A passion for food + fashion

Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page

Postcards from Billy

In Design, Fashion on November 30, 2009 at 9:31 pm

For the newly initiated, POSTCARDS is recurring feature with fashion advice from my dear friend Billy, an art consultant with a wicked eye and even wickeder wardrobe. In this edition, he takes us shopping in London town, and packs his bags for Art Basel Miami Beach…

Postcards from London

Just back from a whirlwind jaunt to the other side of the pond. My dear Andrew’s family lives in England, so we decided to spend the Thanksgiving holidays in London. The weather was glorious and the shopping was brilliant. As always I limited my spending, since the dollar is still quite weak, but allowed myself to purchase things unavailable in the US. I immediately made my way to Vivienne Westwood, the quintessential UK designer known for her sartorial punk aesthetic mixed with a Union Jack sensibility. Also on the agenda were stops at Uniqlo (only one store currently in the US located in NYC on Broadway) and Top Shop. Both shops provide abundant cheap thrills. Uniqlo is like a Japanese version of H & M, but much higher quality garments. My only other indulgence this trip was Marc Jacobs. Marc is offering numerous accessories at an extremely lower price point which are available only at his stores and not online. Even though I fortunately am often in a city where he has an outpost, I couldn’t resist scoring some nifty black and orange wellie/rain boots. Although, I look a little too Morton Salt Girl and that probably isn’t a good thing.

I also walked out with a chic little tote, an orange tee shirt with his Stinky Rat emblem and a purse for a girlfriend’s Christmas present.

In terms of the art scene, in between shop visits I made time to visit the Tate Britain’s Turner and the Masters exhibition, the Hayward Gallery’s Ed Ruscha 50 Years of Paintings exhibition and the Tate Modern’s Pop Life: Art in a Material World exhibition.

So, on to the bigger topic at hand – a stressful annual trip. In the world of art, it’s the equivalent of a pilgrimage to Mecca – Art Basel Miami Beach. In years past, since my day job is a fundraiser, I’ve had to spend months of advance planning. It was the closet thing to mobilizing troops heading oversees as one can imagine in the museum sphere. We would take our highest level donors, a who’s who of local Bergdorf blonde socialites, octegenerian widows and dilettantes. Believe me when I say that this is not an easy crowd to please.

Packing for this barrage of chic events – which include edgy beach concerts (Scissor Sisters and Peaches have performed in years past), fashion shows and poolside cocktail parties thrown by the abundance of Brazillionaires – is thought through for weeks prior. Dear Andrew still marvels at the fact that not only do I have a list made up of the each individual piece that makes the trip, but also all of the day and evening outfits fully coordinated.

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Top Shelf

In Design on November 30, 2009 at 6:36 pm

We are leaning decidedly in the direction of renovating the garage—a prospect that both excites and terrifies me given that the trauma of our last remodel has yet to fully dissipate. I’ve been sketching out ideas for the garage’s exterior nip and tuck, which involves adding French doors to let in more light, and am now starting to think about the actual office space inside. If I am really, really nice to my husband, I think I can make a convincing case for splurging on Farrow & Ball Dix Blue paint for the walls. It is just one room after all. However, I don’t think I’m going to be able to justify two of these Decker Bookshelves at $998 a pop—and made of mango wood (mango wood!) and iron. But will built-ins be any less $$?

Tiny G’s Holiday Gift Guide

In Baby Love on November 30, 2009 at 8:40 am

With the holiday season upon us, Tiny G wanted to share a few of his favorite things for the stylish mister about town. Clockwise from top left:

Eames Plastic Elephant, $290. Eames has reissued this classic design (originally issued in plywood) in plastic, making it extra durable. Plus, it can go outside. This is the one item on the list Tiny G does not have, and he may have to settle for a lump of coal instead. We’ll see.

Tea Collection “Nippon Pullover,” $65. Tiny G’s latest fave, this 100% Pima cotton pullover is perfect for L.A. weather and totally machine washable.

Chomp & Clack Alligator Push Toy, $50. Somebody crawls at the speed of light, but at 16 1/2 months has yet to walk. He’s taking his sweet time about those first hands-free steps. In the meantime, he is crazy about walking around the house with the help of a developmental wooden push toy from Melissa & Doug. Fantastic for toddlers 11 months and up. It’s incredibly well made, sturdy and a huge hit with the little ones. Tiny G’s younger lady friend, Hazel, is also a fan.

