Thursday, July 30, 2009

Paperless Post

I received my first invite via Paperless Post the other day and I'm obsessed! Evites are so a thing of the past. Don't get me wrong - for a small party I'd still opt for actual paper and pen, but for a larger soiree these are definitely the way to go. It's free to become a member and it will run you around $5.00 to send 60 invites. The paper styles and motifs they offer are just so chic and I love how they've managed to simulate the experience of opening an envelope to reveal the invite within. All the thrill, none of the mess.

Photos: Paperless Post /

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pronounce It Right

We've all been there - you read about someone or something interesting and find the conversation at a subsequent cocktail party turning to that exact subject, have absolutely no idea how to pronounce it correctly. You're dying to put your two cents in, but, for fear of looking like an idiot, you remain silent. Well, Pronounce It Right has come to the rescue. Not only can you search within categories such as Food, Art/Photography/Architecture, Literature/Poetry, and Politics (hello Mahmoud Ahmadinejad), there's also a search box for you to type in that pesky name you were dying to bust out. For all you design lovers who still aren't sure how to pronounce the name of those gorgeous Thonet chairs, check it out. Trust me, this one is a shocker.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Robert Longo

Robert Longo's studio, The Selby

We all feel moved by works of art for different reasons, but having the chance to peak inside an artist's studio can really transform the relationship you have with their work. It's a reminder that the pieces you love don't just magically appear on the gallery wall. They are the slow, meditative work of a pair of hands, masterfully employing a medium to create something beautiful out of what was previously just a bunch of art supplies. For me, it's a wonderful reminder that art isn't something apart and untouchable, but something that is brought to life through labor and creativity, just like you or I might bring to life a recipe or a room.

The work of Robert Longo always reminds me of this through the sheer simplicity of materials: charcoal on paper. Using only what those of you who have ever taken an art class know to be the most elemental of building blocks, he creates images so striking, they stay with you long after you've looked away. Some of Longo's work was featured in the first issue of Dossier, and his work is currently on view as part of The Pictures Generation, 1974-1984 show at The Met. Best of all, The Selby recently shot Longo's studio here in NYC. I'm off to grab a pad of paper and some charcoal and get to work. Happy Friday!

Portrait of the artist, The Selby

Works in progress, The Selby

The Selby

The Selby

Robert Longo, Untitled (Spanish Blood, Lion's Gate), 2000

Robert Longo, Untitled (Exterior Apartment Door with Nameplate and Peephole, 1938), 2000

Robert Longo, Untitled (Shark 5), 2007

Robert Longo, Untitled (Chair in Sunlight, Sitting Room, 1938), 2000

Robert Longo, Untitled (Cindy), 1981

Robert Longo, Studio Installation View - September, 2005

Robert Longo, Studio Installation View - September, 2008

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Recipe: Pizza Party

When I awoke from my post-red-eye haze on Tuesday, I was delighted to find tons of homemade pizza waiting for me in the refrigerator - it seems Ben went pizza crazy while I was out of town. One of Ben and my signature parties is the pizza party, and I think all our friends and family have taken part at one point or another. They're always very casual and fun, not to mention a great way to involve guests in the cooking process. Measurements and proportions for the toppings are very forgiving and really just depend on how loaded you like your pies. However, the one thing you do need is a great tomato sauce to act as a base. Whether you make your own crust, or buy one of the surprisingly good pre-made pizza crusts from Whole Foods, a good sauce can make all the difference. It's official - Ben's super duper secret sauce is out of the vault and hitting the streets.

Tomato Sauce
(makes enough for 5-6 pizzas)

1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried basil*
1 teaspoon dried thyme*
1 teaspoon fennel seeds*
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon honey (or 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar)
salt and pepper to taste
*you can substitute 1 tablespoon of Herbes de Provence for the basil, thyme, and fennel seeds

Combine the tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dried herbs, fennel seeds, chili flakes, and honey in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, turn the heat to low and let the mixture slowly bubble until it thickens into a sauce (about 25-30 minutes). Stir occasionally. Taste for seasoning.

