Daily Archives: 13 June 2017

“The Fantastic and Wonderful World of Bosch, Brueghel, and Arcimboldo”

This year’s Carrières de Lumières program looks like a stunner. It’s called “The Fantastic and Wonderful World of Bosch, Brueghel, and Arcimboldo”, and it runs from 4 March 2017 to 7 January 2018.

Here’s a peek:

Carrières de Lumières is an immersive art and music installation which is staged in what used to be a quarry, in the French village Les Baux de Provence. The massive rock walls of the quarry form the backdrop for a son et lumière program that changes each year.

I’ve posted items about the 2014 Klimt and Vienna and the 2015 Chagall: Midsummer Night’s Dreams programs, and about how much I’d like to work for Culturespaces, the European company that designs and manages events like this for 13 monuments and museums, most of them in France. The only things that are standing in my way are my total lack of artistic talent and my residence on the wrong continent.

Complementing the son et lumière this summer are four monumental sculptures by Philip Haas, which will be on display in the Château des Baux-de-Provence from 23 May through 30 September. The sculptures of the giant heads are inspired by Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s “The Four Seasons” paintings.

“Oh, to be in Provence, Now that Summer’s there”
—Close, but not quite by Robert Browning

Thip Khao — Lunch on 10 June 2017

I’d never tasted Laotian cooking before I went to Thip Khao last week.

The restaurant came with great credentials: It’s on The Washingtonian’s “100 Very Best Restaurants 2017” list, and The Michelin Guide, which started rating Washington restaurants just last year, included it on the “Bib Gourmand” list of recommended restaurants offering two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less. (The “Bib Gourmand” list is sort of Michelin’s version of a JV team—no stars yet, but keep an eye out, because some of them have the potential to go far.)

Siin/Muu Haeng

Siin Haeng

Most of the reviews of Thip Khao recommended starting with what the menu called “Siin/Muu Haeng — crispy sesame jerky, ginger, sriracha.” The “Siin/Muu” in the name indicated that the diner had the option of choosing either beef or pork. I chose beef.

I can’t come up with a better description of Siin Haeng than the one in the Washington Post’s review:  “…sun-dried beef teased with lemon grass and ginger should be what American beef jerky aspires to.”

Knap Paa

This is what my main, Knap Paa, looked like when it was served.

Just for a second, I hesitated. I get a tiny bit nervous whenever I see pod-like vegetation. I think it’s because I was traumatized as a child by watching Invasion of the Body Snatchers on TV late one night….


Whispering to myself, “They’re only banana leaves, They’re only banana leaves,” I eventually opened the packet. Inside was a small serving of monkfish grilled with rice, lemongrass, kaffir lime, ginger, and dill.

NB You don’t eat the banana leaves.

And this is the plated meal, including the sticky rice that arrived in a little basket, called a “thip khao”, which is where the restaurant got its name.

So, how was it?

Okay, but I wasn’t overwhelmed. Given the choice of another meal at Thip Khao or a return to Nam Viet, I’d take Nam Viet in a second. The Knap Paa was bland, and I could barely taste the monkfish.

Perhaps part of my dissatisfaction is a result of my decision to order from the regular menu, instead of opting for a second, much hotter menu that Thip Khao calls “The Jungle”.

Maybe next time.