jim franco ceramics for dara artisans.

We have known Jim Franco for many years. First as a photo editor and then as a photographer and now as an amazing ceramicist. If you live in New York long enough you tend to see creatives move through different fields. As artists, we can never seem to sit still long enough to stay in one sandbox. We are surrounded by so much creativity that it is hard to stick to just one thing. I myself have worn many hats over the years as we tend to do in New York. I admire my peers who have branched out to explore other disciplines. Jim is no exception, though he has only been making ceramics for a short time what he has mastered is quite amazing. He is making mostly bowls at this point, in all sizes, but my favorites are those that fit snuggly into a cupped hand.  His glazes are really special, they remind me of muted stormy beach days, the kind of day that is both shimmery and dark at once. The kind of day when the light is soft and a little translucent. Perhaps it is his photographer self and his appreciation for light  and the way it hits objects that makes him such a good ceramicist.

We had a super fun day collaborating with Jim on this project.

You can see his work at the newly launched daraartisans.com

xx

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last days of summer. melon obsession.

It is hard for me to believe that these last days of August are here already. I think for me, this was the fastest summer yet. I wanted to share a few  out takes from a shoot we did with Bon Appétit. We had a great time smashing and cracking these melons. We made quite a mess. You can find some of the recipes on line at bon appetit.com Get to know your melons here.

This is the perfect weekend to savor all the flavors of summer. Mix it up, with melons and herbs stone fruit and tomatoes.Pretty much any combination is right at summers peak.Do it now, pretty soon that cold wind will be blowing.

 

Thank you Alex Grossman. Susan Spungen and Kendra Smoot.

 

Happy weekend.

xx

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honey honey. food for the bees. westwind orchard.

Last weekend on our way upstate with our friend chef Camille Beccera we made a stop to visit friends Laura Ferrara and Fabio Chizzola who own and operate Westwind Orchards. I remember when they bought the farm in 2002. At the time it was a bit of a defunct apple farm and Fabio brought the trees back to life one by one.  When we heard Fabio was going to be spinning honey that weekend we decided to head up.

I have known Laura and Fabio for quite some time. He is a fashion photographer and she a fashion editor and stylist. How they manage to run this amazing farm and a busy commercial work load is a  mystery! I know they both have farming and food culture in their roots so I easily see that for the most part they do it for the love of it and to share it with family. They are both Italian and that strong food culture runs deep. They are the kind of people who put a meal in front of you effortlessly and without you quite knowing what happened when your intention was to just stop by and pick up some eggs! The farm continues to grow in so many different ways. A wood fired pizza oven is in  process and a beautifully curated farm store is in the works and somehow they always seem so composed. Laura wears farm wear like no one else! total chic. Anyway, I really can't say enough about these two, they are simply inspiring in every way!

 

On they way upstate we talked about food because it seems we are always hungry and it always comes around to food in one way or another. Camille brought out a little bag with an octopus in it and we decided then  to make a lunch using the new honey. It was a great impromptu afternoon.

Below you can find the recipes. They were super simple and you can adapt them easily to use the honey and the citronette on other things. You can also easily make the heirloom tomato salad without the octopus. Now is the moment for tomatoes. We used fresh coriander seed that we found in the garden for the tomato salad and it was amazing.

We also made a coriander salt for the squash blossoms.

This is one of those easy summer days we hope will inspire you!

Grazie Mille Laura and Fabio!

xx

 

Notes from Camille:

 

 

Tomato and Octopus Salad

 

Start with a flavorful court bouillon and cook octopus till tender, depending on its size and type this can take 1/2 hour and up to 1 1/2  hours.  Once tender, remove from the pot and when it becomes cool enough to handle cut the tentacles from the body.  Cut an array of tomatoes and line them on a platter along with some fresh herbs.  We came across some coriander in the garden that had just gone to seed, they were green and the flavor subtle and used them as our fresh herb element.  Drizzle the tomatoes with half of the dressing.  To finish the salad get a pan, preferably a cast iron gripping hot and sear the tentacles, season with a little coarse sea salt.  Slice the tentacles and arrange them on the platter.  Drizzle with the remaining honey-chili citronette.

 

Honey Chili Citronette

 

This is not a recipe but a blueprint that's easy to remember and whip up.  Start with lime or lemon juice, add thinly sliced fresh or dried chilies then slowly add the honey, stopping every so often to incorporate well and taste.  Once it tastes like sweet lemonade start whisking in a neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed.  Whisk in a fairly rapid motion and add the oil in a slow steady steam until the dressing has body, pay close attention to it's gradually progression.  Adjust and balance at the end, you'll need to season with salt, maybe some more chili or a little extra honey or citrus juice depending on personal preference.  

