(not my nails)

the latest nail polish colour to storm the stores is Chanel's Particuliere (see above photo)

the colour putty is all the rage for 2010 - from clothing to tights to the tips of one's fingers.

when i happily showed off my putty-coloured fingernails to G, his response was "you have the fingers of a dead person".

snow mobility

don't try this at home (or rather in DC. if you can't drive a car in 1/16th of an inch of snow, you probably won't fare much better on a bicycle.)

source here

Sandwiches With Ducasse

by Christine Muhlke, Sept 24 2009 - nytimes.com

Last week, when Luc Dubanchet of the French culinary group Omnivore asked if I wanted to have dinner with him and Alain Ducasse, visions of côte de boeuf danced in my head. Where did Ducasse pick? A sandwich shop in Hell’s Kitchen.

When I arrived at Xie Xie (pronounced “shay shay”), Ducasse had already removed his jacket and was standing at the bar, clearly jazzed by both the concept — six sandwiches and two desserts in a high-tech Asian space — and the chef. (As Ducasse explained to me, Angelo Sosa had worked with Jean-Georges Vongerichten for years at several of his restaurants; the two met by chance in Seoul, South Korea. Without knowing his background, Ducasse recalled, “I could immediately tell that he had the hands of a chef, a great touch.” He invited him to cook a special meal at Spoon in Paris in 2005.)

And so Ducasse — who enthusiastically seeks out street food, overlooked restaurants and holes-in-the-wall in every city he visits (he was giddy during a dinner at the original Shopsin’s) — ordered basically everything on the menu: Vietnamese-style turmeric-marinated tilapia with onion marmalade, sriracha and tufts of dill on an ideally crisp-soft roll; sweet pork on a steamed Chinese bun; chicken with smoked egg salad and cilantro; BBQ beef with carrot kimchi and basil-flecked mayo; and, last but not least, a straight-up hot-dog bun filled with Asian lobster salad and tarragon. (We skipped the vegetarian option.) The fish and lobster were the group favorites.

For dessert: oversize, flaky fortune cookies with yuzu custard dipping sauce and the incredible, edible “1,000-year-old” ice cream sandwich — chocolate cookies surrounding vanilla ice cream with a black caramel center, made to look like the Chinese egg of its name. “Can you believe it’s only $4?” Ducasse exclaimed, as he had with the price of almost everything we ate. Vive le euro.

Sosa and his partners have clear plans for their fast-casual project, with a St. Marks Place location opening in November and a big-gun publicist on board. It seems to be on track: on Tuesday it won the 2009 Restaurant Concept Award from StarChefs.com.

As for Ducasse, he wanted to know if they delivered to the St. Regis.

Xie Xie, 645A Ninth Avenue; NYC (212) 265-2975
floral arranging classes in your own home

i found this lovely store in my quest to find floral arranging classes. of course it's in brooklyn and there is little to match it in DC (sob!). i did however find this company in DC, Petal's Edge, that offers in-your-own-home floral arranging classes. they ask for a minimum of 6 students and the price ranges from $85 to $150 per person.

i am gathering friends as we speak and hope to have the class set up for later this month. i can't wait, i love love love flowers, and would dearly love to have my own flower store some day. one of my favourite places in London is Gilding the Lily, which i've blogged about before. they deserve another posting, they're so wonderful, and the service is excellent. their kiosk is just outside South Kensington tube station and i would have to walk past it twice a day - i couldn't help but spend disgusting amounts of my salary there every month. it was so worth it!

white peonies - one of my all time favourite flowers

according to Stephanie Solomon, Bloomingdale's operating vice president for fashion direction, "If you buy only one thing this season, make it a sequined or beaded T-shirt, tank or party dress."

clearly, my friend D was way ahead of the game as she sent me this gorgeous sequinned tank for xmas - merci D!

correction to the posting on 'veal milanese by chef g'

i have been instructed to state that it was not chef g's "proper veal milanese" as we had no panko breadcrumbs so he had to make do with using 100% of cheap nastiness as shown in the photo.

