Monday, January 31, 2011

Pacific Northwest love

Two shots by Foster Huntington (aka A Restless Transplant) during his trip home to the Pacific Northwest, including Bingen, WA and the Columbia River Gorge.

These bring back memories of our trip west over the holidays....and they can't help but serve as a reminder to me of how much more there is to see of this country.

Onion and chard panade

A couple of weekends ago we had a small dinner party at the house and I chose to keep the menu really simple: pasta bolognese, roasted eggplant and cannelloni beans simmered in rosemary. One of my friends made a truly astonishing cake -- the kind that takes your breath away and the sort that you only see in a bakery, yet she made it all by herself over 5 hours of serious work.

The menu was largely due to some lessons learned from last year's dinner parties. On previous occasions, I'd think, "Oh, Saturday night's dinner is a great excuse to try something a little different and something grander," but the whole "trying a bigger and more elaborate menu" would leave me stressed out through the process and not having a whole lot of fun. It's one thing to try new recipes when you're just serving your family, quite another when you have guests dropping by.

So for 2011 I've vowed to go back to what I know -- making the kinds of meals we eat all the time at the house -- delicious but simple, lacking in fuss.

This is exactly why I could completely relate to Louisa Weiss' post on her blog, The Wednesday Chef, about a very similar experience. She's obviously a far better cook than I will ever be, but the theme is the same. I highly recommend giving it a read.

I also must make note of the recipe she concocted for a recent dinner gathering -- Onion and Chard Panade. Yummmm....just look at that toasted bread and sneak peeks of swiss chard. I wish she could pass me a plate right now.

Read here for the full recipe and enjoy.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Perfect winter side dish

This could also be a great lunch to take to work. Oh Joy! calls this her "Farmer's Autumn" meal since it "tastes freshly picked from the earth."

Here's her directions to a super simple and healthy meal:

Ingredients {serves 2}:

- 2 cups of cubed butternut squash
- 1 cup of peeled edamame
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- Goat Cheese {one small medallion per serving}
- Salt & pepper to taste


1. While I usually roast butternut squash in the oven, this time I sautéed it in a wok. Which means you'll have to cut it in smaller cubes {about 1/2"} so that it cooks more quickly. Sauté squash in a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once it's cooked for a few minutes, add chopped garlic and sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper. Cover with a sheet of aluminum foil to keep in the heat and cook squash faster.

2. Continue to stir every few minutes and keep covered with foil in-between stirrings. The edges of the squash will start to get crisp and brown as the squash gets softer. Also, increase the heat to almost high after a couple stirrings.

3. Once the squash is just about cooked, add in the edamame for an additional few minutes of sauté action {The cooking should take about 10-12 minutes total}.

4. When ready to serve, drop chunks of goat cheese on top and lightly toss so the goat cheese mixes in equally. It will start to melt slightly for creamy, melty goodness. The final result has roasted, yet crisp-edged, butternut squash, fresh edamame soybeans, toasted chip-like garlic pieces, and buttery soft goat cheese. If you have leftovers, it makes for a great cold salad the next day for lunch! Enjoy!

(Recipe & photo via Oh Joy!)

Friday, January 28, 2011

This trench dress, please

Perfect for work, for play, for meetings, for brunch.

From Reed Krakoff

These shorts look comfortable, wearable, the type you could dress up with heels at night or down with flat espadrilles during the day.

And as for the's exactly what I need for day-to-day commutes to work. But alas, it's extraordinarily expensive.

Today's wish list

A hot pink pouchette from J. Crew, 6 or so bangles from jewelry designer Fay Andrada, a globe for the house, a night at a chateau and a delicious crepe to share.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snowy days in D.C.

Let's just say that this is NOT how I looked on my way into work today. I'd say my ensemble, along with that of most Washingtonians, was one that resembled the 90's grunge aesthetic, a phase for fashion that was interesting at that particular time, but one not worth repeating today.

