27 March, 2011

Nice Journal - Spring 2011 - 5

Sunday, 27th, dawned grey and wet and stayed that way all day. As this was the first day of summer time we had "lost" an hour overnight and I made sure the clock and my watch were adjusted accordingly before making the coffee.

After our usual breakfast we ventured out. Today we wore coats for the first time this visit and Lisa took her umbrella. We got off the tram at the Opera Vielle Ville stop and bought a pelargonium for Perry as we walked through Vieux Nice to Place Garibaldi.

Perry seemed very pleased with the plant and promised us that Nicole would repot it and find it an appropriate place on the terrace. We had made plans yesterday to visit the modern art museum (MAMAC) so we walked over to Avenue Saint Jean Baptiste to lunch at a restaurant called Le Rive Droit. Perry had not eaten there before but it had been recommended to him. The name derives from its location on the right bank of the built-over Paillon.

The place has a very modern decor and a more formal feel than the relaxed places around the port. The food is first rate, though, and it's not an expensive place to eat. Lisa had a breaded veal cutlet Milanaise, Perry chose the grilled loup (sea bass) and I opted for ravioli Ni├žoise.

My dish was like a delicious beef stew with some ravioli, unlike previous versions I've had which were a bowl of ravioli with a little beef stew poured over like a sauce. It tasted superb! Very richly flavoured, not light and delicate like a daube. The other two indicated that they were equally pleased with their choices. Lisa and I shared a nondescript Cotes de Provence red that was offered as an alternative to the Bandol I'd ordered but which was out of stock.

For dessert, Lisa had a pannacotta, I chose the tiramisu and Perry had the chocolate fondant. We finished with coffee of course. Altogether a very fine meal that cost around €60 for three, plus drinks. Definitely somewhere to return to!

After some difficulty finding the entrance to MAMAC, we looked around those parts of the current temporary exhibition that were still open. Sarah Sze was exhibiting a single installation entitled "The Uncountables". This occupied one whole room and filled it with a collection of everyday objects arranged on shelves. It seemed pointless to me! One room was roped off and, on enquiring, we learned that a visitor had caused the installation by Vincent Ganivet to collapse and so his contribution could no longer be seen!

That left Assan Smati who was exhibiting a number of works in five very different genres. A giant pink centaur and a pair of life-size blue horses were sculpted in resin with polished smooth surfaces in flowing lines. I loved these! There were a number of lead sculptures of various subjects which made a feature of being unworked after breaking the mould: the ragged "flash" and the spigots used to fill the mould with lead were all left in place. I found this aspect bizarre and unexplained but one piece in particular, a life-size figure of a knocked-out boxer, was very memorable. A series of giant human heads, sculpted in White plaster on wood and steel frames, seemed to be studies of the same African man in various moods. Attention-grabbing but not something I felt I'd bother to see again. African figures were again the subject of the several paintings in oil on canvas. OK but nothing special.

Dos Santos
Dos Santo by Assan Smati
Outside on the platform between MAMAC and the National Theatre was my favourite of Smati's pieces: a sculpture in wood of two giant figures called "Dos Santos" which I take to mean "Two Saints". These looked something like a cross between wooden electricity pylons and stylised Japanese armoured warriors but the proportions of the figures and the way they were arranged so that the composition looked different from every angle was very moving. I really felt like I was in the presence of two giant powerful beings of some kind.

We walked Perry back to his apartment where he was feeling a little out of breath from his exertions. We had previously made plans to give him a break from us tomorrow, a day when he will again have a physiotherapy session, so we agreed to meet again on Tuesday and headed directly back. By now the rain was quite heavy so we needed to dry off a bit once we got back.

We didn't feel like cooking tonight so we had some snacks and some olives. We both read for a while (Lisa is reading Kazuo Ishiguro's book "Never Let Me Go" on which the film we recently saw is based, and I have recently started Fuchsia Dunlop's "Shark Fin and Sichuan Pepper") and played Scrabble and then cribbage before Lisa retired to bed. I wrote this journal up to date here before joining Lisa in the bedroom.

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