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April 2008

HOME + GARDEN HOME decor

Style Sheet: The New HGTV.ca Blog

style sheet by hgtv canada

With what I do for living, you will not be surprised that I watch HGTV Canada a lot. HGTV just launched their blog cutely named Style Sheet.

Style Sheet blog design is adorable. It is so girly with a summer vibe. They manage to keep their posts short yet instructive.

I leave you with a story about a Laundry Room makeover they did on The Style Dept.. The laundry room was filled with nifty accessories and electronics. I recalled watching that episode. The Splurge Vs Steal Column is also interesting.

My little moment of pleasure, they like At Home with Kim Vallee (ref. blog roll).

Announcement

I will not post on Thursday; I have an important appointment that will occupy me all day long. Starting next week, I will be featuring 2 Guest Bloggers. I will keep the names a surprise.

>>> Sourcing:
Via: Clean Sweep: Laundry Room [Style Sheet]

COOKBOOKS FOOD + DRINK

Delicious is My New Favorite Cooking Magazine

delicious cooking magazine from Australia

I must confess that I am a magazine junkie. A few months ago, I bought a new cooking magazine from Australia called delicious.

I first read the Entertaining Special Issue, very appropriate for me. Fans of Jamie Oliver will be delighted to know that he is a regular on delicious.

The Entertaining Issue

The December 2007/January 2008 issue featured Jamie Oliver’s fresh festive flavors, Bill Granger’s laidback lunch and a profile on Wolfgang Puck. We visited a Café in Tasmania, explored the Basque cuisine, and baked seasonal sweets with Nigella Lawson.

The recipes are tasty and not too complicated. The pictures are exquisite. Delicious was voted the World’s Best Food Magazine. I do not know when, but I kind of agree since delicious is one of my favorite cooking magazine.

On stand, an issue of delicious costs the same as Donna Hay magazine but I feel that each issue of delicious packs with more stuff.

The Annual Italian Cooking Issue

The May 2008 issue is their annual Italian issue. Discover Valli Little’s collection of all-time favorites, including authentic gnocchi and best-ever lasagne. Ben O’Donoghue prepares a slow-cooked Tuscan ragu, while Jamie Oliver does easy antipasto and fast prawn pasta. Belinda Jeffery whips up creative lemon dishes.

Plus, legendary Sydney chef Armando Percuoco shares home-style dishes. Jill Dupleix stirs up a one-pot seafood stew. Away from the kitchen, we delve into Melbourne’s vibrant Italian food scene and take an insider’s tour of the stunning Amalfi Coast.

It all sounds great to me. I buy my issues at a local magazine shop. In large urban centers, you should be able to find it in kiosk. Since this is an importation, it is cheaper if you buy it in stores. Otherwise, you can subscribe at Amazon or from the publisher site.

>>> Sourcing:
Subscribe: Delicious – Australia at Amazon.com – price: $129.90 USD for 11 issues
Learn more: Delicious Magazine from ABC
Buy online: Donna Hay Magazine at Amazon.com – price: $89.07 for 6 issues

COOKING tools FOOD + DRINK

Luki Huber Grows His Luki Collection for Lekue

lekue silicone lemon squeezer : steam case : ice pop mold : silicone ceramic quiche mold : steamer

A couple years ago, the Spanish brand Lekue introduced the nifty Luki Lemon Squeezer designed by Luki Huber. This silicone lemon squeezer is practical because each half lemon has its mold and you can store everything as it is in the fridge.

The Lekue Duo Silicone & Ceramics Quiche Mold combines the perfect materials for the job. The scratch-resistant ceramic base assures the right colored dough and the flexibility of the silicone makes it easy to remove.

Luki Collection for Lékué Is Expanding

New silicone kitchen tools are in. Right in time for summer, the reusable Lekue Luki Steam Case is a more ecological way to cook fish en papillote. And there is no risk of finding a hole in your paper. Steam Case brings cuteness and fun to healthy meal.

Another way to eat healthier meal is by cooking with Lekue Luki Steamer. Available in two formats, Luki Steamer fuses tradition and innovation. Two stacking steamer compartments and one lid are included. The regular size Steamer fits 8″ diameter sauce pans or casseroles.

