Late Summer 2019
Well I suppose the last sweet days of summer are upon us. This is the moment where I take stock of where I've been, what I've seen, and what I still want to do while the sun is shining brightly and the days are long. I traveled quite a bit in early summer, and had the good fortune to be in London in June, blessedly missing the scorching heat wave. I had the opportunity to see dear friends, make new ones, and catch some lovely exhibitions. The Lee Krasner exhibition at the Barbican Centre is simply wonderful. Also dreamy is the Leonardo da Vinci at the Queen's Gallery, as well as one of my most favorite artists Joaquin Sorolla at the National Gallery. His paintings capture the light, the sea, and the essence of family that make me feel exactly like summer.
Nothing embodies the essence of summer quite like the parks in London. On a beautiful day, it is the loveliest experience to have a little wander, which is exactly what I did.
I was also lucky enough to catch the last day of Sarah Wheeler's charming show, Bloom Away, featuring a beautiful collection of botanical photographs. I love floral representation in all forms, so it was especially nice to see such a thoughtfully curated selection of images. The Dior exhibition at the V&A is indeed sublime, and such a wonderful treat. The quality of the craftsmanship, and the inventiveness of the designers over the last 73 years is quite an inspiration. The whole installation is incredible, spanning so many different aspects of the house of Dior, and showcasing the depth of talent that has played a hand in some of the most iconic designs of the last several decades.
I am so grateful to be embarking on a quick, end-of-summer getaway to Spain. The perfect contrast to a busy city trip is time spent under a tree, or on a beach, which is exactly what I need after the stimulation of early summer in London. I'm packing one of our new cotton/silk blend robes and slips for sleeping, and a few other cotton pieces for wearing over swimsuits or slips for daytime. We have the cotton/silk robes and slips in matching sets in the shop, perfect for the August heat. The fabric feels deliciously light and cool on the skin.
Packing jewelry for a trip is a task I always quite enjoy. For a beach holiday, a bright pair of earrings, some turquoise and coral pieces, and a few beaded necklaces always make it into my jewelry case. We have new silk chiffon ribbons that we've added beads to, which look lovely tied in a variety of ways. I love them for a pop of color and texture, and am definitely taking them along. They also make perfect gifts, so I plan to pack a few extra to give to friends on our trip.
Two summers ago in Mallorca, I complimented a chic and lovely woman on her straw bag at dinner. At the end of the evening, she took her belongings out of the bag as they were leaving, and insisted that I accept it as a gift. It was such a lovely gesture, and I've enjoyed it all the more for it. I hope to see her again soon, and am packing a little something special for her, just in case I do.
You may have seen the nice article that Martha McCully wrote for the Home section of the Los Angeles Times in June. I so enjoyed spending the day with Martha, taking her to my favorite shops in Los Angeles, and shopping for tabletop items that make entertaining such a joyful, creative process for me. I do love feeding people, and setting a beautiful table is certainly an important part of that love. I never entertain without these uniquely gorgeous table linens from Gregory Parkinson, which you can find at Turpan. The Makoto Kagoshima and Juba Tenshin ceramics that we have collected over the years from Chariots on Fire always have a place on our table. No meal is complete without an assortment of Milla Chocolates, and stopping by their jewel box of a shop on Venice Boulevard is a true delight. There is always something special at Tortoise General Store, which is an excellent source for gifts of all kinds.
Summer dessert is always easy, with all of the amazing stone fruit we have here in Southern California. One doesn't really have to do more than serve a bowl of fruit over ice and let guests enjoy, so don't ask me why I had a bee in my bonnet about making the Lemon Tart from The River Cafe in London. Perhaps it's because I had it in June, and it just was so delicious that it stuck with me. It could also be, that I remember that lemon tart from Michel Richard on Robertson Boulevard from my early days of living in Los Angeles, and how it was absolutely THE perfect ending to every remotely memorable dinner party. I can't really say, and though I wasn't able to source the Amalfi lemons, what I found from Apricot Lane Farms at the farmer's market last Sunday were in no sense second rate. Be warned, this recipe is not for the faint of heart. The amount of butter feels almost obscene, but fear not. The results are so spectacular, that your guests will remember the deliciousness for a long long time to come.
The River Cafe Lemon Tart
For the Pastry:
2.5 cups flour
2 sticks butter, cold and cut into small cubes
3/4 cup sifted Confectioner's sugar
3 egg yolks
pinch sea salt
Place flour, butter, sugar, and pinch of sea salt in a food processor. Pulse until it resembles coarse meal, then add the egg yolks and pulse a few times, until it comes together. Pat into a disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Grate into a 12 inch tart pan with a removable bottom, and press the dough along the bottom and sides. Place a sheet of buttered parchment paper over the dough, and fill with dried beans, rice, or pie weights.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, and then remove the parchment and weights. Bake another 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Let cool completely.
For the Lemon Filling:
Zest and juice of 7 large lemons
1.5 cups granulated sugar
6 whole eggs, plus 9 egg yolks
2.5 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
Place zest, lemon juice, sugar, and eggs in a large saucepan over a very low heat, whisking constantly until sugar is dissolved, and eggs are broken up.
Add half the butter and continue to whisk. At this point the eggs will start to cook, and the mixture will thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add remaining butter and continue whisking until mixture becomes very thick. It is important to keep whisking throughout the cooking process to prevent mixture from curdling.
Remove pan from heat and set it on a cold heatproof surface. Continue to whisk until mixture is lukewarm.
Preheat broiler, and spoon lemon filling into pastry shell and let settle for a least 5 minutes. Broil until top is mottled brown, 3 to 5 minutes. You may want to cover the edges of the crust with a little aluminum foil, to prevent it from blackening. Let cool completely before serving.