Cava For Christmas
Switch up your holiday bubbly this season with Spanish sparkling wine. And don't miss Anna's recommendations for Steals (around $10), Deals ($15 range) and Splurges($20 - $40 range) - all locally available in the Bay-Waveland area!
For my palate, Prosecco tends to be too sweet and Champagne tends to be too full of Chardonnay notes (not to mention the price tag for a decent bottle). I've got a fever, and the only cure is more Cava.
Cava is a sparkling wine produced in the Catalonia region of Spain. Consider it Champagne's southern cousin: like Champagne, Cava is predominately made from a mix of three grapes and follows an identical production sequence. Like Champagne, Cava can have a range of sweetness, from Brut Nature to Dolce. Like Champagne, Cava undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle and all carbonation is a natural result.
Unlike Champagne, the grapes used for Cava, unique to this region in Spain, have some incredibly fun names. Check these out: Macabeu, the base of most Cava blends, brings a slight floral aroma, lemon flavors and a crisp, delicately bitter finish. Parellada provides aggressive acidity and bold citrus. Xarel-lo lends rich aroma and body, with notes of pear and melon. These three are blended in varying percentages, and overall create a sparkling wine that is drier than Italian Prosecco and less nutty than Champagne.
Cava follows the Champenoise method of production, although according to my research we are no longer supposed to use that term to describe Cava (only Champagne can use the Champenoise method, which makes a reluctant sort of sense). Sue me, Champagne snobs.
This traditional method states that the first fermentation of the wine should happen in the barrel, with the second fermentation occurring in each individual bottle. Yeast, nutrients and sugar are added during this second stage, and the result is a natural sparkling quality.
Sparkling wines like Cava are perfect for this time of year, and not just for celebration purposes. Cava is lower on the alcohol-by-volume spectrum, averaging around 11 percent. It is light enough to sip on for several servings without ending up under the table. Its crisp, light bodied brightness cuts through the decadent December dishes like lamb, roasts, and rich desserts; it also pairs beautifully with spicy dishes and seafood.
To top it all off, Cava delivers a quality product at prices that simply cannot be beat. Around the holidays, we spend so much money in gift-giving: it is a joy to find a celebration-worthy wine that doesn't break the bank.
The lucky locals of Bay St. Louis can taste-test this delicious wine without committing to the purchase of an entire bottle. Head over to the Rum Kitchen in Waveland, sit at the bar and ask for Daniel. He's got a great Cava on the wine list that pairs perfectly with fried plantains and bread pudding.
This Christmas, I am lucky enough to be headed home to the Pacific Northwest to spend a week skiing with my family. We will most definitely be popping some corks in celebration of us being together again. We're also huge geeks; we love J.R.R. Tolkien. Stay with me here.
The word 'cava' means cave or cellar in the local Spanish dialect. Every Christmas since 2001, we have made a point to see the latest release in the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” series as a family. Our own little cabin in Washington is built into the side of a hill, and has a “Hobbit hole” feel to it. While Cava is technically named for the time-honored practice of storing and aging wine in caves, it felt very serendipitous to be researching and writing about a wine for the holiday season that is, essentially, aged in a Hobbit hole.
Anna's Steals, Deals and Splurges
Steal: Sigura Viudas Brut Riserva, non-vintage. Great value, zippy acidity.
Deal: Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut, non-vintage. Medium bodied, well balanced.
Splurge: Segura Viudas Brut Riserva Heredad, non-vintage. Rich, smokey, bold.
The Original Farmer's Salad
Try this fresh and healthy alternative when asked to bring something to an office party or family gathering. The presentation makes for a fun converstation piece and the flavors are holiday bright!
- by Holly Lemoine-Raymond
Walnuts (I prefer glazed when I can find them)
Red onion (cut in small pieces)
Ken’s raspberry walnut vinaigrette
I used 1.5-pint mason jars for the salad. If you’d like to make a bigger salad for a family, you could use the gallon-sized jars. The ingredients I prepared yields approximately 8 salads in the 1.5 Pint Jars.
Using the lid as a guide cut your fabric in squares. Cover the lid with the fabric and push it through the ring.
