Wednesday, September 30, 2009


The food at the wedding was delicious. I bet the food outside the hotel grounds was spectacular too, but I wouldn't know, and I have guilt about it. In light of this, I have decided to try to make up for missing out on the local cuisine of the Cote D'Azur by making a couple of French classics here at home.

Croque Monsieur
(adapted from the Barefoot Contessa in Paris)
Serves 2

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1.5 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup hot milk
1 pinch kosher salt
1 bit of fresh ground pepper
1 bit of ground nutmeg
6 ounces grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 slices white sandwich bread
Dijon mustard
4 ounces baked Virgina ham

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Melt butter over a low heat in a small pan, then add flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the mix and continue to whisk until thick, about 5 minutes. Take off the heat and add salt, pepper, nutmeg, two handfuls of the Gruyere and all of the Parmesan.

Toast the bread for 3-4 minutes in the oven on a baking sheet. Brush half the bread with mustard, add a slice or two of ham to each and sprinkle with another two handfuls of the Gruyere. Put the sandwich together and slather with the melted cheese sauce, then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake for 5 minutes, then put under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned.

Radishes with Herbed Butter
Serves 2-3

1 bunch of radishes with tops on, washed
sea salt
sliced and toasted baguette
1/2 stick room temperature unsalted butter
2 teaspoons minced scallions
2 teaspoons minced dill
2 teaspoons minced parsley
1/2 of a lemon's worth of juice
1 pinch freshly ground pepper

Combine the butter, scallions, dill, parsley, lemon juice, 1 pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl and mix together. Scrape into a small serving dish or ramekin. Place the radishes on a bed of sea salt.

Serve! Enjoy with a good rose, some greens and a friend.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


One place I (sort of) actually visited was the Ile St. Honorat.  We approached by water, and I wish could have toured and spent more time.  Located just off the coast from Cannes, it is the possession of the Cistercian monastic order.  There are several different structures on the island: ruins dating from the 410 AD, when Saint Honoratus established an abbey here, as well as fortifications dating from the 11th century to the 14th centuries.  The fortifications were built to protect against the Saracen invasions.

The waterfront castle is really impressive.  Here is a better look:

Starting in 1635, when the island was captured by the Spanish, the the monk population dwindled.  After the French Revolution, it was taken by the state and sold to an actress, Mademoiselle de Sainval.  She spent summers here for 20 years.  St. Honorat was bought back by the church in 1859.

Looking back at Cap d'Antibes.

Images via Bateau Cannes, klasskleiterp's flickr, and Virtual Tourist (which is fitting, considering...)

Monday, September 28, 2009


France was incredible. The weather was great and the wedding was special beyond words. So special, in fact, that I am embarrassed to say we barely left the hotel grounds (I know, terrible). Also, my camera had some technical issues, so there aren't many photos to share. That won't stop me, however, from spending a little time focusing on one of the world's most blessed places: the Cote d'Azur. Above is an image looking out through the pine forests to the town of Antibes beyond.
Here, someone else captures the feeling a little better (my "trusty" G10 is being repaired now. I missed it badly). Watching the boats drift in and out of the harbor through the trees. It was deeply soothing.

There were also huge flower gardens. This part of France is much like Southern California in that you can grow just about anything.

Nearby is the town of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, where the Villa Ephrussi Botanical Gardens are located. Enjoy...

Someday I will go back and actually see the sights. Click here for a more extensive photo tour of the gardens by Nigel Burkitt.

Images that are not mine via Garden Web, moondreamer's flickr

Thursday, September 17, 2009


There will be a little lapse in posts for the next week, as we are heading out of town to wedding. I am really looking forward, because the big event is in Antibes, France, and I have never been. Lots of history, gardens and cuisine to explore! Happy weekend!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Here we have a straightforward white loft in Manhattan.  This apartment was designed by my former employer, MR Architecture + Decor, though not when I worked for them.  I love this interior because it is filled with discrete details that almost go unnoticed: plate-less outlets, simple nickel hinges, glazed white floor tiles.  Components like these, which alone don't amount to much, add up to a highly sophisticated design filled with well curated art and furniture.

The space is used as both a home and an office, and the silvery curtain is used to separate these areas when necessary.

I am really loving clean tile floors at the moment, in general.  They are practical, unexpected and can be really elegant.

The crown detail is actually an art piece by Tom Otterness

The little cubby for the toilet tissue holder is a classic MR detail.

Images via WOI

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


September 2009 marks the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson sailing into New York harbor and "discovering" Manhattan for the Dutch.  In preparation for this milestone, ecologist Eric Sanderson, the Wildlife Conservation Society and The Museum of the City of New York have teamed up for and exhibit and book, Mannahatta.

