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In Uncategorized on July 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm

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France Day 4 wed Oct 18th

In Uncategorized on October 26, 2006 at 11:39 am

Wed Oct 18th
9:45pm Breakfast again & that wonderful coffee. I also indulged in baguettes with butter and the most delicious fig jam. Then we were in the van and off today to Savoie.
Savoie was annexed to France in 1860, originally belonging to Italy. Savoie is famous for it’s cheese and wine. Once in Savoie we headed to Chanaz Village, home to a 19th century walnut mill, now a historical monument and the last one of it’s kind in France.

We were given a demonstration and he was quite a comedienne. At one time the entire mill was powered by a water wheel, but now due to global warming, there is not enough water to supply the electricity needed, so it is supplemented by real electricity. Everything inside is completely manufactured by hand. Walnut, hazelnut and almond oils are made here as well as jams of the above. We were given a tasting and … yum! So we all headed straight to the counter where we purchased items. I bought a bottle of hazelnut oil and a jar of hazelnut jam. Oh I almost forgot, I also bought the walnut cookies, which were like macaroons without the coconut, but lost of walnut. Once outside I shared them with everyone and we all had smiles on our faces. We had our picture taken with all our pinkies up because the walnut oil man let us taste the oils with our pinkies.

He said the pinkie is the cleanest finger on the hand. This Chanaz Village was like a village that time forgot.


Nestled at the based of a large mountain, which was shrouded in mist, it had a canal running through it. July and August are the prime months, so it was quite empty even though people live there year round. Exciting!
Then we went to Aix-les-Bains and even the name is exotic. It is the 2nd largest spa city in France.

We took the boat across the Bourget Lake which is the biggest natural lake in France, surrounded on all side by majestic mountains.

Once at the other side we went to the 12th century Hautecombe Abbey, burial place of the Dukes of Savoie and the last King of Italy buried there in 1983.

This abbey is now a sanctuary for young adults just out of college to come to for 3 months and find their “meaning of life.” Room and board in exchange for working on the grounds in jobs various job from ticket taker for the Abbey to moping floors to landscaping. Don’t forget that all schooling in France is free. Yes free, did you hear that Bush! So not only are health benefits free but all schooling is as well. We had to catch a boat that was headed up to the far end of the lake so our ride back was a soothing and calm 1 ½ hours long.

Back at our home base dinner started with a colorful plate including lentils and beets. Our main course was a mouthwatering veal roll with creamed spinach.
Next was the very familiar cheese plate with some variation this time. Our meal ended with crème fresh, lemon sorbet, black currant glace and some raspberries.

I could eat like this forever!

So far this trip has been everything I expected and so much more. Never would anyone ever get to see all these things that are not normally considered tourist attractions for Americans. Why? They are so far … “off the beaten track”, which is what the tour is called.
Please visit their website: WWW.FRENCHESCAPADE.COM
Tomorrow we are headed to La Cote Saint Andre so I need a full nights worth of sleep. And to think I still have Paris for 5 days when this is over on Sunday… I’m in heaven!

France Day 3 Tue Oct 17th

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2006 at 8:31 am

Tues Oct 17th
10:45pm As usual breakfast was waiting for us as we stepped into the dining room. Delicious. Today we were heading out to Provencale. It was a 2 1/5 hour drive away but, was all highway driving so I didn’t need my Dramamine plus I’ve been sitting in the front seat. (Thank you fellow travelers). Our first stop was the Le chateau de Grignan, a 16th century historic castle also the largest renaissance chateau in the south of France.


In the 17th century the castle was badly damaged during the French Revolution, but was saved at the beginning of the 20th century when it was purchased privately and underwent extensive restoration.

The castle also owes its celebrity to one of the women of French Literature, Madame de Sevigne who stayed there visiting her daughter and died and was buried there in 1696.

Our next stop was the medieval village of Poet-Laval, where lavender fields were first discovered. This is the oldest village in South France dating back to 1028 with the castle having been visited by the actual Knights of the Templar. I sat for a moment on the stone remains and tried to visualize them.

