While in Luxembourg I spent a lot of time on a bike I rented looking at the scenery. Beautiful countryside. One thing I noticed about Luxembourg is the fact that is it always damp there. The roads seem to never dry completely at certain times of the year, which is odd.

This made me wonder if they have a lot of mold problems there and how they deal with them. A friend took me to his house, a beautiful place at the base of a hill. He said he gets a lot of runoff from the hill and water is a constant source of headaches for him. Most of the homes there are made of concrete (it appears most homes in Europe that I’ve seen were build to last for a thousand years). As he was showing me the outside of the house, we did notice a place where the foundation was cracking in a couple places. It appeared to be from some settling of the ground below the foundation. The house sits on a gentle slope at the base of the bigger hill, and the cracking was on the lower side. I have a friend in the states that owns a concrete company. They are in Richmond Va and do concrete patios, driveways, basements, and foundations. He was able to offer a few thoughts based on pictures we sent, but a local specialist came highly recommended. Obviously this is not the type of job for the do-it-yourselfer.

Anyway he is an excellent cook and cooked us up a fantastic dinner of scallions, pork shoulder with a remoulade sauce, with leeks and a fine Bordeaux which was perfectly paired with the meal. It was fantastic. I am trying to get the recipe from him and will post it as soon as he sends it.

Exotic Foods

In my experience, central Europe offers the most diverse spices and flavors in the techniques they use to prepare food. As with many places outside the US, food is always cooked fresh and the tastes are way beyond what we experience here.

Most cooks are reluctant to hand over recipes, not because they care if you try the same one at home, but in fear you are working with a local competitor and would steal their ideas. They really don’t know who you are, no matter your story.

I will do my best to get some of my favorite recipes in here, so keep checking back.

Rio de Janeiro

Back in the late 1990’s I had the occasion to travel to Rio de Janeiro. This was a fascinating place, albeit very very poor. The beaches are beautiful but even in the broad daylight when you are around hundreds of people you are not entirely safe on the sidewalks.

The main beach there is called Copacabana. There is a horseshoe-shaped, wide, hand-laid stone sidewalk about 5 miles long that you can travel on. It must be 30 feet wide. There are hotels and restaurants on one side and the beach on the other side separated by a road.

The road is extremely dangerous due to the notion that the driver has the right-of-way in Rio. They drive very fast, regardless if people are in harms way or not, so crossing is dangerous and you must be careful.

The place is beautiful in its own way but the lack of decent infrastructure and the abundance of poor and destitute make it somewhat hard to enjoy. Wafts of raw sewage emanating from somewhere permeate the air from time to time. Much of the housing and buildings are made of stone or concrete, and most are in disrepair. Very little can be found with anything resembling fresh paint. They are near the equator so their winters are quite mild.


My travels have taken me the world over. I pay close attention, not only to the construction of large buildings, churches, and gardens but also to home construction, always in search of new ideas for my own home.

When I see a good idea, I tend to bring the idea to one of my preferred contractors at home just to see if it would be practical to do such a thing at home.

For example, in Luxembourg in an area of new construction, I saw a really neat idea where a builder had put up two 3-inch thick (roughly) walls with sprayed in insulation between the two and steel rebar support. The inner wall was not the least bit cold as it would have been if it were just one solid concrete wall. The insulation was thicker than anything I had ever seen. Since I am from Richmond, Va., the insulation installer I use is a guy named Daniel, so I called him to better understand if this would be an option in my area. He didn’t seem to think so but I’m not entirely sure why. Seemed like a great idea to me.