Tuesday, July 04, 2006

More from the retreat

Hello, I'm slow getting this all down as I got nailed by a flu/cold virus that was going around at the end of the retreat. I thought I would be painting at home by now.....

One morning I was late getting to my paints and the cooks came hunting for people to help pick mussels. So off we went to gather the clam baskets and down to the shore at low tide to pick mussels. It had been a long time since I had been anywhere to do this. You pick up long strands of seaweed that is like a Mermaids hair and tucked onto the rocks and deep in crevices are these shiny black mussels. We were told to gather what did have barnacles on the backs but that was almost impossible. I had on my bright yellow garden boots and was so glad I had brought them as I could wade into the water and find the special spots where the mussels grew. Also unearthing a few rock crabs who scuttled back under the seaweed. Always a bit startling as this crustacean came up out of the dense seaweed. We quickly gathered 2 baskets full and off we went to scrape and clean the beards off the shells. By 1 o'clock we sat down to the sweetest bowls of mussels ever. Cooked in a broth of half water half wine with a stick of butter some garlic and a few onions. It was the best!!! The food all week was incredible from Salade Nicoise to the night from Morocco. We also had Mexican food, Salmon and Haddock. Lunch was just as tasty with beautiful soups and salads and good thick breads. The fruits also were not to be believed. The peaches were huge and once ripe were everyone's favorites. Weather drawing, painting them or eating them. The red peppers were also a hit as they were painted in gouache or oils before being roasted on the grill. Desert went from the popular strawberry short cake to some very innovative crisps. All this cooked on a wood stove except for grilled veggies and the fish. Astonishing.... Ok now I've made myself totally hungry and there is no Barney here cooking so I'll take myself off to the kitchen... Happy painting, Diane

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