Karneval in Germany –Part 1

Karneval in Germany photography by www.paolathomas.com

When I was living in London, I resolutely avoided Germany. Even though I studied German at school and at one point even at university, the idea of Germany was very much less appealing than the sunshine, beaches and olive oil of the south of France and Italy.

I travelled every opportunity I could as a student but the cheap train fares and summer jobs always took me south, and I never once set foot in the land of bier, wurst and Beethoven. And in the end, when I realised that I could read the works of Goethe and Schiller, but could order neither a bier nor a wurst in their native language I gave up studying German too.

Karneval in Germany photography by www.paolathomas.com

Aside from an unplanned trip to a rebuilding Berlin when I was first going out with the Husband, I had no real desire to travel to Germany, and when the lovely Veronika Miller invited me to go on BlogTour to the Ambiente gift and tabletop show in Frankfurt I must confess that I wasn’t entirely convinced.

We spent most of our five days there gliding along the moving walkways and wandering the gigantic hangar-sized halls of the Messe Frankfurt (of which much more in other posts), but for one day of our trip we were taken to visit Oppenheim and Mainz along the banks of the Rhine and I realised quite how foolish I had been all these years. These German towns were really rather lovely and the cobbled streets, half-timbered houses and gothic churches spoke tenderly to that part of my soul that requires extravagant doses of ancient buildings to keep it fully alive.

Karneval in Germany photography by www.paolathomas.com

My Italian mother would hang a little sprig of mistletoe over our back door to ward off evil spirits.

We are supposed to tour the catacombs in the little town of Oppenheim, but I decide not to join the group and instead spend time wandering through the antique streets in a sort of photographic daze, bedazzled by the extraordinary creamy light. Everything is beautiful.

Karneval in Germany photography by www.paolathomas.com

Would YOU go underground with this bunch?

Karneval in Germany photography by www.paolathomas.com

The layers, textures and shapes are almost overwhelming  – rough wood, bumpy stones, pointed spires and gables and arches, the wacky tartans of the half-timbered houses and the hard, intricate curlicues of stone, wrought iron and gothic-fonted street signs. In Seattle buildings are new and smooth, modern towers of granite, metal and glass and the wooden houses are carefully painted. I’ve missed the worn and weatherbeaten so much.

Karneval in Germany photography by www.paolathomas.com

Karneval in Germany photography by www.paolathomas.com

Karneval in Germany photography by www.paolathomas.com Karneval in Germany photography by www.paolathomas.com

Karneval in Germany photography by www.paolathomas.com

Karneval in Germany photography by www.paolathomas.com

And to cap it all it is karneval time. Kids and adults, monks and jesters, clowns and executioners, even – displaying a less PC sensibility – lady cannibals in Ugg boots, are gathering in the streets, their very costumes reflecting a sense of history that is missing nowadays from Halloween in the US and UK.

Karneval in Germany photography by www.paolathomas.com

Karneval in Germany photography by www.paolathomas.com

Karneval in Germany photography by www.paolathomas.com

An old woman approaches me and talks to me in German – I think my fur collared jacket makes me look like I belong. Her speech is fast and guttural and I reach deep into the dusty,  cobwebbed German library that’s tucked somewhere in my brain to understand her. Using that same library I tell her how charming I find her town to be. She beams with pride and we nod and smile, and I realise sadly that we’re actually mostly communicating through facial expressions.

But yet, in this country I’ve hardly visited, surrounded by people I can hardly understand, I feel a sense of belonging and connection that I rarely feel in the US. The history of this little town is MY history, these cobbles and cathedrals, monks and jesters are MY heritage. I’m back in Europe and in a very real, very visceral way, this European girl is back home.

  Karneval in Germany photography by www.paolathomas.com

Karneval in Germany photography by www.paolathomas.com

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The Launch of DXV, Or 150 Years of Design History in Cocktails

 

Launch of DXV - photography by www.paolathomas.com

One of  our lovely sponsors on #blogtournyc was DXV, a new luxury kitchen and bathroom brand from American Standard. As part of BlogTour we were invited to visit their stunning new showroom in the heart of New York’s Flatiron district (usually by appointment only).

DXV celebrates American Standard’s rich 150 year history and heritage by organising its initial collections of fixtures and fittings around four separate design ‘movements’ – blending the design aesthetic and artisanal qualities of the past, with the performance and design requirements of the modern consumer.

