Modern Art Desserts

After admiring the cover and peeking inside virtually every time I visit Blue Bottle Coffee Co., I finally picked up a copy of Caitlin Freeman’s Modern Art Desserts.  I am so glad I did!  Freeman’s book is a gem.  Formerly of Miette, Freeman clearly knows her way around amazing desserts — backwards, forwards, and sideways, in fact.  What made this cookbook stand out for me was the fact that is not only full of stunning recipes, but also it serves as both a personal memoir and a mini-guide to some of the works at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  While Freeman and her beautiful desserts are no longer at SFMOMA, the cookbook that resulted from her tenure there is a pleasure for the pastry enthusiast and art lover alike.

Each dessert is presented with a photograph of the pastry, an image of the artwork it was inspired by, information about the work and the artist, and Freeman’s own experiences creating the dish.  Then follows the recipe, with clear, clean instructions.  Many of the recipes are quite aspirational — the complex Mondrian cake, for example, takes a whopping two days.  However, specialized supplies and ingredients are sourced in the book, out-of-the-ordinary equipment is highlighted and explained, and a section early on gives a great rundown of both the ingredients and cooking tools you’ll likely need throughout.  Freeman somehow manages to make incredibly complex recipes seem both aspirational and accessible.  Mixed in with culinary feats like the Mondrian cake are slightly lower key options like trifle, sodas, popcicles, and even a savory snack or two, so there are certainly options for those who prefer to measure their recipe timing in minutes or hours rather than days.

Overall I was surprised and delighted by Modern Art Desserts.  It is a diverting read above and beyond being a good cookbook.  If you’re a modern art fan, give this one a whirl.  Freeman has given us candy for the eyes and the taste buds in equal measure.

Hey, Seattle (part II)

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Welcome to Part II of my little Seattle guide, with things to do and places to stay.  If you missed Part I you can read it here for all kinds of great places to eat!

Visit:

Pike Place Market

No visit to Seattle would be complete without a stroll through the public market.  Amazingly fresh seafood, bites of all kinds (see! told you more food!), beautiful flower stalls, and the original Starbucks location await you here.  Grab a salmon pâté piroshky from Piroshky Piroshky, walk down to pick up some smoked salmon from Pure Food Fish Market, and then wander as you munch.  You can duck upstairs to Storyville Coffee to escape the bustle for a few minutes if you like.  Oh, and I highly recommend a stop at Le Panier before you leave — this boulangerie and patisserie offers the best pain au chocolat I’ve had since Paris.

 

Seattle Art Museum

With an excellent permanent collection and innovative exhibitions, SAM is well worth a visit.  The museum “contains nearly 25,000 works of art from around the world. Dating from antiquity to the present, the permanent collection represents a wide range of global cultures and historical perspectives.”  The current temporary exhibit, Double Exposure, is worth a look even on its own; it is a satisfyingly nuanced look at portrayals of Pacific Northwest native peoples over the last 150 years.

 

The Elliott Bay Book Company

This bookstore in the Capital Hill neighborhood has been serving Seattle for over four decades, and is a delight in every way.  Highlighted local authors and subjects, quirky giftware for the bibliophile, and an on-site cafe make for a lovely afternoon.  Despite the likelihood of an overly-heavy suitcase, I had to bring three books home with me.

 

Melrose Market

Melrose Market is like the teeny tiny well-curated cousin of Pike Place.  Meats, liquor, shellfish, homewares — all can be found in this little urban refuge.  Sitka and Spruce is located here, as it the most excellent homeware store Butter Home.  I wanted one of everything!  Their art prints and jewelry in particular caught my eye, but their are tons of other fun things to be had in this lovely little shop.  Visit if you can, and then grab a cocktail at Still Liquor.

 

Segway Tours of Seattle

Perhaps a little cheesy and touristy, but so much fun!  We spent a morning touring the city center by Segway, and got to see so many great spots.  The Space Needle, Lake Union, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center, and the Museum of Pop Culture were highlights, but the running commentary from our excellent guide was no less interesting.  We actually walked back to the Gates Foundation Discovery Center for a closer look later in the afternoon, which proved to be both fascinating and inspiring.

