Interview with Petanque playing Master Chef Michel Nischan

Paul Newman and Michel Nischan

Paul Newman and Michel Nischan

One of the most delightful down-to-earth people ever to set foot on Amelia Island is in my opinion celebrity chef Michel Nischan owner/operator of the famed ‘Dressing Room’ restaurant in Westport Ct. During last week’s Pétanque America Tournament, he and his charming wife Lori lit up the town and a lot of hearts. A novice Petanque player, attracted to the game by fellow celebrity chef Jacques Pepin, his presence among some of the best Petanque players in the world was somewhat shortlived, which gave him and his delightful wife Lori abundant time to explore our island.

Michel wears many hats- from dynamic restaurant owner, award-winning cookbook author and media personality- to food policy activist and non-profit foundation CEO. His collaboration and partnership with Paul Newman before his unfortunate passing last year, is well documented and he is continuing their mutual traditions of healthy foods and sustainable farming. Their motto is “We believe that the food we grow and cook in the place that we call home defines who we are.”

“In this spirit, we update and celebrate American heirloom recipes, support local and regional farmers, fishers and producers, by cooking food that recaptures the pure and simple tastes of natural and organic ingredients. We also strive to raise awareness of a sustainable food future and work to reestablish a sense of community and a simpler, more homegrown time”

Michel told me that what he particularly liked about Amelia Island, was the absence of chain restaurants at least in the downtown area. He is a true proponent and ambassador for local and down home cuisine and sought out our Saturday morning Farmers Market as a perfect place to start getting homegrown back into the homes.

As it turns out his non-profit Wholesome Wave is deeply involved in special programs to bring Farmers Markets back into the focus of our culinary culture. Local and regional food systems and heritage recipes is the focus of his approach to cuisine and the passion of his Wholesome Wave Organization (www.wholesomewave.org).

His best selling cookbooks Taste, Pure and Simple and Homegrown, Pure and Simple and his contributions to the PBS Food series Victory Garden, landed him a 2008 James Beard Foundation Award. He is widely known for multiple appearances on Rachel Ray, Oprah and other TV shows in which he expands on the practice of homegrown delicacies.

Now where my excitement really moves up a hundred degrees or more is when Michel Nischan considers our community and the Pétanque Tournament a prime candidate for additional dimensions, such as adding a food and wine festival and Provencial Marketplace to the total experience next year. Having a French/Dutch upbringing with a large vegetable garden in the back of our parental home, a love for wine that was instilled before I turned the age of one and a lifelong push for healthful cuisine, you bet, that I am excited about the possibilities of such an event. Michel Nischan is a food visionary with the organizational skill to make something happen. Read this story in the New York Restaurant Insider from March this year and you’ll understand what I mean.

We’ll be in contact Michel. Count on it.

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Dynamic Les DeMerle Jazz Trio CD Release Party

Les DeMerle's Gypsy Rendezvous, Volume One

Les DeMerle's Gypsy Rendezvous, Volume One

The Dynamic LesDeMerle Jazz Trio, featuring Bonnie Eisele, is thrilled to announce their newest CD, Gypsy Rendezvous, Volume One. The release party will be held at the Ocean 60 Restaurant in Atlantic Beach, Florida. This exciting band will be performing on both Friday and Saturday nights (November 20 and 21) from 8:30 PM to Midnight.

Ocean 60 is an elegant, but relaxed restaurant, martini and wine bar that features dark rich woods and an ever changing local artist gallery that adorns the walls. Join Bonnie and Les as they entertain you with their jazz repertoire and music from this exciting new release while you dine in this chic venue.

Gypsy Rendezvous, Volume One, has legendary drummer Les DeMerle infusing his masterful sizzle into this latest Origin recording. Recorded in Maui during a Hawaiian tour, this dynamic band reworks some bebop staples. Take a look for yourself at the tracks listed below, or better yet, listen to them live this weekend and pick up a copy of the CD to add to your own musical collection. Sample sound clips are available at www.origin-records.com.

