31 January, 2011

The Duchess Desires . . .

A Trip to New York

Were it not for the buckets of snow lying about, and the freezing temperatures abounding, the Duchess surely would prefer to be in New York. 

Rachel Feinstein's "Snow Queen" installation at Lever House opened on January 27 . . .
Ms. Feinstein

"Snow Queen"

"Snow Queen"

Rachel Feinstein, Puritan's Delight (2008)
courtesy Marianne Boesky Gallery

The Morgan Library exhibits three centuries of personal journals in "The Diary," including Nathaniel Hawthorne's, Charlotte Bronte's, Albert Einstein's and Bob Dylan's . . .

The Morgan Library

And style's renaissance man Michael Bargo, together with the "puckishly elegant" Billy Cotton of Brooklyn's Custom Resources, unveils the cutting edge Moste furniture collection at Bergdorf Goodman.  Join them for cocktails, and give them each a big kiss from the Duchess.

28 January, 2011

The Duchess Anticipates . . .

Hall & Oates, Hollywood Bowl, July 2 - 4, 2011

Because your kiss is on my list, . . . .  but until then, we'll continue to relish concerts Live From Daryl's House

The Duchess Adores . . .

Matchbook Magazine

Rilly loving this new e-magazine, Matchbook!  Very Domino-esque.  Check it out here.  Brand new and love, love, love. 

The Duchess Attends . . .

Isaac Layman, Otter Pops #1, 2010
Archival Inkjet, 72 x 54 inches, Unique

Last night, together with the Empress, the Duchess attended Art Los Angeles Contemporary art fair at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica.  Art LA features 70 well-recognized established and emerging galleries from around the world with a particular emphasis on LA galleries.  However our favorite exhibitor was from Seattle, the fantastic Lawrimore Projects.  That gallery represents the impressive young artist Isaac Layman, whose work has been acquired by the Seattle Art Museum, the Portland Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and many others. 

Isaac Layman, 6 Glasses, 2010
Archival Inkjet, 59x91 inches, Edition of 3

Isaac Layman, Sink (2008)
Archival Inkjet, 58x78.5 inches

All this was preceded by a tasty little dinner at The Little Next Door (dineLA week, three courses for $26; remember to get there early for cheaper valet and happy hour drinks prices). 

8142 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048

If you have a spare moment, take a look at the New York Social Diary "House" entry today featuring James Andrew, of What Is James Wearing?  This was an illuminating interview with one of our most widely read style bloggers, and his apartment is utterly fab.  Enjoy, and happy weekend! 

26 January, 2011

The Duchess Dines . . .

3219 Glendale Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90039

Last night we had a very fun time at Canele, the narrow boite a stone's throw from Los Feliz on Glendale Boulevard in Atwater Village.  The Duchess, having relocated, rarely makes it over to that side of town anymore, but this was a special occasion.

Canele periodically hosts "Friends Cook" evenings on Tuesday nights, where -- in addition to the regular menu -- a three course prix fixe option concocted by a culinary friend of Canele's is offered.  Last night was one such night, and our friend David Shiverick of Langdon Shiverick Wine Imports was the appointed chef.  It was delicious! 

Perhaps most enjoyable was the wine:  we toasted with the Fin Amour "Cuvée Cuthbert" Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes, from David's vineyard in the South of France at the base of the Pyrenees (French Catalonia, very Le Comte de Monte-Cristo).  A blend of Grenache Gris and Carignane Blanc, it was spectacular.  If in New York you may have a bottle over dinner at Daniel, or at August in the West Village.  Highly recommended, and well done David! 

25 January, 2011

(Don't) Drink Early, Drink Often

Mountain Dew, White Lightnin', Corn Likker (a.k.a. Moonshine)

Now, it's mighty surprising to the Duchess that a certain libation has come into the cooler consciousnesses of these hep L.A. cats.  Back where she comes from, corn liquor (though not uncommon) ain't the drink of choice in high-falutin' circles.  That's because it will burn your guts out.  The Duchess herself has watched at least a couple dozen folks lose their minds over the stuff.  It has this incredible ability to creep up on you and knock your eyes into the back of your head when you're not looking.  Tastes like hell too. 

