July 31, 2011

Paul McCartney just re-released his first solo album, McCartney, and I have been playing this piece on repeat for the last couple of weeks. Perfect for slow, summery mornings.

Singalong Junk

July 29, 2011

Oh god. This quote speaks to me so well. I have been caught feeling up columns at Chinook Center, and have many intimate encounters with furniture pieces over the years. Designers, you know what I'm talking about.

So it's another Friday, and another long weekend! Long weekends make me want to be productive. But on the other hand, sitting in the sun in the park sounds pretty great too. What will you be getting up to?
  • The online magazine world continues to explode, and my newest find is Kinfolk Mag. This magazine makes me breathless with it's beautiful imagery, and text. Absolutely swoon worthy.
  • My mum and I scooped up copies of Jeni's ice cream cookbook the minute it came out, and holy hannah... it is awesome. We tried the Star Anise Ice Cream with Candied Fennel. It left us speechless. So ASAP, I will be purchasing a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker for myself to make all these amazing creations, as well as getting a personal trainer, to offset the copious ice cream consumption. My Monday Night Supper Club better watch out...
  • I've been looking for mattress ticking fabrics, and my search led me to Ian Mankin out of the UK. He has a fabulous range of utility inspired fabrics which speak to everything I love.
  • I also discovered Merchant no. 4 this week, an online store out of NY that has curated an interesting collection of good from a variety of independent artisans and designers. Most of their collection focuses on really simple, handcrafted goods.
Happy Weekend!

July 26, 2011

Most days in New York we started with a quick coffee and a muffin, either from Whole Foods or Dean and Deluca. The Bouchon Bakery is deserving of a mention here, as it is operated by Thomas Keller and served some really beautiful French pastries and great coffee. I especially loved the graphics.

During our shopping excursion to Soho, we couldn't help but stop at Balthazar, a great New York institution. I'd been trying to have a cucumber martini for three days, and I finally got one here. It was blissfully refreshing on such a hot day.

We of course had to order the oysters. Delightful.

La Esquina was the place I had the most recommendations for. Everyone raved about their corn and taco's. There was no room inside when we went, so we ordered at the window and sat outside. We had a cob of their infamous corn, which was really interesting with a chili powder rub and grated cheese. I'd like to actually dine inside if I ever go back.

My husband would have eaten pizza for every meal if I didn't restrain him, but I did let him visit Artichoke twice. Their namesake pizza was incredible, with a creamy artichoke sauce, and big chunks of melted mozzarella. We ordered it both times.

Another thing about my husband, he didn't want to eat anywhere that he hadn't researched and ensured that it was worth eating at. But one day his stomach trumped his head, and we stopped into Peels. It turned out to be great spot for lunch, and we really enjoyed the modern take on some American classics.

I was determined to eat and black and white cookie while in NY, so we stopped in at Crumbs one day. It was great, although I don't have anything to really compare it to. It was thick and cakey with a nice, smooth icing.

I'm always interested to see spaces that I have seen published, to see how accurate the photography and story was. Our hotel was quite close to Quality Meats, which is published in Best Ugly, a book that profiles a few of the restaurants by Avroko. Overall I was pretty impressed. The space did feel smaller, but cameras do tend to make things feel larger as they manipulate their viewpoints. Like ABC Kitchen, this restaurant had a really strong concept that flowed through every element of the brand and interior. Being a meat focused space, all the waiters even wore butcher coats as their uniform. So we felt that the best thing to order would be the Tartar. We loved it. It came deconstructed and the presentation was great. Once we stirred it all together, we realized it also tasted great.

Quality Meats also has an ice cream bar which we couldn't resist. You can see why.

One of my favourite places was Bill's Gay 90's, which is one of the original NY Speakeasy's. It was a fantastic piano bar that was full of enthusiastic patrons. We had such an awesome time sipping Manhattan's and Cosmo's and enjoying such a unique part of of the city. This was the one place I wish I could have transplanted back to Calgary.

