Preen by designers Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi is one of Britain's hippest labels right now. Started with a bijoux boutique on London's Portobello Road, Preen has swept me away with their structured, ladylike dresses and clean, classic lines reminiscent of the old fashion houses. The larger shapes make women's frames look tres petite, while the accents aren't overstated to the point of unwearable runway designs. The small details make a huge difference and the simplicity juxtaposed with complex geometrics is to die for. There's something very Jackie O about these pieces with hints of Twiggy and Edie, what could be better?
The literal translation of je ne said quoi is "I know not what". What I have in mind is the certain something French women possess that enables them to look impossibly together and chic at all times. Today, I took Bella to the park for a romp wearing a casual outfit suited for running with the pup while she chased geese and dangling my legs over the bridge in cool water. I looked a mess. Hair piled on top of the head, cut-off shorts and bug bites from the Cape abound. While I was in Paris and for about a month after I cultivated my look, my bangs were mysterious and fringed over my eyelashes, petite sun dresses and perfectly manicured hands in the palest of pink. But now I am back in the "real world" where errands are messy, outings are sweaty and the heavy, humid air makes my hair think erratic waviness is necessary. How can I maintain this dazzling Parisian allure in the sticky air of a New Jersey summer? A new chic must be created, I deem it 'errand chic'!
Few movies inspire me to words in such a welling up of emotion, but this was truly a tale of the tragedy women faced for centuries before me. I have never cried more during a movie purely for the injustice placed upon a women's shoulders as her destiny in this life. I suppose I am having a bout of Anglophilia recently between Georgiana Cavendish and Constance Chatterly. I can't imagine a life in which one was bound to a man she resented when love burned in her heart for another. To be so limited from choosing one's own fate, to be forced to hide true feelings and put on airs for the aristocratic pettiness and desires of selfish men. I am so grateful for the ability to choose what I want to do with my career as a woman, that I have forgotten or maybe never truly understood, the limits to being a woman in the past. Georgiana was a woman full of intelligence, creativity, passion and dreams; yet she married an insolent, selfish Duke who cared for his mistresses more than his wife from the beginning. When she birthed daughters, she was made to feel ashamed, when she fell in love she was forced to choose between her children and her true soul mate, and she was forced to live with her husband and his lover for all of her days starting at a very young age. I cannot imagine this reality, this stark, bitter life she was forced to endure. I vow to never stray from where my heart leads, for we are unaware of how far women have come to be able to freely love whom we please.
Excuse me while I turn up my fan a few notches. I just finished reading "Lady Chatterley's Lover" by D.H. Lawrence. And the masses thought "Madame Bovary" was scandalous? Oh my, I truly haven't read anything these tantalizingly naughty and beautifully sensual, well, ever. Besides the in depth descriptions of the Lady's orgasms in the groundskeeper's cottage, the book has a very strong theme of the ruination of society due to industrialization. As England was at the forefront of the industrial revolution, the two characters share more than their sexual appetites and lust for each other, they share a world view. The view being that the burgeoning industrialization has led English society to a love of money above all else; no longer satisfied by the small things, the English youth have become a sorry lot and the view from Wragby is grim. I have been saying for a while now that this is the exact point when life changed. When material items began being produced en masse, forcing the masses into excessive consumerism, blind ambition for material goods and a dissatisfaction in the simplicity of life's little wonders. This has led to globalization, which in theory and in all of my political science courses, has been touted as the greatest progress since the steam engine. Well I think the steam engine, globalization and even the printing press served as catalysts on the slippery slope we now find ourselves tumbling down. When in another country, one can find all the creature comforts: H & M, Starbucks, McDonalds, and what a TRAGEDY this is! When Mellors and Connie wanted to escape somewhere to avoid the bureaucratic insanity of an early 20th century English divorce from their prior spouses and go live in a hut in India or some other colonial fantasy, the Lady realized a sad fact: the ends of the earth are no longer foreign. This was pre WWI. Now, it is only more so. Lawrence's prophetic views of the ills of industrialization and homogenization of society have only propelled forward in my lifetime. Is anywhere safe from capitalist greed? At least one can hope to find a lover to sit with in front of the fire, a simple lad and lass in a cabin, with good treats to eat and a warm bed, it's good enough for Lady Chatterley and sounds wonderful to me.
