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Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

SAG Awards 2011 Fashion Report

In Fashion, Film, Media, On Location: Out and About in L.A. on January 31, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Who watched the SAG Awards last night? I have to say, it is fascinating to see the difference between how a dress plays out on camera versus in the flesh. In person, Mila Kunis absolutely KILLED IT on the red carpet. Her Alexander McQueen gown was so chic—and the Cartier jewels, all of it, just a show-stopper. Her Black Swan costar Natalie Portman absolutely glowed in a white Azarro gown (was that not the best maternity dress EVER???) and her makeup was stunning, but in photos weirdly the look falls a little flat. Similarly, photos do no justice to one of my very favorite looks of the evening, Claire Danes in a gorgeous floral Louis Vuitton, with little flowers sewn into the bodice and a chic black velvet belt.

True Grit‘s Hailee Steinfeld looked age-appropriate in a neon-striped Prada number, but I’m on the fence about whether this actually worked (below). In theory I like it, but in reality the dress is LOUD. Meanwhile, January Jones was gorgeous in photos in an elegant Carolina Herrera but in person she has gotten so skinny that she looked like a wire hanger poking through the dress.

With the exception of Mila Kunis and the flawless Julianna Margulies in her stunning YSL, red dresses have become such a cliché that they are now officially more boring than black. And speaking of black, Nicole Kidman looked like she was wearing a granny shawl with all that heavy stuff happening in the shoulders and neckline of her dowdy Nina Ricci dress. And is it just me, or did Christina Hendricks look as if she’d borrowed one of Hugh Hefner’s bathrobes? Without doubt, the worst of the evening was Helena Bonham Carter, looking like a Texas madam in Marc Jacobs and featuring a hair tint that—when the light caught it backstage—can only be described as prune.

On the other hand, I found myself a little bit breathless when walking in on the red carpet behind her costar Colin Firth in a Tom Ford tux. The man is just stunning. Also, I may never wash my Lanvin frock again as I brushed shoulders with Christian Bale (who, ladies, was all the more devastatingly handsome in person) and Justin Timberlake, who looked AWESOME in his Simon Spur black 2-button gros grain peak lapel tuxedo and double-stripe tie. For sheer tailoring alone, however, my vote goes to his Social Network costar Andrew Garfield in an exquisite navy Burberry tux. Why do the Brits get this navy thing so right? (Exhibit A: Jude Law, below, navy Dunhill tux, Oscars 2004.)

Who were your favorite hits and misses from the awards?

Sipping Pretty at the SAG Awards

In Drink, Fashion, Film, Media on January 30, 2011 at 8:40 am

It’s been years since I’ve been to an awards show—the last time was covering the Oscars from the red carpet back in 2004, which I have to say was pretty damn exciting. Especially the part where Jude Law and I locked eyes and he said, “Dunhill,” when I asked who made his drop dead gorgeous navy tux. I nearly fell over. This afternoon, I’ll be attending the SAG Awards and I can’t wait to see what everyone is wearing. Yours truly is playing it safe and going short with a charcoal silk drape dress from Lanvin and palest pink 4-inch Louboutins and blood red nails. Best of all, I know what I’ll be drinking! One of my very, very favorites—Taittinger Champagne will be pouring at the event and I am so honored to be their guest. And Suzanne Goin of Lucques/AOC/Tavern is cooking. So excited!!!!

P.S. Nosing around on the SAG auction site (proceeds benefit various children’s charities), there’s a fabby 6L bottle of Taittinger Le Brut Français up for sale that will be signed by actors on the red carpet this afternoon. Who wants to go in on it with me?!

Let Him Eat Cake

In Food on January 27, 2011 at 10:28 am

My husband married me with the clear understanding that ours would a cakeless union. I can count on one hand the number of cakes I’ve baked in my life. But sometimes in a marriage, expectations change and you suddenly find yourself standing over a double boiler whipping egg whites and sugar for your very first Seven Minute Frosting.

Coconut cake is our mutual favorite, and for other people’s birthdays we often order an exemplary version from Sweet Lady Jane on Melrose. For the inaugural run on a coconut cake of my very own, I consulted Martha, Alton, Epicurious et al, but in the end let’s cut the crap. Do I need to be splitting coconuts with a screwdriver? I do not. And if we’re going to be totally honest here, who do we really think makes the best coconut cake? I put my money on Paula Deen. When it comes to butter, sugar and more of both, Paula doesn’t disappoint. Her recipe for Jamie’s Coconut Cake uses a basic cake recipe, subbing in rich coconut milk for regular. (I saved the leftover coconut milk with the design of making a Thai iced coffee for an afternoon indulgence. I mean, if you’re going to go out in a caloric supernova, why stop at cake?) It’s a three-layer situation, which makes icing the thing a little tricky.

I love Paula’s method of poking holes in the cake with the end of a wooden spoon so that the sour cream-coconut filling really seeps into the cake’s layers.

What resulted was pure moist and rich coconut goodness. Even better for breakfast the next morning. Happy belated birthday, my love!

Next up: dealing with my frosting technique.

Night Harvest

In Drink, Out of Town on January 24, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Thank those of you who have emailed about my “Backbreak Mountain” column in the February issue ofBon Appétit magazine! It’s a story that I’ve wanted to write for a very long time now, but I could never have imagined just how much the experience would change the way I felt about a glass of wine. Most of all I am grateful to Doug, John, Elias, David, Uriel, Andy and the Shafer Vineyards team. You guys ROCK. I also wanted to share some photos from that night. Before this experience, I considered my greatest physical accomplishments running the Los Angeles Marathon in close to 90-degree heat and enduring childbirth (in that order). But neither of those events was as physically taxing as picking 11.75 tons of grapes on the side of a mountain in the middle of the night. These photos were taken after about three hours of backbreaking work picking hillside Cabernet Sauvignon in Shafer’s Sunspot vineyard. I lasted about four hours. These guys barely broke a sweat. And then they picked another vineyard. Hard core. Punk rock. And why we love our hillside Cabernet just a little bit more.

