Tag Archives: AAR

Chuck Close Encounters

One of the obvious perks of working at the AAR is getting to know and see and listen to some amazing artists.  The kitchen was lucky enough to have a little private shop talk with Chuck Close up in his studio.  He took us through his book which shows his entire body of work and he explained each period and method behind his work.

He also tried on a few pieces of art that his girlfriend, Sienna, is working on.

Galileo 400 at the AAR

I had a great time at the Galileo event, eating Chris’s special porchetta sammies, watching videos projected on walls and listening to our talented musical fellows perform out in the garden.   Loved the candle constellation in grass too.

I took a little video of Paul Rudy performing as well.  So cool in the rain.

A Day of Moretti

What better way to celebrate the completion of Thanksgiving than with a tour of Luigi Moretti architecture and design throughout the city of Rome.  He was a prodigy!  And by the end of the day I could see why.

By 9 am, we were already inside the Casa della Gioventù a Trastevere (built in 1933).  My favorite design feature of this building were the windows, shown below, that fanned open upon pushing the bottom one outward.  My engineering side was thrilled by the simple lever system.  The unusual “L” shaped pool was also interesting to see.

Casa Della Gioventu a Trastevere

the pool at Casa della gioventù a Trastevere

Next stop, the Restauro della Torre a Porta S. Sebastiano.  We started inside the museum, which, if I remember correctly, was actually home to Moretti at one point in his life.  Corey is standing on top of a mosaic in one of the small rooms inside the porto.  The view from the top was also stunning and we were actually able to walk along the bottom of the wall for about a hundred meters.

Restauro della Torre a Porta S. Sebastiano

the wall from Porta S. Sebastiano

Next we went to see the exterior of the Casa detta il Girasole, constructed in 1949.   The facade of the building is a strange mishmash of material and designs all flowing together somehow.  The front of the building is smooth mosaic and only a few inches thick while one of the other street sides is a bulkier, uneven material like unpolished travertine.  Apparently it was commissioned by some count that Moretti met while in jail.  The count owns the top floor of the building.  Must be nice.

Casa detta il Girasole

Casa detta il Girasole facade

The Palestra del Duce al Foro Mussolini was a shell of a building and Moretti was assigned the task of designing the inside.  I’m not sure if that means the entire inside or just some of the rooms but what we saw of his work was pretty ridiculous.  Mussolini’s gym, now a conference room, was amazing, high ceilinged, and clad on 3 sides with amazing slabs of marble, each apparently hand picked by Moretti.  We also were able to see where Mussolini himself used to tan (the third picture below).  What a weirdo.

Palestra del Duce al Foro Mussolini

Mussolini's Gym at Palestra del Duce al Foro Mussolini

Where Mussolini tanned in Palestra del Duce al Foro Mussolini

Our last stop was the Moretti show at the Maxxi.  We were given a tour by the show’s designer and another Moretti expert.  It was the first time all of his documents, designs and models have been shown since his death because of some legal dispute between his family and his architecture firm.  The models and sketches were very cool to see, especially after seeing the actual buildings close up.  It’s so awesome to see how some crazy sketch idea can turn into an actual physical building.

at Maxxi

the show designer at the Moretti show at Maxxi

Thanksgiving at the American Academy in Rome

Fall came and went at the AAR pretty quickly.  We finished it off with quite a week!  I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard in my life while having so much fun.  In addition to our regular meal service schedule, we had to prep a bunch of stuff each day and night for the big meal on Thursday.  Luckily, I love Thanksgiving, I love turkey and I love stuffing.  Oh, and I love eating it all, preferably together, on bread with cranberry sauce.  And mustard.  Weird?  No.  Delicious.

