Places to shop in Kyoto: ToryBazar

From DW:

My friend Sophie describes me as an “epicurean”,  a generous way of saying that I will spend my last dime on something beautiful. That is why I suppose,  I find myself cycling around  Kyoto. I am here to escape the realities of New York, albeit financially and practically as unreasonable as can be. That is also why, I happened upon the irresistable shopping oasis of ToryBazar-a perfectly curated shop filled with affordable and interesting common things to Japan. I could not resist several simple objects;  hand-carved cherry spoons for sugar, beeswax lip balm in a tiny wooden vessel, and a small brush that’s specific use is yet to be determined.

inside torybazar

a selection of handmade brushes

contraptions to cover your cakes

contraptions for covering cheese and cakes

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A Moment in the Kitchen: Moroccan Salt-Preserved Lemons

From JH:

preparation

Citrus sits especially well with me during the holidays. As does canning. The obvious next step: Moroccan Salt-Preserved lemons. After consulting recipes from  Anthony Bourdain, David Lebovitz, and Epicurious, I dove into a slightly modified version of their useful recipes (yes to cinnamon and cloves; skip the bay leaves and black peppercorns), and then waited 30 days before presenting them to my curious holiday party hostesses and colleagues. What does one do with salt-preserved lemons? I steep them in hot water with a bit of honey and make tea, but they’re traditionally used in Moroccan tangines, and I imagine they’d make a delicious accompaniment to extra-sharp cheeses, too. It’s times like these that I envy those out in California. Remember this?

30 days after sealing, the lemons have softened

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Filed under Cooking Chronicles, Do It Yourself, Gift Ideas, On the Cheap, Raw Materials

From Amsterdam, With Love

From JH:

tulip bulbs

What’s the best organic-matter gift one can smuggle in from Amsterdam? Tulip bulbs from the floating flower market, no doubt. These are going in the ground today, and because I’m not sure what variety they are (maybe parrot?), I’m already looking forward being surprised in the spring. Thank you, FK!

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Filed under Flora, Gardening, Gift Ideas, Raw Materials, The Growth of a Garden

The Holiday Train Show in the Bronx Botanical Garden

From DW:

manhattan

If you are as inamorate of  miniature  things as I am, theHoliday Train Show at the Bronx Botanical Garden should become a holiday ritual. Because…

Trains schmains! I go for the exquisite tiny models of NY landmarks made with painstaking attention to archituctural accuracy by Paul Busse and his Kentucky-based firm Applied Imagination.

manhattan, NE Side

Buy your tickets here!

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The Lunchbox: 5 Good Reasons to Bring your Lunch

From DW:

leftovers for lunch

1. $10 a day x 5 days a week=$2600 a year. That could buy birthday dinner for 4 friends and myself at Masa (NYC’s most expensive prixe-fix), that Isabel Marant leopard coat I am lusting after, a yoga trip in the dead of February for two to Playa Venao, or an EOS Canon Rebel with a few lenses.

2. My diet plan of eating light lunches inevitably fails when I am starving. To avoid that, I am now eating breakfast and bring my lunch. The food I make tastes a million times better than Fritos and M&Ms.

3. Risk of exposure to H1N1 and other seasonal flus and colds at buffet-style delis…eeks.

4. Adorable bento boxes and amazing lunchboxes. I’d eat anything packed in these!

5. Think of all the time I will save not having to decide on what I’m going to eat, and how. Time better spent stalking cyber-stalking blogs, planning a vacation, or reading something inspiring.

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Filed under Cooking Chronicles, Do It Yourself, On the Cheap

“Paesines”

From DW:

florentine marble landscape

Four years ago, on a night wander through the Saint Germaine area of  Paris, I came upon the most spectacular gallery. Illuminated in the window were what appeared to be tiny, beautiful paintings of seascapes and landscapes. Closer inspection revealed they were made of rock, not canvas, and in fact they were not painted at all. But how were they made?  I was captivated.  I was also leaving town, and they were closed. Foolishly, I did not write down the name or address, but they stuck with me.

