A passion for food + fashion

Archive for December, 2008|Monthly archive page

Hello, Bolly!

In Drink on December 31, 2008 at 7:42 pm


Two years ago tonight my husband proposed in the garden courtyard at Lucques, where we are heading tonight for the late seating. But first, it seemed only fitting to pop open a bottle of the very first bubbly we ever shared together, a 1998 Bollinger La Grand Année, and enjoy a sip or two before calling a cab to take us to a pre-dinner party. Be safe tonight, be merry and a very Happy New Year!!!

Larchmont Larder

In Food, On Location: Out and About in L.A. on December 31, 2008 at 1:28 pm


Daily Candy reported last week that The Larchmont Larder opened at 626 N. Larchmont Blvd., and then yesterday my friend Hugh mentioned that he had stopped in for a meatloaf sandwich with herb remoulade on a rustic roll, which he thought was pretty good. I followed suit today and wholeheartedly agree. Plus, I hadn’t expected it to be so cute inside! (See Daily Candy for interior shot.) It’s in a Craftsman bungalow with little tables and red metal garden chairs for seating, and an open kitchen where you can watch all the action. The sides and salads look yummy—golden beets, green apples, goat cheese with citrus shallot vinaigrette; baby artichokes with parsley, lemon and olive oil; and lemongrass-coconut rice with cilantro—as did an inviting key lime pie. Next time.  

Oh, and one observation. It’s not super handicap accessible. And by “handicapped” I mean hauling a 5 ½-month old in a monster stroller up five stairs. But then again, 6 months ago, that would’ve sounded like a very good thing indeed… 

UPDATE: Please read comment below from Katie at The Larchmont Larder re strollers, etc. A full service operation, I tell you! Makes me love this place all the more.

Toast 2009 with a Tiara!

In Fashion on December 30, 2008 at 2:51 pm


On the eve of New Year’s Eve, it’s hard not to think about tiaras. Nobody wore a tiara like Princess Grace—set halfway back so that it almost becomes part of the hairstyle. Diana also rocked this look, dianathough her hand-me-down Spencer family tiara was flashy even by HRH standards, to say nothing of  the “Cambridge Knot” Queen Mary tiara from her mother-in-law. (Love the eye roll in this shot.) 

The closest I’ve come to anything this fabulous was when Erica Courtney let me try on one of her custom platinum and diamond tiaras several years ago—lord knows what lucky starlet now owns that glittering piece of heaven. For the rest of us mere mortals, there are some pretty crystal offerings over at the Swarovski boutique in Century City, like this appropriately festive Confetti tiara. confettiTomorrow night I’ll be ringing in the New Year with the faux pearl and diamond number from Barneys pictured below, which I wore down the aisle in lieu of a veil several years ago. 


Or for sheer fun, check out a marabou number  ($12) from the Barney’s kids section by clicking here.

Hooked on Bubbies

In Food on December 30, 2008 at 11:08 am


Last week up at my parents,’ my dad made the best tuna fish sandwich in memory. It’s all about the ingredients, like Ortiz El Velero Bonito Tuna from Spain packed in olive oil and mixed simply with mayonnaise and salt and pepper. But the stars of this sandwich were Bubbies Bread and Butter Chips. These pickles are sweet and crunchy with a hit of spice and are quite simply DYNAMITE on a tuna sandwich. Both Bubbies pickles and Ortiz tuna are available at Whole Foods. tuna

Afternoon Delight

In Food on December 29, 2008 at 5:57 pm


No, this isn’t a reference to the Starland Vocal Band or to one of the best episodes of Arrested Development EVER. I’m talking about a bite-sized mendiant (for fun origin of mendiant, click here) from Woodhouse Chocolates with an afternoon cup of coffee. I got a box of eight ($12) in my stocking and was skeptical. I don’t like white chocolate and I’m not particularly fond of dried fruit either. But a sugar fix got the better of me, and I learned that when white chocolate comes together with almond, pepita, pistachio, dried apricot, cranberry and orange peel, it’s sky rockets in flight!

Diary of a Foodinista

In Design on December 29, 2008 at 7:28 am


One of the most fun wedding gifts we received a couple years ago was an entertaining diary from our friend Vincent. It’s great to look back and see who sat where, and what we ate and drank. Browsing online at Smythson (which is, incidentally, where we had our wedding invitations engraved!), I stumbled upon this über-chic BRUNCHES, LUNCHES, SUPPERS, DINNERS BOOK on sale for $145 (admittedly, not exactly a bargain even at 50% off, but such a pretty keepsake).  It’s red pigskin with gilt-edged pages, and has space for seating plans, menus and comments—like what you wore! 

Caviar Dreams

In Fashion on December 28, 2008 at 8:15 pm


I can’t decide what I’m more excited about—the rich, salty Siberian sturgeon caviar we had for dinner the other night, or this limited-edition nail varnish from Laura Mercier that I unwrapped in my Christmas stocking. It’s called “Caviar Dreams” and indeed it’s the same gorgeous dark gray as the caviar, but with a hint of dark plum and teal (like an oil slick—in a good way) and metallic shimmer. It’s a must for a New Year’s Eve manicure!

