Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Take Home

handsome.jpgWho is this handsome fella
sitting across the bistro table from me
on Ile St. Louis?
Waiter, can I get this to go?

Monday, December 10, 2007


Birthday.jpgChocolate and
spun sugar and
oh me oh my!
The French know how to do fancy and whimsical when you’re the birthday girl… Now where’s Charlie?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Seeking Pied-a-Terre, Big Kitchen

Paris apt I.jpgApartments to look at while in Paris
2. 17, rue des Grands Augustins
3. 11, rue de Verneuil
Ms. Child’s alma mater to consider…

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Paris Notebook- Restaurants

DSCF0353.JPGMark Bittman, Patricia Wells, Alain Ducasse (when he’s slumming) and a SoHo waiter or two are my voices of reason for this eclectic food guide. For my birthday I might be doing a little fancy French at Le Grand Vefour but for the rest of my stay I want rustic, hearty, classic… Yes, this means I will gain ten pounds. C’est la vie. Paris is an occasion and I plan on celebrating!
1. Le Severo
One of Mark Bittman’s favorites… Severo is a small bistro away from the tourists. Very Parisian. Fantastic beef, BEST EVER FRENCH FRIES. I don’t need any more convincing
(14th/ Metro Alesia; 8 rue des Plantes)
2. Chez Georges
One of Ina Garten’s favorites…A perfectly preserved 1920’s bistro. “Every millimeter of the long, narrow dining room, with its mirrored walls and Gothic columns, is packed elbow-to-elbow, filled with carefree, carnivorous crowd that’s there as much for the ambiance as for the cuisine, and enjoying the warm welcome of owner Betrand Brouillet.” “Baskets of perfectly sliced Pain Poilane, steaming platters of steak, kidneys, grilled lamb chops, duck, sole and turbot… The bistro star remains the classic onglet de boeuf with shallots to bring out it’s flavor… Alongside come fine, traditional French fries… The house Brouilly hits the spot… Outrageous Ile Flottante! Exemplary cheese plate. Who could ask for more?”
(2nd/ Metro Sentier; rue de Mail)
3. Aux Lyonnais
Alain Ducasse updated this classic standby… “The place is drop-dead gorgeous, an 1890 bistro that does not feel contrived. It’s one of the bistros of your dreams.” Here, the food is gutsy and prepared with great attention, and the service is better than average. Stew of winter vegetables… “sabodet”—a classic Lyonnaise dish of salami and potatoes served with a sauce gribiche… Strongly suggested to order the pink sparkler Bugey Serdon (you don’t see it often and it’s cheap!).
(2nd/Metro ?; 32 Rue Saint Marc)
4. Chez Denise
Boisterous, smoky bistro near Les Halles…”It’s that kind of place—friendly, truly unpretentious, fun—and filled with meat, mostly off-cuts. The most popular thing is the French fries, served in abundance. Start with something like leeks vinaigrette (starting with pate or saucisson would be overkill)… move to the cote de boeuf served with marrow bones… or kidney, brains, steaks or chops… I’ve yet to find a loser among them… A meal comes to about 30 Euro. Barrels of Brouilly at great prices. Share the Ile Flottante.
(1er/Metro Louvre-Rivoli or Chatelet-Les Halles; 5, rue des Prouvaires)
5. La Closerie des Lilas
Hemingway and Fitzgerald… Here you’ll find a fabulous jazz pianist, the world’s best champagne julep and you don’t even have to have dinner—feel free to sit at the bar and enjoy. The clientele is as chic Left Bank as ever. Freshest oysters…
(6e/Metro Vavin or Port Royal; 171 boulevard du Montparnasse)
6. Cameleon
Near our B& B… Patricia Wells loves this place for a casual meal. It’s equal parts local haunt, store, neighborhood bar and epicurean eatery.
(6e; 6 rue de Chevreuse)
7. Le Epi Dupin
Near our B&B… Not known for interior design, but fantastic food-yes! Francois Pasteau turns out an “endless parade of inventive dishes” based on Pasteau’s early morning trips to the Rungis Market. Tatin of endive and goat cheese…mackerel filets in a hazelnut, fennel crust…There’s a great prix fixe lunch.
(6e/Metro Sevres-Babylon; 11 rue Dupin)
8. Huitrerie Regis
One of Mark Bittman’s favorites (clearly, he’s my new boyfriend…) … The small oyster bar maybe seats 20 and is located right off of Boulevard St.-Germain. “Clean” and “pleasantly-lit,” at this bar you get super-fresh oysters—and not much more. Four varieties of oysters: Belon (most expensive), fines de Claire, speciales de Claire, pousses en Claire. The names describe how long they have spent in the growing pond and how much space they are given.