Wrap a strip of the burlap tape around the center of the jar. Write the recipient’s name on one of the tags. (I used small wooden tags to give it a vintage feel.) Place the tag on the ribbon and tie the ribbon around the jar, overlapping the burlap tape, and “garnish” with a sprig of plastic (or fresh) flower.
You will prep the 4-oz. dressing jar with the burlap tape as well. For decorative purposes, I also placed burlap tape on the lid of the 4-oz. jar.
I start with the dry ingredients at the bottom and carefully layer accordingly. First I place the walnuts, carrots, cranberries, and onions. Then I add the greens, placing the kale, tomatoes, feta cheese, and spring mix.
Put the lid on the salad, pour the dressing in the 4-oz. jar, and you are ready to deliver!
I brought one of these tasty treats to a recent office meeting and gave one to each member of my team. We enjoyed a fresh farmer’s salad while we strategized. Just shake up the salad in the jar, pour the dressing over the top and enjoy! Or you could open the jar, tip it upside down on a plate or bowl, pour the dressing over the top and enjoy it that way too. Either way, it’s up to you.
Thank you for reading. Let me know if you tried this great salad idea and what your thoughts are. Bon Appétit!
Bonfires on the Beach
- story by Rebecca Orfila
Clay Knight and his brothers gathered early on a snapping cold, breezy morning to combine their stashes of wood and pine knots. Between the five of them, the bounty of wood augured well for the last evening of the year. The Knight men planned to build a pyramid-shaped bonfire on the beach of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The task was completed before noon.
It was New Year’s Eve! Clay planned a unique evening for his special sweetheart, Lucy Dyar. She was coming in on the train from Mobile to stay with her aunt in downtown Pass Christian. Her favorite party dress, the blue one, was packed in her luggage for the New Year’s Eve party at the yacht club.
In this country today, many traditions celebrate the new year. The ball falls at Times Square, resolutions are made, kisses are shared, fireworks burst in bright colors in the sky. On the Mississippi coastline, the bonfires still burn brightly.
People have lit bonfires in celebration or for sacred events for as long as we have used fire: funeral pyres, sacred rites, and even attempts to stave off plague have all led humans to light big fires.
Louisiana’s River Road and bayous to guide Papa Noel have bonfires on Christmas Eve, the Epiphany, July 4, Mardi Gras, Good Friday, and New Year’s Eve. Here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we often light fires to celebrate those important holidays and other special days.
Bay St. Louis is no exception; a January 1, 2006 MSNBC feature showed a bonfire on the beach across the street from Buccaneer State Park. It had been created by tired relief workers. Dozens of the volunteers celebrated the New Year with songs and prayers for a smoother 2006. They came back the next day to clear the burned remains of the fire and return to clearing more of the rubble left by Hurricane Katrina.
The beaches in Hancock County now host more bonfires than ever before. In 2015, Waveland joined Bay St. Louis in allowing bonfires on beaches within city limits. Both cities require permits and deposits (see details below).
And since fireworks are legal most years (they're sometimes locally banned because of drought conditions), the bonfires become a hub for families celebrating the incoming year with a little razzle-dazzle. Too much trouble? In Harrison County, there's even a new service that will build one for you, and even clean up afterward.
But if you're not invited to a bonfire gathering on New Year's Eve and you're not up to building your own, don't mope. This is one coast tradition that's easily appreciated, even from a distance. As midnight approaches, take a walk along the beachfront for a memorable - and brightly burning - welcome to another year.
In November the city of Waveland completed a task that has been in the works for over a year, and adopted a new utility ordinance to address water and gas rates.
The new ordinance, which is linked at the bottom of this section, is a more fair way to bill customers who use Waveland water. The ordinance that has been adopted now has customers paying for only water they used.
The old ordinance charged customers for a minimum of 4,000 gallons whether or not 4,000 gallons was used in the household. The new ordinance does not allow a minimum, and each customer will be charged per 1,000 gallons used.
What's Up, Waveland?
This new ordinance is a fair way of billing. Households that use less water will not be subsidizing higher-usage water users. The new water rates will be reflected on the bills that are mailed out in January 2017.
Click here to read the new utility ordinance.
The new ordinance allows music 85 decibels or less to occur later on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Thursday night noise can go on until midnight and Friday and Saturday noise can go on until 2 a.m. All other nights, the noise must stop at 10 p.m.
