At Deep Glamour's first birthday party, fabulous hats weren't the only glamorous accessories - the drinks served were pretty amazing, as well (if we do say so ourselves).
Thanks to decidedly unglamorous insurance and licensing issues, we weren't able to serve any alcohol at the event. That meant no delicate flutes of champagne, no swirling snifters of brandy, and no martinis - shaken or stirred.
Fortunately, there's no rule that says that drinks have to be boozy to be fabulous. Enter the "mocktail." I'll admit, I'm not a huge fan of the term - I think it's silly, at best. Plus, most mocktails I've come into contact with have been more appropriate for an eight-year old's birthday party than for an evening with adults.
But it doesn't have to be that way. When they're built on the right foundation, non-alcoholic drinks can be just as sophisticated as their 100 proof counterparts. Creating glamorous drinks is simply a matter of focusing on the basics: color, texture, movement, and balanced taste.
Much of champagne's allure is locked up in the bubbles - club soda can add the same effervescence. Certain juices (including pineapple and pomegranate, which we used, thanks to two of our sponsors, Dole and POM Wonderful) echo the rich colors of good wine or Scotch. A few dried blueberries or cranberries at the bottom of a glass are as elegant a garnish as any olive or onion twist.
And then there's the power of the name. In keeping with the theme, our drinks were named after hats - the "POM Pillbox" and the "Pineapple Panama." We borrowed the alliterative approach from the golden age of the cocktail, with its Singapore Slings and Moscow Mules.
Want to drink like the glamorous, with all of the elegance, none of the hangover? Here are our recipes:
1 part pomegranate juice
2 parts ginger ale
2-3 small pieces of candied ginger, chopped just a little
Put the ginger in the bottom of the glass and top with the POM juice, then the ginger ale. Stir and serve.
2 parts pineapple juice
1 part cranberry juice
1 part sparkling water
Pour the pineapple juice in the glass first, then top with the cranberry juice and sparkling water. Give the whole thing a stir to swirl the juices, and the colors.
And, just for good measure, a couple additional drink recipes we weren't able to include at the evening's bar.
2 parts lemonade
1 part blueberry juice
1 part sparkling water
5-10 dried blueberries
Place the blueberries in the bottom of the glass and top with the juices, then add the sparkling water. Stir and serve. The dried blueberries dress this drink up.
2 part lemonade
3 parts sparkling water
1 mint sprig
Place the mint in the bottom of the glass and cover with the lemonade and water. Stir, muddling the mint leaves a bit, to release the leaves' natural oils, and serve. This recipe also works with iced tea - both versions smell great and look pretty and summery.
[Photo of the POM Pillbox by Kit Pollard. DG bartender mixing POM Pillbox by Karol Franks from DeepGlamour Flickr pool.]
Julia Child is an unlikely glamour girl. Over six feet tall, with long arms and legs and a warbling voice famously parodied by Dan Aykroyd, she possessed none of the sultry airs of Marilyn Monroe or the cool confidence of Jackie Kennedy. But glamorous she was thanks to her larger-than-life personality and her role in helping Americans see food itself as something glamorous.
Put her in the kitchen, surrounded by knives, a raw chicken, and a vat of cream, and Julia transformed into something wonderful. Completely in charge of her surroundings, perfectly at home, and most of all, thrilled to be there. A woman happy to be behind a stove and in front of a camera is not a surprising image today, what with our Nigella Lawsons and Barefoot Contessas and even our Rachael Rays. But in 1963, when Julia Child made her debut on a local channel in Boston, the world – both in terms of food and of women – was a very different place.
In the 1920’s and ’30s, women (and it was always women) spent an average of 30 to 42 hours per week cooking for their families – and that’s in addition to other at-home responsibilities. Back then, cooking wasn’t fun. It was a chore.
By the time Julia Child entered the public eye, women’s roles were starting to evolve. They were entering the workforce, allowing less time to slave over the stove back at home. Food manufacturers were quick to notice the trend and capitalize on it, developing easy-to-make semi-prepared foods. Those dishes might not have been as tasty or healthy as the fresh stuff, but they were a whole lot quicker and easier.