At the launch party in New York, even the cocktails were themed appropriately and I was lucky enough to be given the recipes, devised by ace mixologist Elayne Duff. Obviously any opportunity to make, photograph and drink cocktails is not to be passed up in a hurry.

So welcome to 150 years of design history in bathroom fixtures brought to you via the medium of classic cocktails with a contemporary twist (you can’t say we don’t spoil you).

 Launch of DXV - photography by www.paolathomas.com

And here’s Elayne shaking up a storm! (Photos of Elayne by Vladimir Weinstein Photography)

CONTEMPORARY

First up is the Contemporary era, representing the years 1990 onwards. In design terms, this constantly evolving aesthetic combines minimalism and rich texture, individual style and natural forms. The photos representing each design era were taken at the DXV showroom.

Launch of DXV - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Interpreting this them through cocktails, Elayne chose a modern twist on the Scofflaw using raspberry syrup instead of the traditional grenadine.  This cocktail was new to me and apparently dates back to Paris in the Prohibition era – if you were drinking cocktails at the time you were scoffing at the law – but also nods to today’s love of bourbon.

Launch of DXV - photography by www.paolathomas.com

This is an easy cocktail to make as it doesn’t contain too many esoteric ingredients, and it’s one I’ll make again and again. The earthiness of the bourbon is softened a little by the sweet raspberry syrup (I bought mine, though you could make your own) while the addition of bitter citrusy flavours in the form of dry vermouth and lime juice ensures that it is not too sweet.

Scofflaw
Serves 1
A contemporary twist on the classic Scofflaw
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Ingredients
  1. 1.5 oz Bourbon
  2. 1 oz dry vermouth
  3. 1 oz raspberry syrup
  4. 0.75 oz lime juice
  5. 3 dashes orange bitters
  6. Fresh raspberries to garnish
Instructions
  1. Chill a coupe
  2. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice
  3. Measure in the ingredients
  4. Shake well
  5. Strain into the glass
  6. Garnish with raspberries
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MODERN

Next up is the Modern era representing the post-war years between 1950-1990. The design of this era was marked by experimentation and individuality,and the interplay between flowing lines, curving forms and geometric structures.

Launch of DXV - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Elayne was inspired to create a traditional Mai Tai to represent this movement in a nod to jet age travel and the  ‘tiki’ culture of those decades.

Launch of DXV - photography by www.paolathomas.com

A Mai Tai can so often be overly kitschy, festooned with little umbrellas, cherries, pineapples and tropical flowers. The drink too is often adulterated with pineapple juice, orange juice or grenadine but this is a sophisticated and very more-ish version – luscious, strong and not too sweet. I will also be eternally grateful to this recipe for introducing me to orgeat syrup, made from apricot kernels and tasting like marzipan in a bottle.

Mai Tai
Serves 1
A classic Mai Tai without the kitsch
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Ingredients
  1. 2 oz aged rum
  2. 1 oz lime juice
  3. 0.75 oz orgeat syrup
  4. 0.75 oz orange Curacao
  5. 0.25 oz dark rum
Instructions
  1. Chill a double rocks or other large glass
  2. Fill a cocktail shake with ice
  3. Add ingredients and shake
  4. Strain into glass over plenty of crushed ice
  5. Garnish with a lime wedge and a flower
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GOLDEN ERA

The Golden Era covers the pre-war years from from 1920-1950. In design this is the classic era of Art Deco where a spirit of experimentation was combined with industrial design to produce a thoughtful, refined aesthetic, based on simple geometric shapes and reduced ornamentation.

Launch of DXV - photography by www.paolathomas.com

In cocktail terms Elayne paid homage to that era’s obsession for gin with the Corpse Reviver. I’m not a big fan of gin-based cocktails – they can often get a bit too floral and grannyish for my tastes – but this was GOOD, given extra layers of bitterness, sourness and sophistication by the Cocchi Americano (used instead of Lillet), lemon juice and absinthe, with an orange twist instead of the traditional cherries.

