Friday, March 1, 2013

Our Find: A Dog Lovers Guide to Williamsburg

My friend Teresa has always loved dogs, shopping and food. As the manager of Blue Ribbon Sushi and the fashion show collection manager for Anna Sui, she has excellent taste, as do her well-behaved mini Australian shepherds, Dailo and Lola. Her blog Dailolas Daily Dose lets us discover the coffee shops, stores and cafes of Williamsburg (and beyond) while our furry guides peep in windows or hang out in dressing rooms. The photos are funny and beautiful and it makes me want to wander with them. Maybe next Saturday Ill tag along.

Jennifer Miller is the Photo Director at Martha Stewart Living. Her perfect Sunday is exploring restaurants in Queens with her husband and twin boys.

Guest Pinner: Camille Styles

When I first stumbled upon Camille Styles eponymous lifestyle blog, she had just posted pictures from her daughters half-birthday celebration, and I found myself in the ludicrous situation of envying a six-month-old child. Camille billed the party as nothing fancy, but I swooned over the yarn pom pom flower bouquets, confetti-filled helium balloons, and luscious white chocolate & raspberry half birthday cake.

According to Camille, Theres almost always time to put forth even just a little effort to make these types of moments special. I agree! Seemingly insignificant events become memorable celebrations with a bit of fanfare and some creative flair. Two of my favorite series on the blog are Entertaining With where tastemakers share their secrets to savvy entertaining, and Monochromatic Monday which provides color palette inspiration and a dose of beauty, always welcome at the start of the work week.

Because entertaining should be entirely about fun, weve invited Camille to bring her stress-free style and curatorial eye for delicious, innovative and chic finds to Martha Stewart, where she will be guest pinning on our Pinterest boards for the next month. Click here to view her inspiring pins. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and her personal Pinterest account.

And dont forget to follow the Martha Stewart Living boards, where our editors are constantly pinning delicious recipes, inspiring crafts, creative holiday ideas, and much more.

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Tea Party Inspiration

Ive long been fascinated by the style and sensibilities of the Brits (especially their dark sense of humor) and this entertaining book, The Vintage Tea Party Book, is a dream come true for an Anglophile like me.

The author, Angel Adoree, runs a bespoke tea party service in London that hosts custom events with a distinctly British flair, a new interpretation of things past. The book is divided into four sections: Brunch, Afternoon, Evening, Style. Throughout its pages are recipes (though you might need a digital scale for conversion purposes), whimsical illustrations, and images styled using Adorees impressive collection of vintage wares.

Treats like these truffle hearts infused with loose Earl Grey tea look delightful, and the style section in the back has me dreaming of Victory Rolls and winged eyeliner. Im going to take Adorees advice and start hunting for my own collection of vintage props so I can host a soiree of my own. To get a taste of books style, check out this downloadable invitation template.

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American Made Series: Meet Tattly, Get (Temporarily) Inked

Perfect for party flair, easy gift add-ons, and sleepover shenanigans with my little sister, Tattly has turned me into a tattoo convert. (Dont worry, Dad; theyre temporary!) Creative iconTina Roth Eisenberg, of swissmiss fame, founded the artsy, tattoo-design collaborative. Tattly now features tattoos designed by a wide network of artists. Here, meet a few of my favorites Julia Rothman, Alyssa Nassner and Lisa Congdon whose other projects range from publication illustration to product design to fine art. (Lisa and her mid-century enamelware collection werefeatured in our February 2011 issue.) Read on to learn about their creative processes and the wonderful world of Tattly!

**GIVEAWAY! Leavea comment belowwith your favorite Tattly design or idea to win a set of temp tattoos designed by Julia, Alyssa and Lisa. A winner will be chosen at random.

How did you get involved with Tattly?

JR: Tina casually mentioned a new venture she was going to try well-designed temporary tattoos. I told her I wanted to contribute to the project and never imagined it would turn into such a long-standing collaboration. She selected a few of my drawings, and I sent a new idea, too: a digital watch reading LATE that quickly became our favorite.

