Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ice Cream Colors

So this is not a Monday Bites post, but here are some bits and bobs I found last week that made me smile.  Hope they have the same effect on you.

 Shinji Ohmaki

I found these both at Hidden in France.   Love the ice-creamey, tutti-frutti

Emma Lamb

colors and the tactile qualities of both "art pieces".  The bottom one inspires me to teach myself how to crochet over my coming Christmas vacation.  Instead of, you know, sitting around idle and half comatose after too much rich food and in front of a T.V. packed with bad holiday programming.  

These are SO sweet and so original.  If you are thinking about Christmas too, and stocking stuffers......?

 renilde de peuter who blogs at atswimtwobirds

Renilde de Peuter always amazes me.   She does such subtle delicate things that whisper SO substantially and forthrightly.  These are also crocheted (who knew?)   Again, a little like brain-freeze when you're eating ice cream, cool-ey refreshing yet so deliciously warm.

Ricardo DeAratanha photographer for the LA Times

............and from the L.A. Times, her name is Eva Luna and this is the paddling pool at her newly renovated house in Los Feliz, Los Angeles.  Lucky girl.  I think I might ask Santa for one of these!  Or at least an invitation to her house.

It's not quite ice-creamy - except for the strawberry sorbet walls in the backround, but with the temperature in Pasadena today at 89 degrees, a paddling pool in these crisp cooling patterns would have been just the thing! Apologies to all of you who haven't had power all weekend and got snowed on in the Northeast of the U.S.!   Might these pics take your mind a little off your miseries? 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday, Sunday - Not Really Sepia but Sepia "Like"

Venice Beach, California

Don't say you have a house like this too, in your neighborhood cuz I know you DON'T!  HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYBODY!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Same Walk, Different Season

I love

how a change of light

completely changes the look of things.

You see things you might never have seen before.

Or colors are joined

together in unexpected ways.

Hey it's the weekend already!  Plans?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Exotic Hawaii - Part Two

So I hope this works for any of you who have plans to go to Hawaii soon, or dream of one day making it there.  A good guidebook will cover so much more of the kinds of activities and locales that people come to Hawaii for, but here are the places that my friends and family go to as much as we possibly can.  And hopefully when someone else is paying......!

 from Lanikai over the Koolaus

Right off the plane and set in the funky industrial zone just outside of the airport, Mitch's is hugely popular with sushi fans.  Run by an Australian, it is not remotely cheap but it is unbelievably fresh and there is a wide variety of fish to choose from.  If you want the true sushi nazi experience, (with none of the fish locally sourced - because Japanese people prefer fattier fish from colder waters), there is only one place to go: Sasabune on King St. in Honolulu.  You can wear your best Hawaiian shirt here,  it's dressier than Mitch's!  Just don't expect to order from a menu.

For gourmet eating, vivid flavors and stylish surroundings Alan Wong's is the place for high-end-all-the-way Asian fusion flavors - these are not the sweet pineapple-y style dishes you might find at many places.  Instead they are lean, earthy, savory, deeply layered and sometimes challenging.  It is grown up food.  Their honey comes from Paul Theroux - yes that Paul Theroux  - who keeps bees in Pupukea on the North Shore.  Not many people know that!

Hiroshi's Eurasion Tapas, and Town are two of my favorite Honolulu restaurants.  The latter, in the hilly  Kaimuki neighborhood will surprise you with it's locally sourced, slow-food, Mediterranean-rustic cooking.  It is not for anyone who likes bland food.  Flavors are bold.  Except for their polenta (which I adore).  Sit outside and let the breezes caress you, it gets noisy indoors.

Hiroshi's could make you weak at the knees.  I'm not the only one who feels this way.  For a Hiroshi's fan, this is true (I mean best!) Asian fusion, where the mostly Japanese-Chinese elements of the dishes maintain their integrity and are married in a delicious, beautiful way with down-to-the-ground French-style preparations rich with butter.  The flavors are tangy, haunting, suave, surprising.  The textures, colors will get your heart racing.  And don't forget to talk to Chuck Furuya, the sommelier who is 1000% local, and ALSO one of the most respected and recognized in America.  Hiroshi's is beautiful, classy, in a sleek quiet location near the courts where it is EASY TO PARK in the evening!  What more could you want?!

Finally in the 'burbs, a little dressier and a good option if you're staying at the Kahala Hotel, Le Bistro is in the Niu Valley shopping center (on the way back from Hanauma Bay).  It's a nice family place for special occasions.  The appetizers are interesting and delectable.  The mains less so, but solid traditional standards, whether you are eating with your big Chinese family (steamed fish, Chinese style) or Mainland family (steak!).  The chef/owner worked at Le Bernardin, in NYC.  It shows!  This food is good!