If prepared foods never complete displaced cooking from scratch, we have Julia to thank. She helped American women see the value – emotional as well as gustatory – in “real” cooking.
In a recent New York Times article, Michael Pollan points out that Child’s television debut occurred the same year as the publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. Pollan notes that while it might seem, on the surface, that Julia’s position in the kitchen was at odds with Friedan’s take on feminism, in reality, the two were working in concert. He says:
She tried to show the sort of women who read The Feminine Mystique that, far from oppressing them, the work of cooking approached in the proper spirit offered a kind of fulfillment and deserved an intelligent woman’s attention. (A man’s too.)
Fulfillment, intelligence, confidence – these are the qualities that emanated from Julia Child, the ones she passed on to her audience, and the ones that made her glamorous. Plus, the food she cooked was rich, French and (at times) complicated – the most glamorous sort. Pollan again:
Once upon a time, Julia…showed you how you, too, could cook like someone who could not only prepare but properly pronounce a béarnaise. So-called fancy food has always served as a form of cultural capital, and cooking programs help you acquire it....
On Friday, Julia Child’s glamour and charm will be broadcast once again, via Meryl Streep, with the opening of the movie Julie & Julia . It tells the story of Julia’s culinary awakening in post-war France intertwined with the (also true) story of a New York City blogger named Julie Powell cooking her way through Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking. If the trailer is any indication, it’ll be a fabulous movie.
Nearly 50 years after her first appearance on the small screen, Julia’s character still captivates us with her unflinching joie de vivre. As the movie proves, her spirit connects not only to those women she originally influenced, but to women (and men) of younger generations, as well. Like a true icon, and the glamorous woman that she was.
Editor's Note: With this post, Kit Pollard, who doubles as a food blogger and columnist, kicks off a new DeepGlamour feature. Got ideas for other Top 10 lists you'd like to see? Want to guest blog one of your own? Email me at virginia-at-deepglamour.net.
Cheetos, grilled chicken breasts, the handfuls of nuts we grab to get through the workday - most food is forgettable at best.
But not all of it. Food, like clothing, can rise above its role as something that's simply necessary for survival. Fabulous food can elevate an event from run-of-the-mill to glamorous.
And what makes a food glamorous? According to a quick, and completely unscientific, poll of several glamour-loving food bloggers, it's all about decadence and degree of difficulty. If it's hard to find, has a short season, or is especially rich in flavor, it's probably glamorous.
Here, in declining order, are the top ten most glamorous foods:
10. Chocolate ganache. Decadence defined.
9. Asparagus with hollandaise. When a seasonal vegetable is topped with a rich sauce, it’s always glamorous.
8. Chocolate-covered strawberries. The sweet version of asparagus in hollandaise.
7. A piping hot, chewy, crusty baguette. Preferably from Poilane in Paris.
6. A perfect tomato, just from the vine. Juicy and ephemeral.
5. Butter-poached lobster. So hard to cook perfectly, and so amazing when it’s just right.
4. Foie gras. Rich and controversial.
3. Oysters – dressed up (Rockefeller) or down (on the half shell with mignonette sauce). Not-so-pretty, and certainly an acquired taste, but special nonetheless.
2. Truffles. Heady, hard to find, and outrageously expensive and exclusive.
1. Caviar. With or without blinis (but preferably with champagne), these tiny bubbles are foodie shorthand for glamour.
What do you think? Anything missing? Misplaced? What's your idea of a perfectly glamorous meal?
Thanks to fabulous food and design bloggers Meg, Dara, Julie, and Kathy for their help with the list.
["Russian Black Caviar" by Flickr user Cavin used under the Creative Commons license.]
About eight years ago, just as the Sex and the City-fueled cosmo craze was starting to quiet down, I went on my first date with my now-husband. We went to a cool (for Baltimore) restaurant that boasted of an extensive “martini menu.”