The one place we actually had a sit down breakfast was The Breslin, which is located in the Ace Hotel. Brunch was good, but made me happy that we didn't spend a lot eating out for breakfast. I never really find that meal to be special enough to justify the extra expense sometimes.

The interior was interesting with lots of interesting art and accessories cluttering the shelves. The millwork and furniture had an old English pup/cafe feel.

On our last day, we stopped over at the Frying Pan, which a bar that sits on one of the docks overlooking the Hudson River. It was a really interesting place, and it was great to sit somewhere in the cool breeze. Unfortunately for me, I tend to get a bit seasick at those types of places. A moving boat in one thing, but a slightly moving dock is another. It was all I could do to drink one ginger ale before bailing.

Our very last stop was for a quick taste of the ubiquitos Pinkberry. I have always wanted to taste their special frozen yogurt and I finally got my chance. Any boy was it good. The yogurt was perfectly tart and sweet. And now I will spend my time trying to recreate it's perfectly balanced flavors. Or, you can now get it in Vancouver!

So that was our food adventure. I've kept one under wraps for a post later this week, and more great details of our trip to come.

July 24, 2011

My favourite coleslaw is the tiny container that you get as a side at the Avenue Deli, here in Calgary. I love non-creamy coleslaws, and I have been attempting to recreate the dressing for the Avenue one for awhile. I think I did just that tonight. This salad is bright and crisp and perfect as a summer side dish.

Fresh Summer Coleslaw

1 Tbsp Oil
5 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
3 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
1/2 Tsp Crushed Garlic
1 Tbsp Mustard Seeds
2 Cups of Shredded Green and Red Cabbage and Carrots (This is the size of the pre-shredded store bought bags of coleslaw you can also buy)

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a small bowl and whisk. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to coat. Serve immediately for a really crisp salad, or let the cabbage marinate in the dressing so it gets a bit softer.

I've had cabbage salads with almonds, cranberries, or dry chow mein noodles added, and I think that this salad would be a great base for adding all of those things to as well.

July 22, 2011

Here are the problems with going to NY. Calgary is not as cool as NY. So coming home is a bit of a disappointment. Also, you are poor after coming home from NY. Oh well.

Fab Friday!
  • I discovered Crabbies this week, so I can at least have a good time at home with a bottle of this in hand.
  • My favourite jewellery designers have ventured into new territory. A couple of weeks ago, Nervous System launched their new lighting collection. Building on their portfolio of 3D printed nylon products, these pieces look like beautiful underwater specimens.
  • We've decided to do a large artwall installation in our dining room so I'm on the lookout for affordable prints and unique images. Check out this incredible collection of photography, from Vincent Musi. And the best part? These are all free to download and use for your personal use!
  • This is a stunning handpainted ceiling treatment, complete with timelapse video! I've been more and more interested in unique handpainted walls and ceilings lately. Am I willing to attempt something like this myself?

Ehn Dhr Uunvers [...] from Juls Oh on Vimeo.

Happy Friday!

July 20, 2011

So we spent most of our time doing what we love best, eating. It was incredible. So I'm going to take some time here to list out everywhere we visited, because they are all worth going back to! But we ate at so many places, I'm going to divide it up into a couple of posts. So here it is. Our NYC Eating Extravaganza, Part 1.

The first place that we officially sat down to eat at was The Modern, which is the restaurant at MOMA. It featured a great menu of French-American cuisine, and was divided into three courses, and also encouraged sharing. It was very stylish with a glamourous clientele, and looks out to the garden at the museum. Pictured above is the Lamb and Goat Cheese Terrine.

The Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien hotel was really fun. This space is hidden behind a floor to ceiling curtain in the hotel lobby. The only hint that it is there is the smell of sizzling beef on the grill, and the little neon burger sign tucked at the end of a corridor. Inside is a great dive of a burger place, with a very simple menu. The walls are covered in handwritten scrawl from past customers, and the brick wall is lined with names of celebs who dropped by.