The silicone Lekue Ice Cream / Ice Pop molds are a treat for adults and kids. Make your own flavor in no time. Simply put pieces of fresh fruits, pour some milk or juice, close with the cap, freeze and enjoy the sweet. You can make frozen Margaritas or Caipiriñas or Mojitos for a grown up party.

All Lékué products are made of 100% Platinum Silicone. Check out ShopFosters.com (Foster’s Homeware) to watch a few short videos of these silicone products in action.

Update: Arthur Quentin carries several Lékué products. They do not have the steamer or the quiche mold yet. They do carry the Lemon Squeezer, the Ice Cream molds, the Steam Case, the Sushi mat and other products I did not talk about.

Arthur Quentin
3960 Saint-Denis Street
Montreal, QC  H2W 2M2
p  514.843.7513
open Monday to Saturday

>>> Sourcing:
Buy online: Lekue Silicone Lemon Squeezer at Foster’s Homeware – price: $15 USD for 2
Buy online: Lekue Silicone Ice Pop Mold at Foster’s Homeware – price: $25 USD for 4
Buy online: Lekue Silicone Steamer at Foster’s Homeware – price: $45 USD
Learn more: Arthur Quentin – web site in French only
Learn more: Lékué

HOME + GARDEN KITCHEN design

Kitchen Design That Fits Your Lifestyle

Poggenpohl kitchens :: design tips for a kitchen that fits your lifestyle

Poggenpohl :: design a kitchen that fits your lifestyle

I visited the Poggenpohl showroom in Boston this winter. For a modernist like me, seeing the MODERN PURISM collection was a real treat. I would like someday to own one of those kitchens.

Design for the Way You Live

Poggenpohl makes amazing storage system. Everything has its place with cute containers and spacers. I was going to talk about their cool storage system for the kitchen. As I assembled my montage, a trend emerged. Therefore, I will talk about kitchen layouts.

If you planning a new kitchen, the first thing you should consider is how you like to live and entertain. By answering these questions, you will make the space fits your lifestyle. Then, you can start to look at finishes and nifty storage gadgets.

I must stress out that you must design for the way you live, not the way you dream of living. So be true to who you and your family are.

Avoid the Good Look, Bad Layout Syndrome

My husband and I visited a condominium showroom last week-end. Very European, modern architecture but one thing strikes me on the larger unit: the lack of counter spaces. The architect designed a cool kitchen but honestly, I would feel cramped in it.

The 15 feet island was broken down by the stove and then the sink. The fridge and a pantry sit tall at each end. Where is my work triangle? At the end, I never had more than 2 to 3 feet of continuous counter. I imagine myself entertaining. The island would be impractical for a buffet table. It looks great but I do not think I will enjoy cooking in this kitchen.

My advice is to go beyond the look and first examine the design layout. Look can always be altered. But layout flaws are pricey to correct.

How to Plan for Great Design?

Examine these kitchens from Poggenpohl. Each one fits a story. The red kitchen is designed for a family that cooks together or for people who hire staff at parties. That kitchen spreads over 3 rows instead of 2; something we do not see often. If you have a big enough space, it is probably great because you will not bump with each others.

I enjoy a layout like you see on the bottom pictures. Style wise they look great. One or two persons can easily cook in it and I got a long space for a buffet station.  Having a preparation area where my friends can sit while I am cooking is high on my list.

My Top 5 kitchen design tips

  1. Consider the flow of movements, the entrances and how the appliances open. Aim for more than the minimal clearance.
  2. Collect lots of pictures of kitchen you like, analyze them and write down what you like about each one. Share this information with your kitchen designer.
  3. Make a list of your priorities. Go back to the list when you need to make tough decisions.
  4. Be flexible. Designing a kitchen is tricky. The shape of your dream kitchen may not fit into your space. If you say what features are important to you and how you plan to use your kitchen, your talented kitchen designer will find a solution that satisfies your needs.
  5. Make an inventory of your cookware, dinnerware, glassware and small appliances. Consider how often do you do grocery? Do you buy really need to buy in bulk? You need enough storage.

As for the nifty kitchen storage systems, do not worry. I will talk about them later.