For just gorgeous atmosphere on the beach, the Kahala Hotel, Halekulani, The Addition at the Ilikai all are recommended at sunset.

Maui, upcountry

Hawaii has a million options for eating.  Some better than others.  For quick, cheap,very good food: South Shore Grill - to take to the beach.  For lunch, at the Hawaii State Museum:  "Downtown" is a lighter veggie intensive sister to Town, above.  

The classic Hawaiian lunch is what we call "saimin".  It's basically noodle soup and if you MUST be very local, you will eat it with "SPAM".  (Yes, you are not hallucinating.  S-P-A-M!)  Me, I could never get with the spam, so I recommend you skip it and just head for a good Japanese noodle (ramen) shop.  There are plenty in Waikiki and on King St in Honolulu.

Diamond Head Road, Waikiki

For old school Dim Sum Royal Garden at the Ala Moana Hotel.   Kirin on Beretania is my auntie from Hong Kong's (and many Japanese tourists') very favorite place.  Try the lamb in the little sesame studded pouches, and the sweet black bean dessert soup.  You cannot throw a rock without hitting a Japanese restaurant in Honolulu.  Adopt yourself a Japanese tourist (that won't be hard either) and just follow him/her to dinner!  Hakone at the Prince Hotel, Tsukuji and/or Shirokiya at the Ala Moana shopping mall will offer you, at price points from "haute" (Hakone) to "hooray" a buffet style comprehensive Japanese gastronomic experience.

And if you're craving good French bread (no, really!) AND lilikoi or coconut dream cake and don't want to drive all over town, St. Germain is an excellent choice.  The chains are all over town, so you won't have to go far!

Kaena Point, Oahu

Hawaii is really more about the outdoors.  But we have excellent places to see art in gorgeous settings.  The Contemporary Museum high above Makiki has fab views on the way up, a gorgeous garden to stroll through and a David Hockney set from the Magic Flute  - I'm just remembering, no, it's L'Enfant et les Sortileges.  Honolulu Academy of Art has excellent Asian collections and some quite nice post impressionist painting in a gorgeous building with multiple charming courtyards.  The cafe, which strangely, is not open on the weekend, is one of the few places (also strangely) away from Waikiki where you can eat outside, and they offer nice salads and a killer chocoate pot de creme!

The Polynesian Cultural Center is a "standby" halfway around the island.  Run by the Mormon academy it gives you a very good overview of Pacific island cultures if you have the time.  If you love music you must make time to see slack-key genius Ledward Kaapana (a national treasure) for his rendition of "I Kona" which will give you chills and thrills and the Cazimero Brothers for that smooth, soothing, soaring Hawaiian sound that goes down so nicely with ocean breezes and mai-tais. 

Nuuanu Valley on Oahu is known for it's wide variety of temples.  Worth a look.  Maui is full of farms of every sort.  Kauai is just beautiful beautiful beautiful.  And guess what, Hawaii (the "Big Island") has volcanoes!  

Check out my other Hawaii posts for other ideas and just a little Hawaii flav-ah!  Much aloha!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Corner View - Exotic (Hawaii)

(This post is also for Ellen at Anzu who asked for some recommendations for a friend.  I'll post some more views and museum and restaurant suggestions tomorrow.)

                                                                          Some call it exotic.

                                  A place where the sun always shines, even when it's raining.

                                               Where bouquets of flowers grow off of trees.

                                            Where Italian royalty inhabit the steepest hillsides.

Where flower farmers, feral pigs, Hawaiian cowboys and Princes-at-polo squeeze into the same few square miles on a Sunday.

Where energy heiresses recreate Islamic estates overlooking the ocean.

Leonard's Bakery, Kapahulu St.,  for malasadas

Where everyone's very favorite food is a Portuguese doughnut without a hole.

Did I mention the flowers?

Waimea Bay, North Shore, Oahu

Where humans can spend afternoons swimming alongside giant sea turtles.

And dragon dancers will turn up at your wedding-by-the-sea.

Where it's always o.k. for your hotel to be PINK.  Some call it exotic.  But I call it home.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Monday Bites - Blood, Bones and Butter

“First we eat, then we do everything else.”
― M.F.K. Fisher

Book Design: Susan Turner

I wish I could actually express to you how wonderfully compelling and beautifully written I think this book is.  If you were young and running around NYC anytime from the 80's and till now, you would recognize places, and situations, and ultimately, the line in front of the restaurant, Prune in the E. Village.  Now, if you are lucky and patient, you get a seat and a meal. 