 

 

 

 

Frito Misto Of Squash and Herb Blossoms 

 

Collect some herbs that are blossoming, we used basil and fennel.  

 

Carefully stuff the squash blossoms, we used goat cheese for its tart flavor and tight consistency.  

 

Gradually heat some canola oil in a sturdy pot, an enamel cast iron works great.  While your oil is coming up to temperature get your batter ready, in a large bowl add some rice flour and slowly incorporate sparkling water till you have the desired consistency.  A loose batter will give you a delicate coating were as a thicker batter will give you a hearty crunchy one.  Somewhere in the middle is perfect we feel.  Play around by adding more rice flour or sparkling water.  Carefully dip the stuffed blossoms and herb blossoms and fry till golden brown.  As soon as they are removed from the oil, sprinkle with salt, arrange them on a platter and drizzle liberally with chili honey.  Best eaten warm.

 

Chili Honey

 

Slice some fresh or dried chills as thinly as possible, mix with honey and allow to sit for at least 1/2 hour so that the flavors develop.  Usually one medium size chili like a jalepeno or 5 small ones like chili de arbol to 2 cups honey.

 

 

You can visit Westwind Orchard in Accord New York. They have a u-pick it season. You can find the times and produce available through the website. They are in the midst of building a wood fired pizza oven for those who get hungry while visiting the farm.The pizza oven will run on weekend through October. 

where the wild things are. rosa ragosa ice cream.

For a while now, I have been thinking about making  wild rose ice cream. We have a tiny house upstate circled by dense woods. Lately with this temperate summer things have gone a bit rogue up there but I love it. The house is surrounded by an ever thickening bramble of blackberries and wild roses. We planted some Rosa Ragosa when we bought the house a number of years ago. I wasn't sure how it would fare in the elevated colder climate but it has thrived and has  taken over some of the other roses. I have always loved the Ragosa which grows wild along the New England coast. They remind me of the rugged coast of Maine where they dot the shore to form a dense wind break between the long the sea grasses and the ocean. The Rosa Ragosa is a single petal rose. For such a wispypy rose it gives off some serious floral perfume that is both a little spicy and salty. Maybe I imagine the salty part because I associated it so much with misty foggy days and salty sea spray. I could never resist these not even as a kid even though they are terribly riddled with tiny sharp spiky thorns. This past weekend Chef Camille Becerra came up to hang out in the woods and we decided to make some rose ice cream (amongst other things..but more on that in another post!) 

I would only do this with roses that are one hundred percent organic. NO PESTICIDES! 

I believe there are places where you can order organic rose petals for cooking but I will have to look into it and post  some info on that later.

 

The ice cream was so lovely and really well balanced. We decided to use a local maple syrup from our friend Dan Finn who sells his Moonshine Maple at his farm in Delhi and at Table On Ten in Bloomville., instead of sugar and the combination was really complimentary.

This is a subtle ice cream it is not for those of you who need a  big flavor punch, it is mellow  ice cream, kind of like a foggy day at the beach. xx

 

Rosa Ragosa Ice Cream

 

4 cups heavy cream

4 cups of  fresh organic rose petals washed but not wet.

2 cups whole milk

1.5 cups maple syrup

2 good pinches of grey celtic sea salt

8 large egg yolks ( preferably from super happy chickens!)

 

I collected some Rose petals first thing in the morning when they seemed to be most fragrant.

In a large bowl gently bruise the rose petals by crushing them just a bit with a wooden spoon

Combine the rose petals and the heavy cream in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and heat to a simmer. remove from the heat and let the roses steep in the cream for thirty minutes or so.

 

In another pot, combine the milk and 1 cup of the maple syrup and bring to a gentle simmer.

Remove from the heat and set aside while you whisk the eggs.

In a bowl whisk the egg yolks and the remaining half cup of maple syrup.

Whisk until the yolks start to ribbon.

Add the hot milk to the yolks gradually whisking throughout to temper the yolks.

 

Return the mixture to the saucepan and gently heat until the mixture evenly coats the back of a  wooden spoon. Do not let the custard boil!

Set aside.

 

Strain the rose petals from the cream now that it has infused for a good while.

Press the petals against the mesh/strainer to release any remaining oil in the roses.

Discard the petals at this time.

Stir the infused cream gently into the custard and place in the fridge until it is good and cold all the way through.

At this point you can run your mixture through an ice cream machine. 

 

My opinion on ice cream makers is the better the machine the better the ice cream. I have made some good ice creams with my freezer bowl/ Cuisinart maker but now I really see the difference that a better machine makes.

I will include a link to a couple below.

So that is it! just garnish with a few rose petals and you are set to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dara artisans. aboubakar fofana. the indigo master.