Crocodile Creek 7-inch Dinosaurs Playball, $9. We got this awesome rubber ball on Larchmont Blvd when Tiny G was about 11 months old, and it has been the toy in heaviest demand and rotation ever since. Tiny G might not be walking yet, but his hand-eye coordination with a ball is pretty tough stuff!

Cozy Fleece Hat, $12. This fleece hat just went on sale over at Hanna Andersson and is the BOMB. Super soft and all important—machine washable.

Bear Snores On, $8. This classic board book was a present from a family friend, and is Tiny G’s absolute fave. Last night I tried to read him another book, which he took and threw and then reached for Bear Snores On. Nope, don’t think bratty behavior is all that cute, but I see where he’s coming from. The rhythm of the text is great. Love this book and don’t mind reading it every damn night.

Sigg Kids Water Bottle, $18. I learned the hard way that you have to try several different types of sippy cups before you land on one your kid likes. The Sigg is Tiny G’s preferred bottle, and that’s a good thing because it’s non-toxic, durable should someone throw it out of a stroller onto a cement sidewalk, and a green choice you can feel great about.

Hanna Andersson Sleeper, $38.  The best pjs on the planet and although the price tag is steep, worth every cent. (Not to mention, you can snap them up on sale every few months as new patterns/colors are introduced.) Thanks to his grandmother, who sends a pair or two of these organic cotton pjs every few months, Tiny G is kitted out with a variety of colors. His mom and dad may or may not have coordinating long johns, too.

Ho, Ho, Ho and a Bottle of Rum

In Design, Drink on November 29, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Having grown up in Napa Valley, I—like most residents from the area—have an aversion to all things grape-themed, with one exception: grapevine wreaths. I love the organic simplicity of these gorgeous wreaths from Napa Valley Grapevine Wreath Company, hand-crafted from clippings from Cabernet Sauvignon vines. My mother hangs two enormous 36-inch wreaths from the lofts overlooking the living room each Christmas. This year, we’ve ordered an 18-inch wreath for our front door, a bargain at $22 especially considering that it will look gorgeous for years to come. Compare that with wreaths overwrought with pomegranates and faux berry sprigs at Restoration Hardware, starting at $69 and up, or live magnolia and boxwood wreaths that’ll last a few weeks at best, from Pottery Barn for $100. I’m pocketing the extra cash and spending it on a splurgy bottle of aged Ron Zacapa rum for the eggnog. It’s super smooth, and tastes like brown sugar, vanilla and spice…ho, ho, ho, and a bottle of rum!

A Slice of Heaven

In Drink, Food on November 28, 2009 at 10:19 am

This is pecan pie perfection, complete with boozy bourbon whipped cream and a toasted pecan atop. The filling comes from this awesome Bon Appétit recipe for Bourbon-Pecan Tart. My sister made this heavenly pie as well as a pumpkin pie featuring her secret spice blend. So while, I don’t have her pumpkin recipe, I can give you a behind-the-scene glimpse of Claire’s pie prowess, starting with the pecan:

And while the pecan pie bakes, check out the fancy dough work with the leaves on the pumpkin pie crust:

And then a liberal splash of Maker’s Mark into the whipped cream, which complements both the pumpkin and pecan pies.

Best of all, the spiked whipped cream makes for a delightful pick-me-up in coffee the next morning:

Saucy and Spicy

In Food on November 27, 2009 at 5:56 pm

Hope everyone’s Thanksgiving was gluttonous and glorious! Ours came together wonderfully, thanks to team work and some tried and true favorites (I’ll post more pics later this weekend—or maybe I’ll save them for next year). But the surprise hit of the evening was this Roasted Cranberry Sauce, which our friend Vincent brought. I’ve mentioned that we’ve never quite hit on one we loved. Until now. Even my dad—whom I have never seen eat cranberry—asked for seconds. Vincent says it’s quite beautiful to watch roasting, as the cranberries start to bubble and burst in the oven. The juicy berries then get tossed with orange juice and port. Mmm. The spices were inspired, as was the zesty orange peel and subtle heat from a hit of jalapeño. I’m tempted to make another batch to see us through turkey sandwiches for the weekend. Thank you, Vincent!

