Posts Tagged ‘St Joseph’s Day Party’

Coffee cupping on St Joseph’s Day

March 19, 2018

For the last few years together with friends from across the world we have celebrated St Joseph’s Day at a party hosted by Paulo Coelho and his wife Christina.

This year celebrated St Joseph’s Day with an evening of coffee cupping at Coffee Aroma.

Last week, an afternoon of conversation and book signing with Stephen Leighton, author of Coffeeography. He left behind samples of coffee beans from the producers featured in Coffeeography.  As I write, wonderful aroma from the coffee samples.

Coffee cupping is to coffee what wine tasting is to wine.

What better way the celebrate the hard work of the producers than a coffee cupping on St Joseph’s Day, St Joseph the patron saint of workers.

The beans were ground, placed in a cupping bowl, hot water poured on, left for four minutes.

A group of half a dozen people, roughly half staff, half  customers took it in turn to sample the coffees.

Four coffees, two sessions.

Blind tasting. The origin to be revealed later.

I would have changed how this was carried out.

Grind the coffee, each sample the aroma of the ground beans, pour in the hot water, wait four minutes, one person for each cup, remove the crust, sample the aroma that erupts when the crust removed, then with a sampling spoon, sample each coffee.

Whilst noticing a difference, I did not notice a big difference. I noticed a far bigger difference cupping beans from Los Nogales Project, twelve different samples from the same estate.

Curious. I offer an explanation.

When Stephen Leighton chooses the beans he has in mind what he is looking for, which will select beans of similar profile.

Real Fresh Coffee has a section on coffee cupping, Standart issue 6 a useful guide.

Standart is on sale in Madame Waffle or from Has Bean.

Coffee cupping is a sensory experience, sight, smell, taste.

Where the Wild Coffee Grows has a wonderful description of coffee drinking in Ethiopia as a sensory experience that engages all the senses.

St Joseph’s Day Party in Lobkowicz Palace

April 2, 2016

PPrague Castle and Charles Bridge

Prague Castle and Charles Bridge

If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello. — Paulo Coelho

Two weeks ago, St Joseph’s Day, a chauffeur driven limousine to Prague Castle to a party in Lobkowicz Palace. A guest of my dear friend Paulo Coelho.

Paulo Coelho has a knack of hosting parties in wonderful iconic locations.

It is strange, how you have an entirely different perspective of the world, if driven around in a limousine. An argument maybe for forcing politicians and their wealthy masters to use public transport at least once a year.

A police checkpoint, car checked, though odd not the passenger, then dropped off outside the German Embassy.

I did not query this. I had instructed my driver to drop me off at which ever entrance to Prague Castle was best for him, and I would find my way on foot to Lobkowicz Palace.

Thus when he said he would drop me off at the Germany Embassy, I did not query it. I assumed it to be located somewhere inside or nearby the castle entrance.

I got out, asked my driver where I was to go.

Luckily I did.

Not where we should be.

He asked me to get back in, ten minutes he assured me.

Off we went, with him tapping into his Sat Nav.

We are lost he told me. I will have use Google Maps.

By now I am perplexed. How can anyone live in Prague and not know how to get to the castle? Am I lost within a Kafka novel? Did not K have problems getting to the castle?

A journey that should have been no more than 15 minutes, took 50 minutes.

He dropped me off at the entrance to Prague Castle.

More security checks. Police and army armed with semi-automatic weapons.

Prague from Prague Castle

Prague from Prague Castle

Prague from Prague Castle

Prague from Prague Castle

Stunning views over Prague.

I walked in, luckily it was not far for the palace.

More security.

Was I on the guest list?

Yes, said a voice who confirmed who I was.

waiters bearing drinks

waiters bearing drinks

jazz quartet in the corner

jazz quartet in the corner

frescos on the ceiling

frescos on the ceiling

Inside warmly greeted by Christina, guests who I know, waiters with drinks and little titbits to eat, a jazz band playing in a corner.

