29 December, 2010

The Duchess Dines . . .

1050 S. Flower Street
Los Angeles, California  90015
Tel.:  213.749.1460

We had an excellent meal last night at Rivera.  The Duchess had been before, a number of times, last year; perhaps that was the restaurant's public heyday.  It has taken it this long, in her opinion, to iron out the kinks.  Of course, the food has always been delicious.  But the service (lacking) and the attitude (excessive) were notable detriments.  No longer. 

We began with small plates of equadorian crudo (yellowtail with kumquats and fresno chilies) and skewers of sea bass (finished with clementine and frisee), followed by the tamal (braised pork short rib)  and piquillos rellenos (poblano peppers stuffed with sausage, gruyere, and golden raisins).  As a complement we ordered the steaming hot tortillas florales (tortillas pressed with flowers and herbs) and "Indian butter" (made from pureed avocado).  And finally, at one server's urging, we ordered -- and devoured -- the exceptional sweet corn flan with black quinoa and a squash blossom sauce.  It was plate-scrapingly yummy. 

Launched by John Rivera Sedlar, Rivera ushers in a new standard for modern Latin cuisine in Los Angeles, and is the perfect upscale partner to all those mouth-wateringly good taco trucks and stands one finds around the city.  While there is no need to reinvent that wheel (visit Loteria Grill, Tacos Por Favor, or El Cholo for exemplars of the basics, including everyone's favorite margarita), Rivera creatively executes interpretation of Latin flavors, ingredients and techniques in an inventive yet accessible way.  

The restaurant is also well-designed by Eddie Sotto of Sottostudios/LA.  

Mr. Sotto designed Rivera's trademark "tequila" chair, shown below in the Samba section of the restaurant atop a floor of Brazilian bamboo.  

P.S.:  For those of you still vacationing (or quasi-vacationing) for the holidays and looking to see a terrific film, the Duchess has two words for you:  "True Grit".  

About the much-discussed "Black Swan", the Duchess has only one word:


27 December, 2010

The Duchess Reads, and Reads, and Reads . . .

It's been a very busy literary month for the Duchess.  And that is because her reading life has been revolutionized -- by the Kindle.  Now, true to her snobbish, yuppie, The-Duchess-is-too-good-for-that attitude, she would never ever dream of purchasing an e-reader for herself.  But receiving one as a gift is completely guilt-free, no?

In any event, both pre-and post-Kindle, the Duchess has enjoyed a bevy of quality reads within the last few weeks.  Without further ado:

"Great House" by Nicole Krauss. 
Extremely excellent in every way and the Duchess crowns it best novel of the year. 

"Cleopatra:  A Life" by Stacy Schiff. 
Very well-written, impossibly well-researched biography of that famed Queen of Egypt.  Though dense, it's worth the journey to the Nile and back.

"An Object of Beauty" by Steve Martin. 
The Duchess hated Mr. Martin's earlier novella "Shopgirl", simply hated it.  There is much to like about his newest book, and its menacingly cunning heroine, Lacey Yeager.

"Country Moods and Tenses"* by Edith Olivier.  A first printing was a gift from the Duchess's darling J.S.  This was a lovely, lyrical book about the speed of the country plough. 

"My Hollywood" by Mona Simpson.  On a scale of one to ten, the Duchess gives a six (generous).  Though the characters are relatively well-developed, the structure of the book and the chapters narrated by the Filipina nanny can be confusing.  This one probably warrants its own, full-length posting (to follow). 

"A Visit From The Goon Squad" (now in paperback) by Jennifer Egan.  Lauded by the New York Times as one of the best five fiction books published in 2010, "Goon" -- a creatively constructed narrative about a cast of characters interrelated based on their connection to an aging punk rock musician -- was indeed terrific. 

"The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas, pere.  At bat. 

*Other rare and early books available through Nick Harvill Libraries, also through Nick Harvill Libraries for Hollywood at Home

22 December, 2010

The Duchess Admires . . .