I was the lone nay vote on this ordinance. I don’t believe Waveland should have adopted a citywide noise ordinance that doesn’t address commercial and residential zones individually. Waveland should not establish what time entertainment should stop in commercial zones. I believe a business should be able to have a band or DJ in a business located in a commercial zone until whatever time they wish. Another concern I have with the ordinance is that it does not protect the quiet residential neighborhoods. I believe Waveland has a responsibility to protect the peace and quiet in R-1, R-2, and R-3 zones.
The new noise ordinance will take effect on December 16.
Click here to read the new Noise Ordinance.
South Street Construction Project
South Street is closed from Sears Avenue to Brown Avenue. All traffic on South Street is being detoured to Beach Boulevard to get around the project. Even with the recent rain, the project is still on schedule. This project is being completed using Hancock County Road and Bridge Funds.
New Year's in the Bay Lights Up
- story by Lisa Monti
The Starfish Café’s New Year’s Eve Gala has all the makings of a memorable celebration: delicious food and of course drinks, live music, a ball drop at midnight, and a silent auction like you’ve probably never seen before.
And it’s all for a good cause: raising funds to buy the Main Street property that houses the cafe.
“The purpose is to kick off the 2017 capital campaign,” said Di Fillhart. “By December 1, 2017, we have to raise $160,000 to buy the property.”
The cafe, known for its wholesome menu, is going into full celebratory mode for the gala.
How to buy Gala tickets
Tickets to the benefit gala are $50/person and include dinner, live music and complimentary midnight champagne toast. Only a limited number will be available at the door. Tickets available at the Starfish Café, 211 Main Street, from 8 - 5pm on Friday, January 30th. Or purchase online! Go to the Starfish website, hit the Paypal "Donate" button and simply put "NYE" in the memo box!
The Gala Menu
Organizers are working on other food stations, including one that involves a make-your-own waffle.
There will be a cash bar with a complimentary midnight toast and live music starting at 8 p.m., and a lighted starfish will be dropped by boom at the stroke of midnight.
“It will be an eclectic mix of food, subject to change,” said Fillhart of the ongoing preparations. But it will be fitting for a year-end celebration. “It’s the ‘end of year and my diet starts tomorrow’ kind of mix.”
“It’s a unique way to raise money and it connects the community,” she said. The winning bidders may become regular customers and make new friends they might not otherwise have met, she said.
The gala will be at the Bay St. Louis Community Center on Blaize Avenue. Tickets are $50 each and only 400 will be sold.
Everything will be eco-friendly right down to the compostable plates and glasses. Dress is “casual bling.”
For the Birds
- story by LB Kovac
If you’ve been seeing fewer hummingbirds at your feeders this season, you’re not alone. Mitch Robinson reports that Mississippi residents have been inundating the Strawberry Plain Audubon Center with calls, frantic that their ruby-throated friends have been showing up less frequently this season.
Mississippi is home to ten species of hummingbird at any given time, including the shy Rufuous Hummingbird and the glittery Anna’s Hummingbird. And these little birds, along with many of Mississippi’s other native species, are difficult to track.
The dwindling numbers “are representative of a larger uncertainty and the decreasing predictability of seasonal timings within our natural landscapes,” says Robinson. But fear not! There is something you can do to help.
Beach to Bayou
At the time, natural conservation was still in its infancy, but that didn’t deter Chapman and 27 other “birders,” located in cities across the country, from traipsing off into the wilderness with binoculars in tow. During that first CBC, birders spotted specimens from more than 90 different species.
In the ensuing years, the information from the annual CBC has helped give researchers a “long term perspective” on bird populations. The Audubon Society website says that information collected during past CBCs has been used in over 200 peer-reviewed papers.
This year marks the 117th anniversary of Chapman’s first CBC. And national and international birders are gearing up for this year’s count, including in our own South Hancock County. On December 20, a group of local birders will be contributing to the census.
“The [South Hancock County] count covers a 15-mile diameter circle in Hancock County, from the south edge of Diamondhead West to the Logtown area, and south and west along the shore to Ansley and Heron Bay,” says Ned Boyajian, compiler for the South Hancock County Count (SHCC).