>>> Sourcing:
Learn more: Poggenpohl

ENTERTAINING PARTY ideas + decor

The Art of Formal Table Setting

formal place setting chart :: flatware by christofle :: knife rests :: ala crumb collector by alessi

Toast and Tables talked about the art of table setting yesterday. Sarah Dennis made the point that formal entertaining is a disappearing act. Sadly, I must agree with her.

I feel there are times that call for strict etiquette and beautiful table manners. It is one way to clearly state that an event is out of ordinary. All this made me realized that I was overdue for a post on table etiquette. I will review a few rules in well mannered eating customs.

Napkins and Flatware

The napkin at a formal dinner sits at the center of the plate. The fold must be simple. The place card is put on top of the napkin. Place cards are a must at a formal dinner party.

Silverware is used for formal dinner. Stainless steel cutlery is reserved for less formal events. Some people prefer eating the fish course with fish utensils made of stainless steel to avoid the metal reaction with lemon.

Soup and Fish Utensils

In a formal dinner, there can be from 6 to 12 courses. The rule is that you cannot put more than 3 utensils on each side. The idea is to leave comfortable space between each place setting.

The solution is to bring the extra utensils during the meal. Based on the menu, the soup spoon and the fish utensils are often brought to the table before serving. If you bring utensils at the table, the servers will put them in a tray for carrying.

British versus French Formal Table Setting

The formal table chart is set according to the British rule. One huge difference between the two cultures is that no butter knife and bread plate appears on the French table. In fact, the sales director at Arthur Quentin explained to me the other day that old French dinnerware ceramists adjusted their production for the North American market. Now they make the bread plate and butter dish.

Butter is never served at a formal dinner. Bread is optional and it only serves with certain dishes. In fact, bread cannot be served before the meal has begun. You put the bread on the tablecloth in France.

Dessert Cutlery

The dessert utensils are allowed on the table at the top of the plate. It is a common method but it is not the most elegant one. If the dessert utensils are already on the table, the server must then move the fork on the left and the spoon on the right of the place setting before serving the cheese or dessert course.

In the ultimate formal table setting, dessert utensils are brought at the table just before serving the cheese or dessert course. It feels so much more sophisticated. Visually, it also makes a better tabletop from the start.

Before serving cheese or dessert, the table should be cleared of everything except the centerpieces. The serving staff will clean the tablecloth with a crumb collector and carry the crumbs with a small plate. You probably have seen this practice in high end restaurants. Cheese and dessert silverware is then placed on the table.

Casual Luxury Table Accessory

Knife rests are a stylish table accessory if you plan to reuse the knives for more than one course. Do not put the knife on the knife rest when you are setting the table. The guests will deposit the knife on the knife rest between the courses to avoid spoiling the tablecloth. The knife rests signal to your guests that they should keep their knife. Knife rests are used exclusively in casual dinner.

There is no need for knife rests at a formal dinner. The utensils intended for the course are always removed at the end of each course at a formal dinner.

Stylish Tableware Accessories

If you are looking for items to set a formal table for yourself or as a wedding gift, check out these luxurious items.

  1. Butter Dish by Ercuis at Bloomingdales – price: $87 USD
  2. Fish fork and knife from Isatis Flatware Collection by Guy Degrenne – designed by Agnes Descamps
  3. Silverplated Galet Knife Rests by Christofle at artedona – price: $210.60 for a set of 4
  4. Vertigo Individual Butter Dish by Christofle designed by Andree Putman at Bloomingdales – price: $215 USD
  5. Vertigo Knife Rests by Christofle designed by Andree Putman, set of 4 available at Bloomingdales
  6. Crumb Collector Ramasse-miettes inox de poche at MeilleurDuChef.com – price: 4.60 ?
  7. Alessi Ala Crumb Collector by Achille Castiglioni at All Modern – price: $30 USD

Have a look at the top picture that Sarah published on Toast and Tables. It is fine example of a formal place setting. It showcased China by Lenox, Stemware by Waterford/Wedgwood, Flatware by Vera Wang and a Tablecloth by Sferra.

>>> Sourcing:
Via: Disappearing Act: In this casual world, is formal passé? [Toast and Tables]

ENTERTAINING PARTY ideas + decor

Fred Cool Ice Cube Trays for a Guitar Hero / Rock Band Party

cool shooters and cool jazz ice cube tray by guitar hero / rock band party

I am certain that many sessions of Guitar Hero or Rock Band will happen in graduation parties this year. These games create an ambiance immediately.

