Fourme d’Ambert Tart With Port-Braised Asian Pear

Fourme d’Ambert Tart With Port-Braised Asian Pear, recipe on

This savory starter with a hint of sweet is a show stopper. The work is 95% on the prep end, which makes it look easy once you are ready to serve this course. The combination of flavors promises to enchant the taste buds and leave a lasting first impression… [Read more…]

The Lure of Dresden: Bellotto at the Court of Saxony

The Lure of Dresden exhibit, Kimbell Museum, as seen on

Bernardo Bellotto is recognized as one of the greatest view painters in history, acquiring his fame in mid-eighteenth-century Dresden as the court painter for the elector of Saxony, Frederick Augustus II (who was also King Augustus III of Poland). Over the course of a decade, Bellotto produced dozens of breathtaking depictions of the city and its environs, most measuring over eight feet in width. The success and renown of these grand, comprehensive works would earn Bellotto prestigious commissions at prominent courts throughout Europe.

Bellotto’s magnificent paintings of Dresden are now on loan to [Read more…]

Short Ribs, Instant Pot Version

Three Ingredient ShortRib Recipe- best EVER! on

This three-ingredient recipe for short ribs was soooo easy and so good that it made me think twice about ousting my slow cooker when I voyaged into Instant Pot cooking. I did some experimenting this weekend and successfully converted it to an Instant Pot recipe that is, believe it or not, even easier, with a better result. The original recipe ran on this site in 2013, and continues to get crazy traffic, especially around Super Bowl time when people are planning their football food menus. The ingredients are exactly the same minus flour, the mess is less by a lot, and the time reduced from almost five hours to about one hour total including cook time. The short ribs and onions stay intact better with meat every bit as tender and flavorful as the original recipe, making this version a huge win. Perfect cold weather food, football food, comfort food- this recipe is a crowd pleaser, and it is so easy that it does not require precise measurements. It’s hard to mess this one up. [Read more…]

Doors of Paris

Doors of Paris, as seen on

Every doorway, every intersection has a story. -Katherine Dunn

The streets of Paris are lined with extravagant doors and carriage gates, each with a unique style and personality. Beauty is everywhere you look in Paris, and the doors alone set our imaginations into overdrive as to the opulence that lies within. Their stylistic differences make me want to revisit French decorative arts studies in greater depth. Neoclassical, Art Nouveau, Gothic, Haussmann, and Renaissance styles can be found in all arrondissements, with endless variations in hardware, garniture, paint color. Inspiration is everywhere. If you love the doors of Paris as much as I do, this post is for you: [Read more…]

Blakes Hotel, London

The Cardinal Suite at Blakes Hotel in London, as seen on

Blakes, which just celebrated a 40-year milestone, is well known for opulent interiors and famous guests.

Former Bond girl Anouska Hempel converted a set of South Kensington Victorian townhouses into Blakes Hotel in 1978.  Everything about this five-star London boutique destination is exotic and luxurious.  The rooms are each unique in theme. They are furnished with fine antiques, thoughtfully curated by Hempel (Lady Weinberg) over the course of eight years. Private spaces and courtyards invite you to cocoon in style.

Throughout the hotel, modern conveniences artfully juxtapose fine Biedermeier antiques and art. Sensual colors meet opulent textures and architectural details. There is a signature scent throughout. The room keys are antique keys. Service is unbelievable. The feel is old world yet very now. I have always wanted to experience this place and I am thrilled that I did.

45 individually designed rooms include 5 signature suites, 5 luxury suites, 14 Directors Doubles, 14 Luxury Doubles, and 7 Parisian Rooms. Let’s take a look at the details of some of these rooms and you will quickly see why Anouska Hempel is my design hero.

[Read more…]

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