Final Craven thoughts for 2010..

December is always a time that forces one to reflect..maybe it’s an inherent reflex from years of ancestors paying homage to Janus, maybe its because the media reminds us to resolve over and over again. Whichever it is, I am a believer in and practicer of reevaluating ones life and reveling in the memories or making changes where necessary. This blog is no exception.

I’ve noticed many blogs promising ‘exciting things’ and whatnot in 2011..I can’t promise you excitement but I can promise you that there are some nifty changes and improvements in the works. This year I saw my audience morph from just me, to spammers { !! } to friends I know personally to friends of friends to web-mates, to food & design enthusiasts and more. As the visitors have grown, stayed or breezed by, the one thing that has remained the same is my dedication to writing about things related to food and the food experience that I personally find inspiring and just plain worth knowing. I hope that you have found craven maven’s content equally as rewarding.

One thing that I posted in 2010 was the Kitchen renovation inspiration..after a sudden change of events leading to 24 hours notice that I would be besieged by construction workers, the wood paneled bane of my existence, aka my old kitchen, was ripped to the studs and re-plastered, painted and made more efficient for cooking and entertaining. During the dust and chaos it was extremely cathartic to mood board and dream a wishlist of what my new kitchen would include; so much so that it was a series that fast became one of my favourite blog series of 2010. In 2011, you will see the reveal of this partial well as a tie up to a few other loose ends from 2010. { LOST writer’s I am not! }. In case you’ve forgotten about my kitchen redesign inspiration wishlist(s), here they are for you one more time:

kitchen inspriation

1. Vintage Mod sideboard. 2. Boskke skyplanter . 3. Digsmed Circular Spice rack. 4. Skinny La’Minx tea towel. 5. Rachand Juicer

kitchen redesign insp II

1. Turquoise Poly Plastic Mat. 2. Pegboard for hanging pots and tools. 3. A chalkboard wall. 4. An amazing milk bottle chandelier. 5. A unique and unusual pestle and mortar.

kitchen redesign insp II

1. Illuminated cocktail cabinet. 2. Vintage Artwork. 3. Popcorn popper. 4. Giraffe Cafe’s new family cookbook. 5. A very intriguing knife rack.

kitchen redesign insp 4

1. Ikea Asker series wall system. 2. Bose Soundock. 3. Beast Feet tureen. 4. H&M Tea Towels.

kitchen redesign insp 5

1. Star Trek Enterprise Pizza Cutter. 2. Culin Home Decor Knives. 3. An Organised Kitchen. 4. Tea Towels by Hammocks & High Tea

Some made the cut, some didn’t – some are still on the wishlist til the budget will allow, but all in all I am pleased with how things turned out.

Roll on 2011, a year to be one year older, a smidge wiser and always, always a wee bit craven.


see previous post pages for picture credits

Will you use Food to Fragrance in 2011?

It’s a rhetorical question actually! Needless to say the Food to Fragrance category of craven maven will keep on growing in 2011. It’s a post I love to write as it touches on several things dear to my heart and fixed in my palette, nose and mind! To remind you of what it’s all about, here is one of the posts from this new category that debuted this month.


originally posted on dec 9th 2010

Food to Fragrance: Rhubarb & Custard pie meets Ricci Ricci

ricci ricci ingredients rhubarb / rose / sandalwood

Over the years, you will come to find that there are few fragrances that will literally turn heads and stop conversations mid-sentence when you wear them. For me, one of those scents is Ricci Ricci by Nina Ricci which contains notes of rhubarb, rose and sandalwood. The result is, by definition, a fruity-floral scent, but due to the vegetable on top { rhubarb } and the warm back of Sandalwood there is a certain playful sensuality to this fragrance.

I have always found that the warmth of sandalwood gives skin a nice warm sensual feeling, not dissimilar to what enveloping something in warm custard does for what it covers. Sandalwood’s odour is not overpowering or pronounced, but it’s effect is definite – its what gives the certain something that makes people want to draw close and investigate.