Hummingbirds aren’t the only species birders can expect to see during the count. According to Boyajian, individual parties can expect to see as many as 70 different bird species, with about 150 different species spotted throughout the day.
Additional counts are being conducted in neighboring counties and parishes, says Boyajian. The Jackson County count will take place on January 2, and Slidell and New Orleans have counts planned before the end of the year.
If you can’t come out to one of the counts, there are other ways you can get involved. If your home falls within one of the count areas, you can forego the excursion and watch (or listen for) the birds in your own backyard.
Boyajian recommends that these at-home birders confine their observations to a specific period of time. He also encourages keeping hanging bird feeders up, even during the colder months.
Some species of birds, like Anna’s Hummingbird, don’t have as varied of migration patterns as other species. Keeping a functioning feeder during the winter can help these birds tremendously. After all, hummingbirds do drink an average of five times their bodyweight in water every day!
And if you think just spotting birds isn’t very helpful, think again. According to the Audubon CBC website, the CBC is “one of only two large pools of information informing ornithologists and conservation biologists how the birds of the Americas are faring over time.”
By simply spotting birds with your binoculars or counting the hummingbirds at your feeder, you can help make a difference. From the CBC, Audubon and other organizations can “assess the health of bird populations and help guide conservation action.”
And those conservation efforts could, in turn, make it that much easier for other people to spot hummingbirds at their feeders next summer.
Layering Isn't Just For Cakes
Winter. Just the word conjures up images of falling snow, icicles, hot chocolate, cutting down a tree to be trimmed, Christmas get-togethers, and layering.
Layering, you ask?
How is this part of the holiday season? Because I lived for many years up north, in both Ohio and New York. And for me, layering is as much of a part of the holidays as Santa Claus coming down the chimney.
Now that the South is my home, and has been for over 20 years, I still long for the cold, crisp days. There is something amazing about putting an outfit together that will suit you throughout the day, starting with scraping ice off the windshield before heading into work and then stopping off for a Christmas party that night. It's the heavy boots, shirts, sweaters, overcoats, and hats, gloves, and scarves that make it feel like Christmas is right around the corner.
My personal favorite is one that was made by Bay St. Louis's own Kerr Grabowski. Each of Kerr's pieces tells a story, and if you have the good fortune to talk with her about a piece, she'll tell you the details behind it. “This is my granddaughter's image of a hug, this is the spider that was in my yard all summer, and this is a house with a ladybug coming up the walkway.”
Since we're not blessed with freezing temps (or as many feel down here, it is a blessing) you have to be a little more selective with your materials and more creative with your layering. First off, all the clothes have to be breathable material, meaning heat is not trapped in. But you can still rock two or three layers even on our warm winter days.
Think thin, light, and loose — a sheer camisole with hints of lace under a blouse where the collar and cuffs are showing under the sweater that ties it all together. For men, you can do something nearly the same, except I'd say cool tee under a button-down oxford with a v-neck sweater where you can see both the tee and the shirt at the neckline and the cuffs and shirttails are pulled out past the sweater.
As we're now in the midst of the holiday season, take the time to enjoy the shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating, and getting Christmas cards in the mail, because what's really important is being with those we care about.
So layer up, bust out your scarf, and as always, rock the ugly Christmas sweater; if you're unsure, Chevy Chase in “Christmas Vacation” has the answer. And in the end, we should all feel good about our own personal expression and live an inspired life.
Jeni Ward & Backpack Buddies
- by Pat Saik
Coast Lines -
originally published December 2016
- story by Ellis Anderson, photos courtesy Pat Murphy, Prima Luke and Melva Luke
A Window of My Own
That's A Wrap!
It's official. We're in the thick of the holiday season — a joyful, stressful, and exciting time of the year for every Who in Whoville.
For the last couple of years, I've talked about sinister Santas and vintage Christmas décor, so I'm opting for a change of pace this year. As I stare at the one gift I've purchased so far, all I can think about are the umpteen more I have to get to fulfill my list. I know I'll knock the next batch out at the Bay-Waveland Yacht Club Christmas Bazaar, but then there's still the decorating, the tree hunt, and oh, that career of mine.
Perhaps the one thing that I don't dread is the solace of wrapping all of these packages. I've developed a very industrious method of doing so, and it's become one of my most fulfilling holiday tasks.