apologies to the chef. *cough cough*
my little bodyguard - Bear

having spent 6 months fleeing in terror whenever he saw Flor, Bear has turned a corner and gone macho. clearly sick of being chased around his home, he is now action cat and can turn himself into a fighter within milliseconds of seeing Flor. he puffs up his tail, omits a scary noise or two and Flor is frozen to the spot, paralysed with fear. his favourite torture is to sit outside a room and stare down the puppy. it's very effective - he can keep Flor in one place for at least half an hour just by glaring (how i wish that worked for me too). Bear is also my little bodyguard these days. everywhere i go, he is by my side (or behind me - see photo).

flor has also turned a corner (just). she now goes to bed when told 'cama'. it only works if the bed is in the same room as me or g though. the puppy cannot bear to be by herself (unless she is making trouble in which case she prefers to be left alone to reek havoc and destruction). when i say bed, i mean one of three soft beds around the house. it would be a victory if she would go to her cage out of freewill, but i think it's more likely she will speak italian before that happens.

i picked these up in vail - a coyote and beaver skull. the beaver's teeth are incredible, they look like resin fakes but are the real things. unsurprising that they can get through a tree in one night with those weapons.


these are a few of my favourite looks from the sartorialist's site

better than nothing for now, and the bulldog money box came in very handy...

the need for a dressing room is getting quite urgent. shown are about half of the shoes i own. okay maybe a third. gulp. the rest are either in storage or g's shoe closet. 

i also need to get my jewellery in one place rather than have it strewn across the whole house. downstairs, i have a humungous box full of baubles - there's no room for it up here. oh dear dear dear. i am starting to become more like Miss Haversham with each day that passes or every new bauble i acquire....the acquisitions will probably not cease anytime soon, so i had better get the storage issue dealt with...

i want these leather jeans soooo badly...

i tried the leather look leggings but as the material was too thin, they looked cheap on me and i don't have the legs to carry off such tight and unforgiving fabric. these on the other hand are more like jeans - thicker and more flattering. i especially love the zips at the inner ankles.

last night's supper: veal milanese by chef g

followed with smores by chef moi

john's new house/bed/shelter

tuesday night supper: rack of lamb atop lentils & wilted swiss chard

it's potato season - yellow potatoes, delicious, could eat them every meal for a fortnight.

wednesday supper: steak sandwiches by chef g

love this from missatlaplaya. next time i want a costume i'll try this.

080 barcelona

back to surfing the web....

so the latest fashion news (other than the passing of Alexander McQueen this morning - RIP) is that sweatpants are the new trend**. not just any old trackie bums mind you - the fashionable ones have to be tapered so you can roll them up to wear with your high heeled sandals or shoe booties. they should also be fitted all over, lest you want to have a saggy bum and flapping thighs which no amount of ankle tapering can fix.

** by Chloe

my thoughts on sweatpants are divided into 1) school games kit in maroon with a white go faster stripe up the side. think adidas rapper sweatpants but in static-inviting acrylic. anything associated with school sports does not make me excited. 2) juicy couture milfs with french manicured toenails and too much diamante (on their pants, person and teeth)...2a) teenage dilfs with too much money and not enough manners... 3) non-slim people who think wearing a sports-orientated outfit will help with their weight loss but don't actually do any exercise other than walk to marshalls and back. oh and numero 4) two words: Vicky Pollard.

the only ones that can pull off this look - in my humble opinion - are models with endless legs, perfect ankles and the right attitude. as for everyday folk, i am not convinced. if you're italian then you have more than your fair share of style, attitude and perfectness, so you probably can do this trend and do it well. 

as someone remarked, this look will likely take off because, like Uggs, it's mostly about comfort - and it doesn't cost much either. 

“Light, cool, comfortable – you’ll never want to wear anything else again,” says Vogue. and this is key... the look will surely fly because they require no effort whatsoever. oh god. they’re the fashion equivalent of a microwave meal. see number 4 above. i repeat VICKY POLLARD.

