Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA

Miele USA, manufacturers of some of the world’s best home appliances, and lovely sponsors of #BlogTourNYC, were very anxious that we should guess the new colourway that they would be unveiling at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show.

Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA photography by

So anxious in fact that they had given us each a clue in the form of a little box containing two luscious Vosges chocolate truffles. One of my truffles was a subtly intriguing and very delicious smoked paprika flavour, so I somewhat embarrassingly guessed Smoked Paprika for the new colour. However, after discussions over breakfast we realised that we’d all been given different truffles and that the name of the new colourway must in fact be Chocolate Truffle.

Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA photography by

And what a truly delicious colourway it is – subtle, sexy and smoothly contemporary and just as rich and glossy as the finest chocolate ganache.

Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA photography by Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA photography by

The above is the only picture I managed to grab at the Home Show that looks halfway decent – the Miele stand was crowded that day. But funny to see me, my comfy boots and some of my fellow Blogtourists reflected in its glossy finish.

Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA photography by

What you are looking at is the state-of-the-art Miele Combi Steam Oven in the new Truffle finish. As someone who bakes bread with a cast iron pan of water steaming on the oven floor, there is a lot I would do to get hold of one of these babies. The water reservoir for the steam is cleverly hidden behind top panel so no oven capacity is sacrificed and the control panel has step by step cooking settings for around 100 different meat, vegetables, fish and grains, meaning I would never have to buy a cookbook again! Possibly.

Anyway, as a little hommage to Miele’s new colourway I decided to make some chocolate truffles.

Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA photography by

Chocolate Truffles
Yields 30
Quick and easy chocolate truffles with paprika, coconut, pistachio, sea salt and meringue coatings
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Prep Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
  1. 275g/10 oz dark chocolate (minimum 60% cocoa solids)
  2. 250ml/1 cup heavy (double) cream
  3. 50g/3 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature)
Assorted Toppings
  1. Cocoa powder
  2. Coconut flakes/dessicated coconut
  3. Crushed meringue
  4. Finely chopped pistachios
  5. Hawaiian pink sea salt
  6. Smoked paprika
  1. Break the chocolate into pieces (I used Guittard Bittersweet Chocolate Wafers) in an ovenproof bowl.
  2. Bring the cream to the boil (watch it like a hawk as it flares up quickly) and then pour it over the chocolate.
  3. Stir the mixture gently until the cream is fully amalgamated into the chocolate and you have a smooth chocolate 'sauce'. It will look curdled and scary to start but keep going.
  4. Leave to cool for 2 minutes and then add the butter in two stages, stirring gently until fully incorporated.
  5. When you have a smooth glossy ganache place it in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight until the ganache has set firm.
  6. Remove the ganache from the fridge about 15 minutes before you want to finish the truffles. Using a 1 tablespoon scoop form small balls and finish rolling them between the palms of your hands so the surface melts slightly.
  7. Dust with cocoa powder or use your favourite toppings. I used cocoa powder, cocoa powder topped with a touch of pink sea salt, cocoa powder with a dab of smoked paprika, coconut flakes, finely chopped pistachios and crushed meringue shells.
Adapted from Unwrapped - Green & Black's Chocolate Recipes
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Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA photography by

I was curious to experiment with smoked paprika for these truffles. I coated some with cocoa powder and added the merest dab of smoked paprika on top and they turned out to be rather smokily beguiling.

Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA photography by Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA photography by

And don’t you think Smoked Paprika would be an AWESOME colour for kitchen appliances? MieleUSA please make this happen!


Shop ‘til You Drop–Michele Varian NYC

Michele Varian NYC photography by

What a way to start! Our very first event for #BlogTourNYC was a meet up at designer Michele Varian’s eclectic and inspiring Nolita shop, where I finally got the chance to say ‘hi’ to my fellow BlogTourees. And what a bunch of lovable drunks er, inspiring and talented people they turned out to be.

