You are currently browsing the Ted Kennedy Watson blog archives for November, 2011

Acacia Honey

20111130-072535.jpg I have had this lingering cold bug for weeks, and have consumed more Mariage Freres tea in the last month than I have in my lifetime. All that tea has been flavored with a favorite new find, Acacia honey. I did a little research on it. Here is what I found.

Acacia is made from nectar collected from Acacia tree blossoms. The honey we carry in the shop is from Italy, which is quite clear in color and has a mild, floral taste. Because it is so mild, it does not really over-power the flavor of the tea, but enhances the sweet quality. It is also a natural germ killer, so it is a wise addition during cold season. It also works perfectly on toast and is yummy with mild cheeses. Cheers to Acacia honey!



Santa Also Lives in NYC

Who knew? Santa has set up a cozy spot on West 29th Street this year, and is replying to all the wish lists & notes he receives. This might be the sweetest/coolest/nicest thing that has landed in my e-mail in quite some time.

20111129-060216.jpg Mr. Boddington’s Studio is one of my favorite-est card lines we carry at Watson Kennedy. The above e-mail was sent to me yesterday, and I thought I would share it with you, just in case you or someone you know would like to write Santa a letter. As the e-mail says, from ages one to ninety two, so don’t be shy. Truly, I think this idea is so clever. I am crafting my wish list pronto!

Send letter to:
Santa Claus
Care of Mr. Boddington’s Studio
210 West 29th Street
9th Floor
New York, New York 10001



Another Quick Window Change

20111128-070455.jpg I really wanted to honor Thanksgiving this year in the front window, so the grouping of white pumpkins that filled every spare nook stayed until Friday. With little time to do a full change of the window, I did a mini swap out, and kept the major components (the table, chair and destination sign) intact. Holiday at Watson Kennedy is quite subtle–customers over the years have really responded to the “less is more” approach. So I try and make it festive, without going too far in the “over the top” direction.

I added a new lamp that had just come in last week that is made out of a vintage spool of string. Amazing. This prompted the idea of using vintage spools & balls of yarn and string throughout. We had also received in an extraordinary high gloss black candelabra that would work perfectly with the cream and black striped candles that I wanted to highlight in the window too. I had also been sent some original, black and white portraits from Hugo Guinness that pulled the entire window together. Thanks Hugo! A simple bark wreath added brings in a bit of Holiday, along with the white single stem lily, that you all know I love.




Books as Gifts

This time of year, well I think really anytime of year, the gift of a book is always a grand idea. Books are easy to wrap, simple to mail, fit neatly in your luggage when you travel to far away places and need to give a gift to your host–they really can be the perfect gift for so many occasions.

Here are a few of my favorites we are stocking at WK at the moment.

20111127-042755.jpg Poetry always makes for a fun addition to a coffee table or a bedside table.

20111127-042953.jpg Boating anyone?

20111127-043132.jpg A fun guy gift. This is retro in feel, but the content is as relevant today as it was them–maybe even more so.

20111127-043402.jpg Another great guy gift. A fab addition to any bar.

My suggestion is to write a small note on one of the opening pages of the book, as well as date it. It is a lovely reminder years down the road who the book was from. Plus it is that extra amount of thought & gracious detail, that will really make the gift of the book even more special.



Veuve Clicquot Love

20111126-055345.jpg My love affair with Veuve Clicquot champagne began many years ago. When I had my showroom, one of the artists I represented was my friend Susan Goodwin. She is a jewelry artisan extraordinaire, so we decided to exhibit her work in Paris, at the Premiere Classe show held at the Jardin des Tuileries. We stayed at one of my favorite places in Paris, After a long day at the show, we would have a bottle of Veuve either before we went out and had dinner, or we would sit in the quaint lobby after we got back from dinner, and share a bottle of Veuve. If it was a very successful day at the show, sometimes it was both. It is no wonder why I equate Veuve Clicquot with celebratory, good times. The above photo was taken the other day when we were celebrating the 13th anniversary of the Fine Living shop. It was also my birthday that day, so I had several reasons for celebrating. The Watson Kennedy family surprised me with a little party before we opened the shop. The photo is some of the orange themed gifts I was given. They all know me quite, quite well, so bottles of my beloved Veuve were part of the tableau.