Launch of DXV - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Corpse Reviver
Serves 1
A contemporary twist on the classic Corpse Reviver
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Ingredients
  1. 0.75 oz London dry gin
  2. 0.75 oz Cointreau
  3. 0.75 oz Cocchi Americano
  4. 0.75 oz lemon juice
  5. dash of Absinthe
  6. Orange twist to garnish
Instructions
  1. Chill a coupe
  2. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice
  3. Add all ingredients and shake
  4. Strain into chilled glass
  5. Garnish with an orange twist
mirror mirror http://mirrormirrorblog.com/site/
CLASSIC

The final DXV movement represents the Classic era, representing the years 1880 to 1920 which saw a convergence of opulence and modern technology, and an emphasis on artisanal craftsmanship. In this, the era of Art Nouveau, design pushed beyond the rigid geometry of neoclassicism and became more intricate and organic.

Launch of DXV - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Elayne Duff chose to celebrate the communal drinking of this era to create a traditional rum punch and here she is serving it at the launch party. The recipe for this looks really interesting and I’m definitely going to try it our at our next summer party. If it works I’ll share it in a future post.

Launch of DXV - photography by www.paolathomas.com

For more about the DXV collection and its design inspirations check out this video. I don’t normally like to share ads on this blog, but the visuals on this are mesmerising.

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DIFFA–Dining By Design 2014

One of my favourite things about the Architectural Digest Home Design Show, and indeed of the whole of #BlogTourNYC, were the DIFFA – Dining By Design show tables.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Every year designers and sponsors are asked to create fantasy tablescapes and then bids are invited to host a table in each of these magical party venues at huge closing gala, with all proceeds benefitting AIDS research.

There were several I would have loved to bid on, though with most I think you would want to keep the hallucinatory drugs and indeed the alcohol served to a bare minimum, because some of these spaces were seriously mind-bending in their own right.

So enjoy the craziness and I would probably suggest that you don’t try most of these at home.

Which are your faves?

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

I’m not entirely sure how you’re supposed to get at your food under the Perspex here, but this room by the New York School of Interior Design mentored by Shawn Henderson was possibly my favourite.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Mrs AllThingsColourful here also liked this one by Gensler + Herman Miller though the tableware looked a little dull. But the changing colours in the room more than made up for that (see the changes here).

You probably don’t need me to tell you that this was designed by Diane Von Furstenburg for Kravet.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Seriously no wine necessary in this one by Interior Design Magazine, designed by Ali Tayar with Alejandro Cabrera. Some plates would be useful though.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Loved this use of the classic Saarinen tulip table in this room by Knoll and HOK.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

This room was designed by Geoff Howell Studio and sponsored by Ottawa, Canada’s Capital. And it showed.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

This room by Ralph Lauren Home was dull but pretty in that typical Ralph Laurenish way.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Gorgeous flowers in this room by Carlos Mota for Architectural Digest.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Another great use of flowers here by designer Marc Blackwell.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Loved this moody room designed by Kara Mann for Maya Romanoff, but wow those chairs look wildly uncomfortable.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Finally some cosy seating by Echo Design.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

While this table by David Ling for DDC was almost TOO cosy and sort of shapeless. I love those furry chairs though. They look like little sheep.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

You better be looking good at this table by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, because the solid gold reflections are EVERYWHERE.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

This table by Robert Verdi for Essie was one of the few that looked like it might fit into a home somewhere.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

While this room for 3M Architectural Markets, designed by Rottet Studio, looked FIENDISHLY uncomfortable.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

This table by Flexform by Soren Rose Sponcer for Manhattan magazine was just rather dull.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

T Magazine had put together another paean to discomfort and noise.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

The Design Within Reach room looked like a Design Within Reach shop. At least their branding is consistent.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

While Barneys NYC missed the memo that they could actually use their imaginations.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

I’m not sure why you would want to wear a dunce’s cap on your birthday in this room by the Pratt Institute, mentored by Ali Tayar.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Finally this tablescape by the Fashion Institute of Technology, mentored by Jes Gordone, showed us what dining inside a whale would be like.

I truly thought I had visited and photographed most of the rooms, but it seems I actually missed a lot. If you like these then here is the full slideshow, with some more gorgeous rooms and some different perspectives on the ones I shot (very difficult to take pics here with so many people milling about).

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Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry

It was a little after lunch during a long day at the Architectural Design Show on #BlogTourNYC and I thought a sponsor presentation about kitchen cabinets might be the perfect opportunity for a small snooze (don’t tell Veronika).

But one of the great things about #BlogTourNYC was the opportunity they gave us to meet with and learn from so many inspiring and creative people. Rutt Cabinetry are makers of stunning high-end handbuilt kitchen cabinets and they had brought in designer Scott Stultz to design their first new offering in over a decade.

