Fat Tuesday

One of my favorite restaurants in New York is, unsurprisingly, a Jean-Georges restaurant. He’s got them all over town. Its a special occasion place, but lunch there is a forgivable luxury. The space is on a windswept corner of the West Side Highway at the end of Perry Street in the West Village. Huge windows look out over the Hudson, while inside high ceiling and quiet, muted decor has a touch of mid-century modern strained through the late ’80s/early ’90s. Luxurious, desolate, decidedly urban but at the end of earth, all at once.

Ginger Fried Rice
4 Servings

1/2 cup peanut oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and dried
4 cups day-old cooked rice, preferably jasmine, at room temperature
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons sesame oil
4 teaspoons soy sauce.

1. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and brown. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels and salt lightly.

2. Reduce heat under skillet to medium-low and add 2 tablespoons oil and leeks. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very tender but not browned. Season lightly with salt.

3. Raise heat to medium and add rice. Cook, stirring well, until heated through. Season to taste with salt.

4. In a nonstick skillet, fry eggs in remaining oil, sunny-side-up, until edges are set but yolk is still runny.

5. Divide rice among four dishes. Top each with an egg and drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Sprinkle crisped garlic and ginger over everything and serve.

Perry Street
176 Perry Street
New York, NY 10014

recipe courtesy of the New York Times. Mark Bittman. January 22, 2010.


The White Symphony: Three Girls, 1867

James MacNeill Whistler, a 19th-century American painter who lived and worked in England, was known for his progressive style and unique color compositions. In the late 1860s, while working on his great unfinished masterpiece The White Symphony: Three Girls, Whistler fixated on variations of group scenes of women outdoors. The imprecise riots of form and color that define these studies are fascinating insights into Whistler’s creative process, and the fusion that was taking place in his infatuation with two types of clothing: white muslin dresses and Japanese kimonos.

The formerly distinct garments merge into a tousled assemblage of fabrics, from pure white to colorfully patterned, swirling around bodies. The flexible, curving figures recline, sit, stand, and imply movement, but without faces or much definition of body. They are essentially clothes personified, who behave as humans would but in no particular location. With their exotic accessories and voluminous vibrant textiles the location might be an exotic one; but just as quickly the scenes seem to be English women spending leisure time outside in boats and by the sea, with parasols.

Or, they might come from my dreams of the summer, ones I will make a reality by mixing breezy whites with colorful prints.

Symphony in Red and White, 1868

Variation in Blue and Green, 1868

Symphony in Blue and Pink, 1870

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day!

Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter’s Mother, 1871
also known as “Whistler’s Mother”


Fat Tuesday

We cannot get enough of tacos in this gorgeous weather. Luckily, there are great trucks, stands, and holes-in-the-wall in the city to duck into for a quick bite. If there was one thing I could ask more of a taco, it would be… SHELL. This is why a taco salad screams to me. I love the fillings- really, I do- but it’s really just an excuse to eat an entire bowl made out of crunchy, flaky torilla shell. When I came across this recipe in the Tampa Treasures Cookbook, it was an easy sell. Who wouldn’t follow Barry Zuckerkor… err, Henry Winkler’s advice on just about anything?

Another thing… preparing this at home, no one will know if I only made the bowl.

Henry Winkler’s Mexican Salad
4-6 servings prep 25 minutes

Winkler contributed this recipe to the Tampa Treasures Cookbook when he was in Tampa directing the movie Cop and a Half (1993)

1 1/2 cup mayo
1 (7-oz) can green chili salsa
1/3 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1-2 heads romaine, broken into 1/2 inch pieces
2 (2 1/4-oz) cans sliced black olives
2-3 large ripe tomatoes, diced
1 large red onion, diced
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies
1-2 (6 1/2 oz) bags tortilla chips, crumbled
2 avocados, diced

Early in day: combine mayo, salsa, ketchup, and chili powder– chill.

When ready to serve: place romaine in large serving bowl; add olives, tomatoes, onion, cheese and chilies.
Top with crumbled chips and avocados. Spread dressing on top– serve.

For an impressive, tasty presentation, serve in flour tortilla shells:
Brush both sides of 12-16 inch flour tortillas with melted butter. Press them into small ovenproof bowls, toast 5-8 minutes in 375° F oven. Unmold the tortillas; place them directly on the oven rack until they are crispy and toasted 1-2 minutes.

Tampa Treasures Cookbook. The Junior League of Tampa. Nashville, Tennessee: Arcata Graphics, 1992.


Fashion History, Inspiration

“Fashion, my girl– he decided.”

Wedding Ensemble, 1934

The fashion world is busy fawning over the royal wedding dress, and eagerly awaiting the opening of the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. McQueen was a tremendous talent who designed fantastical, exciting, gorgeously innovative clothes, showcased in wildly theatrical settings and forms. However, extravagance and imagination does not necessarily translate to pragmatic dressing. With the spotlight on this event at the Costume Institute, we are delving into their archives to dig out an often-overlooked American designer from the 1930s: Elizabeth Hawes.

Evening Dress, 1940

Hawes designed clothing at her own shop in New York on West 56th Street from 1928 to 1940, when she went to work at an aviation factory during World War II. After the war, she designed inconsistently and concentrated on writing, for which she had developed a taste in her seminal memoir/ critique of the fashion industry Fashion is Spinach (1938). In this book, Hawes explores the difference between style and fashion, concluding that fashion is a corruptive, potentially evil force which dictates to women what they should wear for purely commercial goals. Style is a personal expression of taste and imagination.

Elizabeth Hawes was anti-fashion establishment and iconoclastic, not unlike Alexander McQueen. She defied the mainstream fashion industry and remained true to her own values, not allowing herself to be ruled by convention or restrictions. As her biographer Bettina Berch noted, “Elizabeth Hawes left us some very useful ideas—ideas about the links between art and politics, sex and fear, money and beauty.” The designs of her clothing are relevant even today, because they considered the needs of modern woman, who should take her place in society as an ambitious, creative, intellectual force, without sacrificing a love of beauty, whimsy, or charm.