We've made it through January, which felt about three months long, and are now turning our attention to one of our favorite holidays...Valentine's Day! Understanding full well that there are more pressing matters quite close at hand, we also think that anything that celebrates love is indeed worthy of our attention. After the nearly 12 months of pandemic and its attendant losses, we are ready to fully embrace all the reasons to feel light and love, and bask in anything that involves a treat for our sweethearts and ourselves.
One treat to look forward to every night is the sublime show that February sunsets provide. The boutique is a block away from the beach in Venice, and I often dash outside to take in the spectacular beauty. I consider myself lucky to be able to see this view on my way home, and I never take it for granted.
If you have had your eye on a Liberty print silk robe, or just a simple silk slip to wear with everything, now is the perfect time to treat yourself or your sweetheart. There's never been a better time to indulge in a piece of silky sleep or loungewear, as we are offering a special Valentine's Day discount of 25% on the entire collection of lingerie. (*discount applied automatically at checkout to in-stock items only, and yes...men's pajamas are included as well!)
You may also drop a hint, or ask us to do so on your behalf. We're quite good at hints, in case there is something you are coveting. We are happy to book a virtual shopping appointment for you, or if you prefer, we would be delighted to welcome you to shop in person via appointment with all covid-19 safety protocols. It's easy to schedule a time to shop with us by clicking the bar at the top of our website, or here.
How great has it been to see all of the attention paid to wearing pearls, as inspired by our new Vice President? I have long been devoted to pearls, and wear them every day. It's funny how First Lady Barbara Bush created such a stir with her gumball sized, three strand faux pearl necklace, one of Kenneth Jay Lane's. She stated that the pearls "hid the wrinkles" which instantly made them the province of women of a certain age. Sales of pearl necklaces skyrocketed, but I was too young to be concerned with hiding wrinkles, and set out to design a way for pearls to feel more interesting. Of course, Vice President Kamala Harris's pearls are real, and have real meaning behind them as well. You can read more about that on brilliant jewelry historian Marion Fasel's website, The Adventurine.
We have customized many a strand of pearls for our lovely clients, and it is always the kind of project that I love to do. Breathing new life into something staid is always a pleasure. Even a simple adjustment, like changing the color of the silk cord can completely reinvent a strand of pearls that many of us have had lurking in the back of our jewelry boxes, longing for the light of day. My favorites are violet or red, but we have also done cobalt blue, emerald green, and vibrant coral.
If you're stuck for ideas for Valentine's Day, please let us know. I would suggest a beautiful silk or lace face mask to keep your Darling safe during the pandemic, a Zen Garden candle to soothe the senses, or a colorful beaded necklace to boost the spirits. We also have a completely charming Red ruby heart set on a thin 18k gold band, and if you wanted to go a bit bigger, I would suggest the thinnest, most chic and elegant band of tiny pavé set rubies, or the double headed serpent ring with ruby eyes. Whatever you decide to do, don't skip out on Valentine's Day, citing "Hallmark Holiday" or pandemic fatigue. It's precisely the time to make a bit of a splash and honor the people you love in your life, be it in big or tiny ways. Make it meaningful, sweet, and as lovely as you can.
Many of us won't be going out to any romantic dinners, but rather making them at home, and not necessarily à deux. In the past I've done red themed dinners...beef tenderloin, radicchio salad, beets, etc...you get the idea. This year I think I'll do something a bit different, maybe pink everything instead? The blood oranges are delicious, so citrus salad with avocado and fennel would be lovely to serve alongside a delicious piece of wild caught salmon from the fish monger at the farmer's market. For dessert, I will turn towards all things chocolate, and one of our favorites from Gjelina, where we miss having delicious family dinners.
Chocolate Tart from Gjelina, Cooking from Venice, CA by Travis Lett
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup ground pine nuts, pistachios, or pecans
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter
2.5 oz chocolate 73-77% cacao
1.5 tsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Whipped cream or creme fraiche for serving
To make the crust: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, almond meal, nuts, and sea salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Turn the mixer speed to low, add the flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Transfer the dough to a sheet of parchment paper. Place another sheet of parchment on top, and roll out the dough to a 1/8" thick round, 12-13" in diameter. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 10" tart or springform pan with a removable bottom and 3" sides. Press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until firm to the touch. Don't worry if the crust slouches down the sides of the pan a little as it bakes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Lower the oven temperature to 325 F.
To make the filling: Set a large heatproof bowl over 1" of water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and chocolate to the bowl and melt, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Whisk in the cocoa powder, and then add the brown sugar and salt. Continue whisking until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture looks shiny and loose. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each one fully before adding the next. The filling should be shiny and smooth.
Pour the filling into the tart shell and bake until it puffs up slightly and the surface is shiny and light, like a brownie, and the center is set and does not jiggle when you shake the pan, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 40 minutes. Gently remove the sides of the pan.
Slice and serve with a generous dollop of whipped cream or creme fraiche.
For Valentine's Day, I'm going to make little individual sized tarts for my family, and dust the tops with raspberry powder (basically smashed freeze-dried raspberries) in the shape of a heart. I know it sounds incredibly sappy, but I can't help it. Hopefully next year we will be able to host our annual Valentine's Day party at the boutique, where I look forward to serving it to you in person.
Sending tons of LOVE to you and yours,