(via The Sartorialist)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Sartorialist on film

I'm sure many of you read Scott Schumman's blog, The Sartorialist, and adore the people-watching he affords us through his lens. This short film follows him on a typical day in NYC as he's out on the lookout for people to shoot for the blog.

What I love most about his narration throughout the film is his reflection on what so many of us love about blogs like his. Scott explains that they've given us a "digital park bench" -- for every person who says they love to sit and people watch, The Sartorialist and other similar blogs, such as Garance Dore, give us that sensation, albeit virtually. And I think, our lives are richer and more interesting because of this medium.

Salad with roasted beets

Salads were not my thing in 2010. They seemed tired to me. So out went salads and in came lots of roasted or grilled veggies.

It was a lovely change but as the year came to a close I began to miss a good vinaigrette, all of the wonderful toppings I used to add to my salad -- nuts, berries, fruit, cheese -- and most of all, delicious in-season greens.

Now that salads are back on the menu for 2011 dinners, it's time to try something new.

Raw beets on salad I've had aplenty, but roasted ones -- with a splash of toasted pistachios and hazelnut oil -- I have not. Cannelle et Vanille has this perfect recipe. I've included her step-by-step instructions and ingredients below, but I've removed the chia seeds because they weren't of interest to me, so be sure to click on the link above for the original edition.

Roasted Beet, Greens and Pistachio Salad

makes 1 serving

1/2 lb. baby beets, golden and red
2 cups mixed greens (romaine, spinach, watercress, beet greens)
1/2 medium spring onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbs unsalted pistachios, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp grainy mustard
2 tsp hazelnut oil
1 Tbs olive oil

(Photo via Sprouted Kitchen)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The "IT" apartment

Whatever Lauren Santo Domingo wears, reviews or decorates with is always done in such a way that you go, "Damn, I wish I'd thought of that."

She'll pair a polka-dot skirt with a leopard-print top and it works. She'll chop her lovely long locks to her shoulders, spray and tussle it, leaving her with that "just-out-of-bed-hair" that frankly, I've never had, but people like her do. Jealous, Erin? Yes, yes I am.

Clearly Anna Wintour loves Santo Domingo or she wouldn't be featured in Vogue as often as some models do. Her apartment is now for all the world to see on and oh how I swooned.

As I say time and time again, I love it when people are fearless about the use of color -- whether it be in their wardrobe or in their home. I'm so timid when it comes to a splash of this and a splash of that though I'm truly trying to break free of this, but old habits are hard to break.

Santo Domingo does color so well in her NYC loft. I love the pink stool and the diagonal blue and white striped carpet. I would never ever do the latter, but I admire it nonetheless!

Definitely check out the full sideshow. Let me know what you like most.


Eye glasses made cool

I don't wear eye glasses nor contacts. In fact, I'm dreading the day I wake up and realize that things I once was able to see clearly are now a bit fuzzy.

So it was with some surprise that I found myself actually pining for eyewear earlier this week after reading the New York Times' profile of Warby Parker, a start-up company selling $95 glasses online only.

The glasses nearly all follow that slight hipster, slight bookworm sort of look. It's a very masculine design but in my humble opinion I think they look the best on women.

And to top it all off, they took a page out of TOM's book -- for every pair of glasses you buy, Warby Parker donates one to a person in need.

Next time I'm in NYC I might drop by one of their stores, where you can try on a pair before ordering online.

(via New York Times)

It's the little things that count

First Lady Michelle Obama wore these fabulous brick red-colored gloves this week as she welcomed Chinese President Hu Jintao to the White House.

Yet again she reminds us that accessories -- from belts, to shoes to a twist on your regular hairstyle -- is sometimes all it takes to transform an outfit.

(via Mrs. O)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I dig these shoes

Normally I stay far, far, far away from prints and loud colors. I'm rather predictable and boring when it comes to my attire, but these Prada shoes, say no more! Oh, how I love thee.

(via Garance Dore)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Next stop in NYC

I've been following the lovely and talented pastry chef and blogger, Shuna Fish Lydon, for several years now. We had the chance to meet at a conference in San Francisco in 2008 and ever since then I've been rather smitten with her writing.

