I only presented two so I could really confuse you with blue.

This essay on ink is brought to you by Possets® Perfume which has presented its summer collection of Poetry fragrances. Everything from Ginsberg’s Howl to Beowulf, from Dickinson to Byron and the perfumes that they inspired. Come and see for yourself at www. possets.com. It’s bottled happiness™.

New Samples in Possets Perfume

I just got the sample sizes of the 3 most popular perfumes from the highly successful Sacred Geometry Collection from Spring 2013: Phyllotaxis, Fearful Symmetry, and The Arc of Venus. . They are now available and you can order them as part of a sample pack OR request them as the freebie samples when you buy a bottle of Possets Perfume (just write in which ones you want to try in the comments section of your order and I will send them off to you…two samples with every bottle of Possets).

About Fountain Pens and Inks

Erato, the muse of poetryWhen Writing Poetry, With What Should I Write?

Possets Perfume is celebrating Poetry this Summer with a line inspired by the verse of some of the finest poets who ever wrote. But most of them scribbled the old fashioned way, and perhaps it would be fun to explore the flip side of poetry: writing instruments–notably, fountain pens!

If you want to write poetry, nothing will put you in the mood like a good old fashioned fountain pen and some exciting ink. BUT WAIT! Fountain pens are enjoying a major renaissance now and the pen you buy in 2013 will undoubtedly be a superior instrument to the one with which your great grandfather wrote in the 1930’s. Also, ink has changed since the last century.

So, all of you budding poets, grab a ream of your favorite paper (or “support” as it’s called in art school) and let me tell you about the esoteric, exciting, stimulating world of fountain pens.

Why Write With A Fountain Pen?

Fountain pens are a sensual experience and a big part of the fun of writing becomes laying down that super saturated plush wet line as your minds hums along directing your hand and steering you into immortality. There is an exquisite tactile thrill from feeling the surface of the paper polished and lubricated by a lovely ink, it’s a vibration which begs you not to stop. It encourages you to write.

I will recount for you some of the nicest pen to paper moments I have felt in the past two years and the instruments which pleased me so:

  • Writing with a TWSBI 540. The fountain pen world has been taken by storm thanks to a medium priced new pen called a TWSBI. The company is from Taiwan and they spent and immense amount of time researching what the average fountain pen affectionado wants. Here are the results: a smooth nib with a little flexibility for line variation, a clear body so you can see which ink you have loaded and how much you have left, the ability to take apart and put back together the entire pen, interchangeable nibs and a wide assortment of nib sizes, a reasonable price of around $50, the chance to buy it in major outlets (like amazon.com or their own website), a great presentation with tools and an instruction manual. Their research paid off handsomely and they are one of the most well loved of all the modern fountain pen makers. They have had some problems with their product, but in each case they were immensely responsive to their customers and have gone through great pains to improve every model. The 540 is out of production now, but the 580 is a very good pen, too. I have to admit I enjoy the 540’s a bit more but you can’t go wrong with their latest pen.
  • On the high end of the spectrum, I had the chance to use a Mont Blanc recently, and I have to say ooo la la. All the things I have heard about it are true. Such a smooth writer, the sensuous pleasure of having the correct balance of road feel and velvet. A gold nib must be part of it, the “precious resin” body, and how well it was made are all a delight. Of course, you have to be prepared to shell out a lot of money for a pen like this, the one I used was worth about $700!
  • If you are on a budget, you have quite a few choices under $25. Remember, you don’t throw these pens away and ink is pretty cheap (we will talk about that later). I do recommend that you get a broad nib in the cheap category, they write a lot smoother than the fine ones. The Kaweco Ice Sport is a triumph of great pen making. At $23.50 (from Jet Pens) this little wonder will last you a lifetime. The nib is smooth and never skips right out of the box. It’s made to be an ultra compact pen which folds up to a tiny size and you can use it anywhere. It uses ink cartridges but you can always refill them with a syringe from a bottle of ink and save a lot of money. They come in a mad variety of colors. The Classic Sport model (same price) comes in all black and would be suitable for situations where whimsy is not appreciated.
  • If you are really down and out but still pine to own a pen (because you are a starving artiste) then buy a Varsity. They come in at least three colors (black, blue, and purple) and are made by the venerable Pilot Pen company from Japan which also makes pens at the $500 level and are renowned for their smooth nibs. Though the Varsity isn’t a glassy smooth writer, it is certainly a cut above a lot of pens I have used which are worth more than $25! The ink is good and intense as well. It is supposed to be a disposable pen BUT there are plenty of videos on YouTube which show you how to refill them which REALLY makes them a steal.

There, that is the first in the series from Possets on fountain pens and inks. I hope you subscribe so that you don’t miss the next chapters which detail this fascinating hobby which is a great companion to writing poetry.

This blog was brought to you by Possets® Perfume which is featuring a Summer Collection of Poetry Perfumes this year. Go there and see for yourself. Ever wonder what Gingberg’s Howl would smell like? Or what Emily Dickinson would be if translated into perfume? Find out at www.possets.com.