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Ossining, New York

William Joseph Reynolds, author of Ossining a Brief History, explains, “Early 17th century Dutch maps of the Hudson River Valley show an Indian village, whose inhabitants were part of the Mohegan Tribe, named “Sint Sinck.” That phrase, when translated, means “stone upon stone” and refers to the extensive beds of limestone found in the southern part of the village.” Frederick Philipse, in 1685 fell so in love with the land, which is bounded to the west by the Hudson River and to the north by the Croton River, that he  bought the area from the Sint Sinck American Indians. The last lord of the manor, also named Frederick Philipse, was a Loyalist in the American Revolutionary War, so the State of New York confiscated the manor in 1779. As of 1901, the vast acreage has been incorporated as Westchester County, New York.

A local Indian authority suggested the town be named Ossinsing, a different form of the name Sing Sing. One year later the last “s” was removed for ease in pronunciation. However, today the district might be most famous as the fictional hometown of Don Draper and family – the main protagonist of Mad Men on AMC.

My friend and colleague, Max. The city mouse prepares to meet the country mouse. 

The gang waits at the train station. 

After the not-so-arduous journey we arrived at Sue’s humble abode! 

Ossining, although seemingly light years away from the hubbub of NYC, is actually only a short jaunt of 45 minutes via the Hudson Line on Metro North. Yet, in those 45 minutes the concrete and alumnim dissipate into expansive canopies of foliage, unfiltered crisp air and a carpet of green grass. When we walked into Sue’s house, circa the 19th century, we were greeted with a spread that would put Martha Stewart to shame! Sue’s warm welcoming and hospitality instantly linked the several strangers in the group as “family-for-the-day”.

While everyone was enjoying the autumnal bounty of artichoke spreads on crostini, caramelized onion flat breads, crudités and other hors d’oeuvres, I took the small opportunity to sneak away before anyone noticed! I apologize to my magical hostess Sue, but her home was just so inviting and perfectly manicured. Beyond the dining room and kitchen, lay a world of antique accessories, pattern play and a gorgeous living room.

And I tiptoed down the hallway (on a Persian runner), to the backyard, to where everyone was eating outside on this unseasonably warm October afternoon. Nary 10 minutes later, no one seemed to notice I had disappeared into the world of Sue’s gorgeous home! Every detail is in it’s rightful place, every window letting in the light just so.

And so a beautiful day of book suggestions, conversation, food and friendship drew to a close. It certainlty did not hurt that Sue is practically a Michelin starred chef whose pièce de résistance of the night was a warm Spicy Tomato, Sriracha & Blue Cheese SoupThis is what the harvest season is brings. 

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My Week in Snapshots: 5/06/2012 – 5/13/2012

Somehow everyone in my life was celebrating a birthday this past weekend. It seems like I needed to be logged into Facebook posting ‘Happy Birthday’ messages, sending SomeECards, or texting friends all weekend. Everyone’s parents were clearly very busy in August. Missives and celebratory cards were sent via carrier pigeon, Morse code, and smoke signals! On Sunday, I traveled to my hometown very briefly for a family Mother’s Day Brunch! The weather was perfect for window shopping, strolling, and various forms of meandering. The transition from Spring to Summer brings some of the loveliest days.

Here are a few photos taken straight from my iPhone so that you can see friends and family through mine own eyes.

1. Historic Mount Holly was first settled in 1677 by Walter Reeves who acquired the land by payment from local Native Americans. The town, close to a dam, a main road, and a river, was the first way point between the major northeastern cities of Philadelphia and New York City. Walking through the colonnades and brick house rows feels very colonial. My family and I passed stone mills, cobblestones, and other items that are now on The National Register of Historic Places. One of the federal houses sold homemade quilts, and in the window these gorgeous flowers were blooming. Many houses from the district predate the revolutionary war and built in 1796, the County prison is now a museum. For more information, go HERE or HERE.