Sadly to say I couldn’t. But just being there was thrilling.
We ate lunch in the most charming sidewalk café, and I had the best omelet I ever had. With potatoes, onions and bacon inside, this omelet was juicy and tasty and came with a garden salad instead of french fries. Oh la la!

Our last stop for the day was the quaint village of Dieulefit. Known for its linens and pottery this village was actually built into the side of a mountain.


One of the stores actually turns into the cave once you pass the entrance door and all the merchandise is displayed on carved shelves in the cave walls.
We have a mouthwatering dinner and called it quits to a long but satisfying day

France Day 2 Mon Oct 16th

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2006 at 8:13 am

Before I start this post I know some of you are dying to see Paris pics so I will give you a teaser:


Mon Oct 16th
9:45pm Beautiful weather. Same wonderful breakfast as yesterday with that delicious coffee in soup bowls. I could catch on to that, but the people in the states might think it’s funny.
It’s time to leave, first made sure I took my Dramamine. Going to the mountainous region of Vercors Nature Park, bordered by 180 miles of cliffs on the very edge of the Alps. Vercors makes up for 65% of the world’s supply of walnuts… hence the nickname “Valley of the Walnuts”. The ride today gave new meaning to the words curved roads. Double dose the Dramamine.
The water has carved deep gorges and caverns amongst the most famous in Europe. We visited the Choranche cave famous for it tubular stalactites.

Prehistoric men lived here some 70,000 years ago. One of the biggest caves in the Vercors totaling about 20 miles. Inside we saw the Siphon gallery to view these tubular stalactites known as soda straws. Thousands of straws only 4 millmetres (very small) in diameter made of calcite – crystalline limestone or calcium carbonate.

They have been growing at the rate of 5 centimetres a century for thousands of years and the longest now measures 3 metres.

We went to the 16th century village Pont-en-Royans for lunch.

The houses here are suspended in the steep cliff walls over the river. I had ravioli with le creme de roqufort, (a creamy blue cheese sauce). We found an internet café there so we stopped for a while to catch up on emails, strange bringing the normalcy of computing to this so very European village that I could comfortably live in.
When we arrived at the country house the day so so clear we saw Mont Blanc in the distance. We all stood silent just gawking in amazement at this breathtaking site. The mountain was white capped and overpowered anything near it. We are going there on Friday.

Before dinner we had raspberry cassis with white wine and munched on baked, walnut topped quince with honey.

For dinner tonight we had ravioli (again with the ravioli!) cooked with gruyere cheese in a single serving soufflé bowl topped with walnuts.

Our next dish was a vegetable pate cooked in a flaky filo dough pastry served on top of grilled green beans with marinated mushrooms. Next was the famous cheese plate that we all looked forward to, followed by the most creamy, smooth pudding in the raspberry cake, topped with fresh le crème and marzipan flowers.

All of us sat for more than an hour after dinner talking, chatting, enjoying each others company. How heartwarming. Tomorrow we are off to Provencale.

France Day 1 Sun Oct 15th

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2006 at 8:01 am

Sun Oct 15th
5:30am. I awoke from a great night of sleeping, sat down & loaded the pictures I took of my room yesterday, into the computer. I’m up now, slight headache, but the bed was very comfortable. Breakfast is being served buffet style for 1 hour before our departure time, which is 8:30am. Dinner last night was mouthwatering; it was all appetizers that were delicious. We started with a champagne toast over little hour’dourves made individually of tomato, salmon, cheese, ham, and the lightest filo dough pastry. Then we sat at the table with wine (I had Orangina), there was a couscous dish, rolled prossutto with salami, salmon slices, a tomato, mozzarella, basil salad, the most mouthwatering grain bread that didn’t need any butter, and cantaloupe from the French Region of Provance that was as sweet as sugar. Then came out a dish of cheeses… oh my! Blue cheese, Brie, and two others, what made them taste so good was that they are not pasteurized as in the states. I guess that takes away from the flavor. The brie (one of my favorites) was like silk. The Real Estate Agent from Tennessee had us in tears when he told us he sold a house to Dolly Parton and her partner Judy. He did mention that it is well known in her parts (no pun intended…OK yes I made a pun!) and respectfully accepted.