Pasta e Fagioli

In Drink, Food, Recipes on December 27, 2008 at 9:13 am

Last night my sister and I begged our dad to make his pasta e fagioli—a bean and pasta soupfor dinner.  Mine is never quite as good as his, so last night I watched carefully. Why does mine get too thick or pasty sometimes? He says it’s because of the beans and pasta I’m using. He finds that the Strianese cannellini beans have the right liquid-to-bean ratio; the fancy ones sold in jars usually don’t have enough liquid and you end up having to add more stock. (A word on stock—using half chicken and half beef is a nice balance—all chicken would be too mild; all beef too overpowering.) I was also using Rustichella d’Abruzzo orecchiette, which is fantastic in a carbonara situation, but my dad feels is too starchy for this dish and can contribute to pastiness. He likes DeCecco. Finally, he splurges on the olive oil—spicy Laudemio from Tuscany.

To go with our smoky, spicy soup, my dad pulled out a magnum of 1988 Kongsgaard “Judge’s” Barbera. What a treat to taste such an old Napa wine—still had a good amount of fruit, but Old World earthiness and nice acid to balance the strong pancetta flavors in the soup.


Edward’s Pasta e Fagioli

3 15 ½ ounce cans cannellini beans, Strianese Fagioli Cannellini preferred

½ cup spicy extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling, Frescobaldi Laudemio preferred

1 medium Texas sweet onion, such as Sweetie Sweet

1 clove garlic, minced

6 slices pancetta

2 tsp minced Italian parsley

2 tsp minced rosemary leaves

2 tsp minced fresh oregano

2 cups beef stock

2 cups chicken stock

½ cup canned crushed tomatoes

½ tsp red pepper flakes

½ lb orecchiette, DeCecco preferred

Shaved parmigiano reggiano for garnish

Drain 1 can of beans. Set aside. Puree other two cans with their liquid in blender until smooth. Mix whole beans with puree; set aside.

Julienne four slices of pancetta, trimming off fat.

In a large soup pot, heat ¼ cup oil. Add onion and two whole strips pancetta, saute until golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, julienned pancetta, and herbs. Saute 4 minutes.

Transfer sautéed ingredients to blender or food processor and puree until smooth. (If using blender, do in batches.) Return pureed ingredients to soup pot, along with remaining ¼ cup olive oil, the bean mixture and chicken and beef stock. Bring to a boil, add tomatoes, hot red pepper flakes and pasta. Cook until pasta is al dente, about 13 minutes. Serve immediately, and garnish with thick flakes of shaved parmigiano.

Crazy Good Christmas Dinner

In Drink, Food on December 26, 2008 at 9:12 am


All year my husband looks forward to Christmas Dinner at my parents.’ It’s a killer lineup that starts with caviar and all the fixings—Kendall Farms crème fraîche, finely chopped sweet Texas onion, hardboiled egg and fresh dill on toast points (Pepperidge Farm white works great). This year we served it with a bottle of 1998 Taittinger Comte de Champagne left over from our wedding. With Russian caviar prices through the ROOF, my dad got Siberian sturgeon caviar sustainably raised in Italy. Soooo good.

horseradishLast year there was the horseradish debacle. None of the stores in town had fresh, and all of the jarred had been premixed with cream and had no fight. A couple months ago, my dad grabbed a jar of Fortnum & Mason’s hot horseradish from the shop in Piccadilly to go with the 9 ½ pound standing rib roast, roasted Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes with chives and a dollop of that crème fraîche. My mother shared two incredible local bottles—a 2004 Joseph Phelps Insignia and a 2003 Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet.

Typically we end the evening with stinky cheese and port, but we’re going to do that tonight instead. Last night’s meal ended with a persimmon steamed sticky pudding and hard sauce. Merry Christmas indeed!


‘Twas the Night Before Christmas…

In Drink, Food on December 25, 2008 at 1:46 pm


Arrived at my parents’ last night just in time for our Christmas Eve ritual of fondue. My father had selected a careful blend of cheese from Oxbow Cheese Merchants: Beeler Gruyère with almost mushroom nuances, Mt. Vully Swiss for a creamy note and a French Basque cheese called Pilota, which added a nutty flavor.  We use a dash of St. George Kirsch, a cherry brandy distilled locally in the Bay Area,mixed with cornstarch and some bone -dry Sauvignon Blanc. The trick is to rub the pot with garlic before melting the cheese. My sister has an uncanny knack for picking perfectly ripe avocados, which she used for a Butter Lettuce and Radish Salad with Tarragon—a perfect counterpoint to the fondue. The acid in the shallot and Champagne vinaigrette cuts through the richness of the fondue, while the Marc Kreydenweiss Lerchenberg Pinot Gris from Alsace complements the cheese blend with its rich pear and hazelnut notes.  (Can you tell I’m crazy about this producer!?)

Christmas Eve dinner is always a tough act to follow, but soaking artisanal Italian country bread from Grace Baking in Berkeley overnight in Bud’s Ice Cream Egg Nog—the world’s best commercial eggnog—and farm fresh eggs for French toast on Christmas morning does the trick.