Michele Varian NYC photography by

We got a chance to chat at length to Michele, whose eponymous shop showcases not only her own gorgeous textiles, wallpapers and home accessories, but also promotes home accessories and jewellery by other local artisans and designers.

Her shop is one of those places that draws you in gradually – as you wander through a series of exquisitely styled vignettes uncovering ever more fascinating and unusual pieces. I could have spent a very long time here indeed without getting bored, though I’m not sure my wallet could have coped.

Come and take a walk with me.

Michele Varian NYC photography by

Michele Varian NYC photography by

Michele Varian NYC photography by

Michele Varian NYC photography by

Michele Varian NYC photography by

Even though we were nowhere near Portlandia there were many cute birds on display. Michele’s gilded bird wallpapers are absolutely exquisite.

Michele Varian NYC photography by

Michele Varian NYC photography by Michele Varian NYC photography by

And obviously, long-time readers of this blog will know that I really wanted that big wooden owl. (Are owls still a thing?)

Michele Varian NYC photography by

As became a common occurrence throughout BlogTour the prosecco was flowing freely. Michele served hers in glorious collection of vintage Berber glasses (which everyone was trying to buy). They looked so pretty, but I was evidently too drunk to take a photo, so you’ll just have to believe me. She’s got me scouring Etsy and Ebay for my own collection though.

Michele Varian NYC photography by

Michele Varian NYC photography by

I was fascinated by this ‘Juxtaposed Porcelain’ collection, where Eastern and Western design traditions are fused together in a single piece.

Michele Varian NYC photography by

Michele Varian NYC photography by

Michele Varian NYC photography by Michele Varian NYC photography by
Michele Varian NYC photography by Michele Varian NYC photography by
Michele Varian NYC photography by michelevarian-24

Michele Varian NYC photography by

If you’re ever in NYC I can’t recommend a trip to Michele’s 27 Howard Street shop highly enough. For those of you who, like me, don’t get there often enough, Michele’s online store is  a treasure trove of fabulosity.


Architectural Digest Home Design Show–Top 10 Finds {Part 1}

The Architectural Digest Home Design Show was the centerpiece of BlogTour and took place on the second day of our trip.

It was my first design show in the US and I must confess to being very pleasantly surprised. As you know I’m not always a huge fan of American design – it can sometimes be a bit too ornate and stylised for my taste – but there were some great brands here, including many names from the UK and Europe. And the ‘Made’ section featuring smaller design brands and artisans was a revelation, chock full of quirky interesting pieces made with love.

Architectural Digest Home Design Show photography by

dbO Home was perhaps my favourite find in the whole show. Husband and wife team Dana Brandwein Oates and Daniel Oates have between them created a complete line of delightful homewares. Dana makes gorgeous, GORGEOUS ceramics, perfect for food photography – intriguingly detailed but not so that it detract too much from the food – while Daniel crafts stunning custom-made wooden furniture. I could have bought everything on the entire stand, and probably will at some point. They were real sweeties too. That platter hanging up below may have accidentally found its way into my suitcase. 

Architectural Digest Home Design Show photography by Architectural Digest Home Design Show photography by

This decoupaged Genus Chair by Phillip Estlund is available for sale through Grey Area, an online site that bridges the gap between functional pieces and art. I want this chair so badly. (Wondering if I should update my vintage ‘unfortunately I don’t think it’s Eames’ chair).

Architectural Digest Home Design Show photography by

These intricate laser-cut lampshades are by Fiyel Levent Atelier and I love the slightly Islamic but very contemporary feel to them. Levent‘s beautiful patterns make spectacular artworks too (seen on the walls behind). If you’d like to enjoy her work at a more accessible price point she also does pretty stationery.

Architectural Digest Home Design Show photography by

Architectural Digest Home Design Show photography by Architectural Digest Home Design Show photography by

The glorious cabinet below is handbuilt by Ray Finan Furniture Studio in Vermont. Ray crafts his custom pieces from sustainably harvested domestic and exotic hardwoods mixed with high-end veneers and this picture doesn’t begin to convey the gloriously tactile nature of his pieces.