Cecconi's, inventor of the "Moonhattan" (ain't no such thing)

In Kentucky (and other related Southern states* too boring to mention), the demand for moonshine remains steady because many backwoods counties are still "dry"; that is, no alcohol legally may be sold or purchased there.  Bootlegging and moonshining are the last resorts for acquiring a bit of drink around those parts, which can be hours away by car to the closest Liquor Barn (best store ever).  It's a drink of necessity only, at least among folks who've ventured beyond Mike's Hard Lemonade

Typically you'd just pass around the table a dirty jug like this one, take a swig, and sit back and wait for the amb'lance to arrive. 

You can make it yourself.  1 part corn meal to 2 parts sugar, add water, and sit back and wait for the police to arrive.

Confounding, then, that it is very en vogue among the Hollywood set to sidle up to the bar and put good money down for a moonshine cocktail.  It's old news by now that "Boardwalk Empire" perhaps single-handedly revived Prohibition-era aesthetics; we don't need Prohibition-era flavors to accompany them.  Though the Duchess applauds the efforts of distilleries to elevate moonshine's down-home and decidedly redneck reputation, she wonders, why even bother?  Country people like it the way it is.  Cheap, dirty and mean (just like we are). 

Clear Corn Whiskey, Just Not the Original

* "That's why all the folks on Rocky Top get their corn from a jar. . . . Good ole Rocky Top!"

24 January, 2011

The Duchess Dines . . .

dineLA week

Take advantage of the year's first dineLA week and book a reservation at one of LA's best restaurants -- Spago, AOC, Craft, Jar, The Bazaar, Water Grill.  With prix fixe menus topping out at $44 per person for dinner (exclusive of alcohol etc.), there's no reason not to book two. 

21 January, 2011

The Duchess Depressed.

Sadly, last night concluded the premiere season of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills".  There are no words to describe the extreme abandonment this finale causes cable television.  If you watch the show, you understand from whence the Duchess comes.  If you don't, well, there is no enlightening to be done here; you simply must watch the show.  Its magnetism immediately will be obvious.

Last night's episode brought the brewing feud between Kyle Richards, the youngest of the fabled Beverly Hills Richards sisters (eldest is sister Kathy, married name Hilton), and her sister Kim to a head.  Kyle -- the domineering, brutally honest but supportive backbone of friends and family -- finally gave it to Kim; after a season's worth of snarkiness and bickering, she finally called her an alcoholic in front of God and country. 

Kyle Richards in the "limo" scene

Poor Kim.

The gut-wrenching hurl was only the culmination of an epic battle waged above the twinkling lights of (at least part of) Beverly Hills atop the Raffles L'Ermitage (remember, free valet!) at a huge party thrown for fellow Housewife Taylor Armstrong (you really should click on that link) by her sexy and adoring husband Russell.  Along with close friends Faye Resnick and Martin Genis, Taylor and her husband were ready to rock the night away . . . until, of course, Kim arrived at their (did I mention huge?) party.   

Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong

That's because Taylor decided once and for all that she had to get something off her chest, and that something was her beef with Kim.  She marched right over to Kim and let her know that the Housewives' in-fighting was indeed all Kim's fault, and actually had nothing to do with Taylor.  Taylor is of course innocent on all counts of stirring the pot between Kyle (her new BFF) and Camille Grammer (more on her later), contrary to what the regal Lisa VanderPump might think.   

Because it is obvious that Lisa only wants to bring Taylor down because she is jealous of Taylor's intimacy with Kyle.  Right?  

Voice-of-reason, the eminent Adrienne Maloof, stepped into the fray in an effort to calm the angry sisters, and Taylor, and Lisa, down.  But to no avail. 

Meanwhile in Malibu . . . Camille Grammer and best friend D.D. drank white wine and commiserated over the end of Camille's marriage to Kelsey Grammer, her husband and confidante of thirteen seemingly endless years.  Now Kelsey's run off with a younger woman with blonde hair and a questionable profession; what's gotten into him???  Those Broadway lights must have tarnished his judgment. 