TRACKS:
1 Pent Up House 2:43
2 For Sephora 5:06
3 This Can’t Be Love 3:21
4 Swingin’ Shepherd Blues 4:08
5 Besame Mucho 4:22
6 Old Man River 5:48
7 Skylark 5:08
8 St. Louis Blues 5:00
9 Hit That Jive Jack 2:41
10 Heavy Artillery 4:01
11 Soon It’s Gonna Rain / Here’s That Rainy Day 4:15
12 Deixa / Let Me 3:20
13 Do Nothin’ ‘Til You Hear From Me 5:33
14 Yardbird Suite 2:38
15 Drums To The Max 6:12

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Celebrity Chef Jacques Pepin, Ambassador for Petanque

Famous Chef Jaques Pepin book signing on amelia Island during the Petanque America Open 2009

Famous Chef Jaques Pepin book signing on amelia Island during the Petanque America Open 2009

During last weekend’s Amelia Island Petanque America tournament we had the pleasure and honor to interview several world famous chefs and players in front of our cameras. The first one of a series is TV celebrity chef Jacques Pepin, who with his wife Gloria gave a very special dimension to the event.

Unfortunately his flight plans were delayed coming in from the cold in Connecticut, which prevented him from playing the entire tournament, but gave chef Pete “da Meat” from Amelia Island Food Concepts the thrill of a lifetime as he teamed up on Sunday with the man who taught America French cooking.

A delightful gentleman, Jacques Pepin patiently made himself available for a book signing session on Sunday and we actually witnessed locals coming to the event with a bag full of his books to have him dedicate and sign them. At times the line was 30 people long which is a credit for Pepin’s importance to American Gourmets.

Watch him explain why Petanque is such a great game. You’ll get a kick out of it.

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Music of a Kingly Nature by Island Chamber Singers

Island Chamber Singers, from Amelia Island

Island Chamber Singers, from Amelia Island

The Island Chamber Singers, from Amelia Island, Florida, are featuring Coronation Anthems of Handel and Coronation Mass of Mozart at their Fall Concert entitled, “Music of a Kingly Nature”. This event has two showings at the Amelia Plantation Chapel. There will be a reception Friday night, November 20, after the concert that begins at 8:00 PM. If you are unable to attend Friday, try catching the Sunday, November 22, concert at 3:00 PM.

Tickets are $15.00 for adults and $5.00 for full-time students. They are available at the Gateeway Chamber of Commerce, the Centre Street Train Depot or at the door. For more information visit their website at www.islandchambersingers.com.

Here is the program:

Coronation Anthems – Handel (1685-1759)
“Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened”
“My Heart is Inditing”
“The King Shall Rejoice”
“Zadok the Priest”

Intermission

Coronation Mass – Mozart (1756-1790)
(Mass No. 15 in C major, KV 317)
I. Kyrie
II. Credo
III. Sanctus
IV. Benedictus
V. Agnus Dei

Instrumental Ensemble: Organ, String Quartet, Trumpets, Timpani

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Please Give Space to the Manatees

Manatees Migrate in Spring and Fall

Manatees Migrate in Spring and Fall

Florida wildlife officials are urging boaters to be on the lookout for manatees that are migrating to warmer waters for the winter. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says boaters should stay in marked channels and obey speed zone signs during the winter migration period.

Kipp Frohlich, a leader of the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management Section, says boaters should also give a manatee plenty of room in the water because it might not be traveling alone. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Web site, manatees generally travel along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts during the fall and spring.

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Know Your Water Before Setting Sail

Get Marine Charts to navigate the oceans

Get Marine Charts to navigate the oceans

I have received several e-mails over the past couple of weeks from people who’d like to take up boating and the need to understand nautical charts. While I highly recommend knowing all you can take in when it comes to boating, I’m going to dispute the fact that understanding a formal nautical chart, such as one published by NOAA, is a pre-requisite before you get on the water. First let’s start about what type of boating you plan on doing; is it weekend fishing or cruising with the family up and down a section of the Intercoastal Waterway or the Amelia River; stretches you have boated on for years? Or is it something more along the lines of taking an extended trip up the coast in search of new frontiers and adventures? Perhaps you are thinking of an ocean crossing like to the Bahamas or Bermuda, or is it something bigger like an Atlantic crossing?