 (6e; 3 rue de Montfaucon)
9. Willi’s Wine Bar
A favorite of many…250 wines, many by the glass and a menu that includes fantastic terrines and Lyonnais sausage in truffled vinaigrette…Lunch is the busiest time, it’s best to enjoy cozy ambiance during the quieter evenings.
(1e/Metro Bourse; 13 rue des Petits-Champs)
10. Au Petit Fer a Cheval
Old Paris in the Marais… This is a “tiny, popular, super-trendy neighborhood café that dates back to 1903.” “Quirky and uncommon.” “Friendly and open—a place where you could actually get to know the French.” “This is the real thing, a one-of-a-kind place, a sentimental favorite, a part of pre-war Paris.” The café derives its name from the marble-topped horseshoe bar (the fer a cheval) that is its centerpiece. Come during the day so you can actually enjoy the ambiance as well as the daily specials…warm goat cheese salad with Poilane bread and other lighter fare. Open ‘til 2 a.m.!
(4e; Metro Hotel de Ville; 30, rue Vielle du Temple)
11. Mon Vieil Ami*
One of the best eats in Paris situated on Ile Saint Louis… Recommended by Melissa Lafsky (“Opinionistas”), Alain Ducasse and Patricia Wells (no, M. Ducasse and Madame Wells didn’t email me like Melissa did). “Fun, modern, youthful.” High-ceilinged, black & white, modern dining room where the waiters serve you a chilled glass of Alsatian pinot blanc the moment you’re seated. Smoked salmon rillettes…pate en croute…pan-fried foie gras…pan-fried mackerel with leeks vinaigrette. Can’t wait! We have reservations for Wednesday lunch.
(4e/ 69 rue Saint Louis en I’le)
12. Bofinger
Pronounced BOW-fahn-jay, this is the oldest brasserie in Paris and a protected national monument. It’s a Belle Epoque dining palace with polished wood, shining brass, comfortable banquettes and—the piece de resistance—a glass dome over the central dining room. French writers, academics and politicians come here for the two classic brasserie dishes—platter of fruits de mer (6 different kinds of oysters!) and charcroute. Sign me up for champagne and oysters!
(4e/Ile de la Cite, Ile St. Louis; 5-7 rue de Bastille)
13. Ma Borgogne
One of Alain Ducasse’s favorites… Situated on one of the most beautiful squares in Paris, the Place des Vosges, the Borgogne absorbs the beauty of its surrounding architecture that dates back to 1407. Don’t go fancy or complicated here—stick to classics. serves French cuisine de terroir—hearty countryside dishes like Beaujolais sausage and stuffed cabbage.
(4e/Metro Bastille; 19 Place des Vosges
14. Gerard Mulot
Best breakfast pastries and tarts in town… I’m going to skip café and croissants at the hotel and beat a path down the rue de Seine for a still warm pain au chocolat.
(6e/76 rue de Seine)
15. La Verre Vole’
The manager of my neighborhood restaurant, “Shorty’s .32,” recommended this ‘cave a manger’ to me… Situated in the trendy area near the Canal St. Martin, this boite looks as if it will satisfy all cravings! It’s a specialty grocery store, wine cellar and eatery all in one. Salads…roasted meats…all those Frenchy French terrines…
(near Canal St. Martin; 67 rue de Lancry)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Eiffel Tower1.jpgParis for my birthday! What more could a girl wish for? Well… you know me… I wish that I knew a few locals. I wish that there was someone to draw me up a big list ofcan-Eiffel Tower III.jpgnot-miss exhibits, boutiques, bistros. Where should I stay? I’m overwhelmed by the art, the beauty–the prospect of seared foie gras for lunch! Enter Paris Notebook. No leather. No gold leaf. But my yellow Steno pad should do the trick. Research sessions at Barnes & Noble and hours exploring the galleries of Rue de Seine, the 18th century brasseries of Les Halles, the Jewish bakeries of the Quartier Latin (such a tough job!) will be dutifully transcribed for yournext trip. I’ll be your American insider–your know-it-all ami francaise– who can’t wait to tell you about Hotel Verneuil, the hotel de charme in St. Germain. You want romance and history with your next 4-star meal? Enjoy a lunch (for half the price of dinner) at Le Grand Vefour, a restaurant that has been around since the reign of Louis XV, a favorite of Napoleon, Colette, Cocteau. So I’ve got a hotel and my one 4-star meal. Now to fill in the blanks… 