Heavy sigh.  The Duchess can hardly wait for season two. 

20 January, 2011

The Duchess Anticipates . . .

VIP Art Fair
The VIP ("Viewing in Private") Art Fair opens on Saturday, and it promises to be revolutionary.  Unlike traditional art fairs (including photoLA, or the Los Angeles Art Fair (on now), or any of the Basels), the VIP Art Fair will take place exclusively on-line.  Not only will this e-move cut costs for both sellers and buyers, it will generate a new kind of energy and awareness in the emerging and established art worlds. 

Over 130 galleries will participate in VIP Art Fair, including founding galleries David Zwirner (New York) (now exhibiting the photography of Christopher Williams -- remember his amazing Artforum cover?  The Duchess does.),

(Miko Smiling), Vancouver, B.C., April 6, 2005 (2005)
Christopher Wiliams

 Hauser & Wirth (Zurich), featuring Mary Heilmann,

Spider's Stratagem (1995)
Mary Heilmann

and other big names like White Cube (London) and Gagosian (everywhere).  Of course there are also newer galleries exhibiting.  Browsing at the VIP Art Fair is free, though visitors must pay for access to instant-messaging, for price lists, and to enter dealers' private rooms.  Artists will be divided into categories based on their level of establishment (Damien Hirst, for example, would be segregated from an up-and-coming artist), allowing for more focused viewing.   

Your Dog (2003), Yoshitomo Nara
Marianne Boesky Gallery

Hanging Purple (2010), Jenny Holzer

Early Moses (1983), Jean-Michel Basquiat

Needless to say the Duchess is very excited about the VIP Art Fair.  Register here in order to begin viewing Saturday.  As many of you will be covered in inches of snow this weekend, this is your opportunity to get out and see some spectacular art (albeit not in the old-fashioned way). 

18 January, 2011

The Duchess Considers . . .

The Golden Globes; "Another Year"; and Hatfield's

There weren't a lot of looks at Sunday's Golden Globe Awards that rocked the Duchess's boat.  The award for Most Spectacularly Put Together goes to Emma Stone for her turn in a salmon colored crepe Calvin Klein, featuring perfect hair, skin and makeup.  Mwah!  And though we debated what Ms. Portman would be wearing she did surprise us in a filmy Viktor & Rolf -- which the Duchess rather liked.  Finally the Duchess gives the Best Dressed Supporting Actress award to Anne Hathaway in bronze Armani Prive.  The Countess didn't like this one; but what's not to like? 

                                                          Emma Stone in Calvin Klein

                                                            Natalie Portman in Viktor & Rolf

                              Anne Hathaway in Armani Prive

It was unfortunate that the Mike Leigh film "Another Year" did not garner much attention among Globes-viewing audiences.  "Another Year" is splendid, and still playing at an Arclight near you!  It presents a view into one year in the life of happily married couple Tom and Gerri, around whom the lives of their close friends and family members seem generally to fall apart (or to have fallen apart years ago, and not to have been repaired).  "Another Year' is brought to life by the soulful performances of Jim Broadbent (as Tom), Ruth Sheen (as Gerri), and especially Lesley Manville as Gerri's co-worker and friend, Mary (a role for which Ms. Manville won the National Board of Review's award for best actress). 

                                                    Jim Broadbent ("Tom") and Ruth Sheen ("Gerri")

                                                                                  Lesley Manville ("Mary")

The week-end's dining roundup:  Saturday night aperitif at Craig's (on Melrose) and dinner at Hatfield's (on Melrose).  Craig's is the new incarnation of the Melrose Bar & Grill space just west of Robertson, opposite Maxfield.  Its namesake is Craig Susser, the former maitre d' of Dan Tana's, who has renovated the old loft-like space into a cozy, clubby new bar and restaurant fit to become the next Morton's.  Craig himself is there to check on each and every one of you walking through the door to make certain that your meal fits you to a tee. 

And what to be said for Hatfield's, with its delectably cooked dishes, respectively reasonable prices, and elegant new(-ish) space?  Well, it feels a little dull but it tastes amazing.  The best food in town?  The Duchess would put her money on it; in fact, she already spent it all at Hatfield's. 



