Author Archives: Michael Korcuska

Les Spectacles

Mid-year Piano Recital

I finally got around to uploading the videos from Jack and Daphne’s mid-year piano recital. They took piano lessons after school every Tuesday with Rhea.  We bought a nice clavier portable for them to practice on during the year and it really was a good idea because their piano progressed considerably. Rhea was patient and demanding, which was excellent. Our favorite part was that they learned a duet, which is the sweetest thing ever.

Without further ado…

Jack Solo

Daphné Solo

Duet: Le Phantome


Jack’s Marionette Spectacle

Coming later….

Daphné’s Dance Spectacle

Coming later…

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Greece (Ελλάδα)! (Part 2: Katerini & Thessaloniki)

P4213685(You may want to read part 1 of our trip to Greece.)

After a nice stay in Athens we took the train to Katerini (Κατερίνη) in the north. The train ride was uneventful and, apparently, unmemorable.  Our arrival was not, as a large group of our relatives were there to greet us at the train station including my uncle Dagi who had driven down from Thessaloniki. It was quite emotional, actually, especially for my mother who cried quite a bit. We’d prepared the kids for the hugging and kissing and cheek pinching and they weren’t disappointed.

Katerini

Katerini is a relatively small town of about 55,000 people and is only a few kilometers from the sea, which makes it a popular destination in the summer months. We were there in April and on our only visit to the beach it was completely deserted. One of these days I’m going to go to Greece during summer and lie around on the beach…

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Greece (Ελλάδα)! (Part 1: Athens)

Greek Flag

Greek Flag

(April 14-22)

My heritage is Greek. Half-Greek, actually, on my mother’s side. And I don’t speak more that a few basic words in Greek. So I’m not a “real” Greek, I know. But my maternal grandparents were the only ones I knew, they lived nearby and I was quite close to them both. Their first language was Greek (they also spoke some Turkish) and they were never perfectly fluent in English. In fact, in a roundabout way, the fact that I never learned Greek as a kid is a reason we’re in France this year. That was a reason I thought it important to send the kids to a bilingual school. And since that school is French/English, France was an obvious choice for Shannon’s sabbatical.

I’d been to Greece twice before, the last time was in 1989, a year before Shannon and I got married and the same year my yia yia died. So after such a long time it seemed almost required to make a trip to Greece given that Paris is only a short flight away. Shannon went with me in 1989 and she, too, was eager to reacquaint herself with Greece and, as you’ll see if you continue reading, my family there. And, so, off we went for Le Vacances de Pâque in April.

My family lives in the northern region called Macedonia. This is now also the name of a country that was formed after the dissolution of Yugoslavia (and also the name of a town adjacent to where I grew up) . The Greeks put up a bit of a fuss at the time about the use of the name, but I don’t think it rankles them much at this point. Not that the Greeks have short memories–remember, it’s still Constantinople, 550+ years after the invading Ottoman Empire renamed it Istanbul.

Before heading north we stopped for a few days in Athens where Shannon had never been and I hadn’t been since I was a kid, just a few years older than Jack. And, even better, my Mom was able to come with us! My Mom has rare occasion in the US to speak Greek so she’s a bit rusty. And she tried a few times with Greek restaurant proprietors in Paris (yes, they’re everywhere) and stumbled a bit. There must of been something about hitting the homeland, though, because her Greek was incredible while we were there. Not just tourist Greek, which we need in Athens, but talks with the relatives and even cracking some jokes around the dinner table. But first….

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Marianne Weems & my stolen computer

Marianne Weems, artistic director of The Builders Association, just spent a couple of days with us.  She’s working on a project with Shannon and it was great to have her. I (Michael) unexpectedly got to visit with her because my trip to Amsterdam was canceled when my computer bag, containing computer & passport, was stolen. More on her visit in another blog post, but I can’t resist sharing the following text message exchange between the two of us.

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Le Fils de la Ferme

Le Fils de la Ferme, in the 14eme, is so far my favorite restaurant in the 25-35 euro range. I’ve eaten here three times (two as part of the 2008 Sakai conference in Paris, once since we moved here) and each time was better than the previous.

The restaurant is small and unpretentious. It isn’t convenient to most of central paris, although it is not far from the charming market street Rue Daguerre and place Denfert-Rochereau, where  you can access the Catacombs. Regardless of the surroundings, though, Le Fils de la Ferme is worth a trip, especially for a traveller on a budget.

Shannon and I went on December 5th for dinner. For an appetizer, Shannon had the foie gras creme brulee and I had foie gras in a chestnut bouillon (in December, foie gras is ubiquitous in Paris). Both were sublime and reminded us of the best of our restaurant meals. For main courses, Shannon had sea bass with truffels and I had a venison “stew,” which was very refined and precise–not really a stew at all but a rich, elegant sauce for the perfectly cooked venison. This was all accompanied by a lovely Vacqueyras wine that fit perfectly with our selections (the truffles allowing the fish to harmonize with the rich red wine). Dessert was l’isle flottant and tarte tatine. Neither was particularly innovative but both were perfectly executed.

When I went in July the server (I don’t know her name) was working incredibly hard to keep up. She was (is!) fantastic but definitely fell behind at times.  With our latest visit, though, she had some help, which made a huge differance.  Her natural warmth was accompanied by an efficiency and attentiveness that wasn’t possible when she was trying to serve the whole resaurant tout seul. We definitely hope that les fils keep the extra help around….it makes a big difference to the diners and, I’m sure, to the hostess.

We don’t hesitate to recommend Le Fils de La Ferme to even the most discriminating diners. It’s very good (dare I say excellent?) and you won’t need a second mortgage.

Rainbow in Paris

The cold snap has ended and the rain has brought an “arc-en-ciel”

Snow in Paris

There’s been snow on the ground here for the past week or so. And its been cold, very cold. The kids loved the snow and it definitely made things enchanting. But we were all disappointed that they closed the Jardin des Plantes and some other small parks “for our security.” It sounds like something that would happen in the US rather than France…are they really worried about lawsuits from people slipping on the ice? Or is somethine else happening?

In any case, I was able to snap a few photos of our neighborhood in the snow:

Snow in the Jardin des Plantes

Snow in the Jardin des Plantes

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