Janna Conner Designs

Such a pleasure, always, to spend time with Baroness -- this time under the splendour of her flocked tree.  Tree chic!  Yes, indeed, last week the Baroness invited over a handful of her near and dear (if the Duchess so brags herself) for a trunk show featuring the fabulous fashion and fine jewelry made by Janna Conner of Janna Conner Designs.  Janna's fashion jewelry is perfect for all occasions -- it's bold and modern but still completely classic in its appeal.  The Duchess snatched up a few pieces for herself (and right before the holidays too, what a very bad Duchess!); but hurry over to Kitson or Fred Segal (or Max & Chloe) to pick up a bauble or two for the woman-who-has-everything on your list too. 

21 December, 2010

The Duchess Parties . . .

Still recovering, the Duchess most certainly went a bit overboard this weekend with the parties.  And Christmas and New Year's are still ahead of her! 

No doubt all of you are faced with the inevitable, but welcome, onslaught of guests this holiday season.  For the impromptu pop-over, be sure and have a bottle of something bubbly in the chiller (champs, or sparking cider for your program friends).  Throw in some thyme-toasted pecans and you'll be all set:

4 c pecan halves
3 tbl good olive oil
1 tsp crushed black pepper
1 tsp nice sea salt
1 tbl fresh thyme leaves

Warm the pecans over medium heat in a large, dry skillet until toasted and fragrant, about five to ten minutes.  Remove from heat, and add to olive oil/salt/pepper/thyme mixture.  Abundantly delicious!  Made ahead, these pecans can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks; return to room temperature before serving.  (Adapted from Bon Appetit, Y'all by Virginia Willis)

Now, when you are the guest and not the hostess, isn't it a trouble to find easily the perfect hostess gift?  Take a tip from the Baroness and bring along one of these Holiday candles from Seda France -- beautifully packaged and beautifully scented too.

Happy entertaining. 

17 December, 2010

Stepping Out, Not Down

Today it was announced that after ten years of illustrious leadership and iconoclasty, Carine Roitfeld is leaving her post as editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris.  Daring, sultry and, dare the Duchess say it, the very essence of fierce, Ms. Roitfeld led the editrix cult to deification, only now to renounce that throne in pursuit of "personal projects."  Surely her resignation will open the door to exciting and challenging new opportunities.  Alors, tchin-tchin a Mme. Roitfeld! 

15 December, 2010

The Duchess Considers . . .

A Holiday Gift

For the skateboard fanatic, consider this series of decks created by Marc Jacobs using images of former advertising campaigns shot by Juergen Teller and featuring (left to right) Kate Moss, Stephanie Seymour, M.I.A., and Lisa Marie.  Available in Marc by Marc Jacobs stores, the seven-ply Canadian maple decks are limited to editions of 100 each.  The Duchess hopes that there are at least a few left (particularly those with Ms. Seymour).  Quite the glamourous ride. 

13 December, 2010

The Duchess Admires . . .

Rose Tarlow

If there is one designer's name synonymous with the collective notions of refinement and simplicity, modernity and artistry, it is Rose Tarlow.  Ms. Tarlow's career in the design world has covered over three decades, and with them, various positions eminence -- antiquarian, furniture and fabric designer, decorator, retailer, author, and interiors style icon.  It is no surprise, then, that Ms. Tarlow was honored last week with the third annual Design Leadership Award bestowed by LACMA, together with its Decorative Arts and Design Council (DADC) (chaired by the great Oliver Furth).

The luminous Ms. Tarlow

Last Friday the Duchess was very pleased to have been invited to a brunch honoring Ms. Tarlow's honor at Rose Tarlow Melrose House, her showroom and design laboratory.  On special view was the Jock Peters table purchased as a gift in the name of Rose Tarlow for LACMA; this deco masterpiece once graced the floor of the Bullocks Wilshire department store.  Beginning October 1, 2011, it will be installed at LACMA in the exhibition "California Design 1930-1965:  Living in a Modern Way."  Ms. Wendy Kaplan, Department Head and Curator, Decorative Arts and Design department at LACMA, gave remarks on the provenance and importance of the Jock Peters table and, of course, of Ms. Tarlow. 