20111126-061511.jpg I am not the only huge fan of Veuve Clicquot out there. We sell many orange Veuve related goods at the shops. This is a tray and ice bucket that we carry by an artist who painstakingly recreates an homage to the champagne house.

20111126-061830.jpg The orange color is said to have come from the yolk of an egg from a chicken from Bresse.

20111126-062152.jpg We went to Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin in Reims as part of my 40th birthday celebration. If you ever get the chance, go. That region of France is so lovely. It was a memory I will treasure. TPS had arranged for a private tasting for us–I keep the corks from it on my bedside table as a reminder. Vintage buckets are hard to come by, so whenever I find them on my trips, I snatch them up.

20111126-062930.jpg Another memorable Veuve moment was my actual 40th birthday, which we had at the shop. These are a few of the bottles that were enjoyed that evening. They serve as a wonderful reminder of the party, as well as make a stylish display.

20111126-063226.jpg We also sell many small, vintage Veuve items that I find on my buying trips. Ashtrays, pocket knives and keychains are always a hit with customers.

Cheers to Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin!



Let the Shopping Begin

I hope everyone had a lovely day yesterday. Now let the shopping begin! We have been unpacking boxes as quickly as we can at the shops. Here is a quick glance at some of my new favorites. Many of these things won’t have made it onto our website yet, so please send me an e-mail or call us and we can help you out with pricing questions or to place an order.

20111125-070311.jpg Red striped candles are just so darn festive this time of year.

20111125-070408.jpg This jaunty red covered Moleskin 2012 planner will surely delight.

20111125-070516.jpg You get an assortment of fun hang tags for when you give the gift of a bottle of wine.

20111125-070729.jpg This is a fun tablet for note taking, that has a perforated little note at the bottom of each page inscribed with a sweet sentiment that you can tear off and include with a gift.

20111125-070944.jpg Vintage golf balls made into wine stoppers.

20111125-071122.jpg The book, True Prep. Sure to become a collector’s item like The Preppy Handbook.

20111125-071257.jpg Molton Brown, from London, has released a line of candles. This is the one I like best.

20111125-071441.jpg MarieBelle, from New York, creates this yummy chocolate with a hint of rose tea that is perfect this time of year.

20111125-071620.jpg For that hard to buy for guy, this beautiful flask is sure to be a winner.



A Thanksgiving Day Wish

I wish for all of you on this fine day of thanks, much love, laughter, reflection and nourishment for the body & soul.
Love, always, TKW



Watson Kennedy Fine Living Turns 13

In some ways it feels like yesterday. On other days it feels like I have done this forever. I mean that in a very good way. Our first retail shop opened in the courtyard of the Inn at the Market, in the Pike Place Market, 13 years ago today. The above sign was what hung on the door the weeks prior as we hustled to get the space ready and the shelves full, in the 3 week span that we were working with to get open. It was an unbelievably thrilling, scary, fun, tiring, invigorating time. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. It was a roller coaster of emotions, but the one thing I never felt was fear. My Dad instilled in me an optimism that I look to the heavens each day and thank him for. It was not an arrogance that I would not fail, but rather a sense of comfort that I would work as hard as I could to make it work, and I would find great joy each day in each task that it takes to make it work. I feel so honored, fortunate & blessed that I have been able to do just that.

Please join us today at the Market shop for a glass of celebratory bubbly if you are in the neighborhood. I thank each and every one of you who have helped to make my dream a reality.



