Saturday, August 9, 2014

Jean-Georges and Tater

It's been almost a month since my last post, and I feel like a very non-prolific blogger.  How could this happen?  Laziness mostly... and travel... and then catching up with household chores after travel...but mostly laziness.  (This was supposed to be a post on Axel Vervoordt, but he will have to wait till next time, besides everyone knows how wonderful he is.  However, to complete my design cycle, his design and my love of it will appear next post.)

Now to where I've traveled -  to my grandchildren's new home.  One grandson was visiting Mommy's relatives in Colorado, and one stayed at their new home with Daddy and me.  Ted (Tater) and I had a very good time.  We did a little light reading...

and got into cupboards Mommy never lets me get I look a little guilty?

I chose a different cupboard the next day, but hey Ama lets me, and Mommy is in Colorado.

But now to a very special treat.  My son asked if I had heard of Jean-Georges who opened a new restaurant nearby.  Of course I had and my treat was dinner at this new nearby restaurant.  Not being Ted-approved territory - he had a sitter for the evening.  Everyone said I was going to love it and everyone was positively correct.  On my return home, I did lots of research on Jean Georges - his restaurants, his family, his home near my son's home.   Doesn't he look like such a nice man?

Originally from Alsace Lorraine where he trained as a chef, he was sent to Asia furthering his skills and then moved to the US where his restaurants have become world famous.

The following images are of the Mercato, his restaurant in Shanghai.

And the following are from his Mercer Kitchen in the Mercer Hotel in NYC-  definitely one of my future destinations.  First image is the hotel; the following are the restaurant's images.

The following images are from the Inn at Pound Ridge, NY which was my treat.  As soon as I walked in, I knew I was going to love it just as my son and daughter-in-law knew I would.  We sat at the corner table to the left.  The lighting and the woodwork here seem a bit like the Mercer's, but the wood is lighter and the whole restaurant reminded me a bit of the Belgian design I love and Axel Vervoordt who started it all.

This was my view throughout dinner - loved how the shaded light fixtures were mixed with the metal ones, the metal curtain rod across the entire wall, the  neutral colors, the center fire place, the floor and ceiling - I was in love.  It was such a treat.  And do you see what I mean about its Belgian-esque feeling?

And the wait staff could not have been more efficient, informative, or just plain nicer.

One of the smaller, private dining rooms with wood and stone walls, candles, and beautifully simple table setting.

We had an after-dinner drink in the downstairs bar mostly to enjoy its decor.

Downstairs dining room.

Downstairs waiting area.  The designer for the restaurant was Thomas Juul-Hansen.  I haven't even mentioned the food yet - all field to table.  More about that in a bit.

His ABC restaurant in Union Square, NY with that same warm wood feeling as Pound Ridge, but with more concrete, less stone.

Let's talk a bit about tablescapes.  I love to observe how great restaurants set their table - Jean-Georges's were rugged and elegantly simple.

Now to the food itself - every morsel that entered my mouth that evening was delicious from the calamari, to the halibut to the apple cobbler, and my son felt the same way about his lamb chops.  And the gin and tonics were perfection.

The following images are of food prepared in his various restaurants most of which is farm to table fresh.

While browsing on the internet about Jean-Georges and his restaurants, I thought I'd try to discover what his home kitchen might look like - after all remember my blog's title.  I found the living room of his apartment in NYC but no kitchen info.

In his home near Pound Ridge, I had better luck.

The chef with his wife Marya and daughter Chloe in their country home.

Wouldn't you love to cook for family and friends in this kitchen?  Our waiter at Pound Ridge said Jean-Georges worked in the restaurant's kitchen often and many of the staff had been invited to his home.  What a nice guy!

The nice guy, himself, working in his home kitchen.  Beautiful stone fireplace.

When not cooking in his country home, he keeps bees and tends a small garden.

When I returned home, thoughts of my special treat and special grandson kept resurfacing.  I knew I had to own one of Jean-Georges's cookbooks and purchased this one.
When I should have been blogging, I've been perusing recipes trying to find my first Jean-Georges dinner.  I'll let you know how it turns out and promise to be a more frequent blogger-buddy and to focus on Axel Vervoordt next time even though number one grandson is coming toward the end of August.

Enjoy your summer days and summer nights.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My Curmudgeonly Side

I love so many various design styles - as you have heard me say before, I need five houses just to satisfy them all.  But, there are also certain styles and design practices I don't like at all, in fact perhaps even hate - I know a strong word, but I have been holding all this emotion in for a long time.  It will feel so good to vent.  Feel free to disagree with me or to vent your own curmudgeonliness.

