Friday, May 29, 2009

Burlap Mat

My sister and her husband were in town for the long weekend from California and we had a great few days. Whenever friends or family come to visit, I'm reminded of how many amazing things there are to do in this city and how lucky I am to live here. I of course couldn't let her leave without taking her to some of my favorite stores, and John Derian was at the top of the list. She and I both scored some great old pages, ripped from a garden design book circa 1757, for only $20 each. Which brings me to my burlap mat idea. 

Every time I paid a visit to the Charlotte Moss Townhouse, which is sadly no longer open, I'd admire the beautiful old prints lining the wall along the staircase. She had them mounted on a gorgeous grey linen and I decided then and there to do some print mounting of my own. I've had this big piece of burlap lying around my apartment for ages, just waiting for a lovely little print from John Derian to arrive. The linen would have been great, but burlap is (1) cheap, (2) super cheap, (3) a nice Belgian linen color, (4) rustic in a really chic way. The whole thing took about 15 minutes and cost about $5 for the burlap (also called jute), $20 for the print, and the frame I already had, but I  think it was around $25. I love the way the ripped edge of the page looks against the burlap. It's a quick and easy weekend project. Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Recipe: Mango Guacamole with Pita Chips & Agua Fresca

I've had a crazy week this week, but I wanted to share some recipes from my fun-filled Memorial Day weekend. The first recipe for Mango Guacamole is from a cooking class Ben taught about incorporating healthy fats into your diet, and not only is it yummy, but by substituting whole wheat pita chips for tortilla chips it's also semi-guilt free. The second is a Watermelon Agua Fresca recipe I read about in the NY Times. I'd been dreaming about cold agua frescas for weeks and, rather than popping  up to La Esquina, I decided to try making them at home . These two recipes together make for one awesome summer's day (or night, if you have some vodka handy). Enjoy!

Mango Guacamole with Pita Chips

3 large, ripe avocados (if the ones you get are hard, put them in a brown paper bag overnight to ripen)
1 mango, peeled, pitted, and diced
1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (wash your hands throughly after handling the jalapeño)
1/2 cup cilantro, freshly chopped
Juice of about 2 limes
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
whole wheat pita chips

To cut each avocado in half, slice from the stem end straight down to the pit, and then rotate the knife around the pit. Twist the halves apart and remove the pit. Spoon the avocado flesh into a large mixing bowl. Add the juice of one of the limes at this point to prevent discoloration of the avocado. Mash with a fork until only slightly chunky. Add to the bowl the mango, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, additional lime juice if needed, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with pita chips.

Watermelon Agua Fresca

5 cups diced, ripe watermelon
3 cups water
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (about 1/2 a lime)
1 tablespoon sugar (I added  a little more - this really depends on how sweet your watermelon is)

Blend together 4 cups of the watermelon, 1 1/2 cups of the water, the lime juice and the sugar on high speed until smooth. Strain through a medium strainer into a large pitcher or bowl. Stir in the remaining water  and watermelon. Refrigerate for 1 hour or longer. Fill a glass with ice, pour in the agua fresca and serve. 

Monday, May 25, 2009

Egizia & Paola Navone

I made a great new discovery yesterday! I was in Barney's Chelsea Passage and happened upon a display of amazing products by a company I'd never heard of - Egizia. After doing a little research I discovered that they're a 56-year-old Italian glass company that specializes in silk screened patterns applied to glass. Based in Tuscany, they've been producing glassware products for some of the biggest tabletop companies in the industry, and recently made their US debut with a collection by the ingenious Paola Navone. Her pieces combine glass and a lovely silver plate, lace motif. Having handled them extensively in the store, I love the wonderful texture the applied silver adds to the outside of the glasses. While Egizia's pieces aren't exactly cheap, the level of craftsmanship you get for the money is definitely justified. The highball and double old fashioned glasses are $36 each. They'd make a great gift if you're looking to go off the registry this wedding season. Check out some of the collection here

Here are a few pieces from other collections by Egizia. So gorgeous!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Trompe L'oeil

The thing I love most about trompe l'oeil pieces is that they always seem to elicit a little smile of amusement from the onlooker. After all, how can something that adds a bit of wit and whimsy to your home ever be bad? One of my favorite examples is Rita Konig's much lusted after faux-fireplace, featured in Domino (above). We can all use some lightness in our lives these days, so see below for a few more of my current trompe l'oeil obsessions. Here's hoping they add a little whim to your Wednesday!

Cylinder Umbrella Stand by Fornasetti, Unica Home; Wallpaper Frocks and Semi Drum wallpaper by Deborah Bowness

Libretto 8 x 10.5" tray by John Derian from Trillium Shop; Ceci Est Un It Bag by Longchamp
Vintage Camera Photo Album from Corcoran Gallery of Art; Face Lotion 10 x 13" tray by John Derian from Ampersand Shops

This room was designed by Nina Campbell (Rita Konig's mother) using Bibliothéque wallpaper by Brunschwig & Fils

Ex Libris wallpaper by Fornasetti from Cole & Son

Still Life wallpaper by Brunschwig & Fils - I can't seem to find this mentioned in any US source but it has appeared in some European publications. The "bookshelf filled with objets" look is unbelievable!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Recipe: Asparagus

Now that asparagus season is in full swing, I wanted to share two of my favorite recipes using these yummy green spears. Both recipes use very few ingredients, take hardly any time, and, best of all, they're extremely easy and totally manageable for a kitchen novice. 

