love: paris

Red bench, grey cobbles

1. The inspiration: the 2006 ensemble movie Paris Je t’Aime. From the silly to the sublime, there are 20 five-minute films, each set in a neighbourhood of Paris. I loved Walter Salles & Daniela Thomas’s ‘Loin du 16ème’ and Alexander Payne’s ’14ème Arrondissement’ which had me bawling.

2. Saveur Magazine’s French picnic menu. Summer in Paris is all about the pique-nique, on the Pont des Arts or the banks of the Seine.

3. Via Chocolate & Zucchini and Paris by Mouth, the announcement of the hotly contested top ten baguettes in Paris. Au Levain d’Antan, 6 Rue d’Abbesses in Montmartre, will supply the president with his daily bread for the rest of the year.

4. Inès de la Fressange’s new book Parisian Chic, bound in red leather and full of cutesy drawings, is the latest how-to-be-French guide for sad lumpen Anglo-Saxons. I snark, but I will admit to being a sucker for this stuff.

5. I absolutely love the Paris Color Project over at Little Brown Pen. I bought a bunch of their miniature calendars for friends last Christmas, and there are beautiful postcards and prints in their Etsy store.


love: ribbons on slate (the new design*sponge)

Image from the new D*S home page

Though she hardly needs little me to praise her, I wanted to highlight the stunning new redesign that Grace and her team have pulled off over at Design*Sponge – and they’re finally at as well. Change always takes me a while, and though this looks quite different – both darker and more girly, somehow – it suits the grown-up site. Unlike certain other recent redesigns (hi, Gawker!), the site – both its current and older content – is now much easier to navigate.
Design*sponge was one of the first design blogs I ever discovered, before I knew what such a thing was, and it’s been a daily visit ever since and one of my abiding inspirations for my own little corner of the interwebs. Congratulations!

love: cookbook inspiration (and another chard lasagne)

coffee table of inspiration

A shot of my coffee table over the weekend. Several new books have made their way to me, along with the new March issue of [is] Martha Stewart Living [?] which is full of articles about gardening. Sigh. It inspired me, perhaps futilely, to buy some seeds – I’m going to try growing cherry tomatoes, basil and mesclun greens on my window ledges this year. Anyway, the books.

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A new month and a new plan

I find it oddly satisfying when a new month begins on a Monday; especially a Monday after a somewhat crazy weekend of Halloweening and rallying for the cause of sanity. My plan is to harness this double-new start for a new plan to make the most of my Bon Appetit subscription.

I hereby commit to making at least one dish each month from the current issue; if it goes well, I might do the same for the magazine known in our house as [Is] Martha Stewart Living[?] The caveats – no easy pasta recipes I could figure out by myself. The dishes should be a decent challenge in some way, whether by a new ingredient or an unfamiliar technique. First up: Panang Chicken Curry – one of the few dishes this month that is not Thanksgiving-related. Recipe and report to come.

taste: catalouille

Vegetables in shiny new Ikea casserole dish

This was my attempt at Samfaina, a Catalan version of ratatouille, inspired by Martha Rose Shulman’s recent NYT piece on the many varieties of this Mediterranean melding of aubergine/eggplant, onion, garlic, tomato, olive oil, courgette/zucchini, various herbs and other variations depending on the region. I am a huge ratatouille freak. Something about its simplicity, richness and silkiness just works, plus its cheerful accommodating character means it goes with pretty much anything. Having been a fan of Clothilde’s Oven-Baked Ratatouille from the C&Z cookbook for a while, the NYT piece inspired me to branch out to what Shulman describes as a ‘vegetable marmalade.’

It was a simple process to prepare, especially if you have a sous-chef who’s handy with a knife, and you have a good heavy-based pan with a lid or a Dutch oven – something heavy and rustic that’s happy to sit on the stovetop for a few hours without much attention. I doubled the NYT’s quantities and made a few other changes, principally the unintended one of a shorter cooking time, because, well, we were hungry. But the longer you take to prepare this, the better. And make sure you have enough for leftovers.

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explore: rubin museum of art

an elegant museum for an elegant block

I visited the Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art yesterday, which sits on a quiet and leafy Village block (17th street just off 7th ave), in time to catch the dramatically titled ‘Remember that you will die’ exhibition before it closes next week. The exhibition is on the top floor of the gallery, which I had never visited before, so I climbed through most of the rest of the collection before getting there. The museum is beautiful and feels lavish, although the exhibits are sparely and thoughtfully arranged so that each piece – often in a dramatically spot-lit glass case – has enough space to engross your full attention.

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explore: hipster-matic walk through east london

From Hackney to Shoreditch, armed with my iPhone’s brilliant Hipstamatic app, which makes everything look like a hazy summer day in 1976. Beginning at London Fields in Hackney, I walked through Broadway Market, along Goldsmith’s Row to Haggerston Park and Hackney City Farm, continued down Columbia Road (famous for its weekend flower market) and Redchurch Street to Brick Lane, winding up at the new Shoreditch overground station. The walk took about an hour, although it would have been shorter with less meandering off the point, photographing chickens, and rummaging in vintage emporia. But then, what would have been the fun of that?

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