After seating us, the hostess handed each of us a tall, skinny paper menu listing all of the bar’s martini options. As she walked away and we started reading, we both started laughing – the drinks had about as much in common with martinis as Manolos do with Old Navy flip flops. Yes, they are both shoes. But that’s about it.
Our favorite was nothing more than Southern Comfort and lime juice, shaken with ice and served in a martini glass. A pretty far cry from 007’s regular cocktail.
Since that night, bars’ and restaurants’ desire to put absolutely anything, regardless of ingredients, in a martini glass seems to have died down a bit. But the definition of “martini” has definitely loosened up since the cocktail’s beginnings. Originally a simple combination of gin and vermouth, vodka martinis gained popularity in the 1960s and James Bond himself took some liberties with the recipe when he requested a combination of vodka, gin, and Kina Lillet (now called a Vesper) in Casino Royale.
Reckless as he may be, though, it’s awfully hard to imagine Bond ever ordering an appletini or anything involving chocolate liqueur. A flirtini for the special agent? Somehow I doubt it.
In business school speak, what does this free-for-all expansion mean for the core martini brand? So far, it doesn’t seem to have suffered that much. The traditional martini – gin or vodka – maintains its glamorous image despite its many unworthy imitators.
But why? Is it the drink’s history? Its Bond associations? Its pristine clarity? Or is it because drinking a martini without ending up on the floor demonstrates a certain type of strength – alcohol tolerance – that’s associated with the glamorous men and women of earlier eras?
All of the above, most likely. And let’s hope that’s all enough to keep defending the martini from its imitators. Special Agent Bond will thank us.
[Photo: A gin and pickle juice (yes, pickle juice) martini that I couldn't quite finish last week.]
With this post, we're delighted to add Kit Pollard to the regular DG team.--VP
A couple of years ago, my husband and I began a gigantic home addition/renovation project that included a new, expanded kitchen. I love to cook, but when we sat down with our architect to talk about what was important in the kitchen design, I was all about good party space. Counter space? Whatever. I just wanted shiny appliances and a really long island where everybody could set their drinks when the dancing started.
Apparently I’m not the only one. Super-glam New York decorator Miles Redd admits that his old kitchen (he’s since redecorated), and its 1930s Hollywood glamour-puss vibe, is all about the party and, of course, the cocktails (more pictures here and photos of the new space here). It’s a gorgeous room – all black and white and stainless steel – and the appliances are top-of-the-line. I'm not sure how much action his oven sees, though. The room's careful, fancy clutter and super-shiny surfaces are really more conducive to popping champagne corks than to peeling potatoes.
Unfortunately, at my house, I had to be at least a little bit practical. No lamps or liquor on the countertops for me, and a lot more focus on storage and functional work area. Vintage Venetian crystal lamps are pretty, and I’m sure the quality of the lighting is fabulous for parties, but when your counters are covered with light fixtures and vases and bar trays, where do you chop the vegetables?
Deep Glamour's week of food ends with a guest post from The Liquid Muse*. A well-made cocktail is a touch of luxury at any time, and taking the time to master the basics pays off handsomely at happy hour.
When creating a new drink recipe – with or without alcohol, I take to the kitchen. Chopping fruits and muddling herbs can be messy business, so it’s good to have a sink handy. Not to mention a fridge stocked with fresh, organic produce, and a stovetop for cooking up a batch of simple syrup.
What is simple syrup, you ask? Well, I’m glad you did because it is an integral ingredient in many cocktails. It is a sweetening agent. Simple syrup is essentially ‘sugar water.’ Some people make their simple syrups with a 1:1 ratio (1 part sugar to 1 part water). Personally, I prefer a 2:1 ratio (2 parts sugar to 1 part water) because the syrup is a little thicker and gives the drink a bit more texture. Just remember to go easy on the quantity you use – more than 1 ounce is usually too much!
Basic instructions to make simple syrup:
Dissolve 2 cups of sugar into 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once bubbling, reduce heat, let simmer for a couple of minutes. Then cool and store in a jar in the refrigerator.
