Sunday, December 19, 2010

Getting in the Spirit

I absolutely adore Christmas, but this year you'd never know it.  The holiday has barely registered with me.  I've been preoccupied with work so my kitchen has been cold for an uncommonly long time, the holiday parties I've attended have been fun but oddly devoid of Christmas decor, and although I've been haunting the department stores in search of a wedding dress it's the massive shoe sales that have caught my eye rather than the holidays windows.

But somehow this weekend the tide turned.  I'm headed to California on Tuesday, so now that I'm preparing for the trip it's really feeling like Christmas.  I spent the weekend running about doing last minute shopping, and taking full advantage of the very serious sale at Kate's Paperie and a considerably smaller one at the Conran Shop which has the cutest gift tags ever.  I spent Sunday morning wrapping presents with my loot from the shopping trip

and appropriately enough, Nigella's Christmas special was on at the time.

Now that is a woman who knows how to do Christmas.

In addition to her be-lighted and be-boughed townhouse, she's preserving dried fruits in booze,

roasting prime rib,

icing cookies (I was absolutely jealous...I barely even have bread in the house now)

and entertaining her sparkling circle of friends effortlessly.

After watching that show I was well and truly on the holiday bandwagon.

Now that my Christmas spirit has been ignited, my gifts are in order, my laundry done, my apartment clean and my work in hand, I'm free to revel in the holidays on the fairer coast with my family.  I'm looking forward to that roaring fire, the scent of the tree, the poppyseed bread on Christmas morning and that lazy time with my nearest and dearest.

I can't wait!  Happy Holidays to you all!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's All Coming Together...Sort Of

After months of inaction, Paul and I have, in the last month or so, made a lot of progress on our wedding planning.  A church has been secured, a restaurant rented and I've narrowed down the choices for the party venue.  But that said, there's a fair amount left to do.  Finding a dress, for instance.  After four hours of shopping today at just about every spot worth visiting in midtown, I'm perhaps a centimeter closer to finding something than I was when I woke up this morning.

But one thing that I have no worries about is the invitations.

I was never someone that dreamed of a very specific wedding day from the time I was a wee thing, but I did have ideas about certain, relatively random things.  Flowers for instance.  I've loved Saipua's relaxed, wildflower vibe for as long as they've been in business.  So I booked her early.  And after a quick spin through the world of wedding invitations I realized I hated just about everything, so I pleaded to Sarah from Saipua for help.  And did she ever come through.

She pointed me in the direction of a young illustrator named Asheley Wilson who works in fabulous flower stores all over town (and Brooklyn).  Paul and I met her for coffee and were utterly charmed.  She was positive, open to our ideas, totally non-judgmental about our modest budget, not to mention cute as a button.

Since we have more out of towners than in-towners coming to the wedding, we wanted sort of a vacation, destination wedding vibe, since for most of our guests it will be.  Asheley was all over it and came back with this:

A postcard...brilliant!

Paul was thrilled because it was colorful, I was thrilled because it was un-frilly but fun.  And we were both thrilled with the speed with which she pulled it off.

She's drawing away now on actual invitation ideas...I'm waiting in breathless anticipation to see what she comes up with.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Favorite Appliance EVER

New York has fallen under an arctic chill, far more extreme than is normal for early December.  And I have fallen under a mountain of meetings and work from which I have only barely emerged.  A weekend of fabulous parties, the best of which was the beautiful engagement party that Zenia threw for me and Paul, left me a tad depleted.  And a semi-late night out at the Bowery Ballroom last night only compounded the drain.

But luckily, tonight I can laze around watching TV and reacquainting myself with the miracle appliance that is my rice maker.  Paul left for England today so I'm free to have the kind of odd, ad hoc dinners that one has in complete single-girl solitude.

Since Chief didn't eat any of the items on their rider at the Bowery Ballroom, and Paul is loathe to let anything go to waste, I have two pounds of cold cuts and one pound of swiss cheese sitting in my refrigerator.  And a rice cooker just itching to make use of them.

After cooking the rice and throwing in a few vegetables and black vinegar (I was out of soy sauce so it was the next best thing), it was time for the turkey.

And then time for the cheese

And then it was time for dinner eaten out of a bowl on the couch while catching up on Dexter with a big glass of red wine at hand.