With this sauce as a base, you can make all kinds of pizzas. Every oven is a little different, but most of them will cook for about 9 minutes on a pizza stone in a 450 degree oven. If you don't have a pizza stone, just use the back of a large sheet pan. Here are a few of my pizza party favorites, and they all start with the tomato sauce as a base.

1. Add a generous layer of grated mozzarella cheese and fresh basil, ripped into pieces, for a classic pizza margherita.

2. Layer strips of black forest ham over the sauce and sprinkle with grated emmenthaler and grated mozzarella. Once it comes out of the oven, finish it with big dollops of basil pesto (pictured above).

3. Combine prosciutto and arugula and top with grated fontina cheese.

4. Layer grated mozzarella with red onion, thinly sliced summer squash, corn, crumbled feta cheese and a sprinkling of red chili flakes. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro.

5. Sprinkle a thin layer of grated mozzarella on top of the tomato sauce, then add a layer of sauteed leeks, shrimp, corn, and crumbled feta. Finish it off with a little lemon juice, fresh parsley and mint.

6. Sauté broccoli rabe in olive oil and a couple tablespoons of water. Cook with a cover on for a few minutes until the stocks are tender, then add one minced garlic clove, a pinch of red chili flakes, and a handful of pine nuts and cook uncovered for a couple minutes until the water has evaporated. Pour the mixture over the tomato sauce and sprinkle on some grated mozzarella.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bachelor Pad

I spent the last few days with my family in California and while I was there, I stopped in to see my little brother's new loft in Santa Monica. Okay, he's not that little at twenty-six, but he'll always be little to me. This is his first real adult apartment (post-grad apartment complexes don't count), and I must say he hit the real estate jackpot. His place is five blocks from the beach, across the street from Whole Foods, and surrounded by tons of great restaurants and shopping. Then there's the light, soaring ceilings, and great spiral staircase. My brother happens to be one of the most generous, thoughtful, kind, all-around adorable people I know, and I'm determined to create a fabulous bachelor pad that he'll love coming home to after a long day. Here are a few "before" pics.

One of my favorite bachelor pads is the West Hollywood loft of Will Kopelman, featured in the May 2007 issue of ELLE Decor.
I think monogrammed hand towels are a must!
Images: ELLE Decor, May 2007, Simon Upton

The NYC home of formerly single John Dempsey is also a great source of inspiration. I can't wait to get to work!

Images: ELLE Decor, October 2004, William Waldron

Friday, July 17, 2009

Haus Interior / Fog Linen Work

I've had Fog Linen Work on my list of companies to blog about for some time, but had yet to find a place in Manhattan that carried their charming checkered napkins, trays, and candles. Then yesterday, while strolling down Elizabeth Street with my bag of groceries from Whole Foods, I passed by Haus Interior. This three-week-old boutique is owned by Nina Freudenberger, a former employee of the design firm Costas Kondylis, and the collection of well-edited merchandise really blew me away. Besides the lovely Fog Linen Work items, there were trays and pitchers by Airedelsur, Roost accessories, Tonale dinnerware by David Chipperfield for Alessi, and tons of gorgeous natural materials like bone caviar spoons and wood salad servers. Here are some of the FLW items I spied during my visit:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pearl River: Home Floor

I stopped into Pearl River the other day and wandered up to the home floor on the 2nd level, somewhere I hadn't been in ages. I'd forgotten what great deals they have up there - garden seats, wooden stools, lanterns, vases, and every size, shape, and color of lacquer tray imaginable, all at bargain basement prices. I'm especially loving this beautiful wooden salad bowl, priced at a mere $45. If you're in the neighborhood, it's definitely worth braving the Soho madness for a quick visit. Chances are, you won't leave empty handed. If you're not in NYC, you can join in the fun by checking out the Pearl River website.