Now, here is the fun thing about creating syrups – it is really easy to get creative and bring extra flavor and pizzazz to your cocktails by sprucing up the syrup. For example, make ginger-infused simple syrup by following the recipe above, but add a 1” long piece of peeled fresh ginger for extra zing. Want to make rose-infused simple syrup? Go to a Middle Eastern market or gourmet store and buy potable rose water. Use that instead of plain water in the simple syrup recipe, and voila – a lovely smelling and tasting addition to a champagne cocktail or vodka martini.
Take things one-step further and brew some fresh herbal tea… peppermint, for example. Now use 1/2 cup of that with 1 cup of sugar and your Mint Julep can have an extra “je ne sais crois” on Derby Day. Fruit flavored herbal teas (lemon, orange, raspberry) are interesting to experiment with, too.
Recently, I’ve started on wine syrups. Yep, the result of 1/2 cup of Cabernet Sauvignon and 1 cup of sugar had magical results in one of my latest cocktail creations. (Check The Liquid Muse in April to see a DIY video of that drink called the Ginger Sun.) My next forays in oenological adventures will be with Chardonnay and Moscatel varietals.
The point I’m trying to make is that a great cocktail can only be as interesting as what you put in it. So put on your thinking cap and have fun. The cocktail hour can start at any time of the day, in any room of the house – particularly the kitchen – and render sweet satisfaction.
*Who is The Liquid Muse? With over 17 years of experience in the hospitality industry, lifestyle writer and mixologist Natalie Bovis-Nelsen keeps an eye on drink trends around the world. She designs signature cocktails for celebrity-studded events, teaches cocktail classes around the U.S. and has shaken-and-stirred audiences on TV and radio shows. Natalie consults for beverage companies, and is a pioneer in bringing high-end mixology philosophies to nonalcoholic cocktails, too.
Her highly acclaimed book Preggatinis: Mixology for the Mom-to-be features more than 75 of her original recipes designed with the fun-loving preggie party girl in mind, and was named one of about.com’s top ten cocktail books of 2008.
Cleopatra was said to dissolve pearls in wine to make a tonic for her complexion, which seems a bit extreme. What if the pearl didn't completely dissolve? Did she chew the crunchy bits?
The modern version, Glowelle from Nestle, contains antioxidants, vitamins, and botanical & fruit extracts, is easy to digest, and helps delay aging by hydrating the skin. Two flavors are offered--Natural Pomegranate Lychee and Natural Raspberry Jasmine.
Win a 3 month supply by being the first reader to email me (kate at deepglamour dot net) with the correct name of the city where Nestle S.A. is headquartered.
Deep Glamour asked food scholar/bon vivant Charles Perry about the good old days, when peacock on the menu was the sure sign of a glamorous meal. He's making his blog debut here.
What’s a luxury ingredient? Something there’s not much of, for starters. Ancient Roman epicures went for ingredients that required a lot of animals to be offed, such as larks’ tongues and sows’ wombs (which were stuffed like sausages). Black truffles have even more luxury value today than they had before WWI, because the fighting destroyed a lot of oak forests where the truffle flourished.
But human beings have small minds and mean to use them, so they have always counterfeited the expensive stuff. In medieval Baghdad, the ingredient that was always in short supply was marrow, so there were recipes on how to fake it if you didn’t have enough marrow bones for your party (here’s the secret: brains or spleen mixed with kidney fat, cooked together in a tube to give it the right shape). Today, we don’t care at all about marrow, unless we’re having osso buco.
In medieval Europe, the aristos claimed a monopoly on wild game and ferociously punished any ordinary person who poached one of the duke’s deer. So game acquired aristocratic connotations there, and European cookbooks still give recipes for pork dressed to mimic wild boar and imitation venison made from beef.
These days, particularly in areas without a long growing season, the great luxury ingredient is “fresh, local, organic” produce. Watch for it to be faked too. In John Brunner’s 1972 dystopic novel The Sheep Look Up, the company with a monopoly on all the organic produce in the world is damningly discovered to be putting fake worm holes in fruits and vegetables so people will think they’re organic.