One of her best gift-wrapping anecdotes is the time June Carter came in and purchased 100 pairs of panties for her staff and friends and my mom had to wrap them all. After all of that, Ms. Carter left her a $4 tip.
Which brings me to my first holiday hint: tip your service people adequately! They're working in an extra-high-stress environment and their ultimate goal this time of year is to please every single person they encounter, and that's certainly a feat that merits monetary encouragement.
I wonder how many people out there stop to think about the origins of the particular practice of gift wrapping. It is, after all, almost an instinct to hide the gifts once we purchase them.
This notion has held true for centuries. In fact, the practice dates back to the invention of paper by the Chinese in the second century B.C. Almost as soon as humans invented paper, they started wrapping gifts in it. Amazing.
Then, the paper was made of fibers like hemp and bamboo, and was often coarse. Other papers and fabrics were employed, but it wasn't until Hallmark started coming out with decorative paper that we started to yearn for more possibilities. Boy, are they infinite!
At my store, I like to giftwrap purchases with vintage wallpaper, newspaper, or brown craft paper. The paper I use is thick, durable, and easy to crease on the corners. Holiday hint: crease all corners of the wrapped box for a sharper look.
I love using the newspaper and craft paper because they just remind me of a time when giving and receiving gifts was rare and tape hadn't been invented. I consulted my grandmother on depression-era gifts and she told me she “was lucky to get a candy cane” at that time. She did tell me that she remembered wrapping gifts in newspaper and making her own paste with flour to seal the packages. Then she'd top the gift with a big red bow. I think this is a classic look that will never go out of style. Craft paper with a plaid bow is also a look that will never be surpassed by the likes of 100 grinning snowmen.
If you buy paper from a school fundraiser, pick something you like. You will most likely have plenty left over the next year. When you buy from a store like Walmart, make sure to check how much you are getting. It might only be $1.50, but when you run out halfway through your second gift, you'll be cursing.
Also, the thicker the paper, the cleaner the cut. Holiday hint: thicker wrapping paper allows to you slide the scissors through rather than chomp angrily at it.
You can find many resources on YouTube for professional wrapping tips and bow-making. However most stores in Old Town offer this as a courtesy with your purchase. I have several clients that drop their gifts off with me and I wrap them all for a fee. I've been doing it for the same people for years and nothing makes me grin inside like knowing what everyone is getting for Christmas. It’s a great feeling and a special way to wrap up the end of the year.
For professional gift-wrapping services, please contact The French Potager at (228) 364-3091. Accepting gift-wrapping orders until 12/22. You make the list, we check it twice. We wrap anything for anyone, naughty or nice!
Santa School Saga
- story by Bob McGraw, photos by Shannon Lutkins and Bob McGraw
Santa Claus — the very name evokes childhood memories of wonder and anticipation: sleepless nights all wrapped up in mystery with twinkling lights, wrapping paper, ribbons and bows.
My parents told us that if we did not go to sleep that the Big Guy would pass our house by and leave us bereft of presents, but this usually had the opposite effect on me as I lay in bed listening for the sound of sleigh bells and tiny reindeer hoofs. Sleep was out of the question, or so I thought until I awoke the next morning, surprised that I had drifted off!
They say that there are four stages of Santa Claus. As a young child, you believe in Santa Claus. When you get a bit older, you cease to believe.
On the Shoofly
I am definitely a Stage 4! My waistline has a tendency to expand, and I find it necessary to trim my near-white beard in the fall to keep random children from climbing in my lap to request toys as the Christmas season approaches.
After a career as a high school math teacher, I retired and my wife and I moved to Old Town Bay Saint Louis. The catalyst for the move was the announcement by my daughter of the impending birth of our grandson. But what was I to do with myself, now that I have the freedom to pursue other dreams?
I decided it was time to embrace the inevitable and become Santa! I have always been one to do my best to research and prepare for upcoming challenges, and I quickly found out that the best way to become the jolly old elf was to go to Santa School. But not just any Santa School!
While there are several Santa Schools across the nation, the granddaddy of them all is the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Michigan. The school was founded in 1937 by a man who was the Santa for the New York City Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from 1948 to 1965, and it was originally based in his home in Albion, New York. When Howard died in 1966, the school was moved to Midland, Michigan where it is currently run by Tom and Holly Valent.