Butternut Squash & Sausage Risotto

20111122-063218.jpg Cooking and eating risotto makes me happy. Cooking butternut squash with sweet sausage risotto make me very happy. The process takes a bit of time, but the reward is incredibly worth it. There are many, many variations on how to make risotto. From the liquids you choose to add, to the usage of butter or olive oil. This is mine. I hope you enjoy.

I prefer sweet sausage for this, but if you like things a bit spicier, then by all means use spicy sausage. Cook up a package of ground sausage meat. Set aside. Peel a butternut squash. Cut into cubes. Scatter on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a healthy amount of olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or as long as your oven takes to get them soft, a bit caramelized, but not completely falling apart. Set aside. My secret to this dish is I also add a package of pureed squash that you find in the freezer section at the grocery store close to the end of the cooking process. It just bumps up the squash quotient to the dish, and it also turns the risotto the orange-ish color I love. Take out of freezer, set aside.

I like having both the sausage and the butternut squash done, so full concentration can go into the cooking of the risotto. It is fine if both completely cool while they are sitting, because they will warm right back up once they have been put into the warm risotto at the end.

OK, here we go. Risotto. Cooking it scares some people, other people say how easy it is. I fall in the middle. I have made risotto for many years, and it was a bit of trial & error at first. This is what I have learned works. My biggest error at first is I did not have the chicken stock that you add ladle by ladle as the risotto cooks, hot enough. You will need 8 cups of chicken stock, homemade is preferred, but stock in a box is also completely fine. Heat up the stock to not quite a boil, then turn down the heat a bit, but the stock should remain hot thru the entire risotto cooking process.

Next, and here is where I like to use a good sized Le Creuset pot for cooking the risotto in, add a liberal dose of butter and cook a diced onion and shallot till they are not quite brown. Then add a good amount of olive oil to that, along with 2 cups of arborio rice. It is essential that you use arborio rice for this. Coat the rice with the butter and oil mixture, and sauté for a minute or two to cook thru, but don’t brown the rice. All of the above is done over medium heat, but stove tops vary greatly, so adjust accordingly.

Now the liquids begin. Add one cup of white wine to the mixture. I like to use a white that we will be serving with the meal. Stir rice till the wine is absorbed. The depth of flavor the wine adds to the finished product is really noticeable. Now the waiting hot stock takes center stage. Add one cup of stock to the mixture, stirring till the stock is fully absorbed. What holds many folks back about making risotto is there is a good amount of stirring involved. A constant stir is not necessary, but pretty close. This is where the white wine you opened comes in quite nicely. Sipping a little white wine during the risotto making process is a personal favorite–it is my break from stirring. Continue adding the hot stock one cup at a time, and the rice will become creamier as you go, as it releases the natural starches. Add the 7th cup of stock. At this point, you will be about 20 to 25 minutes into the rice cooking process. You are almost there. Now add the package of pureed squash. It is fine if it is still a bit frozen in parts, as it will quickly break apart and incorporate once it hits the hot mixture. Stir. Now add the sausage that you prepared earlier. Stir. Add a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Then add almost all of the butternut squash you roasted earlier, reserving the prettier pieces for garnishing the top of the finished risotto. Stir. Turn off the heat. Add your last cup of stock. Stir. Put on the lid. Let sit for 5 minutes, have another sip of your white wine, as we are almost done.

Once that 5 minutes has passed, give it one last stir. In a bowl add the risotto mixture, then add a few pieces of the roasted butternut squash, and finally a few sprinkles of the grated Parmesan. A bit of work, but that will all fade away when you have your first bite.



Paperwhite Narcissus Update

20111121-053731.jpg The paperwhites I put in the oversized vintage jar in the kitchen are so close to blooming. I wanted to share with you how much they have grown. It was just a little over 2 weeks ago that they were ‘planted’ in the container, and each day it has been amazing to see how quickly they grow. I also love how the roots of the bulbs have completely taken over the bottom of the jar. Ahhhhh, nature. Soon the kitchen will be filled with the intoxicating scent from the narcissus bloom. I can hardly wait!