2. In the back of Momofuku Ssam is a new bar that opened in January 2012. The bar, named Booker and Dax, is an homeage to new techniques and technologies used in the pursuit of making delicious drinks. The approach to rethinking cocktails is considered, deliberate, and precision-oriented. Questions and curiosity are eagerly welcomed, but most of all booker and dax welcomes anyone looking for a good, strong drink. Some of their drinks are chilled used liquid nitrogen! Here I am drinking the ‘Jenny & Scott’ – yamazaki, mole and hellfire bitters. For the complete menu, visit HERE.

3. While walking through history Mt. Holly my family and I spooted a sign for a ‘Husbandman’ and were curious as to what this was. Well wouldn’t you know it, the term is an antiquated word for ‘a person who cultivates the land’, in short it means ‘a farmer’! You learn something new every day…

4. We had our family branch at a restaurant called The Robin’s Nest. I love its waterfront location and pistachio siding. The restaurant features eclectic cuisine peppered with a French American flair. The restaurant is quaint, friendly, and feels like eating brunch at home (indeed it’s in an old Victorian House), but with stellar food and drool-worthy desserts (Zagat agrees). Learn more HERE.

5. While walking home from work I was struck by the smell of something delicate and breezy. I was passing L’OCCITANE en Provence on fifth avenue. If you do not know the store, everything is sourced locally, and is one of the few cosmetics manufacturers who still produces in France. I smelled roses and lavender, but most of all was drawn in by these gorgeous Immortelle flowers. The canary yellow flowers are aptly named as they represent eternity and immortality – and are used in anti-aging skin creams. If you have not purchased a L’Occitane hand cream, do yourself a favor and order some NOW.

6. I want to click my heels together three times for my new, gorgeous sequined flats with nude piping. But really, how wonderful are these ballet slippers? AND they were under $50, HERE.

7. At work someone brought these tasty candies from Israel. The one in red is a copy of the ubiquitous ‘Kit Kat’ bar and actually phonetically reads ‘Kif Kaf’. Another one of the candies is called “Pesek Zman” and is a Hazelnut Cream Wafer Bar Covered in Milk Chocolate. These candies were DELICIOUS, I love duty-free chocolates. All are by the company “Elite” which is like the “Hershey’s” of Israel (BUT SO MUCH BETTER), if you are interested in purchasing these, I found some online HERE.

8. This is my lovely and dainty place setting from the Orchestra of St. Luke’s Gift of Music spring gala at The Plaza Hotel. The evening of dinner and music (including Mozart’s Magic Flute) raised $1 million for Orchestra of St. Luke’s performance and education programs, and The DiMenna Center for Classical Music. To learn more about this exceptional chamber ensemble that helps with music education programs and performs phenomenal shows, click HERE. The music was exquisite, and hearing a performance by Eric Owens, an operatic Bass-Baritone was transformative. He makes opera fun and accessible.

Peacocks in the trees, candles burning low, and the orchestra preparing to play in the ballroom.

Men in tuxes leaving the wonderful event with swag bags from Saks Fifth Avenue!

Oh hello! That’s a picture of me waiting in the cab line.

9. Madison Square Park has a notoriously wonderful dog park and playground. Some mornings, the park even hosts yoga on the lawn. Right now, the weather has been perfect, and the area is celebrating Madison Square Eats – a sidewalk smorgasbord celebrating the district’s best restaurants. This confluence of wonderful events has been filling the park with people to the brim! You cannot miss the splashy Marimekko umbrellas!

Image and further information found HERE.

10. Club Monaco worked with the Global Goods Partners to offer hand-embroidered woven bags from the Thailand-Burma border, beaded jewelry from Guatemala, and scarves from India. The so called “beachy boutique” is an annual capsule collection featuring a variety of dresses, breezy skirts, embroidered shorts and vests in rich textures inspired by the bohemian oeuvre and cultures of exotic vacations. Global Goods is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women, alleviating poverty and promoting social justice through partnering with third-world communities. These fair trade key tassels will add pizazz to any chain or purse, more HERE.

How was YOUR week?