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Beauty Expert

Nadines Book.JPG
She was a gorgeous, glowing sight for sore eyes. I hadn’t seen Ms. Nadine in two years. We left things off at Giorgione 508, several good glasses of Southern red and a plate of mixed bruschette between us (I swear I recall my life as a menu…). Our respective books had just been sold and she was off for twenty-four months of polo, Euros and an absolutely fabulous life. Me? I had big, big plans… to stand at the stove, write recipes, debate the merits of Afghan versus Spanish saffron…
But back to the beauty expert! Tuesday night dinner at Fred’s and I get Nadine and her oeuvre–Beauty Confidential. One day and counting before her Today Show appearance and she’s as cool, calm, collected and glowing (have I already used that descriptor?) as any celeb on the red carpet. The point is, the girl and her beauty regime (on a budget!) are doing something right.  
Go here and learn all of Nadine’s secrets. After highlighting every second page of Beauty Confidential I didn’t know whether I should hit CVS or Barney’s for my updated beauty buys. Her book is written for the priss and pauper in each of us working girls. Need I sell you more?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Foodie Contributor, ABC

I love winter squash. It’s everything this poor, working girl is not– rich and mellow. I’d say it’s just about the most comforting, seasonal food for our cool October nights. In fact, I love the orange stuff so much, I made it the focus of my debut segment for ABC/Good Morning America Online’s, “Eat & Greet.” 
Watch, learn about and enjoy these cool-weather veggies. Make your Mamma proud. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters

Sitting, waiting, wishing while New York does it’s thing…  
And now I know
Spanish Harlem are not just pretty words to say
I thought I knew
But now I know that rose trees never grow in New York City
Until you’ve seen this trash can dream come true
You stand at the edge while people run you through
And I thank the Lord there’s people out there like you
I thank the Lord there’s people out there like you
While Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
Sons of bankers, sons of lawyers
Turn around and say good morning to the night
For unless they see the sky
But they can’t and that is why
They know not if it’s dark outside or light
This Broadway’s got
It’s got a lot of songs to sing
If I knew the tunes I might join in
I’ll go my way alone
Grow my own, my own seeds shall be sown in New York City
Subway’s no way for a good man to go down
Rich man can ride and the hobo he can drown
And I thank the Lord for the people I have found
I thank the Lord for the people I have found
(Music by Elton John; Lyrics by Bernie Taupin)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Playing Teacher

Twenty curious faces and a cocktail dress. What better to lecture in than a tobacco-colored number and lizard skin high heels?
My Learning Annex classroom on Madison Square Park reminded me of my Gotham Writer days. But, of course, instead of squeezing my hips into a desk designed for a ten year-old’s slender frame, I was strutting (tottering?) across the linoleum floor, in front of the blackboard, trying to entertain, inspire and answer questions about GoogleSense, AdSense and the like. Technical mumbo jumbo makes me blush—it’s NOT my thing. I admitted such and swiftly transitioned our talk to more important topics like, Martha Stewart and “Who is coming out with me afterward for a fancy cocktail?” I love elderflower and champagne.
There was an Eastern European beauty and a charming woman with a 7-carat diamond (yes, we became such fast friends that she divulged diamond details in our booth at “Eleven Madison”). There were older men just beginning blogs and young, striking Latino American girls who were a few months into the daunting project. A slice, a cross-section, a grab bag of the Big Apple gave me their attention and time on a cool Wednesday evening and I loved them for it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Come sample the Granddaddy of all Southern foods today at Grand Central Station. (A man at last week’s Bleeker Street tasting declared both my product and get-up to be “spicy.” I’ll take that.)
What: Pimento Cheese and Banter w. Brooke
Where: Murray’s Cheese, Grand Central Market
Time: September 12th, 3pm-7pm

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Gabbing over at ABC… (And I’ve decided that a simple ponytail works just fine for such appearances)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Belle at the Learning Annex

Champagne at Balthazar to follow. Y’all know this is how you want to spend a Wednesday evening…
(For online sign-up, click HERE)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Belle in The New York Times

Right now I’m on vacation with my family, trying to explain where my money goes.
I haven’t seen you in a new dress in ages… Chinatown for a haircut?… Honey, mind your cuticles… That shade of lipstick is very Alicia Silverstone circa 1995… You still have a VCR?!
I buy cheese, family. I buy 180 minutes with a lawyer. I buy myself an LLC. And then, y’all know what I do? I buy more cheese and pounds upon pounds of red bell peppers. With my spare money and time, I run up to Union Square and splurge on an heirloom tomato or two and then come back down to Sullivan for a ball of mozzarella from Joe’s. I’ll slip in a glass of wine and call it luxury.
But I do feel like an entrepreneur and I do feel like I’m taking a risk. My products are tucked away on Bleeker Street and stacked on the cooled shelves at Grand Central.That makes me happy. That keeps me going…

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Dressing Up Pimento Cheese

In some parts of the country, pride is taken in homemade pimento cheese; self-respecting Southerners would never buy the commercial kind to fill a sandwich or to top a canapé. And why would they? At its simplest, pimento cheese calls for shredded sharp Cheddar, minced jarred pimentos and mayonnaise. Variations include cream cheese, onion, pickles and hot sauce.