Picture, if you will, the sight that greeted me at breakfast the next morning: Twenty or so Santas clad in a variety of Santa-themed outfits were partaking of coffee, waffles, yogurt, and cereal.
Mind you, none were in full Santa costume, but there were plenty of red suspenders, Santa hats of various types, a few poofy-sleeved Renaissance shirts, and even one white-bearded gentleman wearing red long-johns (complete with trap door) decorated with a bear paw on each cheek!
Head of the school Tom Valent got the festivities started and gave a short talk about what to expect. This was followed by a presentation about the history of Santa, beginning with Saint Nicholas of Myra who lived from 270 to 343 CE in what is now modern day Turkey. The presentation followed the evolution of Santa up through the centuries including the origins of various European traditions and then to America and the more modern depictions that we recognize today.
Over the course of the three days that I spent at the school, I learned about such things as beard care, the proper way to say “Ho Ho Ho,” makeup, costuming, stagecraft, reindeer care, sign language for Santa, conducting radio and television interviews, the latest toys (by visiting Toys “R” Us), how to make wooden toys, and of course, the names of Santa’s reindeer. We rode a steam locomotive called the Polar Express that went at a blinding speed of six miles per hour!
That evening we visited Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, Michigan, which is billed as the world’s largest Christmas store. I bought a few ornaments as presents, but the best part happened when a little girl ran up to me dragging her father by the hand. She wanted her picture with Santa, and I was not even dressed as Santa, though I did have a red hat on! What an affirmation. My heart melted on the spot!
On the last day of the school we gathered for the graduation dinner at the Midland Country Club. We were regaled by a Scottish bagpipe band, and the Swedish contingent (there were five of them this year) sang a traditional Christmas song from their homeland called the Musevisa (Mouse Song) Carol. Americans would recognize it as the basis for the theme song from the Fred Pinner Show. Finally, we received our diplomas, and I am happy to report that I graduated Magna Cum Santa!
A bit later, I was poring over a Sudoku puzzle when I heard a voice ask, “Santa, would you like some milk and cookies?” I looked up and saw a third flight attendant, and she was holding out a carton of milk and two cookies. I thanked her, but declined (I am diabetic) and said, “Would you like a ribbon, too?” It seemed that she had seen the ribbons the others had received and wanted one too!
Santa School was a wonderful, heart-warming experience. My time in Midland was characterized by a focus on the traditional values of the Christmas spirit. No one talked politics, there was very little negativity, and the truth is that I really needed a respite from the constant drumbeat of the politics of division, anger, and fear. I was reminded that there are men and women of good will from all walks of life and of all persuasions out there, and that we all need a good dose of the spirit embodied by Santa Claus. I made a lot of friends, and everyone was free with suggestions and advice (one new friend is one of only two Santas on the island of Maui in Hawaii!).
I will be at the Mockingbird on December 10 for Selfies With Santa and other venues and events are in the works. I have worked as a voice artist for a number of years (I have voiced everything from TV and radio ads to video games and audiobooks), and by December 1, I plan to have a website up and running where parents and grandparents can order custom phone messages from Santa for their little ones. I think December will be a busy month! If anyone has questions (or needs a Santa), I can be reached at email@example.com, and my website is santaonthebay.com.
- story and photos by Ellis Anderson
Seven Compelling Reasons to Shop Local
- story by Lisa Monti, Ellis Anderson, photographs by Ellis Anderson
New Orleans City Park
- by Lisa Monti, photographs courtesy City Park
- story by Carole McKellar
My husband, John, and I had the pleasure of seeing David Sedaris perform live at the Orpheum Theater in New Orleans this October. I’m a longtime fan and avid reader of his books.
Sedaris came onstage wearing a pair of culottes that he pointed out were not a skirt. In a recent New Yorker magazine he described shopping with his sisters in Tokyo, where he bought a pair of dress culottes that made a “pleasant whooshing sound” and showed off his calves. I reread the article while writing this and laughed out loud several times. His live show was a dose of much-needed levity at the end of what seemed an interminable election season.