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Scott himself gave us a fascinating presentation into his creative process and woke me up thoroughly when he mentioned how influenced he had been throughout his life by John Ruskin.

For those who are unaware of him John Ruskin was a British art patron, art critic, social reformer, philanthropist, polymath and all round good egg in the latter half of the Victorian era.

Among his many achievements, he championed Turner and Gothic architecture, wrote seminal works of art history and criticism, influenced the pre-Raphaelites and is considered to be the grandfather of the Arts & Crafts movement in the UK, with ideas about sustainability and environmentalism which were astonishingly forward-thinking.

If you’re in any way involved in the arts and design in Britain, his influence remains pervasive to this day – I heard a lot of talk of him in design circles in the UK -  but this was the first time I’d heard his name mentioned in America. 

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Scott described how he had used Ruskin’s principles to create furniture that was timeless in its appeal, speaks to both our visceral need for comfort, and our intellectual need for order and proportion, but which was also has an element of adventure.

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry - photography by www.paolathomas.com

This plain detailing on these overhead cabinets fits in well with contemporary styles (and would look AWESOME in our Craftsman house #hinthint), but also harks back to the similar detailing of Arts & Crafts furniture. Scott explained that he had chosen the beautiful semi-elliptical curves of the mouldings to break up the orderliness of the windows and panels and bring in that sense of risk, like an ‘animal waiting to pounce’. 

As an aside here is my little Arts & Crafts oak bureau in our Craftsman house with its own semi-elliptical moulding. Fascinating to see that it would fit right into this kitchen.

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry - photography by www.paolathomas.com

The Ruskin series has various options for cornices and mouldings  and, as is entirely right and proper when John Ruskin is your influence, the craftsmanship and attention to detail is sublime.

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Scott explained how he had thought about the proportions and kept the vertical elements of the panelling thin and light, so that the eye travels upwards (in the same way as you see in Gothic architecture) making the whole feel much lighter and airier, despite the solidity of its construction.

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry - photography by www.paolathomas.com

The attention to detail has extended to the door pulls, appliances and  finishes. Rutt had collaborated with MIele to show how well the layers of Miele’s Brilliant White finish (laminate under thick glass) complemented the texture of the Keswick Oak finish giving it a contemporary appeal.

The video below shows Scott describing the various finishes designed for the collection and named after Lake District landmarks which were important in Ruskin’s life.

I may have been sitting in a huge hangar in the New York City, but this English girl felt right at home. And I think John Ruskin would have liked it too.

Note to Scott: It’s pronounced ‘Kes-ick’. The ‘w’ is silent. (Yes, I am that person.)

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Panna Cotta with Candied Kumquats from Peasant NYC

Panna Cotta with Candied Kumquats from Peasant NYC - photography by www.paolthomas.com

Recognise that platter?  It was my purchase from dBo Home last seen gracing the wall here.

On the first evening on #BlogTourNYC – still reeling from visiting Michele Varian’s shop – we were led down some steps in NoLiTa and a wondrous sight met our eyes at Peasant NYC. Wineglasses and goodie bags. What else does a woman need?

Peasant NYC - photography by www.paolathomas.com

The long worn tables were in Peasant – a wonderful subterranean Italian restaurant, full of atmosphere and candles (and fiendishly difficult to photograph as a consequence).

The food throughout was fabulous – an array of gorgeous salads and other antipasti served family style, followed by superb gnocchi and pastas – and the wine kept flowing in the most ridiculous way.

Peasant NYC - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Peasant NYC - photography by www.paolathomas.com

This was the stage in proceedings when I realised that #BlogTourNYC might be a bit heavy on the liver.

The highlight of the evening though (aside from starting to really get to know all my new found friends, natch) was the stunningly good panna cotta with candied kumquats that we were served for dessert. As an Italian I consider myself something of an expert in the ways of panna cotta, but this was exceptional – the smooth, sweet creaminess marrying perfectly with the citrusy bite of the candied kumquats, which I had never tasted before.

Peasant NYC - photography by www.paolathomas.com

After we got back I idly asked Veronika Queen of BlogTour if it might be possible to get the recipe and Veronika being Veronika, the next thing I knew, the owners of Peasant were emailing the recipe to me.