I first got the idea for this melted cheese with rice and veggies and soy sauce from Kenny Shopsin,  and I amended his recipe to make use of the rice cooker rather than the microwave.  How fitting that the ultimate "I don't care what anyone thinks of me eating this low down dirty dinner" recipe comes from the ultimate "I don't care what anyone thinks about me at all" guy.

I'm already thinking of random delicious things to throw in it tomorrow night...

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Sadly, I didn't make it back to the homeland this year for Thanksgiving.  

As alluring as the prospect of the holiday in California is, the airfares were verging on offensive this year, and between the travails of traveling at the same time as 100 million people and the fact that I'll be home in a few weeks for Christmas, Paul and I opted for a staycation this time around.

With all of the downtime the lack of travel afforded us, I had time to reflect, tritely enough, on those things in my life that I'm grateful for.  Tying for first place are my smart, hilarious and soulful boyfriend, my family who I like so much (love is a given with family, like is not always) that I miss them terribly when we're not together at the holidays, and my wonderful friends, a second family that more than fill in when the first one can't be around.

I'm also grateful for all of those cocktails in living rooms on Thanksgiving day, for the dinner at Five Points that we eventually made it to that night (especially that baked oyster appetizer), and for the apple pie that Paul brought home Wednesday evening so we could approximate leftover nibbling in the days after Thanksgiving.

I'm grateful that Paul and I get to throw a party for our nearest and dearest in a few months, that we get to go on a honeymoon to a faraway land together (any India travel suggestions by the way?) and that we get to come home afterwards to a comfortable home.

And I'm grateful for those of you who come here to listen to my ramblings, to exchange thoughts, to show me new ideas, new links, new concepts.  My life is so much richer for it.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Down in the Neighborhood

When I first moved to New York there was nothing I liked better than trying every new restaurant and bar that I could fit into my schedule.  But now that the "new" places feel less new to me (everything seems to recycle itself eventually) I'm becoming increasingly attached to places that I consider neighborhood spots, that one can become a regular at.

Paul and I have lived above Les Halles for years, and for us it is the ultimate neighborhood joint.  Cheap (sort of) and cheerful, I know the menu by heart and always order one of two things - moules mouclade (with fries, please) or merguez sausage.  And the desserts never disappoint.  For those nights when something more casual is in order, we can always count on the Roxy Diner across the street for a good grilled cheese.

But for the longest time I went without a regular spot near my office.  Perhaps because in past jobs I didn't go to lunch much, perhaps because office districts often have uninspiring dining options.  But now that I work in one of the most culinarily exciting spots in the city and my job performance is improved considerably when I know all of the gossip, which is most effectively gleaned over a good plate of food, I have no excuse not to find a place to make my own.

Novita, a mere three blocks up Park Avenue from my office, has become my home away from home during the lunch hour.

It is a perfect place to bring new acquaintances, as Italian food goes over well with most everyone, and can accommodate most every food idiosyncrasy that might present itself.  It is a perfect spot to gossip since it is quiet enough to hear and be heard, but lively enough that the table next to you can't eavesdrop too easily.  The crowd is decorous but not stuffy, and you do not get the feeling that the place was conceived of with expense accounts in mind.

The pasta is superb (as winter approaches I will be indulging in the fabulous lamb ragu more and more often), the fish is fresh and uncomplicated, and stalwarts like the veal milanese please even the fussiest of eaters.  But perhaps most refreshing of all, the portions are normal, not nouveau.  You order monkfish and you get hunks of fish, not medallions.  You order a pasta and it is a meal portion, not a pre-entree portion.  And I have never been presented with an up-selling waiter, encouraging me to order a multi-course lunch when all I want is a brief bite.  In fact, the same lovely, welcoming man waits on me each time I set foot in the place.  As it should be at your local.

And now that I've discovered that Mario Cuomo is a regular as well, I feel all the more smug having designated myself as one...

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I love giving gifts.  When I've hit on the perfect item for someone, I know it and I get joy from it.  I'm not someone who shops for Christmas all year long or anything, but I do put quite a bit of thought into each gift giving occasion and each gift recipient.