Real insect damage. That's going to be next truffles.
Perry left the LAT in May 2008, is working on his latest book, Partying Like It's 1399, and was interviewed by Superchef.
Kit Pollard, long time reader, first time guest blogger, contributes to DG's Week of Food.
When Don Draper takes his wife and clients to dinner, it’s cocktail attire at Lutece, shorthand for glamour in 1960s New York. Dinner at Lutece was all mousseline of pike in lobster cream sauce and beef Wellington – heavy, fancy, heady, certainly French – and nothing you would try at home.
So what’s today’s equivalent? When the big clients come calling, or the Don Draper of today (does he exist?) needs to placate a ladyfriend, which hotspot is on speed dial? Is it Momofuku Ko, a place creative but so small that a reservation is next to impossible? A four-star powerhouse helmed by somebody so famous his name gets the Madonna treatment? (Think Daniel, Jean-Georges, Morimoto.) Or is it most impressive to make the trek out to Blue Hill at Stone Barns, where “fresh, clean, local, American flavors” (TM Top Chef “cheftestants”) are so fresh and clean and local that they’re culled from the farm on the property?
These are the places that represent the new American restaurant ideals. As diverse as they are, they’ve got at least one thing in common: it’s unlikely that their customers are polished to the standards of Betty and Don Draper or the maitre’d at Lutece in 1963. These days, it seems like jeans are de rigeur for dinner at even the poshest places. In Baltimore, where I live, there are only two restaurants left that require men to wear jackets. Neither one is the kind of place you’d take a date you wanted to impress – unless, of course, that date was your grandmother. In which case, she’d probably be very impressed, indeed.
So what is the new definition of restaurant glamour? Does “glamour” even still exist in the restaurant world or did Kitchen Confidential ruin it by revealing the profane man behind the curtain?
Call me optimistic, but I think the glamorous meal is still within reach. It might have evolved a little since 1963 (and believe me, I mourn the passing of the Betty Draper wardrobe), but maybe the food has taken center stage over the attire worn while eating it. Much like an haute couture gown, food that is aspirational (think a tasting menu at Per Se, a private table at the Inn at Little Washington, or a culinary adventure at El Bulli) is the new definition of culinary glamour.
That said, even the most fabulous food has become more democratic over the past decade. It might still take 18 months to get a reservation at The French Laundry, where the prices are not for the faint of pocketbook, but the food’s been demystified. You can always buy the book and make it at home.
And these days it really is all about the food. Décor, service, the notion of a celebrity behind the grill (or at least behind the concept) – they add to the experience, of course. But as foodie culture has exploded, so has the idea that the food comes first. The most fabulous food these days is creative and “authentic” all at once.
Sure, it’s nice to get a great see-and-be-seen table, but you’re more likely to impress your clients with your stories of tapas bar-hopping in San Sebastien than with your pull at the hostess stand. Food today gets glamorous when the story behind it is full of history and people and, hopefully, a little drama.
Last week, Kate and I emailed a little about food and glamour. She said to me, “Remember when caviar was glamorous? And now it’s marrow bones.” The definition of culinary glamour has evolved from mother-of-pearl spoons daintily dishing up the food of Russian royalty to imitating early man, lustily, and probably messily, digging marrow out of the bones.
Betty Draper’s chiffon and silk wouldn’t have stood a chance against the pleasures of marrow…luckily, my trusty Seven jeans do.
Kit Pollard blogs at Mango and Ginger.
Deep Glamour's favoring a food-themed week, and to kick it off, we've subjected mystery blogger, The Foodinista, to our questions.
DG: How and when and why did chefs become glamorous? Didn't they used to be faintly comic--like Chef Boyardee?
TF: I would argue that Chef Boyardee has a certain chic about him. He can pull off a toque like nobody's business. But probably Julia Child started the ball rolling by bringing French fare into our homes in the 60s. From there, I would say the Food Network took it to the next level, turning chefs like Mario into gods. I have no other explanation for the popularity of Crocs in this country.
