Fig Tart in California

Sunday, September 30, 2012

When I was out in California to visit my parents at the end of August a nearby fig tree had provided an abundance of figs, so my mother made a fig tart. It was nothing short of delicious. While it's unlikely I'll ever make this treat, since fresh figs cost so much in New York City, I'm sharing this recipe for anyone blessed with a fig tree (which there are apparently an abundance of in Brooklyn.)

The shots here are of my mother making the tart and the tart before it went into the oven. It was just too pretty not to shoot—and then it got gobbled up before I had a chance to capture it baked.

Easy Summer Fruit Tart from the New York Times

1 and 1/2 cups flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sugar
11 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 egg yolk, beaten
2 1/2 to 3 pounds fruit like peaches, nectarines, figs, apricots, plums
6 tablespoons red currant jelly, or other preserves, depending on fruit

1. Blend flour, salt and 2 tablespoons sugar in a bowl or food processor. Dice 8 tablespoons of the butter. Use a pastry blender or two knives to blend flour mixture and butter, or pulse them together in a food processor to make a crumbly mixture. Beat the egg yolk with 3 tablespoons cold water. Dribble it over the flour mixture, then stir or pulse slowly until the mixture starts clumping together. A bit more water may be necessary. Gather dough in a loose ball and form into a disk on a lightly floured surface.
2. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out dough and line a 10-inch loose-bottom tart pan. Line pastry with a sheet of foil and spread pastry weights or dry beans on top. Bake 12 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter, cooking it on low until it turns a light nut brown. Pit fruit (except figs) and cut in eighths or, if fruit is small, fourths. After 12 minutes, remove foil and weights from pastry. Return pastry to oven and continue baking until it is lightly browned, another 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pastry from oven and increase temperature to 400 degrees.
3. Brush pastry with preserves. Arrange fruit in tight concentric circles, starting by placing it around the perimeter, skin side down, against the vertical sides of the pastry and standing it up as much as possible. Brush with melted butter. Dust with remaining sugar. Bake about 35 to 40 minutes, until edges have browned but fruit has not collapsed. Cool before serving.

Kinfolk + Apolis + Weston Wells

Friday, September 28, 2012

My husband Weston and I met the folks from Kinfolk magazine a couple months back, and hoped to someday collaborate with them. Recently, Kinfolk and Apolis teamed up to design new garden bag, and they asked Weston to shoot it for them. I helped him pull some props for the shoot, which was an early evening picnic in Fort Greene Park. I think the photos tell a cute story, so I thought I would share them here.

The Apolis + Kinfolk Market Bag can be purchased from Apolis' online shop and at the Apolis store in Los Angeles.

One Year Ago Today

Monday, September 24, 2012

To-Do: Madoo Canservancy

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Earlier this summer, I had the chance to visit the Madoo Conservancy in Sagaponack. Madoo is the two-acre garden of artist, writer and gardener Robert Dash. I am so happy to have discovered this wonderful secret garden. Tucked off a Hamptons lane, I had driven by the entrance dozens of times over the years with no idea that it was even there!

Filled with sculptures and other whimsical objects, there's a sense of playfulness to the space. Meanwhile, manicured trees and hedges co-mingle with wilder elements for a bohemian vibe. I'd love to meet the man who dreamed up this lovely place.

The garden will close on September 15th for the summer, but it opens back up in May. If you find yourself out in the Hamptons and you love gardens, Madoo is a must-do.

All photos by Weston Wells, from The Outings.

Gift Idea: The Gentleman's Deck

I only had time for a quick visit to the New York International Gift Fair this year, but while I was there I spotted a super gift for a man. Since men can be hard to shop for, I figured I would share it with you here. The Gentleman's Deck is a handsome deck of cards imprinted with knowledge that every gentleman should possess. Here's how the makers describe their clever cards, "a collection of style & etiquette anecdotes for men, perfect for those situations in life where you might need an ace up your sleeve. From proper revolving door etiquette to learning how to tie a Windsor Knot The Gentleman's Deck will help you become a man of the 21st century."

At $15, it's an affordable gift that I imagine many men would appreciate. Personally, I love the packaging and design. Plus, they're not just a fun bit of paper ephemera -- you can play a hand of rummy with them!

Wilder Quarterly Summer

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I am thrilled to have a story in the summer issue of Wilder Quarterly. The piece is about creating a garden that will acts as a habitat for wildlife, including birds, butterflies and other insects that are a critical part of any ecosystem.


Unfortunately a few details of the story, didn't make it into the magazine and I wanted to share them here. The garden featured belongs to Portland residents Marina Wynton and her husband Mike Pajunas, who ripped out their lawn and created a certified wildlife habitat garden.

A landscape designer by profession (her landscaping and garden design company is Olivine Land LLC.), Wynton designed the space to include a third evergreen, a third deciduous and a third perennial plants; the design includes multiple canopy levels, including ground cover, a shrub level and an upper canopy. Not only does the variety of plants and levels contribute to the composition of the garden, but it also feeds birds and insects and provides shade and cover. (Plus, Wynton and Pajunas’s dense planting style keeps weeds down and uses less water.)

