We are in full swing Holiday gift wrapping mode at the shops, and by the end of the day I am completely beat. Last evening the above was waiting for me when I first arrived home. A new issue of Town & Country always makes me quite happy. After a quick shower I poured myself a Hendrick’s over ice, and settled into my favorite leather club chair for a few minutes of visual eye candy before dinner. I have been subscribing to this magazine for decades. The mix of design, food, people, books, art, travel–is what I like so much about it. This is also the time of year many magazines offer two for the price of one subscriptions. Something I always take advantage of for a fun gift for a friend or two for Christmas. So if you are still in need of a quick gift, this is a very easy, stylish one to give. I also follow Town & Country on Instagram, and they posted this amazing quote last eve, so I thought I would share it with you. It is a really good one. May your day be filled with a bit of wonder…
The newest Gather Journal arrived a few weeks ago, and with all the hustle & bustle of the season, I completely forgot to write a post about it. The cocoon and cocooning is the direction this edition takes. Perfect as the cold weather sets in. Gather is really a food magazine/book, with the emphasis on recipes and entertaining, but in a style very much its own. I call it a magazine/book, as each issue is 20 bucks, so this is not your ordinary monthly, toss in the recycle bin when finished magazine. They are so beautifully photographed on such beautiful paper, you want to start a collection. In some way, each issue is incredibly affordable art–usable art. I have personally wrapped a few for customers as gifts these past few weeks. What a clever, stylish gift these will be. A one for them, one for me, type of situation…
I am honored to have been featured in The Seattle Times today, with an interview with Nicole Brodeur, in Nicole & Co. Ted Watson’s Gift-Givers Paradise is the name of the article, so click away for the actual piece. Nicole has been a customer over the years, and I am such a fan of her writing. She puts you right at ease, and you instantly feel a connection with her. This is both in person and in her writing style. It was such a treat to walk around the shop last week with her while we chatted away. She also got a quick look at the mock-up of my book, so it was so nice that it got a shout-out in the article too. Reading about yourself can be a tad nerve wracking as you never know what direction an article might go. This is just really a lovely account centered on gift giving–which you know is so near & dear to my heart–and is most certainly on all our minds this time of year.
This time of year we carry more candles than ever at the shops. Many of our candle vendors offer Holiday scents that fill your home with balsam fir, sage, newbury holly, paperwhite narcissus, orange, cinnamon and spice. Many of our tried and true scents that we carry throughout the year like the Diptyque feu de bois, Kenneth Turner original, and Votivo red currant work beautifully too, filling your space with Holiday scented goodness. Of course they all make stellar gifts to give, but make sure you pick one up for yourself and light it the minute the sun starts going down for a little extra flicker of light and festive scent in your home.
This chilly time of year, a big pot of homemade soup can be so comforting. TPS is away on business to DC & Philadelphia, so having soup in the fridge makes for easy solo dinners too. This is just the easiest thing to make, and it is so hearty and satisfying.
Cut up 2 whole heads of cauliflower and put on a baking sheet. Do the same with 6 good sized Yukon Gold potatoes. Sprinkle both with a heavy dose of extra virgin olive oil and salt & pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven, moving things around every 15 minutes so things don’t stick or burn. The cauliflower will take about a half hour, the potatoes close to an hour. Much depends on the size you cut the pieces into, so check the oven often. You want both to get nice and golden. This adds tremendously to the flavor of the soup. Set both aside when done to cool.
While the above is in the oven, cut up one large onion into small pieces and cook in extra virgin olive oil on the stovetop in a big soup pot. Cook until they just start to golden. Set aside off heat to cool.
Cut up a baguette into pieces, put in a baking dish and sprinkle with EVOO and S&P. Bake in oven until brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stay with these guys–they can get too dark fast. When done take out of oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and set aside.
Back to the soup. Now that everything has cooled a bit to the touch, add 90% of both the cauliflower and the potatoes to the pot of waiting onions. Add vegetable or chicken stock, from a box is completely fine, with homemade lovely if you have it. Put in enough stock to just barely cover the mixture. Now with an immersion blender (we got ours at Bartell’s for twenty bucks–I can’t say enough about this amazing device for soup making) carefully pulse the wand in the mixture, turning all of it into a thick soup. It is so cool seeing it all mix together. Culinary magic of sorts. Once the consistency you like, now add the remaining 10% you held back. It will be nice to have some large pieces of cauliflower and potato strewn throughout. Now turn on the stovetop, heat on medium, until it is the warmth you like your soup. Spoon out into a bowl and add the baguette pieces to the top. Done. So hearty. So tasty.
I have been finding and have amassed just the prettiest collection of vintage Baccarat coupes of late. The grouping catching my eye yesterday as I walked passed them mixed about with all the hotel silver.
Our meal last week at The Whale Wins was a winner, as was the wine. As promised, I wanted to share with you this tasty red. The fun thing for me about these wine posts is I get to dig up a bit of information on these wines and vintners I would not usually know. This one in particular is quite interesting, as it is produced by brothers. In the early ’70s Michel and Louis Bronzo acquired the property of the Bastide Blanche, with an eye to producing from appellation Bandol wines the equal of more famous appellations like Chateauneuf. Their efforts were rewarded in 1993 when vintage conditions created the benchmark year to put the Bandol region and Bastide Blanche, in particular, on the map of top producers in France. They have various cuvees, depending on the vintage, but always about 75% Mourvedre at a minimum. The wine was perfect and paired nicely with all the robust flavors the meal offered. From my web research, I am finding the bottles running around the $25 mark, which for a wine from Bandol, is one heck of a value. This is definitely one of those wines that will be on my mental list to buy when I see it, either on the wine shop/grocery shelves or on the menu.
Seckel pears are one of the things I so associate the Holidays with. Seckels are tiny pears, with a chubby, round body, small neck, and short stem. Their skin is usually olive green, but frequently exhibits a dark maroon blush that sometimes covers the entire surface of the pear. For whatever reason, these speak of Holiday to me. Must have been an ornament or dish that was served in my childhood that makes me think this way. They are incredibly sweet tasting, so cut in half they work beautifully on a cheese platter. They also can be canned whole, so they look festive in a glass canning jar, all snuggled together. But what I really like them best for is display. I think they look so great just as they are set amongst a pair of candlesticks or individually running down the length of a dining table. Whether enjoyed visually or eaten, Seckel pears are just sweet. Pun intended…
Happy Tuesday all!