Chasing the Rose – a brief review

Chasing the Rose - a brief review

Chasing the (fragrant) rose
“A rose by any name smells as sweet” – Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 1594

When Andrea di Robilant wrote “Chasing the Rose: An Adventure in the Venetian Countryside” he was continuing the chronicling of the Mocenigo estate he began in his bestseller “A Venetian Affair”, a biography of his gggg grandmother Lucia Mocenigo. It was through her journals he learned of the rosomanie (rose mania) period in Paris, France, in the early 1800s and her horticultural experiences within it. That book ended with a description of an unnamed fragrant rose as the sole legacy of his ancestor’s glorious estate.

His almost footnote reference to an unknown rose caused quite a stir in Europe’s heady garden elite that sent him on a years long journey to track down its name. Was it a long lost China rose, one thought to be extinct, or a new unknown rose? That question propelled him through exquisite gardens and the almost encyclopedic memory of top gardeners to conclude that . . . well, to tell you the conclusion would ruin the story, so let’s just say he resolved the question to his liking.

What his liking was and his pitfalls along the way are why you should read this book. That is, assuming you like old roses and the history related to them. If you don’t, you probably will by the time you finish this engaging book.

Chasing the Rose: An Adventure in the Venetian Countryside by Andrea di Robilant
Illustrated by Nina Fuga
Alfred A. Knopf
Book edition April 8, 2014
224 pages

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2014 begins with hope

And by  ‘hope’ I mean Hope Farm Press & Bookshop. My 55 yr old publishing company/book store specializing in New York State books has been getting short shrift over the last year while I spent more time cooking and pursuing my culinary travel interests than selling books. I intend to change that.

My monthly book newsletter, which I sent out faithfully for 13 years, only got emailed 3 times in 2013. My website is open 24/7. Not so my bookshop, which is supposed to be open every afternoon when I finish at the bakery, but only opened for an hour or so daily, if it opened at all.

It turns out that getting up at 4:30 a.m. to open Hudson Valley Dessert Company often left me too tired to stay awake afternoons in the bookshop. After my head hit the keyboard a few times I would close and take a nap. That was good for my overall well-being, but bad for business.

I catalogue 2500 NY-centric titles and stock approximately half of them at any given time. That is a lot of inventory to invest in when I’m not actually selling many books. Things have to change.

This time last year I reduced my hours at the bakery to have more time to devote to my book selling. Then, my assistant cook got ill, my sous chef moved on, and a series of replacements were ultimately unsatisfactory for the job, leaving me to shoulder more work and work more hours.

The end result? A venerable book shop languishes, and loyal customers wonder if I’m still in business. Well, I am! This year I propose to turn over a new leaf, buckle down and (place all the other cliches you can think of here) attend to business.

If you hear of a title you want, know of any new books coming out or just want to see what I have, please visit my website and/or contact me here:

or call 800-883-5778 afternoons. (Please leave a message if the phone doesn’t wake me.)

Wishing you all a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

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My Examiner article on the ETC Travel Conference

The AP style 3rd person account of the travel conference examining the statistics and trends on US travel to Europe into the 2020s. It include photos of the event (including the party after) and the first word about a new travel app “visiteurope” that looks real cool!

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Rockefeller Center Loft & Garden

Rockefeller Center Loft & Garden

That’s me, drinking Prosecco “Z” like there is no tomorrow (there was!) with the spires of St. Patrick’s Cathedral behind me.

On May 9, 2013, I attended the first ETC (European Travel Commission) Transatlantic Conference in 3 years. It was convened in Manhattan to discuss travel trends in Europe into the 2020s. The conference was informative, with new and interesting people to meet, good food and a fabulous after party at the Rockefeller Center Loft & Garden. What an amazing place that is! Imagine being in a green oasis at the center of Manhattan. The early evening sunlight slanted through the scaffolding around the towering spires of St Patrick’s Cathedral and reflected off the skyscraper windows to cast a magical light on this rooftop Eden.
Actor Andrew McCarthy, whose latest book “The Longest Way Home” was named the New York Times Best Travel Book of 2012, regaled the ETC conference attendees with an account of the epiphany that inspired him to add travel writing to his repertoire.
It was the second time I heard Andrew McCarthy speak – he is truly inspirational – both as a writer and as a speaker. (He delivered the keynote speech at the Canadian Media Marketplace in the Waldorf a few weeks back.) I am surprised more of us weren’t in attendance. It seemed important to know what the European Marketing plan was in light of their budget slashes for PR and the cutbacks in press trips. It will help me to make better article pitches if I know what their marketing plan is – what they want to focus on. Besides, I got to spend time with some folks I haven’t seen in years (Meredith Pillon and Marzia Bortolin in particular) and meet new ones. I spoke with Andrew (he’s as nice as you think he will be) and met a content buyer representing many, many newspapers and TV stations, and the man who created the non-NY Times New York Travel Show last April. It was a very good opportunity to network, worth the 100 mile trip in from the Hudson Valley hinterlands.