10:00pm What a fabulous day, starting with breakfast. Coffee in soup bowls, that’s how they do it here in France with streamed milk and fresh croissants… oh la la! Fruit, yogurt, oatmeal, bread butter. (I can eat breakfast like this every morning).


It was very misty as we left the country house for The Chartreuse Region Nation Park. La Grande Chartreuse is the motherhouse of the Carthusian Order purposely built in an isolated area over 1000 years ago.

These monks live in a vow of silence, we weren’t able to go in the actual monastery but the museum was humbling. It was about 55-60 degrees, and the weather was perfect. I did have to take a dose of Dramamine; the turns in the mountains were stomach turning. Les also had the same issue so we both sat up in front… that helped some. The history of the liquor Chartreuse, only 2 monks know the recipe and they travel separately to the distillery in Voiron in case something happens to either one. After the museum we went to Voiron for lunch in a charming bistro. I indulged in baby ravioli with shrimp cooked au gratin with le crème. Yum!

I walked a bit around this quaint lovely town with Kelly & Les. I could easily live here. The French are so basic and straightforward, and yet relaxed in a way the Americans are not. Then we visited the Chartreuse cellar, the longest in the world (500 feet long) where the liquor is made out of 130 different herbs.

We had a tasting after the tour. I wasn’t crazy about the green (55% alcohol), or the yellow (42%) but I did like the fruit one. This region is only 2 ½ hours away from Geneva Switzerland and 45 minutes from Grenoble where the 1968 Olympics were held. We returned to the house at 5:30pm and gathered at 6:30pm for our aperitif of Blackcurrant Chartreuse (Cassis) and white wine. Tasty! For dinner we sat down to a wonderful salad with walnuts, hard-boiled eggs, greens, baby tomatoes, apricots and a balsamic vingerette dressing.

The main course was roasted quail, with braised carrots and home made potatoes au gratin. Not the store bought kind, but fresh and homemade. Then came out the luscious cheese platter again,

Blue Cheese, Brie, Gruyere, and something else. They were all good. And finally for dessert we have a stewed pear drizzled with chocolate and whipped crème and cherries.
Note: (Mom-why can’t you cook like Valerie?)

Arrival in France Sat Oct 14th

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2006 at 7:49 am

Sat Oct 14th
11:30am, It’s 5:30am NY time. I’m sitting in the Charles DeGaulle Airport in Paris waiting for a later connecting flight to Lyon. My flight from JFK arrived to late for me to make the connection. There is a 1:10pm flight, which would get me into Lyon at 2:20pm. The van is picking me up at 3pm. The flight from JFK was OK, 7 ½ hours, but I was barely able to get any sleep. I just couldn’t fade off into nevernever land. I’m tired but I’ll manage. When Air France issued a new boarding pass, they gave me a voucher for a complimentary breakfast and apologized for the inconvenience. They were very nice. No sign of rudeness to the American.
The airport here is very large and full of construction, even worse than JFK airport. The terminal I’m in – 2F, is very long & reminds me of the turn of the century train station, which a techno modern edge of course. It’s all glass, curved; the ceiling is a semi circle. If you look lengthwise at the terminal it’s half of a circle. The ceiling is totally covered with a techno lattice of white pipes and at the end of the pipes are little spotlights. It will be interesting to see it lighted up on my return trip to JFK.


5:00pm I’m resting in my room in the country house. It is wonderful! Warm, clean, inviting, spacious. I have a view of the mountains and the cows grazing in the fields.

The country house is charming. Built in the mid 19th century it was originally a Town Hall , then later converted into a schoolhouse until the early 20th century when it took on private owners.


Built from adobe with cement on the outside of the building, the interior has been restored to its 19th century charm including squeaky floorboards.

