This post is so long overdue, it’s embarrassing. Earlier this spring, my in-laws were visiting from the East Coast. For Mother’s Day, my husband picked out a beautiful trio of Heath Ceramics bud vases in a chartreuse, aqua blue and natural for my mother-in-law to go in her “Florida room” at their home in Gulf Stream. We are nuts for Heath over here and based the entire color scheme for our home on my favorite Heath glaze, French Grey. My mother-in-law mentioned a few pieces of Heath she’d picked up several decades ago at a thrift shop that were more in our kitchen’s color scheme than hers. The next week, I opened a package from my mother-in-law containing this vintage pitcher, creamer and sugar set in a long-retired glaze that is heaven. I love the faintly mottled look of it, and the bright turquoise interior. Oh, and that we own a little piece of American history from this beloved Sausalito company.
Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page
Stop. The. Press. Sudden change of plans for this coming Saturday that don’t involve finishing my 2009 taxes (for reals! and yes, I know it’s almost August), washing my newly shorn hair or alphabetizing my spice rack, because I’m actually on top of the latter. Check out what promises to be an amazing yard/tag sale this Saturday in Brentwood, featuring more than thirty of LA’s top interior designers and stores/vendors selling items including small furniture such as side-tables, lamps, rugs, pillows, art, accessories and more at incredibly low prices—from $5-$200 (cash only). ￼
I’m particularly excited to see what Fyndes has on offer, as well as celebrity caterer Lulu Powers who will be signing copies of her fabby new book, Lulu Powers: Food to Flowers. [I have the book and it is loaded with creative entertaining ideas, to say nothing of yummy recipes.] Who’s hitting the west side with me???
I have three delicious words for you: Summer. Fruit. Shortcake. Okay, five, if you add: With. Mascarpone. Two crucial and decadent words. I mean, really, this recipe might be the last word in summer desserts. Our friend Vincent brought it over the other night in all its summery glory. It’s one large shortcake, which Vincent then cut into individual slices and—with a flair for drama—sprinkled with powdered sugar and drizzled with fruit juices reserved from the fresh raspberry, blackberry and peach filling.
It was so pretty that we busted out the silver. And then we cleaned our plates. And I mean CLEANED. Thank you, Vincent!
I absolutely hate photos of myself, and this one is no exception. But I had to share because of the hair. First thing this morning (after dropping off Tiny G at preschool) I went to see Alissa Tietgen at Neil George. I was her first appointment since she had gotten back from two weeks in Paris. It was her first time in Paris and she fell in love with the city and all the chic women and their hair. Here is the cut she gave me, and je l’adore.
[PS: Note to self—SMILE!]
Before we tucked into Mad Men last night—or the bewitching Summer Fruit Shortcake that our friend Vincent whipped up—we sat down to grilled rabbit à la Anne. After taunting me with a description of grilled rabbit and homemade buttermilk ranch dressing, we decided to give it a go. Neither Vincent nor Mr. Foodinista had tasted rabbit before, and now both are hopping (sorry) for more. I think this is maybe my favorite grilled meal I’ve had all summer. It’s a super-lean protein. You can use rabbit in any dish that you would use chicken. And this particular dish couldn’t be easier—or more delicious. I guess it’s mostly a matter of finding rabbit. If you live in LA, check out Puritan Poultry on Third/Fairfax and have them chop up a three-pound rabbit into eight pieces. Then here’s what Anne recommends:
i marinated it in olive oil, garlic, rosemary, maldon salt (my favorite) and pepper for an hour or so… then grilled it over
indirect flame on the bbq for about 20 mins… turning at mid-point. we put some oak chips in the bbq for flavor. when we first had grilled rabbit in oregon at a winery they used dried vine cuttings and it was amazing.
I realize that I never posted pics of the finished office! I’m sitting here at my desk writing my December column for Bon Appétit and feeling so blessed. I love my job. I love this office. And I love staring out the French doors at our tomato red vintage lawn chairs by the fountain. I should figure out how to record audio to share because all I can hear is the trickle of water, some birds chirping and the hum of a lawnmower somewhere nearby. You would never know we are smack in the middle of Los Angeles! Here are a few more pics. I’m super happy with the way the bookshelves turned out.
One side of the bookcase is devoted to food/wine and the other to fashion/design. Tucked in are a few favorite mementos, like these feathered Venetian masques we wore on New Years Eve at Lucques back in 2006, the night we got engaged.
While I’m no Einstein, I’m happy to quote Albert when he asks, “If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significance of a clean desk?” Yours truly has never been accused of having a clean desk, though I do like to think there’s order and—better yet—inspiration in my chaos. When I’m stuck on a story—like, um, now—I find myself zoning out on this awesome vintage Gucci attaché from the 60s my dad gave me, or this snow globe my sister brought back from Paris last week until I figure a way back into the story.
