FASHION FLASHBACK: FASHION AND FRAGRANCE

imageI'm actually doing a flash post today….I found that I need to do more extensive research on this vast subject which, I anticipate, will be several posts on fashion and fragrance.  The history of it, the business of it, the beauty of the packaging, etc. The image above found on Pinterest, photo credit unknown, is of Paul Poiret in a collage of some of his fragrances, who was the first Haute Couture designer to create signature fragrances.  He formed Rosine, named for his daughter, and so the designer fragrance was born.

imagePoiret in his Perfumerie.  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

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Please look for future posts, beginning, Friday, August 25 for the Fashion and Fragrance series.

PROFILE: THE POTTERY BOYS

imageI had the great pleasure of seeing the Pottery Boys in action this week and I wanted to share their story with you.  I will be doing so in several posts this week and invite you to their pottery demonstration and open house on Saturday, August 19th in Blue Island, Illinois (see the bottom of this post for all the deets!)

How you might ask, did I hear about this talented duo…my dear friends (family), Tom Mantel and Tom Hawley have been collecting their pieces for several years and I have admired their pieces in their Mid-Century home (a post in the future!).

imageThree pieces from The Toms collection…aren’t they stunners!  The detail and shading are amazing let alone the size of the center piece.  I do love them against the brick wall in the living room, modern pottery coming from the earth against brick also coming from the earth and tracing Blue Island’s roots as the “Brick Capital of the World”!

Over the years I have admired the pieces and have said I wanted to meet Glenn Woods and Keith Herbrand, I had that opportunity this week and was totally enamored with the process.  It was quite the experience to see Glenn in action and learn more about the art of potting (I’ll share that story later this week).

imageWhat Glenn was working on when I arrived at the workshop.

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Finishing the piece in very short order! Ready for decorating and then firing.

imageOne of the three kilns.

imageA portion of my workroom tour.

imageA selection of leaves waiting for their color to be applied.

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Heart shaped leaves (I will think they are inspired by my beloved redbud trees see the glorious weeping redbud, below, in The Toms garden!).

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As is usual I ask my “Profiles” to answer a questionnaire…this one has been tailored especially for The Pottery Boys and Glenn graciously answered my questions, you will read much more on his technique later in the week, and Keith gave me a tour of some of the finished product.

imageSome of the finished pieces.

imagePieces of Keith’s creativity.

When did you start doing your art and why pottery?  (I am the daughter of an artist so perhaps I view art differently, I hope so!) 
I have always loved making things and as a child would sew dresses for my friend’s dolls, or style their hair, or crochet something – I also had a learning disability – reading and grasping abstract concepts was difficult for me so I would often seek art as a way to feel productive. I was in special education from 3rd grade to 6th grade and I remember hearing that if you couldn’t do math, science, or read well, they would put you in art class – Thank God for art classes, that is where I found myself and was able to grow.
It was my high school teacher – Judy Wenig (who I am still friends with today) who introduced me to clay as well as a host of other art mediums but I fell in love with clay the moment I sat down at the potters wheel. My first piece was dated 1974 – I still remember that piece and how it gave me hope for my future as a potter.
 Has your aesthetic changed over the years, if so how? Has it just evolved or has your style changed completely?
I tell people all the time that my style has changed dramatically over the years – and it has. However, recently I met up with a college friend who was also an art major – he found me at an art fair in Indianapolis. My work has gone through so many changes as I explore different techniques and ceramic materials, so I was excited to show him my new work – but he said “I recognized your work instantly” I was shocked. At first I took it as a disappointing suggestion that I have not grown at all but the more I think about it, I guess it is a complement. No matter how many changes and transformations my work takes, there is still something there, a common thread that is evident despite the changes – to an artist this is a great compliment.
 
Where do you get your inspiration for your pieces?
I sketch a lot – I dream a lot – I admire other artists’ work a lot. You can see influence from nature in most of my work – some people see suggestions of gourd shapes, flowers, twisting branches, and even patterns found in snowflakes. The truth is, I never look at a flower and say – “I am going to incorporate that in my work” it just seems to surface as a desire to design, decorate, or create patterns. The general public tend to find the influence by asking if I was influenced by something specific – wow, I can see your influence from Asian potters, or lotus blooms, or . . . I often discover my influence through other peoples observations.
 
Do you do commissions?  How do they affect your creativity?
I will do commissions but only on rare occasions – when I feel the commision will take me down a path I would like to explore, I go for it. However, I NEVER take a deposit and I ALWAYS say, I will give it a shot and then move on from there. I do not like to spend time chasing after another person’s dream – If I can’t capture what they are looking for in the first series, I suggest they find an artist whose style is more closely aligned with what they are looking for. I work in small series – 6 to 10 pieces, if they cannot find one piece in that series that meets their needs, we both go our own way and I have a few new pieces to show. Chasing after commissions tends to disrupt the creative process.
 