The first gift I remember getting for Paul was a rare-ish Tom Waits poster that I had noticed him admiring at Amoeba Records.  I picked it up for his birthday.  It was a tad more than I was used to spending on gifts at the time, but I've never seen someone appreciate a present more, and to this day it occupies a prominent spot on our living room wall, and I love it nearly as much as he does.

And last Christmas, I recalled that my dad was having a Richard Avedon moment, as he had visited the Avedon exhibit at SFMOMA not once but twice, so I chased all over town trying to grab the last copy of a gorgeous Avedon book, which brought me to a Barnes & Noble in Brooklyn in the end.  And he loved it, and I didn't mind the quest because he loved it.

Now I don't want to imply that I always hit it out of the park.  There have been some rather big misses along the way.  I once knit my sister a hat covered in silver paillettes for Christmas, which she found in my suitcase and mercilessly mocked, thinking it was mine.  And then there were the tiny metal bird feet that I thought were so fabulously gothic and got for everyone one Christmas, and no one got them at all.  I got a lot of, "oh, I think perhaps we're missing a piece?" type questions.

But it really is weddings that I think are the ultimate gift giving occasions.  Marriage is a fabulous thing, and the love of a couple is something that should be celebrated with a lovely gift that can be cherished for years.  I have a rather bad habit of eschewing the registry...I can't ever imagine that people really want the casserole dishes and bar ware, so I usually go off script, probably to slightly mixed results.

I've given everything from cases of wine from Sherry Lehman to cookbooks with cards listing my favorite recipes from each to cash, if that is the preferred option.  I often go to the wedding before purchasing the gift, as sometimes I get an idea of what to give from the speeches or party somehow.

But at the last wedding I attended I was stumped, absolutely stumped.  Which was odd, as the groom is quite a good friend of mine so I in theory should know what he likes.  But I had no idea what the two of them would like, you see.  So I did what any sensible girl does in a pinch...I called my mom.  And she, always a favor of practical, high quality gifts, steered me in the direction of a Japanese knife store in Berkeley.

This probably sounds like an odd idea, but I assure you, a really good knife is one of the more ultimate luxuries around, and in that respect a really good knife makes a wonderful gift.  So I went on the website of Hida Tool, and began to browse.  And browse.  It took me a good couple of days to make up my mind actually.  I was so baffled by all of the choices that I went purely by looks.  So I ordered a sashimi knife, a chef's knife and a small petty knife, all gorgeous.

So I placed my order, and they called me to confirm it and get my credit card information.  I found myself speaking with a man who sounded old and Japanese, and by the time I had gotten off the phone with him I had a much more appropriate set of knives than what I had chosen originally, and was spending less than I had planned.  He talked me out of the sashimi knife (do they make sushi he asked?  No.  Don't get the knife then) and suggested I upgrade the chef's knife to a model that he seemed nearly to revere.  Such service!  Doesn't happen much these days.

Shortly thereafter, I received two incredible knives in the mail, which I promptly wrapped up and dropped by the new couple's apartment.  I was happy that they would have a good home, but highly depressed that I wouldn't be able to enjoy them and their oh so sharp blades and polished wood handles. I simply must make a trip to see Mr. Hida when I'm home for Christmas.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Estate Jewels

I have to admit that there is a part of me that finds the whole engagement ring tradition ridiculous.  I imagine that it originated in days when marriageability was a woman's main asset, when some sort of commitment from her intended was necessary in order to maintain an aura of propriety, or to indicate his ability to support a family.  It is a tradition that doesn't reflect the times in which we live now.

But that said, once engaged I was powerless against the societal pressure to have a ring, and I was nearly as powerless against the promise of beautiful jewelry adorning my hand.  Thankfully, Paul has excellent taste, so that promise was indeed fulfilled.

He found a ring that looks like no other engagement ring I've ever seen, that doesn't blatantly advertise its carats and price, but that I find to be endlessly elegant and beautiful and creative.  I'm sure that at some point I'll stop gazing gratuitously at the diamonds and emeralds that now grace my ring finger, but that point hasn't yet arrived, and probably won't for quite some time.

My only request was that I didn't want a ring that looked like everyone else's, that looked as though it had come straight off of 47th Street in the diamond district.  So he headed downtown instead.  Way downtown, to an estate jeweler on the lower east side called Doyle & Doyle, officially my new favorite browsing spot.