DG: Are some foods inherently more glamourous than others, or is it all in presentation?
TF: It depends on your definition of glamour. Caviar is an obvious association with "glamour" simply because it is expensive and rare. I love caviar. But I also think a perfectly roasted chicken at a dinner party makes much more of a statement about good taste, and there are few things as elegant as a simple glass bowl filled with lemons. Aesthetically speaking, I'll take farmers markets over Fendi any day.
DG: Has all the emphasis in media on professional cooking intimidated home cooks?
TF: My prediction is that we're about to see a backlash to the celebrity chef phenomenon. I think we've stopped caring, or at least I have. We're much more interested in neighborhood restaurants where the chef is actually in there cooking honest, unpretentious, beautiful food. And it's the kind of food we're cooking at home now more than ever—much more focused on ingredients than showmanship. I would argue this shift away from fussy food wrought with laborious technique has empowered the home chef. We realize now that we don't have to spend five hours cooking in order to have people over to dinner. In fact, all the better if one is able to prepare a fast, easy and satisfying meal and spend time chatting with friends and family instead of hiding behind the scenes fretting over a sauce.
The DG Dozen
1) How do you define glamour? Or what makes someone or something glamorous?
Glamour is an inherent quality that makes someone or something more attractive.
2) Who or what is your glamorous icon? Charlotte Gainsbourg.
3) Is glamour a luxury or a necessity? Glamour is a necessary luxury.
4) Favorite glamorous movie? Darling.
5) What was your most glamorous moment? I'd love to say something romantic about sailing into the harbor at Portofino, but in reality I was on a tourist ferry not a yacht, so let's go with the first time I met Tom Ford—such a snapshot in time, which now seems so frivolous and far away during this very real recession. It was one of those magical L.A. evenings in the garden behind the Chateau. He commented on a white linen Chanel camelia I had pinned to an old denim jacket. We were at party for Stella McCartney, sipping vodka cocktails, and I was a huge fan of Ford's at the time. Patrick McMullan was snapping photos. Everyone looked gorgeous, and the lighting was perfect. It was such a great party.
6) Favorite glamorous object ? A string of pearls my parents gave me for my 16th birthday. I love to wear them with t-shirts.
7) Most glamorous place? The balcony of a lakefront suite at the Villa d'Este during a thunderstorm on Lake Como, where my husband and I spent our honeymoon. We ended up in a hot tub with Michael Bolton, which sort of dulled the patina.
8) Most glamorous job? Michelle Obama's.
9) Something or someone that other people find glamorous and you don't?
10) Something or someone that you find glamorous whose glamour is unrecognized?
Nancy Silverton. You will find her on any given night at Mozza—manning the pizza oven or the mozzarella bar—dressed to the nines in Marni, blood red lipstick and a simple apron. She somehow remains graceful under any amount of pressure.
11)Can glamour survive? People will always want to see a prettier version of themselves, which is why, for better or worse, we look to glossies and celluloid for escape instead of in the mirror. Conversely, reality television makes us feel better about looking in the mirror after having leafed through the latest issue of Vogue. It's a balancing act.
12) Is glamour something you're born with? Grace is something you're born with, and it certainly lends authenticity to glamour in a way that oversized sunglasses cannot.
1)Angelina Jolie or Cate Blanchett? Cate Blanchett
2)Paris or Venice? Paris for fashion/Venice Ghetto for food
3) New York or Los Angeles? Los Angeles
4) Princess Diana or Princess Grace? Grace
5)Tokyo or Kyoto? Kyoto
6) Boots or stilettos? Stilettos
7) Art Deco or Art Nouveau? Deco
8) Jaguar or Astin Martin? Aston Martin
9) Armani or Versace? Neither
10) Diana Vreeland or Anna Wintour? DV
11) Champagne or single malt? Champagne
1960s or 1980s? 60s
Diamonds or pearls? Pearls
Kate Moss or Naomi Campbell? Kate
Sean Connery or Daniel Craig? Sean Connery