After a long day at the beach I was craving lemony, Mediterranean flavors, fresh vegetables and color on my plate.
Grilled vegetables (serves 7)
8 portobello mushroom caps
1 red pepper
1 orange pepper
1 green pepper
2 yellow onions quartered
2 green zucchinis
3 lemons halved horizontally
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
Fresh dill, chopped
Brush or toss with olive oil
Sprinkle on sea salt and pepper
Squeeze one whole lemon over
Place vegetables on grill till sightly charred but firm
Remove from grill, sprinkle dill and serve
Sicilian grilled chicken (serves 7)
1 large garlic clove, pressed
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
6 garlic cloves minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 skinless chicken breasts
4 chicken thighs
Mash garlic and 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt in small bowl with back of spoon or pestle until paste forms. Whisk in lemon juice, then oil. Cover and chill. Bring to room temp before serving, can be done a day ahead.
Whisk lemon juice, parsley, olive oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in medium bowl. Place chicken thighs and breasts resealable plastic bags. Divide marinade between bags. Seal the bags, releasing excess air. Turn to coat chicken with marinade. Chill at least 1 hour or up to 1 day, turning the bag occasionally. Remove chicken from bags and grill.
Slice 3-4 lemons in half horizontally. Place face down on the grill for 2 minutes or until slightly charred.
Spoon Mediterranean drizzle over chicken and grilled vegetables and serve.
With the windows down, the salty, warm air filled the car as we got turned off the highway into East Falmouth. There is something magical about Cape Cod, all of it's northeast New England charm, oceans and bays, cranberry bogs, lakes and ponds, and a laid back atmosphere that invites you to canoe on a lake or go crabbing. Despite some less than perfect weather, I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the Cape. Fresh fish, salty shores, quaint weathered Victorians and an old fashioned simplicity make me wish I could spend all summer exploring the Cape.
After completing 1984 I found myself questioning how far off George Orwell was in his 1949 dystopian predictions of the future. Sure, Oceania doesn't really exist, but do we really know whether we are at war with Eurasia or Eastasia? One day it's the Gulf War, the next Iraq. Orwell speaks of being at war over land purely for natural resources and the labor of the people, who will always be kept at the lowest class by the superpowers of the world. While Big Brother may not be on a Telescreen in my living room, I certainly do feel all my personal information and internet searches are easily accessible to the government. The government instituted in 1984's grim predictions was based on fear and succumbing to false realities. When I look at the radical Conservatives fearing gay marriage and anyone with an Arabic last name, I wonder, was this Cheney's guide during the Bush administration? There was one particular passage in the book that described the constituents of the Party as believing anything they were told because they were not intelligent enough to create their own thoughts. The fear mongering of the past administration clung to these people in order to gain support from people who truly lacked the capability to coherently understand what they were choosing to believe in. I feel as though the dark cloud of the potential for a 1984 style future has lightened since the election of Obama. However, the potential for such a dangerous and pleasure free society still exists. We must relinquish the Soviet style Communism as well as the American style capitalism. Both have proven unsuccessful in their own time. The starkness of neo-Bolshevism, Socialism and Communism in 1984 predicted a scary future, the totalitarians of the 20th century inspired fear in Orwell's writing for an all controlling power, yet the love of money and greed for natural resources led us to the same place in recent years. There must be a better way.
Chicago is a mecca for foodies and slow food movement idealists. It seems a new trendy (and good!) restaurant pops up on every corner almost every week and even in this tough economic environment outdoor tables were packed even on weeknights. I always know a good meal when I think about it days, months, even years later. The Everest Room for my 16th birthday still brings memories of salmon mousse.