David Raymond Sedaris was born in New York and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. His father was an IBM engineer, and his mother was a homemaker. He is the second of six children. Humorous stories about his family and his Greek heritage feature in his books and articles. Amy Sedaris, a younger sister, is a well-known actress and comedian.
David’s first book, “Barrel Fever,” was published in 1994, and since then he has written a total of eight books of stories and essays. They usually have farfetched names such as “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim” and “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.” In addition to books, Sedaris is featured in numerous periodicals. The New Yorker has published more than forty of his essays.
“Me Talk Pretty One Day” gets its title from his attempts to learn the French language while living in Paris with his partner Hugh. Initially, David typed French words that he committed to memory on index cards such as "exorcism," "death penalty," and "witch doctor."
Later, he enrolled in a French immersion class. He reported that conversations in French with classmates sounded much like, “That be common for I, also, but be more strong, you. Much work and someday you talk pretty. People start love you soon. Maybe tomorrow, okay.”
After years in France, David and Hugh moved to West Sussex, England, where they still live. As with David’s family, Hugh is featured in many essays where he is usually portrayed as the reasonable partner on David’s zany misadventures.
Sedaris recently wrote a story about his obsession with his Fitbit. He roamed the English countryside picking up garbage and chalking up steps. He wrote, “I look back on the days I averaged only 30,000 steps, and think, Honestly, how lazy can you get?”
Sedaris has an irreverent sense of humor and some stories may offend the faint of heart. Referring to his family, he said, “We were not hugging people. In terms of emotional comfort it was our belief that no amount of physical contact could match the healing powers of a well made cocktail.”
I recommend reading any or all of Sedaris’ books, and the internet provides a wealth of articles and interviews for your entertainment. His articles in the New Yorker are available online, and they are all hilarious. His take on modern culture is satire at its best. If you are a fan of audiobooks, David Sedaris reads his own stories and essays in his distinctive voice, which adds comic effect.
A new book titled “Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2016)” will be published in June 2017. Sedaris read some of the diary entries featured in the book during his live performance in New Orleans. He reported that he turned in more than 700 pages to his publisher. We, his loyal readers, have much to look forward to.
December Second Saturday Artwalk - December 10th
- stories by Grace Birch, photographs by Ellis Anderson
Over the past 20 years, the monthly Artwalk has become one of the most popular events in the region. Old Town stays lively all day, with many merchants and restaurants offering specials. The pace picks up from 4–8 p.m., when gallery openings and live music keep the streets humming with activity.
Each month, one or two Old Town businesses take the spotlight as “Hot Spots." Veteran Second Saturday patrons know these will be among the liveliest places to be during the event.
Hot Spots in December are Serious Bread (131 Main Street) and Full Moon Clockworks (131 Railroad Avenue).
Second Saturday column
Serious Bread Bakery
131 Main Street, Suite D
Bay St. Louis
He filled the empty suitcase with San Francisco sourdough bread. When the bread ran out, his sister-in-law Susan would send more sourdoughs.
“One day my San Diego sister was tired of sending the San Francisco sourdough, so she sent a recipe and a note that said, ‘You need to start making your own bread,’” smiled Vivian Jensen, Al’s wife.
So began a journey to learn about the lost art of bread making. Al enrolled in a class in King Arthur Flour, following it up with a more intensive training on sourdoughs. Workshops in Colorado and New York honed their skills for making bread starters and perfecting bagels.
“I kept saying we need to name the bread,” Vivian said. “And it was easy because we used to put a morsel in people’s mouth and say, ‘You have to try this, it’s serious bread.’”
The first thing one notices about Serious Bread’s artisanal loaves is that the tastes and textures are different from store bought brands.
“The health aspect is important to us,” Vivian said. “Most breads you find today are laden with sugar and lots of yeast to make it rise faster. The amount of sugar and salt in our bread is very low and it keeps for four to five days with no preservatives, especially the rye.”
Serious Bread's goods are made from scratch with lots of hand-kneading. Italian and French techniques — biga and poolish — start the bread. The Jensens also soak their grains so that the vitamins and minerals stay locked in. This takes 8-12 hours.
“There are no shortcuts to good bread,” Vivian said. “I recently read a study that soaking the grain is comparative to sprouting the grain — that increased iron absorption goes up over 1000 percent. You would have to eat more than 12 slices of regular bread to compare to the nutrients in one slice of our bread.”