I understand that you spend your winters in Florida how does that inspire you?
I became a full time potter in 2001 and moved from Evanston, IL to Palm Harbor, FL because Florida has so many outside art fairs, an artist has shows to pick from year ’round. I have never liked the heat and I am not into beach life so the influence one might think I would get from living in Florida is very limited. The greatest change to my work is color – when we lived in the midwest, my colors tended to be more neutral – browns, tans, rust, deep blue, and dark greens. These colors do not do well in Florida so we now use lots of lighter colors, teals, emerald greens, deep blues – very water borne colors. I am color blind – not totally but I never know what color I can’t see until we are talking color variations and then I am in big trouble – in mixing glazes, my thought process is more focused on the chemistry rather than the value or depth of color – when glazing I am looking for a color blend from light to dark to create weight and a sense of depth so it is less about color and more about how the colors interact, blend, and work to create that sense of depth – even if you were viewing the piece in black and white.
 
Why do you create in Blue Island?
I often say, Blue Island found us, we did not seek out Blue Island intentionally. After moving to Florida, we decided to establish a home base back here in the midwest – especially after deciding to participate in summer art fairs for 4 months out of the year – traveling back and forth was not an effective way for us to live and we needed a place to work and live for the summer months while participating in the art fairs (without relying on staying with family or friends). We met Bridget Scales at the Bucktown Art Fair – she told us of a building in Blue Island that might just fit our needs – a year later, we moved in and love the building, the town, and especially the Blue Islanders – Blue Island has a rich history and those who live here love it’s history and work hard to keep the city alive.
 
What would you do if you weren’t artists?
I would be a philanthropist or a counselor/psychologist – I have always wanted to help people – especially where people feel tormented by the contrast of who they are and who society wants them to be. Growing up gay in a small farming community where my best friends were Amish kind of set the tone for my life. Needless to say, I was surrounded by very conservative people whose thoughts and advice was not real supportive – not only of my sexual identity but also my desire to create. I remember my mom telling me “little boys DO NOT sew dresses” or crochet or play with hair. She caught me sewing in my bedroom one day – the others were outside playing. She was so appalled at what i was doing, she wrapped a towel around me and paraded me around the others while singing here she is, Miss America. It was great fun for her but I was totally humiliated (too much information, I know but artists do struggle to find ways to express themselves that are socially acceptable, a lesson I learned at an early age)
 
What are your passions outside of your talent?
I am a total clay geek, so I do not have many interests outside of my clay work – I do like to write – especially about my work in clay. I recently have had 5 articles published in “Pottery Making Illustrated” I also have a passion for helping people, looking for ways to build self worth. While I enjoy music, theater, I would not say I am passionate about those things. I love to invent, I love to talk to total strangers, I love to express my love and gratitude, I also can’t contain my distaste for something – like a political figure that seems to be misguided (in my own opinion, of course).
Informaion on the Pottery Demonstratons from noon to 5 and the Open House from 6 to 9

Saturday, August 19 – noon to 9pm
13201 Olde Western Ave. / Blue Island, IL 60406  /  727-504-6200

Glenn Woods and Keith Herbrand will be hosting an open house in their Blue Island Gallery on Saturday, August 19th. Glenn will be conducting pottery demonstrations from noon to 5pm while Keith tends to the gallery. The formal Open House will be from 6pm to 9pm with light snacks and refreshments. Several local artists will also be participating offering: Original Paintings; Mosaics; Jewelry; Ceramic Arts; and Pottery.

The gallery is located in Blue Island on the north side of the Cal-sag Canal, just under the Western bridge.

Glenn and Keith are full time potters who reside in Palm Harbor, Florida but have been summer residents of Blue Island since 2004. They have a formal open house once each summer due to their hectic summer art fair schedule. You can see their work at many local art fairs including: Chicago’s Old Town Art Fair; Chicago’s 57th Street Art Fair; Downtown Geneva Art Fair; Lake Forest’s Art Fair on the Square; Naperville’s Riverwalk Art Fair; Park Forest’s Tall Grass Art Fair. If you are unable to make it to those art fairs, this is a great opportunity to see their work AND to watch Glenn as he creates pottery on the potters’ wheel from noon to 5pm.

There will be several local and regional artists represented – all will be present to chat a bit about their work.

Crystalline Glazed Pottery – Glenn’s pottery is made out of fine porcelain and glazed with a specialty glaze called Crystalline Glaze. These glazes are noted for their ability to grow crystals in the glaze layer during a complex cooling process during the glaze firing. By altering the firing temperatures and the duration of the firing, special effects and wonderful visual texture can be achieved.