The other night I got an email from my fabby friend Anne that said “we’re cookin’ with gas tonight. fresh rabbit with rosemary, garlic, little gems lettuces from farmers market with persian cucumbers and homemade buttermilk ranch.” Naturally I demanded photos. Anne indulged me and sent the above, along with a few snaps of the lapin marinating and oak chips soaking. I knew I had to SWF her. This morning my husband stopped at Puritan Poultry in the Farmer’s Market at Third/Fairfax, and had them cut up a rabbit into 8 pieces. More on that tomorrow. And me? I made a batch of Anne’s dressing. Mr. Foodinista took one taste and said “this is the kind of dressing you don’t want to share.” It’s that good.
Anne’s Buttermilk Ranch
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon fresh chopped chives
1 teaspoon fresh chopped dill
Lemon juice to taste (about a teaspoon)
Mix buttermilk and mayo till smooth then add the rest of the ingredients. Let rest in fridge for an hour before serving.
Back in what I like to call my “fashion past,” friend, documentary filmmaker and fashion photographer extraordinaire Robert Trachtenberg and I made a lot of pretty pictures together. But perhaps none so delicious as the above, which appeared on T Magazine‘s blog several weeks ago, along with a fantastic story about Valerie Confections “vintage cake” revival of some of LA’s most beloved desserts (think Brown Derby Grapefruit Cake or Chasen’s Banana Shortcake). Those of us lucky enough to live in Los Angeles know Valerie’s chocolates all too well, and word is spreading fast. In fact just this week Alice Waters popped into the shop and loaded up on Valerie’s mint mendiants, liquid caramels, nut toffees, preserves, and Champagne (my kind of girl).
But back to this coconut mass of heaven. Ever since I saw Robert’s story, I’ve had this coconut cream pie on the brain. And so finally—at 5 o’clock on Thursday evening—I caved and tried Valerie’s recipe. By 9 pm Mr. Foodinista and I were eating a slice of the best (if not as pretty as Robert’s) coconut cream pie I can remember. Oh, and guess what I had for breakfast?
Note about recipe: look for cream of coconut in a liquor store or in the booze aisle of the grocery store (if you live in a state like California where you can buy such things at the supermarket). It comes in a can and apparently is used for piña coladas and the like:
Without doubt, what I love best about this blog are the people it has lead me to, total strangers who have become virtual friends. And at the top of that list is a woman I greatly admire, Mary L. Tabor. And so today, it is my great honor to talk with the writer about her seductive new memoir, (Re) Making Love: A Sex After Sixty Story. First, buy the book by clicking HERE. Then, settle in for a delicious conversation with Mary, complete with her recipe for finding lasting love…
FOODINISTA: Your first book, a collection of short stories, is The Woman Who Never Cooked. Who is that woman? How does she differ from you?
MARY: I am hidden inside the fiction and oddly or maybe not so odd, I included three memoir pieces that I don’t identify as such. That’s the first tip-off. In the fiction, I used food and adultery as metaphor for the grief I bore through my mother’s, my father’s and my sister’s illnesses and deaths. I wasn’t sure who I was. I didn’t know when I wrote “The Woman Who Never Cooked,” the title story, that I would become that woman. The story relies on cooking, despite its title, and scrolls through recipes from some of my favorites: The Silver Palate Cookbook, Julia Child’s The Art of French Cooking, The Ramognolis’ Table, Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts, Chez Panisse Desserts, Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts, Gourmet’s Best Desserts, Silver Palate Desserts.
I stopped cooking after D. in my memoir left me. Was I prescient? I don’t think so. I do think that cooking and love and family are inextricably entwined.
I’m cooking again. I know that’s a good sign.
FOODINISTA: What is the great seduction dish of all time?
MARY: It begins with a joke and ends with a kiss. I read this recently somewhere: “Vacationing in Vermont, someone picked up the local paper to check out the forecast. It read: Today: Sunny, 76. Tonight: Not so sunny, 55.” I laughed and thought of eating lobster at a lobster shack somewhere in Maine. That’s near Vermont, right? Geography is not my long suit. For me, boiled lobster is the ultimate seduction dish. And I’ll never forget watching Darryl Hannah eat one shell and all in a Rom-Com I love: Splash. But I hear she’s a vegetarian so that was a very complicated lobster.
Complicated is good where love is concerned.
If I were going to seduce a man, I would make Pierre Franey’s (the 60-Minute Gourmet whose passing left a hole in my favorite rag The New York Times that Mark Bittman has done a great job of filling) chocolate mousse and his Strawberries Romanoff (strawberries steeped in Grand Marnier, orange peel and topped with a dollop of fresh whipped cream).
Dessert first. Then make love and think about food later when you’re starving.