Architectural Digest Home Design Show photography by

See that little hanging door knob? It’s carved from wood and felt beautiful – all smooth and swingy and sassy. Ray’s wife, who was on the stall, joked that she wanted a pair of earrings like that and I had to agree. Ray, listen to your wife!

My final favourite product for this round-up (5 more coming up soon) was the stunning new PRO cooker from Big Chill.

Architectural Digest Home Design Show photography by

As you know I am already sadly besotted with our Big Chill fridge and this new cooker is making me want to start remodelling our downstairs kitchen (having sworn I’d never remodel anything ever again). What I liked most, as well the PRO’s handsome looks, was the extremely reasonable price point. So if anyone fancies sending me the dark cherry red version it won’t even break the bank. Go on, you know you want to.

For the sake of completeness here’s a picture of the door of my fridge hanging on the wall.

Architectural Digest Home Design Show photography by

Thank you Modenus for taking me on the epic trip and making it possible to visit on Press Day (so much more civilized.)

Here is Veronika, Queen Modenus herself, surrounded by her beautiful daughters, welcoming a swarm of New York design bloggers and other industry professionals to Marys and Mimosas  – the now annual morning cocktail kick-off hosted by Modenus.

Architectural Digest Home Design Show photography by


Go Fug Your Room! – SJP NYC

I do believe it’s time for a Go Fug Your Room! It’s been so long that I’m sure we’ve all forgotten how to do them.

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by

Anyway this one seems particularly fitting as I was in la Grande Pomme only last weekend and am flying back out this weekend for Blogtour and of course we’ve all dreamed of having a New York brownstone of our very own.

The pics are screen caps taken from a ‘73 Questions’ interview on Vogue TV. You’ll get an idea of the house from the screen caps but I do recommend that you watch the video as SJP comes across as cute and charming and the sort of person I would tragically like to be BFFs with (though I would have to have WORDS with her about her old-fashioned and derivative new shoe collection).

First of all I think we can all agree that the house has MAGNIFICENT bones – that arch, those stairs, those ceilings, those windows, THAT. LIGHT. And I do find it refreshing that it seems so normal and lived in. How wonderful to see a celebrity who has books and art, whose house doesn’t appear to be styled to within an inch of its life, and who could conceivably occasionally allow her three kids to share the space.

So SJP, take it away.

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by

Loving the hallway, not sure if that’s a rug or tiles on the stairs, but they look like quintessentially Victorian encaustic tiles and so work for me, though I thought that was more of a London thing rather than New York.

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by

I’m struggling with this room though Sarah J.  I just don’t like that green on the wall, it just seems too bright and unsophisticated really, especially when matched with peacock blue velvet and hot pink accents, including a pink zebra-striped pouffe thingy (just say those words out loud and you’ll know how WRONG that sounds).

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by

And maybe there are rather too many books and little pictures and tchotchkes and THINGS just cluttering things up.  The bar is quite fun though.

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by

OK Ms P. No need to look like that, it’s just MY OPINION (which is what the Minx says when she is about to say something breathtakingly rude).

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by

Let’s move on shall we? Arch gorgeous, artwork lovely, light, windows and fireplace amazing. Possibly one too many ping pong tables.  (Seriously?)

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by

But yes, SJP I would be proud of this end of the room too. So pretty. I’m particularly loving the celery green and robin’s egg blue (behind the door) accents – much nicer colours than the green on the sitting room walls. 

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by

Go Fug Your Room! - SJP NYC photography by

Here’s the full video, which I do recommend. Her English accent is terrible though.

So, in your considered opinion is this house fugly or not? Feel free to show additional workings in the comments.

Update: Oh and thanks to commenter Becky for reminding me that I blogged about SJP’s glorious house in the Hamptons more years ago than I care to remember. She is one lucky girl.


