Monday, August 11, 2008

The Finer Things

Over the weekend we visited the High Museum of Art here in Atlanta. With new exhibits coming in September we needed to go and see the outgoing exhibits that we had thus far this summer neglected.

Houdon at the Louvre, while not my favorite of the series of Louvre exhibits coming to the High, was worth a trip. The collection was dominated by Houdon’s busts. As a renowned sculptor and preeminent bust artist of the Enlightenment, his work was made up of a who’s who of France and the new world: Voltaire, Napoleon, Franklin, Washington, politicians, actresses, and classical influences.

Not being that familiar with Houdon, it was great to see such a large collection of his work and compare it to the large collection of busts exhibited during the last Louvre exhibit held at the High. His gift for sculpture and for capturing the personalities and even the souls of his sitters for me at least had everything to do with their eyes. In classical sculpture the eyes were smooth and flat giving the appearance of almost blindness. Houdon was inventive in creating deep recesses to represent the iris and pupil allowing light and shadow to give the impression in marble, terra cotta, and plaster of real eyes looking back at you. Houdon’s other innovation was to sculpt children as children rather than the previous tradition of treating them as diminutive adults. The sculptures of his son and daughter were amazing, as was the sculpture of his wife complete with a slightly opened mouth showing highly realistic teeth.

After the exhibit and a few drinks at Tap, we went back to Table 1280 at the High for a light dinner. The food was excellent and, despite an empty restaurant on the Saturday before back-to school, the overall experience was quite enjoyable.

My take-away dish from the meal was an appetizer – figs in honey with ricotta. I think the dish would be better suited as a dessert and that’s how I intend to serve it.

The recipe as I imagine it (I will come back and correct if it’s different from what I anticipate):

2 dozen small ripe figs
8 Tbsp honey
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 ½ cups fresh ricotta
Mint and/or Toasted Hazelnuts to garnish

1) Clean and cut the small figs in half placing them in a plastic freezer bag.

2) Add 4 Tbsp of honey and lemon juice to the bag

3) Place in the refrigerator turning occasionally to coat, allow the figs to macerate for 3-4 hours

4) Mix 2 Tbsp of honey into the ricotta, form small quenelles using two spoons and place three on each plate in a star pattern leaving 2 inches of open space in the middle of the plate for the figs

5) Add the figs to the plates and drizzle remaining honey over figs and ricotta. Top with Mint and/or nuts.

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