I have never been a fan of the Victorian style - too overdone, too impractical, too somehow gloomy.  The homes below are done very well but ....  You decide, I already have.

Victorian homes have too many peaks and cornices and frou-frou - in my humble opinion that is.

And talk about frou-frou, ruffles should be banned from the universe.  The table skirt below is burlap, a really good thing, but so over-done with ruffles.  And impractical - how could anyone ever pull themselves up to this table to dine or take off those boots without a potential disaster occurring.

Ditto the table below which does not even have burlap to redeem its existence.

I'll bet these chair cushions will continually slip off these chairs and the bows will eventually tear.  I see gloom and doom in their future.  And they are pink - more about that later.

I actually like the kitchen below a lot, especially the stove, hood and ceiling, but those silly chair cushions should be given to the salvation army.

I am simply not a fan of pink - "too little-girly".

Also not a fan of blue.  I know there are a lot of blue fans out there, I'm just not one.

Now, I am a fan of all the neutral colors below, but not of the skirt subbing as a door.  Skirt substitutes seem to look a bit sloppy, attract dirt, and always need arranging.

Especially in the kitchen.  This is a great kitchen but why not just continue with the cabinet doors?  Is it to soften the lack of curtains on the window?  I love curtain-less windows and these look great.

What a bright mudroom or garden room!  But that curtain-door, whether in a mudroom or garden room, is going to attract nothing but mud.  Was it too difficult to add another great door like those on the right?

Speaking of impractical, would a paneled door really work as an island for food prep or dining?  Is it just me, or is this another disaster waiting to happen?  Cool idea, but good thing that container of flowers is placed squarely on a center panel.

Another thing that drives me crazy is all the fabric on outdoor furniture.  Does it ever rain in these places?  I know these are purported to be rain-resistent fabrics, but they never shed water completely.  Someone is going to have to drag these cushions in out of the rain.  And where is in - the kitchen, the living room, the garage?  These are big cushions.  I really do love the way they look but so, so impractical.

So inviting but only on dry days.

Really, really beautiful, but really too far from the dryness of the building in the rear.

A bit more practical than the ones above because of it's partial roof, but we just had a driving rain here yesterday.  I really would have hated to rush out and rescue all these cushions, wouldn't you?

My next curmudgeonly complaint is unmade beds.  Who wants to see a bed someone just climbed out of - rumpled sheets, pillows all askew?  We all know that's what beds look like when we arise every morning, but do we want a picture of it as an example of good design.  No, make your bed!!

I like all of these bedrooms, except the last which has no redeeming qualities at all, but do not like the unmade beds in any of them.  Is this really a style the reader is supposed to emulate??  As you can tell, I am a bit anal about bed-making.  I was telling a friend about my not being able to leave the house unless my bed is made, and, if for some desperate reason I had to, I'd make it before climbing into it that night,  and he told me his story.  He has a duvet and many pillows all arranged beautifully on his bed, and he would fluff everything when making it each morning.  One evening he came home late, knew he had to leave early the next morning and would not have time for his ritual bed-making, so he slept on the floor that night rather than leave it unmade in the morning.  Now, I'm not that bad, but would never leave home leaving my bedroom looking like those above.  

Here's another extreme.  How neat does this loft bedroom look!  But, have you ever tried to make a platform bed like this one.  My daughter has one, and every time I visit and make the bed, I bump my legs.  It is worth it though - beds take a little effort but like the one below look beautiful when done well.

Sick of all of my negativity yet?  Here's my last complaint and it could be a result of years of Catholic education.  I am very uncomfortable with nude paintings in any room.  Where is one to look?  If you look at it to closely, you feel like a pervert.  If you ignore it, the owners think you have no taste at all.
For example, I love the neutrals in this room, and love the spare colors in the painting, but would feel uncomfortable looking at it too much.  "I just cannot stop looking at that great painting," would not be a comment I could honestly make.

Love everything about this powder room, the overhead lights, the mirrors, the double sinks, the black countertop, the beige towels and the way they are folded, the storage bins, the neutral colors of the drawing/painting - I especially like that we are viewing its subject matter from behind.  Really, I love this room, but the artwork makes me a bit uncomfortable.  At least no one else would know that in the powder room.

So ends all my negativity for now.  It is all just a matter of taste anyway.  I can just hear my husband's comment, "Who made you the arbiter of all that is beautiful and perfect??"  I do not claim perfect taste, but I do claim to know what I love when I see it.  And what I do not.

I certainly hope I've offended no one with this post.  Venting is actually fun sometimes and I had fun today.  Next time, it's on to Axel Vervoordt whose work is always beautiful and perfect.