AN: My friendJen Mussarisent me an email telling me to expect to hear from someone special. The next thing I knew, Tina invited me to submit some of my artwork to be part of the Tattly family.

LC: In 2011, I got an email from Tina (whose blog I read and whom Id admired from afar for a long time) asking if Id be interested in designing some Tattlys. I was completely thrilled and excited; Tattly had just gotten off the ground a few months earlier, and I was a fan. I had a Skype call with Tina the next day, and the rest is history!

Whats the process for developing a design idea into a fun temporary tattoo?

JR: Coming up with a good idea is the most challenging part of the process. I like the tattoos best if they have a hint of nostalgia or a small hidden joke that could make someone smile, so my ideas usually spark out of seeing something that I liked as a kid. For example, someone wearing a friendship bracelet and a best friend necklace both inspired tattoos.

LC: Heres an example: Tina emails and says Wed love a design for Easter. Then I go to my studio and brainstorm a list of ideas (eggs, bunnies, etc.) and think about how I might make an Easter design that is unique or funny and that an adult or kid would like to put on their forearm. I draw the design in black ink, then I take the design home and scan it, clean it up in Adobe Photoshop, convert it to vector in Adobe Illustrator, and color it. Tina sends it off to the tattoo maker, and a month later its in the Tattly shop.

Where do you find creative inspiration?

JR: Living in New York City has been the biggest inspiration to my work. Theres so much to see, so many people, great architecture and lots of style. Just spending a day walking around the city can rouse some motivation to go home and design a pattern or make a drawing. A lot of my work directly references things I see around me (brownstone buildings, shoes lined up in a window, people dancing), but also, more generally, I think my work has a lot of clutter, detail and activity because thats what Im surrounded by.

LC: As Jack London once said, You cant wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. Im constantly seeking ideas out in the world from internet archives, magazines, film, walks in my neighborhood, travel. Most artists are constantly scanning their environments for ideas, consciously or unconsciously.

AN: Getting out of the house is pretty important to my creative process. I love to travel, take up new hobbies, and engage in my illustration community, especially when Im stuck in a rut or looking for that extra boost of inspiration. I also have an affinity for vintage and retro illustration, so Im constantly on the prowl for amazing prints, books, and home goods.

What are your favorite Tattly designs to date? Any exciting ideas in the works?

JR: My Money tattoo I think its hilarious. At a quick glance, it almost looks real. I love the idea of having $100 bills peeking out from under your socks, sleeves, cleavage and waistband.Lately, Ive been trying to think of tattoos that show off your personality or how youre feeling. Remember mood rings or that kid book series Mr. Men and Little Miss? Something like that, Im just not sure what it would be yet.

AN: Im currently coveting Julias friendship braceletsand Jens Forever design. I think it would be fun to do a set of constellation and zodiac Tattlys. I would totally rock those!

What are you up to when not illustrating Tattly?

JR: I work on a range of projects from illustrating for newspapers and magazines to making patterns for bedding or wallpaper. Its a thrill to see your designs on real products people use in their homes. I also work on long-term book projects books I illustrate and write myself like Farm Anatomy and collaborative titles like The Where, the Why and the How. Most recently I made some silk scarves, produced a line of quilting fabric, and I am currently working on an illustrated book about New York City!

LC: While I have a fine art practice where I sometimes show work in galleries and take fine art commissions, I spend most of my time as a book illustrator. I also design fabric and wallpaper and do other types of surface design. My work ranges in medium from gouache paint to graphite to ink to mixed media. Im so glad to paint one day and then cut paper the next; I never get bored.

AN: By day, Im a textile designer at Target, where I work on a wide range of newborn designs for products under the Circo and Cherokee brands. Its really fun and challenging to have both creative and strategic input as I design. Ive also had amazing opportunities with freelance clients like American Greetings, Galison and Papyrus, among others. I run a collaborative blog, Ten Paces and Draw, with my good friend Rachel Dougherty. Its a great way to stay connected to the art community, get inspired and advocate for collaborative projects between illustrators. I love the push and pull of collaboration and the healthy competition and mutual support that grow with a creative relationship.

