Friday, June 18, 2010

Summer Eggplant Pasta

Despite the ongoing rain, I'm determined to make it summer.  During the day, I ponder critical issues such as, should we expect a flood of the Danube canal due to all this ridiculous rain? Will the hills be more alive with condensation? More importantly, is this excess water affecting the trinkwasserqualiteat???  These are the critical issues of the day.

But when not consumed with the critical issues of the day, I've been taking advantage of the summer produce, to at least pretend like sunshine is in the kitchen.  Put together a little something last night, which was not at all complicated - the idea came from one of my favorite go-to cookbooks: Kitchen, by Michelle Cranston.  I picked it up once when we had just a little bit left over on a Crate and Barrel gift card and I thought the pictures were pretty (which, honestly, is how I choose all of my cookbooks), and use it regularly, especially for cakes and appetizers.  More than anything, I use the "kitchen bench" pages, where they don't even give recipes but just go through bullet points of how to put several pantry ingredients for a meal, dessert, appetizer etc. Very quick, very good, go-to resource.  Here's the "recipe" for the eggplant pasta...

  • Pasta - used spaghetti but will likely go with penne next time
  • 1 eggplant, diced/chopped
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 can San Marzano tomatoes (dice if not already)
  • 1 clove of garlic (crushed)
  • Olive oil - estimate to taste I guess - i threw in a couple of tablespoons
  • Sautee crushed garlic clove in olive oil until fragrant
  • Add chopped eggplant and red pepper and sautee until soft and "mushy" (according to book)
  • (in meantime, heat water for pasta, cook pasta)
  • Add can of tomotoes, warm and season to taste
  • Toss in pasta once drained
  • Sprinkle liberally with fresh parmesan

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A River Runs Through It

I like to think that I can come up with my own blog post ideas, but I saw this covered in Habitually Chic and just couldn't pass it up.  Since another rainy day is upon us again, I thought this would be a good opportunity to showcase another beach house. Except for this isn't a house, but rather a house boat, belonging to the eccentric yet genius shoe master, Christian Louboutin.  Sail the Nile in style  - it looks like it accomodates a lot of guests, but how do we get on the list? And more importantly, does the guest room come with shoes?

Original post can be found here, Photography by Francois Halard.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Diplo-style: Io Sono Amore

Another rainy day in Vienna and we're still dreaming back of Italy.  There's been lots of press given recently to Io Sono Amore which I haven't yet seen released in Vienna.  The Sunday Times called it "an exquisite, all-enveloping feast of sensual pleasures. It’s almost certainly the most elegant piece of cinema you’ll see this year. It is melodrama as celebration rather than as guilty pleasure." What's not to love about that?

What really caught my eye though were pictures of the character Tilda Swinton plays - a Russian wife to the Italian heir of a large Milanese family conglomerate.  I think I particularly fascinated by how accurately the film (or at least the available stills) captured that sense of timeless Italian style - perhaps all the more compelling since I don't typically fall for Tilda's usual get up and go.  I usually find her just a bit to new age and androgynous for my taste, but it's definitely a "look".  But this movie turn, it's certainly Vienna appropriate. 

Be on the lookout for previews....


Monday, June 7, 2010

Meet me at Claridge's

London calling once again - I'll be signing off this week for a work trip to London (no complaints here).  In anticipation for the trip, I'm hoping that I might be able to sneak in a drink at Claridge's Bar.  It's not a casual place to be sure, but it's a classic.

When I first started traveling as a consultant, directly out of school, my first work project and event were in London, where we were put up at Claridge's for nearly two weeks.  At the time, I had barely stayed anywhere more than a hostel or on my parent's dime for family vacations, so when I saw the room rates, I immediately tried to figure out how to stay elsewhere and simply collect the difference in my pay check.  No such luck and in the end, it was lucky me.  It remains one of the greatest hotels in the world, and remarkably I learned many a lesson there in elegance and poise, in carrying myself professionally, and why orange juice was 12 pounds a glass ("But it's from fresh oranges, madam."). 

Claridge's has a history unlike any other. Luxist has a nice synopsis including this anecdote:

During World War II, many exiled royals made their way to Claridge's, including the Kings of Greece, Norway and Yugoslavia, as well as the Queen of the Netherlands. In 1947, a diplomat telephoned the hotel asking to speak to "the King". The polite response was "Certainly sir, but which one?".

Everyone who's anyone has stayed there, but there's always room at the bar.  Jay McInerney also wrote a an ode in Travel and Leisure last year that I thought captured the spirit of the bar beautifully. Pull up a chair, order a glass of champagne without looking at the price, hand over your card without looking at the bill, and delight in the fact that you're part of history, and that one day, you'll be able to come with a friend, a child, a grandchild....and the bar will still be there. 

All photos from Claridge's Hotel.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunshine Day!

After weeks, and weeks, and weeks (did I mention, weeks?) of rain, the sunshine finally came out on Saturday! Hip, hip, hooray!  Given that no one knows when we might get Vitamin D again, we figured the only sensible thing to do was wake up immediately, march right down to the Hertz rent-a-car counter downtown, get ourselves some wheels for the day, and drive on out of town.