Chef Jean Joho, of Everest fame, has a delightful place on Hubbard Street called Brasserie Jo. The menu is classic French with regional specific cuisine demonstrating Joho's true knowledge of not just his origins in Alsace, but all of France. A live band played on Bastille Day as I enjoyed my Chicken liver mousse and country pate, sampled some of my mom's escargot and feasted on Steak au poivre, pommes gallette and roasted vegetables. The night I dined there, the Tour de France was in the Loire Valley. Naturally, there were featured wines from the region as well as dishes. Loire Valley wines typically don't travel well, so we strayed away from that, but my grandpa Jon ordered the braised rabbit leg, onions, and shallots in vouvray sauce which is very traditional to the region. Chef Joho came out later and with a charm unique to the French, wrote down a couple of restaurants I must try in Nice and Paris when I return with his signature to ensure my ability to get a table sans reservation. A truly perfect evening.
My second meal worth mentioning was at May Street Market. With homey, new-classic decor and a well thought out menu utilizing seasonal ingredients in innovative ways, this is definitely a new favorite. A concept I hadn't seen before gives you the option to dine either prix fixe, or in the Market Room or Bistro Room off the main menu, enabling you to tailor your dining experience. The menu is varied enough for a variety of palates without losing its vision and the dishes are well thought out and incredibly flavorful. While in a few cases I thought they were gilding the lily a bit, the zucchini chutney on the side of my fried green tomato salad seemed an odd choice, but the vine ripened tomato salad and lemon vinaigrette were the type of details that really do make these dishes stand out. My entree was quite memorable, r
As the plane glided lower, the clouds formed a mist; all the lights blurred and the air felt heavy. I had just gotten through a very, very grim part of my book, 1984, which doesn't paint a very bright picture overall. I have done this before, I thought to myself, not sure which emotion suited this particular landing. Two parents. Two states. That was how it had been since I was 8 years old, back in my 'unaccompanied minor' days. Now I'm 22."Welcome to the Garden State," a voice says to no one in particular. I immediately think about my mom, how much I miss her, always missed her after I moved in with my dad. Then I remember all the places I didn't see, places that make Chicago home. Michigan Avenue would have been touristy, I reassure myself; but what about Armitage and it's boutiques, the Green City Market, North Avenue Beach and Castaways, and the old Marshall Field's for Frango chocolates.
I've found myself doing this a lot lately; missing people and cities. The more I think about it, the more I realize that if your lucky, you will always have people and places to miss. That's kind of the beauty of this whole thing called life, for me at least. Tonight I'm missing Paris and Chicago, but tomorrow I'm off to Cape Cod, to fall in love with another place.
There are many rules of fashion and few that I deem necessary to follow. Horizontal stripes have been warned against in excess by fashion magazines, stylists and occasionally, honest friends. However, stripes may provide certain illusions regarding girth of the female body, but chances are the excess visual results are minimal and you are missing out on some seriously fun fashion. I personally LOVE anything nautical, not to mention those cute striped boat neck fishing shirts made famous by the French. Boating on Lake Michigan every summer with my grandparents, anchors and stripes abound! So let's try and toss these insecure fashion rules overboard and jump right in to horizontal stripes. Sorry, these metaphors were just too easy...
I just saw Obama walk past a bouquet of sunflowers on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. This time last year I was gearing up for my internship there at the Democratic National Convention. Sometimes I close my eyes and picture the rolling hills of Tuscany in July a few summers ago. How times do change, I love these memories...
Forty years ago today a voice bellowed out from the television set across America, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind", as a fuzzy, yet distinct shot of Neil Armstrong bounced across the screen. I can't help but get goosebumps watching this clip even today. But I also find myself alarmed. Do we need another escalating feud with Russia to inspire some serious technological advances? Just as they did 40 years ago, the world is watching to find out who will take charge in the race toward environment sustainability, emissions reductions and energy independence. In 130 days, nations will meet in Copenhagen to make some of these decisions. While the first man on the moon is impressive, wouldn't saving this planet really impress our children 40 years from now?
To learn more about the COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference this December go to: http://en.cop15.dk/?gclid=CPT10Iam5ZsCFRINDQodpGHy4g
At first these tasty treats may appear to be too oddly shaped and colorfully diverse to the naked eye. But give these delicious tomatoes a chance and you will taste some of the most succulent tomatoes of the season. August is rapidly approaching and it is the time for tomatoes, so don't overlook these odd delights on your next visit to the farmer's market!