And so dear hearts, here I am sharing with you. You guys, this is SERIOUSLY worth candying kumquats for. You can’t ever say we don’t spoil you on this blog.

Peasant NYC - photography by www.paolathomas.com

 

Candied Kumquat Panna Cotta
Serves 6
A delightfully smooth and creamy panna cotta with an intriguing topping of candied kumquats in syrup.
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For the Panna Cotta
  1. 2 gelatin sheets (I used 1 sachet of powdered gelatin softened in 2 tablespoons of water)
  2. 4 cups heavy (double) cream
  3. 1/2 cup baker's (caster) sugar
  4. 1 vanilla bean (split)
For the Candied Kumquats
  1. 1 pound kumquats
  2. 2 cups water
  3. 2 cups sugar
For the Panna Cotta
  1. Soften the leaf gelatin in 1 cup of cool water for 5 minutes and drain. Alternatively sprinkle a sachet of gelatin in the water and leave for 5 minutes until soft and spongy.
  2. Bring the cream to the boil in a heavy saucepan and remove from the heat before it bubbles over.
  3. Stir in the sugar and the vanilla bean and then whisk in the softened gelatin, making sure it is thoroughly mixed in.
  4. Discard the vanilla bean.
  5. Pour the mixture into six 1 cup (8 fl oz) ramekins, which have been lightly greased with a flavourless oil.
  6. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
For the Candied Kumquats
  1. Fill a medium-sized heavy bottom saucepan halfway with water and bring to the boil over a high heat.
  2. Drop the kumquats into the boiling water and blanch for one minute.
  3. Drain the kumquats in a colander and discard the blanching water. Clean and dry the pot.
  4. The little nubs on the kumquats where the stems were can be easily rubbed off at this stage.
  5. Put the sugar and water into the pot and bring to the boil over a medium high heat.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium and add the blanched kumquats.
  7. Simmer the kumquats in the syrup for 45 minutes to 1 hour until their skin is soft and translucent. Keep an eagle eye on them to make sure that they only just simmer. If they start boiling, they will collapse and get wrinkly (ask me how I know).
  8. Remove the candied kumquats to a glass jar.
  9. Simmer the candying liquid over a medium-low heat for another 10 minutes or so until it turns into a thick syrup (stop cooking before it browns otherwise you'll end up with a delicious citrusy toffee - again ask me how I know).
  10. Pour the syrup over the kumquats in the jar and leave to sit until cooled.
  11. Cover and store in the fridge for several weeks.
To serve
  1. Unmould the panna cottas on dessert plates and spoon the candied kumquats over each one.
To serve
  1. Unmould the panna cottas onto dessert plates and top with the candied kumquats and syrup. Eat greedily.
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Peasant NYC - photography by www.paolathomas.com

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Things I Am Loving – BLANCO Solon Compost System

 

BLANCO is a maker of luxury sinks and faucets (or taps in proper English, I do find faucets still to be a very alien word for me). Family-owned since 1925 and renowned for their superb German engineering, they were one of the lovely sponsors of #BlogTourNYC and I wish I’d known about them when we were remodeling our kitchen as their products truly are special.

BLANCO Solon Compost System

In particular I really wish I’d known about their SOLON Compost System, because I would definitely have installed it. I’m even going to ask our contractor if it would be possible to retrofit it into the kitchen now, though I’m imagine that cutting into our white quartz countertop at this point might be a bridge too far.

BLANCO Solon Compost System

But what a neat, beautifully engineered, idea. Instead of having a smelly stainless steel bucket sitting on your counter attracting countless fruit flies (ask me how I know), you get a top quality stainless steel bin that you can drop into the counter and just scrape peelings and scraps straight into. At other times the lid fits flush with the counter, so it’s not taking up space at all and the lid is specially engineered to minimise odours, which I presume also minimises those peaky flies.

And when it’s full, you just pull it out, throw out the scraps and stick the bin straight in the dishwasher. I’m extremely into composting but goodness me it’s a messy business and it would have been so nice to streamline the process when we had a chance.

If you’re remodelling your kitchen and thinking of installing it yourself here’s a video demonstration.

If you want to see a TERRIBLE interview with me and much better interviews with my fellow BlogTourists Marcy Michaud and Faith Sheridan, where we share our tips for green living, BLANCO interviewed us all at the AD Home Design Show. Here is the excruciating video evidence.