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When is ‘a good day to die’?

I always thought that it is a good day if you can sit up in bed, take a deep breath and put your feet on the floor. But, what type of day is it when the next thing you do is read your obituary?

Thanks to Google Alerts, every time “Richard Frisbie” appears on the web I get notified. Today I received an email telling me that “Richard James Frisbie Of Susquehanna, PA” age 55 (my full name but not my age or address – thank goodness!) passed on Feb. 16!

That was eerie to read, to say the least. I am sorry for the large family that lost a loved one, but so glad it was not my family. Or so I thought at first. Reading the obituary, I saw that he (I?) was predeceased by a great grandmother, Violet Frisbie. My grandfather had a sister named Violet, with violet eyes! No one else in my family has violet eyes, (I wish I did!) so that could be the clue to how close a relative we were, this other R J Frisbie and I.

But I won’t bother his family in their time of loss. I know all the Frisbie/ee/y families are related, we just spell our names differently. How related we are remains to be seen. As for how accurate the obituary is – I’m glad I lived to write about it.

Obituary For: Richard J. Frisbie | Hennessey’s Funeral Home, Inc.
Richard James Frisbie Of Susquehanna, PA Richard J. Frisbie, 55, of West Main St. Susquehanna, PA, passed away Saturday, February 16, 2013, at the Robert…/obituary.cfm?o…

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Saugerties Pro Musica Concert this weekend (1/20/2013)

A letter to our patrons:Image

Greetings all
We trust you all survived the Holidays with only minor cases of the flu (Is everybody SICK?) Anyway, if you feel well enough, this weekend’s concert with the Strawberry Hill Fiddlers promises to be restorative good fun. We love to ring in the New Year with the youthful energy and enthusiasm of these young performers – please join us.

BREAKING NEWS: The Maruri & Jones Spanish Duo – while still scheduled for March 10th – may just be Michael Jones, cellist. At this writing Agustin Maruri is in a Madrid hospital having a heart valve replacement. He anticipates being recovered in time for their Northeast concert tour. We can only wish him well and hope for the best.

#1 – The West Point concert scheduled for February 17th includes 5 musicians playing brass & drums. (pictured on These are top performers ready to give a great (and FREE) concert.  See you there!
#2 – The newly reorganized Catskill Glee Club will perform on May 5th
#3 – a preview of next season is already online:

Thank you all for your patronage. Below is the official press release for the concert if you wish to copy and paste it into emails to your friends (hint hint)

WHO – Strawberry Hill Fiddlers
WHEN — Sunday January 20th, at 3 PM
WHERE — Saugerties United Methodist Church
SPONSORED BY — Saugerties Pro Musica
ADMISSION: $12 Adults, $10 Seniors, Students FREE
CONTACT: Richard Frisbie

Saugerties Pro Musica presents the Strawberry Hill Fiddlers, Sunday, January 20th, 2013, at 3 p.m. This is their fourth appearance on our stage. The Strawberry Hill Fiddlers always play to a full house and receive rave reviews. They are middle school and senior high students from throughout the Hudson Valley who are dedicated string musicians. This year their youthful energy will help to ring in the New Year with a concert filled with smiling, foot-stomping, fiddle-playing, good family fun!

The Strawberry Hill Fiddlers are directed by Emily and Carole Schaad. Evolving since 1999, the Fiddlers are now part of Stringendo, Inc., a 501(c) 3 non-profit community music school. Besides learning string instruments, these young students are taught how to present themselves well and please an audience. There will be some singing, some dancing and, of course, some great string music performed for your enjoyment. Please join us for the irrepressible enthusiasm these talented young string players are guaranteed to bring.

FUTURE CONCERTS – a FREE West Point Concert on February 17, 2013 (performer TBA); NEW ADDITION to our world-class spring lineup: the Spanish cello & guitar duo, Maruri & Jones return once again on March 10th; The Colorado String Quartet returns for the third time on March 24, 2013; the Merling Trio (piano, violin, cello) on April 28, 2013; and finally, to close our season – the Catskill Glee Club returns for their annual concert in May, 2013 (date TBA.)
 To learn all about Saugerties Pro Musica and the upcoming concerts please visit our website,

All concerts are on Sunday at 3 PM, at Saugerties United Methodist Church on the corner of Washington Avenue & Post Street. Admission is $12 for Adults, Seniors $10. Students are always FREE – kindly invite some to join you at our concerts. For more information please call: 845-679-5733, 845-246-5021 or visit

Richard Frisbie

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Make your own mustard for Holiday gifting


This photo of Moutarde de Richard would not turn to be upright!