We are inviting you to come out for the day or evening to see our work, meet the artists and enjoy the company of art lovers. You can come out for the demonstrations – visit one of the many wonderful local restaurants in Blue Island, Midlothian, or Crestwood and then come back for the Opening to wrap up the day.

All photos were taken on site by Nena.

FASHION FLASHBACK: JUDITH LEIBER AND MORE FANS…

imageI had the pleasure of working with Judith Leiber on several occasions, each visit was a total joy.  In addition, she always invited me to visit her showroom/workrooms when I was in New York.  They were like a museum truly something to behold.  The pride level of the talented craftsmen quite frankly was something I have only seen duplicated in the Ateliers of Paris Haute Couture.  I think everyone only thinks of her beaded bags, which are exquisite works of art, but she also did skin bags, leathers and suede as well as fabric bags for day in addition to her overwhelmingly prolific collection of minaudière.  She would open a cabinet in her showroom that revealed a wondrous collection of very special pieces and always say, “choose whatever you like!”  If only, it was totally against store policy (Saks Fifth Avenue) to accept gifts from designers or vendors.  Unless the designer asked me to wear something from the collection we were featuring at a show (I was a sample size in those long ago days!!!), I bought what I wore at all times. I do own several Judith Leiber bags both day and evening and treasure each of them.

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Two bags from her fan collection (I included these at the end of yesterday’s post as a teaser, did you guess who I would be featuring today, of course, you did!) Each season there were animal bags, a themed collection, and her classics, always something extraordinary to add to your collection or start a new one.  She would also do special orders, perhaps just a color change.  You will see her bags on every red carpet as well as in the hands of royalty and our own First Ladies.  She was a major star with no star ego, a true icon in the industry.

image Judith Leiber in her workrooms in the early years.  The following is an excerpt from the Museum of Arts and Design and the Leiber exhibition that is closing this weekend.

“Judith Leiber spent sixty-five years in the handbag industry, from an apprentice in Budapest to the owner of an internationally renowned handbag company based in New York City. As the only female pattern-maker, and with the unusual ability to make a handbag from start to finish, Leiber brought a distinctly European training and skill set to the United States, where handbags were made with assembly-line skill division. This allowed her not only to succeed as a designer but also to revolutionize the meaning of handbag craftsmanship for the American consumer.

Leiber’s handbags run the gamut from finely crafted leather pieces and textile-based bags to the fantastical Swarovski crystal–encrusted creations for which she is most well known. Inspired by a life-long admiration of art, travel, and opera, Leiber’s bags include Art Deco–influenced hardware; materials such as Lucite and seashells; references to the artwork of Piet Mondrian, Georges Braque, and Sonia Delaunay; and collaboration with Faith Ringgold on a collection of handbags inspired by her quilts.

As Leiber’s reputation flourished, designers and suppliers sought her out, offering interesting materials, particularly textiles. Thus, many of her handbags are constructed with obis from Japan, Parsi ribbons from India, and fabrics from Iran and Africa. From the earliest days of her company, Leiber pushed the boundaries of handbag design—innovation that is epitomized by her famed sparkling minaudières, a technique that began as a solution to a damaged metal frame, and was then catalyzed by the design of her imaginative animal and food clutches to become fashion staples for First Ladies and celebrities alike.”

imageI love this photo of Mrs. Leiber surrounded by a few of her creations.  On one of her visits she was invited to attend a dinner in her honor at the home of one of our very good clients who collected Leiber bags…did I just say the Leiber showroom was like a museum, well I stand corrected, this client’s home was Leiber everywhere in specially designed museum quality cases, it was something out a movie and by the way quite tasteful.  Mrs. Leiber was overwhelmed.  The client, I might add, supplemented her collection, after that dinner, with Mrs. Leiber’s guidance.

imageAnother book to add to your fashion library, lucky me, mine is autographed by the wonderful creator herself!

 

One of my favorite designer stories came from James Galanos.  We were discussing selling many pieces to a single client and he told me that one of the California boutiques that sold his garments, actually bought most of the Collection each season, and that is saying something, had a client who had purchased multiple gowns that particular season and also ordered a Judith Leiber bag to go with each.  He was aghast at the expense.  My comment was “was the client involved with charities” answer, yes, very much so.  “did the client employ staff at her many homes, entertain there, have flowers, chefs, etc.” again, the answer, yes. “did the couple travel”…yes, yes, yes!  My answer to Mr. Galanos “the client is supporting the economy, we are just a small portion of that”.  His answer, “I never thought of it that way, but Nena, you are right!”  Wow, coming from one of the major fashion icons, oh my…  In other words, the people who can afford expensive items, clothes, cars, property, etc. make our economy, I guess that is what capitalism is all about.  Needless to say, I’m not in that category (one can live in hope) but I was lucky to be surrounded by beautiful things in my years in retail and can appreciate quality.