So last week, after meandered for hours in Saint Germaine, I stumbled (purposefully this time) upon the same spot––Galerie Claude Boulle! And they were open! And Claude was there! Turns out, he is a geologist, and he showed me pictures of his digs in Tuscany and Bristol, and, in broken English, explained to me that the Paesine––or “tiny landscape”––is made from a slice of polished marble. Over the course of thousands of years magnesium and iron oxides trickled through Eocene limestone to create this painted effect. Sigh.

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A Moment in the Kitchen: Mint Tea

From JH:

a moment in the kitchen: mint tea

homegrown and handmade

In my ongoing effort to use all of summer’s mint before winter gets it, I dried a bunch and rigged two dozen tea bags. Hang the mint upside down for two weeks. Then, when it’s so dry it crumbles, bundle 2 tbsp-doses in double-layered, extra-fine cheesecloth, and secure the pouches with kitchen twine.

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Filed under Do It Yourself, Gift Ideas, On the Cheap, Raw Materials, Reimagining

The Find: Factory 20

From JH:

the find: factory 20

1940's lloyd's of susses boardwalk high-back metal chairs, $600 each

Factory20.com is an online antiques resource based in Sterling, VA that stocks an incredible range of good, old things. They’re expensive, but judging by the looks of the site, I suspect they’re in excellent condition (or, if scuffed, scuffed in all the right places). Inquire and purchase via email, and Eric, who runs the place, will deliver your furtinure when he’s next in NYC.

the find: factory 20

early 1900's french ladies writing table, $900

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the find: factory 20

1890's art nouveau mahogany side table, $1,600

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the find: factory 20

dutch flaring spindle chairs, $780/pair

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the find: factory 20

vintage buoys, $55 each

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the find: factory 20

vintage bread crate of architectural hooks, $175

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Filed under Aspirational/Inspirational, Find & Fix, Raw Materials, Recycling

Epicerie of Curiosities

From JH:

epicerie of curiosities

a must-see in the marais

Last week I went to Paris on whim for reasons entirely un-food-related, but my favorite find there was Izrael, a specialty spice market in the Marais off the St. Paul stop on Metro line 1. My god, what glorious edibles they have in this shop:

epicerie of curiosities

inside izrael

I bought black sel, and smokey sel, and fleur de sel in beautiful glass vials. I bought long peppercorns that look like stretched acorns. I bought violet-seasoned sugar pieces that resemble chunks of amethyst for DW. And dried button roses for cake decorating. Had I had a few more days in Paris to consume them, I would have bought bags of the stores dried fruits and deserts, too.

epicerie of curiosities

the details

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Why We Should All Go Work on a Farm…

From JH:

At last! I can tell you about my recent week away in VT now––I was here, at Luna Bleu farm in South Royalton, “wwoofing” (willingly working on an organic farm). For anyone looking to learn more about growing food and raising meat and dairy animals, this is the way to do it. Find a host farm through Worldwide  Opportunities on Organic Farms (wwoof.com) and go get your hands dirty. I can say without hesitation that the experience changed my life. Most profoundly, it changed the way that I think about food, and how much work goes into growing it, and the great amount of energy that can be gotten from it…Not to mention how much of that energy we waste in our country everyday, which taught me a great deal about what I can do to be less wasteful and more energy-efficient in my every day. Simply put, I’m finishing my dinner these days. And what I can’t consume, I try to pack-up and preserve, or re-purpose. Heck, I’ve asked for a compost bin for Christmas, haven’t I? I’m canning. I’m making small-batch sauce and freezing it for the winter. When I think about it, I’ve never eaten better.

Below are scenes from my week on the farm.

heirloom house and lettuce rows at luna blue

heirloom house and lettuce rows at luna blue

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herloom tomatoes

heirlooms and red slicers

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chard, corn, and the cherry house

cabbage patches, corn, and the cherry tomato house

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the sau

the sau

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just-picked leeks

just-picked leeks

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renegade spinach seedlings

renegade spinach seedlings

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the most you'll ever see of me

early evening

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luna bleu farm on a full moon

luna bleu farm before a full moon

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Filed under Aspirational/Inspirational, Gardening, Simple Syrup