Blimey chaps, I really need some lessons in active listening, instead of letting my eyes wander all round the room and picking my nose (I was NERVOUS, what can I say?)

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Treillage with Bunny Williams

One doesn’t expect to trek up to the Upper East Side in NYC and then be overcome with an overwhelming wave of nostalgia for London.

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Treillage, the shop owned by Bunny Williams, the doyenne of American interior decorating and her husband, antique dealer John Rosselli, reminded me so much of several shops in London, where antiques, and outdoor furniture, art and objets are all displayed together in a slightly higgledy-piggledy way, and you feel like you’ve just walked into a gigantic treasure chest.

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

This effect is not entirely unintentional, Bunny told us that she wanted to create a shop similar to her favourite London shops and, though the store doesn’t sell plants or gardening equipment, if the General Trading Co. and the Chelsea Gardener had a love child it would come pretty close to Treillage.

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Visiting the shop is like visiting the country home of a favourite aunt – you might not entirely share her taste, but every single piece will have a story attached and you are bound to find something you adore. Eclectic doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Bunny pulled together the shop herself and stripped off an old tin ceiling to uncover beautiful skylights which flood the store with light. The slightly industrial feel of the shop’s bones contrast well with the ornate antiques and intricate objets.

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

So many food photography props. If only there had been more room in my suitcase. And of course you can never go wrong with a shop that sells blue ceramic chickens.

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Bunny’s husband John is also a huge character and he regaled us with stories of his collecting trips all over the world. As a couple they, and the very obvious affection they feel for each other, are cuteness personified. Such great adverts both of them for loving what you and doing what you love.

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com treillage-12

If you aren’t lucky enough to be able to get to New York, you can buy many of the treasures online including the fruits of Bunny’s collaborations with rug manufacturers Dash & Albert and pillow and throws producers Pine Cone Hill. I loved the indoor/outdoor jute rug Bunny is standing on above.

And what treasure did I uncover? Well drinks were served in some beautiful fluted bubbled glassware which ended up coming home with me. I just love these glasses – they make every drink, even still water, seem festive and and special, and they will always serve as a reminder of a very fun morning spent in wonderfully inspiring company.

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

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New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods

 

Another of the lovely sponsors of our #BlogTourNYC trip was Prizer Hoods.

Having just specced the most boring stainless steel hood imaginable for our recent kitchen remodel (we wanted cupboard space above, what can I say?). I was somewhat dismayed to realise how much fun we could have had with the fully customizable options from Prizer Hoods, shown on their stand at the Architectural Digest Home Show.

Want a contemporary hood in Radiant Orchid, Pantone’s Colour of the Year? Then Prizer has you covered.

New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods photography by www.paolathomas.com

Or if you want a more classic style in an intriguing metallic finish, then Prizer has you covered too.

New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods photography by www.paolathomas.com

New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods photography by www.paolathomas.com New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods photography by www.paolathomas.com

The range of shapes, colours, metals and textures available was breathtaking and you truly could customise a Prizer hood to fit in with any possible trend in kitchen design.

New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods photography by www.paolathomas.com

 Kim Lewis, Lead Designer on ABC’s Extreme Makeover who is very lovely and very tiny – even shorter than me – then gave us a great presentation showing how to do just that and I’m delighted to be able to share excerpts from it below.

 New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods

I suppose my kitchen could be most easily classified as Bright & Light with a touch of what Kim called Vagabond Style.

New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods

Nowadays black is being used in conjunction with white for a softer, less forbidding, look (this reminded me of how Victoria Smith has recently updated her kitchen.

New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods

Whereas I would do evil things to get my hands on that gorgeous beaten gold hood below, which Kim used as an example of the new trend for textured metallics.

New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods

And apparently brass is back in a big way. I also love that huge curved brass hood below (that fabulous wooden waterfall worktop is pretty special too). I wish we’d thought to include a brass hood instead of our stainless steel one #lesigh. Maybe I should just make do with brass cutlery instead.

New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods

One day, when I finally get round to ordering a light fitting and buying some bar stools, I will get round to showing you our fully finished and styled kitchen. Don’t hold your breath though.

We have been invited to blog about each of the sponsors of BlogTour NYC as small recompense for their very generous and gracious hospitality. All opinions expressed in these posts, however, are my own.