One evening we went out for drinks before dinner and chose the Russian Vodka Room. It's dark and moody interior has been around for ages. The menu features several house infused flavoured vodka, including a horseradish vodka that actually turned out to be really good. The menu looked great too, featuring lots of pickled fish and caviar dishes.

Our big splurge meal was at Eleven Madison Park. The entire experience was phenomenal from start to finish. The restaurant was awarded an Outstanding Restaurant Award by the James Beard Foundation this year, and for good reason. The menu features four courses, with a list of only the main ingredient of each dish, so what you eventually get is a complete surprise. The meal was preceded by a parade of incredible amuse bouche's including a Goat Cheese Lollypop. Then after the meal, trays of sweets emerged from the kitchen, which is pictured above. Here you will see the Lemon Shortbread, a Meringue, and an Earl Grey and Blackberry Macaron, each about the size of a quarter.

The end of the meal also meant that this bottle of cognac was left at your table with the encouragement to help yourself. Indeed.

The service at Eleven Madison was absolute top notch. It was like sitting amidst an orchestra as the service unfolded around you. Servers would pop up out of nowhere to replace or remove things, to refill the wine and refold your napkin when you left the table. It was certainly a meal I won't soon forget.

After that extravaganza, we ventured to the West Village to Little Branch. Here's the exterior shot. Sure doesn't look like much.

My husband was a bit obsessed with going to a Speakeasy, and this was the closest we got. Little Branch is known for it's great bar tending staff and delectable cocktails. It's located in a basement with a pair of curious vintage washrooms, and while you sip your drink, you can hear the rumble of the subway as it rolls along nearby.

After we saw the McQueen exhibit at the Met one morning, we went up to their rooftop patio for a quick bite to eat. While the food service was just a couple of cold pre-made sandwiches and drinks, the view of the Manhattan skyline more than made up for it. You should ask at the info booth how to get up there, as only one elevator will take you to the roof.

We went to a concert on a dock one afternoon, which meant we got to try some NY food truck food! We went to the Rickshaw Dumpling Truck for a couple of the best dumplings I have ever had. The Chicken and Thai Basil dumplings had a coconut sauce inside along with other veggies, which made the whole thing taste like a fabulous bowl of Thai Coconut Chicken soup. I will dream about those dumplings.

My husband also insisted on going to ABC Kitchen, which won the Best New Restaurant award at the James Beard awards this year. What I loved most about this restaurant was that the concept flowed through every element of the space. Anything that the guest saw or touched continually reinforced the concept of the restaurant. No surprise it was fitted out with lots of gorgeous pieces from ABC Home, which it's adjacent to. The food was nice, with a focus on local, sustainable, and organic cuisine. But honestly, I don't feel like that was the only restaurant that I could have had that meal at.

That's all for today, but stay tuned for Part 2!

July 18, 2011

I {heart} NY, orignal sketch by Milton Glaser

Life List: Visit NYC in all Four Seasons. Summer, check!

New York was fabulous. We had an amazing time, and over the next little while I will be sharing some of our experiences. But for now I need time to recover from my holiday...

July 11, 2011

I'm doing my usual vacation beauty prep, and thought I would share this easy scrub with you. My sister works in high end beauty retail and this type of thing can cost upwards of $30 for a small tub of exfoliating scrub. This costs like 2 cents.

In the palm of your hand combine one spoonful of oil (I use olive oil but any common cooking oil will do) and one spoonful of either salt or sugar. If you have any cuts on your hand, I would not use the salt. Rub the mixture all over your hands vigourously. Rinse with warm water to remove the sugar/salt, but don't use any soap, as you want the oil to remain. Lightly dry hands and continue to rub in oil until it is absorbed.

I do this frequently, as I love to exfoliate! You can use this all over, just combine the mixture in a small bowl to make enough.

July 8, 2011

I guess I'm starting this Friday off on a low note, as one of my life list items is technically unachievable now. This morning, NASA launched the final flight of the Atlantis space shuttle, marking the ending of the space shuttle program. And I wasn't there to watch it. So I guess that puts that item on hiatus for awhile.