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Russ & Daughters Celebrates 99 Years of the House that Herring Built

Bagels and lox lovers, take note: next Tuesday you can finally get your hands on Mark Russ Federmans book Russ & Daughters: Reflections and Recipes from the House that Herring Built (Shocken). In advance of the release, photographer Matthew Hranek a devoted Russ & Daughters fan for 20 years interviewed Mark at the iconic establishment on New Yorks Lower East Side to talk lox, the history of the business, and the lengths customers will go to to get their fix. Matthew, who met Mark when they became neighbors in Park Slope, Brooklyn, says, It has been a pleasure getting to know him, his family and all that smoked salmon.

Watch this video to see how Russ & Daughtersmakes their famous lox and cream cheese bagel sandwich. (Video directed by Matthew Hranek and shot by Bryan Goulart)

Tell me how herring built this institution of Russ and Daughters (literally). Why was herring so popular at the time Russ and Daughters opened?

It was poverty, pestilence, and pogroms that drove Grandpa Russ out of Eastern Europe. It was herring that brought him to America. His sister, Chana, had preceded him here and had established a herring business on The Lower East Side. That business consisted of a few barrels of schmaltz herring located in a stall between two tenement buildings. Chana paid the $25 sponsorship fee for her brother. That was a lot of money in 1907 since herring was sold for 5 cents each, or 3 for 10. After a while, Chana had Joel set up with a pushcart filled with herring on Hester Street. The rest is history. Herring was a cheap source of protein. An entire family could have a meal of herring, potatoes, onions, and bread. Lots of starch and a little protein.

How many original daughters were there? Who is still alive and how old are they?

There were three Russ daughters: Hattie, Ida, and Anne [my mother]. Ida, the middle daughter, died 12 years ago at age 86. Hattie will be 100 in 2 months. Anne will be 92 in 4 months. They live in the same shtetl in Florida.

What is your go-to item to nosh on at Russ and Daughters?

Sturgeon. It is the Queen of all smoked fish.

For the novice what should not be missed?


Where does the term lox come from?

Lox is from the German word lachs, meaning salmon. The original lox was salt cured, un-smoked salmon; and the best part of the lox was the portion cut from the belly of the fish. We still sell real belly lox in our store, plus eight to 10 varieties of smoked salmon.

The lines at Russ are infamous around holidays. How long was the biggest line and what do you think the wait was if you where at the end of that line?

The line is not physically so long now that we have instituted a number system. Customers take a number and then maybe go down the block for a pastrami sandwich at Katzs. But most hang in and around the store enjoying the scene and making new friends; sometimes new relationships. Its fun a real New York experience.

Was there ever an exception when someone was allowed to cut that line? (celebrity, pregnancy, etc.)

No exceptions for celebrities not even for pregnancy. Last year a pregnant woman began to have contractions while waiting her turn. She refused to go to the hospital until her number was called.

What is your personal favorite variety of smoked salmon?

I love them all. Thats why theyre in the store. Sometimes my genes call out for old fashioned belly lox.

When it comes to bagels are you a plain or seeded man?

Plain for me.

Photos by Matthew Hranek, who blogs at The William Brown Project

Mensday Wednesday: Kafana

When contemplating European food, the cuisine of Serbia is hardly the first thing that springs to mind. Serbia? You mean the former Yugoslav republic? They were, like, communist, werent they? I thought only boring things came out of communist countries like drab apartment blocs, efficient-to-the-point-of-mechanized sports teams, and censorship? The imaginary me asking those questions couldnt be more ignorant. Serbia, along with the other countries that comprise the former Yugoslavia, is home to some of the most vibrant and distinctive culture, geography, and cuisine in the world, let alone Europe. And if youve yet to try to Serbian food and are within a hundred kilometers (Im gonna let this euro theme flow) of the New York City metropolitan area, get up off your butt and go eat a meal at Kafana, immediately.