Photos by Andy Demsky

Lunch with the Hamilton Russells

In Drink, Food, Out of Town on January 23, 2011 at 11:55 pm

It’s not enough to produce South Africa’s best wines. Or to have one of the most welcoming homes I’ve ever set foot in. Or to be a totally charming couple and warmest of hosts. No, they have to be great cooks, too. Meet Olive and Anthony Hamilton Russell. A week ago I was sitting on their veranda overlooking the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, with a glass of their stunning Chardonnay. I mean, pinch me.

As you drive up to the farm, there are wildflowers are far as the eye can see. They are every bit as chic in a vase on the table.

It was the last day of crayfish season. Lucky, lucky us.

Olive had made an insane risotto, sprinkled with an intense powder ground from five types of mushrooms from their farm. Sometimes she and Anthony take a picnic down to the farm’s forest to hunt for mushrooms. Then Olive oven dries them overnight and grinds them into a fine powder.

There was also roast chicken, green beans with black sesame. And a cheese course with local Gruyère scooped from a big wheel (like Parm) and served with figs from the farm that Olive cures in sugar with ginger.

This time of year the couple harvests honey near the heath and heather on the property, and Olive mixed some of that honey with cream and white chocolate, reduced it for 40 minutes and mixed in slivered almonds and poured over fresh peaches with berries and mint. Served with a glass of 2008 Bisous Noble Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, this was pretty much heaven.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Foodinista!

In Drink, Out of Town on January 20, 2011 at 9:34 pm

See that looker on the left? That’s Mr. Foodinista and his brother as kids in Nantucket. Today (here in South Africa and three hours from now in Los Angeles) is his birthday. And guess who’s in South Africa missing it? Can’t wait to celebrate when I get home on Saturday! Word has it there’s a Stout Float recipe from Alice Medrich in the February 2011 issue of Bon Appétit that might have your name written all over it!

Greetings from South Africa

In Drink, Out of Town on January 18, 2011 at 10:34 pm

If there’s one thing that immediately seduces about South Africa, it has to be the air. Earthy and dusty and wild and occasionally punctuated by sweet incense, it’s totally intoxicating. And the wines? Oh my god. But before we get into my serious Chenin worship, here are few shots from lunch at Rustenberg Wines, high up the Helderberg slope near Stellenbosch in the Western Cape region of South Africa.

See those five trees at the top of the mountain? They’re 80-some-year-old stone pines known as Five Soldiers. We drove to the top to have lunch underneath the pines with owner Simon Barlow.

There was a warm wind blowing throughout lunch. Heaven. And the views? Dreamy. Look at those gorgeous red clay soils.

The wines were pretty spectacular, too. And, yes, that’s a magnum of 1999 Peter Barlow! (Be very, very jealous.) Thank you, Simon. We should do this more often…

Whole Foods Pizza Dough

In Food, Recipes on January 13, 2011 at 6:41 am

Once a week or so, and usually on Thursdays, I grab some fresh pizza dough from Whole Foods and clean out my fridge. Seriously, is there any better way to use leftovers? I first blogged about Whole Foods pizza dough a couple years ago, and to date it remains the most searched and viewed post in Foodinista history! Since then, we’ve tried all sorts of combos and rarely do we repeat, which is half the fun. The thing about pizza is that it’s never bad—just varying shades of great. But sometimes you stumble upon a combination that really knocks it out of the park. Like this one.

First, I always crank up the heat to 500F degrees and cook the pizza dough without toppings for 4 minutes. I had some leftover roasted garlic and red pepper relish, which I spread on the semi-cooked dough. Then I loaded it up with the previous evening’s long-cooked broccoli, big thick shavings of parm, and fresh ricotta. I did cheat in that I picked up a lamb sausage from the butcher earlier that day, which I fried separately and then threw on top along with some cured black olives. And finished with a ton of cracked black pepper.

Back into the oven it goes for about 10 minutes, or until crust is crispy and golden. I loved the salty, smoky, sweet and nutty of this pizza. Would love to hear your favorite combos!

Leaving on a (South African) Jet Plane

In Out of Town on January 12, 2011 at 11:38 pm

Okay, I’ve known tomorrow’s trip was happening for a while, but it somehow kind of snuck up on me and so I found myself frantically racing around town today chasing down the last South African adapter in town (thank you, Flight 001), sleeping pills for the 16-hour flight (thank you, you know who you are), doing LOADS of laundry, while freaking out about a toddler running a fever and a near disaster with a kitchen repair gone wrong. However, in the midst of all this chaos I have to give a shout out to the gorgeous girls this afternoon at Pickett Fences on Larchmont. Thank you for the best service in town, and for making my day! See you on the other side!

A Frock for All Seasons

In Fashion on January 12, 2011 at 1:13 pm

I leave tomorrow morning to fly to the snowy wonderland that is New York. I am only there for one FREEZING night before I catching a flight to South Africa at the crack of dawn. So I have to pack for one night of blizzard and nine days of summer. What’s a girl to do? I’m hoping that Makié Clothier can lend a hand (and while we’re at it—terrific sale happening online as we speak). I just got this sweet little floral pullover dress and it’s cotton so is perfect for SA. But bundled up with some thick APC tights, scarves gallore, and Miu Miu motorcycle boots, will the frock see me through dinner in the snow? Oh—and let’s not forget my very favorite foxy winter accessory, modeled HERE by my foxy friend Andrew. Which begs the question—why aren’t earmuffs more of a thing in NY?