Brooke Parkhurst, far left, a native of Pensacola, Fla., now living in New York, likes hers sharp and spicy, suitable to nibble with a martini at 5 p.m. or to use as an omelet filling for Sunday brunch. Tweaking her grandmother’s recipe, she roasts red peppers in olive oil, uses sharp Irish Cheddar, Ben’s cream cheese, mayonnaise and, for the kick, sriracha hot sauce. Her Belle’s Southern Comforts pimento cheese is $6.99 for seven ounces at Murray’s Cheese stores.

[via NY Times]

Monday, July 23, 2007

On Broadway

I left him at the table and walked north back to my apartment, staring at the sky above my riverbed, the white and silver scales atop the Chrysler Building (the arrangement of lights looking like the fish I’d seen on the walls of Pompeii). Alone and heading home.
It reminded me of my first weeks in the city, walking from Union Square down Broadway after my movies—always alone—past Grace Church, Amalgamated. The education of a girl and her sensibilities. It came to me, finally. “Alone” and “lonely” were very different. Right then, I was by myself yet a part of those around me, Broadway, a river of souls, the echo of heavy heels, sneezes (little orgasms of air), monologues of crazy street poets. I considered all of my romances—the city, my job, the men. Manhattan was real and the only thing that had grabbed a hold of me, never once letting go. So I had that. I’d always have that. Breathe.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The trick

“The trick, my dear, is not getting what you want, but wanting it after you have it.”
–Kate Hepburn, “Love Affair”

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Of Mice and a Man

Never a dull moment in the downtown apartment… Yesterday morning, 8 a.m.
“Ya’ gotta lotta papers ‘round. Whadya doin?”
“Writing a book, testing recipes,” I say, touching my topknot, firmly tying my kimono robe around my waist. Sip of coffee. I’ve never been comfortable with inquisitive workmen. A stranger—one of 8 million—has just gained entry into my very personal space by virtue of his profession and he feels he can do anything, ask anything. Questions, raised eyebrows, scratching and prying.
“I could write a book.” He adjusts the metal tank of poison strapped to his back.
“Oh, yeah?” Please stop talking, please stop talking…
“Lotta interestin’ thins I seen.” He stops spraying the baseboards, turns, waits. He feels he’s due a reaction.
“Being an exterminator must be fascinating.” Killing cockroaches and red-eyed mice is fine and well (and certainly mildly satisfying—tangible results after a fine day’s work is done). But the real joy, for the voyeur, would come with aforementioned access to private spaces, twisted sheets, piles of dishes with bits of last night’s salmon and chives. Sniff, sniff. Citrus. A gimlet with the evening news?
“Nah, not that.”
Dropping clues, building tension. All right, all right, the exterminator had a story. I’d bite. “Oh no?”
“I exhumed my mother’s body.”
Throw back the last of my coffee—sugar and grounds, sweet and textured—like a shot.
“Yeah, uncle and I did it. We got good and hammered first, I’ll tell ya that. Went out to Jersey and dug up her bones. Don’t trust those cemetery workers. They’d steal her rings and her femur. Want me to spray outside for ants?”

Thursday, June 21, 2007


I plucked their eyebrows. It was my thing, my only thing, the one thing they loved. Arches—haughty French circonflexes—rendered with the utmost care, smooth sweet half moons, serious slashes for the serious eighteen year-old. The line outside my freshman dorm room stretched clear down the grey, linoleum corridor of Richardson Hall out into the common room where Coca-Cola and Mentos and fried pork skins were sold. Well, in my mind anyway. Very Strange Roommate marveled and told me to start charging $5 a brow, we’d split the profits. Who was going to ask for just one brow to be tended to? I wondered.
They came to me before every big dance, banquet or dinner date. Girls that I had ignored or those that had ignored me (inevitably members of the lacrosse team hailing from South Carolina and Virginia) sat on the narrow little bed, lit by my 100 watt desk lamp, next to pictures of my Italian boyfriend, his hand-written letters and recipes, my official rejection letter from Ruth Reichl (kind and concise). They glimpsed what I’d never reveal. And what did I see? Pores, clogged pores, brilliance and light. I’d never have observed any of this at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Crosby Stills & Nash mixer. But if I caught them looking too closely at me? I’d pull a hair beneath the white, virgin skin of the arch, make them tear up a bit. Don’t worry. It was brief and they learned a lesson and they always came back.