If the term "estate jeweler" conjures up visions of a fusty, uptight operation, I assure you that is not the case here.  The employees are all pretty young things working alongside a hipster sound track in a bright, open space.  The girls are utterly sweet...there were many oohs and aahs over my new engagement when I brought the ring in to be sized...and totally knowledgeable and professional.

The range of price points is wide, and perhaps best of all, the prices are posted next to the jewels on display, so you know right away whether a piece is worth your time to admire or whether it is too far out of reach to be pondered.  I love this attempt to take the intimidation factor out of fine jewelry shopping.

And as the pieces are almost all antique, you won't find yourself bumping into someone with your ring, necklace or bracelet, a tough feat in a town with such champion shoppers as New York has!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

All the Different Weddings

Since the day that Paul proposed I've been thrilled to marry him, but I have to admit we've been slow to plan the actual wedding.  When I tell people that the big day is in April, the question to follow is always, where are you doing it?  How's the planning going?  And when I tell them that I'm still in the "research" phase (but I have my invitations and flowers nailed down!) there's always a brief look of horror that crosses their faces.  I personally don't see a problem with planning what is essentially a small series of parties five months in advance rather than twelve months in advance, but this is New York after all.  People here like to do things to the extreme.

So, in addition to my exhaustive research on restaurants and party spaces (which I really am doing, I promise) I have also, in a nod to the wedding gods and over involved acquaintances, entered the vortex of wedding blogs.

For those uninitiated, these blogs feature "real weddings" from around the country, with a few DIY tips and the like thrown in for good measure.  While reading such postings I alternate between a feeling of total alienation (I struggle to identify with the couples who pose running through fields of wildflowers towards their masses of matching bridesmaids) and total intimidation.

I mean, how could my wedding ever be as fun as this one,

where a hilarious friend officiated and Brazilian dancers were only one of many bits of entertainment?

And how could my food ever be as good as at this one,

where nearly whole animals were roasted in a gorgeous outdoor scene?

And how could my venue ever be as spectacular as this one,

where the bride and groom celebrated with their nearest and dearest in a picturesque town in France?

They're all so...ugh...perfect.

All I can say is thank goodness for East Side Bride.  When I came across this site I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  Today she's talking about man tea parties (apparently they involve scruffy guys from Brooklyn and tinned sardines), the other day she was convincing a panicked bride to be that planning a wedding in two months was no big deal (I know, right?!), and a while back she was advocating for tie dyed wedding dresses.  But only if your husband to be will think you hot in it.  I love her irreverence, her non-conformist tendencies, the lack of professional wedding photography on her website.  After I'm done panicking at the sight of all the new incredible "real life weddings" each day, her site provides me solace and sanity.  Thank you kind East Side Bride lady.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

British Preserves

I have a particular weakness for british cookbooks.  I like that the food is just that little bit different, requiring slightly exotic items like golden syrup to make slightly exotic things like sticky toffee pudding, I love that the quantities are quoted in weight rather than measure (with a digital scale on hand I cannot tell you how much easier this is than all of those measuring cups) and who can resist the descriptions of vibrant markets in London or charming countryside establishments that invariably make their way into the text accompanying the recipes.

I have long avowed my love for Nigel Slater, Nigella Lawson, and the River Cafe ladies, but my deepest British crush at the moment is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, thanks to his incredible beet chocolate brownie recipe in River Cottage Everyday.  So when The River Cottage Preserves Handbook, named after Hugh F-W's homestead, was recommended to me, I nigh ran to the library to pick it up.

Now I will tell you that my mother has a major complaint about the various River Cottage handbooks...their format is perfectly suited to a handbook, but ill suited to a cookbook...and as a result she has practically boycotted them.  She does have a point.  The volumes are quite small and the binding does not allow them to fall open, and remain open, on your favorite (or any) recipe.  But this is a flaw that can be overcome with a can of coconut milk (in my case) lain across the binding to hold it open.

Once this solution was employed, I was free to enjoy the recipes.  And boy did I.

pickled spiced pears

Oftentimes when I peruse preserves books at anytime other than high fruit season I find myself depressed.  But this book has got more gorgeous recipes for the cool months than it does for the warm...pear chutneys, apple curd, dried fig mostarda...River Cottage has made cool and dreary fabulous (although I suppose that given the book's English provenance this could be called making a virtue out of necessity).  How cute are my pickled pears?  So delicious.  Tangy and sweet, I am determined to bring them home for Christmas to be eaten alongside roasted meats.  I can't wait to give the mulled pear recipe a try next.