Oh well. It's another Friday, and another summery forecast for the weekend! What do you have planned?
  • I started this morning off with an Eton Mess donut from Jelly Modern. It was fabulous. Have you been yet? The Eton Mess was a special flavour for Prince William's visit, but they have many other delicious flavours like the lemon, or maple bacon!

  • I picked up a copy of America's Test Kitchen magazing this week, and I forgot how much I loved Cook's Illustrated in general, and also the ATK show on PBS. Easy, straighforward recipies with great tips and photography. I'm planning to cook my way through that magazine from cover to cover.

  • We have made a couple of restaurant reservations for NYC, and one that I am particularly excited about is ABC Kitchen. At this year's James Beard Awards, ABC won Best New Restaurant for 2011. You can count on a few foodie posts over the next couple weeks.

  • Black Sheep White Light is a Toronto retailer of beautiful and sustainable hides. Originally they sold a variety of sheepskins, and have recently added reindeer hides to their line.

Happy Weekend!

July 7, 2011

Some classical favourites:

As with many classical songs, you may know a song to hear it but may not know the song name or composer. I heard Trois Gymnopedies being played on an accordion as we were walking through Paris years ago, but at the time, couldn't recall what it was called. We were newly engaged and I thought that it would be a great song to include in our wedding. I remember I kept repeating about 6 notes from tune over and over in my head so I wouldn't forget which song I was trying to find. Once we were back home in Canada, I spent weeks and weeks on classical music websites, going through archives and catalogues and listening to every song imaginable until I finally found it. And we played it during our ceremony, as we signed the certificates. And I will always remember passing that little cafe in Montmartre and falling in love with that accordion and how authentically French that moment was.

July 5, 2011

#teamconnie photo via @AlexKGT

For the past 8 weeks I have had the amazing pleasure of joining these fine folks, and many others at the high top table at Charcut, to cheer on our Top Chef, Connie DeSousa. The finale for the show was last night, and while Connie didn't end up on top, it was incredible to be surrounded by so many enthusiastic fans and give her a standing ovation for a job well done.

This group of friends is another example of the amazing power of Twitter. I know I may be preaching to the choir here, but Twitter really has opened up so many incredible social opportunities for me. And I am so greatful for that.

Special thanks to Dan for starting the team and bringing everyone together every week, and to Chelsea for designing our t-shirts!

And here's a great wrap up post by Dan on FoodNetwork.ca!

July 4, 2011

Sound the horns! We're kicking off the life list summer with a trip to NYC! Toot toot! While the rest of Calgary is Stampeding it up next week, we will be taking advantage of the down time by enjoying a little holiday. And I know this trip will only get me another 1/4 of the way towards my goal of NYC in all four seasons, but I'm really thrilled to get to spend a week in the Big Apple! And who knows...maybe there are other list items to tackle while we are there.

Besides the obvious NYC attractions, we want to try to hit up some interesting parts of NY that maybe others would overlook or will make our trip unique. Here's a couple of things we are really looking forward too:

The Radio Dept and Asobi Seksu at the Seaport Music Festival (free!)
Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the Met (the reason I prioritized this trip)
The High Line (the second phase just opened!)

And let's not forget all the fabulous food...

If you have any suggestions for us, leave a comment!

photo above of a Banksy piece in NYC, via High Snobriety.

July 1, 2011

Happy Canada Day! This is an extra Fab Friday as it is also a holiday. First long weekend of the summer. I hope you are all getting out to enjoy it. On my agenda? A pig roast, campfires, canoeing in the mountains, learning to golf, and lots of good quality friend time. I can't wait!
  • Love this Calgary print by etsy artist birdAve. Etsy is also featuring lots of red and white on the homepage today in honour of Canada Day.
  • Thinking I might like to steal some of my neighbours rhubarb and make this rhubarb galette this weekend.
  • And now that the postal strike is over, my latest issue of Anthology mag arrived. You must pick up a copy. It's always filled with such wonderful things.
  • Loving this Feist cover by James Blake, Limit to Your Love.