After lunch today I was on a quest to find more suitable candidates for replacement table and floor lamps for the lobby of our condo, and I came across these shop displays, which I felt were worthy of recording for their hideous quality. Unfortunately I only had my phone camera with me, so it is perhaps not too easy to see the complete ghastliness of the confections on offer. In the first picture an attempt at a Louis something suite is made more excruciating by the silvered outlines on the black frames, with diamond studs. Dear Lordy lord, who designs these abominations? More importantly, who buys them? Well, perhaps you're relieved that the quality of the pictures isn't too focused. Needless to say, I wasn't looking for lamps in these shops. Just some amusement, which was satisfied.
Monday, July 25, 2011
We rarely have successive evenings out at a weekend, and on the night when we're not out, supper can often be of the takeaway variety. This weekend saw no such outside assistance, and instead we conjured up this black olive, tomato and tapenade tart.
Cut the puff pastry into approx 11x11 cm pieces. Place on a baking tray, and cover with 4 tsp of tapenade, (or olive pesto), leaving a little room around the edges to allow the pastry to puff up. Arrange tomato slices slightly overlapping, on top of the pastry and tapenade. Place slices of mature cheddar on top, and then 4 halved black olives. Sprinkle with an Italian herb mix, salt and pepper. Place in a pre-heated 200C oven, and cook for 12 minutes, or until the pastry has risen, and is golden. Serve with a dressed tomato and oak leaf salanova salad. Consume wantonly.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Today I was expecting the corridor in my condo to have been substantially completed. This assumption was based on assurances by the building manager. However, as on previous occasions, the work is far from complete. In fact, it doesn't look very different to the image shown in this post, and that is more than three months ago.
A few missiles were launched earlier on in the afternoon, and the next suggested date for completion is Wednesday next week. I have my doubts. I am not altogether surprised about the delay either. Any renovation project that I have experienced in the past always overruns. But I think it does no harm to express one's displeasure, to keep contractors on their toes. It seemed fairly obvious to me for some time that there was going to be a delay, simply because there has been very little evidence of any work being undertaken. In addition, the other design consultant and I discovered last week that the large mirrors that will face each other, (in replacement of the wooden section of the wall with an oil painting in it), had been produced in glossy rather than matte black. All 60 of these have all had to be redone.
Yesterday I was asked my opinion about removing large trees to accommodate the landscaping design in the forecourt of the property. It turns out large trees are actually quite small, and they indeed should be removed, (and re-utilised elsewhere). But it also highlighted that the perspective drawing for the landscaping bore little resemblance to the planting scheme that was started at the beginning of the week, so some revisions will have to take place.
The adage about peanuts and monkeys springs to mind, but instead, I will try and remove that thought by partially utilising something similar in the contents of what is on these monkeys' trays.
This Whimsical Pair of Polychrome Standing Butler Dummy Board Figures, in the form of costumed monkeys, each in colorful patterned hats and tunics with striped pantaloons, holding an ebonized circular tray, standing on a rectangular base painted as an Oriental carpet, h. 69, is for sale at New Orleans Auction House on 30 July, with an estimate of USD500-800.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
A simple elegant sashimi supper comes in the form of seared tuna. First cover a block of tuna in olive oil. Then roll it in a herbed layer of breadcrumbs. Sear it very briefly on all sides in a hot frying pan. Refrigerate. Slice and serve with grated daikon and grated ginger, with soya sauce. Accompany with a cold salsa made from cooked celery, corn, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and freshly diced papaya. Pink perfection.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
When I first saw this house in Italy, in House & Garden in 2008, I was particularly struck by the calm and collected ambiance effected by the limited colour palette. This was enhanced by the large pair of sombre but stunning C17th Dutch portraits. Originally these were one double portrait. On occasion I have seen similar pictures up for sale, and have been tempted to purchase them for a similar effect.
But alas, the price tag of these, and the elusive hilltop house in the Marches region of Italy, have rather delayed this ambition.
For now, at least.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Last Sunday we were taking our usual walk in the park and I was captivated by the fallen flowers from the flame of the forest trees. Their mixture with the green of the grass is a wonderful colour combination. It also made me think of the dying embers of a fire. On the eve of Thailand's general election I wondered too if that was a metaphor for what might lie in store for the future of the country. Would the embers be flamed by the polarisation that has beset the country over the last few years?
Monday produced a landslide victory for the party associated with the colour red. Its ability to form a government seems assured. But nothing is ever quite as it appears.
Today's walk found very few of the flame trees still in bloom, much of it to do with the end of the season, but also the extreme heat we have been experiencing, not from fire, but from the sun.
Friday, July 8, 2011
There is much to admire in this drawing room from an article in House & Garden, Feel the Quality, March 2010. For me it combines my favoured elements of modernity - the floating coffee table, with an antique chest on stand in close proximity. But sadly it also incorporates a pet hate for me, festoon blinds, (sometimes called Austrian blinds). Picky picky, I know, but this is what I'm about today. These window treatments are far too reminiscent of badly fitting knickers, or babies nappies. When I bought my starter flat in Kensington, London, way back when, I had it decorated by an interior designer who chose the same blinds for the large drawing room window. Apart from anything else, they are prone to malfunction, and in northern climes, it is much better to allow light from the top half of the window to come in, and to protect your privacy with a gossamer cover on the lower level.
Rant over. Carry on, do.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Apple Ratatouille with Spiced Pork
This dish could not be simpler, and was quite delicious. It combines apple with pork, a tried and tested marriage, and has the added saltiness of black bean sauce.
3 Tbsps black bean sauce
2 tsps Chinese 5-spice seasoning
2 Tbsps soy sauce
350g pork tenderloin
100g kidney beans
1 large onion, sliced
3 Tbsps oil
2-3 plump cloves garlic, sliced
1 small aubergine, diced
1 green pepper, seeded and sliced
1 large cooking apple, peeled cored and diced
400g tin chopped tomatoes
225 ml dry cider
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Mix the ingredients for the marinade, then add the pork and coat thoroughly. Leave to stand for at least 1 hour.
Saute onions, garlic, aubergine and green pepper until softened, but not browned. Then add the remaining ratatouille vegetables, the apple, and the cider. Simmer for 20 minutes until tender.
Preheat oven to 200C. Roast pork in same marinade pyrex dish for 30 minutes.
Serve sliced pork over ratatouille.
Recipe adapted from High-Fibre Cooking by Rosemary Moon.