Monday, May 9, 2011

Enchanted Weekend

In the week since my last post, spring has finally arrived in earnest.  There are certain days in May when I can't quite believe that the world can be so beautiful--when trees rain pink petals and the sun, like a  willful child, refuses to set until long past its bedtime.  This past weekend was filled with three such days in a row.

Friday nights are free nights at the Portland Museum of Art, and the first Friday of each month is also Art Walk night, when all the galleries in the Arts District stay open late and the streets fill with gallery-hoppers.  Those are Cheap Date nights for us.  They usually include a slice of pizza at our favorite joint or an ice cream cone (caramel and sea salt for me) at another favorite haunt.

And then there's the fun of the museum.  

I'm not sure which I love more: staring at the art or staring at the people as they stare at the art.  I love to see how a piece engages the viewer.  Certain pieces seem to invite touch or even play.  This is what always makes me a little crazy about museums.  I completely understand and respect all the rules, but I still long to touch!

Once back out on the street anything goes.  We can hula hoop until nightfall, if it ever comes.

Later in the weekend, Mr. Magpie and I celebrated Mother's Day with my mum at her house, which happens to be the house where I grew up.  We spent the day working in her garden and cooking together.  The forecast had called for rain, but we saw nothing but sunshine and blue skies full of impossibly puffy, white clouds the whole day long.  Lucky ducks.

Dinner was mostly grilled outside: shrimp marinated in lime, olive oil, garlic, jalapenos, scallions, and cilantro; new potatoes tossed in olive oil with salt and pepper; and portobello mushrooms marinated and stuffed.  The only things not grilled were the fiddleheads, which my mother steamed and tossed with butter, which is the simplest way to make them, and maybe the most delicious.    

Have you ever had fiddleheads?  Here in Maine they are a celebrated springtime treat.  They are simply fiddlehead (ostrich) ferns that have sprouted through the soil but have not yet unfurled.  Available for just a few weeks in the spring, they are a highly prized find at farmers' markets and local grocers.  You can't eat just any variety of fern, so don't run out and pick some for cooking.  Buy them from a reliable supplier.  Just as with mushrooms, there are certain locals who know where the fiddleheads grow, and they keep their harvesting spots a secret, making these magical greens all the more special to those of us who love their flavor.  To me, fiddleheads taste like spring and childhood, because my memere always cooked them in late April or early May.  She often cooked them with bacon and always tossed them with butter.  Some people serve them with vinegar on the side and others like them with hollandaise sauce, but I'll take them tossed in butter every time.

For dessert, I made a strawberry-almond meringue and sponge cake with cream.  
It sounds over the top, and it is, and we loved every bite of it!

Later in the evening, there was still plenty of sunlight left, and I couldn't resist capturing a few shots of the yard as the sun's rays slanted through the pale green of the trees' sprouting leaves.  

I hope your weekend was every bit as lovely, 
especially all you mothers and grandmothers out there in blogland.    


  1. Dearest Gigi,

    Well, at the end of the day one should ask: "And, what did we learn today?"
    For me it was knowing now about fiddleheads! Wonder who started this; maybe the native Americans? It amazes me always how the very first person ever came up with this... Once tried and tested; no big deal. But your version sounds yummy.
    So glad you got to spend time with your Mother and sharing a meal together with such fond childhood memories...
    Oh, those pink petals look like a fairy tale becoming real! But it is such a brief moment each year. It feeds our eyes and souls for a long time though and than anew the longing comes back till spring is around another time.

    Lots of love,


  2. Hi Gigi,
    What a weekend....perfect sums it up, I think.
    We have similar to your Art Walk over here. We went to Arundel in Sussex, last year where you can go and see art in people's homes. My neice, who is a sculptor, was exhibiting in a gallery there too. It's brilliant because, not only do you see some fabulous art but, you get to go in some wonderful houses !!
    ....and, I live the sound of fiddleheads. They look and sound delicious and, I promise that I won't go out into the garden and pick the unfurled ferns !!
    We have been enjoying the most wonderful weather for the past 6 weeks now. It has been the warmest April for 400 years. It is changing this week but, we do need the rain now.
    Your photographs are just beautiful Gigi. I love the first one of that beautiful pink blossom.
    Hope you and yours are well Gigi and sorry that I haven't been around for a while. I have had massive computer and Blogger troubles.....HUGE !! I am hopefully back on track now but, I'm not holding my breath !!
    Lots of love. XXXX

  3. Hello:
    These kinds of days are, indeed, magical and contain moments to be savoured long after the day itself has gone.

    Yes, we should love the evening visits to galleries and, as you say, the people watching becomes as much a part of the whole experience as looking at the works of art. Once a year in Budapest on the Night of the Museums, which coincides with the summer solstice, all the museums in the city are open throughout the night for a single, specially discounted price. It is great fun.

    No, we have never come across 'fiddleheads'! They sound most interesting and clearly taste delicious.

  4. I am in love with your city! Truly worth the wait, I suppose...and fiddleheads? I must try them sometime, although I'm not sure how well they'd ship to the hot hot south...

  5. Such spring beauty, art, and food...*swoon*... I've always wondered what fiddleheads tasted like--never had them sadly and they don't seem to be eaten here. Love your preparation of the shrimp and your meringue treat. And not least that sprinkling of rosy petals in the top photo. We had a spring-magic weekend ourselves, went to a great art gallery to see an exhibit in a pretty seaside town close by. Just LOVE spring! :o) Happy Week, Gigi ((HUGS))

  6. Girl, you did yourself proud with these photos! Each one just beautiful ... I love you for sharing your weekend, looks and sounds just lovely all around. That puffy, creamy, berry thing you made had me drooling, at 6:30 in the morning!

  7. swooning.
    absolutely swooning:)

  8. These photos are supurb!! A printed photo journal book of your weekend would not be out of order...Love the shot of hula hoop flare...and that strawberry oh my!

    I love to go to smaller museums and this looks like a gem...great shots from inside. I think it is difficult to get interesting shots inside museums that capture the feel of the place and you did! I grew up with fiddleheads too...and lots of butter:) Come to think of it I haven't seen any in the store this year...hope I didn't miss at least one meal with them!

  9. What an absolutely lovely weekend you had. And, yes, the dessert was over the top but t hat's the way desserts are supposed to be otherwise they are not desserts at all ;)

  10. i LOVE portland, maine so much ( we stayed at the pomegranite inn when we were there ) i LOVED seeing all of this...the meal at your mother's home was beautiful...

    a lovely happy to visit here's always nice to see a friend

    sending love,

  11. I have just heard of fiddleheads recently and here they are again. So interesting and unique. I'll have to look into whether or not there is an artwalk here in Houston...I too wind up mostly staring at the people. Your back yard is beautiful!! Can you believe we roasted at a festival down here last weekend. Already too hot for me! Ugh. The whining begins...

  12. Flowering trees and a gorgeous dessert...I really can't wait to be back in the Northeast. All of your photos remind me so much of home.

  13. Oh, now if I could just pluck a tasty morsel of that divine looking desert, and then step inside the frame of that bottom photo, I would be content to stay there until every last spring leaf unfurled.

  14. As an older art collector since my wife passed away, I must admit to being very partial to collecting nudes in art, as original paintings or as good prints, that I have displayed all over the house. (I like to see the surprised faces of my new visitors).
    This one,, by Emile Munier, is hanging in one corner of my bedroom and was printed by, where I am a very good customer.


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