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

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Gawker Pinup Gallery: Julia Allison and Brooke Parkhurst

Julia Allison. Brooke Parkhurst. As authors, diarists, fashion darlings and long-time spiritual counselors, they each serve as the Edith Wharton, the Judith Martin, the May Sarton and possibly even the Virginia Woolf of our time. But these ladies already have a room of their own. It's a very sexy, sexy room. And when we think of them, we think of all the feminist heroes that have gone—and gone down—before them.

Julia got her start as a sex columnist in Georgetown, and now writes the "The Dating Life" for AM New York. Brooke is a former Fox News Channel gal turned blogger and novelist.

As a Valentine's Day love letter from us to each of you, we took Gawker photographer Nikola Tamindzic and sequestered them for an afternoon of delicious pinup photography. These are the women of today, the daughters of Helen Gurley Brown and even Andrea Dworkin. Please enjoy them.

Gawker Pinup Gallery: Julia Allison and Brooke Parkhurst (Gallery)

Cupid’s Majestic Pinup

b&gent.JPGBecause Valentine’s Day means distinguished gentlemen suitors and…
“…the Gawker Pinup Gallery, a recurring feature that is in no way tongue-in-cheek, but is, in fact, a serious testament to the massively important figures who have gained entry into the charmed circle that is New York new media society, shot in a style that best reflects their majesty.”
Cheers to new media, majesty and my dear, anonymous “Gawkie” commentors. They deserve love too…
Click HERE for the photo gallery.

Monday, February 12, 2007


Just a typical Saturday afternoon…
(Is that a tease? I hope so! Check back on Valentine’s Day for more…)

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Lorelei’s Book

Let’s forget that the diamonds ‘round Lorelei Lee’s (“Gentleman Prefer Blondes”) elegant neck are eventually replaced by the noose of marriage and suburbia. Let’s remember when life was a promise and she happened upon the beginnings of a book, a memoir, a pamphlet on how to use untrained intelligence, looks and energy to get the most from life.
“A gentleman friend and I were dining at the Ritz last evening and he said that if I took a pencil and paper and put down all of my thoughts it would make a book … So it might have all blown over but this morning he sent me a book. And so when my maid brought it to me, I said to her, “Well, Lulu, here is another book and we have not read half the ones we have got yet.” But when I opened it and saw that it was all blank I remembered what my gentleman acquaintance said, and so then I realized that it was a diary. So here I am writing a book instead of reading one…It would be strange if I turn out to be an authoress.”
Let’s remember her excess and focus on the days when life was damn good and she dealt with heartbreak and the luncheon hour in the most wonderful way.
“I mean champagne always makes me feel philosophical because it makes me realize that when a girl’s life is as full of fate as mine seems to be, there is nothing else to do about it. So this morning the steward brought me my coffee and quite a large pitcher of ice water so I will stay in bed and not have any more champagne until luncheon time.”
There was a remedy for her sadness. I’ll put a bookmark there and try not to read any more for a good, long while.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Culinary Cupid

“Once upon a time, I dated a crazy Versace model. In between shoots at Donatella’s manse in Miami, filming workout videos for MTV (not kidding) and figuring out that one plus one equals two, he would take me to the ‘Central Park Boathouse…’”
“Romantic New York” updated. Check out restaurant #5, the “Rotunda” at the “Pierre Hotel.” Click on “Belle’s Guide” and then “Romantic New York.”
Judging from my Inbox, you boys want a downtown girl’s opinion on the best in town. You’re a sweet, clueless bunch that needs a little direction, a tasteful compass (if you will). Peruse my top 5 Valentine’s haunts (1 post per day) and make a reservation—fast. The best tables in town are going, going…almost gone. All plans and preparations must be made this week. And keep those emails coming, I like playing culinary cupid. 

Friday, February 2, 2007

Paris Education

Paris obsessed. I know, I know. I’ve been accused many times. The decadent, delightful, tasteful and luxurious mesmerize me. The men bewitch me. Remember this?
“You have a princess neck,” he says, trying to roll his tongue around the “r’s,” soften them up to suit my American ear.
“I do?” I demur, trying for a moment to be the good girl of years past. At present, I’m very busy being maudlin and analyzing my big city life across the pond.
“One meant for a string of diamonds. Pearls on Sundays.” A slow sip of the Calvados and he continues staring.
It is some weeknight in October and I am stroking the blonde hairs on my neck and the old, tanned Frenchman next to me is thankful for the breeze off the Seine and his Cubano cigar and the forgiving light cast by “Flore’s” awning. The golden hue takes ten years off and he knows it. Without a pause, he asks me to write my phone number on his crisp, linen kerchief.
“Ahh, but you won’t answer your phone,” he says, suddenly coy.
“Of course I will.”
The Frenchman and I continue exchanging lies.
Why not? Joan Didion told me that, “I could stay up all night and make mistakes and none of it would count.”
I just can’t seem to stop the Gallic dreaming. A momentary, budget-minded reprieve: The “Americans in Paris, 1860-1900” exhibit at the Metropolitan. I needed to be indulged for the price of an entrance fee. I needed to keep my old flame alive when the January days seem as quick and as cold as the end of my 20’s. I needed the fantasy before babies, marriage and all that wonderful domestic nonsense comes into my life.
I wore comfortable shoes and a “museum dress”—a black wool turtlenecked thing that can be terribly sexy or card catalogue frumpy. Depends on who you ask. Paris seemed to like it. He looked down at me from the wall, framed in gold and filigree, and asked when I was coming, how I would paint him. In a dream of concentration, I looked to the ceiling and read,
The general effect of Paris, taken through an artist’s eye, and into an artist’s brain, is to educate that eye and brain as our American life cannot.
–Chris Pearce Cranch, 1853 
Be patient, I’m coming.