Craig’s, 8826 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood (310-276-1900)
Hatfield's, 6703 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles (323-935-2977)

14 January, 2011

The Duchess Dines . . .

PhotoLA; Taix and Delphine; Bottega Louie

Firstly the Duchess recommends the PhotoLA + artLA Projects show at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, on now through Monday, January 17.  General hours are 11 am through 7 pm (except on Monday when the exhibition will close at 6 pm). 

Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica
1855 Main Street, Santa Monica  90401

The Duchess thanks Eyestorm, the online contemporary art gallery, for arranging her tickets.  Eyestorm will exhibit the works of its artist Rob Carter, a London-based photographer who captures a still image but uses a revolving lens camera.  Here is his Travelling Still Tulip Fields Holland XIV, 2006: 

Secondly, the Duchess dines, this week at two French restaurants.  One is a local institution, a family-owned and -operated restaurant since 1927.  The other is the (relatively) brand new honey-child of Hollywood, located within the W Hotel at Hollywood and Vine.  One is terrific and worthy of its legacy; the other is worthy of its location abutting a subway stop. 

1911 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles  90026
Phone: 213.484.1265

For lunch on Thursday, wanting to escape the hustle-bustle of downtown (and its usurious parking spaces), the Senator and Duchess scooted over to Echo Park to Taix for a light and lovely lunch.  Taix can be found just south of Alvarado on Sunset, across from the Brite Spot and overlooking Echo Park Lake.  Taix has affordable and gracious valet, an expansive and authentically French menu; it is both child-friendly and elegant (in its own, subdued way); and the service strikes just the right balance between professional and casual.  The food is comforting and quite well done; nothing exotically prepared or nouvelle, we're talking simple la cousine de grand mere.  

And perhaps best of all the total bill was under $30.  $30!  For two people!  With appetizers!  With beverages!  That kind of value simply cannot be beat unless you'd prefer Loteria Grill.  And even if you would, you certainly must visit Taix.  It's the kind of family restaurant where one could take one's own family for years to come.   

Taix, the interior

Quite unlike the other French restaurant visited this week, Delphine, in Hollywood.  The Duchess is not quite sure where to begin (or end) with Delphine.  The service was attentive, jovial (but not too intrusive) and thoughtful.  The decor is very Pacific Palisades-meets-David Collins-wannabe, sort of confused Riviera.  The food is quite marginal:  room temperature French bread; undersalted butter; not crispy enough pommes frites; decent white bordeaux.  The prices are not so marginal and are rather on the high side (not as pricey as Cut, but then, what is?).  Ultimately what makes Delphine a loser is that one pays a good deal of money for a lackluster food experience and overall the restaurant is completely unoriginal.  In keeping with its Hollywood pedigree, perhaps.  For the price of a carafe of white bordeaux the Duchess had an entire meal -- with another person, mind you -- at Taix.  Readers, save your money and your time:  skip Delphine (if you must dine in Hollywood, go to Bowery, or Musso's, or even the dreaded Katsu-ya). 

Lastly a post-script.  The Countess met the Duchess for a late brunch this morning (thank you Countess!) at Bottega Louie.  Striding in at around 10:30 am, we were told that the main dining area was closed until 11:00 am, and we were directed (not ushered, not shown a table) to plop ourselves down in the bar area.  One supposes this is fine except that no menus were brought to us; the Duchess had to hail down a bartender -- at the bar -- to ask for menus; and it took a good twenty minutes before anyone bothered to take our order.  They were "out" of some menu items.  Our waitress did not revisit us until she handed us the check; no offers to warm up our coffee; no questions about the quality or enjoyability of our food.  And still it was packed.

Yes, there is still a dearth of groovy downtown dining options, even with the additions of First & Hope and Mas Malo.  Thus Bottega Louie has been quite popular the last couple of years.  That doesn't mean it can go resting on its laurels if it wants to be a contender in the long run. 

Mas Malo
515 W 7th St. Downtown. 213-985-4332
Photograph by Tatiana Arbogast for GrubStreet


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