Scotland’s Seductive Summons

  • 21st August 2013

More than just kilts, tartan and shortbread, the allure of Scotland as a style springboard and one of the hottest cultural destinations has never been more apparent.

 

 

Chanel Paris Edinburgh Collection Tweed and Pearl Necklace

The Chanel Paris Edinburgh Collection

 

 

While the Highlands currently headline travel magazines the world-over and vacationers pack the Royal Mile, Chanel’s Paris/Edinburgh Pre-Fall Collection has simultaneously hit boutiques with incredible fanfare.

 

Honeymooners perhaps?  A couple unwittingly caught  and caught-up in the romance of Edinburgh.

Honeymooners perhaps? A couple unwittingly caught and caught-up in the romance of Edinburgh.

 

 

In the next few posts we will highlight this collection that pays tribute to the creativity and craftsmanship of the ten highly specialized Scottish houses acquired by Chanel that produce everything from exquisite embroidery to amazing feather detail (the center-point of this season’s accessories).  According to Vogue.fr, this collection also pays tribute to Coco Chanel’s lover the Duke of Westminster through whom she developed her admiration for Scottish craftsmanship and her love of tweed, cardigans and knitwear.

 

 

Absolutely stunning feather detailed Chanel cuff.

Absolutely stunning feather detailed Chanel cuff.

 

 

Today we begin with our favorite accessories from the collection and end with a look at the enchantment of Edinburgh and what not to miss when you are there!

 

 

Neon Tweed Chanel Bracelet.

Neon Tweed Chanel Bracelet.

Chanel Tweed Bracelet with Sequin Detail

Chanel Tweed Bracelet with Sequin Detail.

 

 

Bracelets and cuffs come in super-luxe fabrics or exquisite feathers.

 

 

Chanel tartan, tweed, pearl embellished cuff paris edinburgh pre fall collection

 

 

 

Tucked neatly into a tight neck-grazing chignon, the hair-piece is perfection!

 

 

Chanel Feather Hair-Piece Paris Edinburgh Pre Fall Collection

 

 

 

Three feather detailed Chanel pieces.

 

 

 

 

We were advised that the feather-detail ring was not purchased for American boutiques.  So should you be interested in it, like we were, there’s your excuse for a quick European getaway!

 

If Europe is out of the question, these are available here and now…..

 

Pearl and Enamel Embellished Ring Paris Edinburgh Chanel Pre Fall Collection
Pearl and Enamel Embellished Ring Paris Edinburgh Chanel Pre Fall Collection

 

 

Tartan and Tweed Ring Chanel Paris Edinburgh Pre Fall Collection
Pearl and Enamel Embellished Ring Paris Edinburgh Chanel Pre Fall Collection

 

Match the collection’s belt with a white lace or white ruffled blouse or a deep oxblood velvet skirt….

 

Pearl and Enamel Embellished Belt Paris Edinburgh Chanel Pre Fall Collection

 

 

 

Over-sized pearl earrings Paris Edinburgh Chanel Pre Fall Collection

 

 

If this has whetted your appetite for more royal fanfare and grandeur, castle hopping in Scotland may be on your horizon and Edinburgh serves as the ideal starting point.

 

Arriving into Edinburgh by train is especially enjoyable if you are traveling with children (there are daily connections from London that take approx. 4 hours) and a stay in the historic Balmoral hotel keeps many of the cities treasures within walking distance.

 

Don't forget your kilt to feel right at home for the train station pick-up.

Don’t forget your kilt to feel right at home for the train station pick-up.

The Balmoral Hotel

The Balmoral Hotel. Photo Courtesy of: Google Images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Balmoral was a traditional railway hotel built for the North British Railway Company and stands today as a city landmark.  It is located literally in the heart of the city and run by the luxurious Rocco Forte Hotel’s.  It’s majestic clock tower is historically known for being set 2 minutes fast to allow travelers a cushion so as not to miss their train at the station nearby.

 

 

The Balmoral's elegant lobby.

The Balmoral’s elegant lobby.

Make sure to sample the Balmoral's complimentary homemade fudge (prepared with clotted cream)!