Fancy Hotel of the Week – Chateau Whistler Christmas

  We’ve just concluded a weekend of festivities for the Minx’s birthday and it feels like the New Year has finally started. I actually love this time of year as I feel no guilt about sitting indoors in front of my computer, hiding from the unremitting greyness and gloom of a Seattle January, and can actually get sh*t done. Chateau Whistler Christmas photography by Although Christmas feels like a long time ago now, I just wanted to share some photos of our trip to Whistler this year, mostly because we had the most wonderful time. We don’t have any family here in the States, so it’s become our tradition to drive up to Whistler and take a pampering break in a hotel. This year we managed to score a deal and stayed for the first time at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, nestling at the foot of Blackcomb Mountain in Whistler’s Upper Village. And all was utterly perfect. Unfortunately for our finances it was so perfect that we might just have to return every year, deal or no deal. From the minute we drew up at the front entrance, it felt like Christmas had begun. Chateau Whistler Christmas photography by   Chateau Whistler Christmas photography by Chateau Whistler Christmas photography by Yes, roaring log fires, a quite ludicrous number of Christmas trees, life-sized gingerbread houses, beautiful wintry walks across the golf course, a big Christmas dinner-dance, macarons and chocolate fondue on tap, a very hard-working Santa and Mrs Claus, and even a Christmas stocking hung on the door of everyone’s room on Christmas morning are going to very difficult to beat.

Chateau Whistler Christmas photography by Chateau Whistler Christmas photography by
Chateau Whistler Christmas photography by Chateau Whistler Christmas photography by

There was obviously also far too much scope for ‘sparkly light’ photos. Apologies. The Minx-sized gingerbread house was all completely edible and smelt incredible. Chateau Whistler Christmas photography by Chateau Whistler Christmas photography by The view from our room. Chateau Whistler Christmas photography by Not much snow (though enough for the Husband and the Minx to enjoy their skiing) but the golf course was still pretty. Chateau Whistler Christmas photography by Chateau Whistler Christmas photography by On the night before Christmas Mrs Claus read to the kids under the tree. Chateau Whistler Christmas photography by Then we had enjoyed eiswein and macarons in bed while watching a relaxing movie. And Santa’s special stocking delivery the following day was a really magical ouch. Chateau Whistler Christmas photography by Chateau Whistler Christmas photography by Amazing food, gorgeous decorations and quite a good band actually for the big Christmas dinner-dance.

Chateau Whistler Christmas photography by Chateau Whistler Christmas photography by

Chateau Whistler Christmas photography by Chateau Whistler Christmas photography by It was really hard to leave.


Weekend Link Love



Here is a photo from my winter wanderings around the golf courses of Whistler and here are some more tidbits from this week’s wanderings around the Internet.

This article about focusing not on goals, but on systems is really resonating with me. I’ve been trying to improve it over the last year, but nobody in our house is good at systems and I spend SO much time looking for things or reinventing various wheels. I’ve also started watching this CreativeLIVE course from Ari Meisel on the same subject and it’s definitely furnishing plenty of food for thought so far.

At the same time, I don’t think the systems within my body are working terribly well (I’ve put most of the weight I lost recently straight back on) so this article about losing weight without dieting made a lot of sense. I think there’s a lot that needs to be fixed and I don’t want to struggle AGAINST my body anymore.

This article TOTALLY works with this year’s quest for more ‘deliciousness’ in my life.

Whereas this time capsule Paris apartment is my dream home. Surely the movie of this story must be coming out some time soon?

And finally these bodymaps of the physical manifestations of human emotions are just mindblowing. Here’s wishing you lots of happiness and love in 2014!

We’re having one last weekend of festive fun – hosting a British Christmas party and then going to see the panto today, followed by SingalongaSoundofMusic on Sunday –  and then #maythelordandallthesaintsandangelsbepraised everyone goes back to school and work on Monday.


Weekend Link Love

Here are some interesting tidbits from my wanderings around the Internet this week to keep you busy over the weekend.