10 ways to spot a pretentious restaurant
You have to feel for Ryan Simpson, until this week head chef at The Goose, in Britwell Salome, Oxfordshire. He slaves away to win a Michelin star and within the month is out of a job because the pub owner thinks his food is “too poncey” and wants to go back to basics.
I have never been to The Goose, so can’t say who’s right and who’s wrong (even if I did like the sound of Simpson’s roasted wood pigeon and carpaccio of Chiltern Hills muntjac) but if it was only half full on a Saturday night, as the owner claims, it must have been like a morgue on a Tuesday, and no number of Michelin stars can sort that out. Clearly something was wrong, and the easiest thing to blame is always the food.
There is nothing wrong with fancy cooking — or, indeed, formal service — if that is what customers want. The problem comes when a restaurant’s ambition is hopelessly at odds with reality, when both front of house and the kitchen fall back on a lazy notion of what fine dining should be — in other words, they resort to ponciness. Watch out for the telltale signs:
The greeting Hospitality should be the watchword of any good restaurant, and this is their chance to put you at your ease. That doesn’t involve making you stand there like an asylum seeker while they check if your name is indeed on their reservations list. Would it hurt to take you at your word? Beware also the pompous, “Would sir care to have a drink in the library bar first?”
It’s supposed to sound all convivial and relaxed and homely but it’s just a blatant attempt to pin you with a bar bill.
Atmosphere Decor-wise there are no hard rules. Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck in Bray has three Michelin stars but it still looks to me like a provincial pasta joint (in a good way, Heston, in a good way). Equally, I have had riotously good evenings amid the Art Deco splendour of The Berkeley. What you are looking for more than looks is noise. There is nothing more infectious than silence in a dining room, and nothing kills an atmosphere like it. You want to be surrounded by a low buzz of excitement and anticipation.
Dress code Well, there just shouldn’t be one, should there? I mean, if I ask you round to my house, I hope you won’t pitch up in your PJs but I’m not going to turn you away if you do. You just may not be invited back. Dress codes should be self-regulated by mankind’s desire to conform — and if someone does dress inappropriately it will give us all something to talk about, which can only be a good thing (see above).
Menu It used to be that the sure indicator of pretension was a menu written in French, but not even French places do that any more. The modern cliché is that peculiar, no-nonsense, Ur-British shorthand so popular now: “Rabbit, peas, artichoke”, or “Black pudding, scallop, bacon”. Mind you, at least these get it right in limiting the dish to three main flavours. Any more and, unless you are in the hands of a most skilful chef, you are in for a disappointment. Too many chefs think that spending three months washing pots at Claridge’s makes them the new Gordon Ramsay. It doesn’t.
Presentation This is the category in which a restaurant’s ponciness can go off the scale. Dribbles of this, towers of that — some chefs think that every plate must be a minor work of art. While I agree that we eat first with our eyes, let’s not lose sight of what is really important here: the taste. The more artfully tweaked a dish, the longer it has spent under the heat lamp and the more closely the chef has breathed over your plate. And, as the customer, I’m only going to mess it up anyway, and feel a terrible klutz.
Service Staff in properly smart restaurants do the bare minimum. They take your order, they bring food to your table, they take away the empty plates. Please note, they do not continually refill your wine glass; keep asking if everything is all right; point to your dish with their little finger and tell you that the salmon is the salmon and the shellfish veloute is the shellfish veloute (I know, I ordered the damn thing). They also smile occasionally.
Tableware I have round plates and bowls at home. I use them for all sorts of things: soup, pasta, fish, meat, puddings. Curiously, I don’t have octagonal plates, I don’t have square plates, I don’t have crescent-shaped bowls or huge-rimmed bowls like the sombreros of Mexican midgets. Come to think of it, I don’t know how I manage.
Freebies At some places you expect a few inter-course freebies. It’s all part of the multi-starred experience and makes the £300 bill just a tiny bit easier to swallow. But, let’s be honest, they are never a deal-breaker and no amount of truffled cauliflower cappuccino is going to make up for a mediocre meal. Unless they are genuinely innovative, they are just a pretentious affectation.
Loos In the very smartest restaurants a waiter will escort you to the loo. This is barely tolerable in The Ritz; in a lesser establishment it is positively freaky, but it doesn’t stop them trying occasionally. Leave us alone. And while we’re at it, don’t be coy: “Ladies” and “Gents” causes so much less embarrassment than a picture of a peacock and a hen.
The farewell Curiously, the more up itself the restaurant, the worse they are at saying goodbye. The maître d’ who so studiously ignored you on arrival will still have his nose in the reservations book, doing his “very important business”. Every meal should start and end with a smile. Is that too much to ask?

Why is Anna Wintour so powerful?