Make sure to sample the Balmoral’s complimentary homemade fudge (prepared with clotted cream)!

 

 

 

 

Beyond its historic and geographic significance, the Balmoral also claims fame as being the hotel wherein JK Rowling finished penning the last lines of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on January 11, 2007.

 

Supposed autograph left by Rowling on a bust of Hermes in room 652.

Supposed autograph left by Rowling on a bust of Hermes in room 652.

View from another guest suite.

Most guest suites afford lovely city views.

 

 

From the Balmoral stroll through the relaxing and charming Princes Street Gardens to reach the Old Town and the Royal Mile.

 

 

 

The Scott Monument

The Scott Monument

 

 

The Victorian Gothic Scott Monument, a tribute to author Sir Walter Scott, greets you immediately as you head towards the gardens.

 

Everyone relaxes in Princes Street Garden and enjoys the view.

Everyone relaxes in Princes Street Garden and enjoys the view.

Flowers are abundant in Princes Street Garden.

Flowers are abundant.

 

As you walk towards Old Town you pass many of Edinburgh’s galleries and historic buildings.

 

 

Walking towards Old Town Edinburgh.

 

 

 

St Giles’ Cathedral, the historic City Church of Edinburgh at the center of Old Town, is about a 45 minute leisurely stroll from the Balmoral.

 

 

 

St. Giles Cathedral

 

 

Edinburgh Castle sits atop of the Royal Mile, which ends at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.  Both are worth visiting.  If you are visiting both in one day, split them up with lunch at the famed Royal Botanical Gardens, or a picnic on the green of the Princes Street Gardens.  Both allow for commanding views, and if you are with children they will appreciate the grassy area to run and play.

 

 

Sweeping City Views from Edinburgh Castle.

Sweeping City Views from Edinburgh Castle.

 

 

 

 

 

The Palace of Holyroodhouse. Photo Courtesy of the Holyroodhouse Royal Collection

The Palace of Holyroodhouse. Photo Courtesy of the Holyroodhouse Royal Collection

 

 

 

The Abbey at Holyroodhouse Palace

The Abbey at Holyroodhouse Palace

 

 

If you are visiting in summer, a trip to the Royal Botanical Gardens is a great way to break-up the day.

 

 

The Royal Botannical Gardens Edinburgh

The Royal Botannical Gardens Edinburgh

 

The Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh

 

 

Grassy lawn for children to run and play.

Grassy lawn at the Royal Botanical Gardens for children to run and play.

 

 

View from the Gardens

View from the Gardens

 

 

Another way to break-up the day for younger travelers comes by way of the National Museum of Scotland, especially enjoyable for your young animal lovers.

 

 

The National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland

nationalmuseumofscotland

 

Cap off your day in what Andrew Lloyd Webber calls, “The prettiest restaurant ever!”  If you end your day at Edinburgh Castle, the Witchery is just steps away and is ranked amongst UK’s top 5 restaurants.  For this romantic hot spot, they ask that children under 12 leave the dining room by 7:30.  Remember to book well in advance!

 

 

The Witchery Edinburgh

The Witchery Edinburgh

The Witchery Edinburgh

 

The Witchery Edinburgh
The Witchery Edinburgh

Photo Courtesy of: Salvonights.com

 

 

Brown Sugar Strawberry Tart

  • 19th August 2013

A perfect make-ahead dessert, to serve chilled on a hot summer evening.

 

 

Summer tart that shows off gorgeous ripe strawberries

Summer tart that shows off gorgeous ripe strawberries.

 

 

This recipe, which comes by way of Sunset Magazine in 2010, must be made at least once every summer with a fresh bounty of strawberries from the farmer’s market.  We especially love it because:

 

 

• It is super easy to make

• It’s gorgeous and vibrant red

• It does not require any specialty  ingredients or tools

• It will impress family, friends and yourself!

 

 

Dough ready to mold into the crust.

Dough ready to shape into the crust.

Crust ready to bake.

Crust ready to bake.