She has a new gig as the pastry chef at the also new Peels restaurant in NYC so I had to ask my foodie pal in New York if she'd been and what she thought of it. The result -- rave reviews! I was told the "biscuit was unbelievably light" and that the bloody mary, breakfast sandwich and pastry basket were all delightful. [Insert common complaint about how D.C. doesn't have enough cool breakfast-specific places.] This makes me long for fluffy berry muffins, yogurt and muesli with sour cherry preserves...oh god, stop! If I keep going the list will just go on and on and on....

But if I were at Peels for dinner and dessert, I'd have to try the stuffed Montauk squid with roasted tomato, greens, grapefruit and lemon well as the Maine diver scallops served in a cider reduction sauce. And to top it off with Shuna's flare, I'd order two desserts to share -- the 3 in 1 cream pie and the ice cream and sherbert trio (think peppermint stick!).

Madewell comes to D.C.

For starters, I'm a little behind the curve on this one. Madewell's Georgetown location opened mid-November of last year but it wasn't until last weekend that I had a chance to pay a visit.

First of all, for those of you who adore Anthropologie but like me, think the prices are absurd (example: 80$ for a t-shirt?? No thanks.), you'll breathe a sigh of relief. You look at the clothing, peer at the price tag and the two seem to make sense. Finally!

There are cool chambray shirts, amazing suede boots, great tops to mix and match with work and play outfits, and loads of cool accessories -- from belts to scarves. Oh, and the jeans! How could I forget? They come in an array of styles and washes and again, the price point is way better than what you'll find at Barney's or Anthro.

The store's decor is awesome. Very industrial with lots of exposed brick and lovely unfinished wood floors.

The staff couldn't be friendlier and it's easy to see why -- they love the clothes. In fact, they act more like "brand ambassadors" than sales assistants. I just love their enthusiasm.

So this is all to say, that this is my new favorite place to shop in D.C. and if you haven't visited already, you must!

Snowflakes falling

The snow is here! Bundle up folks and stay warm.

(via bonjour!)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A trip to Seattle

We spent a few days around New Year's visiting a friend in his new hometown, Seattle. I'd visited twice before but only for a night or two each, so it was good to be in the hands of a knowledgeable guide this time around, and with more days at my disposal.

For starters, the weather couldn't have been more perfect. The air was crisp and the sky as blue and clear as I've ever seen it in that neck of the woods. I've been in Seattle when it's poured buckets and when it's just been that downright depressing gray that you think will never end. Needless to say, sunshine and dry streets were very welcome changes.

The only thing I can really gripe about was the city's dependence on cars for transportation. Between the Monorail, the Seattle Streetcar and buses, you'd think you'd hear about people getting to work or visiting friends via public transit. But when I asked people if they used rail or bus to get around the answer was a resounding no, and they said that they knew the same to be the case for their friends and co-workers.

Seems a shame to me that a cosmopolitan and progressive city like Seattle lacks a popular mode of public transit. Hope something will be done about that in the years to come.

On a positive note, there's nothing but an abundance of gastronomic, outdoorsy and musical related activities to be had in Seattle. Here's a few of my favorites:
  • Take a 20 minute seaplane ride around Seattle via Seattle Seaplanes (ask for Jim the pilot)
  • Any hot dog your heart desires at Taxi Dogs, just a stroll's away from Pike's Place Market
  • Satisfy your morning carvings with a egg and bacon bialy or a vegetarian quiche at Macrina Bakery in Queen Anne's
  • If you're looking for a kick-ass map, an Ork Poster, a travel guide book or a globe for your house, you have to visit Metsker Maps downtown
  • And if you need to close out the evening in a cozy, chalet-like pub, try Sully's Snowgoose Saloon in Phinney Ridge. A friend of a friend's dad's owns it and supplies it with good bar grub, lots of microbrews and the warmest group of regulars.