Plucked from obscurity. That’s how I look at it. I was a one trick pony but that was enough—more than most people have. I leveraged and I maneuvered and I met all the Alpha girls that way. I never much cared for their cocktail parties and mindless banter but the invites felt good. Meaningless invitations had a way of staving off loneliness—still do.  
A college campus, my New York City… nothing more than big buildings filled with vulnerable people. You can expose them, they can expose you. Garner their respect for one thing, no matter how small, and move on.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Good Day at the Market

Scratch that. It was a perfect day at the market. John Cougar Mellencamp, Willie Nelson and the season’s first heirloom tomatoes made an appearance at yesterday’s Union Square Farmer’s Market. Needless to say, I was more than a little surprised to find Willie, John and Mayor Bloomberg at my favorite produce stand feeling lettuces and crunching on snap peas. If I hadn’t been sweaty and unpresentable in my gym gear, I might have walked straight up to Willy and told him that he and those squeezable, summertime red fruits were always on my mind.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The First

How do you forget the boy who gave you your first cast-iron skillet?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Meet Your Meat

Brooke Parkhurst 5-25-06 NYC029.JPGLike a kid in a candy store… or a downtown girl in the ”Jeffrey” shoe department…
I just can’t get enough of Pino Cinquemani and his Sullivan Street butcher shop! I feel like I’m always wiping sawdust off of my heels. Is it a crush on the big boy from Castofilippo, Sicily? Has my palate officially been spoiled by the grass-fed sirloin and lean bison? Anyone, anyone?
Check out my latest episode, MEET YOUR MEAT, to get acquainted with the man behind the chopping block and all of his best cuts of meat. Come back tomorrow and Wednesday to learn how to pair your stellar sirloin with a boldly flavored, Catalan salad. Lean meat and deconstructed romesco… mmmm… makes a girl smile. I’m feeling that B-vitamin rush all the way down to my fingertips. Wait, or is that Pino?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Two Lives

subway 2.JPG
Riding the subway to Per Se . Mmmmm… love the duality of my New York City life… 
Chef’s Tasting Menu for Belle
“Oysters and Pearls”
Salad of French White Asparagus, Hop Shoots,Green Almonds
Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Poached Brooks Cherries, Frisee

Crispy Skin Fillet of Dorade, Garbanzo Beans, Confit of Cuttlefish
Pan Roasted Maine Sea Scallop, Globe Artichokes, Sweet Carrots
Liberty Valley Pekin Duck Breast with California Strawberries
“Cervelle de Veau,” Laurel-Scented Pain Perdu
Rib-eye of Veal “Roti a la Broche,” Potato Gnocchi, Cepe Mushrooms
Hoja Santa Cheese with English Cucumber and Grilled Tomatillo Salsa
Apricot Sorbet
Per Se “Tarte au Chocolat Noir”
(Back to PluckU wings and a thrifty Sicilian red tonight?)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Instant American Dream

Cafe.JPGDonny Deutsch thinks I’m living the “instant American Dream.” At least that’s what his producers made him say last night as we squared off on his CNBC program, the “BIG IDEA with Donny Deutsch.” Booming, baritone Voiceover Man declared,
“A Southern girl next door learns how to make it in the Big Apple and take her dreams out into the wo-o-o-o-rlddddd.”
B roll: Me in a big white dress, armful of roses at my debutante ball. Granddaddy and I enjoying an aperitif at Casa Botin. An aerial shot of the Northeastern United States…what? It was all very dramatic.
Donny quizzed me about my book (“Belle of New York, 2008), “the biggest talent show on earth” (the internet) and how I got started (a little site called “Wonkette”). I wasn’t shy about declaring my admiration for Nick Denton, internet genius and founder of Gawker Media. A handful of his editors—okay, the majority of them—may love to hate me but I respect the operation and Nick’s entrepreneurial spirit.
Who else took their turn on the couch? What other “instantly famous” web celebs had the pleasure of gazing into Donny’s eyes, inadvertently licking their coffee and red wine-stained teeth as they stared at his BriteSmile? The illustrious cast of characters included a Yale grad who creates Mento and Diet Coke fountains, a stand-up comic who sings about shoes and a hot little lady by the name of Amanda Congdon who has her own ABC News webcast and a production deal with HBO. Indeed—a motley crue.
Above picture is meant to redeem last night’s “trekkie hairdo” (observation courtesy, Mamma) and overall ghastl