 

 

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar, divided

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided

1/2 cup crème fraîche

1/2 cup whipping cream

12 ounces strawberries, hulled and sliced

 

 

Crust baking

Crust baking

 

 

Preparation:

 

Preheat oven to 350°. In a food processor, whirl flour, 2 tbsp. sugar, the cornstarch, and salt until combined. Add butter and 1/2 tsp. vanilla and pulse until fine crumbs form and dough just begins to come together. Press evenly into bottom and up sides of a 9-in. round tart pan with a removable rim.  (If you do not have one of these don’t fret!  If you have a pretty one like ours, just serve it in the pan…it slices very easily!)

 

Bake until edges are golden, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool on a rack, then gently push tart crust from pan rim; set on a plate.

 

In a bowl with a mixer on high speed, beat crème fraîche, cream, remaining 2 tbsp. sugar, and remaining 1/2 tsp. vanilla until thick. Spread in cooled crust.

 

 

We used vanilla bean paste in lieu of extract.

We used vanilla bean paste in lieu of extract.

Whipping the filling.

Whipping the filling.

 

 

Arrange strawberries in circles on top, alternating cut sides down and up.

 

 

Mouth-Watering Tart.  Photo Courtesy of: Sunset Magazine.

Mouth-Watering Tart. Photo Courtesy of: Sunset Magazine.

 

 

Make ahead: Chill, loosely covered, up to 4 hours.

 

*Please do not cut the tart until you have chilled it for at least 1-2 hours.  It slices easily when it is firm.  

 

 

Sliced and ready to enjoy!

Sliced and ready to enjoy!

 

 

 

.

Tagliatelle with Baby Vegetables and Lemon-Parmesan Sauce

  • 15th August 2013

This recipe from Bon Appetit, 4 years back is a summer classic.  It is the perfect back-drop for amazingly fresh summer vegetables.  We’ve made a few slight alterations and you might too.  Additions and/or substitutions like mushrooms, golden beets, artichokes, squash blossoms would all be delicious and welcome.

 

 

Tagliatelle with baby veggies and lemon-parsley sauce

Photo Courtesy of: Bon Appetit

 

 

“The pasta cooking liquid helps turn the cheese, cream, and sautéed vegetables into an incredible sauce,”  Bon Appétit

 

 

Our ingredients ready to go.

Our ingredients ready to go.

 

 

Ingredients:
—1 8.8-ounce package egg and spinach tagliatelle blend or egg fettuccine (linguine works fine as well)
—2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
—1 medium white onion, halved, thinly sliced
—8 ounces baby zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise (cutting them thinly with a mandoline slicer works really well)
—8 ounces frozen tiny green beans (3 cups), thawed  (fresh green beans work beautifully)
—(We added fresh summer squash also cut thinly lengthwise and golden baby beets (red ones would turn the dish bright pink))
—2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
—1 1/4 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese plus more for passing
—1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
—2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
—Generous salt and pepper when serving

 

Preparation:

 

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain, reserving 2 cups cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and zucchini; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until zucchini is almost tender, about 8 minutes. Add beans and lemon peel. Toss 1 minute.

 

Pasta cooking

Pasta cooking, super simple and delicious.

 

Scrape contents of skillet over pasta in pot. Add 1 1/4 cups Parmesan cheese, cream, lemon juice, and 1 cup reserved cooking liquid. Place over medium-high heat and toss until heated through and sauce coats pasta, adding more reserved pasta liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, passing additional cheese separately. (We opted to serve the pasta garnished with extra lemon peel in lieu of cheese—made it extra tangy, not heavy.)

 

 

 

The pasta looks beautiful served.  You can add any fresh summer veggies you want from asparagus to English peas.

The pasta looks beautiful served. You can add any fresh summer veggies you want from asparagus to English peas.

 

 

 

.

Playful Polka Dots

  • 12th August 2013

Miu Miu has catapulted this pattern into the spotlight this fall.  What’s the etymology of these popular spots?

 

Miu Miu Polka Dots

Miu Miu. Photo Courtesy of: Vogue

 

I’m interested, but not dedicated enough to delve any further than Wikipedia…here’s what they say:  “the name (polka dot) was likely settled upon because of the dance’s popularity at the time the pattern became fashionable, just as many other products and fashions of the era also adopted the polka name.”  The time-period we’re talking about here is around the 1850s.