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Gerson and Judith Leiber in front of the wonderfully talented Gerson’s  paintings.

Information on the Leiber Museum….www.leibermuseum.org

“In 2005, Gerson and Judith Leiber built a gallery to house their works of art and to chronicle their careers, offering an unparalleled retrospective of their creations over the past many decades.

The Leiber Collection, a magnificent Renaissance styled Palladian edifice, sits majestically in a sublime sculpture garden that borders six additional gardens, each designed by Gerson Leiber, in a style befitting the local geography. Considered by many to be the best-kept secret of the Hamptons, you are in for a real treat as you peruse the exquisite jewel of a museum and explore the charming gardens.

Come visit us on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 1 – 4 pm”.

A YouTube video one of several, this a very dramatic life story of a major influencer and unique talent. Mrs. Leiber retired in 1998 having designed over 3,500 handbags!  The company’s current creative director and co-owner is Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger.

For further reading here is a link to the incredible Judith Leiber story in Harper’s Bazaar.

http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a17293/judith-leiber-from-holocaust-to-handbag-icon/

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There are other Judith Leiber fragrances, I chose to feature this one because of its name, love it!imageKarl Lagerfeld with his ever present fan with his then friend Yves Saint Laurent (whose 81st birthday we would have celebrated this week)

imageAnother photo of Karl Lagerfeld with his fan

imageSo much a part of his aesthetic that his fragrance bottle is fan shaped.

imageimageTwo looks from a John Galliano Dior Haute Couture collection.  As you can see fans are every where in every culture and in every era.

All photos from Pinterest credits unknown.

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: I’M IN LOVE!!

imageHow I envision myself back in the day……painting by Tamara De Lempicka, I have always loved her work.

Yes, it is true, I am in love and who would have thought it would be with a car!!!!  I don’t drive (actually, I know how to drive, just have chosen not to do so although it would be nice to be able to get myself around when I am visiting in Indiana and Michigan, oh well!!!) and have never owned a car (not even as a child, my Father preferred public transportation!), but I have fallen hard for a vintage car that my dear friend, Tom Mantel, owns for his new business Chicago Classic Limo www.ChicagoClassicLimo.com

I realized that I know more about cars than I thought I did but learned so much more from Tom on this fantastic 1940 Packard.

imageWhy don’t they make cars like this anymore!!!!  Such a pity! Photo courtesy of Tom Mantel.

Last weekend we took the car to the Randolph Street Market www.randolphstreetmarket.com and had a blast talking with all the people who stopped by to admire the car.

imageAt Randolph Street Market.  Photo courtesy of Tom Mantel.

What was, even more, fun was riding in it to and from RSM, people were literally hanging out their car windows with cell phones at the ready, smiling and giving us thumbs up…I must admit most of the admirers were men…come on ladies, it is a beauty!!!! Thankfully we made it both ways without incident and made a lot of peoples day!

imageimageThe front seat with its original mohair upholstery.  Nena’s photo.

imageThe original steering wheel and dashboard, of course, it has been updated for modern times and is air-conditioned.  Photo courtesy of Tom Mantel.

imageimageThe back seat with its jump seats, I loved jump seats when I was a little girl, I thought they were there just for me!  Also notice the shaped windows, all of which open.  Photos courtesy of Tom Mantel.

imageThe front grill.  Nena’s photo.imageThe luggage rack, it pulls down, at the back of the car. Nena’s photo.

imagePhoto courtesy of Tom Mantel.

imageI am particularly fond of this photo. I think it looks like a watercolor if I do say so myself.  Nena’s photo.

imageWhitewall tires….I love seeing Tom’s reflection, it looks like he is driving, doesn’t it!  Photo courtesy of Tom Mantel.

imageI am crazy for this hood ornament. why don’t we have them anymore, what happened to the glamour of cars…and I must admit that I am very happy with my photo of it!  Your thoughts!?  Nena’s photo.

imageHere is the sketch for the piece, I found it on Pinterest photo credit unknown. Needs more research on the artist. imageHere are some more hood ornaments including the 1940 Super 8 in the upper right-hand corner.  Pinterest photo credit unknown.

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BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: THE LITTLE FRENCH BISTRO

 

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Having read The Little Paris Bookshop (which I haven’t reviewed as yet!) I was looking forward to Nina George’s The Little French Bistro and I wasn’t disappointed.