I always love the hot peppers from the folks at Oak Grove Plantation at the Greenmarket, but this is the first year I've really had anything to do with them.

chile pepper jam and apple lemon curd

This chile pepper jam is absolutely to die for.  It tastes like an haute version of that sweet chile sauce that you sometimes find in Chinese restaurants, and would be fantastic on a turkey sandwich the day after one of the upcoming holidays.  And the apple lemon curd alongside it?  I've been spreading it on toast for breakfast nearly everyday since I made it.  Tart and just sweet enough and rich and luxuriant, I have, embarrassingly enough, resorted on occasion to a spoon in the jar while standing in front of the refrigerator.  

This is one of those rare books that continues to intrigue long after I've made the first few recipes...I've got visions of pumpkins and quince and beets and onions and plums in my cupboard in the form of compote and relish and chutney and cordial and marmalade, courtesy of the brilliance of the River Cottage.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's Official

Fall has a certain romance to it, just I suppose, as does spring.  And everyone has a favorite way of marking the transition to the new season.  Perhaps it is the first day you switch from your cotton blazer to your leather jacket, maybe it is when the final tomatoes of the season have left the market and apples take their place, or perhaps it is the first day that you wake up at your normal time and the sun has not fully risen.

For me it's slightly different.  The first day of my fall is the first night we don't have to run the air conditioner in the bedroom.  Our bedroom runs hot since the room has no windows, which means that we have to do odd things like run a humidifier (I'm totally in love with our new one, I find it adorable) to combat the dry fall air simultaneously with the air conditioner to combat the heat.  It also means that I don't pick up on the start of fall until about six weeks after it has occurred.  But no matter, the air conditioner-free day has finally occurred.

The days are well and truly crisp, and the nights are bordering on cold.  Which has me thinking about cozy evenings curled up on the couch with a glass of wine and a good movie.  As I was conjuring up this idyllic scene I realized that any and all outfits that I have to go with it are tragic.  Old yoga pants, Paul's sweatshirts which are many sizes too large for me (but oh so comfy)...not a good look for a gorgeous yet nippy evening.

Cashmere is really more the move than pilling cotton, don't you think?  Like this luxe, softer than soft take on harem pants.

Naturally paired with this devastatingly comfy cardigan.  With this in my lounging arsenal I might never leave the house.

See how these two items simply belong together?

I mean how warm and happy does she look?

But I simply can't stand socks without shoes, so to keep my tootsies warm I would have to top the ensemble off with these slippers, an appropriate nod to my tiny bit of Russian/Polish (no one really knows which one it is) heritage.

And for the next big transition?  I am officially coveting this linen nightshirt for the warming trend that will occur six months from now.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Routine

One of my favorite features in the Sunday New York Times is in the Metropolitan section (which, oddly, is my least favorite section) and it describes the typical Sunday of various local celebs.  I suppose I like it because everyone really does have a Sunday routine, and it's always interesting to see how mine compares with the rest of the world's.  Since it is doubtful that the New York Times will be asking me about my weekend anytime soon, I'll post my own Sunday Routine column here.

MORNING GAME  During soccer season, Paul sets the alarm so he's up in time to watch his beloved Manchester United play, which means we're both up by 8:00 or 9:00.

BAKED GOODS  Unless the weather's too hot, I'll usually bake something for breakfast.  For a while it was chocolate brioche each week, but lately I've been branching out.  Today I made Dorie Greenspan's apple cake, and it was perfection.

POLITICS  I am obsessed with the Sunday morning political talk shows, so once soccer is over, the TV is mine for an hour or two.  My favorite is Christiane Amanpour on ABC so I never miss her, but I usually watch David Gregory as well.

BREAD  Since I was raised in the Bay Area I've been absolutely spoiled when it comes to bread.  I cannot find a decent loaf in New York.  A tragedy.  So I make my own.  Often I've started it the day before so I just take the loaves out of the fridge and pop them in the oven.  Today, I gave this recipe from the new Tartine bread book a try.  It was a rousing success.

