holiday cheer

Wishing you a splendid 2010!

inspiration & intrigue

{image: Marchesa Luisa Casati (1881-1957) with a greyhound by Giovanni Boldini}
If you love fashion, extravagance and a celebrity femme fatale you must read Infinite Variety: The Life and Legend of the Marchesa Casati. Marchesa's famous eccentricities dominated and delighted European society for nearly three decades.


Outrageously fabulous & enticing gifts

Here's a carefully curated selection of gifts we would be buying this holiday (provided money is no object). Many are collaborations- which we see as a continuing trend in 2010.

Christian Louboutin X Piper-Heidsieck
What: Gift box containing Cuvée Brut w/ crystal flute in the shape of a shoe
Why: It's Ultra-creative & highly original. This LTO has roots in the 1880's when drinking champagne from a lady's shoe was popular.
Available at: Selfridges & Co.


Stella McCartney X Gap
What: Accessibly priced designs Stella McCartney designs for boys & girls.
Why: Watch her with the kids for the campaign. Video is worth 1000 words.
Available at: Gap Stores

CDG Parfum Daphne
What: Perfume collaboration between Daphne Guinness and Comme des Garçons
Why: We love the sentiment behind the scent...
"It’s very difficult to describe in words. It’s a mystery… Sometimes when you fall in love with people, you actually fall in love with their smell" -- Daphne Guinness
Available at: Dover Street Market

Lego X Frank Lloyd Wright
What: Lego® Architecture sets of Fallingwater & Guggenheim Museum
Why: Fueling inspiration for future architects, designers & architecture fans
Available at: DWR

Lanvin Fan
What: Printed fan with illustrations by Alber Elbaz
Why: It's a classic, beautiful and affordable luxury.
Available at: LindeStore

Debbie Harry Vintage Rock T-shirts
What: Fully licensed and endorsed reproduction tees.
Why: Iconic Blonds rock.
Available at:

Caperino & Peperone 2010 Calendar
What: Kuntzel + Deygas designed calendar with graphic forms of optical illusions.
Why: Inclusively cult-ish. We love those adorable dogs.
Available at:


Inspiration by Karl Lagerfield- preview of CNN interview

{photo: Steiff}
"... and I think ideas come when you work. Sitting there daydreaming and waiting for inspiration, is for me, kind of excuse for lazyness."

Watch it here.


in stores: the flavor wheel

A quick update for all you chocolate lovers (and TCHO fans) who are looking for flavor rather than percentage (70% cacao) since we posted this & that...

TCHO Citrus, Nutty, Fruity & Chocolatey packaged chocolates are available at your favorite specialty stores (Murray's Cheese, Uwajimaya, Blue Bottle Coffee & many more) and restaurants (Chez Panisse & more).

We've given the flavor-driven chocolate a spin and not only is their "intelligent experiment" delicious, but our friends who dislike dark chocolate (preferring milk or white chocolate-- the later of which is not really chocolate at all) we're totally into the fruity & citrus bars. The flavor wheel, really makes it easier for anyone to discover chocolate you'll love.


The patisserie (and design) of dreams

La Pâtisserie des Rêves
{photo: La Pâtisserie des Rêves}
This September Philippe Conticini unveiled his latest creation, La Pâtisserie des Rêves (the patisserie of dreams), in the chic 7th arrondissement in Paris.

The modern boutique-style space is fresh and colorful with the desserts displayed on a round platforms with temperature controlled glass bell suspended from the ceiling. We love how the design elevates the importance of select culinary works of art (15 on display at one time vs. 50) without feeling precious or overtly apothecary (a common mistake when using glass jars in merchandising displays).

According to Coolhunter, "customers order their selection from the staff, after which each order appears directly from the kitchen," which we assume both increases speed of service and eliminates the complexity involved with handling the complicated glass bell displays.


right now: anchors away

Perhaps we've got preppy sailor-chic on the brain due to the release of Coco avant Chanel. Or maybe we're just thrilled for spring/summer 2010. Either way, were seeing anchors, stripes & pearls in some not-so-traditional formats. Take a look at our favorite finds...


{photo: Thomas Paul}

Cookware trends: clay pot revival

Occasionally, trendscaping is about being in the right place at the right time influenced by what you love to do and want to see. We love when worlds (personal, professional, recreational) collide and retail anthropology sings.

And that's more or less how we happened upon Bram with our friends (@sagekitchen) in Sonoma as we partook in a little pre-lunch retail therapy. Urged by Jim, we entered the little storefront of clay pots and fell in love with the merchandise.

In all honesty, our motivation was purely focused on adding to a growing collection of cazuelas until the signs started pointed to an emerging trend. Then, all if a sudden, there were rumblings everywhere about clay pot cooking on twitter and Kim O'Donnel (@kimodonnel) posted this great Q&A with Paula Wolfert on

But there was another side of the story to be told- the retail experience.

At Bram, owners Ashrf and Shelly Almasri have assembled an outstanding array of clay pots- complete with halas, skillets, tagines and bowls for the stove top, oven or table from around the world. All of the clay pots at Bram are completely handmade, natural earthenware similar to the cazuelas, cocotes & ollas found at gourmet specialty retailers (La Tienda or Spanish Table). Our purchases (see below) work well on our green egg, stove top or oven.
Egyptian Hala
"Hala" is the generic term used in Egypt for a casserole with high sides. These are traditionally used to make meat and vegetable casseroles cooked with spices and a bit of liquid, essentially a stew. Last weekend we used the Hala for poaching pears.

This earthenware Skillet is perfect for braises and sauces or roasting in the oven. Reminiscent of the French poêlon, the clay skillet found in Provence with a convenient side handle and pour spout. According to this San Francisco magazine article, this is Paula Wolfert's favorite cazuela (and it's ours too).

Round Baker
Its depth allows that ideal ratio of creamy interior to golden, crisp topping. You won't find a better baker than this for fruit cobblers and crisps. It's terrific for reheating or holding food in the oven until serving.

We also loved this Tagine (not currently available online- call to Mr, Almasri order: 866.970.2726) but we already have one with a heavy cast iron bottom by Le Creuset. Our favorite way to use the tagine is for cooking lamb or merguez sausage with vegetables, couscous, and harissa from World Spice or Mustaphas.

Why clay, you may ask?
- It's alluring and primitive nature satisfies our desire to briefly escape from the economic day-to-day and discover unknown techniques.
- It's soulful and deep with flavor and tradition.
- The price point is fairly low so the products are available to many.
- Braising and slow-cooking are seasonally appropriate and comfort us in tough times.
- Because it's cool.

In addition to cookware, Bram also stocks an impressive selection of French, Indian, Italian, Middle Eastern and Moroccan cookbooks. On 11/2 Bram will be hosting a book signing & dinner to celebrate Paula Wolfert's new book "Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking". Details can be found here.

If you don't have friends driving back from Sonoma to transport your earthenware, you can also shop at


retailers & sellers find niche succcess

Based in Brooklyn, Market Publique aims to attract premium sellers and buyers of vintage fashion via auction sales and fixed prices. Potential sellers fill out an application form before joining and once a seller is accepted, there's a USD 0.25 charge per listed item, plus a 5% commission fee for each sale.

{photos: Market Publique}
By focusing on one niche and creating an appealing storefront for carefully selected vendors, Market Publique takes the standard online marketplace model and makes it more attractive and reliable for both buyers and sellers.

In addition to an online presence, Market Publique opened a pop-up retail store for Fashion Night Out that highlighted its fall collection. Here's a recap of the event.

{source/ spotted by: Bonnie Sandy via}