What ever the case may be, there are levels of knowledge that accompanies each scenario, some obviously more demanding than others. Do you remember the first time you had the notion of driving a car? Did your driving instructor say OK before you got behind the wheel or did they first have you spend a few hours reading the drivers handbook to better understand all the road signs you may encounter? My thoughts are you probably drove a little first, then continued further learning as you gained more experience.

I have been boating my entire life. I carry a 50 gross ton USCG license and have captained both sail and power boats in a charter configuration. I have been privileged to be captain in charge of an 82′ motor yacht and much more. For the past 12 years I have owned and operated a marine dealership that has sold and shipped boats of all sizes all over the world; to say I know a little something about boats and piloting them is probably an understatement. In all my years of boating I have found 99.8% of all recreational boats in use today are being used in the same bodies of water year in and year out by their owners/captains. Now that’s not to say that the dreams and aspirations of the owners aren’t larger and plans are always in the works for something more, it’s just when it comes to normal everyday boating, this normally takes place.

So where does a nautical chart come into play and how in depth does one need to go into before setting out on the water? First every good captain needs to have an excellent understanding of the waters he or she is planning on navigating. Knowing first hand the tides and their ranges, areas to stay clear of and the layout in general of the waters they plan to enjoy.

Even the greenest new boat owner usually knows a little bit about the waters they plan to navigate before they launch their boat.  But what about the mariners who are planning to navigate their vessels in unfamiliar waters, areas that they have never been in nor have any knowledge of?

Now we are talking about having a chart and knowing how to read it. If you are one of these folks, where do you start with the basics when it comes to chart reading? Besides searches on the internet, the Coast Guard Auxiliary is a good place to start. They do a fabulous job on the fundamentals in this area and can provide so much more to your typical scenarios you may encounter when navigating with a chart. The auxiliary has a strong presence in most major cities and in our area we have squadrons both in Fernandina as well as in Jacksonville.

If you are considering getting into boating and are hesitant due to the lack of understanding when it comes to charts or are a current boater and are considering taking on waters that are not common to you, start with purchasing a NOAA chart and carefully study them while identifying land marks and its layout. Then get yourself enrolled in either a Coast Guard Auxiliary boating class or an equivalent to get the knowledge you need to expand your horizons. You will impress your family and friends once you master the art of chart reading. But more importantly you will be safer.

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Southern Elegance at the Waterwheel Art Gallery

Waterwheel Art Gallery

Waterwheel Art Gallery

The romance of southern landscape by Serfei Orgunov is on display at the Waterwheel Art Gallery. This opening and reception, “Southern Elegance” is Thursday, November 19th, from 4:00 to 7:00 PM.

New to the Waterwheel Art Gallery, Sergei Orgunov is a Russian artist whose work is not to be missed! You will fall in love with his landscapes and adore his still-life’s. These paintings must be seen in person to appreciate the detail and quality.

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Pétanque America Open 2009 comes to a close

Petanque America Open comes to a Close

Petanque America Open comes to a Close

Here are the photographic impression of the second and finals day of the American Open Petanque 2009 on Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach. The second day may have been even more glorious in weather than Saturday’s treat of a phenomenal sunrise followed by azure blue skies and temperatures in the high 70’s. The weather was so beautiful that many a player and spectator at the end of the day had slight sunburns and wearing a hat or cap was almost a necessity.

Next to remarkable round 32 games, quarter, semi finals and finals the public was treated on a book signing by world famous chef, Jacques Pépin and many took the opportunity to get a personal copy signed and sealed with a photo-op with this great chef. Rumors has it that the next pétanque tournament on Amelia Island will be in grandeur style involving food and wine. Again, just a rumor but the boyish smile on Pépin’s face when asked by our publisher about this “chef’s secrets in the pétanque circles” holds promise of something truly unique for Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach.

