You Are Welcome

Hello friends. Sorry for the uh three-month hiatus. I started watching LOST and well, you know. Anyhow, it’s just about summer in Washington and I think the consensus is that everyone here is happy about it. Today was a particularly beautiful late May afternoon for a movie at the always charming E Street Cinema downtown. I chose Nicole Holofcener’s new film Please Give. I suppose the best way for me to describe this little gem is to say I felt the same way watching it as I do eating a Vosges chocolate or drinking chicory coffee (so, like this then)—namely, really good, before, during and after. Set in the lovely autumn in New York, it stars Catherine Keener, who only seems to get better with age, and Oliver Platt, who is awesome all the time, no matter what. The story sort of revolves around all the things in Manhattan that I love: antiques, furniture, old people and real estate. Old people have it and the young people want it. It’s a nice little study on guilt too, in an unconventional (meaning non-religious) way. I just loved it. You should see it. Sometimes women just know what to do with the available ingredients, it’s inexplicably inherent, I think. Well, Ms. Holefcener knows, at least; she’s made quite a lovely stew here with this one.

On a related note, I’ve been inspired to buy really expensive jeans just because. Perhaps we all just need really expensive jeans sometimes.

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about as red as warren beatty, if you ask me

It may not seem like it from the looks of her, but this woman (Grace Coddington, current creative director at US Vogue and at British Vogue for 20 years before that) is the most fabulous woman on the planet. Anna Wintour herself says she is a “genius”—Grace has a vision unlike any other person, according to the real Dragon Lady. It seems that Grace has a strong background in the industry, like everyone else, but she’s built an extraordinary tower of excellence and wisdom upon this foundation common to most in the fashion field. This tower—tall, untamed and even bizarre—is what makes her stand apart from the other editors. It’s an extremely impressive thing. If you google her, you’ll see that she used to be ON Vogue covers. She’s got a whole lot of soul too. What a woman. Watch The September Issue to verify all this. I expected to leave this documentary loving Anna in a steel-cold-yet-real way, but it was Grace who made the lasting impression, to my surprise. Figures. G names are superior.

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see song title

I’ve seen a few of them this week.

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a citrus hematologist, too.

We’re on day five of being snowed the fuck in, here in Washington, DC, folks. This city is not equipped to deal with heavy snowfall and is hence totally inefficient at clearing the streets. This means the federal government is closed for days at a time. I anticipate it being closed for the remainder of the week due to yet another blizzard scheduled for this afternoon and all day tomorrow. To this, the ever-clever Lauren Mangiaforte says, “How is Obama supposed to fix the economy if he can’t get out of his driveway!” As Chicagoans new to this city, both Mr. President and I are indubitably horrified by the condition of the streets of Washington. There is also no science happening this week, I’ve come to accept. There can, however, be some blood-work happening.

I’ve been filling the time with Netflix (<3), cooking, catching up on periodicals and podcasts, films noir and correspondence. I suppose I shouldn’t be complaining. I had some blood oranges lying around, so I thought I would adapt this recipe from Food & Wine/ Deb’s recent successful attempt on Smitten Kitchen. My attempt was a total failure, but here are some pretty images from the pre-failure part of the process. Blood oranges are a favorite of mine, and not just because I’m creepy and love Bon Iver’s most recent EP and have been doing oncology research in hematology for four years—it’s a great fruit! The beautiful deep scarlet and burgundy hues evoke  lovely warm sentiments, much like the syrah I would pair it with. I’m aware of the rule that a dessert wine accompanying an acidic tart like this one should be sweeter than the dish so that one doesn’t notice the change in acidity between dessert and drink as much. And I love port wine as much as the next person, but I choose a a jammy, fruity type of wine like a syrah or Australian shiraz with this dessert, in a perfect world in which I didn’t totally destroy it in the oven.