With some bars hosting Guitar Hero nights, you can say that this video game is the new karaoke.

Cool Jazz and Cool Shooters by Fred

I introduced last year the fun cocktail accessories by Fred & Friends. Cool Jazz and Cool Shooters were designed in 2005. But I did not try them until now.

So I was glad when Anouk, the owner of giftOsphere (CadOsphere in French) told me that she added to her inventory Cool Jazz and Cool Shooters by Fred & Friends. I met Anouk through the social media events in Montreal. She is really nice. Her online store, CadOsphere ships in Canada and internationally.

CadOsphere supplied me with two samples of each for my test drive. When my husband saw them, he changed the theme of an upcoming Wii sport party to a Guitar Hero party. He craves for the Rock Band game. I am worried that those hip ice cube trays will give him an excuse. 😉

Result of My Test Drive

I had two sets of each so I can check the consistency of the ice cubes. Wow, it really works! Because the moulds are made of silicone, removing the cubes from the mould works like a charm.

I took me a while to get the pictures I wanted. The ice cube kept their shape as they melted. I made one guitar where the handle was not as deep in the ice but it functions as well as the others.

Literal party theme and decorations are typically my thing. But in this case it works fine. I am telling you: Fred Cool Jazz and Cool Shooters will be a hit at a Guitar Hero party. At that price, it does not cost a lot to create an ambiance.

>>> Sourcing:
Buy online: Cool Jazz ice cube tray at CadOsphere – price: $8.95 CAD
Buy online: Cool Shooters ice cube tray at CadOsphere – price: $10.95 CAD
Learn more: Fred & Friends

FOOD + DRINK FOOD presentation

Five Chocolate Pudding Recipes from the New York Times and La Tartine Gourmande

milk chocolate banana pudding with wafer crumbs new york times :: chocolate pot de creme at laloux

I adore custards for their smoothness and velvety texture. From what I read this morning, custards produce the best chocolate puddings in the world.

In the United States, many Chefs wrote on their menu Pudding instead of Pot de crème to trigger the emotional connection that people have with puddings. But the best puddings are in reality Pot de Crème, a French recipe. In Quebec, we will call it Pot de crème.

I am showing you again the delicious Chocolate pot-de-crème, caramel and Maldon salt that my husband enjoyed at Laloux last winter.

Custard is a creamy preparation made with eggs and cream or milk, thickened with heat. Some recipes call for a bain-marie (double boiler) while other do it on a skillet. But one thing for sure, always melt your chocolate in a double boiler.

Not your Grand Mother Pudding Recipe

Melissa Clark wrote an article about her quest for the perfect chocolate pudding at home.

Melissa started by saying that she imagined an idyllic US grand mother all her life but now she had to switch her mind to a French Grandma. When she learned the trick about the Pot de crème, she decided to try 4 recipes involving custards in one way or another.

Dark Chocolate Custard

dark chocolate custard by la tartine gourmande

While we are on the subject, I could not resist spotlighting a recipe from Béatrice of La Tartine Gourmande. She is the master of little pots after all. And I was curious to see how a French expatriate living in Boston makes her custard.

One important trick given by Béa with her Dark Chocolate Custard recipe is how to save your custard. If you let it boil, your ruin your custard. But all you need to do are a few simple steps to make your custard smooth and creamy again.

Serving a chocolate custard or pudding with fresh fruits instead of whipped cream makes the dish not only healthier but lighter. With temperature rising, that freshness will be welcome at the dining table.

What do you think?

Any of these 5 recipes would make a delightful dessert for your family and your guests. Which recipe inspires you the most? Do you have a trick of your own?

>>> Sourcing:
Via: You Call That Pudding, Grandma? by Melissa Clark [New York Times] – photo by Francesco Tonelli
Recipe: Giving in to Dark Chocolate Custard – Craquer pour un pot de crème au chocolat noir [La Tartine Gourmande] – photo by Béatrice Peltre
Middle Picture: Pot de crème at Laloux – photo by Kim Vallée

ALL occasions GIFT IDEAS

Follow-up story | My search for retailers of Koziol

pureseries_carafecupsbottlecoolerandtray

To answer a reader request, I searched for more sources of Koziol. This time I searched in Canada.