If you are adventurous and have some experience in the kitchen, and maybe some discerning palates you want to impress, you could try your hand at homemade mustard. There’s a little book of mustard recipes titled “Mustard.” In it, author Janet Hazen included a German-style mustard that is spicy and as good as any you’ve tasted. If you can measure ingredients, and run a spice grinder and a blender, you can make this mustard.
½ cup coarsely ground whole yellow mustard seeds
½ cup coarsely ground whole brown mustard seeds
¾ cup dry white wine
½ tsp ground caraway seeds
6 ground whole allspice berries or ¼ tsp powdered allspice
Pinch each: ground mace, cloves and cinnamon
3 Tbls olive oil

2 Tbls Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp salt
Puree all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Place in a clean jar in the refrigerator. Let it age for at least two weeks to remove the bitter taste and come together. Serve to rave reviews!
OR, package in fancy jars and use Avery labels to personalize them for gifts.

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Classic French Terrine – updated for people who don’t eat pork

Classic French Terrine - updated for people who don't eat pork

How to make a classic French terrine (thank you Julia Child) with ground dark meat turkey, ground chicken and turkey ham, instead of the original veal, pork and beef. It’s simple. Just substitute poultry! Now everyone who eats meat can enjoy the delicious flavors of a French country pate.

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My best sentence, ever.


On an isolated rocky point, ancient inuksuk, or Inuit stone cairns, reflect the delicate balance of mankind’s presence on these shores.

from the Travelingboy article: Food For Your Soul on the Flavor Road of Charlevoix

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Chicken Pot Pie in 45 minutes – from scratch!

Chicken Pot Pie in 45 minutes - from scratch!

There is nothing more delicious than comfort food, and no food more comforting than pot pies. The other night I decided I just had to make one – out of leftovers, naturally!
I’d roasted a small 4 lb chicken for dinner Wednesday night. We each ate a leg and thigh, with the beautiful breasts just begging for a gravy and mashed potato accompaniment at another meal. At least that’s what I thought. My partner heard the chicken begging to be turned into pot pie instead. So, pot pie it was!
I usually have homemade pie dough on hand. If not, it is as simple to make as pushing the pulse button on the food processor. Two cups of flour, butter, salt and ice water did the trick in less than a minute. I put the dough into the refrigerator to chill and took out the pan of chicken.
The chicken fat had risen to the top and congealed. I put it into a frying pan with some butter. I added half an onion, chopped fine, ditto a clove of garlic. When they were softened I sprinkled in flour and continued cooking to remove the raw taste uncooked flour has.
Meanwhile, I scooped all the gelled chicken juice out of the roaster and boned and cubed the breast meat. The gelled juices mixed with the roux of chicken fat & butter to make a nice gravy, one I seasoned with thyme and salt.
I cubed a few Yukon gold potatoes, chopped some carrots and celery and microwaved them together for 5-6 minutes to pre-cook them. While they cooked, I rolled out the pastry. Using my deep-dish apple pie plate as a guide, I rolled out a large bottom crust and a smaller top crust. With the bottom crust nicely overhanging the sides of the pie dish, I filled the pie with chicken, pre-cooked vegetables and gravy. Then I tossed in a handful of peas, because you can’t have a pot pie without peas, and lay on the top crust. It had a slight overhang.
Some cooks trim the bottom crust close and roll the top crust under the bottom, but I find that to be harder than folding the bottom crust up over the top and rolling it into a pretty pastry lip. That done, I appliqued some pastry pieces onto the top with a moistened finger, cut a small steam vent in the pie’s center and brushed the whole thing with half and half. I could have used an egg wash, but the half and half was open, “just going bad in the refrigerator!”
I baked the pie for about an hour at 375 degrees until it was golden brown and bubbling in the center. It turns out that it took longer to bake than to make! Start to finish, the pie was assembled in 45 minutes. The prep, cooking and coming together/cooling off time was just under 2 hours. Not bad at all! We ate dinner at 8 p.m.
Besides creating a beautiful and very tasty dinner, I used up leftovers as I made room in the refrigerator for the half of pie we ate for lunch the next day. The chicken carcass, a butt of celery, the other half of the onion and some carrots went into a stock pot to simmer on the wood stove overnight. (If you don’t have a wood stove, use a slow cooker.) It made great broth for a recipe I’m planning soon. Egg and spinach soup, anyone?

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