August 27, 2012

And we're in.

We did it. Oh. my. neck, back, hamstrings, hands, arms, all of it. So sore. But, gold medals, giant gold medals, go to Sam B, Sam P, Steffen, Chrysanthe, Mike T., Audrey, Chris and Phillip. You guys rule. We painted, packed, moved out of storage, moved out of our office, moved out of our sublet and moved everything into our new apartment in one weekend. It was not a small feat and it wouldn't have been possible without you. And somehow we forgot to pack our pillows. But last night was still the world's greatest night of sleep.

And then this morning we woke up, view of the East River and Manhattan skyline just out the window, and we walked outside feeling totally victorious.

Now, we are home in the 11222. Hip hip hurrah. Much nesting and many home projects forthcomings.

August 24, 2012

pullovers + whales

Love the pullover in MAV's Collection of the 3191 shop and this whale mug (sold out, wah!) from the Found Collection.

August 22, 2012

Making your cake, eating it too.

I'm a big fan of cake, 'cause who isn't. But, my fandom took on especially hard-core tendencies as a teenager, where I often baked like 3 or maybe 5 cakes a week after school as a self-motivated extracurricular activity. I liked the actual cake-making, loved the cake-frosting, loved feeding other people, loved the potential for flavor combinations that involved infusions and concocting syrups that I could soak the layers with. Also, making cakes is a good excuse to learn about various spirits and alcohols: grand marnier, kirsch and chambord all make good cake-layer saturates.

My first cake cookbook love was the Williams-Sonoma Cakes book from the Williams Sonoma Collection. In the suburbs, upstate, in the mid-nineties, Williams-Sonoma was basically the fanciest thing that existed. And these cakes had chocolate shavings, requested particular cocoa grade chocolates and asked that you used a piping tube for frosting. It was very, very fancy.

And so when I was 16, I made pretty much every single cake in that book. I was a cake master (for a 16 year old).

But, even then I had a few hard rules: 1) No buttercream 2) None of that gross sugary frosting crap 3) No marzipan 4) Fresh fruit makes things better 5) Whipped cream is delicious 6) Don't mess with cake flour. Most of these are still true to this day as a baking philosophy.

Anyhow, a few pastry chef-ing stints and many years and careers later, I don't make cakes on a very regular basis. But on the occasion of a few loved ones' birthdays a year, the pastry tube comes out and I scour for recipes and get really pumped about the chance to MAKE CAKE. Yes!

Last weekend we had an early celebration for my little brother's almost-turning-27. My mom suggested a chocolate cake, for which I don't have a good go-to recipe. After much scouring, I went with Molly's Far-from-Disaster cake, which makes three bountiful insanely moist layers of deep, chocolatey fudgy cake. I opted to skip the ganache (too intense for my taste) and made a cinnamon whipped cream with mascarpone whipped in. The mascarpone adds great tang and gives the cream a bit more thickness and texture than the standard whipped cream.  Over the bottom layer I spread a thin layer of a nice, bitter orange marmalade. Lastly, I dumped on tons of blueberries and raspberries from a local farm on top along with some chocolate shavings. The tartness of the berries cut the sweetness of the cream and cake; it all came together pretty damn nice.

The full structure:
Chocolate cake recipe HERE
Cinnamon Mascarpone Cream
12 oz. heavy cream
2 Tbsp confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
5 oz. room temperature mascarpone cheese
1/4 tsp salt (optional)

Blend cream with sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar (and salt) until it reaches soft peaks. Add mascarpone and continue whipping until the cream reaches stiff peaks.

Use 2 or 3 layers, depending on how tall a cake you want. On all but the top layer, spread a thin layer of your favorite orange marmalade. (I like Sarabeth's Blood Orange Marmalade or Orange-Apricot Marmalade or if you want to be fancy, June Taylor's Marmalades)

Top the marmalade with cream, spread evenly, then add the next layer. After adding the top layer, spread the remaining cream to fully cover the cake.

To put on top: 
1/2 pint blueberries
1/2 pint raspberries
chocolate shavings (leftover from chocolate cake recipe)

Enjoy everything as much as possible.

August 21, 2012

Michael & Magdalena Frimkess

Details of the Frimkess' pottery I mentioned yesterday.