I told you this week that was harder to find retailers in North America for Koziol.  A sad thing!

A Confirmed Retailer in Montreal

I am happy to report that a small retailer in Montreal carries many Koziol products. Chez Farfelu Maison just received a new shipment of cool kitchen and bathroom accessories.

Missing Opportunities

As many small retailers in Quebec, Chez Farfelu Maison does not have a Web site. Specialized independent retailers often carry unique stuff but the lack of a well documented Web site makes the task of finding them a lot harder. I made 7 phone calls to dig one retailer that carries Koziol.

I think that retailers are missing on a great opportunity. With the current trend towards fun and colorful housewares and interior design, this should create a demand for Koziol products. A design that might not have exists in the past. Moreover, Koziol products are affordable for the masses.

I just sent an email to the Canadian distributor. I hope to get news soon It was quick (15 minutes in a Sunday afternoon, I should have checked back my email before posting). Diana Arn suggested Chez Farfelu Maison and Crash.

Update: Paulla Maxey of Crash contacted me. She told that they carry a fairly extensive inventory in Koziol and review the line continually for updates.

I dug so far three Canadian retailers:

Farfelu Maison (Chez)
p 514.528.8842 – 838 Avenue Du Mont-Royal Est, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H2J 1X1

CRASH
p 604.684.9922 – Unit 7 at 1551 Johnston Street, Vancouver, Canada, V6H 3R9
open daily 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m

  • I found a store on eBay Canada Your New Gift with a few items. Unfortunately the coolest products I presented to you are not in the inventory except for the Pic Up.

I keep you posted on as I discover new sources.

April 29th, 2008 Update: Diana Arn also sent me retailers for Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.

RELATED POST:
+ Bring Happiness in Your Kitchen with Koziol

ALL occasions GIFT IDEAS

Iced Tea Brewing Pitchers by Tea Forte for Mother’s Day

tea forté tea over ice brewing pitchers :: morehouse café cup

Tea Forté showed its care for design from the start when they introduced their pyramid shape tea bags. The unique Silken-Tea-Infusers that are individually hand crafted feel luxurious. Many brides and grooms sent a delightful message with them as wedding party favors.

Innovative Ice Tea Pot

With the warm weather, we are longing for iced tea concoctions. Tea Forté Reinvent a classic. I have to agree when their ad says

Fresh and authentic flash-chilled iced teas with a boldly original tableside presentation.

Drinking tea is good for you and makes you feel good. Offer a few moments of relaxation to your mom by giving her this revolutionary brewing pitcher. Operating it is at easy as 1, 2 3.

  1. Pour boiling water over infuser
  2. Steep 3 to 5 minutes
  3. Pour over ice and enjoy!

If your mom likes a hot ice tea, she will probably appreciate the Morehouse Glass. This double-walled glass ensemble keeps your tea hot while remaining cool to the touch. A glass cover keeps your tea hot for a longer period of time.

Stylishly Modern Hot Tea Cup

If your mother is a fan of the Tea Forté, she will appreciate this elegant porcelain tea cup ensemble. Café Cup custom cover reveals the signature leaf and keeps the tea hot while steeping. Imagine serving your tea in those cups at your next dinner party. It is a beautiful sight for the stylish hostess.

>>> Sourcing:
Buy online: Tea Forté Brewing Pitchers – two pitchers and lid – price: $42 USD
Buy online: Morehouse Glass double-walled tea cup by Tea Forté – price: $22 USD
Buy online: Café Cup by Tea Forté – price: $20 USD

GIFT IDEAS Gifts for HER

Fashionable Mother’s Day Gift Ideas at Oktak

oktak handbags :: frame purse :: coin :: pouches

After beauty products, why not talk going out purses? Some women go crazy for shoes. I enjoy beautiful shoes but I prefer purses.

Every stylish woman should own at least a collection of purses to accessorize with her outfits. As I go to many cocktail events for business and pleasures, evening purses are a must for me.

New Going Out Handbag

My closet will host a new going out handbag soon. I like purses with a personality. Coriander, the latest pattern at Oktak seduced me. I selected the paprika color because bright colors are popular for summer 2008.

