Saturday, July 24, 2010

Should kick myself!

Have much to write about, but had to leave the room, had a major power outage a few minutes ago. Air in the room is out, and it's hot as the dickens, the desk said the power is out on the whole block. Checked the weather forecast this morning and there's a typhoon warning for this area all day until tomorrow. We were on the Perfume River (Song Huong) last night on a VIP cruise half way through the trip it came down thunder and lightning, again like crazy! I'm backed up a couple of day's on my log, but good to hear everyone back home and at school are following my blog, special thank's to Chef Robert D. Yes, you were right!

Was fortunate enough to find and visit, with Sarah, "Senteurs d' Angkor' before leaving Siem Reap, Cambodia. It's an N.G.O. that recruits local underprivileged people to produce sustainable natural products for local sale and export. Products such as candles, moisturizing creams, made from harvested berries and plant extracts, soap's, coffee, tea, a whole array of products that are indigenous to this and surrounding areas. We were given a great tour, of the facilities and witnessed first hand the hand crafted manufacturing of these and many other products. It was great! My camera took a dump because of the humidity, so Sarah was elected as the day's photographer, posting of any shots of the visit will have to wait until we can get together to swap pix. I purchased an assortment of spices, and related good's to share and use in class when I return to school in a few weeks. As far as my purchase's, some of the spices I purchased were used in the preparation of "Amok" a classic regional dish we were taught to make at the Phnom Penh cooking school, cool!

Without going into great detail, the trip from Siem Reap, to Ho Chi Minh City, to Hue was a killer, from international flights, customs, immigration and 2 internal domestic flights, some petty bickering, logistic glitches, and what not, by the time we arrived in Hue, had dinner (9ish) and hotel check in, we were all pretty much toast! and I mean toast! By the time Brian and I were ready to hit it, it was after 1 am., and we had a 8:00am pick up to the Hue University of Language and Art, for, get this, a lecture from 9:00am to 12:00 noon. (Help!!!) But to everyones surprise the experience was quite exhilarating, we were treated to a lecture of local classic culture and a fascinating performance of classic Vietnamese songs and dance by a group of both professional musicians and students, the performance was quite impressive, and entertaining. What a pleasant surprise, and our host's were so congenial. To end the day's festivities, (and here's where I kick myself, hard! ) We were presented with a wonderful lecture and slide presentation by a university professor of art, on the fascinating art of "Lacquer Art's". As an artisan pen turner myself, I could relate to the art he was so passionately describing in detail, I was mesmerized by the intricate detail of the processes in creating such beautiful pieces of vase's, abstract art, and various practical containers used in everyday life. As he passed around samples at various stages of design, he passed around a beautiful completed vase he himself designed and created. As he explained the piece and the extensive process it took to complete, you could tell by the pride that was quite evident on his face, the joy of the opportunity to share his work with us. It was just before the end of his presentation that I had an idea. A few weeks before we left on this trip, I wanted to create a special pen for myself to commemorate the trip. A pen I would use to document the experience. I used a beautiful piece of northern California redwood burl I had in the shop for some time that I was saving for such an occasion. Two hours later with a lot of patience and some intricate inlay work using crushed abalone shell, shards of turquoise, and tiny pieces of red coral, I had created a pen that would travel with me on this journey.

Well, back to the presentation, I had to do it, I asked Mike if I could meet with the professor privately, (I didn't want to make a big thing about it ), and I told him I wanted to present my pen to the professor as a gift from one artist (and I use the term artist on my behalf loosely!) to another as a sign of respect and gratitude for his hospitality, and for sharing his knowledge.

Well when the opportunity presented it's self David and Brian photographed the occasion and as I explained and describe my offering, the professor seemed to be quite moved with my gesture, and thanked me repeatedly for my generosity, and to reciprocate the gesture, he gave me the beautiful vase he use in his presentation! I was floored! I can't describe the emotion's that were going through my being when be bowed and handed me the piece. When all was said and done, well need I say more!

By the way, as I write with the perspiration dripping off my chin and on to my lap, the electricity's back on!

Oh! why should I kick myself. As I walked away from the excitement of the pen and vase moment, I left all my notes, the professors business card and related documentation at the table I was sitting at! (WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!) Good thing I gave him my business card, as we departed he said he would email me back in the states with more information and his website, whew!

Until later,
Chef :)


  1. Way to go Chef! I have one of those pens you just described, turquoise, coral, and abalone. Can't wait to see the vase.