FOODINISTA: Your new memoir (Re)Making Love is about finding love after sixty, but there are rather beautiful truths for women of any age. I particularly loved the chapter about your hair. What can a haircut say about a woman? Does long hair at 24 mean the same thing at 64? Incidentally, after a bad breakup in my 20s, I cut off all my hair and moved to Paris. The short hair played well over there. It did not have the same effect when I moved back to San Francisco.
MARY: I remember when Mia Farrow cut her hair but wasn’t that after she hooked up with Frank Sinatra? I remember Jean Seberg, really cute haircut, in Breathless, but, golly, she did also play Joan of Arc.
I do think the French, despite all the bashing we Americans sometimes get from them, have an esthetic that focuses on beauty and sensuality in a way that we Americans can learn but don’t grow up with: The reason your short hair in Paris was a hit.
I first cut my hair after my second child was born: Went into the bathroom and cut my ponytail off with a scissors. Something was going on with that crazy move—and I don’t think it had to do with my kids—first husband maybe?
I then let it grow and cut it again when a corporate job and raising two kids on my own was my stated reason, but I had also met the man I later married: my second marriage.
In 2002 when I let my hair grow again—what I refer to as the trial of the hair: Have you ever grown out curly hair?—the result gave me a new sense of my sensuality. Long and white, this hair will not see the scissors again.
So, if there’s a difference, it’s not age, it’s Paris.
FOODINISTA: Is La Perla the best revenge?
MARY: Feeling beautiful inside is the best revenge. A good bra on the way there helps like this one from La Perla:
I don’t have this bra but, if I did, I’d dance around the kitchen in it and pretend I was Lady Gaga.
Will he love you when you’re 64? He will, with or without the bra.
FOODINISTA: In (Re) Making Love there were three kitchens and two husbands. Tell us about your dream kitchen and your dream husband.
MARY: My dream kitchen would have a Wolf range top, two Miele wall ovens, a Subzero fridge and freezer and a stainless steel island with lots of electrical outlets. And the sink would have a window over it.
My dream husband would cook with me in that kitchen and he’d be the man who wrote this description of my memoir: here’s an excerpt of what the man I love actually wrote to help promote the book:
“A series of men appear—all identified as a lower-case first initial—while the upper-case D. weaves out and in, as both he and Mary maneuver through the separation. Along the way are the Internet dates, emails, T.S. Eliot and Nietzsche, romantic comedies and the Grimm Brothers, photographs, recipes, dreams, Obamas, and yes, even the kitchen sink. Her journey moves from her home in Washington, DC to Missouri to Australia and eventually to Paris, a visit that offers a stunning surprise that changes her life.”
Gotta love him, and I do.
FOODINISTA: Please share two recipes for love—one philosophical, one we can cook.
MARY: Philosophical recipe:
Never forget the Laws of Thermodynamics. C.P. Snow provided this shorthand to remember the laws: 1. You cannot win. 2. You cannot break even. 3. You cannot get out of the game.
But if you stay in the game, you can dance even when it seems that the dancers have all gone under the hill.
Now go to the farmers market, buy corn and tomatoes and lots of basil.
Slice the tomatoes, sprinkle with some grated parmesan and asiago cheese, preferably from The Cowgirl Creamery, around the corner from me. Add a chiffonade of basil, salt and pepper. Then make Angel Hair Pasta and Pesto. I refer to this as my McDonald’s meal ’cause to me this is fast food fast and it says summer.
1 or 2 bunches basil (about two cups, leaves only)
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (or more; I don’t measure; just look)
4 cloves of garlic
the best extra virgin olive oil you can afford
Put the garlic cloves, the basil and the cheese in your food processor. Give it all a whirl while you pour in olive oil until you see green of summer like grass in a field.
Boil angel hair pasta (the best homemade brand you can find or use DeCecco) ever so briefly. Put the pasta in a beautiful bowl, scrape all the pesto on top, pour a quarter cup or so of the pasta water on top. Toss and serve with corn and tomatoes.
Don’t forget to tell jokes and kiss while cooking: You will taste both in the pesto. And remember Robert Hass the poet who says in “The Privilege of Being,” “Many are making love. Up above, the angels/ in the unshaken ether and crystal of human longing/ are braiding one another’s hair, which is strawberry blond … .”
I had never considered that anything I bought new might be seen in eyes of others as vintage. That is until my Gen Y friend Lizzie asked if my watch—a gift from my parents on my 13th birthday, which is, um, coming up on 25 years ago—was vintage. It’s the kind of question that hits you like a ton of bricks. And just as the encounter left an impression on Lizzie, it was probably the moment in which I first grasped that I was an adult. (You know, the kind of epiphany that makes you more diligent about using eye cream every night?) Check out Lizzie’s genius and very funny analysis of the differences between Gen X and Y (in which the Foodinista’s watch makes a cameo) in her story on today’s TakiMag.com. Required reading!