One of my best friends, Marko, dragged us there this Wednesday on the recommendation of his mother. I was initially skeptical for no reason other than weve eaten delicious Balkan food in Queens on numerous occasions and this place was located in the East Village (home to seemingly every flavor-of-the-month restaurant in NYC). But Markos word carried a little more weight than usual this evening. The reason? He is nominally Croatian, but describing his background with the wordlast commonly used three decades agoYugoslavian would be more appropriate. He is truly pan-Balkan with a birthplace on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, a Montenegrin father, a Bosnian grandmother, and a Serbian grandfather. This mixed heritage proved difficult during the troubles that beset that part of the world for the greater part of the nineties, but he nevertheless represents his heritage with pride. Furthermore, his mother is the best mom-cook I know, besides my own, so I knew she could discern good food from dreck.

Kafanas kitchen produces food that is about as far from the dreck-end of the spectrum as possible. After the liberal hand behind the bar poured us a generous round of slivovitz (Balkan plum brandy) and Marko let out a rapid flow of serbo-croatian to our server, the food began to arrive.

What came out was like a whats what of treats that exemplify Serbias location as a crossroads of culture between the former Ottoman Empire to the east, the Mediterranean influence from the south, and an Austro-Hungarian influence to the north and west. Plates came to the table carrying warm spinach and cheese pie, the filling barely held in place by its thin, chewy, and crackling crust. Or simple and savory braised broad beanssoft and yielding to the bite with that wholesome flavor unique to perfectly prepared legumes. Or Balkan quesadillas: lepinja (simliar to pita) opened up and spread with the ubiquitous soft white cheese of this area, kajmak (pronounced like the j is an i), toasted and served warm. Or, perhaps one of the national dishes of Serbia, cevapilittle skinless sausages charcoal grilled and served simply with more lepinja, chopped white onions, more kajmak, and ajvar (a roasted red pepper relish).

Ive had experience with kajmak and ajvar before solely as a result of my experience eating at Markos house, but I need to stress how delicious these two things are and how particularly good the ajvar is at Kafana. Ajvar looks almost like salsa or tomato sauce, but its ingredients are usually just red peppers and a little garlic and oil. It is sweet and savory at the same time; when you try some that is as good as the stuff at Kafana you suddenly realize exactly what piquant means. Kajmak can be described as clotted cream: a rich, buttery cheese that when consumed for the first time almost immediately negates the need for butter or cheese. Kajmak and ajvar, the second and third partners to a cevapi mnage a trois, are emblematic of the cuisine of the region: food that is simply prepared with the very best ingredients possible. It sounds like a tagline for a locavore supper club, but its how theyve been doing things in the Balkans for hundreds of years.

Dinner continued with pljeskavicathe other national dish of Serbiaa grilled, chopped beef burger discerningly stuffed with cheese and pancetta. For all you fried food lovers out there, the fries that came with this plate were exceptional. Next was ljutabig, spicy pork sausages sizzling and hot, fresh off the fire served with the biggest surprise of the eveningdelicious cole slawwho knew? Red and white cabbage thinly sliced and dressed with what tasted like nothing more than a little vinegar and oil. It was a resounding success that had the crew looking around the table with incredulous expressions: Cabbage can taste not only good, but great?!?!

The evening was a low key Wednesday by our standards (i.e. I can remember with absolute lucidity everything I ate and drink that evening, which is unfortunately a first for me). After a delicious dessertbaklava and chestnut puree topped with whipped creamwe headed over to Gin Palace for a nightcap. Despite the relatively chaste manner we went about the evening, I cant stop thinking about when I will be able to return to Kafana. Writing this post the day after we ate, I am trying to justify to my wallet (even though the spot is very reasonably priced for the area) returning again this eveningthe mark of a truly great meal, you cant stop craving it until you get it again.