The Mannahatta project documents, with computer renderings created based on years of research, the original state of the island of Manhattan before colonization, commerce and development turned it into perhaps the most manipulated man-made landscape on earth.

The project maps every inch of the island as it would have been: the grass plains of Harlem, the crystal clear pond and streams where Canal Street now runs, the oyster shell strewn white sand beaches along the Hudson River, and the tall beech and oak forests of midtown.

Looking at some of the images in the book and at the exhibit, I am reminded of the landscapes of Cape Cod-- a series of similar ecosystems that have remained somewhat intact.  Imagine if this is what the corner of Canal and Broadway looked liked at some point:
Fun to think about.  Mannahatta is up at the MCNY until October 12.

Images via Archpaper, midpointmeander

Monday, September 14, 2009


Summer in New York is officially over, and that means the fall season of concerts, fashion shows, art openings and other "back to the city" activities is in full swing. I am tremendously domestic, and my favorite activities usually consist of gardening alone, watching Mad Men over takeout or maybe entertaining a small group of friends at our apartment. For the month of September, however, I allow [force] myself to go out, do things, see people, and take full advantage of the energy that returns to the city this time of year.

One of the highlights of the last week included the revolutionary Vena Cava show and presentation at Milk Studios. I know little about fashion, but have seen the designs by these ladies evolve to a new level over the last few years. Read a more sophisticated analysis by professionals who know what they are talking about. All they need now is a men's line!

The line's old world carnival-like after party at Bird in Williamsburg was super fun as well. Bird is the first and only (soon to be) LEED certified retail store in New York.

Vena Cava also happens to have a fantastic blog that has been a great inspiration to me.

Images via Kaldoon's flickr, Refinery29

Friday, September 11, 2009


Some parting shots of the beautiful colors, textures and the strange relationship of scales we found in the seashore landscapes of Maine.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


We stayed at friends' house in Maine. It is a lovely home designed by German architect Klaus Mueller, and with much contribution from friends of the owners (architects, builders) including myself. My input is realized in the bathrooms. The owners wanted a house that felt New England without being traditional, so in the bathrooms we used earthier colors and textures but installed them with clean lines and modern hardware.

We picked out the materials together, and I am really pleased with the results. As always, there are things I wish the contractor had done differently, and things I wish I had done differently (those pretty sinks splash water everywhere and I will never specify them again!) but for the most part, I think they came out great.

Soaking in the Master Bath tub while looking out at the trees is special.

Here is the little Guest Bath on the 1st level. Under cabinet lighting like this is very flattering to the person looking in the mirror.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


It's dessert time.

Grilled Peach Shortcake
(adapted by Piera Gelardi from
Serves 6

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 stick chilled salted butter, diced
6 tablespoons sugar (plus extra for glaze)
1/2 cup seltzer
2 tablespoons heavy cream (plus extra for glaze)

Preheat oven to 400, whisk dry ingredients together.  Add butter and mix with fingers, massaging until texture is coarse like cornmeal.  Add seltzer and cream and form dough into a log shape.  Put dough log on parchment paper and roll into a firmer log.  Cut into 6 rounds, place on parchment paper covered cookie sheet.  Mix bit of extra sugar and cream for glaze and coat.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Grilled Peaches:
3 peaches, halved
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Sprinkle the peach halves with sugar and cinnamon and let sit 10 minutes before grilling on medium heat for 5-10 minutes.

Peach Sauce:
2 peaches, finely chopped/mashed
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons bourbon

Combine ingredients and cook on low heat until smooth.

Bourbon Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons bourbon

Whisk cream, add sugar and bourbon and whip until soft peaks form... not too much!

Put shortcake on bottom of bowl, place peach half filled with peach sauce on top, dollop with whipped cream, serve!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Back to New York for a hectic week of work and catch up.  Luckily I got to wash the stress away with another perfect trip to Maine.  It took nearly 9 hours to get there (I recommend NOT driving anywhere on Labor Day weekend) but it was worth it.  The weather was amazing, and we boated, hiked, antique shopped and ate lobster until we could eat no more.

Vintage Maine

Red's famous lobster rolls, in Wiscasset.  Very tasty, but they go the "plain Maine" route with their rolls: no seasoning, no herbs, little mayo.

Nothing plain about these fried clams.  Totally delectable.

We also stopped in Pemaquid for some hiking, followed by some down and dirty oysters harvested right there in the waters off the town.  Again, no frills: no minonette, no ice, no cracked pepper... just super fresh oysters and a lemon wedge.  Intense.  Sea.  Flavor.

A bowling alley in Cozy Harbor