Pretty, right? Seems beauty is as fleeting as everything else in this world. I’m too ashamed to post a picture of what the final product looks like. Suffice it to say that it’s a blood orange cobbler now. Totally depressing; it still tastes pretty good though. Here is Zoe Nathan’s recipe:

Flaky Blood Orange Tart

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, the stick cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
  • 3 tablespoons ice water
  • 8 to 10 blood oranges (I halved the recipe and used four oranges for a smaller tart)
  • 1 large egg yolk mixed with 2 tablespoons of water

1. In a food processor, pulse the 1 cup of flour with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the baking powder and salt. Add the stick of cold butter and pulse several times, just until it is the size of peas. I sort of fingered the flour mixture and butter until it was crumbly. The goal is incorporation here, so it’s okay if you don’t use a processor.  Sprinkle the dough with the ice water and pulse (incorporate) just until moistened crumbs form. Turn the crumbs out onto a work surface, knead once or twice and pat the pastry into a disk. Wrap the pastry in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

2. On a floured work surface, roll out the pastry to an 11-inch round, about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer the pastry to a parchment paper–lined flat cookie sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes, or until chilled.

3. Meanwhile, peel the blood oranges, removing all of the white pith. Thinly slice 2 of the oranges crosswise; remove the pits. Transfer the orange slices to a plate. Working over a sieve set over a bowl, cut in between the membranes of the remaining oranges, releasing the sections into the sieve. Remove the pits and gently shake out as much juice as possible without mashing the sections; you will need 1 cup of sections. Reserve the orange juice for a blood orange mimosa!

4. Arrange the orange sections on the pastry, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the sugar over the oranges. Using a paring knife, thinly slice the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter over the oranges. Fold up the pastry over the oranges, leaving most of the oranges uncovered. Brush the pastry with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Arrange the orange slices on top, leaving a 1-inch border of pastry all around. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar on top. Freeze the tart until solid, at least 4 hours or preferably overnight. ( I froze it overnight)

5. Preheat the oven to 375° and position a rack in the center. Place a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any drips. Bake the tart directly from the freezer for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the pastry is deeply browned. DO NOT FUCK THIS PART UP LIKE I DID. It’s key. Transfer the cookie sheet to a rack and let the tart cool for 30 minutes. Carefully slide the parchment paper onto the rack and let the tart cool completely.

Zoe suggests serving it with a salted caramel sauce. I suggest a Syrah. Maybe both. I’ll do better next time.

Relevant Song

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from the depths of snowy despair

has emerged this February mix for my darlings. I wonder how frightened Anne Shirley would be if she heard it. My bet is ‘extremely.’ But she would appreciate my reference, surely. Enjoy.

February Air

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worthwhile music writing?

Rare, I know. But I found it. This woman seems to have some big ideas about what I should probably just admit really is the best album of 2009, Merriweather Post Pavilion. Not the weird and irrelevant shit you commonly find on Pitchfork either; she’s talking metaphysics here. Read the whole thing, if you have a little collection of dull moments.

Also, can you believe that In An Aeroplane Over the Sea is 12 years old?!  Turns out there might be some spirit in NMH and Animal Collective that extends quite far beyond the twirling, vodka shot-spotted memories of 3 am dancing at the University Plaza in midtown St. Louis from some five years ago. They seem to have a significant place in time and space, in fact. Now I’ve done it! I wrote about music. Forgive me, cats.

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so awful

In case you are blind and deaf and thus missed the news, it snowed in the NE this weekend. It snowed a whole lot—I say this with authority as a Chicagoan. See Jim Swift’s post for more details about the weather. Despite the commencement of this blizzard, I went out in Adams Morgan on Friday night. With Hill people, no less. Bourbon on 18th Street NW is a really great place to go to on  a snowy evening, by the way. It reminded me  of Maryland House in St. Louis a bit, actually—similar exposed brick walls and giant windows.

So that was nice. What was not nice, however, was the reaction of a dude my friends wanted me to meet because they thought we might hit it off. He took one look at me, laughed, and turned around to go to the bar on the other side of the establishment. Commence laughter … now.

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