We’re in full Christmas frenzy mode here. Tree is up, gingerbread dough is relaxing in the fridge and the Minx and the Husband have ballet and choir performances all weekend. So I think there’s going to be quite a lot of relaxing in front of the TV (not in the fridge) with wine and Christmas movies for me. Anyone else got any more riveting plans this weekend?



{This year’s traditional Christmas bokeh picture is revealing that we have a big ‘hole’ in the lights two-thirds of the way up the tree}

I was lucky enough to have a seat at the taping of photographer Chase Jarvis’s interview with social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk (Chase’s studio happens to be about 5 minutes from my house). I can’t recommend it highly enough to anyone (especially a creative person) who wants to use social media more effectively. I’m reading his book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook at the moment and it’s giving me much food for thought as I start reinvigorating and changing my online profile.

If you haven’t yet seen it,  this animation of an Ira Glass quote on storytelling, and perseverance and creativity and well everything, has REALLY resonated with me.

Rene’ Redzepi of Danish restaurant Noma – voted the best restaurant it the world in 2013  – visited Seattle and an amazing dinner, cooked by local star chefs Matt Dillon and Blaine Wetzel, and organised by the amazing Lara Hamilton of cookbook store, Book Larder, was held in his honour, OUTSIDE. IN NOVEMBER. WHEN IT WAS WAZZING DOWN WITH RAIN.

I was lucky enough to be there, and although everything was a little moist, the setting was magical and the rain careering in torrents down the see-through canopy certainly made for a memorable evening. Stupidly I forgot to bring the card for my camera, so couldn’t take photos. Fortunately for us all Shauna Ahern, aka Gluten Free Girl, was on hand to tell the tale. Redzepi’s cookbook A Work in Progress is stunningly beautiful and full of inspiration and ideas,

Wonderful photos of Philip Johnson’s Glass House, where the New York Times recently spent the night.

As someone who is trying to reinvent themselves as a photographer, this piece about reinventing yourself by author, entrepreneur and hedge fund manager James Altucher was also an inspiring read. His book ‘Choose Yourself’ is on order. I will report back. (I’m on a bit of a self-help book kick at the moment, all part of the massive mid-life crisis I’m going through. Cheaper than a sports car though.)

I am contemplating rewatching Love Actually . I saw it when it came out and found it unbearably schmaltzy, so have never seen it since. I understand that now there is an Internet-wide discussion as to whether it’s a good or bad movie. Where do you chaps stand? Should I rewatch?


UPDATE: So I rewatched ‘Love Actually’ and I think what really bugs is how utterly ridiculous all the stories are, with the exception of the Emma Thompson/Alan Rickman one. But the images of London at Christmas are droolworthy. I felt so homesick watching it. But what do you guys think?


The Bathroom Is Finished


Delighted as I am with the kitchen, I am almost happier with the way the bathroom turned out. 

What used to be such an actively unpleasant, uncomfortable space now feels peaceful, clean and soothing and is filled with the most beautiful light.

Again I took these photos just after it was completed.  I’ll do some more when all the details are finished and it’s fully ‘styled’.




We’re really delighted with the vanity units, which we designed ourselves and had made up by our contractors (again heartfelt thanks to the utterly amazing craftsmen at GTR Residential Contracting). We’ve kept the old round medicine cabinets for the moment (which are chipped and can’t be opened with the taps in the way) but they will be replaced with round mirrors which should be arriving shortly.




We wanted this bathroom to be in keeping with a craftsman house, but also fresh and modern and so decided to use ceramic tile in a non-traditional way, particular as this is in a non-Craftsman part of the house.



As you know we were thrilled with how the large hex tiles on the floor worked out (now complete with delicious underfloor heating) and decide to complement them with smaller hexagons around the bathtub and shower.


bathroomremodel-3 bathroomremodel-10


As with the kitchen, the hideous panelled ceiling has been transformed into a beautiful design feature now that is painted with a coat of gloss paint (all the trim is Benjamin Moore’s Simply White).