Monday, May 7, 2007

Southern Comfort

The season is upon us. Wham bam, two wedding weekends in a row, one smack against the other. For one girlfriend, I jetted (okay, I flew three hours in what was essentially an upright fetal ball position on a Delta commuter plane) from New York down to the Gulf and back up again only to turn around and speed off (or creep along the eastern seaboard at the pace of a Schwinn, courtesy Amtrak) to the Maine-New Hampshire seacoast for the wedding of another. Low-hanging lanterns, raw bars, difficult-to-identify spring buds and California “Champagne” abounded. Restrained elegance. There might have been fifteen years and variant levels of estrogen in the bloodstream differentiating my two lady friends (the Yankee bride was glowingly, unapologetically 5 months pregnant at her nuptials) but they both knew how to pull off their memorable evenings with aplomb.
But a party’s not a party if Mamma’s not there. She and her cast of “wedding friends” (yes, these people are a subset) remind me that “Steel Magnolias” is not some histrionic take on Southern quirk and culture but a damn fine portrayal of what really goes on in our backyards and on our front porches. At the Yacht Club wedding celebration down South (“yacht” definitively needing to be sandwiched between a pair of quotes like pimento cheese between two slices of crustless white bread), I saddled up next to the whirring Bushwacker machine just a moment too long. I missed Mamma’s opening harmony. You see, I was too busy tapping my thigh, enjoying the altogether pleasant sound of Kahlua and “151” rum being rhythmically folded into vanilla ice cream and half-and-half to hear the “Drifters” lyrics escape into the dense twilight air.
“This magic moment, so different and so new was like any other, until I kiss you…” Mamma, in her dusty rose and black pantsuit, was doing a duet with the lead singer.
But back to that alcoholic Dixie milkshake of ours… Tacky and a godsend, that’s how I’d describe it. I suppose that it’s okay I didn’t hear Mamma at first because those moments standing, sipping next to the big steely machine might as well have been a therapy session; my shoulders descended from up around my ears down to their proper place, my brow unfurrowed, my mind stopped racing and asking New York kinda questions (i.e. “Does that agency really merit 20% of gross net earnings?” “Is in-house publicity sufficient or do I need to hire an independent contractor?” “ConEd CAN’T raise electricity 17%–I need my manicures!”). I was utterly content. 
Sucking down my weekly calorie allotment, I looked over at the over-sized Southern boys next to me—deep-sea fishermen, big game hunters, lawyers—acting the same. They stopped talking about the marlin and the ten-point bucks that got away and considered the new wallpaper in the guest bedroom, the delicate remoulade sauce they enjoyed with crab cakes last weekend at the Club.
Alcohol and dairy—the teat of southern comfort.
“And then it happened, it took me by surprise, I knew that you felt it too, by the look in your eyes… Sweeter than wine, softer than the summer night, everything I want I have…”
Sweeter than wine is right. Dust off the blender and make this absolutely decadent, over-the-top milkshake your first warm weekend out in the Hamptons (or on the fire escape!). Channel Mamma and tipsy wedding receptions on the bay.
8 oz cream of coconut
4 oz coffee liqueur
2 oz black rum
2 oz creme de cacao
8 oz half-and-half
vanilla ice cream
Combine all ingredients in a blender with 2 cups of ice and blend until creamy. Enjoy (and don’t plan on being hungry for dinner)!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Spring Sweetness

No, no, no–I’m not talking about me or the low-cut red blouse that looks as if it were stolen from Giada de Laurentiis’ closet! I’m talkin’ spring fruits! Gorgeous strawberries and plumbs. My fourth cooking episode, FRUIT GALETTES, is all about healthful wheat dough and whisps of pastry framing spring’s most flavorful fruits. 
Get to the greenmarket and get into your kitchen!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Martha, Paula and Everything In Between

Remember that little gem of a project I alluded to earlier in the month? It’s here!
Today my cooking “show” debuts! Think Martha Stewart with a twang, Paula Deen dipping into the low-fat mayo (heck, while you’re at it, throw in one of Giada’s low-cut blouses…). My show is all about cooking and shopping for the younger set while keeping an eye on sophistication and the waistline.
On, getting in shape and being healthy is a must. So how do I kick things off? With BREAD, CHEESE and PORK, of course! Check out episodes 1-3 of my cooking show and tune in every week for recipes and cooking ideas.
Bon Appetit and Good Eats!

Sunday, April 15, 2007



A self-described "aging debutante, a small-town girl, cursed with big-city aspirations," Brooke Parkhurst documented her social-climbing ways in her blog, "Belle in the Big Apple." Her daily trials and tribulations of working her way up in the notoriously status-obsessed world of New York media paid off with a gig as a video correspondent for Conde Nast and a book deal with Simon & Schuster.