Roasted Asparagus with Feta
I watched Ben's mom make this a few years ago, and it was so incredibly simple and delicious I've been making it ever since. It's a great side for a dinner party, and when it's plated there's an unexpected wow factor for such an easy dish. 

1 bunch of asparagus (about 14 stalks), trimmed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
feta, crumbled
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Lay the asparagus on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. With your hands, give them a quick roll around to make sure each stalk is evenly coated in oil. Roast for 8-10 minutes until asparagus is tender and just starting to brown. Drizzle lemon juice over the hot asparagus and crumble as much or as little feta as you'd like right over the top. Serve immediately. 

Prosciutto & Asparagus Rolls
This recipe is actually from The Minimalist himself, Mark Bittman. If you'd like to watch a video of him make these, check it out here. I made them as an appetizer for a dinner party and they were a total crowd pleaser. They're cute little bite-sized rolls that look quite complex considering how easy they are to make. This makes a dozen or so rolls.

1 bunch of asparagus (thinner stalks are preferable), trimmed
4 cups baby arugula, washed
1/2 lb proscuitto, sliced thin
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper

Blanch the asparagus in a pot of boiling, salted water for 3-4 minutes until they are tender but retain a little crunch. Shock them briefly in an ice bath so they keep their vibrant green color. Pat the asparagus dry and add them to the bowl with your washed and dried arugula. Add the lemon juice and olive oil to the bowl, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper and toss that all together. On a piece of parchment paper, lay out your strips of prosciutto so they overlap just a bit and pat them down so the strips stick together. At one end of the prosciutto, pile a small bunch of arugula and a few spears of asparagus. Using the parchment paper to get you started, roll the prosciutto over the arugula and asparagus and keep rolling until you have one long tube. With a sharp knife, cut the roll into small segments. Plate and serve.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Inspiration: Sofia Coppola

A few months ago I was on the hunt for an everyday bag, and I had some very clear criteria in mind. It had to be black leather, ample in size, simple enough that I wouldn't get sick of it, and timeless enough that it would never go out of style. I love the bag I ended up buying, but if Sofia Coppola's new collection for Louis Vuitton had been around back then my bag hunt may have had a different ending. Her aesthetic sensibility is the definition of timeless and classic, and it extends not only to her line of bags, but to her personal style, and even to her home. Sofia makes me want to get rid of all the clutter in my life and invest in a few key pieces that, like my bag, are simple and timeless. It's a great rule of thumb for your closet and your home - never overdone, always effortless, incredibly inspiring. 

Friday, May 15, 2009

MAD: Object Factory

Edyta Cieloch, Spanish Lace, 2008
Now that I'm back in NYC, I can't wait to check out some of the amazing exhibits and shows going on all over the city. At the top of my list is the new Object Factory: The Art of Industrial Ceramics exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design. It focuses on the recent resurgence of ceramics, owing in large part to collaborations between contemporary artists and some of the world's oldest porcelain manufacturers like Nymphenburg and Rosenthal. These pairings of designer and industry have resulted in some incredible (and some off the wall) ceramic pieces, ranging from the fully functional to the purely decorative. If you can't make it to the show, be sure to check out images of some of the pieces on MAD's website.  

Ami Drach, Hot Plate, 2003 (the metal in the paint conducts heat!)

Thomas Allen, Tea Set, 2006-2007

Alon Meron, Combinations, 2007

Gesine Hackenberg, Spoon Set, 2001

Maya Vinitsky, Squeeze Cup, 2003

Industreal, Lampe 72 dpi, 2007

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Huntington Library

I’m winging my way back to New York today but wanted to share some pictures I took during my recent visit to the Huntington Library & Botanical Gardens in Pasadena. My mother’s friend is a docent there and she gave us a private tour of the recently reopened Beaux-Arts residence and the new Chinese Garden. If you’re ever in the area it’s a lovely place to spend the day, and the Desert Garden is often cited by interior designers as a huge source of inspiration. I’m sure the beautiful new Chinese Garden will soon be added to their list of inspirational spots as it’s filled with gorgeous details. One of my favorites was the area covered in intricately laid stone done in a quatrefoil shape. I also found a sweet little book on etiquette in the gift shop that was taken from old documents in the Huntington’s collection. It’s filled with arcane but amusing advise for women such as always referring to your husband by his surname. The advice may be outdated but it sure will look sweet on my coffee table. 

I love black bisque.
Kelly Wearstler would die over this chair.
Is it me or does this look like a really contemporary tea set?

A chair from the William Morris collection
A William Morris carved woodblock
William Morris wallpaper

Shakespeare Garden
Shakespeare Garden
Chinese Garden

Chinese Garden