 

 

Marc Jacobs in Polka Dot Suit

Marc Jacobs in a Polka Dot Suit. Photo Courtesy of: Vogue Japan

 

Though we’re talking about popularity in the 1800s the designs here by Moschino and Chloe are anything but dated.

 

 

 

Moschino Cheap & Chic Polka Dot Pump

 

 

Moschino Cheap & Chic Polka-Dot Pump, farfetch.com, $576.09

 

 

Miu Miu Polka Dot Eyewear

Miu Miu Polka Dot Eyewear

 

 

The fascinator (below) and the flirty skirt (below) both combine playful polka dots with the most whimsical fabric: tulle!

 

Ms. Carter in British Vogue, wears a Benoit Missolin Straw and Tulle Hat

Ms. Carter in British Vogue, wears a Benoit Missolin Straw and Tulle Hat

Benoit Polka Pillbox Hat

 

 

 

 

 

Polka Pillbox Hat by Benoit Missolin, valerydemure.com, £225.00

 

 

Red Valentino Tulle Overlay Polka Dot Skirt

 

 

Tulle Overlay Skirt by Valentino R.E.D, stylebop.com, $550.00

 

 

Looks that translate into everyday work and play:

 

 

Deja Dot Dress Anthropologie

 

 

Deja Dot Dress, anthropologie.com, $118.00

 

Stunning Michael Kors shirtdress paired with leather belt.

Stunning Michael Kors shirtdress paired with leather belt.

 

 

The Winter Audrey Dress from Boden is a stunner:

 

The Winter Audrey Dress Boden

 

 

 

The Winter Audrey Dress, bodenusa.com, $128.00

 

Metallic Yarn and Polka Dot Jacquard Make for Another Stunner from Boden:

 

Tulip Party Dress Boden
Tulip Party Dress Boden

 

 

 

 

 

Tulip Party Dress, bodenusa.com, $152.60

 

Miranda Sequin Cap Sleeve Bow Blouse
Miranda Sequin Cap Sleeve Bow Blouse

 

 

Miu Miu Taffeta Polka Dot Dress and Neckerchief.  Photo Courtesy of: Tatler

Miu Miu Taffeta Polka Dot Dress and Neckerchief. Photo Courtesy of: Tatler

 

Miranda Sequin Cap Sleeve Bow Blouse, aliceandolivia.com, $368.00

 

 

Moschino Cheap & Chic Polka Dot Wool Dress
Moschino Cheap & Chic Polka Dot Wool Dress

 

 

Wool Dress Moschino, stylebop.com, $1140.00

 

 

Polka Dot Dress with Belt Zara

 

Printed Polka Dot Dress with Belt, zara.com, $49.90

 

 

Rosamosario, Polka Dots Loca silk-satin twill dress

 

 

Rosamosario, Polka Dots Loca silk-satin twill dress, net-a-porter.com, $585.00

 

 

Boden Bistro Crop Pant in Gold

 

Bistro Crop Pant in Gold, bodenusa.com, $57.20-$138.00

.
Wikipedia also goes as far as to say, “The pattern (polka dots) rarely appears in formal contexts and is generally confined to more playful attire such as bathing suits and lingerie.”

 

The 2013 Fall Runway turned that statement on its head….

 

Chloe Sheer Polka Dot Top

Chloe

Chloe Sheer Polka Dot Skirt

Chloe

 

 

 

Chloe Sheer Polka Dot Bib Blouse

 

 

Chloe Sheer Polka Dot Bib Blouse, neimanmarcus.com, $2295.00 (available on pre-order)

 

 

Sophia Webster Felice Polka Dot Shoe

 

 

Sophia Webster Felice Open-Toe Polka Dot Shoe Boots, matchesfashion.com, $704.00

 

Super Cute for Kids Starting School:

 

 

 

Anthropologie Banderole Pencil Set

 

 

 

Banderole Pencil Set, anthropologie.com, $12.00

 

 

 

Fanfare Skater Skirt Garnet Hill

 

 

 

Fanfare Skater Skirt, garnethill.com, $49.50-$54.00

 

 

Joules Jnr Fliss Velvet Dress in Red Spot

 

 

 

Jnr Fliss Velvet Dress in Red Spot, joules.com, $66.00

 

Miu Miu Polka Dot Dress and Rollers.