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The Meadow

Tucked within the patchwork of cobblestone streets in the West Village neighborhood of New York City lies The Meadow. The store is the self touted ultimate source for gourmet salt, rimming salt, curing salt, finishing salt, sea salt, and artisan salts from around the world. The shop also carries chocolates, bitters, and fresh flowers. In short, it is a savory haven filled to the brim with saliva-producing tastes and smells. The space is postage-stamp sized, highly personal, and quaint. In the summer the shop even offers homemade ice cream sandwiches topped with sea salts and chilis! ARTISANAL! YES. Get thee to The Meadow for a dose of inspiration, stat.

If you have not heard about it, or usually do not partake in the world of nonfiction history through food (Cod, Splendid Exchange, The Big Oyster, et. al.), I highly suggest you pick up (and subsequently read) Salt. This mineral has a long and trying tale – a substance so valuable it served as currency, salt has influenced the establishment of trade routes and cities, provoked and financed wars, secured empires, and inspired revolutions.  Next time you reach your hand across the dining room table or spin the lazy-susan, think about the surprising importance of this commodity. In the end, we’re talking about an EDIBLE ROCK.

Himalayan Salt Blocks are truly the perfect pink color. Shave away!

The store not only smells fantastic (and I really do have a visceral reaction to how well planned and tactile it all is), it is also designed to fully appreciate the arts. This is my cathedral of gustatory meets visual – where lush flowers intermingle with charcoal smoked salts, where finely framed gouaches match the colors of paper-covered bottles of bitters. Sensual – to the truest sense of the term.

Japanese Salt Set – 1.2 oz Jars – A set of five gourmet Japanese Sea Salts: Amabito No Moshio, Iburi Jio Cherry smoked salt, Shinkai Deep Sea Salt, Takesumi Bamboo and Cherry Plum. Photo by The Meadow.

Mark Bitterman, one of the founders of this shop and second half of the married duo, also wrote a book extolling the wonders of salt. It seems it is easy to write a book about an item that is older than civilization itself! Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral with Recipes should probably line the wall’s of every kitchen’s cookbook shelf. “From the elegant fleur de sel and flake salts to 500 million year old Himalayan salt slabs that resemble pink quartz, Bitterman explains the history and science of salt production. The book profiles over 150 salts, and includes 50 recipes that showcase this versatile and marvelous ingredient.” If your kitchen scares you, or if like I used to, you live in a 500 sq. foot apartment wherein your kitchen touches your bathroom which touches your bed – buy this book just for its glorious photos.

As always, my favorite storefronts are directly inspired by the visual arts, “Before founding The Meadow, Jennifer Turner Bitterman (other half of the duo) worked as an art historian at The Metropolitan Museum and The Frick Collection in New York, The Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Musee du Chateau de Versailles in Paris. Jennifer’s passion for cooking, eating, and reading and writing poetry have guided her travels and inspired her belief in running a business that above all honors the intimate connections between producers, merchants, and customers.”

Would it be too weird to begin using these salt blocks as legs for tables? Or as bookends? Salt should be the next frontier in interior design. 

Your eyes doth deceive you!  Michel Cluizel Milk Chocolate Sardines – 5 pc Tin – Sardines En Chocolat Au Lait – Fine chocolate doesn’t have to be serious. These five milk chocolate sardines from Michel Cluizel are still made of the highest quality ingredients, but with an added element of fun.

I have actually had dreams that feature a wall of chocolate like this.

To show you that I am not crazy and that salt CAN actually be used as design inspiration, check out these Epsom Salt Luminaries, above. Photo and a how-to from Crafts by Amanda, HERE.

The shop’s name was chosen because Jennifer wanted to create a place that felt like coming home, where personal connections and sensual pleasures welcome you. I suggest you visit and spend time amidst beautiful fresh cut flowers, taste strange and enticing foods, and explore the astonishing depth of the elemental ingredients.

And now, for a pun, you’ve officially been A-SALT-ED (assaulted? get it? ….crickets).

P.S. All photos taken by me unless otherwise noted.