Archive for July, 2012

a study in Victorian cookery

photos: m&j

When we purchased this 19th century antique recipe book from a dealer in the UK, we had no idea what an absolute treasure we were acquiring. We like to imagine this well-used guide to the cookery of the day as something often referred to and notated by the likes of Mrs. Patmore from the fictional Downton Abbey. And though its story may be somewhat less dramatic (though we did recently hear back from the antiques seller that it was a part of the estate of an artist who had belonged to The Bloomsbury Set), it’s impossible to imagine there isn’t a story – and, likely, quite a good one. From the study of highbrow to lowbrow penmanship in the plethora of entries to the almost perfect browning and spotting on the pages to the fanciful recipes (blancmange, anyone?) themselves, time has most certainly turned this once utilitarian handbook into a gastronomic work of art!

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French chicken paintings

images: m&j

We just couldn’t resist these antique chicken paintings from a dealer we love in France. We are currently mooning over this chicken coop that we have no back yard for. So, for the time being, this little farm-inspired antiques indulgence will just have to suffice …

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Good-bye, Nora Ephron

Having been huge fans of her work pretty much since her work first began, we are taking the passing of Nora Ephron pretty hard. From Heartburn to Silkwood to Harry & Sally to This Is My Life to the amazing Julie and Julia to Love, Loss, and What I Wore – we were captivated, charmed, obsessed and inspired by her poignant, witty writing and subsequent directing and playwriting. Our friend and collaborator, the wonderful food stylist, Susan Spungen (of Julie and Julia provenance, pictured above with her French onion soup) was with us on set the day the news of Ms. Ephron’s passing broke. And she shared a story of the two of them first bonding over a coconut layer cake that Susan had done for an early cover of Martha Stewart Living – a sweet and simple story, which brought tears to our eyes. A funny feminist and a real “foodie” before there even was such a word, we feel like Nora Ephron was truly in our tribe. But, of course, that’s how everybody feels. And that is why she and her wonderful work will be so sorely missed.

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Mas (la grillade)

photos: m&j

When walking down Seventh Avenue South near Leroy Street, you suddenly begin to smell that comforting fireplace scent we now know means we are in the vicinity of the lovely Mas farmhouse offshoot, Mas la grillade. And what better excuse to go out for a leisurely and slightly pricey lunch there than a special birthday? J’s provided us just the opportunity to wile away the afternoon hours, meandering through “a seasonal menu of locally grown foods cooked solely over wood fires of oak, apple and other hardwoods.”  And so the meal of fire-grilled delicacies began, with us trying and thoroughly enjoying the likes of smoked peanuts with bacon and chili, fire-popped Oak Grove popcorn tossed with fried herbs and parmesan, pit-roasted head of garlic with olive oil and grilled bread, grilled tartine of garlic scape, walnut pesto, shitake and goat cheese, simple and delicious grilled fennel, smoky pea soup with dry-aged Virginia ham, mint & croutons, grilled salmon with a teriyaki glaze, smoked celery root and a puree of escarole and Shelburne Farm cheddar on grilled miche bread with cornichons, sourkraut and local organic greens. We finished up with a local strawberry chiboust (our new fave!) with panna cotta gelato, whole-wheat sable and candied kumquats and a lavender shortbread with roasted little meringues over macerated local strawberries and an all-important underground grill tour – wow!

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Moonrise Kingdom

© Focus Features, 2012

Another long-awaited charmer from the always-inspiring director, Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom is the sweet love story/adventure of two good, but troubled tweens (played by the adorable and talented Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman) who run away to be together badlands-style on a remote fictional Eastern Seaboard Island in 1965. With wonderful characters played by a stellar cast, including Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel and Bob Balaban as an extremely elfin narrator, the quirky and stylized film won us over from the very first frame. Anderson’s always-astonishing, period art direction is in full swing here. And the screenplay by Anderson and Roman Coppola is completely … can we use the word charming again? In this case, the choice is definitively “yes.”

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Saturday Brunch at Wallsé

photos: m&j

Who knew that practically right under our noses on the corner of Washington and West 11th Street exists a pretty terrific and lovely restaurant we had never even heard of, filled with enough modern art to feast our eyes, as well as a plethora of modern Viennese treats to make for a particularly delicious and leisurely brunch? Tucked under a giant Julian Schnabel painting at Wallsé, we enjoyed a first course of Bloody Marys made with fresh tomato water and “cucumber delight” cocktails made from pear-infused vodka, muddled cucumbers, elderflower syrup, lemon and Sekt. The meal continued with hits like spätzle, braised rabbit, wild mushrooms & tarragon, poached eggs, creamed spinach & Bavarian ham and a particularly amazing assortment of desserts including Salzburger Nockerl – a creamy soufflé of buttery meringue over a warm huckleberry compote – YUM!

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