I must say the beginning of the book was a bit off putting and since it is the beginning I feel safe telling you…our heroine travels to Paris and the Seine with the purpose of drowning herself, huh!!!???  She obviously has her reasons, she is running away from a forty-one year unhappy marriage. Why, you might ask, stay in a marriage that long, I think you will agree people stay in relationships for all sorts of reasons, but mostly, in my opinion, it is familiar, perhaps in some way, comforting normalcy.  Marianne isn’t physically abused but emotional abuse can be as devastating.  So she leaves and jumps into the Seine and by chance, there is a man (who appears to be homeless) on the banks of the River who saves her.  She isn’t happy about this but feels it means she must get on with her life by whatever means.  She doesn’t know what to do or where to go but starts her journey for the French coast and ends up in Brittany, which is known as “the end of the world”!  She is embraced by the population of the small town and finds work at Mor restaurant.  Quoting from the inside flap of the book “Among food, music, and laughter, Marianne finds a forgotten version of herself—passionate, (Nena’s note, yes there is an affair) carefree and powerful.”  Her past does catch up with her, literally, and decisions must be made, we hope she makes the right ones.

I really enjoyed Ms. George’s www.nina-george.com writing and how she brought the power of being oneself (even when you don’t know who that is!) to be life altering.  What I especially liked is the protagonist isn’t a 20 something but an “older” woman who rediscovers herself, obviously telling us it is never too late to be true to who you really are.  Is there a physical make-over, yes, and it is wonderful and, of course, the mental and emotional make-over. The story gives us hope that one can change no matter the circumstances nor the time of your life…live it fully!  Is there freedom to do whatever you want or haven’t tried before, absolutely and it is a delight to watch (read!)

I want to quote directly from the book, page 240 to be exact, it, in my opinion, perfectly describes the book’s meaning….let’s see what you think…

“Marianne loved the feeling of being wanted. As Marianne. As a woman.  ‘In my search for death, I found life.  How many deviations, side roads and senseless detours a woman can take before she finds her own path, and all because she falls into line too early, takes too early the paths of custom and convention, defined by doddering old men and their henchwomen—the mothers who only want the most dutiful outcome for their daughters. And then she wastes an immense amount of time ensuring that she fits the mold! How little time then remains to correct her fate.  And, yet. life as an autonomous woman is not a song.  It’s a scream, a war, it’s a daily struggle against the easy option of obeying.  I could have obeyed, could have lived less dangerously, ventured nothing, failed at nothing.’ ” 

Very profound and, again, in my opinion, spot on.

I  recently joined a Facebook group of women led by Catherine Grace O’Connell www.catherinegraceo.com (you may recall I profiled Catherine in a previous post) The group, The Fierce 50 Revolution (name is changing) exists to empower women from mid-life on by giving each an organization to network with other women.  Do go to the Facebook site for details.  This book should be MUST reading for all the members and I would suggest, for all my readers.  It is a charming eye-opening look into the world of conforming and then becoming an independent person.

You know I like to support Independent Booksellers but in this instance, my book was purchased from www.amazon.com

FASHION IN FOOD: PROXI

 

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Friday, as you know, is all about fashion in flashback, fashion now and future fashion and with a bit of a twist on the theme I am starting to do posts on my favorite restaurants, established, dearly loved and exciting new ventures in one of the greatest food cities anywhere, Chicago. I do not intend to be a food critic but I am, most certainly a foodie. One of the definitions of fashion is “to form something into something else: to make something from something else” isn’t that exactly what we do with food….Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman and Managing Partner Emmanuel Nony have “fashioned” an exciting new concept in food with their brand new restaurant PROXI, the new kid on the block (Randolph to be exact) which, along with Fulton one of the hottest, happening places in the City (but you will see in future posts, not the only area in this ever changing food story.)

The evolution of the Randolph Street restaurant saga began many years ago with a single pioneering restaurant, Vivo (no longer with us, and of course, the beloved Ina‘s) and look at the area now, not only restaurant heaven but total gentrification.  I remember taking cabs during the beginning of the Vivo era and the drivers thought I was mad and said: “Lady, there isn’t anything there but warehouses, I can’t leave you there!”  I would explain it was okay and they could wait for me and I would wave to them from inside.  Well, those days are long gone, now the Uber and Lyft drivers and certainly all the cabbies know exactly where to take locals and visitors for the excitement that is now “Restaurant Row”! I’ll address other restaurants throughout the City in future food posts, there are so many but, of course, I do have my favorites and I have added Proxi to that list! 

imageThis was our table and I was facing a wall of wine bottles, how appropriate!

imageThe place setting, my photo.