Trying to take it all in, paintings, frescos on the ceilings, not possible to put anything down anywhere, trying somehow to balance  wine, eats, books, camera, phone and take pictures.

Leave books at cloakroom, yes, a good idea.

Paulo chatting with guest

Paulo chatting with guest

I walked out onto a balcony overlooking the town. A warm greeting from Paulo who was chatting with friends.

Annie a prayer in Greek

Annie a prayer in Greek

Eventually we are called to order for prayers in multiple languages and faiths, people called forward.

To my surprise and shock, my lovely Greek friend Annie is there. I had not seen her and did not know she was there. I have not seen her since we met in Athens three years ago.

Paulo Coelho, whose party it was and whose guests we were, explains why Prague.

Many years ago, when he wanted to be a writer, he had toured Europe.

He had found himself in Prague, in the Church of the Infant Jesus, a church I was to visit a few days later.  He asked to become a writer. If he did, he would one day return and give the infant Jesus a new shawl, which he had done that morning.

Whilst in Prague he had walked along the Golden Lane, a street of the alchemists. There was no one there apart from a  young man painting, his hands covered with cut off gloves against the cold. Paulo buys a painting, gives the equivalent of a dollar, very little. The young man is overjoyed. He points at Christina. Thinking he wants more money, but no, he offers to paint Christina.  Offered money, he refuses to accept it.

Paulo was very moved by this experience, to him it was an epiphany. Here was a man, painting for his art, for love of what he did, not for money.

Thirty years on, Paulo was determined to track this man down. He called upon his friends in Prague, and a miracle, the man was found. But could he prove who he was, did he remember the two gifts Paulo gave him?

Christina and Paulo with street artist

Christina and Paulo with street artist

Paulo had pointed him out earlier. He now invited him to join him on the stage.

A very emotional scene, the man was in tears.

Paulo explained he was his guest of honour, would he please stay and eat with us.

Whether he did, I do not know, as I did not see him again.

Paulo told the story the day before at his press conference and has recounted  the story on his blog.

Paulo told us this was the 30th St Joseph’s Day Party, a celebration when friends get together and there was nothing more important to him than friendship and his friends. Those who were no longer with us, were with us in spirit.

There was though to be a change. From now on, the party would only be held every other year, not once a year.

Following prayers, we were asked to go in for dinner.

I hugged Annie, and walked into dinner together.

Sadly we could not find a table seated together.

Not to worry said Annie, we have all night after dinner to talk.

I found myself sat at a table with friends, including Paulo and Christina.

Part way through dinner I found myself chatting with William Lobkowicz. We discussed music. He was very interested in what I was suggesting as he wanted something different.

I recommended Pieles, a musical production which I had seen in Puerto de la Cruz at Teatro Timanfaya. He thought stage where we were dining. I said no, it would have to be a small theatre.

Others I thought off Socos DuoA Ritmo de TangoImágenes de la Compañía MuvenDanz.

Why not make a Canarian season, rope in Spanish Ambassador for support.

I also added Jewelia, Zoe Keating, Imogen Heap, or at least made a mental note to add.

The Sixteen added to my mental list. I did not now know at the time, that in Lobkowicz Collection, were held original manuscripts of Handel, Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven.

The Sixteen could play from the manuscripts, either where we dined or St Nicholas Church, a Baroque church in Prague Old Town, depending upon the music. The cathedral in Prague Castle would be too big, they would be lost.

The problem with Prague, as I learnt wandering around, everyone is putting on the same nigh identical tourist trap concerts.

He gave me his card to follow up our discussion, as he had to leave early.

It was only later, I discovered my dining companion was Prince William Lobkowicz, to give him his correct title.

string quartet played whilst we dined

string quartet played whilst we dined

Whilst we ate, a string quartet played.

Dinner over, wine having freely flowed, and more was yet to flow, Paulo called us to order.

