Space-age Sips

On Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris, one of the most fashionable streets in the world, the somewhat-modest-looking (from the outside anyway) Mandarin Oriental has a gorgeous bar (Bar 8) worth popping into for a cocktail. You’ll walk in along a corridor of suspended lights that look like rain (well, dream-rain, from the future). Centered in the room is a large marble bar, with a sculpted brass ceiling that bows to meet it. Glass-top tables dotted with tiny lights are filled with ambiguous bourgeoisie and the wooden walls are inlaid with Lalique crystals that glisten in the dim lighting. You swear there is a record deal happening but feet away in the enchanting, tree-filled courtyard… but wait…huge headphones are an accessory these days, aren’t they…

When you think you can be awed no more, you’ll sip from your husband’s specialty cocktail (that the bartender made love to while you watched and  properly torched the sugar and absinthe before dusting the top with gold leaf tear drops) and wish you hadn’t saved the $2 by ordering a $38 glass of prosecco. (To offset the cost of this extravagance, we recommend absconding with the olive skewers and cocktail napkins—which, by the way—my husband is now using as a pocket square. Seriously…)

Thankfully (for our wallets), Sur Mesure, Thierry Marx‘s (you may recognize him from Top Chef) incredibly gorgeous restaurant on the premises was closed that night, but it’s also definitely worth a peek, if they’ll let you. It’s a minimalist, modern cocoon of a space and I can only imagine the mind-blowing flavors, sounds and smells that fill it on a busy night.

Chic, Playful & Mobile Vaca Trailer…

DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS)
just announced their 30 for 30 online auction to raise money for DIFFA and to commemorate their 30 years of fighting AIDS. There are some great (tho pricey) pickins in there—including lunch consultation with Kelly Wearstler—so check it out.

I saw this Great American Woody (designed by Brad Ford) at Dining by Design this year and they are auctioning it off. It’s GORGEOUS and would be a great mobile vacation home for 2 or mobile party for many! At least check it out—it’s so cute and chic! Think tailgating at the Hampton Classic next summer…

Corsican delights… in Paris

My husband and I had one of the best meals of our lives, by chance. Our odds were probably good, as we were walking through the Jardin du Palias Royale in Paris when we happened upon the dimly-lit, gorgeous and cozy restaurant with low, vaulted, brick ceilings. Casa Luna is the name. A fine mix of Corsican and French cuisine. Seriously interesting use of tomato, cucumber and eggplant in the dishes to create startlingly complex and unexpected flavors.

We started with a grilled squid tower layered with creamy, roasted eggplant, tomato and heaven. Husband had duck that was to die for and I had lamb (a cut i’ve never seen…like a steak) with figs and a base of tomato (treated in a way that was so simple yet so different). When we thought we could be stunned no more, the hazlenut pudding with hazlenut gelato, hazlenut cream, and roasted & candied hazlenuts put us into a coma. We were pleasantly awoken by the classic Corsican aperitif, Mirto—known for its strong herbal flavor—which is made from the myrtle plant through the maceration of the berries berries and leaves.

DIY Decorative Wall Treatment

Less is More! This is a simple and easy concept for a wall treatment—perfect for rooms that already have enough going on.
I cut rough 8″ squares of reclaimed wood, whitewashed them with matte paint, laid them out on on the floor to make a template and then nailed them right through the center into the wall with 3″ nails. I left the nails protruding (by 1–2″) to give the overall look a little more texture—the shadows at different times of the day give it a little depth and movement.

DIY Window Valances

Dress up a room and give it more visual height with window valances.
I built these out of 1/2″ ply wood, batting and the same fabric (or an extra panel) as the drapes. Tools used: pneumatic nail gun, wood glue, staple gun (with heavy duty staples), glue gun, L-brackets (to securely attach the valance to the ceiling in 3 places) and a cordless drill.

Beauty of the Barnes

After years of efforts to resolve financial problems (or some say years of scandal—see the documentary The Art of the Steal), the famous Barnes Foundation will (as of May 19, 2012) relocate to a new site—on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the heart of Phili—from it’s historic home in the suburb of Merion.

It was founded in 1922 by Albert C. Barnes, a chemist who collected art after making a fortune by co-developing an antimicrobial drug. Today, the foundation (curated by Barnes himself) possesses more than 2,500 objects—including 800 paintings—estimated to be worth about $25 billion.
Here are some of my favorites.

My Last Supper

I went to a dinner last night at City Grit, a new membership-based supper club for the underground foody world, located in the rear of a church on Prince Street in Soho. It’s a fabulous antiques and furniture shop by day and an uber-cool supper club by night. The chef there, Sarah Simmons (who was running the club out of her apartment for many years before they found this space) put together a 5-course dining experience to go hand in hand with the launch of My Last Supper, The Next Course by Melanie Daneu (author and photographer). Melanie has spent the last few years traveling around the globe to interview and shoot every world-class chef. The book—second after My Last Supper—showcases stunning portraits of each chef, along with their last meal and even the recipes! Melanie is a very well-known portrait photographer, as is her husband Nigel Parry. She also has a food/photography blog worth checking out

Sarah Simmons’ of City Grit pulled the following 5 courses together from My Last Supper, The Next Course to give us a ridiculously tasty intro to the gorgeous book:

1. Eric Ripert‘s truffled country bread with Gabrielle Hamilton‘s soft scrambled eggs
2. Micael Symons little pork meatballs with mint and cracked pepper pasta
3. Dan Barber‘s braised pig salad
4. Daniel Humm‘s herb roasted lamb with parmesan cream grits and Suzane Groin‘s italian brocoli with shallots, garlic and red pepper
5. April Bloomfield‘s banotee pie