[via NY Post]

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Maiden Lane

I’m trying to tiptoe off the island. I’m sure of it. It’s gotta mean something that South of Houston just isn’t cutting it anymore. Lower, lower, I want to move as far south and as close to the water as I can go. Everyday for a week now, I’ve taken hour-long walks down to the South Street Seaport and back. “I could live here,” I think, “rent out a space over an oyster bar, hear the tugboats, smell the saltwater in the morning, watch the obscene oranges and pinks melt into the horizon at night.” I’d force those sensations to be interchangeable with memories of docks jutting out into the warm, brown bay waters at sunset.
Andalucia, Spain, Puglia, Italy—I’ve written before that I’m drawn to the southernmost points of all countries. New York City and I’m trying to do the same…
“Move to Maiden Lane, move to Maiden Lane…” It’s actually a lovely little chant, isn’t it? But I have to think, “Wouldn’t it all be a cheap approximation of the South that I really yearn for?”
A piece of land and a home, something that looks just like this (Hampton Plantation). Longing for “Tara” and all that picked over, Dixie nonsense? Yep, and I’m unapologetic in my desires. I’ll finish my book, its movie, do wonders with my new cooking “show,” and then I’m going to get her. And hopefully by then “maiden” won’t fit into the picture—I’ll be a Mrs.
(pre-emptive strike at smart ass comments: yes, i realize that the South Street Seaport is not the southernmost tip of the island, Maiden Lane and the surrounding streets lie south east while Battery Park City is the southernmost point of the island.)

Monday, April 9, 2007

Cookin’ Up Something Good

Y’all have not been forgotten! I’ve been cookin’ up something good (but very labor-intensive) for your springtime enjoyment. Promise. Tune in this week for the delicious details.
(And I’m sorry if you left a comment and it was never published–I had to delete all comments from the last 2 weeks due to major spam problems. Now I’m back in business!)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Good Life

You must always have something to do, something to look forward to and someone to love.
(My father’s advice on how to live the good life, rather,making good with a life that can be very, very hard)

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Shoot-Out and Matthew Modine

“Matthew! Good to see ya’, buddy. Could I get one of you running from the police tape, holding your head, doing a Munch ‘Scream?’” Steve asked, hiccupping with excitement, clutching his camera.
“Nah, man, indigestion. The wife and I just ate. And what the fuck is going on here?”
Matthew Modine, his wife Cari, “New York Post” Steve and I look down the length of MacDougal Street to the madness on Houston. The bartender at my local pizza joint, “De Marco’s,” has just been killed, execution-style, fifteen bullets pumped into his back. Two plain clothes, auxiliary cops—in pursuit of the bearded gunman fleeing down Sullivan St—are shot and killed. The gunman is eventually killed as well. An otherwise sweet spring evening concludes as four men are taken to the morgue.
The air was light with the promise of warm weather so the city and I decided to linger at sidewalk tables, take the long way home. After dinner at “Morandi” with a girlfriend (delicious, over-priced, overpopulated by British bankers), I walked down 6th Avenue ticking off the reasons why I love the city. The energy! The culture! The dreams seemingly just a block away…  
Do I take the scenic route home, walk down quiet Minetta Lane and then turn onto Bleeker? Minetta Lane is narrow, personal—I’ve always felt that it was mine. A century ago, the lane was a small, quiet stream running through the heart of the Village. Now it is home to one of my favorite wine bars, “Bella Vitae” and a space where I dream about Old New York. I like to take the twisting lane carefully, slowly. Tonight I decide against it and stay on 6th Avenue.
Seconds later, at the corner of 6th Avenue and Bleeker, I hear gunshots. Five of them. A beat. Five more. No, maybe it was a celebration—fireworks! My optimism is swiftly defeated by screeching brakes, undercover cops pouring out of Yellow Cabs, the SWAT team and ATP materializing out of blackness, the Manhattan night. I’m a block—one split-second decision—away from the shoot-out and four deaths. 
I’m cordoned off with yellow police tape. Nothing to do but wait, scan the scene, call my parents back home in bed, talk to  my friend Steve from the “New York Post” that I spot in the crowd.
“Look at this shit! Houston’s blocked off, the streets are full of crazy, anxious people—I swear it’s the New York City blackout meets the Village gay pride parade.” I can’t tell if Steve is incredulous or excited. Casualty of the job, I suppose. We’re finally allowed to leave Bleeker Street, cross Houston and enter SoHo. Steve spots Matthew Modine and tells me this is my chance to slip the A-list actor my screenplay.
“I don’t write screenplays, Steve. I’m finishing a novel.”
“Right, whatever. But, now’s your chance! It’s Matthew Modine! He can take you places, baby!”
New York City night, another opportunity, another chance—dark hours full of split-second decisions that will change your life.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Step Aside

The world turns aside to let any pass who knows where he is going.
~Epictetus (60A.D.-120 A.D.)
And if the world just isn’t complying–you know, doing the requisite back flips and somersaults for you–see what happens once you sport a head of fabulous hair! In my stubborn refusal to pay upwards of $350 for a half head of highlights (absolutely unconscionable), I have found yet another bargain-basement priced color and cutting wizard. Click on “Belle’s Guide” and “Belle’s Hot Picks” for the scoop. 