From the great number of comments from the players and visitors, Fernandina Beach on the quaint Island of Amelia, has touched so many with the promise of returning to our beautiful shores that the next pétanque tournament is almost certainly sealed.

Below is the Photo impression of the second and finals day of the Pétanque America Open 2009. If you wish to receive high resolution images (and we have many more pictures not featured below) please let us know and we will consider making the total of almost 600 pictures available for download in the next couple of days, but you must let us know.

Petanque America Day One Impressions

Opening Day Petanque America Open 2009

Opening Day Petanque America Open 2009

Under a cloudless sky amidst a multitude of languages from around the world, the Pétanque America Tournament is fast becoming a showcase of excellent team spirit for a fantastic game of highly competitive “boule” play. Below you’ll find a photo impression of the first day of the tournament. Many Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island residents watched in awe the skillful game players throw, toss and chuck the 600 gr. cast iron balls on courts lining the waterfront marina just a stones throw of the Hampton Inn and Suites.

Today is the second and final tournament day starting with the round of the last 32 teams competing around 9:30 am this morning with an expected grand finale around 4:00 pm. Seeing that the diminished field of competitors will only occupy about half of the courts, residents and tourists alike are invited to play a round of this highly addictive game. Come out and enjoy the fine weather, see the grand masters from all over the world compete and toss a couple of balls with friends or complete strangers under ideal sunny circumstances.

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Pétanque America Tournament fabulous fun and sportsmanship

Petanque America

Petanque America

Not without a grateful nod to the beautiful weather, the first Amelia Island Pétanque America Open was a huge success. Hundreds of spectacular games gave a very appreciative Amelia Island crowd a taste of Petanque. The finals on a beautiful Sunday afternoon was a match between Xavier Thibaud’s team and Malik’s team both from The New York Pétanque Club, however after seeing the ease and accuracy of Xavier’s partner and friend, former world champion and current European shooting champion Claudy Weibel, it was no surprise that this team took top honors with a 13-3 final victory.

I will report more on the fabulous tournament, chef interviews, pictures and its annual future in Fernandina Beach tomorrow. Tonight we have to party.

Blue Door Artists Reception at Intercoastal Wine

Blue Door Artists

Blue Door Artists

The Blue Door Artists are holding a reception at the Intercoastal Wine Company at 10 North 2nd Street in historic Fernandina Beach on Tuesday, November 17, from 6:00 to 8:00 PM.

Blue Door Artists is made up of local contemporary artists and offer a fine selection of art in a variety of media and genres to fit your budget and taste. Stop by and meet the artists and enjoy a glass of wine in this lovely Amelia Island venue.

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International Pétanque Tournament Has a Fabulous Start

Amelia Island Pétanque America Open

Amelia Island Pétanque America Open

As the wind is lightly calming down, dozens of competitors in this weekend’s International Petanque Tournament were crowding the courts while they were still being measured and laid out. It’s a happy crowd playing a happy game and they all said, “What a great gesture and contribution from the city of Fernandina Beach to make this tournament happen.” As it turns out, they had all been waiting for Philippe Boets, Petanque America owner, to organize another tournament since the last one in Miami in 2005.

Celebrity chef Jean Banchet signed in at 3 pm sharp and practiced most of the afternoon. Larry Cragg, guitar technician for Neil Young since 1973, who still frequently tours with him these days as banjo and steel guitar pedalist, got into a deep discussion with me about vintage guitars and string instruments which is of course was exactly up my alley.

Seeing people from all over the world greeting and re-acquainting is a very satisfying scene here on Amelia Island and we thank Philippe Boets and TJ Seaton, his assistant for pulling it off. With French music in the background it started to feel like an afternoon in the haute Provence, with special thanks to the efforts of City event coordinator Susan Hurley.