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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 www.paolathomas.com

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 www.paolathomas.com

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 www.paolathomas.com Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA photography by www.paolathomas.com

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 www.paolathomas.com

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 www.paolathomas.com

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
Ingredients
  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
Instructions
  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 www.paolathomas.com

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 www.paolathomas.com Chocolate Truffles Inspired by Miele USA photography by www.paolathomas.com

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

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A Morning with Tess Casey–Flower District NYC

For our version of #BlogTour, Veronika from Modenus was keen to introduce a learning component, where we’d meet a bunch of fabulous creatives (am I the only person who loathes that word?) and get to see them at work and ask them questions.

A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

I can safely say that these sessions were some of the most fascinating and rewarding of the whole tour, and none more so than the morning we spent with Tess Casey who designs floral arrangements for films and TV shows. You may not have heard of her, but you’ve very probably glimpsed her work, in movies such as Sex and the City, The Devil Wears Prada  and The Nanny Diaries, or on TV shows such as Boardwalk Empire, Ugly Betty  and Pan Am. Tess prides herself on creating camera-ready, period, season and character appropriate flowers for all manner of productions and the amount of work and research that can go into an arrangement that is scarcely glimpsed on scene is truly mindblowing. I for one will look at on-set flowers in a whole new light from now on.

A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

It was a cold and frosty morning when we headed down to New York’s Flower District on W 28th St, but in the various shops Spring was definitely springing. Our tour was sponsored by the wonderful team behind the  WestEdge Design Fair and they met us together with Tess and her super cute assistant Miles for a tour of Tess’s favourite flower and accessories retailers.

A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

I’ve been a little disappointed by the quality and variety of flowers that I’ve been able to get in Seattle, and here everything was explained. All the flowers in the world are hiding out in New York. The selection was truly incredible and we were still in the depths of March.

A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

After the tour, we were welcomed to Tess’s glorious Flower District studio. I love seeing where creative people work and as studios go this was a DOOZY. You really couldn’t fail to be inspired here.

A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

The room was full of charming details. Yes, that’s Tess’s wedding dress hanging up and those glorious chandeliers at the far end were made by Tess and Miles for an event out of Home Depot pot racks and some hanging chains.

A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

I was amused to spot a poster from Roman Polanski’s Tess on the wall. Could someone PLEASE bring out a movie called ‘Paola’ so I can have a movie poster with my name on it?

A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

Then Tess demonstrated a few simple flower arrangements, showing us how to create the internal ‘mechanics’ of an arrangement using either chicken wire, oasis or the stems of the flowers themselves. She is a mistress of improvisation showing us that many of the vases she uses are buckets and pots sourced from Home Depot or Bed, Bath and Beyond and repurposed as vases.

A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

Originally from Ireland, Tess lived and trained in London at Knightsbridge florists Pulbrook & Gould and her naturalistic, organic but luxurious style seemed very English to me. Tess moved to New York in the early nineties and apparently had a fun time in the New York club scene. She is currently pitching a screenplay of her life story and I for one would love to see that movie happen – you know at the very least the flowers will be extraordinary.

A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

The Blogtour paparazzi in full force

A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

Here’s super cute Miles with part of Tess’s gigantic vase collection and a very happy me taking a selfie just because really.

A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

After the demo we were each given our own generous bucket of flowers to try making our own arrangements with Tess’s guidance.

A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

It was fascinating to see all the different variations which we produced using essentially the same raw materials.

I was utterly delighted with mine, it was such a pleasure to work with such beautiful blooms instead of the supermarket flowers I normally use, and was thrilled that they offered to transport all the bouquets back to the hotel, so we could enjoy them in our rooms.

A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

After all the hard work, we managed to get Tess gossiping a bit. For the famous scene where Carrie smashes her wedding bouquet over Big’s head, Tess had to prepare fifty identical bouquets, each one with the thorns removed, so Chris Noth’s face wouldn’t be destroyed, and each with the stems specially prepared to shatter easily.

A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

Because she had to design the bouquets Tess was one of very few people in the know about Carrie’s wedding dress. Even producer Michael Patrick King was kept in the dark. Apparently when he finally saw what Carrie was wearing he turned to Tess and said, ‘She’s wearing a fucking bird on her head.’

A Morning with Tess Casey-Flower District NYC photography by www.paolathomas.com

Thus echoing my words and the words of every single person in every cinema everywhere who saw it.

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