If you're interested in turning your own garden into a wildlife refuge, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Wilder Quarterly and read the story!

Posts for

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Earlier this summer, I had the pleasure of writing a few posts for, a website that I have long-admired. If you're not familiar with the site, it's an interior design site with a spare and sophisticated aesthetic. Here are links to the three posts I wrote, check them out:

A High-Style Basecamp in Tahoe 
Forget camping: We're staying at the Basecamp Hotel in South Lake Tahoe next time we head into the wilderness... (Read more.)

New York's Jack of All Kitchen Trades
Haven’s Kitchen, just west of Union Square, is a cooking school, café, catering company, and boutique, to name a few of its guises... (Read more.)

Marrakech by Way of Jersey City 
Mohamed Elmarrouf had an in when he set out to sell Moroccan design in America. The son of a Marrakech rug merchant, he brought his contacts to New York’s Chelsea Market where he originally set up shop amid specialty bakeries and blue-chip produce vendors. Now teamed with stylist Stephanie Rudloe, he operates Imports From Marrakesh as a virtual souk... (Read more.)

Read It: Yes, Chef

Thursday, September 06, 2012

I recently finished Marcus Samuelsson's memoir, Yes, Chef, and it's an excellent read. I loved reading about how he came up in the world of professional kitchens and how he grew into the chef he is today. Samuelsson writes about a time that wasn't that long ago, yet is so far away. As a young chef he writes letters to French restaurants hoping to secure a position in their kitchens and later he tells of receiving an advance fax of a review of one of his restaurants -- it all seems so far removed from today's high speed, instant communication world. He also writes about t time before the dawn of the celebrity chef and does a great job of painting a picture of the very hard work that all chefs must do, whether they are famous or not. Even if you're not curious about the restaurant world, his life story is compelling.

Better Bathroom Storage

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

When we designed out new bathroom, we didn't have the contractor build in any storage in the shower area (partly because I couldn't make up my mind about what I wanted). Instead of buying another over-the-shower-head caddy, we opted for these wire bins from The Container Store, which mounted onto the tile with glue. I'm very impressed with the quality of the wire bins and they really hold the weight of the toiletries without falling off the wall. If you're looking for an easy and attractive way to store shampoos and soaps in the shower, this is a great option.

Be sure to follow the package directions when you install these bins -- we opted for a time when the shower was bone dry just before we were headed out of town for more than a day, so the glue would have time to cure. Easy Lock Pro! Stainless Steel Baskets from The Container Store, $25 and $30.

I also opted to decant our shampoo and conditioner into these simple, plastic pump bottles from Muji. It may seem silly to some, but I like not having to look at the product labels and the pumps are super-handy.  PET Rectangular Pump Bottle - 280ml - Clear from Muji, $5 each.

Buvette, A Charming Restaurant

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Last Friday night I had the chance to dine at Buvette in the West Village. I'd read about this little restaurant in Martha Stewart Living back in February and had heard some buzz about its innovative menu of small plates. Unfortunately, my sweet husband detests small plates menus, which, to be fair, I can understand. So, it wasn't until I'd planned a night out with one of my dearest friends that I had a chance to try it myself. From my first glimpse of the exterior on Grove Street, I knew I would like it. (How cute is that vintage bicycle parked out front?)

The restaurant had just opened their "petit jardin" a few days before -- and petite it was! The whole deck can't measure much more than 8 x 12, but they've squeezed in a few tables for two. Despite the warm weather, we were happy to dine outside in this charming space.

The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the owner conceived of it as a "gastroteque," place that you could eat all day long -- a sort of hybrid cafe, wine bar and coffe shop. For dinner we ordered the pesto di Parma tartinette (literally a "pesto" made from finely chopped proscuitto -- it was amazing), octopus salad with celery and olives, roasted beets with walnuts and ricotta, the special crudo for the night, which I think was a black cod, and the night's special heirloom tomato salad. Everything was yummy, but to be honest, so much of what I loved about this place was how damn charming it was.

Case in point: The illustrated wine list, which is an entertaining and attractive little book (I read the whole thing waiting for my friend to arrive while sipping a glass of rosé):

I also love the innovative chalkboard wine list:

I hope to make many more visits to Buvette in the future. If you find yourself hungry in the West Village, do stop in. All photos from, Buvette's website.

Oh, The Places I've Been

Monday, September 03, 2012

Hello! It's been a while. This has been one busy summer, and I have fallen sorely behind on my blogging. My husband and I have crisscrossed the country for family visits and friends' weddings. We've also been fortunate to spend some weekends away closer to home.

On the work front, I've been filling in part time for an editor at The Knot and The Nest magazines. I've also been blogging for You can check out my posts on their site. 

I've got lots of things to post about in the next few weeks, so stay tuned. And please, forgive me for my absence these last two months.

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