October 26, 2009


My friend Larry Miller has always thrown the best bashes with more divine food than almost anyone I know. At his rambling shingle-style house from days past I've met playwrights, composers, and movie critics. I've had perfect drinks and elegant but not fussy dinners. Last holiday season, I received a delightful package in my mailbox, "Food For Thoughts. Thoughts For Food." It's a charming collection of fifteen or so recipes with accompanying stories from Larry. He wrote, "These recipes are as accurate as I can make them. Mostly, I cook by eye so assigning precise measurements is a bit of wishful-thinking and a bit deviltry."

Larry's story for Recipe No. 2, Onion Soup:

In 1959 and 1960, when I lived in London, I had occasion to travel to Paris a few times. One of my fondest food memories derives from a 2 a.m. trip to the food markets at the old Les Halles with my friends, Pierre Balmain and Bill Frohlich. Of course, they knew all the great Parisian restaurants and fancy food places like Fauchon and Hediard... but, "Larry, you must have the onion soup at Les Halles." It was a trip I made every time I went to Paris, until the great iron and glass structure was torn down to make way for a shopping center in the early 1970s.

Au Pied Du Couchon illustration by artist, Dr. Shirley Levine, Onion Soup Au Gratin image,
courtesy gourmettraveller.com

A decade later, I discovered this wonderful recipe in a book published in 1907, "Gastronomie Pratique" by Ali-Bab {Henri Babinski}

Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinée

[serves 6]

1 - baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices [about 25 to 30]
9 - tablespoons butter, softened
9 - ounces Ementhaler cheese, finely grated
8 - medium yellow onions, thinly sliced [about 12 cups]
1 - tablespoon kosher salt, more to taste*
1 - cup tomato purée

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

1. Spread a generous layer of butter on each slice [you will need about 5 tablespoons], then lay the slices close together on a baking sheet and top with all but 1/2 cup of cheese. Toast the baguette slices and let them cool.

2. In a large saucepan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, until very soft and golden, about 15 minutes.

3. In a 5-quart casserole, arrange a layer of bread slices [about 1/3 of them]. Spread 1/3 of the onions on top, followed by 1/3 of the tomato purée. Repeat for two more layers. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. To avoid boiling over, the casserole must not be more than 2/3 full.

4. In a saucepan, bring 1 + 1/2 quarts water* to a boil. Add the salt. Very slowly pour the salted water into the casserole, near the edge, so that the liquid rises just to the top layer of cheese without covering it. [Depending on the size of your casserole, you may need more or less water.]

5. Put the casserole on the stove and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, then transfer to the oven and bake uncovered for 1 hour. The soup is ready when the surface looks like a crusty, golden cake and inside is unctuous and so well blended that it is impossible to discern either cheese or onion. Each person is served some the the baked crust and some of the inside, which should be thick but not completely without liquid.

* You can replace the water with beef stock. If you do, you won't need as much salt.

So, as summer becomes a distant memory and the cold air quickly moves in, it's Larry's distant [but unforgettable] memory of Les Halles and onion soup that's my next inspiration. A perfect soup, made for good friends—served with a large salad of local greens and a simple, fresh Beaujolais.

October 25, 2009


Creativity should be celebrated in all its forms. Collaborations, too! Like this recent collaboration between the classic American brand, Pendleton and modern retailer Opening Ceremony. My favorite piece in the collection is this perfect little Bright Navajo print skirt in yummy turquoise. It has a grosgrain waistband, side zipper and front welt pockets. Cost: $176. If you hurry, you might find one {here} Frances May Boutique in Portland, Oregon.

October 22, 2009


It's been a difficult week, so to cheer myself up... I'm posting a wonderful dog-eared page from a November 2002 House & Garden. In that issue, H&G gave us a glimpse into Christian Louboutin's Egyptian hideaway. I absolutely love everything about this photo of Louboutin en route to his hideaway on a Nile ferry. It's cheery and makes me want to go along for the ride—the blues, the boat, the hat, his yellow pants and smiling face... are all just perfect. I hope you like it, too!