Friday, March 2, 2007

New York, The Gulf, St. Germain

The great Sufi poet and philosopher Rumi once advised his students to write down the three things they most wanted in life. If any item on the list clashes with any other item, Rumi warned, you are destined for unhappiness. Better to live a life of single-pointed focus, he taught… [But] I wanted worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence—the dual glories of human life. I wanted what the Greeks call kalos kai agathos, the singular balance of the good and the beautiful.                                                                          ~Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Great beauty and goodness and divinity exist on the crowded Broadway sidewalks, in the sugar sands of the Gulf, within the gold and perfume and polish of the boutiques in the quartier St. Germain. I know this, I know this. But what about the Magic Blend? Please, Lord, tell me it’s just as attainable as that over-priced bag of beans at “Starbucks…”

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Dirty Diamonds

do love a woman that wears her diamonds while whipping up a batch of pimento cheese. The jewels—those precious, perfect cuts of carbon the size of the cubes in her minted iced tea—are smeared with peppers, lost in cheese. Paula Deen doesn’t give a damn. Priorities. We’re Southern girls, we have it all worked out. Anything for a supper, a lunch, something to make those mouths hum.
That’s it, the future, my future. Family, fine food and a handful of dirty diamonds.
What more could a girl ask for?
(Unfortunate but necessary sidebar: Paula does not roast her own peppers nor does she use the heavenly heat of Sriracha hot sauce in her pimento cheese recipe. In my humble opinion, the recipe on this very site is tastier than the recipe printed in today’s “New York Times” [see above link]. Click on Cups & Nibbles and Simply Southern in the City for the real deal. Sorry Ms. Paula.)  

Friday, February 23, 2007


Buttermilk. The word just sounds sweet and easy, doesn’t it? It’s an image, a feeling, a taste, a roll of the lips that seems so distinct from anything indigenous to the city. I like to say that we Southerners talk and carry ourselves with a light buttermilk coating. We can be easy on the eyes, ears and mind—nothing too severe, difficult, bitter—unless you get a good taste of us, rather, one taste too many. There’s a kick. It can be sour. Or, it can just be tart. It depends if you’re the kind of person that takes your coffee black or with cream and sugar.
Valentine’s Day and the “New York Times” “Dining In/Dining Out” section runs a gorgeous feature piece on Red Velvet Cake. Valentine’s Day and my pinup spread runs on “Gawker.” I’m proud and embarrassed and empowered and enervated by the images. “You went too far,” “You didn’t go far enough.” “You took a leap and the fickle soul of Manhattan was your golden parachute—nothing is ‘too much’ up here, not when you reside below that magic cut off line, age 30.” I look at the picture in the “Times” and admire the whimsical and gaudy crimson-layered cake. I glance at my computer screen. Email from a friend in Texas: “You’ll adore these pictures when you’re 80 and your bosoms are hitting the floor!” Agreed. And the “Gucci” and the “Chanel” fit so nicely. Even the tacky, white number—the “Jessica McClintock”—made me feel good. Second skin. Distracted, I lick my lips and read the icing recipe, cream cheese, mascarpone, cups and cups of powdered sugar. Something has to make all that cheese palatable.
I grocery shop and find every ingredient but the buttermilk. I have to have it. There’s no substitution. The buttermilk has to go into the cake batter, making it both sweet and sour, interesting, almost acrid. The shelves at the “Associated Supermarket” have Kaffir milk, soy milk, goat milk—everything but that Southern staple. I go to “Joe’s Dairy” on Sullivan Street. “Buttermilk?” the old Italian asks me. He makes the sign of the cross. Maybe it was because the St. Anthony’s church bell struck six. Maybe he was praying for my palate. “Dean & DeLuca,” that bastion of over-priced perishables, saves me. I have all my ingredients, I can now make that tall, 3-layered, tacky wonder.
The cake has such height and presence it’s almost vulgar. I top it with three pink roses. There, that’s better. Off with the black, slinky thing and into an eyelet sundress. A piece will go to all my favorite downtown neighbors: the bartender at “Raoul’s,” the butcher, the baker, the doubtful cheese-maker. It’s too bad I have to slice her up into different parts, I think. They should take her all in at once: gaudy, sweet, decadent, difficult, a throwback to a different era. N