I think we’re going to have some fun this weekend. The matches are starting at around 9:30 AM both Saturday and Sunday, with the finals planned for Sunday afternoon at 4:00 PM. If you have a little time on your hands this weekend, we highly recommend coming to the boat trailer parking lot in the downtown marina and watch the champions or try it yourself. It really is addictive fun.

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Sunday Musicale Where African Rhythms Fill the Air

African Drums

African Drums

The Amelia Arts Academy‘s Sunday Musicale season opener features the University of Florida Agbedidi Drummers at Horizon’s Restaurant on Sunday, November 15th. The concert follows a 5:00 PM reception and Horizons is located in Palmetto Walk shopping Center at 4828 First Coast Highway.

Founded by Mohamed DeCosta in 1995, DeCosta will be among these talented musicians. This performance will fill the air with exciting African rhythms by gifted, powerful and energetic drummers. Agbedidi, from the African Ewe language, means “long life” and this project promises a long and prosperous life for African music and dance in America.

Tickets are $40.00 per person and can be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce, Amelia Arts Academy, online at www.mycommunitytickets.com or at the Golf Club of Amelia Island. All proceeds benefit Amelia Arts Academy.

The Amelia Arts Academy presents the Sunday Musicale concert series of five shows that are hosted in private homes and other venues on Amelia Island.

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Evening of Story and Song Featuring Sally Barris

Sally Barris

Sally Barris

Donna Paz and Mark Kaufman are presenting an Evening of Story and Song featuring Sally Barris on Saturday, November 14. The cash wine bar opens at 7:15 with the show starting at 8:00 PM at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on the corner of 8th Street and Atlantic Avenue in downtown Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida. The tickets are only $15.00 per person to enjoy this Nashville singer and songwriter, who has written hit songs for country artists like Trisha Yearwood and Martina McBride, but her style is deeply rooted in folk and Celtic music. Her beautiful voice and unique style, has her poised for a breakthrough to international recognition as a major recording artist along the lines of Mary Chapin Carpenter and Nanci Griffith.

“An Evening of Story & Song” was launched by Amelia Island music-loving residents Mark and Donna Paz Kaufman in 2005 as an all-volunteer effort to bring singers and songwriters to Amelia Island to share their music and the stories behind their songs.

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Continuing the Instructional Series on the Golf Swing

Fernandina Beach Golf

Fernandina Beach Golf

It has been a busy week or two. Sometimes you try to make time for yourself to catch up on those things that have been set aside for a rainy day. But the rain never comes and you then you are flooded with a mountain of tasks you needed to get finished days and weeks ago. Lately, that’s been me. The more I do the more behind I get. That sounded weird. A Chinese proverb states, “With money, a man can buy a watch or a clock but cannot buy time.” Sound familiar? So it’s the right time to play golf on Amelia Island. Make some time to play a round or two before Thanksgiving. The golf courses in the area are in great shape and the weather has been just short of perfect. Not too hot and not too cool.

We will continue the instructional series on the golf swing. This week we will discuss the pitch shot or the half swing. Remember the putting stroke and the chip shot before and how they are similar. Both use the shoulders and add the weight shift for the chip shot. The pitch shot does the same but adds an angle for more leverage and power after the club goes above the hips in the back swing. The wrists create a 90 degree angle with the butt end in the club, or top of the grip, pointing to the target line. On the down swing the angle is released through the ball and then recreated on the left side during the follow through while the weight is shifting, from the right to the left side, to add a little power for the right handed golfer. (The opposite for the left handed player) This shot cannot be forced. Relax and feel the pendulum motion of the shoulders swing the hands and club. Let your body understand and feel what is happening during the swing. Now that was easy.

It’s a great time to play. Come out to the Fernandina Beach Golf Club for great rates and conditions. Breakfast and lunch are served daily, with hot grilled items through 2:00 p.m. Great prices, comfortable surroundings and banquet facilities are available for large events. Did I mention the Prime Rib is the greatest? Are you looking for a game? Call the golf shop at 904-277-7370. Memberships are the best value for golf on the Island. For more information visit the web at www.fernandinabeachgolfclub.com Thank you.

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