Rhubarb is an interesting choice of fragrance note. In the food world it’s a fruit { in America } and a vegetable elsewhere – visually resembling a sort of red celery; when cooked it’s tender with a tarty zing.

ricci ricci meets rhubarb custard pie

The Fragrance: Ricci Ricci by Nina Ricci. The mix of rhubarb, bergamot, rose, tuberose, sandalwood and patchouli create a glamorous scent that is perfect for going out..or just when you want to smell head turningly good.

The Dish: Rhubarb and Custard Pie pudding by The British Larder

Why it works: Rhubarb is the only literal food to fragrance translation I chose to go with in this case. The zing of rhubarb is subdued in this dish due to the inclusion of sugar and vanilla pods in the recipe. The reduction of sharpness makes it ‘friendlier’ – producing the reaction of wanting to ‘get close’ that the fragrance invokes.

The custard and pastry in the recipe comes with a hint of rum – a grown up ‘sophisticated’ element to what could otherwise have been a usual dish. Which brings me to the dish itself. Rhubarb and Custard was, and may still be, a dish that was served weekly for school pudding. I remember few children being able to appreciate the unique taste of such a dish, nevertheless it was a bastion of the school dinner menu rotation.

In a similar way, Nina Ricci is a brand that has proven longevity – 78 years this year in both the worlds of fashion and beauty – staples in life in the Western World at least!

Fragrance tip:
Every fragrance does NOT smell the same on every person, ‘your scent’ can and will be influenced by what you eat as certain foods leech out of the pores after consumption. My foolproof trick is to not eat garlic or spices 24 hours before I am going somewhere special where I need my fragrance to waft at its maximum potential!

Food tip: Personally, I like to consume custard on the day it’s made – it is one food that doesn’t macerate as well as others. Make the dish with a view of eating it day of or the day after at lastest!

Try the fragrance, try the recipe and let me know what you think of both!

images via the british larder and nina ricci
ingredients: 1. 2. 3

The Mystery Bodega food stylist..a reflection on 2010

One of the best things I added to craven maven this year was the blog contributor Liz in the ‘food stylin‘ category. Liz is a great photographer who I’ve known and shot with for over 10 years {!}, having her discerning eye curate this category has exposed me to some great food photographer and mystery stylists…My favourite post by Liz was “The Mystery NY Bodega food stylist” posted back in October…in case you forgot all about it here it is for you again:

originally posted on october 14, 2010

Food Stylin’: The Mystery NY Bodega Stylist

mystery bodega food stylist

(You may have noticed the last few food stylin’ on Thursday submissions were ‘inspired by Liz’. Liz is a dear photog friend of mine who is a woman of many words and sometimes a woman of none. She always has an eye for style and a heart for good food. I’m pleased to announce that starting today she will be a regular contributor to the Craven Maven blog – exposing us to the work of unique and intriguing food stylists. Please welcome Liz!)

This week’s celebrity food stylist in the making is a person of mystery. While walking past a local bodega in the West Village I spied some of the most artistically arranged foodstuffs I’d ever seen. I snapped a couple of photos and promised myself to return after work.

mystery bodega food stylistartfully arranged packets of tomatoes meets neat rows of water versus super-organised pumpkins

mystery bodega food stylist

When I came back in the evening to investigate, none of the staff were able to tell me the identity of the person who sets up the produce stand. They all looked at me a bit oddly and declared that the bins and shelves had simply “always been that way.” I’m thinking that there’s a talented night stockist just waiting to become the food world’s Next Big Thing…

mystery bodega food stylistpomegranates, apples and plums arranged by hue while green and orange pop throughout the store

Hmm..I wonder who the mystery bodega food stylist is…maybe a late shift worker who uses symmetry and colour to keep him/her awake in the wee hours?!

thanks liz!!

All images by Liz

If you’re snowed in, this might be the perfect distraction..

So, I am sure most by now know that the North East coast in the USA has been hit by a terrible snow storm. This is about the fourth such storm we have seen this year, the major difference being, this one appears to be especially crippling. I for one haven’t even looked out the window today. Fortunate to be one of the annoyingly few who ‘work from home’ I don’t get a ‘snow-day’ but at the same token, I don’t have to deal with trudging through the snow mountains and unpleasant { currently non-existent } bus rides that inevitably ensues.