The 2 women (partners) running this tour are wonderful. Jac from Belgium and Valerie from France.
They compliment each other so well and are delightful to be around. The other 5 guys are very nice, it ended up being 2 male couples, and 2 single guys which where both able to get a room to themselves, myself one of them. 1 couple (Kelly & Les together for 11 years) is from San Francisco; the other (Wes & David together for 18 years) is from Dallas, Texas. The other single guy (Wayne) is a Caldwell Real Estate Agent from Nashville Tennessee. They are all very friendly and have nice personalities.

Monday Oct & 16th, 2006

In Uncategorized on October 16, 2006 at 12:34 pm

I am sitting in an internet cafe in the mountains of Vercors in the small village of Pont en Royans. Not far from the Swiss and Italy borders. This morning we visited the French caves… magnificent, humbling, spectacular! In this village all the houses are built into the sides of the mountain. We ate lunch in a wonderful restaurant along a river with the clearest water flowing that you are able to see the riverbed. I had ravioli du le creme roqufort: ravioli with a creme blue cheese sauce… yum!

Yesterday we saw the Monks of the order of cartreuse, where the liquor charteuse is made.
I have been keeping a detailed journal with many many pictures and I will upload them when I get to Paris next week.
The country house and my very spacious roon is wonderful and comfortable and the two women running the tour are delightful. The other 5 men are friendly and we all have been having a wonderful time together. I have been popping dramamine every day… driving through the mountains with the most curving roads I`ve ever seen are wrecking havoc with motion sickness, but as soon as we stop, within a half hour the nausea goes away. I have been sleeping great every night.

Friday we are taking the gondola up 12 thousand feet to the top of Mont Blanc in Switzerland. Tomorrow we are going to the region of Provance. The food is absolutely to die for. The scenery is so european……

More to come….
-Jeff in France

Six Degrees…

In Uncategorized on September 23, 2006 at 2:03 am

My audition for Tartuffe for Two Rivers Theater in New Jersey went really well. I coached with a friend and was able to to put a cool character together. It’s out of my hands now, I’d love the job, but if it’s meant to be… it will.

I did have a suprise short notice audition for the new TV series Six Degrees, the role of a Jewish salesman in the diamond district selling a diamond ring to Damien. Well being jewish was no problem… I arrived at Silvercup Studios East early, I like to chill out first & also scope the competition (which I shouldn’t do). While I was there, there were 2 other very friendly guys, we all started chatting. The coolest thing was that we were all different “types”: one guy had an olive complection & looked Israeli, another was smaller, reddish blonde short har, and myself with my dark hair, goatee & girth. Mary Jo Slater was called in from LA to cast the series & she was very friendly considering she flew in overnight on the red eye. My audition was with her assistant Beth and no one was put on tape. So there would be a call back for the producers. Today is friday, the audition was yesterday, doesn’t look good for me, I would have been called in already.

I’m scheduled to audition for the Prince Music Theater of Philadelphia next Wednesday for “Annie Get Your Gun”, in the role of Buffalo Bill. Now that should be fun. Buffalo Bill’s only solo singing is in the number “There’s no Business Like Show Business” and I was told to sing a ballad in the style of the show. Well poo, poo on that! I’m gonna sing an uptempo that makes me sound really good. I’ll sing either “There is Nothing Like a Dame” from “South Pacific” or “That’s Entertainment”.
I called my voice coach & I already had a session scheduled with her for Thursday, but I added another one for Wednesday morning, the day of the audition. It’s expenses like this that keep adding up & keep me in the poor house. But it would be a great gig to to.

I’m tired… I have an editing project to finish, and I’m shooting a short film on Sunday. Ahh the life.
My words from New York City.
-Jeff

Picking up some work

In Uncategorized on September 15, 2006 at 1:51 pm

My agent got me an appointment for an equity audition next wed for Two Rivers Theatre in NJ, they’re doing Tartuffe, the role is Loyal the police official who evicts Orgon, and it is in Molier speech (verse) but it takes place in modern day Texas, complete with drawl accent. Interesting I’ll rehearse with the sides over the weekend.

The theatre at Lincoln center is dark now so I’ve been soliciting myself around as a substitute usher and have gotten to see The Drowsey Chaperone…what a dense hit of musical theatre, wow! and for the first time The Lion King. The visuals were spectacular… talent was remarkable, it’s like being transformed into a fantasy world. After a while you saw animal characters, instead of the people operating them. Their personalities grew & were so compelling.