A few weeks ago I got a call from a long time friend, Emmanuel Nony, we go back to his Park Hyatt days, and, of course, who doesn’t love Sepia!  Always the gracious host, Emmanuel invited me and a guest to come to Proxi for dinner.  I was delighted to accept the invitation and extend my guest invitation to my cooking buddy, Tom Mantel.  Emmanuel greeted us in his usual charming manner escorted us to our table where he explained the extraordinary menu and it’s interesting concept.  I asked what he recommended for the evening and after saying he couldn’t choose proceeded to choose everything! Don’t you love it!  He turned us over to our fabulous server, Jordan, who walked us through the unique menu with suggestions along the way, he was the best.  The menu is divided into three sections (all of which will change on a regular basis), the first page was very interesting starters, which were quite substantial, the middle page was all seafood and the last page all meat.

imageI think this was the Farmer’s Market Bhel Puri my photo, absotutely delicious.

imageTempura Elotes amazing!

imageSalad of Sugar Snap Peas and Carrotss, yuzu kosho, sesame, miso brûlée my photo

The concept is to share everything and pick at least one item, each, from each page, which we did. Actually three (see above photos)from page one and the whole fish (which, by the way, was probably the best fish I have ever eaten!) the only fish we tried and two from page three.

imageOur whole grilled fish “Pescado Zarandeado”.  My photo.

imageOne of our meat courses, BBQ Lamb Ribs with mango pickle and cashews. Our other choice was Wagnyu Beef Short Ribs with Malyasian curry, sort of a medley of ribs….also my photo

We had interesting wines, I chose a Gamay which I don’t think I have seen on a menu since I was in Paris (this month the wine selections are from the Loire Valley).  Dessert was a dream.  The exciting news was that with all the food and wine I didn’t feel at all stuffed…it was superb!  We then opted to have a lovely after dinner drink in the gorgeous bar.  The place was packed, but not uncomfortably so, and it had only been open a few weeks.  It will be a HUGE success, of that I am sure.  It was fun to see and have a quick chat with my old friends Bill Zwecker, Tom Gorman and Vicki and Bill Hood.  I’m sure they enjoyed their evening as much as we did. The food was interesting, delicious, the wine extraordinary and the service perfection.  Didn’t hurt that I was with a dear friend who loved it all as much as I did.

I asked Emmanuel to send me detailed information on the restaurant.  I have culled it down a bit but wanted to share it with you.  I am hoping to have a recipe or two to share with you later.

imageAndrew Zimmeman and Emmanuel Nony

Proxi (565 W. Randolph St.), the second restaurant from the acclaimed team of Michelin-starred Chicago restaurant, Sepia, opens on Tuesday, June 13. Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman and Managing Partner Emmanuel Nony are thrilled for this project to come to fruition after years of searching for the perfect location. Housed in a former print shop right beside Sepia, the restaurant is located at the beginning on Chicago’s renowned Restaurant Row. Proxi takes guests on a ride to the world’s most culinary rich corners. Using elemental cooking techniques and pristine ingredients, the menu celebrates the bold flavors of street foods.

The menu at Proxi takes inspiration from Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman’s lifelong fascination with the vibrant, emphatic flavors most commonly seen in street foods. Including snacks, small plates, raw selections, entreés, and large-format dishes for the table, the restaurant’s cuisine captures the vivacity of such foods in approachable, Modern American presentations using primary cooking techniques showcased on the restaurant’s wood-fired hearth. Meat, seafood, and vegetables remain balanced throughout the menu, with dishes focusing on bold tastes, including an array of exotic ingredients, wood fire, and worldly spices.

Pastry Chef Sarah Mispagel unleashes her award-winning talent on Proxi’s dessert selection to offer a range of whimsical and nostalgic sweet dishes balancing familiarity with experimentation.

Josh Relkin leads the cocktail program at Proxi, crafting a menu with an emphasis on globally influenced libations to complement the kitchen. Relkin embraces the hearth, incorporating the live fire cooking into the cocktail list, with a goal of blending familiar ingredients in an unconventional way.  Proxi also offers a selection of beers from across the world, with hopes to bring guests unfamiliar brews that they‘ve only sipped during their travels.  

The Wine program, led by Beverage Director and acclaimed Advanced Sommelier Arthur Hon, boasts a succinct, dynamic wine list that converges on a central theme to unique wines from around the world. Hon, who travels often to taste new wines and experience unfamiliar flavors, was thrilled with the challenge of creating a wine list to stand up to the kitchen’s bold, vibrant, and global flavors. Hon’s wine list will have a rotating theme, that will be changed seasonally with the menu. To start, he’s transporting guests to the Loire Valley of France to experience the wines from that region.

imageNotice the original barrel ceiling and the custom fixtures, a great blend of old (read original) and the new, stunning.

Developed by James Beard Award Winning design firm, Meyer Davis, Proxi’s elegant, welcoming aesthetic reveals a mid-century American brasserie.  The space calls out to its worldly influences while preserving existing architectural elements from Werner Printing Company, which formerly occupied the expansive restaurant. Inset with brass-framed mirrors, lightly washed wood covers the walls and rustic wood planks form the floor, though custom designed cement tiles differentiate the bar and lounge space from the dining room. A long, central leather banquette stretches out to anchor the dining room, flanked by additional tables and more leather booths along the walls. The central bar, with its stone top, leather upholstered front, and cerused wood accents, sits opposite a chef’s table donning Noir St. Laurent marble and overlooking an exhibition kitchen. Overhead, eye-catching custom light fixtures hang from the original barrel-vaulted ceiling.

