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.
a selection of handmade brushes
contraptions for covering cheese and cakes
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
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.