INDIAN  Paul's an absolute indian food freak, so sometimes he persuades me to accompany him to his favorite lunch buffet spot, Salaam Bombay in Tribeca.  If I can't be persuaded, he scours the city until someone agrees to it.

FOOD  After either Salaam or Christiane, depending on my mood, I head out for a little light grocery shopping to supplement whatever I picked up the day before at the farmer's market.  If we're having friends over for dinner I'm shopping for dinner, if not I'm shopping for the week's lunches.  I hate paying for mediocre lunch food so try to brown bag it as much as possible.  Today I made a chicken b'stilla...

and a provencal vegetable soup.

Both courtesy of Ms. Greenspan's new cookbook, which I've got on loan from the library at the moment but which I will be buying anytime now.

PREMIUM CABLE  In the evening we either host a mini TV marathon or go to a friend's place in Tribeca to watch one.  Boardwalk Empire is an absolute must, as is Dexter.  I usually end up going to bed later than one probably should the night before the first day of the workweek, but no matter, I turn in early on Monday.

What do your Sundays look like?

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Growing up, I used to look forward to the arrival of the mail each afternoon.  It wasn't that I was looking forward to a flood of letters or postcards, as more often than not, there were no such items addressed to me.  But I loved looking through the avalanche of catalogues that used to come.  Spiegel was the height of sophistication, Victoria's Secret, which I used to have to fight my dad over, seemed like the key to relations with the opposite sex, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art Shop catalogue told of the bastion of culture that (to me) was the east coast.

There were less interesting ones that came as well...those that peddled knick knacks, personalized address labels adorned with flowers and cheesy tween clothing.  And then there were those that were just hilarious, and the funniest one of the bunch was the Vermont Country Store catalogue.

Printed on a material resembling newspaper, the catalogue looked like something out of the 19th century.  The items available included flannel nightgowns, girdles, multiple implements that would allow one to perform personal grooming tasks without having to bend over, orthopedic shoes, and Blackjack chewing gum.  How did my mother get on this mailing list?  Two reasons.  One, the Vermont Country Store carried the nightgowns that my grandma liked (no one else had manufactured them since 1959) and which my mom bought for her, and two, they carried Carmichael's Cuticle Cream.

Carmichael's is essentially a small pot of beeswax.  In theory it is meant to soften raggedy, hardened cuticles, which is does brilliantly, but I use it for just about everything.  Lip balm, eyebrow grooming, chapped hands, to soothe a dry nose during a cold, even as eye cream in a pinch.  Why this product isn't on every beauty essentials list I'll never know.

For nearly as long as I can remember, or perhaps just since I left home, my parents have put one of these little pots in my Christmas stocking.  One pot will last you far longer than a year, so I never ever ran out, and as a result took it for granted.  But for some reason there has been no Carmichael's in my last few Christmas stockings, and I have tragically just exhausted my last little pot.

I am at sea without it.  No reliable nighttime lip moisturizer, my cuticles are a mess, and my eyebrows are looking a bit too wild for polite company.  Hence this post.  As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and in this case absence has made the heart grow desperate.  A trip uptown to Caswell Massey to purchase a multi-year supply is imminent!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Party Time

It is fashionable to lament the death of the "epic party", sometimes in the same breath as people lament the death of New York nightlife.  Truman Capote's Black and White party is often the prime example of the time gone by, but as that is often the only example that is cited, I wonder if it was in fact part of some great party pattern that was present in decades past or whether it was a high point in an otherwise dull landscape.

But that said, I have spent nearly ten years in New York and during that time, in what is supposedly a highly happening city, I have only been to two truly noteworthy parties.

Noteworthy Night #1 - One evening I found myself on Liberty Island, which a Russian vodka company had rented to host their product's American launch.  I shared a ferry boat with a bunch of supermodels over to the island, where I drank champagne and ate caviar in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.  After much wandering and oohing and ahhing at my fellow guests, the night ended with everyone sprawled on the ground on massive Moroccan cushions dining on Russian delicacies while watching fireworks over Manhattan.  As you can perhaps guess, this was at the beginning of the silly money era in New York, and spending was becoming insanely free flowing.  I was riding the wave.