He thanked the string quartet.

He then told of Paul McCartney being asked to summarise his music. He said he cannot, it has to be listened to.

Paulo gets asked the same question: Can you summarise your books? He says no, read the books.

At his side, I recognised a girl, though I could not recall why. Paulo introduced her  and a guitarist who had appeared, as who had played at his party in Athens.

He then broke into All You Need is Love, with everyone joining in.

He then told everyone to party, the band was playing.

Usually at the end of a party, Paulo and a few of us sit around chatting.

Not to be, Paulo and Christina left early.

Paulo Coelho books signed in Prague

Paulo Coelho books signed in Prague

I caught Paulo as he was leaving and he kindly signed my books, presents for friends.

Then the night was over.

We could not order our own transport, due to the tight security, transport had been arranged.

Annie and several of us left around 2-30am. Annie wanted to walk. I said no, we did not know the way and she would get lost. I also knew it would be very cold, and she only had a thin dress and a light jacket.

As we left the palace, army on guard outside armed with semi-automatic weapons.

We piled onto the coach and off we went, with one girl in high spirits demanding music and then inviting me out the next day.

Final drop off, everyone piled off, I said goodbye to Annie and friends, a couple of us stayed on the coach.

Where to next?

I did not mind not being dropped off at my hotel, Old Town Prague would do, and I would find my own way.

The coach was going nowhere. I too got off, to find Annie standing by the roadside all alone shivering.

But for the grace of God the coach  did not take me, as otherwise Annie would have been all on her own.

We were lost, we did not have a clue where we were were. We wandered around for an hour or more. We were lost. We were going round and round in circles getting nowhere, but slowly turning to ice. Then I said look. What said Annie? I pointed to a lit up telecoms tower, what I had seen during the day. Assuming it to be the same one, it was located on a hill behind the castle. If we turned with our backs to the tower, we could head to the river. I still had no idea where we were, but at least we could head in the right direction. The only problem was, every  road we headed down, was blocked off.

Look, I said again. Annie looked. Exhausted. Cold. The name I said, the name of the hotel, The Alchemist. It was a sign. We both laughed. We knew everything was ok. We know how to read signs

We then met two people. They sort of headed us in the right direction.

Then I realised where we were. It was where I had walked earlier in the day when I crossed Charles Bridge.

From there Annie found her hotel.

Will you be ok?

Yes, cross the bridge, find the Old Town Square, then I can find my way.

I probably sounded more confident than I was, I neglected to tell Annie that although I had walked this route during the day, I had got lost, and that was in daylight, now it was dark.

I promised to send her a message when I was safely home

Charles Bridge early hours of the morning

Charles Bridge early hours of the morning

I crossed the now deserted Charles Bridge with someone following me. Creepy.

I crossed the bridge and was lost. It is one thing being lost with a friend, quite another on your own in a strange city in the early hours of the morning wandering cold, dark and deserted streets.

I wandered around, absolutely no idea where I was.

Eventually a taxi driver stopped, asked was I ok. I said no I was lost.  He pointed me in the right direction. I immediately regretted I had not asked him to take me home. I passed another taxi , but he was either picking people up or dropping people off.

I found the Old Town Square. It was very different to daylight, or even night when lit up. It was in darkness. I found my way through the square, then down an alley then finally I knew where I was.

I finally reached my hotel at 4-15am in the early early hours of the morning, very cold and very tired.

Many thanks to Paulo and Christina for hosting the party and inviting me. And thanks for the friendship. And thanks Paulo for your patience and signing the books as you were leaving.

When Paulo announced the party was only going to be every two years, I felt very sad as in my heart I knew there was gong to be no more parties.  And so it proved to be.

A couple of days later, a sad e-mail from Paulo thanking his friends, saying there would be no more parties, after thirty this phase of his life was over. He has already decided before the party but at the party decided to compromise by holding every two years, but on reflection to keep to his original decision.