Photo: Melissa Hamilton

If you didn't catch it from the cover above, Gabrielle Hamilton has written "the best memoir by a chef ever. Ever." according to Anthony Bourdain.

Gabrielle Hamilton was also this year given the James Beard Foundation's "Best Chef, NYC" award.

Her mother is French and taught her how to eat and taste food properly at an early age, hunting with her for mushrooms in the woods along the banks of the Delaware river, and showing her how to drink the sweet nectar from the pulled-out pistils of honeysuckle flowers.  She learned more about eating and cooking on sometimes lonely trips around Europe and Asia.  And especially, of all places, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  She never went to cooking school, but she worked in many many restaurants, starting as a dishwasher, which trained her for the very hard and dirty life a chef's can be.

Her writing is luminous and lyrical.  (Click for excerpt.)  It's also tough and funny.  

Here are a links to a series of youtube videos; including her Barnes and Noble conversation w/ Anthony Bourdain that shares with you how witty and real she is, and where she shares what I think is such a sensible approach to food: i.e., cooking and eating only food that she loves, food that she mostly has a very personal history with, and especially her conviction that, beyond it being about the food, it's all really about LIFE.   Whether it be hers, or yours.  (And NOT so much the food's life!  Sorry food!)

Her older sister Melissa you might recognize as one half of the "Canal House" team.  More here, from the New York times.  And also about Gabrielle, also from the NYTimes.

You might think Blood, Bones and Butter is going to be a book about cooks, and kitchens, attitudes, tough talk and tasty plating.  But I'll let you in on a secret:  it's really about family.  And how some of us can't separate those two things:  the food and the family.   And how we always seem to be confusing the one for the other, or looking for the one in the other.  In spite of ourselves.

“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.”
M.F.K. FisherThe Art of Eating

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Stone-y Sepia

I love the character in this rubble that is passing itself off as a retaining wall at the bottom of my neighbor's lot.  I'm just glad the neighbor lives below me, rather than above.  Anyway, I just feel like there's a somebody in there waiting to jump out at me and tell me something I desperately need to know!

How's the weekend all?  We might be having quite the interesting night!  More on this later.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

London Fashion Fling

O.K. here are a couple of goodies I dug up.  Having my friend Polly with me reminded me of these from some past wanders around London we've had.  So just for fun, since it's Friday.

I don't suppose I'm quite the Sartorialist yet

but I do actually like street fashion snapping.

Sometimes you just come up on someone who has such great style.  And you might never see that look again!

Red trousers have always been "done" in Europe by a certain class of gents.

But what do we think about red leggings?  Would that be a yes?  Or a no?  Have a wonderful weekend everybody!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Charleston in Sussex - Part One

Another one from the archives.  I actually have a new camera but I'm still figuring out how to use it.

If you are a fan of early 20th century English literature, you might know about the Bloomsbury Group,

a loose affiliation of artists, writers and intellectuals who gathered around the sisters Virginia Woolf

and Vanessa Bell.  Charleston was Vanessa's country retreat when London was being bombed during the second World War and she lived and made art here

with her children, successive husbands and lovers, artist/collaborators and THEIR successive

lovers and collaborators.

The house is very charming with lots of art and arty decorative features.  Mr. Paradis, who generally

abhors trudging around "dead rich peoples' piles of old junk" i.e., (ahem) English Stately Homes,

quite liked Charleston.  And figured it might be the kind of house he'd live in if he let me and my friends camp out and paint the walls freehand and hold needlepoint workshops all hours and drink wine and fall asleep on each other.

Photos aren't allowed INSIDE the house sadly.  You will have seen fabulous Matisse-ey figures flanking the fireplace of this stunning room, the painting studio (a former chicken run) in various publications.  In the week, you can visit the house only with a guide so be ready, the tour will end there and you might be rushed out without properly enjoying it. It is much airier and more light than most photos give the impression of.   I would recommend a weekend visit (which might be more crowded) but you can poke around with more freedom and see the kitchen, too.  

Nearby is a lovely church decorated by Roger Fry's Omega Workshops, a nice country pub, (more on this soon) and a little further afield, Virginia's home, Monk's House in Rodmell, and if you are into gardens the famous garden and house "Great Dixter".  It's really worth planning a week or so down here in Sussex which will give you enough time to visit these places as well as Brighton and Lewes which are very nice towns.  From Charleston you can walk up the Firle Beacon, on the South Downs, a truly glorious thing to do on an English summer day.

Anybody wish it could be vacation time again?