[If by chance you know the photographer, please post in a comment!]

from Stockholm Street Style on YouTube

October 19, 2009


Cut-outs are back in style this year from fashion to art, and interiors. I still love this tin urn cut-out from a dog-eared page of Elle Décor magazine. Before we sold our 300 year-old house, I had intended to cut this urn shape and leave it on my husband's art studio floor so it could develop an organic, paint-spilled patina. But I never got around to it, and the look is not perfect for the condensed modern structure we live in now. The urn shape is simply its most beautiful in this cut-out form. And, also in this silkscreen print by artist, Wayne Pate {shown below}. As a nod to the cut-out trend, Taschen has released a wonderful Matisse two-volume set, that includes a perfect reproduction of his seminal cut-out work: Jazz, and another volume that provides a historical look at Matisse's Cut-outs.

click on image to buy this print from Wayne Pate

click on image to buy Matisse Jazz and Cut-outs

October 16, 2009


Thank you to the lovely English Muse for bringing this photo to my attention—an intense and sudden encounter with a slightly shadowy but captivating fellow. This photograph was taken by art and fashion photographer, Jeanloup Sieff in Palm Beach for Harper's Bazaar in 1964. Sieff's work was influenced by the French "new wave" filmmakers of the 1950s. He died in Paris on September 20, 2000 at the age of 66. His daughter, Sonia is also a known fashion photographer.

Sonia Sieff, 1985 and Catherine Deneuve, 1969

This photograph was used on this Eddie Higgins Trio album cover. Listen to You Must Believe in Spring... it's beautiful.


There is no designer working today who is more perfect to produce a book called "HUE" than Kelly Wearstler. She's daring, she's inspired by everything, and she creates interiors with such edge and Hollywood elegance. When Kelly studied in Boston quite a few years back, I would see her riding her bike around the Back Bay. A basic surfer-style bike in lime green, of course! This limited hand signed, and fabric wrapped edition of HUE is available from publisher AMMO Books for $85.00.

Clips with Kelly by Lee Jofa

October 13, 2009


I lost my 88 year-old godfather George {on right, in Rome 1962} in March—I first wrote about him here. For the past several months, I've been sorting through miscellaneous papers from a box in his closet and I am finding little things of note, like this picture of a couple in a simple farmhouse. Though I do not know who these friends might be {familiar... famous, perhaps?}, I love the picture. And, I particularly love the chair—I have a thing for rattan. I prefer pieces of rattan as organic touches in fabric-filled rooms. Here, the beautifully curved chair is the coziest place to sit! There is quite a vast assortment of good rattan pieces from dealers on 1st dibs, including Franco Albini ottomans {I love}, delicate 19th-century English bamboo and rattan tables, and a lot more.

PS... More tidbits from George's closet to come.

October 11, 2009


It was color that inspired me at the flea market today—especially turquoise and red. It's a memorable combination. So was the fuscia Dior dress with the striking Fred Leighton turquoise jewelry that Cameron Diaz wore to The Met's Costume Institute Gala in 2007. And, memorable is the color of this dressing room from my large file of dog-eared pages {House Beautiful 2001}. Picasso said, "Colors, like features... follow the changes of the emotions." What colors inspired you today?

Images: Cameron Diaz photo by Peter Kramer, House Beautiful 2001, and our flea market inspiration.