Instantly what came to mind was a post I wrote back on January 29th, when we were in the middle of the 2009 – 2010 Winter season, a recipe for Vegan Hot Chocolate by shak shuka. This recipe goes over gangbusters in the winter time…in fact I served it at my Tron party a few weeks ago and busted many a guest licking their cups like a kitten at mealtime. It’s the perfect distraction from shoveling snow / looking at the snow / lamenting the snow…so check out the original post below and give the recipe a try and if you don’t have to go out, don’t be ashamed to add a little liqueur to make it warm the cockles..

Originally posted on Jan 29th 2010

It’s freezing here right now. The weather in NY is 19F and with the windchill factor, feels in the single digits. Even though I am indoors and my radiator is bubbling away, I am still wrapped in a blanket and shivering…darn this winter! Worse still, its going to be like this all weekend. How better to ease the winter chill than with a nice mug of hot choccie..

Hot Choccie

Oh, how I wish I had picked up a tin of Maribelle’s Milk and Hazelnut hot chocolate when I was in Soho the other day! I only ordered a small cup and it was so creamy, nutty and delicious. Now that I am confined to the indoor cold I wish I could whip some up. Oh well. In the meantime I saw a recipe for Vegan Chocolat Chaud which incorporates the use of coconut milk!!! I am going to rush out and buy a tin and try this treat later on for myself.

Have a great weekend dear readers – and if you are in NY or some other frozen land, be warm and be well.


Good enough to eat… Asos meets Jamie Oliver’s Get-Ahead gravy

asos versus jamie oliver gravy

Ahhhh gravy. Probably one of the most basic of sauces you will ever make. Gravy in it’s simplest of forms has the power to morph a ‘blah’ dish into something exceptional. Often brown, and let’s face it, how many GREAT things in life are brown?! It’s colour, warmth and texture can be a veritable blanket of flavour.

When I came across this Asos outfit on the dressing miss dolly blog, I was stopped in my tracks. Not just because of the subtle lines and textures { yes those are mesh shoulders on the top } but because the colour instantly reminded me of good gravy. Speaking of which, this week my attention was turned to Jamie Olivers ‘get-ahead gravy’, for the most part because it includes star anise, bacon rashers, chicken wings and the optional splash of Sherry in the ingredient listing. This is the ultimate gravy if ever there was one.

Just like good quality basics that make an outfit look special, well chosen basic ingredients can push your gravy over the edge. Give the recipe a try and let me know what you think of it! I for one will be rustling up a vegetarian version.

images by asos and david loftus

Minimalist effect in the maximalist market by Antrepo


This is one of the best things i’ve seen online..With many things in life, I can be the quintessential minimalist. One area where I don’t like fuss and muss is in the realm of design. Something clean with nice edges makes my heart sing. So you can imagine how psyched I was to see Minimalist effect in the maximalist market by Antrepo. Antrepo is a multi-disciplinary design consultancy that has an eye for simplicity and strong brand design.


Minimalist effect in the maximalist market is a quest to find alternate simple versions for the packaging of various popular international brands. Of course, my eye drifted to the food based packages…I for one LOVE the most simplest variations, which do you prefer?




Check out more at the Antrepo site.

all images via antrepo, found via its nice that

Etsy T-T-T-Tuesday: Watercolours by Tarra Lyons

I’m not usually one for ‘food based art’ in the kitchen, but when I saw these watercolours by The Night Jar I fell in love. They are subtle yet with true colours that makes them just that bit more ‘edible’. The Night Jar is also known as Tarra Lyons. Tarra has a BFA in Painting with a Printmaking minor at Boston University, which shines through in her work.

the night jar

1. Cherries, archival print – $20 // 2. Oranges, one of a kind – $48 // 3. Pears, Original watercolour – $48 // 4. Apples, one of a kind – $48

Tarra’s work isn’t limited to fruits, check out her shop to see some of her amazing bird paintings too!

all images via the night jar