I am sure Paulo we will meet somewhere, but in the meantime my dear friend, take good care of yourself.

I usually write up the party on getting home, the first account published.

I am sorry I did not. I was tired and exhausted, and I had no computer.

I asked the hotel. They kindly went out and bought a computer and delivered it to my room. I returned and found a laptop sitting on my table. Only problem was, it was in Czech. I can handle a Spanish keyboard, but a Czech keyboard with four, sometimes five, characters on each key. Plus it was Windows 10 in Czech.

Now, two weeks later trying to keep everything in chronological order, my write up.

Apologies for lateness.

I have though found it very hard to write.

Paulo Coelho’s St Joseph’s Day Party in Athens

March 20, 2013
Greek dance: Paulo, Christina and Annie

Greek dance: Paulo, Christina and Annie

Rudolf Schenker and Paulo Coelho

Rudolf Schenker and Paulo Coelho

The party started with cocktails, followed by prayers in many languages.

St Joseph is the patron saint of workers, we should remember that many people have lost their jobs and think of them.

That is why the party this year was being held in Greece. It gets a very bad press, the workers slandered as lazy. By holding the party in Athens, it gave people the chance to see a different side of Greece, the real Greece.

We are all travellers, we then have a different view of life if we travel. The journey is important, but so is the homecoming, as we see in the Iliad and with Ithaca.

The party was held in the roof top restaurant of St George Lycabettus Hotel with excellent views of Athens, the centre piece being the Acropolis.

The party was smaller this year, a little over a hundred people, all friends of Paulo Coelho, a celebration together.

At midnight, after eating, after Greek dancing, and following plate smashing, a rock group played until 2am.

Reading from By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept, Paulo smashed a plate. This was symbolic of breaking the link with what is bad, what is holding us back.

At 1am the rock group was joined by Rudolf Schenker (founder and lead guitarist of German rock group Scorpions), who was then joined on vocals by Paulo Coelho performing Still Loving You.

Book signing.

All good things have to come to an end. The party ended around 3am. Some of us remained in the hotel lobby chatting. I finally got to my hotel around 4-30am. Others were checking out to travel to the airport to fly home.

On leaving, a special present, a relief of a classical subject, the likes of which can be found in the Acropolis Museum.

A special thanks to Paulo for such an excellent party.

Early in the day Paulo Coelho held a press conference.

Paulo Coelho’s St Joseph’s Day Party at Castello Superiore di Marostica

March 21, 2012
Venetian soldiers with flaming swords

Venetian soldiers with flaming swords

Hosted by Montegrappa, Paulo Coelho’s St Joseph’s Day Party was held at a medieval Venetian Castle, Castello Superiore di Marostica.

Following the launch of The Alchemist pen in the afternoon, followed by a tour of the Montegrappa facilty in Bassano del Grappa, a party was held in the evening to mark St Joseph’s day.

The party was held at a medieval Venetian Castle some half an hour drive outside of Bassano del Grappa.

On arrival, after passing through a road block checking for unwanted gatecrashers, we were met on arrival by Venetian soldiers holding flaming torches.

Some sort of pageant was taking place. Food and drink was served outside, though it was a cold night.

We were then ushered indoors where a guitar of Rudolf Schenker (lead guitarist and founder of German rock group Scorpions) was being painted by Christina.

Then we were ushered upstairs, where tables were laid for dinner.

Paulo Coelho explained why he celebrates St Joseph’s Day with his friends. He said this was a very special party as it was a Silver Anniversary, ie 25 years. It was also a Silver Anniversary of the publication of The Pilgrimage.

Paulo Coelho was born dead, strangled by his umbilical cord. His mother prayed for a miracle, that life be breathed into his dead body. He recovered. She promised she would mark St Joseph’s day, but never did. God is forgiving. God is not the God of hate, who damns us for all eternity, that Francis Chan portrays in his evil book Erasing Hell.