October 9, 2009


After a week of more sad magazine news, I've thought a lot about the extreme costs that large magazine publishers face, especially to produce lush icons like Vogue—where often sumptuous shoots do not make the cut/issue. But sophisticated art is expensive and that is just what we see in the pages of Vogue month after month. I left the movie September Issue with a renewed passion for excellence and admiration for both Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington for their brilliant {sometimes buck-heading} synergy. They are smart, sophisticated and have enduring talent. Their jobs are tough but they continue to push beyond like many artists of all genres to create excellence. In a scene from September Issue, while Grace Coddington rides in the back of a Paris limo, she quotes her old friend and mentor, photographer Norman Parkinson who told her... "Never shut your eyes or go to sleep in a car, train, anywhere. You might miss something inspiring." That scene stood-out in my mind because I'm definitely with Mr. Parkinson, and with all creatives who keep their eyes wide open. Without the people who truly see, we would not have traveled around the world of cuisine with Gourmet, have been mesmerized by the stunning photographs of Irving Penn or dreamt about the latest couture from the pages of Vogue.

Images: NPA {Norman Parkinson Archives}, Irving Penn's Salad Ingredients, Grace Coddington-style page from Vogue, Grace Coddington and Anna Wintour - www.screendaily.com

Norman Parkinson~A Very British Glamour
Release, October 2009


After a long and busy week, I'm winding down with a beautiful piano work by Brahms {Intermezzo op. 118. no. 2 in A major} played by lovely Mexican pianist Citlalli Guevara. Citlalli holds a Master in Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music, where she was student of Russian pianist Nina Svetlanova and a Bachelor in Arts Degree from the University of Veracruz where she was student of pianist Laura Sosa and Alejandro Corona. She also attended master classes from Oleg Maisenberg, Philippe Entremont, Jerome Lowenthal, Jean Philippe Collard, Robert Roux, Jorge Luis Prats, Pascal Rogé, Jorge Federico Osorio and Edith Picht Axenfeld.

Have a great weekend but first take a moment to pause and listen to Citlalli play.

October 8, 2009


Irving Penn dies at age 92, New York {nytimes obit}.

The photography of Irving Penn has always had a great influence on me and I believe the book Passage is one of the most important books on my bookshelf. I will make sure that the next time I see my niece Fin {who is studying at Parsons} that we sit down and look at every amazing page together.

Shown above: Empty Plate, New York 1947 | Penn on shoot with New Guinea mud man and child | Pastry Chefs, Paris 1950 from Small Trades | Vogue Cover, 1943 Conde Nast archives |
Woman in Moroccan Palace (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn), Marrakech, 1951

images ©
Irving Penn

October 6, 2009


As the sun drops quickly each evening and the days become shorter, a simple cashmere wrap is utterly cozy. And, a perfect classic in just the right colors {black • hemp heather • flannel heather} from White + Warren at Neiman Marcus.

October 3, 2009


One of my favorite roles in life is being an Aunt. Right now, three of my nieces are in the prime of their lives—Fin is living in her first apartment in trendy Brooklyn and studying at Parsons, Em is abroad this semester in a beautiful village in Ireland, and Suki is studying in Rome, and right this minute taking a swim off a boat in Capri [love texting!]. Here I am in Venice a while back. You might be able tell by my look which decade this is? When Fin saw this pic this summer, she said, "Auntie Boo, you're so fashionable!" And, just for a moment... I was in the prime of my life!

October 2, 2009


I've loved the work of John Derian ever since his early days at La Ruche [owned by Sister Parish's daughter Apple Parish Bartlett] in Boston. It was one of the best shops that ever graced Boston's Back Bay but unfortunately, its long gone. Even then, the pieces created by Derian were best. He had an eye but more importantly... something that was and still is, so uniquely his own. The image above is from John Derian at the New York Gift Show. I love this grouping of gulls and horseshoe crabs, and ships and shells . Take a peek at all 16 images here.


For an early Fall getaway... just grab a canvas tote, some ballet flats, a cozy wrap, a chunky jewel or two, a novel belt, and these 5 easy pieces from James Perse.

October 1, 2009


Hats off to Michelle Adams, Patrick Cline and team! I'm only fourteen pages into their launch issue of Lonny magazine and I'm already shopping for chairs. I'm headed back to the issue... come along!