We recently collaborated on great project with Dara Artisans featuring the master indigo artist Aboubakar Fofana. It was hectic crazy day on a rooftop in Brooklyn. We had returned from Mexico only hours before the shoot and I think we carried over to the project a bit that magic one finds in Tulum. We collaborated with stylist Kalen Kaminski and designer Pamela Berry. As we raced to make a tent in crazy winds somewhere Aboubakar floated in... He is a striking presence. His fingertips were stained blue and he was dressed in head to toe indigo. I hope to one-day sit down with him at a more calm time, perhaps in Mali. Just putting that out in the universe.

 

You know how we are all obsessed with finding artisans and tiny markets and having things made and bringing back those special things from trips? Dara Artisans is just that. It is everything I have thought about while traveling. They have brought it all together creating this unique marketplace for artisans and I think it will only grow exponentially as there are so many great artists to feature in all the farthest corners of this huge world.

 

About Dara Artisans, from their site;

Media veterans Dan and Dara Brewster founded DARA Artisansto share the work of incredible craftspeople worldwide. They believe that handmade designshave the power to enrich our lives with beauty and meaning.Connecting artisans with the global marketplace their work deserves, enables themto make larger contributions to their own communities.

Dan and Dara have traveled extensively-from central Cambodia to Cusco Peru, from Kerala, India to the Place Vendome in Paris. They visited Syria at the height of the Arab Spring, on the eve of the hostilitiesthat would soon tear that country apart. They brought home a memory of walking across therooftops of the ancient souks in Aleppo with Adam, a Syrian artisan the warwould soon displace. It heightened their sense of the vulnerability and the importanceof preserving the ancestral traditions of master artisans.

While DARA Artisans reaches far and wide, from aLos Angeles woodworker to weavers in Laos who create the silk scarves and shawls thatsustain their villages, our headquarters are in New York. We are a small teamof design, digital, media and marketing professionals, who learned their trades at places likeAmerican Express, Time Inc., Martha Stewart Living, Travel + Leisure, West Elm and Ralph Lauren.We present artisans' work at its best and share their stories.

 

About Aboubakar Fofana from the Dara Artisans website:

"Indigo surrounds us perhaps more than any other textile dye—it’s the blue of thousand-year-old religious rites and our modern jeans, once used as literal currency and in revolutionary symbols. (The blue in the first American flags was made from indigo.) Few modern craftsmen have unlocked its potential better than Aboubakar Fofana, who has studied traditional indigo production techniques for over three decades and on three continents: at home in Mali, inside ethnology museums in Paris, and alongside Masakazu Akiyama, a Japanese master dyer. Still, though, indigo remains a mystery that is only slowly unveiling its secrets: “Every time I work with indigo, it’s like the first time,” he says. “I never get bored.”

To read the full story go here

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buvette. part 1. the little place with a whole lot of heart.

 


It has been a few months now since the release of the Buvette book and I am way behind in posting on the blog. I have been meaning to share some images and some out-takes from our very sweet collaboration. In the time since we shot the book, Chef Jody Williams has opened Buvette Paris, which we have yet to visit, but it is on the bucket list and she is fast at work at another West Village restaurant. How this woman manages to get so much done is a complete mystery to me! We think she is sort of magic. Below are just a few of our favorite images from the book I will post more in the next few days. There were so many great moments I can't possibly share them all but I hope you feel as inspired to eat and cook and drink as we were while working on this project. The recipes are very accessible.

 

 Thank you Jody, for giving us this amazing opportunity to collaborate with you. Thank you for always feeding us above and beyond... and thank you for trusting us with your book. Working on Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food has been one of our favorite shoot experiences ever! We heart you!

Thank you Julia Turshen for your steady guidance, contagious laughter and sweet smile through all our shoot days.

Thank you Anna Kovel for your culinary hand and your never ending determination in rooting out the perfect eggs and berries and twigs and a thousand other things and thank you Korin for biking to the market and returning with fowl in your basket!

A million thanks to all the Buvette staff and to our team for the long days and constant hustle. Thank you Max for your creativity and for always lending a hand!

 

This was a true collaboration.

 

xx

 

 

Pick up the Buvette book at the restaurant on Grove Street or here.

 

 


ceramics.

I want to share a few new images from a recent ceramics story we shot for Martha Stewart Living. We worked on this story with our dear friend Ayesha Patel, who is Editorial Style Director at MSL. She has always had the most exquisite taste. This story grew from our mutual love of ceramics. We have had many coffee dates over the past couple years to mull this idea about. It is so nice to see it come to fruition. We have barely scratched the surface here and could do it all again tomorrow with a whole new group of artists. The group photographed here are strictly american. I hope you are as inspired as we were.

 Check out the story in The June issue for a full list of ceramicists and their sites.