I bought my first going out handbag from Oktak last summer. The unique frame purse cleverly integrates the closing mechanism in the handle. I was surprised by how well it works. The design carries a feminine vintage vibe that I enjoy.

Besides style, the ideal night purse is big enough to carry your lipstick, a pen, a coin purse, a cell phone and one key on a key chain. The best one has room for a small camera. It sounds a lot but that it what I typically need when I go out.

Functional and Cute

Mothers can be fashionista too. If you mom harmonizes her handbag to her outfit on a daily basis, simplify her life. Getting her a few pouches for her makeup, pens and papers, store her bills will speed up the transfer of her things. Moreover, everything is easier to find when they are nicely organized.

The medium frame pouch is also available in the new coriander pattern. The frame pouch is perfect for carrying cosmetics, iPod, digital camera, cell phone and everything else that fits in your palm.

The zipper pouches are cute. A nice detail is the two glass beads attached to a leather cord. The eyeglass cases are adorable. I like their retro vibe, definitely designed for a woman.

The small frame pouch can be used as a coin purse or as a jewelry case. This can be handy when you go to the gym. You can create a set by matching some coin purses to a XL frame pouch (clutch) or a frame purse.

The Oktak bags are handmade. A Japanese girl named Aki Takada who lives in New York designed them. Since Oktak produces in small quantity, you will give something special to your mother.

Update May 3, 2008: I received my Paprika Coriander going out bag and it is lovely. I cannot wait to try it out. Great job Aki!

>>> Sourcing:
Buy online: frame going out purses by Oktak – price: $65 USD
Buy online:  large zipper pouch – pink flowers on turquoise – price: $19.50 USD
Buy online:  medium frame pouch (square) by Oktak – raspberry coriander – price: $29 USD
Buy online:  eyeglass case by Oktak – pink blossoms on green – price: $30 USD
Buy online: mini frame pouch – spring blooms on green – price: $22 USD

ENTERTAINING PARTY ideas + decor

Pinnacle of Tent Event Design by Gloss Creative

melbourne cup marquee designs by gloss creative Event design is a huge market. Big brands have the monetary wealth to indulge in fabulous event decor. They make us dream and inspire us.

Let’s me introduce you to the lavish creations from a prolific Australian three-dimensional design studio Gloss Creative.

Founded by Amanda Henderson in 2001, Gloss Creative merges the world of Visual Merchandising and design. They call their style Grand Simplicity. Gloss Creative works in four areas: marquees, runaways, set design and floral styling.

In case you do not know, marquee is the British term for a large tent set up for an outdoor party, reception, or exhibition. What I am showing you here are tents designed for the haute society horse races in Australia. I am talking about the Melbourne Cup Spring Racing Carnival events.

Three Party Themes

I could resist when I saw the Audrey Hepburn’s Breakfast in Tiffany theme done for the Longines watches. It finished the circle that I started Monday with my beauty secrets.

Created in 2007, Fashion Topia featured shades of greens. The poufs with their velvet fabric were the stars. This marquee feels less luxurious but the layout works well for a cocktail event. People can move the seating at will to suit the social exchanges.

The Picnic Luxe Tent is adorable. I enjoy how they display the food. You could recycle this concept for a party this summer. The picnic theme can be interpreted in so many ways from a casual family style to a stylish Victorian era backdrop.

Wonderful Finger Food

 shannon bennett food at moet & chandon marquee at melbourne cup spring racing carnival 2007

I feel bad that I did not buy the February/March 2008 issue of Belle. I read this Australian magazine occasionally. The great article was published on Moët & Chandon’s Le Chapiteau Merveilleux. That tent design raised the bar.

The woman talented Australian Chef Shannon Bennett of the French restaurant Vue du Monde prepared the lunch platter. Guests were served vintage Moët & Chandon champagne with mini Wagyu steak sandwich, chickpea fries with dijonnaise, rabbit pithivier and the classic Peach Melba served with a modern twist on an Asian spoon. It sounds delicious.

>>> Sourcing:
Learn more: Gloss Creative
Photo credits: Bella article pictures taken by Mark Roper – Copyright pictures
Via: bye bye boring white . walls with dimension [ready 2 spark] + Gloss Creative [design to inspire]