Paulo now marks St Joseph’s Day to give thanks for his good fortune.

Wine is mentioned several times in the Bible. All but one involves Joseph.

As always, the dinner started with prayers. First Paulo in Portuguese, then many languages, including German (The Abbot of Melk Abbey) and Japanese (Yumi Crane).

Glorious St. Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously by placing love of duty above my inclinations; to gratefully and joyously deem it an honor to employ and to develop by labor the gifts I have received from God, to work methodically, peacefully, and in moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from it through weariness or difficulty to work; above all, with purity of intention and unselfishness, having unceasingly before my eyes the account I have to render of time lost, talents unused, good not done, and vain complacency in success, so baneful to the work of God. O patriarch St. Joseph! This shall be my motto for life and eternity.

Yumi Crane spoke of the Tsunami. It was one year, one week, one day. It was very moving. She was in tears. Mio, with who I was holding hands, was in tears. I was in tears.

The Narrow Road to the Disaster Zone
Songs From Tokyo

For Mio, it was a dream come true to meet Paulo Coelho.

A Japanese girl’s dream come true

There were many courses, several were on the table when we sat down. I had no idea what most of them were. There was long gaps of half an hour between courses, which gave people plenty of time to wander around and chat to people at other tables, exchange gifts.

I gave Paulo Coelho Fusiones, signed by all members of the group Ensamble Dos Orrillas, who I had seen live at an excellent concert a couple of weeks before in Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife. A fusion of music from South America and the Canary Isands. I am only sorry I did not get the opportunity to take a picture of Paulo Coelho with the signed album. Hopefully this album will be available for download from bandcamp in the near future.

On the tables was also a special gift from Paulo. A bottle of perfume, The Alchemist. I assume specially commissioned for the occasion.

Many people came up to me and chatted who I had no idea who they were but for some reason they knew who I was.

One was Dasha Balashova, a remarkable Russian artist, who I learnt is now living in France in or near the Pyrenees. I have Dasha to thank for my original contact with Paulo Coelho. Until the night of the party we had never met.

A firework display!

Presents for Paulo: A silver tray to mark 25th anniversary of The Pilgrimage, a special chair to sit at when he writes.

Ken Crane was called. Where was Ken when needed? As a special gift Ken had brought five pairs of boxer shorts with his graphics and quotes from Paulo Coelho. Paulo handed these out to named individuals.

A few minutes before midnight Paulo Coelho announced eating was over, it was time to go downstairs and dance.

In the early hours of the morning we were treated to Rudolf Schenker and Paulo Coelho (on guitar and vocals) performing Rock Like a Hurricane, Still Loving You, and maybe a couple of other numbers. It was unbelievable. I do not think the group who were playing could believe their luck playing with Rudolf Schenker and Paulo Coelho. For Time they were joined on vocals by Rudolf Schenker’s girlfriend Tanya.

Paulo Coelho e Rudolf Schenker

Sometime in the early hours, Christina and I were dancing centre stage.

Then book signing.

On the edge of the light I noticed armed guards!

All good parties eventually have to come to an end.

We finally got back to our hotel at 3-30am in the early hours of the morning!

Many thanks to Paulo for the invite and putting on such a great party and to Montegrappa for generously hosting the party and for providing the transport there and back.

Paulo Coelho has posted a shorter version on his blog.

Paulo Coelho – St Joseph’s Day – Melk – 19 March 2010

February 14, 2011

It is a tradition of Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho to hold a party on St Joseph’s Day to celebrate his good fortune. Last year the party was held at Melk Abbey in Austria, an important Benedictine Abbey in Austria. I had the honour of being invited but was very ill at the time and sadly was unable to attend.

This year Paulo Coelho and guests will celebrate St Joseph’s Day at Pera Palace Hotel in Beyoğlu in Istanbul.

For my lovely friend Suzanne in Lebanon who asked.

St Joseph’s Day at Melk Abbey