The table by Mr. Peters

To commemorate her award, Ms. Tarlow also designed a series of 350 limited edition vases in ceramic ivory.  They are absolutely gorgeous, and available at Rose Tarlow Melrose House, or, after the New Year, at the LACMA gift shop.

Photograph from Architectural Digest, January 2008

An honor of such importance was long in the making for Ms. Tarlow.  She opened her first shop, Rose Tarlow Antiques, in 1975.  Today, her company (based in Los Angeles) is known worldwide for its exquisitely detailed reproductions and modern designs.    

An interior view of Ms. Tarlow's Los Angeles home

Other designers look to Ms. Tarlow for the best in furniture design, and for design inspiration.  This room (shown above), designed by Suzanne Kasler, is anchored by Rose Tarlow sofas and chairs.  From Veranda.

Image from RoseTarlow.com

Ms. Tarlow's philosophies inform -- and imbue -- her design work.  A collection of her thoughts on design and photographs of her interiors is yours for the taking:  simply pick up a copy of "The Private House". 

And for those of you are lucky enough to be able to stop in, please pay heed to the Duchess and visit Rose Tarlow Melrose House for a breathaking exemplar of the best that one of our interior design legends has to offer. 

View of Rose Tarlow Melrose House from Riviera View

Rose Tarlow Melrose House
8540 Melrose Avenue • Los Angeles, CA 90069 • 323.651.2202

09 December, 2010

The Duchess Is Impressed . . .

The Fashion Bookstore

Typically one's visit to the dentist is (one hopes) an uneventful experience.  Clinical, cool, and perfunctory.  Not so for the Duchess!  Today her semi-annual cleaning coincided with a spin through the California Market Center at 9th Street and Spring, home to Otis College of Art and Design, as well as the Los Angeles fashion and textile markets, and much, much more.  On the ground floor of the Market Center is The Fashion Bookstore, which has the broadest range of fashion, textile and apparel informational products anywhere in the world.  Seriously. 

To wit, there are over 100 foreign and domestic magazines (including shelter mags) at one's disposal.  The selection of books, patterns, and ephemera is overwhelming.  Here is just a sampling of the titles available among the staggering array: 

The Fashion Bookstore also features The Fashion Project Cafe, billed as a "one-stop shop for fashion designers and apparel manufacturers of all sizes looking for quality digital pattern making, pattern grading, marker making, and revolutionary 3D sampel making services." 

For anyone interested in fashion (creation, movements, critique, et cetera), The Fashion Bookstore is a must-visit.  Extremely impressive to the Duchess. 

The Fashion Bookstore
California Market Center
110 East 9th Street
Los Angeles, California 90079
(213) 622-5663
(800) 347-2589 (toll-free)

07 December, 2010

The Duchess is Thrilled!


Last Thursday the Duchess had such fun traipsing over her old stomping grounds at the performance of "Heavy Metal Parking Lot" by the effervescent Ryan Heffington troupe at MOCA Grand Avenue.  To be even more precise, Heff's punks took over the entire expanse of lower Grand between Kosciuszko and 4th, completely throwing out of whack the homeward-bound commuting patterns of irritated lawyers everywhere.  Hip hip for that. 

Post-performance, the Duchess, together with the Earl of Greenwich, toured the latest exhibition at MOCA, The Artist's Museum.  Such a delight to see all those Devendra Banhart ink-on-papers on the wall!  But even better was Doug Aitken's "Electric Earth" (1999), an eight dvd installation that left an extremely big impression.  

The best part of all is that the Duchess came away from the evening with a free MOCA membership.  (Too bad the Earl of Greenwich won't be around much longer to enjoy it with her.) 

The Artist's Museum
now through January 31, 2011
MOCA Grand Avenue
250 S. Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, California  90012


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