Miu Miu Polka Dot Dress and Rollers. Photo Courtesy of: Vogue Italia

 

 

Vintage Inspiration:

 

Betty Grable wears pom pom polka dots.

Betty Grable wears pom pom polka dots. Photo Courtesy of: Vanity Fair

 

For the Home:

 

 

Garnet Hill Metal Storage Collection in Polka Dots

Garnet Hill Metal Storage Collection in Polka Dots

 

Garnet Hill Metal Storage Collection in Polka Dot, garnethill.com, $78.00

 

 

 

Spots on parade in Vogue Germany

Spots on parade in Vogue Germany

 

 

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‘Tis the Season for Okra

  • 10th August 2013

Every summer there is a gloriously big and beautiful display of okra at the Farmer’s Market and it remains virtually un-touched, as far as I can see.  Almost without fail as soon as I begin heaping it into a bag, someone sidles up asking wonderously how to prepare it.

 

 

Okra ready to serve

Okra is a great addition to any summer dinner party.

 

 

Luckily for me I grew up eating this delicious vegetable prepared to perfection by both my mother and grandmother.  No matter how hard I try I cannot exactly duplicate their magic.  But, I do get enough rave reviews from people my age to warrant sharing my own recipe.

 

 

Okra at the farmer's market.

Okra at the farmer’s market.

 

It’s perfect for a summer dinner party because it is in season (please do not buy it frozen and try this recipe!).  Similar to how beets were about 5 years ago, barely anyone makes okra.  And, okra is just loaded with nutritional benefits.

 

The thing you don’t want to end up with is a gloopy, slimy dish.  To help prevent that, wash your okra one day before you cook and let them dry completely on a towel.

 

Okra drying out.

Okra drying out.

 

 

After they are completely dry, cut them (discarding the tops and tips) and let them dry out more overnight in the refrigerator.

 

 

Okra, onion and tomato

Okra, onion and tomato, cut and ready to use.

 

 

The key to this recipe is the sweet and sour taste afforded by the malt vinegar and brown sugar and enhanced by the lemon at the end.

 

Ingredients:

 

80-90 fingers of okra (chopped like above)

4 medium sized tomatoes diced

1 medium sized yellow onion diced

1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil

2 tablespoons malt vinegar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 tablespoon turmeric

1/2 tablespoon cumin powder

1/2 tablespoon red pepper (available at Indian groceries)

Salt to taste

1/4 cup hand-torn cilantro for garnish

1-2 lemons wedged.  Juice squeezed over just before serving

 

 

 

 

Onion is friend golden brown.

Onion is sautéed golden brown.

 

 

Preparation:

 

Sautée onion on medium heat until golden brown like above.  Add the tomatoes, turmeric, cumin and red pepper and sautée all together until a thick paste forms.

 

Tomatoes and spices.

Tomatoes and spices.

Thick base is almost done.

Thick base is almost done.

 

 

Press the tomatoes down with a slotted spoon to release their juices while cooking.  Once a sauce is formed, remove it from the pan and place it alongside the stove in a separate bowl.

 

 

Remove sauce.

Remove sauce.

 

 

Place the okra in the pan with brown sugar and malt vinegar and cook on medium heat for five minutes.  Add the sauce to the okra and cook through for about 10 more minutes on medium heat.  As soon as the okra is slightly tender it is done.  It is best to sample it.  Do not overcook the okra or it will not be separated nicely.

 

Cooking and almost done.

Cooking and almost done.

 

 

Salt the okra to taste. We used about 3/4 tablespoon.  Serve with hand-torn cilantro and squeezed lemon.

 

 

Garnish the okra with cilantro and lemon wedges.

Garnish the okra with cilantro and lemon wedges.