No need to worry over smooshed bread when carting home a loaf. Serious Bread pops right back up when pressed down, another sign of the quality.
“Because of the time that we take with our bread it tastes better, lasts longer, much healthier,” Al said. “We are always experimenting with our bread. In fact, we had a class recently on how to make a sweet rye. It’s such a good tasting bread that my wife and I argued who was going to eat the last piece.”
Costumers will always find new breads on display at Serious Bread. Harvest Sourdough is another recent addition featuring cranberries, raisins and walnuts.
“A lot of breads taste great with butter and jam, but the Harvest tastes better with a sharp cheese,” Al said.
The Jensens find customers really appreciate information on how to care for their bread. Artisanal bread is a bit more than bread found at big chain stores, but if kept right will last much longer than anything produced commercially.
“I tell them to slice it, freeze it in the bag, then pull out what you need in the morning,” said Vivian. “There’s something about the frozen slice going into the toaster that awakens the taste, and that’s what we want for our customers.”
Serious Bread also has serious sweet treats. Cookies, muffins, scones and more are some of the items people rave about.
Bakers Rosie and Kandace keep coming up with new things, like their new energy bars with 10 different grains, seeds, coconuts and dates.
On Second Saturday, December 10, Rosie and Kandace will show off a different skill: both are talented musicians. Rosie will play the flute and Kandace the clarinet after a set from Kay Sones’ family band, which will feature Christmas songs and old-time favorites starting in front of the bakery at 4 p.m.
After 10 years of finding their new passion, the Jensens are thriving and say they owe so much of Serious Bread's success to their talented, dedicated staff. They love serving customers who are serious about good bread!
Full Moon Clockworks
301 Railroad Ave.
Bay St. Louis, MS
Walking through the front door of Full Moon Clockworks, it’s clear Terry Downs has a passion for timepieces. Clocks of every shape, size and age adorn the walls and cover her workbench.
“My love of clocks started when I was looking for a job,” Downs said. “It’s just as simple as that. I was 30 years old and a homemaker looking for a career. It was a turning point in my life.”
She stepped into Stan Good Clocks in Tampa Florida looking for work. Downs had a bit of experience refinishing furniture, but Good already had someone doing casing work.
He offered her an apprenticeship and from there a new career — master clockmaker — was born.
“I apprenticed for two years in the shop every day, and they could see my curiosity,” Downs said. “One of the clockmakers was retiring and Stan offered me a position.”
Downs was the only woman clockmaker in the shop and to this day she finds very few female colleagues in her field.
In the early 2000s, Downs relocated to New Orleans where her husband, Neil Gauthier, was. She knew she wanted to open a shop of her own, but didn’t feel like the big city was the right fit.
“We knew Ellis Anderson and she encouraged us to come visit the Bay more and more,” Downs said. “We saw the evolution of the Second Saturdays and really felt at home here.”
In a town full of antiques, Downs has no shortage of work. She makes house calls to work on grandfather clocks and takes appointments at her studio for clients to bring in their broken tickers.
Her favorite clocks? Down favors French timepieces. “I like the way the French build their clocks,” she said. “They are really quality pieces.”
A unique clock, an oeil-de-boeuf, overlooks Downs’s workbench and literally doubles as an art piece. The French clock features a beautiful painting that would look at home in a major museum.
Downs prefers to work on antique clocks, but sees all types of clocks in her line of work. She also only works on clocks, not wristwatches.
“Watches are different,” she explains. “The tools are different. With watches you buy a part to replace, and with clocks you are making the replacement parts.”
Modern technologies and mindsets seem to be taking the place of wristwatches and wall clocks. Downs has met millennial children who don’t know how to tell time with a clock face.
“American clockmakers are dying off in droves,” she said. “I’m a young clockmaker and I’m 65.”
Downs agrees there will always be a place for nostalgic things, but the industry is not sustainable.
“A young person could not support a family being a clockmaker, and I think that young people’s minds gravitate to something more technical,” she said.
In Bay St. Louis, Downs has certainly found a community that appreciates history and though Full Moon Clockworks she keeps the heartbeat of that history ticking along.
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