Heirloom tomatoes got their name due to the way they are grown. Unlike regular tomatoes they are open-pollinated, meaning they grow directly from the seed of a previous fruit whose variety has been around for at least 50 years. The tomatoes themselves are delicate and can't take too much handling so they are typically picked and sold within two days making them the freshest tomatoes you can find. The skin is incredibly tender and they are quite absorbent so they work quite nicely with vinaigrettes in salads.
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
3 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, halved if small or cut into slices if medium or large, cut carefully so as not to bruise the skin
Chopped fresh basil
Sliced fresh mozzarella
Whisk together vinegar, salt, and peper in a large bowl. Add oil in a slow, continuous stream, whisking constantly until both parts oil and vinegar are emulsified. Add tomatoes and mozzarella, gently toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Alexander Wang. Perfect casual chic with asymmetrical cuts, draped lines, eclectic use of material and classic pieces. Without being overdone, these pieces create a relaxed, yet completely put together look that I just adore! The draped dresses are my favorite, but his cropped jackets and vests are a close second.
I have been listening to Sufjan Stevens non-stop since Ben put it on a playlist for me in Europe. My favorite albums are Seven Swans and Come on Feel the Illinoise. Pretty much all the songs are amazing but my favorites right now are 'Chicago', 'To be alone with you', 'Abraham' and 'Decatur'. I've been listening to 'To be alone with you' every night on my iPod and missing my Benjamin. It reminds me of his apartment in Copenhagen and lying on our tiny bed. Sigh.
Oh, food. How I love thee, let me count the ways. One of my favorite expressions is, 'Some people eat to live, some people live to eat.' I'm sure you can guess which category I fall into. Food is so much more than subsistence for me, it tells you about the culture, the history, the spirit of a region. Local food can teach you about what has grown in an area for centuries, the animals that are native to the land and what will be freshest in that locale. Through out my life I have been blessed to be surrounded by foodies. My mother and my grandmama are superb chefs in their own right. The delectable delights I have sampled in my life have led me to acquire a broad palate. However, when cooking for myself and Ben, I tend to stick to simple, homey, healthy recipes with lots of delicious seasonal vegetables and light sauces. However, I will never shy away from eccentric, ethnic, rich foods if given the opportunity. As a result, I love almost all foods as long as they consist of fresh ingredients and complimentary flavors. In Europe, Ben and I would comb the streets searching for the perfect gem of local cuisine.
10 Tips for Eating Locally while Traveling Globally:
1 - Look for Menus that are not in English.
2 - It's a good sign if there are mainly locals hanging out and dining.
3 - The local beer/wine should be first on the drink menu.
4 - The dishes central to the region should be prominent on the menu.
5 - Leave the tourist areas, even a few blocks away will help. There should be no mention of pizza, hamburgers and the like (this ensures they are not catering to Americans)
6 - The menu should contain foods you know to be native to the region (e.g., pork in Prague, herring in Copenhagen..)
7 - Don't always go by the guidebook, they often know the best art, architecture, etc. but not necessarily the best food, unless it is a dining specific resource.
8 - Street food can be the best, if it is something you have never seen before, it is probably a local specialty.
9 - Find out the country's history, were they an empire or a colony of one? If they were, they probably have a large selection of the conquered or conquering country's cuisine. Think: Chinese in Amsterdam, Turkish in Berlin..
10 - Be open minded! The fried pork with sauerkraut and bread dumplings in Prague was one of my favorite meals, I wish I could find it in the states!
Here are some pictures of local cuisine from my last trip to Europe:
Bratwurst in Berlin, note the tiny buns!
Street food in Prague: Fresh pork sausage with
a piece of rye bread, mustard, horseradish, pickles and peppers
Fresh potatoes in Prague
Cheese in Prague
Pastries in Prague
Cheese in Amsterdam
Beer in Brussels
Hopus, a delicious blonde beer, in Brussels
Dessert at La Palais du Royal in Paris