 

Seattle is the city where Nordstrom was founded, so you can visit their original store location for kicks (and excellent shopping).  And the Chihuly Garden and Glass is definitely on my list for next time.

 

Stay:

Seattle is full of both excellent hotels and great AirBnB choices.  This visit we stayed at the Ballard Jungalow and had a delightful stay.  The host is kind, and her home is just the kind of serene escape I was craving.

If I you prefer a hotel, I have heard nothing but good things about the ever-hip Ace Hotel Seattle.  Reasonable prices, great vibes, and a great central location make this one a great pick.

Thank you for such a lovely week, Seattle!  We had so much fun and can’t wait to return!

 

Like a rocket

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El diamante sonríe por la tarde (1947), Joan Miró

 

“The last thing I wanted was infinite security and to be the place an arrow shoots off from. I wanted change and excitement and to shoot off in all directions myself, like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket.”

–Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Happy Friday, friends.

I ❤️ Cathy Terepocki Ceramics

Next up in my little series of makers is the delightful Canadian ceramicist Cathy Terepocki.  She appeared on my radar with her lovely Ontario line at Anthropologie, and now I can’t get enough of her beautiful Instagram images and down-to-earth ethos.  (Yes, I may have a set of plates from her line that were more of a want than a need.  #sorrynotsorry)

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Visit Anthropologie if you’d like a piece (or eight) from her Ontario line, or visit her website for some beautiful videos, photos of her work, and of course, the opportunity to shop her wares.  Or if you need a semi-regular dose of her style like I seem to, you can follow her on Instagram.

Via anthropologie and cathyterepocki.com

 

“…than all the blue in the world.”

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Female nude, Pablo Picasso

“238. I want you to know, if you ever read this, there was a time when I would rather have had you by my side than any one of these words; I would rather have had you by my side than all the blue in the world.

239. But now you are talking as if love were a consolation. Simone Weil warned otherwise. ‘Love is not consolation,’ she wrote. ‘It is light.’

240. All right then, let me try to rephrase. When I was alive, I aimed to be a student not of longing but of light.”

― Maggie Nelson, Bluets

 

It is difficult, but I am trying to be a student of light.  I find I get caught up in longings, in the ways I wish things could be different.  It is a challenge to be content in the present moment, but I am working at it — every day.

Keep reading, keep thinking

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Christopher Wool, Untitled, 1989

“In general, literature is a natural adversary of totalitarianism. Tyrannical governments all view literature in the same way: as their enemy.”

–Ismail Kadare

I have been getting bogged down in the never-ending slog of bad news — conflict, stupidity, bias, hate, tension, sexism, violence.  This quote was a great reminder that even on days when I don’t have the energy to do much, I can at least keep reading and keep thinking.

Oh, Barcelona

When I first began planning a trip to Barcelona, I was more focused on the Paris leg of that Europe trip than anything — I love that city dearly.  But when I mentioned my trip planning, people would say, “Oh, Barcelona?  That is my favorite city…”  Their voices would be wistful and a touch envious with the pronouncement, and now that I have been, I know exactly how they feel.  Barcelona is an amazing and vibrant city, full of modern art and culture, delicious food and wine, and a spirit that is infectious.

Eat:

La Boqueria

This is city’s most famous public market.  Fruits, cheeses, meats, and sweets make up a colorful panoply, rows upon rows.  Stop at the tiny Bar Pinotxo, and thank me later — many say they offer the best tapas in the city.  Cava at 11 A.M.?  Why yes!  Seriously delicious baby squid with white beans were had at this tiny eatery, served by the kindest older gentleman proprietor who could not have been more enthusiastic to share his food with us.  Make sure to grab some jamón and cheese to snack on as you wander.

Continue reading “Oh, Barcelona”

“No one is in it.”

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“That meadow scene is the first thing that comes back to me. The smell of grass, the faint chill of the wind, the line of the hills, the barking of a dog: these are the first things, and they come with absolute clarity. I feel as if I can reach out and trace them with a fingertip. And yet, as clear as the scene may be, no one is in it.”

― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

These paintings from my visit to SFMoMA are on my mind today.  They sort of match my Wednesday mood.  In-betweens.  Almosts and not quites.  And in the midst of it all, quiet.