The final row

Our final day in Berlin was marked with a trip to the Tiergarten, the city's largest park, full of green space and hefty trees and a beer garden to grab a liter and sit by the water and leisure, as Germans in the summer are apt to do. We took bab(ies) I + L out on their first boat rides, respectively, at 15 months and 10 days old, rowing around the lake on one of the only end-to-end sunny days during our visit. It's true that one of the grand things about Berlin is that popular, lovely activities -- outdoor movies, concerts, highly-rated restaurants, boat rentals -- still feel accessible even when they've been blogged about, written up and determined to be a destination. There's little of the NY-style mob-scene that dooms a place to inaccess the moment it becomes known, which makes the approach to said places leisurely as well.


We're packing up to move to our new place (back) in Greenpoint this weekend and are non-stop buried in ambitions for shelves and lofts and the kitchen island we're going to build. The internet does a great job of whetting one's home desires, not all that healthfully. I'm excited to get to this new home of ours. I can taste those four big windows and that skylight and that rooftop. Oh, boy.

N.B. [Unrelated recent good stuff]
+ Why Waiting in Line is Torture [NY Times]
+ An A-Z of Untranslatable Words [Design Taxi]
+ A tour of artist Doug Aitken's home in Venice, CA...which can also be played like a xylophone. No big deal. [From the NY Times Style magazine back in April]
+ And the Olympics are over -- yes yes, I know -- but I enjoyed this profile on the making of the mythology of Usain Bolt.
+ The pottery of husband and wife duo Michael and Magdalena Suarez Frimkess (I'm very sad to have missed out out Untitled Bicycle Pot). If you scroll down, there's a full transcript of a 6 hour oral history interview conducted with them in 2001 by the Smithsonian. Michael is the primary ceramicist of the works, but due to his evolved Multiple Sclerosis, Magdalena does much of the painting now.

August 16, 2012

Other people's homes

When we were in Berlin, our friends M + B and baby A invited us out to their new A-frame in Brandenburg -- a petit, still unfurnished, yet incredibly charming few hundred square feet about 45 minutes outside of the city. Many German cities, unlike American ones, don't have a sprawl effect. At some point, the city just ends, and you are welcomed into a more sudden border-crossing to nature. The  little house, which sits in line with three other A-frames -- architectural quadruplets -- was receiving a fresh coat of paint, and M + B were considering furnishings and built-ins. It was fun to imagine -- as it always is with new spaces and homes -- what it will become by the time of our next visit. [For more excellent cabin action, visit Cabin Porn.] 

Jacob and I are also in a period of serious home-dreaminess. We move into our new loft in less than 10 days. High ceilings + skylights are our friend. The giddiness cannot be contained. 

August 13, 2012

Order vs. chaos: slices of Berlin

This summer is moving with incredible speed. I remember growing up with busy-but-still-languorous summers consumed by camp -- tennis, track, science, art, soccer, field hockey -- and spelling exercises, journal writing, swimming lessons, tetherball, math workbooks, competitive ice cream eating and perpetual sprinkles smeared on the fronts of whatever sweaty, chorine-soaked garment I was wearing that day. On summers with the Olympics, which were highly, highly anticipated, we all slumbered in the family room on the night of the Opening Ceremonies, watching each country march in one by one. We stayed glued to swimming, gymastics, track and field, occasionally delighted to catch trap shooting, archery, ping pong, for the full 14 days of competition. I miss those summers and missed these Olympics, nearly entirely, save for a few DVR'ed hours, while in the midst of many days of shooting, film screenings, location scouts, and an apartment hunt that seemed like it would never, ever end, until the glorious, glorious moment it finally did.

But, September is coming. School supplies are for sale. Our move is impending. I didn't wake up sweating this morning. Everything that was on the brink of falling apart a few weeks ago didnt.

Success! Progress! Survival without an air conditioner!

Berlin, and our trip to Germany feel like a somewhat distant memory, even though our older niece has gone from a crab-crawling baby to a standing-almost-walking toddler since we left. These are a few snippets from spaces we enjoyed, inhabited, or visited with friends.

Also, while on the topic, here's list of if-you-re-going-to-Berlin recommendations that I just wrote up for some friends who are on their way there this week.

