Face to Face with The Grand Master.

Face to Face with The Grand Master.

I decided several years ago that Salvador Dali was going to be my favourite painter for life. What does “for life” mean? It means for as long as I live.

There is a certain fluidity to his art, with all the different shapes flowing not only into one another but also into the background and all else on the canvas. This fluidity means that you can never stop interpreting his work, which is exactly what you need when you interpret art.

And it is this fluidity that draws me in, keeps me interested and also gets me confused. I swear Dali paintings play with your mind as much as they play with your artistic eye, which only adds to their beauty and to the interest they trigger in people.

On my recent visit to Tate Modern, I came face to face with three of the master’s works – and I was flabbergasted. The only reason I moved away from them was to let other people take them in, too.

A Black & White Welcome.

A Black & White Welcome.

We don’t usually like to say or think that things are black and white. It feels like we are leaving a lot of options behind and we are being pristine about our choices. So we move in between the black and the white and we choose some shades of grey and then some shades of other colours to give us choices until we feel we have a complete spectrum.

I didn’t feel the need for additional colour options at Tate Modern. The building of one of the most representative art institutions in the UK is black and white. The halls, the corridors, the exhibition rooms all have high walls and high ceilings, making the monochrome set-up even brighter. It is true that the way finding around the gallery is in a variety of colours, but it only punctuates the blackness and the whiteness. It does not take away from it.

Probably one of the most impressive buildings I have ever seen, the Tate Modern also reminded me of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

It is a good idea to use black and white in museums. It invites people in and puts the focus on the art.

I Have Developed A Pavlovian Relationship With Italian Food.

I Have Developed A Pavlovian Relationship With Italian Food.

Courtesy of my recent trip to Florence and of the splendid food I experienced on the occasion, my salivary glands go into overdrive whenever I hear or see words such as “Italian Food”, “Italian Restaurant”, or “Tagliatelle al salmone” in my proximity.

I was planning on a relatively innocent weekend, at least in as much as going out and eating out is concerned. Saturday lunchtime yoga class done and dusted, subsequent sauna session done and dusted, I underwent a quick decision-making process as to what I should be doing with the rest of the day. And The Other Art Fair on Brick Lane came out a winner.

On my way there on Aldgate High Street, a lovely restaurant window caught my eye. It sported some finely cured meats and jars full of delicacies. You know the kind I am talking about: those jars with carefully and simply-executed packaging that make you think that the goose and all its golden eggs are tucked in inside.

Then my eyes rolled onto the inside of this mysterious place, through the window, falling on a sign that read “Tagliatelle” and something else. Bells went ringing and the whole digestive alarm went off when I actually noticed that I had been inspecting an Italian restaurant.

Satyrio opens at 5pm on Saturdays, so my visit at The Other Art Fair was a mix between taking in all the beautifully talented work that was on display and asking myself “Is it 5 o’clock yet?”.

Alas, it finally struck 5pm and I made my way decisively and intently towards the restaurant that I could not get out of my head and that was promising to delight my taste buds. I can say for sure that I was their first client this Saturday afternoon, as I arrived promptly around 5 and a half and already had my mind set on a serving of tagliatelle with whatever they had on the menu.

I opted for tagliatelle with king prawns and truffles, which washed down beautifully thanks to a lovely glass of white. I loved the flavours on the plate, the juiciness and the softness of the prawns and the taste of the truffles, although in hindsight the only thing I would have liked done differently is for all of this goodness to arrive in a bigger-sized dish.

I even went for dessert and a decaf espresso after my meal, which transported me back to August and to the mornings I spent at La Menagere sipping my coffee and taking in the life of the nearby streets.

In addition to making and selling Italian food, Satyrio is also a wine shop. Its wall full of bottles of “Bacchus’s finest liquor” is something else. Pity their sommelier was off duty when I visited – I would have picked his brains about some of their wines.

I left Satyrio feeling happy with my overall experience and wanting to return. Now I just need to work out how to marry my love for dining out, Italian dining out, and instant gratification with a sense of moderation. It sounds very Marcus Aurelius of me, but when in Rome…

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Simbiosi, Partnering With Food.

There is another restaurant in Florence that stole my heart, took my time and some of my lunch and dinner money. Simbiosi was a couple of streets down from my hotel and greatly accessible whenever I needed a bite at lunch or dinnertime.

The most memorable plates I have had there were of course plates full of pasta. The former was a plate of pasta con i funghi and the funghi were so fresh and juicy that I remember them to this day. I remember thinking “damn, these folks are so lucky to be able to enjoy all these fresh ingredients every day”. I considered myself blessed to be able to enjoy that restaurant and that meal on that day, too. The latter plate was a plate of spaghetti aglio e olio (otherwise known as garlic and oil). There was something so primeval about this dish, so simple, that it felt like I had been born sucking on a strand of spaghetti moistened in garlic and oil. Truth be told, I have always liked garlic and it was a true pleasure to see it “elevated into a dish”, as Gordon would put it.   

My Italian Fix.

My recent trip to Florence has renewed my penchant for Italian food and I hereby declare myself a pasta lover for life. (I may actually go and buy myself some ingredients for pasta making right after I am done with this post.)

I have several weaknesses when it comes to the Italian cuisine, aside from pasta. Some of them range in the antipasti department, i.e. the part of the menu you deal with before you get into the serious business of the mains.

Artichoke hearts, black olive paste, truffle butter and salted anchovies are stuff I could live on every day. Britain is not Italy when it comes to the presence of antipasti in your nearby supermarket, so there is a bit of a whaling going on whenever I shop.

Carluccio’s is a reliable source for black olive paste and truffle butter. And Lina’s, Lina’s in Soho is apparently a local classic when it comes to lots of Italian goodies. I bought myself some salted anchovies from the shop a couple of weeks ago and I think I’ll be heading back soon.

Anyways, to market, to market now to see what we can find for this evening’s plate of pasta.