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imageTwo views of the bar, adore all of it, but especially the tile floor!

Through a fresh and innovative American lens, Proxi, a sister restaurant to Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman and Managing Partner Emmanuel Nony’s Sepia, scours the most culinary-rich corners of the globe to inspire a menu that celebrates the bold flavors of multicultural street foods through pristine ingredients. Located in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood along Restaurant Row, Proxi unites an award-winning team to transport its guests around the world, beginning with cuisine and extending to an eclectic beverage program focused on worldly inspirations and diverse, exotic ingredients. Developed by New York City-based design firm Meyer Davis, Proxi’s elegant, welcoming aesthetic reveals a mid-century American brasserie that calls out to its global influences while preserving existing architectural elements.” www.proxichicago.com.

All photos unless otherwise noted provided by Proxi.

Do go you won’t be disappointed, it is not only fabulous food but a wonderfully glorious space! Thanks so much Emmanual and Andrew for brnging this concept to Chicago, I love it, could you tell! Cookbook please!!!!

 

 

COLLECTIONS: BROWN TRANSFERWARE

imageA collection of brown transferware.  Photo courtesy of Pinterest credit unknown.

I did a post several months ago on blue and white transferware and discussed my own collection of green transferware, now here we are with brown.  Actually. these are the three colors I am familiar with (the blue and white), collections in friends homes, (the green) which I collect, or (brown) assembled while assisting with decorating a country home many years ago.  So brown it is today.  All of the colors and there are many, including pink, purple, red, even yellow, you will find examples to add to your collection or start a new passion at the monthly Randolph Street Market www.randolphstreetmarket.com which will be July 29 and 30 from 10 to 5.

“Transferware is a style of ceramics including pottery, dinnerware, and other delicate items. It uses transfer printing, a decorative technique which was developed in England, in the mid-18th century, particularly around the Staffordshire region.

The process starts with an engraved copper plate similar to those used for making paper engravings. The plate is used to print the pattern on tissue paper, then the tissue paper transfers the wet ink to the ceramic surface. The ceramic is then fired in a low-temperature kiln to fix the pattern. This can be done over or under the glaze, but the underprinting method is more durable. The process produces fine lines similar to the engraved prints in old books. Before transfer printing ceramics were hand painted, a laborious and costly process.”  From Wikipedia (never know how much to believe from this site but this seems accurate).

imageHere is a small portion of the collection I amassed several years ago.  It is a complete supper set found in various antique markets both here and abroad.  I started this collection before RSM began but have found items to add to it recently at the Market. I didn’t want anything very flowery nor with people but rather English scenes and a flower or two.  I don’t remember where I first found what I wanted for this country house but it just grew from there.  I do remember I was doing a fashion show out of town and went antiquing at a local mall on our way back to Chicago and happened to glance down into a case and there was an entire set of the exact pattern I was collecting…if you are a collector, you can only imagine my excitement…had to run out to find a cash machine and hurry back to make my purchase.  I have, as mentioned, added to the collection over the years but the place settings are done.  I add a pitcher, a platter, a bowl, etc. when I see them.  I particularly like the salt and pepper shakers on the top shelf, they were in the antique mall collection.

imageThe platter at the top of the breakfront was found at an antique market in the English country side.  I carried it and several other pieces back with me on the plane home, I was, for some unknown reason, upgraded to first class on the flight and my treasures were stowed very carefully by the flight attendant, she must have been a collector as well!

imageMore of the collection displayed on a rough white plaster wall.  I think very country, don’t you agree!

imageA group of pitchers found at various times on various treasure hunts.

imageI would love to find a similar cheese dome, isn’t it smashing!  Love it!  Pinterest image credit unknown.

imageGreat collection of plates from Pinterest photo credit unknown.

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imageA couple of reference books found on www.amazon.com

 

Photos are all taken by Nena with an iPhone7 unless otherwise noted.

Some sites to investigate:

www.marthastewart.com  Transferware article….excellent information

www.marthastewart.com  video Transferware Questions

www.marthastewart.com  video How to Display a Collection in a Cabinet

www.transcollectorsclub.org

I thought since we are English today why not a typical English “pudding”….

ENGLISH SUMMER PUDDING

imageEnglish Summer Pudding Pinterest photo credit unknown.

2 tablespoon water

150g (5oz ) sugar

450g (1 lb) washed, mixed summer fruits, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries

100 to 150g (4 to 6oz) day old white bread, sliced and crusts removed, I use the divine Authentic French Brioche from either Mariano’s or Whole Food, I am totally addicted to it…or day or two old store bought pound cake, the technique and amount remain the same

Whipped cream, ice cream or your favorite home made custard

METHOD:

Stir the water and sugar together and bring to a gentle boil. Add all the berries and fruits except the strawberries. Stew the fruits very gently and not for too long.  They should simply be softened but still retain their shape. Once you feel they are ready put to one side (juice and all) and leave to cool.