Naughty, but Nice

In Food on November 25, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Oh my, my. This morning I braved a prodigious line at La Brea Bakery and managed to secure the very last loaf of brioche. I had George behind the counter (he is the BEST) slice half of it, and leave the remaining half intact so as not to dry out. Tonight we’ll be having sliced brioche with a pot of foie gras that my parents brought down from Bouchon Napa Valley. The rest of the brioche will be hosting turkey/stuffing sandwiches on Friday. That is, if little Sabine (my parents’ new puppy) doesn’t make off with the brioche first…

Le Bird est arrivé!

In Food on November 24, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Yes, our 10.5 lb Frank R. Reese Jr heritage bird is here, having winged its way to Windsor Square, Los Angeles, traveling untold distances from Good Shepherd Turkey Ranch in Tampa, KS. But not without first being delivered earlier this morning to the wrong address in another ZIP CODE, which necessitated The Foodinista driving to retrieve it from the 10th floor of a high-rise office building (thank you very little, Heritage Foods USA). Just as last year, the bird emerged from an insulated silver-lined flight vessel:

As you can see, the bird loves metallics. Here it is in the sink, post rinse:

Then, using Russ Parson’s dry-brining technique outlined in the Los Angeles Times, I mixed two generous tablespoons of kosher salt with some ground dried sage and cracked black pepper and sprinkled over the bird.

Then the bird goes into a turkey bag, and sits in the fridge until show time on Thursday…

And to Drink?

In Drink on November 24, 2009 at 12:05 pm

I’m anxiously awaiting the delivery of our heritage bird via FedEx. Last year, it arrived wearing a silver Prada Sport-inspired aluminized bubble wrap to keep Tom cool. (And at those prices—$129 for a 10-12 lb bird—I hope it was Prada.) While we wait for this year’s fashionable arrival, let’s talk about what we’re going to drink on Thursday!

I’m torn because my father is a hard-core White Burgundy fan, and my sister is a Russian River Pinot Noir devotée. My husband likes California Chardonnay, and I’d rather be drinking Alsatian Riesling, but would be thrilled with a bottle of Lopez Heredia “Viña Tondonia” Rosado Rioja—an earthy, nutty and fruity Spanish rosé. In fact, Spanish wines in general—red, white, pink, bubbly—are a great choice for Thanksgiving since they have both that Old World minerality and earthiness, and that New World fruitiness. (For more on this, check out my Thanksgiving Wine piece in the November 2009 issue of Bon Appétit Magazine.) I was loving Lopez Heredia rosé all summer after my friend Dudley introduced me to it, and the love affair continues well into fall…

Of course, the one area on which we all agree is Champagne to start, particularly blanc de blancs, which is made with 100% Chardonnay grapes. I’m thinking either a Ruinart or Henriot would be perfect with the smoked salmon & crème fraîche app we’re planning. Cheers to Thanksgiving!

Got Crabbies?

In Food, On Location: Out and About in L.A., Recipes on November 23, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Last night we went to our friends Lizzie and Matt’s to watch the Lakers game (on an enormous TV that is thin as a wafer) and eat pizza (and by pizza, I mean boxes and boxes of heavenly ‘za from Mozza2Go) and drink Shafer Merlot. Totally slumming it, right?

Their apartment is insane—killer moldings, vintage chandelier, a TURRET and a Juliet balcony, for crying out loud (I can’t even tell you how jealous I am about that turret). What you can’t see in the below photo of their balcony is that right behind the photographer is a freaking TURRET.

photo via designwatcher.com

Anyway, turrets and crown molding aside, I am newly obsessed with Crabbies, a delectable hors d’oeuvres served last night. It involves processed cheese, crab, English muffins and mayo. I mean, sign me UP. I’m proposing that we rename them Crackies, because they are that addictive. The recipe is a favorite with Matt’s family, and now with The Foodinista, who ate the lion’s share of these cheesy-crabby little devils last night. A perfect pairing with Shafer Merlot…

Here’s the recipe, straight from Matt’s mom, who was able to recite from memory over the phone:


6 English Muffins, sliced in half

mix in bowl:

1 can of crab
1 jar of Old English cheese (nuke it for 15 secs to get it out of the jar easily)
1 stick butter, softened
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Season Salt
1/2 teaspoon salt

Spread on English Muffins, then put them in the freezer for 8 minutes (this allows it to harden a bit for easier slicing). Slice into 1/8s or 1/4s triangles. Put them on cookie sheet, and broil on high for 5-7 minutes depending on how well done you like your Crabbies.

Oh, and speaking of crustaceans, check out this guy, whom I found milling about by the stove…