116 Avenue C, New York, NY (212) 353-8000

Calder Quinn is afearlessgastronome exploring New York City one restaurant at a timehes alsothe eldest son of Lucinda Scala Quinn, Livings Executive Editorial Director of Food. Heres what he has to say about the origins of Mensday Wednesday: Being located in New York City gives us the opportunity to sample a wide array of food. After all, there are over 20,000 restaurants here and in a huge city, built on the contributions of immigrants, which continues to draw people from every corner of the world, it is statistically probable that there exists a commercial enterprise operating to meet everyones taste, as disparate as those tastes may be. There are no set requirements as to where we dine, but a sort of tacit set of rules have emerged: price is importantthe final bill should never cause us to wince, international cuisine is preferred, and in the event of a debate, byob is the trump card.

Follow Mensday Wednesdays on Twitter@mensdae.

Monday, February 25, 2013

American Made Series: Andies Specialty Sweets

Chocolate-Filled Candy Seashells

Andie and Jason Moore, the husband and wife duo behind the Dallas-basedEtsy confectionery Andies Specialty Sweets, create works of art from candy and chocolate. Not only are their sweets beautiful interpretations of natural and man-made objects, but they believe passionately in using the highest quality culinary ingredients. We just had to know how they design and make such fantastical, yet realistic candy creations.

How did you get your start in making chocolates and candies?
It all started long ago, with the desire to make family gatherings and entertaining guests a special and unique time. But the drive to pursue it was born from too many experiences with overly sweet, cheap ingredient-confections and outdated cake apparel.

Everything we have learned has been from being presented a challenge with a blank slate. We are completely self-taught, and similar to giving a youngster a box of crayons and paper for the first time, we have delved into a world of exciting possibilities presenting its potential with every incidental scribble.

Vintage-Inspired Bird Lollipops

How do you determine what candy medium to use for a project?
We work with primarily three candy mediums: hard candy, chocolate, and our own proprietary candy recipe (which we are hoping to offer to the D.I.Y. public soon). Each of these mediums have a mind of their own. Some stay fluid long enough to coat tiny crevices, some support the weight of large objects without collapsing, and some are great for sculpting and manipulating. And, each has its own aesthetic that yields to the particular piece. We think about the object and ponder whether we want it to resemble glass, or a soft texture, or if it will need a multiple finish of shiny in some spots, but matte in others.

Chocolate Skeleton Key Necklace

Whats special about casting chocolate?
Chocolate is great for picking up detail and working its way into tiny details like the tip of a pointed ear, and it holds its shape without collapsing. It does need to be handled with bamboo gloves in order to not leave fingerprints. And, it is soft enough (unfortunately), unlike hard candy, to break, say at the pointed ear, and cause long, aching Noooo!s to arise from ones toes. We love chocolate though, and are tapping into exciting ways to incorporate it further in our craft.

Edible Scrabble Tiles and Trays

How you decide what to design next?
We are most inspired by our customers, who never leave us lacking for amusement and amazing ideas. Most of our best sellers have been a direct consequence of customer genius, and really the rest is just coming to know our customers and guessing what they would like next. Sometimes were right sometimes we arent. And, to our demise, we have been forced to eat many of the arents.

Sculpted Sugar Mushrooms

Many of your confections are inspired by nature. Is it difficult to replicate those colors and textures?
Yes, it is always a challenge to make something sugary resemble something brittle or knotty, or anything close to what we see in creation, and not have it look like a cartoon. We are always critical of this aspect in our work, and always on the pursuit to heighten the realness.

Chocolate Candy Oyster Shells

What is it like running a business together?
There are plenty of challenges; each day has its demands, wins and losses, many decisions -some critical and urgent. We suspect every small business has its share of all the things they say are hard on a marriage. Besides our business, we also have four young children that we are active in parenting. Despite all these things that require our thought and attention, we do find peace in spending time together, we laugh a lot and really are two peas in a pod, but far, far from being perfect. Sometimes our sweetest days are those where we are quick to confess our mea culpas and own them. Oh, and kissingthere is a lot of kissing to help run our business.

(Images Courtesy of Andies Specialty Sweets)