Ushering the whole weekend for City Center where the Greek Theatre is doing…epichles, persiclues….I don’t know… something like that, so should be interesting. This is the greatest being a union usher, they pay me to hand out playbills & see shows.

Getting ready for France.. I leave on Oct 13th & back on th 27th.
Ah, the life!

That’s my life here in New York City
-Jeff

My thoughts, my views… 9/11/06

In Uncategorized on September 11, 2006 at 4:21 pm

I’m sitting at my computer listening to relatives say the names of the deceased angels from 9/11 and the tears are rolling down my face. Am I emotional? Yes, very. That is what makes me the good person that I am. It is also a monkey on my back when it cannot be controlled. Being a native New Yorker this event is very personal to me, but I wasn’t at ground zero. I watched the entire event through my bedroom windows (I was living in Williamsburg Brooklyn at time time), like a picture through a frame.

I was preparing to go to an accounting client I had on Bleecker Street that morning, when I noticed on TV, it looked liked there was a fire on one of the floors of the Twin Towers. As I sat in a trancelike state and listened to what actually happened, I called my Mother who was living in Albany, NY at the time. We then stayed on the phone till both Towers fell. My glance out the window was of lots of smoke as the two icons grasped their last breath before succumbing to the fate of the worst evil that can exist.

I was numb the rest of the day, but stayed in the solitary warmth of my own apartment. The next day was the hardest. As I stepped onto the subway train still numb, I noticed others looked “normal”. No one was crying, no one looked like they were in a city where the most famous of buildings was attacked by terrorists, killing almost three thousand people. This was so strange to me. As I walked the streets of midtown, their was a strange air of silence, but looking around the city was still operating. Maybe this is what was supposed to happen. To show those evil people that they cannot, and will not take us down. But I wanted to scream out “Hey people! Don’t you realize what happened!” I didn’t. Instead I let the tears roll down my face and I cried for the people who perished.

I was on 7th Avenue by St. Vincent’s Hospital (which was quiet) in front of a tall chain link fence that had been used as a notice board for people who haven’t heard from their friends, relatives, loved ones who were in the Towers. Many pictures of people of all ages, shapes, colors, long hair, short hair, beards, smooth skin, glasses…they just looked like masses of you and me. A girl with long dark hair just lit a candle and placed it next to flowers on the street with a picture of a goodlooking young man. It was her brother, he was 22 years old and was so proud of his job as a maintenance worker at the Towers, she said. It was the first job he kept for over 6 months. He loved his job. My heart broke as far as it could. I hugged her & we both cried.

I used to work for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, in the South Tower. I worked out of their kitchen on the 44th floor, doing cater waitering. I was on an “on call” basis with them & I wasn’t scheduled to work that day. It had been a week since I’d been there last. Days after the attack I called my boss there and she was alright. She told me that after the first plane to the North Tower she, along with her assistant left the South Tower, against the announcements and direction of authorities. As they existed onto the plaza the second plane hit and they were showered with glass.

Now with all this behind us, we still live every day in reminder that the battlefield is not just “over there” it’s over here too. I try to be as decent a person to others as I can, and truthful to myself. Sometimes it’s hard for both. I don’t consider myself a prejudice person but sometimes society itself forces us to. For example: with the issue of racial profiling on individuals going through a turnstyle in the New York City subway system, or at the airport. My heart says all people are equal, treat them as such. But my mind says: well some muslims are a threat, BUT not all, and techniquely Americans can be a threat also… BUT not all… There’s always that BUT that keeps me in question.

It’s all a very fine line now between love and hate, peace and war. It’s so ironic to say that we fight in a war “by the rules”, and yet the terrorists do not. So how do we defend ourselves? Who do we point a finger at?

So on this somber day Monday September 11th, 2006 of rememberance, and sorrow the most I can do is to offer my hand to the next person & just hope that they do the same in return.

With love & warmth,
-Jeff

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