And yes we replaced the even more hideous glass brick window with something a little more pleasing.

The paint colours ended up being inspired by my trip to Gulf Shores and the beautiful white-trimmed pale aqua houses near the almost white sand beach. (And I like to think that the emerald green leaves shining through the window look like the emerald green sea).




It took me a long time to hit on a perfect aqua, that wavers just at the midpoint between blue and green and found it with Benjamin Moore’s Lido Green.  I’m SO in love with this colour.

The alcove at the back where the toilets (and also the washing machines) are situated was painted in Benjamin Moore’s Lychee, a soft luminous colour like a shell-sand beach. The colours work so well together and I am thrilled.

bathroomremodel-9 bathroomremodel-6


Again here are a couple of pictures of the previous baby poop coloured ghastliness. The full ‘before’ horror-story is here.





The Kitchen Is Finished


Dear hearts, it is DONE.

Just as I was losing the will to live with this whole remodelling malarkey, this morning is the first one for months where I have not been sharing my home with charming bearded contractors.  The silence is utterly blissful.

And we are THRILLED.

I just can’t get over how beautiful the light is in here. I knew it must be, but it was almost impossible to see it against the forest green countertops and burnt orange walls we used to have.


There are still a couple of things to be done with the lighting – in particular we are waiting on a pendant light to go above the butcher block unit above –  and I also have to edit and organise approximately eleventy billion megatons of kitchen crap er paraphernalia.

But I thought I’d show you the finished empty shell and then we can talk about some of the details and styling at a later date, when it’s properly finished. I just hope I can do justice to it.

In the meantime, here are a few of my favourite details.


Yep, the Big Chill fridge still looks awesome.


I’m so happy with this aluminium roll door ‘appliance garage’.  We asked the contractors to customise the basic Ikea scrolling cabinet to make it deeper, so that I now have plenty of space to organise and disguise ugly appliances such as the slow cooker and panini grill and get them off the counter. I also like how the slats echo the panels in the ceiling.


We are obsessed with the splashback tiles in one of Heath Ceramic’s ‘Dwell’ patterns.  The photo doesn’t begin to do justice to how beautiful they are. I’ll do a separate blog post all about these.


We freaked out a little and bought a slab of walnut butcher block for one part of the counter. I think it might be my favourite thing in the whole kitchen (the rest of the counters are in honed white quartz). We asked the contractors to add a hinged flap of butcher block at the end to provide an extra bit of much-needed counterspace.


The ceiling is painted in Benjamin Moore’s ‘Simply White’ in a semi-gloss sheen and has turned from being an eyesore into a design feature.  I am besotted with how beautifully this has turned out.  In fact we chose three different whites for the kitchen, which I will also do a blog post about.

In fact I have to say that I’m besotted with the whole thing.  The only problem is I hardly dare use it.

It’s interesting to see how similar it is to our original Sketch Up designs. Goodness that was a useful exercise to go through.

West walll

North wall

And here’s one picture of the ‘before’ just to whet your appetite.


Here’s the kitchen in all its former monstrous hideousness.

Oh and many, MANY thanks to the wonderful GTR Residential Contracting for making our dreams a reality.  It was a true pleasure working with so many craftsmen, in particular the ever patient and charming Dan for whom nothing was too much trouble.  If you are in the Seattle area, I can’t recommend these guys highly enough.

Pics of the bathroom remodel coming VERY soon.


Things I Am Loving: Forms in Nature


This sort of stopped me in my tracks when I saw it yesterday.




Created by artists Thyra Hilden and Pio Diaz, this ‘light sculpture’ entitled Forms in Nature is designed to cast spooky shadows reminiscent of a wild forest all round the room.  I have long been fascinated by the beautiful shadows cast by chandeliers and I love how they’ve taken this to the next logical step and made the shadows the star of the show.




At the moment it is still a conceptual artwork, but according to their website they are looking at putting this into production.