Noteworthy Night #2 - Just as the (economic) world was starting to fall apart, I attended a party that had to be the last gasp (for a little while at least) of the freewheeling, flush times.  Bono was hosting an event for his Red charity, and although Paul and I, as mere plebes without millions in the bank, were not invited to the actual money making event (an auction at Larry Gagosian's gallery), we were invited to the myriad after parties (aka the best part of the night).  Up at Sotheby's I found myself shoulder to shoulder with Ed Norton, Paul wrangled a photo of himself with Dennis Hopper and we both found ourselves mere feet from Bono when he took to the tiny stage and played Beatles songs with The Hours.  The night moved on to the newly reopened rooftop at the Gramercy Hotel where Bono stalking commenced, and we finished the night (and spent part of the next morning) downtown at The Box at a table with Damien Hirst.  The intense glamor juxtaposed with the tanking economy gave the night a particular poignance.

But as much fun as I had those nights, no one will be talking about them decades hence.  In fact, almost no party that I can think of during my time in New York will be memorialized in the history books.  So I got to thinking, maybe the nay sayers had it right.  Maybe I have missed out on the glorious party years.

But then something came about that gave me hope.  And it was, as is so often the case, the brainchild of Carine Roitfeld, the editor of French Vogue whom I worship from afar (I'm not the only one...the woman has blogs dedicated to her for goodness sake!).  It was Vogue's 90th Anniversary party.

Held in a mansion in Paris, where guests were required to dress up in masquerade gear, it sounded like something out of a fantastical movie (Eyes Wide Shut as it Turns Out).  I breathlessly read Garance's tale of her lost invite, and then her tale of the party itself.

chicest masks of the night

coolest dress of the night

most elaborate skirt of the night

my favorite dress of the night...if I had the courage to do it I'd get married in this outfit

the fabulous creature that is Anna Dello Russo...according to Garance she could barely move in this outfit but it is worth the pain I think

Leigh Lezark...who would have thought when she starting DJing in New York a few years back she'd be here now?

straight out of twisted Alice and Wonderland, Suzy Menkes and Jean Paul Gaultier

thank god Giselle didn't cover up too much of that gorgeous face

Queen Diane

Mama Roitfeld and son

all photos via here

I read about the night in the New York Times...the man who had lashed a mirror to his face, the antics in the courtyard, the decadence, the beauty, the all reeked of art and imagination and an intense commitment to beauty and fun.  

Although we have parties that embody these qualities on a small scale here in New York, we're lacking something large scale that doesn't scream money and celebrity.  But until Carine can bring her magic stateside, I'll have to console myself with the fabulous issue of French Vogue this month.  Let me just say this:  Crystal Renn and that squid are insanely good together.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

En France

At the end of my freshman year in college, my mother came to visit to watch me row at Eastern Sprints up in Connecticut.  The name of the lake one which the races were held escapes me now.  The day was so miserable and rainy that my mother dubbed it Lake Wobegone, and that is the name that has stuck with me ever since.  But once back in Philadelphia we had a grand old time, and I felt very grown up being able to show my worldly mother around a major city that I knew better than she did.

I took her to my favorite bakery, my favorite coffee shop and my favorite international magazine store.  We flipped lazily through many unfamiliar publications, but it was La Maison Francais which made a particular impression.  I still remember the image that did it:  a photo of a yellow jacquard upholstered sofa in a sunny nook, the legs and arms of the sofa almost completely shredded by a cat.  My mother was enthralled that such imperfection could be celebrated in a national publication (and perhaps it made her feel a bit better about the occasional furniture shredding our cats engaged in), and I thought it was just the chicest most bohemian thing I'd ever seen.  I vowed to love all things french home then and there.

So it is no surprise that my newest bit of blog love is directed towards a french woman who photographs french interiors of friends, acquaintances and perhaps strangers as well for all I know.  Sort of a gallic version of The Selby, Ensuite is where I've been spending quite a bit of time lately.  

I wonder if I lived in France whether I would have glorious windows to throw open in the sun...

...witty cats...

...gorgeous tarts and chanterelle mushrooms just sitting around...

...fabulous and well organized shoes...

...chic perfume bottles and pink flowers adorning my bathroom...

...and on my mantle...

all photos from Ensuite

...or would my apartment look exactly as it does in New York?  

I think my shoe and perfume collections needs some work.
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