Archive for December 2012

Favourite Things

A few years ago, while thumbing through a magazine, I came across a room that caught my eye. What jumped out at me from the photos were “those chairs”. I was in love. I had absolutely no idea how important they were or who designed them but I coveted those chairs and still do. I fantasize about completely redoing our dining room, beginning with those chairs. Of course, ultimately this would mean a complete redo of the entire house. Oh well…what we do for love!

Sometime later, I read that Mies van der Rohe (LUDWIG MIES VAN DER ROHE 1886-1969) was the architect who designed them. At the time, I had no idea who he was. It turns out that the BRNO chair is considered to be an icon of 20th century design. Always knew I had great, not to say, expensive tastes. My Mother always said so and she told me that if we ever win the lottery she wants to come shopping with me!

A year or two later, I stumbled on another connection to “my chairs” when I was doing research for my decorating class homework. Mies designed the TD Centre in Toronto.

One summer we planned on going to Toronto. At the time I was working as the chef for an organization in Vancouver whose head offices at the TD Tower in Toronto also had an Executive Dining Room. A colleague thought it would be a smashing idea to arrange a visit and private tour. Interesting “modern design” I thought. Good thing I decided to study interior decorating and finally came to know this man’s work and how important the TD Tower in Toronto is!   On March 27th there was a “Google Doodle” celebrating his birthday!

Mies designs are all about simplicity, profiles, lightness of proportion and clean lines and his cantilevered furniture are all of these things. Thank you Mies!

Copies of his famous “Barcelona”, chairs are being turned out in the thousands and so are the “Brno” chairs. Just goes to show…good design is always good design.

If you are interested in buying the real thing, (sigh), Knoll has the rights to make Mies furniture according to his original designs. Of course at a much higher price that the copy but…when only the real thing will do!

Visiting Borough Market

In October, while in London, we went to Borough Market.  Now this is what we call a market! What a great place. If we lived in London, here is where you would find us on a Friday! If you are going to London, go there!

Borough Market is full of traders selling artisanal products which have been created by hand in their own kitchens, from French patés to English preserves, from meat pies to vegetarian curries, all reflecting their passion and expertise.  There are even traders that come over from Italy for God’s sake! At an outdoor table, was one who had come over from Grana d’Oro (The Red Cows Company) in the Emilia Reggiano region to sell their Parmigiano-Reggiano made from the milk of Reggiana cows. Pretty fantastic! There are stacks of beautiful, yeasty breads, a variety of cheese, stunningly fresh fish & seafood. Mrs. King’s Pies sells traditional English savory pies. Of course, we bought one! There are tons of prepared foods, ready for take-away. The Cannon brothers from Norfolk, specialize in British charcuterie, from Cornish air-dried lamb to Welsh salami and Scottish wild venison chorizo.

At one place, you could even buy glasses of Prosecco! That’s what I call civilized!

The ever fabulous Neal’s Yard is also here with their stunning array of cheeses from farms all over the UK & Ireland. A wonderful place for us cheese lovers! We bought a couple of cheeses; the standout, thumbs- down was Beenleigh, a blue from Ticklemore Cheese in Devon. It was absolutely to die for. Wish we could get it here!

Time for a break at Monmouth Coffee. It’s true, they have wonderful coffee! Really crazy busy! Of course, whenever we go to a food market we cannot resist buying something! So we were “forced” to buy a few things including gorgeous looking freshly made “real” English muffins for toasting the next morning. 1” thick and when you pry them apart with a fork (this, the baker told us was the correct way), they are full of bubbles so that once toasted, the butter oozes into the holes. Yikes, they were divine!

The folks who run Borough Market believe we deserve more than sitting at our computers eating another bland packaged sandwich and “crisps”. So … every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 until 3, Green Market, a part of Borough Market, has a dedicated lunch market that becomes one of the finest canteens imaginable, featuring offerings from many of the regular stalls. On Friday’s there are even more choices and the Market is swarming with people at lunch time buying yummy things to eat like Indian curries, paella and Thai food, all of the highest quality. You can buy breads, cheeses, veggies and meats to create your own perfect sandwich or salad to satisfy your cravings that day! Those with a desire for a sweetie won’t be disappointed either!

Now, doesn’t all this make you feel really sad about what’s on offer at our own Granville Island Market? Sigh….maybe I should send them the link to this blog. Wonder if the people running things would get it? So far they seem to be making sure we are not able to experience what we and many others, seeing how busy it was, get in London.


Last fall we were invited to have dinner with friend’s. They are very creative,  excellent chefs/cooks and it is always a pleasure sharing a meal with them.

Many years ago, my mother had given me a bag of quince and I made and preserved a condiment to be served with game. I was so beside myself because the little devils were so challenging to peel and to core.   I swore “never again” and gave it all the condiment to a friend who hunted game!

In the fall of 2008, we were renting a villa in Umbria, very near Lago Trasimeno. If you’ve been to Italy, you are probably aware of all the wonderful, seasonal produce that is available. In my studies of Italian cooking I have discovered some excellent recipes. That trip, I re-discovered quince!  I must have completely forgotten my earlier experience! They had such a wonderful aroma and the recipe for Tuscan veal & quince stew sounded so delicious, why not give it a go.  It was damned good!  Hmm…

Bon Appetit magazine printed a recipe for a quince tarte tatin in their December 2006 issue that looked fabulous. The invitation to our friends for dinner would be the perfect opportunity to give it a try! Even though you have to make a crust and a caramel first then cut up the quince, this dessert, in my opinion, is well worth the effort.

The four of us thought that not only did the quince have a gorgeous, rosy glow, an intoxicating fragrance but topping it off, it tasted absolutely fabulous. I actually think it is one of the best desserts I have ever had the pleasure of eating! I made crème fraiche to accompany the tarte but you could easily whisk together equal amounts of heavy cream and sour cream instead.

I will be experimenting this fall with a “chutney” recipe from Piedmont. Will let you know the results!


**If you would like to make this tarte, please go to Quince Tarte Tatin.

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