Just a little peek into the charming Tuscan town of Casciana . . . Where the sun sets at 9pm, the women look and smell like flowers, truffles come out of the Earth at a gigantic scale, powder pink dining rooms delight and I have found two lovely friends, Simone and Fraintesa.
A couple days ago, I was invited into the home of Gregory Gourdet, executive chef at Departure. We are doing a feature together for the Kitchn which will run in a few months. I got to say, I dream about photographing folks like Gregory. He's ok with being photographed, has a humble, sweet sense of humor, is incredibly talented in what he does, makes tea, has huge balloon sculptures lingering around from a restaurant party and laughs wholeheartedly.
He's also a beautiful subject. More important than that, he carries himself in a photograph; which is infinitely more important in a model. He's got confidence and assured style. Loved that. Also loved the two outrageous desserts he prepared for our shoot: Paleo Lavender Yuzu bars and Roasted Pineapple Coconut Upside Down Cake. I was upside down with joy at first bite.
Over the weekend, my friend Clara and I embarked on a project. We discovered her grandmother's recipe box and decided to delve into the cake section of things. For our cakeapalooza, we chose four cakes that compelled us into baking action -- featuring throwback ingredients such as marshmallows, Jello mixes and vegetable shortening.
The first cake up was a hero of a confection, "Big Pink" as we referred to it things came together. I posted the recipe on The Kitchn today, so be sure to give it a visit. I recently rearranged my office/studio and really got to play with this wild dessert. I loved setting the cake into an Alice in Wonderland/little girl party fantasy. Hope you enjoy!
Today I photographed a beautiful, energetic lady, Joan. She was positively radiant in her little Portland flat. I loved her bright blonde hair, pattern on pattern maximalist fashion and decor style and that she's had her turtle, Sheldon, for about 30 years.
Joan's on her way to New York City - she's making a "lateral move to Williamsburg," but I'm glad I caught her before her space transforms into boxes.
Today I got to shoot Scott for an upcoming kitchen tour on The Kitchn. He donned his bow tie and a pair of pink shoes. We had some laughs regarding our mutual love for jazz dance and cake decorating. He has poured a lot of love into his kitchen, remodeling it himself with precision and care. It's a beautiful space, full of light and good vibes. Scott's also had some rough going of late; his dog passed away amidst some other personal difficulties. Poor guy.
I kinda love this portrait because although the space is cheerful and Scott looks great, there's a hint of sadness. That's how life is. Good and bad. Bright and melancholy.
My favorite winery of all the places I visited in Chile was Leyda. The company is run by young, passionate winemakers in the coastal area of San Antonio. This place and the people were so charming, it was hard for me to separate their story of dedication and love from the wines . . . But I was told by the wine writer friends I made that this happens to
them too in some respects, so in the end I didn't feel so bad. Their plants are very new, only about 2-3 years old and their coastal breezes create a fruitful micro climate. All the grapes were planted on a slope and are hand picked, "It's the only way."
I loved Leyda because it felt new, alive, humble and different there. My favorite wine from them by far was their Syrah; so warm, jammy and spicy. It was splendid with our lunch of paella, cheeses, salads and a special mushroom risotto prepared just for me.
The wines in Chile and Argentina were excellent. Surprisingly complex, rich and heavenly, but after two lengthy tastings per day on our trip, all I wanted in the evenings was a refreshing, boozy cocktail (or two). Meet the PISCO SOUR. Have you had one?
A Pisco Sour involves Pisco--a yellowish grape brandy-- bitters, fresh lemon or lime and egg whites for froth. Man oh man this is a divine combination! In Chile I threw quite a few of these back and they always hit the spot. I'll definitely be trying my hands at the Pisco Sour come summer time.
Kinfolk's Third Issue came out this past month. I was honored to have a short essay and photograph published in the beautiful magazine. You can pick up a printed copy at Anthropologie -- Can I just say how it tickles me to have my name and photograph in a product carried at one of my all-time favorite stores? It's so much fun!
Here's my written piece and image. I hope you enjoy it. I found it rather freeing to write in such a different style/topic for this publication.
About a month or so after I got married, my new husband and I embarked on a honeymoon which would forever change us. We didn't go to Hawaii or spend a couple weeks in Mexico, we saved our pennies the moment we got serious and set out to live in South India, Vietnam and Turkey for a year. We wanted to see a bit of how the rest of the world lives and get to know ourselves in the process.
In every new village or bustling city we settled into, I purchased a spoon. Or two. In Hanoi, I asked a cafe owner if I may buy the neon orange and baby blue plastic spoons we'd swirled our sweetened ice coffees with and she looked at me perplexed, then giggled (silly American lady!), then threw the tall, colorful utensils in with our bill, refusing to accept the bills I insisted on stuffing into her plaid apron
pocket. A variation on this routine was repeated in multiple languages, with the same hand gestures and responses, across the world.
I'm grateful I kept on my happy treasure hunt. I had a hunch this precious collection would delight me with each swirl of my PG Tips and cream, lick of peanut butter in between deadlines or when excitedly delving into a new tub of yogurt and honey while I gaze into the fridge contemplating dinner. Indeed, our worldly gallivants came to an end, and we are now settled into our own cozy palace in the clouds of Portland, Oregon. But I can't shake the sparkly feeling of touching the unknown while on the road with my ritual warm brews and little bites. For a moment, I'm transported . . . We are ducking into a chai shack deep in the coconut groves, motorcycling along the highway with banh mi sandwiches tucked into pockets and sipping black Turkish tea (sugar cubes clenched in our teeth) with the fishermen on Galata Bridge in Istanbul. And in those memories, with my sweet spoons, I am home.
This Easter/Passover weekend was full of little people smiles, sparkly egg dyeing kits courtesy of Grammy Gen Gen, pink camelias bursting from bowls, lounging on our stoop in the sunshine and baskets full of mediocre muffins I made late one evening. The eggs and colorful dye haven't changed much since we were kids -- and you know, that familiarity, it was so comforting. Stop the clock!
It's so so nice to have impromptu gathering of friends and family over some tasty foods and a craft project that makes you feel like a kid again. Stephanie even made an egg with a flower affixed, sorta the Frida Khalo of Easter eggs. The babies ruled the day; Petite L and D are our King and Queen, truly!