Cut the slices of bread or cake, into half then each half into triangles. They do not all have to match perfectly; you will use these to line a 1½ pint/700 ml pudding basin.

Start by lining your pudding basin with cling film. Then continue by dipping a couple of triangles in the juices of the stewed fruits. Lay these in the bottom of the dish and then continue the same way but lining the sides of the basin with bread slices ensuring there are no gaps.

Once completed, fill with the stewed fruits including the strawberries. Cover the top with more juice dipped bread slices. Make sure not to add too much of the juices from the fruits as this may cause the bread to lose its shape. There must be enough to soak into the bread, though.

Place a saucer on the top of the basin and weigh down with something heavy like a tin of tomatoes or beans is ideal. Place in the refrigerator and leave overnight.

The next day, turn the pudding out onto a pretty serving plate, preferably a piece of your transferware, and serve with either the whipped cream or make some lovely custard sauce. If you are lucky enough to have scorching sunny weather, then serve with ice cream and champagne or dessert wine.  Yummy, yummy. yum!!!!

 

 

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: GARDENS PART 2

imageMy garden cherub (originally in my Evanston garden) now residing in a lush garden in Harbor Country, Michigan.

Today’s post is the continuation of my story on gardens I have visited and all photos are mine.  Some older than cell phone cameras so they might be a bit “off”, sorry about that!  Again, not a lot of text just a comment here and there. Enjoy lazy summer days.

imageMichigan or France….this one is Michigan with day lilies, hedges and beautiful trees around water….

imageHere we are in Giverny www.giverny.org a side trip when I was in France for the Haute Couture shows in 2006.  It was the hottest summer France had ever had, it was quite brutal and there wasn’t much color, grass was brown, blooms were not at their peak, but it was lovely in Giverny, loved it but then I have always been a sucker for Monet, especially his water lilies and it was like being in one of his paintings.

imageGiverny

imageMichigan

imageOur Monet at The Art Institute of Chicago www.artic.edu

imageMore Michigan and actually I think these are lotus flowers. “The lotus flower represents one symbol of fortune in Buddhism. It grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives forth the flower’s first and most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment.”  Taken from www.buddhists.org

imageMonet’s home and studio in Giverny, glorious!

imageA charming home in a Michigan garden.

imageA vignette with Lutyens bench in the walkway next to the house.

imageMore Giverny

imageTrees being trained over an arbor in Michigan.

imageThe white garden and trained arch shrubbery at Sissinghurst, my Queen Mary II trip in 2004. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sissinghurst-castle-garden

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Two views of Sissinghurst, 2004

imageA hidden treasure at Sissinghurst

imageNena in the Sissinghurst formal garden

imageSissinghurst path

imageMichigan garden path

imageBack in France, 2006 and Paris in the Jardin du Luxembourg on my last Sunday, glorious day.

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imageAnd another lovely Sunday this time 2017 and in a Michigan country garden

imageFreshly picked from the garden for a cold soup, how delightful to forge for your own dinner and carry your bounty back to the kitchen in a trug, seriously, how wonderful for a major City Girl to play Country Girl at least for a few days…….

Shall we now have a recipe….I’m thinking a cold cucumber soup, the Swiss chard soup we made with the ingredients above took a long time and was cooked plus we kept adding and adjusting ingredients and I didn’t write anything down, sorry…so let’s do a noncooked soup.

CHILLED CUCUMBER SOUP ADAPTED FROM FOOD AND WINE

Ingredients

  • 2 large European cucumbers (2 1/4 pounds), halved and seeded—1/2 cup finely diced, the rest coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt (Nena’s note…I would do half sour cream and half yogurt)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove (Nena’s note…I always use the jarred minced garlic not as strong but gives the flavor)
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons loosely packed fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Salt (Nena’s note….don’t skimp, always taste before adding more!!!!)
  • Fresh ground white pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped (Nena’s note….I didn’t find this necessary but up to you)

How to make this recipe

    1. In a blender, combine the chopped cucumber with the yogurt, lemon juice, shallot, garlic, dill, parsley, tarragon and the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and white pepper, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. Season the soup again just before serving. Pour the soup into bowls. Garnish with the finely diced cucumber, red onion and a drizzle of olive oil and serve.

      I would serve as a first course for dinner or perhaps in demi tasse with a glass of sparkling wine before dinner or a main course for a light lunch with a salad of all the summer bounty, lightly dressed, crusty country bread and, of course, a lovely light white wine….enjoy!!!!