The world of glossy magazines is not quite as glossy as it was. Advertising sales are in freefall, magazine circulation is plummeting, and yet one woman reigns supreme. Anna Wintour, aka the most powerful woman in fashion (we're hoping she has that printed on her business card), had the Italian fashion houses teetering around in a high-heeled panic when the news emerged that she'd only be stopping off in the city for a few days between Paris and the Oscars.
As the fashion houses nervously asked the question, "Please Ms Wintour, just how high should we jump?", the Italian press (the ones not concerned with skirt lengths and heel shapes, that is) got a bit sniffy. "Anna Wintour, the woman who holds Italian fashion in the palm of her hand" tutted Corriere della Sera. Mario Boselli, president of the Italian Fashion Chamber, told the Telegraph, "She's welcome in Milan but if she only comes for a fleeting visit, perhaps it would be better if she stayed at home." Bold words to direct at a woman nicknamed Nuclear Wintour - Fashion Statement swears it can actually feel the blast of arctic displeasure sent Iceman-style in his direction.
Rumours and rescheduling aside, all this fashionably dressed panic does raise the question: just how much power can one woman hold - and why? Vogue is outsold by InStyle - not to mention the rather less chic magazines that you find by the supermarket checkout. Why don't their readers count? Because, dahling, they are the wrong type of readers.
The truth is that it's all very emperors-new-clothes: Vogue is important because the fashion industry - and the media more generally - says that it's important. The recent Vogue fly-on-the-wall documentary The September Issue opens with Wintour explaining that people are frightened of fashion, so they attack it. Actually, Anna, we think they are just frightened of you …
The truth - like it or not - is that Vogue has an enormous influence, not just on trends but on celebrities, too. When Cheryl Cole was on the cover of Vogue UK, you knew her rehabilition from the days of toilet brawls was complete. The fact that almost none of us can afford the clothes they advertise is - sorry - utterly irrelevant. Not convinced? Then we leave you with a quote from Caroline Weber from the New York Times in 2006: "Vogue is to our era what the idea of God was, in Voltaire's famous parlance, to his: if it didn't exist, we would have to invent it."

it's snowing again and work has been closed all week, tomorrow included. there are no cars out, the buses have stopped running, and John is in his new bed that g bought him before the snow fell - he is as snug as a bug in a rug. John is a large cat and the covered bed is for a medium sized feline, so while he fits in there nicely, his fat face tends to frost up with snow every few seconds. he appears to be immune to the cold though and often treks off for an hour or two, unbothered with having to walk through almost a foot of snow. i covered his new house with rabbit pelts (on g's suggestion), so the fabric house is now extra cosy and that's what i tell myself is most important - nobody cares if it looks like something out of Dances With Wolves Gone Wrong.

i've not left the house other than to knock away some icicles that are massive and treacherous - and they hang off the gutter 2 storeys above John's house. i use a highly sophisticated tool to kill the icicles (that are more like stalagtites) - a broom. it's highly effective but when i use the handle end, it fully utilitizes my hand eye coordination (which is rather in the negative). so all in all it's a great workout for me and makes John's world that bit safer.

g picked up some heat lamps for John's living quarters yesterday - when the store man heard what the bulbs were for he gave them to him for half price and also gifted him with a recycled shopping bag. what a nice man. g was rather chuffed that his philanthropy had at last been recognized.

i am sitting here in what i slept in last night. it's 8pm. what a slob. i so don't care though as i have been feeling a bit under the weather. and bored. nothing worse than not feeling 100% and being bored to death. i have discovered several new websites that have me bordering on obsession.... www.yoox.com for some great shoes and this one Whippet Grey based in the UK.

i love the wicker sandpiper and can envisage them scattered around the garden (when it finally reappears from under 4 feet of snow and ice). i have my eye on the leather and oilskin garden kneeler and also the chestnut wood apple holder.

i think i have spent almost 7 hours surfing the internet today. that is quite a sad discovery - but it wasn't all in vain. kate spade handbag on its way to my eager grabby little paws :-)

tonight's supper will be veal milanese....
the nephews were over for the weekend and we had raclette on friday night.....

steak, raclette, gruyere, courgettes, leek, cornichons and lots of chopped bacon

some snow fun