Fall came and went at the AAR

We began with 13 turkeys and a turkey beauty contest to choose the prettiest, bustiest one.  This is the winner.

turkey beauty contest

I actually, very surprisingly, have few pictures of the food because I was running around doing so many things.  I was also shooting a lot of video which will be up soon once I cut out all of the sassy lip.  Here’s Mona, ready to direct traffic.

and we're almost there

And then we’re off: feast and GO.

feast ready to go

Our two dashing waiters, Alessandro and Gabri with our showturkey, the winner of the turkey beauty contest.

alessandro and gabri with the show turky

There were also so many pies.  Pumpkin, fresh, obviously and apple.  Also fresh, obviously.  Pretty darn yummy.

so much PIE

Happy, happy diners.  One hundred and five in all.

happy AAR diners

A little post feast wiffle ball with the Rudester and the director, Chris.  Go America.

paul rudy batting

And finally, some delicious wines to celebrate and very successful thanksgiving.

some special wine

Peter Sellars Tradeoff

Peter Sellars came to eat at the Academy with the cast and crew of his opera, Kafka Fragments.

peter sellars with the rsfp

He was so surprised by the awesome atmosphere that the RSFP brought to the AAR that he invited the interns to the last performance of the opera.  We went and it was incredible.  I’ve never seen anything like it, very special.  Soprano Dawn Upshaw and violinist Geoff Nuttal make an incredible duo.  Bravo.

A Day at Giovanni Bernabei’s Farm

Giovanni Bernabei is kind of becoming an Italian farmer/celebrity.

He is the RSFP’s closest ally, an eccentric farmer with a simple and bold manifesto. In addition to farming, he is making a name for himself on Italy’s Rai Television News network as a special daily guest, discussing farming and growing Italy’s staple food items. I’ll get back to this.  His manifesto, which he sometimes hangs at his table at farmers markets and which hangs in the American Academy’s bar, is as follows:

Dear Consumer, All the produce displayed at my stall is made by the person who sells it.  The produce is ALL cultivated in the open, under the sun and frost, without any chemical products according tot he method of Organic agriculture, certified since 1995 by the Bioagricoop.

My name is Giovanni Bernabei.  Ever since 1983, I made a pact with myself to touch no longer with my hands any fodder, fertilizer or any chemical products whatsoever.  So long as I have the strength to raise a HOE, I will labor for those who believe in me and appreciate my produce.  Hippocrates “Let FOOD be your first medicine.”

An assortment of OFFICINAL greens among which: sorrel, yarrow, yellowrocket, borage, sow thistle, chicory, crepide, berberry, dandelion, hedge-mustard, wild fennel, hawkbit, mallow, sweet clover, josierola, plantain, dock, corn poppy seed, mustard.  Everything in season. PS Drink the water used for cooking.


  1. Organic food will never be beautiful like non-organic food.
  2. It might even be beautiful, but with hidden defects.
  3. It must never make one feel nauseous, have strange tastes, etc.
  4. It must have a “flavorless” flavor, be WHAT IT IS.
  5. It must not stink during cooking, but smell good.
  6. It must never fill you up or be difficult ot digest.
  7. If you have reflux, it is not good organic.
  8. It must have few nitrites, which are responsible for illnesses.
  9. It must have little water and be endowed with many vitamins.
  10. Good organic prodcuts never look exactly one like the other.
  11. PS Procure if you can, an organic agricultural diet from a producer, insuring that the producer is at least a “HOMO Sapiens.”

From Personal experience, Giovanni Bernabei

Whoa, right?

Giovanni’s farm is wild.  There are plants and weeds growing together randomly everywhere.  He practices a form of permaculture which I have never seen before, not that I have been to many farms or know very much about farming.  But, it’s not what you would expect.  Giovanni lets his plants grow to full maturity, lets the seed and then lets them die or chops them down and tills them right back into the soil.  This explains why there are volunteer plants growing among all his other plants.  It also explains why there are often little random bits of other veggies mixed in with the stuff he delivers to us.

He showed us his cardoons, about 25 plants (4 grueling cases the following week), 6 or 7 types of broccoli, cavolo nero (kale), fennel, garlic fields and other fields that he had just tilled.  He also would stop every so often and pick a small plant from the ground and say, “this plant is very healthy, it has the most iron of any plant found in Italy.”  He repeated that statement maybe 5 times, each time about a different plant.

Giovanni also has chickens and pigs.  He feeds them food that he grows.

Later, after lunch, Giovanni took us up into his apartment near the farm above a pizza restaurant.  He eagerly sat us down in front of his new giant flat screen TV, served us some digestives including homemade grapa and Yaegermeister.  His wife fumbled with the VCR and put on a recording of him on RAI.  It was awesome to see him on such a modern, flashy television show.  He was so lively and entertaining.  He joked with the host and at one point, even told him to shut his mouth so he could finish.