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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Rio Dining Memories, by Gazelle

The most memorable dining experience I ever had happened in Rio when I was eighteen years old. I was dating a French gentleman who owned a penthouse in Ipanema. During the high summer season he always had lots of friends from France coming to visit. One of them was a sweet old lady who owned a very well known gay piano bar in Paris. She was eccentric and a lot of fun; she would go out with us to clubs and every night she would have a different hair color and when we would go to restaurants in Rio, she always had her small silver antique mustard container--she had to have her own French mustard with any meal, it didn't matter where she was. My friend decided to have a birthday celebration for her in the open terrace area of the penthouse with a view of the beach. I don't remember the menu exactly, but I know it was the first night I had Foie Gras (Eiffel Tower shaped) and I remember the main points of the night.

It was a seated dinner with sixteen guests and every chair, every glass of white wine, red wine, champagne flute, every single table setting... were all different from one another; it was an explosion of colors and designs that sometimes were quite overwhelming, especially for me who had never seen anything like that. The two flower arrangements on the table to this day still get me confused--it was so abstract. Only a few years later could I really appreciate and understand what an immense production of work was done to create such an atmosphere.

Michel (my friend) explained to me that he wanted to pay homage to her by trying to extend to the dinner the fact that she liked everything in life to be so different every day. We all wore white as if we were clean canvases, and even Mme. Isolde's hair had a white-silver tone that night. The servers had tunics with very light colors, there were eight. (I remember that well because each one was serving only two guests) Besides me, there was also another Brazilian guest, but I didn't speak French (still don't) like she did, so the whole dinner I was just listening to the marvelous French language and now and then would speak a few broken words in English and Portuguese to someone sitting next to me. It was fine, everything was so beautiful and new to me...

Michel had the dinner start around the very end of the afternoon and during dinner, the sky was getting darker. So it was pretty to watch and although it was a hot summer day, some fans, strategically and discreetly located, kept us from burning. After dinner, when we were getting ready for dessert, a typical summer rain came down so strong that we rushed to the covered area and that insane table took all the rain. I never forget that night and that beautiful table completely flooded. Michel also introduced me to the movie Babette's Feast, which is my favorite one forever; every time I watch it, I am taken back to that night. The champagne was Dom Pérignon.

"Gazelle France in Ipanema"

Paulo Gazelle is the founder of Gazelland Magazine, a self-proclaimed artist, has been the muse for numerous painters and sculptors alike and has been called a "Fashion God" by Michael Musto of The Village Voice. Gazelle's Facebook bio simply reads: "I am Paulo Gazelle and my job in this world is to encourage and inspire fantasies... and I am beautiful!"
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