Flea Markets / Shops / Thrift Stores

  • Strasse des 17 Juni (Charlottenberg) -- the best one around and in Charlottenberg, open Sat + Sunday:
  • The Mauer Park Flea Market (Prenzlauerberg) massive weekend flea market with a hodgepodge of clothes, pure junk, housewares, food, knick knacks, etc.They also have PUBLIC KARAOKE here on the weekends, where you can sign up and perform, outdoors, in front of an amphitheater of people. It's quite the spectacle. 
  • Boxhagenerplatz Flea (Kreuzberg) market is also a good bet for the weekends. 
  • Pony Hutchen (Kreuzberg)Our friend Mareike introduced us to this little store with an awesome mix of clothes, knick knacks, house stuff, random hats/accessories
  • Alex Vintage: 60s and 70s vintage stuff
  • Turkish Market (Kreuzberg) -- not clothes, but Tuesday and Fridays there is a huge and awesome food / spices / open air market in Kreuzberg: 
  • Scandinavian Objects (Prenzlauerberg) -- rad shop, described by its namesake, also introduced to me by Mareike

Food + Drink: 
  • Prater Biergarten (Prenzlauerberg): Huge, outdoor beergarden with german food and massive beers. This place is the best. 
  • Cafe Fleury (Prenzlauerberg): yummy french/german cafe that serves a serious breakfast/brunch:
  • Little Otik (Kreuzberg): hip little supper club turned local food spot in Kreuzberg. 
  • Das Hotel (Kreuzberg): super sexy/romantic beat up bar / hang out spot that sometimes has music/dancing: 
  • Ankerklause (Kreuzberg): Anchor Bar -- fun bar that hangs over the river in Kreuzberg
  • Michelberger Hotel -- drop by the lobby for a coffee or a drink or to just hang out and read, night or day
  • Bonanza (Prenzlauerberg): coffeeeeeeee
  • The Barn (Mitte): Tiny cafe in Mitte with my favorite cappuccinos in town, small sandwiches and tasty cakes
  • Prinzessinengartencool urban volunteer garden with a lunchtime cafe made of garden ingredients. 
  • Xinh Xinh (Mitte): favorite super cheap / casual vietnamese lunch place. In Mitte: 
  • Meirei (Prenzlauerberg): Great little alpine bakery with a gorgeous backyard. Get the apple strudel. 

  • Hamburger Bahnhof: giant old train station converted into contemporary art museum. This is where we saw the fantastic Anthony McCall exhibition. 
  • Neue National GalerieSuper cool Mies van der Rohe building with a great permanent collection, 1940s ish - present.

[There are at least a dozen excellent museums in Berlin, but these are my favorites of those I've been to] 

Other stuff: 
  • The Badeschiff (we didn't get to go this trip because it was too cold) is an awesome floating pool in the middle of the river that flows through the city. It's a few euros and there are both docks and a beach to hang out on near Treptow Park in Kreuzberg.
  • Do You Read Me? (Mitte) Still the best art + design magazine bookstore I've been to... really worth a stop in. 
  • Freiluftkinos: The open air cinemas of Berlin. A handful are set up during the summer and play movies every night. A lot of the movies either have English subtitles or are screened in English, so be sure to check the schedule. 

August 6, 2012

Five Minutes of Pure Sculpture (Anthony McCall)

If you're in Berlin (until August 12th), then I urge you to go see Anthony McCall's Five Minutes of Pure Sculpture at Hamburger Bahnhof. It's just fantastic. Bring a camera and a friend.

August 2, 2012

Berlin is good to us.

Oh look, it's ART. 

I'm in Brooklyn, mind + body consumed by an endless apartment hunt (if you know of somewhere awesome in Brooklyn, <$2,500/month for Sept 1st PLEASE LET ME KNOW*), but pictures take me back to Berlin for the moment.

Berlin is good to us. We're welcomed by family and friends. We find ourselves in light-filled aparments with copious skylights. We stock up on our favorite yogurts (hazelnut, johannesbeer, mango). We cook more than we have in months back at home. We have a handful of favorite restaurants: the falafel place that uses the peanut-y tahini sauce, the man with the outrageous handlebar mustache who makes the Turkish gozleme at the Saturday market on Kollwitzplatz and always gives you an extra flourish of the cucumber yogurt sauce.

We spent a few of our first days there with the nieces -- two little ones now, squatting to eye level, making offerings of stuffed elephants and bears and blocks and books. It's amazing how much the babies sleep, and how long you can spend just staring at them.

We rented bikes, without particular destinations, but ventured out to see Anthony McCall at Hamburger Bahnhof, the Holocaust Memorial, for beautiful waffles at Napoljonska, for cappuccinos and brunch at Cafe Fleury, for digging and rummaging and sorting through boxes and shelves at the Boxhagenerplatz Fleamarket and out to the Freiluftkino (open air cinema) in Kreuzberg on a chilly night to see the Gerhard Richter documentary. More Berlin soon.