And that we did! We drove right on over to the town of Langenlois, which is only about 45 minutes away, which is in the heart of the Kamptal wine region.  Like Reisling or Gruner Veltliner? Those bottles are a dime a dozen around this town, since this region is known for these whites.  The town itself is adorable, and the wineries themselves are open for you to taste (drink), and all have their own small proprietary restaurants where you can have a simple meal and a glass of wine - won't cost you more than 10 euros tops.

Our favorite thing to do in this area is to make our way to the Loisium Hotel - a funky boutique hotel set amidst the vineyards and located right next to the Loisium Wine World (for those looking to take viti-education much more seriously).  But the best thing about this place is that for 28 euros, they're willing to give you access to the pool and spa all day, and for about 70 euros, you can get a massage (about 30% cheaper than in Vienna) and they'll waive the pool fee.  The spa is run by Aveda and a multitude of steam and sauna rooms - hot and very hot, with crystals, with mood lighting, with shaved ice...and they keep a fully stocked "health bar" at your disposal with flavored waters and teas, fruits and nuts, and our favorite, the four o'clock cake hour, all included....Might seem expensive for a day at the pool, but with this being the first day of sunshine in awhile, we were determined to soak up every drop.  Even came back with a tan!

All photography by the New Diplomat's Wife.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

On the streets of Naples...

Arriving in Naples after stunning days in Capri is a bit of a change to say the least, yet there's something appealing about the general "divey-ness" of the city.  Excessive gesturing, phenomenal pizza made with the best San Marzano tomatoes, garbage men sleeping in their trucks while clearly on the job, approximately 500 stamped out cigarette butts right around a couple of gas pumps...where else do you get that kind of action? The city takes a bit of stomach but you have to love the character.  Here are a few shots from the trip...

All photography by The New Diplomat's Wife.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Gentlemen Callers...

If there's one thing that Italian men seem to gravitate to (once we eliminate women, cigarettes, motorini and hand gestures), it's uniforms.  Uniforms are always in style in Italy: well-tailored, well pressed and with lots of accessories that convey importance and authority (sashes, ribbons, medals, etc).  De rigeur, are of course a pair sharp designer shades - though that's not only for men in uniform, it's for all Italians everywhere.  From my trips, it seems that no matter the job: investment banker, sales clerk, garbage collector, vaporetti gate closer, without cool shades one better not even show... This translates of course to you as a tourist - no cool shades, no cool trip to Italy - arrive prepared!

Uniforms were ever prevalent in the Southern Italy, and Capri had all sorts - from the "Coast Guard" to the traffic cop to the luggage hand at the ferry.  There was just one unfortunate who was directing traffic in mid-Capri who clearly showed up late to the party at the uniform store since he was only issued a day-glo mesh vest and what appeared to be a musket.  Not surprisingly, he was the only one that didn't allow me to photograph him....

And for good measure, one out of uniform....

All photography by The New Diplomat's Wife

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The rooms of Capri...

I'm always decorating my beach house. What beach house you say? Why the one in my head! I don't own one of course, but hope to some day and have tossed around all sorts of possible locations: Tunisia, the South of France, the Chesapeake Bay, Southern California, Thailand...and you can now safely add Capri to that list of potential locations we're not actually scouting. Nonetheless, there's something breezy and simple about beach decor and I've always been drawn to it. Sometimes it's inspiration from stores, sometimes from other homes and sometimes from hotels (often our second homes, like it or not).

In Capri, we had the pleasure of staying at the Capri Palace Hotel, which gave me a whole new appreciation for shades of white and cream. The interiors were always calm, with a bit of contemporary art for a funky edge, and impeccable service through and through. Also inspiring was the JK Place for it's rooms and interiors, though we nixed staying there after a few less than stellar service reviews - rooms are worth a look nonetheless and I'm sure they'll work out the service kinks over time.

Our hotel had it's own store attached to it, Mariorita, where you could walk away a little piece of Capri...only two sea-urchin shaped candle holders made it out with me before my husband ushered me out the door...Good thing too, as I was contemplating a huge gold-leafed sea anemone replica to be used as a centerpiece when he found me....
Capri Palace Hotel

JK Place Hotel

Mariorita Shop

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Diplo-style: The Ladies of Capri

Babe Paley

Ahhh...Capri! A beautiful trip in a beautiful place - what more is there to say? I'll have lots to report and lots of photos to come, but in the meantime, while we get organized after returning from the most perfect blue waters possible, here is a little ode to the classic ladies of Capri. 

You'll note quickly that all of these ladies are style icons in their own right, and all of them are wearing island fashions that could be worn today still - which makes them qualify for honorary Vienna icon status.

This playground of the 1960's continues to delight today proving that the best vacations never go out of style.  And yes, capri pants come from Capri.

Who else but Jackie Kennedy in those glasses?

Grace Kelly

Elizabeth Taylor - perhaps even with two of her 8 husbands?

Gracie Fields
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