Of Gastro gifts and house guests..

plan the menu!

On the list of ‘things I want to be when I grow up’, Inn-Keeper ranks somewhere near the top. It’s no surprise then that any given year, my teeny flat (600 and change sq feet) is home to visitors, travelers and nomads alike. I like it, as it gives me the chance to be a tourist in the town I live in via their experiences and stories { there is ALWAYS a story..}.

One thing i’ve come to realise is that more often than not, my guests always leave a gastro inspired gift. My last guest left last week and when I came home I found attached to my fridge the nifty pad pictured above. Made by knock knock, this ‘planning the menu’ pad forces you to curate your meal plan for the day or a specific event and gives space for feedback and ingredients used. It’s just what a needed and a nice staging area for recipes that aren’t yet fit to make it into my moleskine recipe journal.

So thanks house guest! You’re welcome around these ‘ere parts anytime!

image via knock knock

Food to Fragrance: Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune meets Grapefruit Panna Cotta

aqua allegoria pamplelune vs grapefruit panna cotta with berries

As I sit here sniffing a blotter drenched in Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune I find my salivary glands going into overdrive. It’s amazing the power scent has over the body and mind to react in the way it does. A few weeks ago a friend was asking me if I had heard about Synesthesia, indeed I have – it was a technique that we would try and employ { although REAL Synesthesia is a disorder that is not intentionally inflicted } in order to smell fragrances on another level. I love to do this – it forces you to SEE a scent as a colour, feel it as a texture or taste it in your mouth.

Some fragrances lend themselves quite easily to this alternate sensory experience – while with others you really have to focus on to achieve the effect. Why all this talk about experiencing scent through an alternative cognitive pathway? Because when I sniffed the blotter drenched in Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune my mind and mouth was involuntarily flooded with a past memory and taste from an evening out with a dear friend.

The Fragrance: Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune by Guerlain. First of all it’s worth knowing that this is a fragrance that is sold exclusively at Sephora. So if you want to experience it you will have to pop into one of their stores or buy it online. With notes of California Grapefruit, Italian Bergamot, Neroli, Petitgrain, Black Currant, Patchouli and Vanilla, there is a distinct citrus juiciness when you first smell the fragrance that is quickly followed by a succulent yet slightly more grounded sweetness that I feel can be attributed to the vanilla. This succulence reminds me of the gentle pop that you hear when you dig a spoon into a creamy gelatinous dessert and pull the spoon out.

The citrus adds a freshness to this scent that makes me feel that it would be preferable for day to day wear, ideally in Spring. The Black Currant adds a berry sweetness that is tempered by the citrus and prevented from being sickly sweet or berry fruity like a more mass market product.

The Food: Grapefruit Panna Cotta with berries. Oh Panna Cotta how I do love thee. I first experienced Panna Cotta in a little Italian restaurant with a friend who hailed from the country of it’s origin. I was afraid to try it as ‘cooked cream’ didn’t sound appetizing to me at all. But I will never forget the gentle succulent pop as my spoon punctured the mold and extracted a hefty teaspoon full of creamy white goodness. Nor will I forget the sensation of the cool vanillaness and citrus’ zest that flew from my taste buds to my brain in the blink of an eye. Pure bliss. Being a cold dessert, there is a freshness to panna cotta that is refreshing and yet sophisticated. This ain’t jello kids! { the recipe in the link above doesn’t include berries, but to experience this food to fragrance match up I suggest swapping out the candied kumquats for black currants or black berries! }

Why it works: The vanilla and citrus evident in the fragrance are the two things that clearly stand out in the panna cotta dish. But it is more than a direct ingredient to ingredient connection; the feel of the scent mirrors the feel of the way grapefruit panna cotta tastes. From the cool refreshingness of the cold milky mold to the cool refreshingness of the citrus scent gently reined in by the vanilla.

Then comes the berries. Like those smattered on top of and around the panna cotta providing punches of interesting berriness to the experience.

Fragrance Tip: While it’s nice to find a fragrance that is unequivocally ‘you’ it’s also good to find a fragrance for different occasions, moods and seasons. Something a bit more ‘close’ { read sweet or skin musky } for special evening’s, something airy and bright for days out and about, something with a statement and bold character for a night on the town with the girls – wearing something that suits your mood and the occasion will help make you feel more confident and happy. Trust me on this one.

Food Tip: Never be afraid to try a new dessert. That should be craven maven cardinal rule #1.

fragrance image via sephora, panna cotta via learning how to cook, recipe by a bird in the kitchen

Kitchen Envy: A last minute contender

living etc modern retro kitchen

I was all ready to write up a blog post about coolhaus after having a lacklustre week of kitchen envy searching, when a tweet from @livingetc resulted in me coming across a last minute contender. Dubbed a ‘modern retro kitchen’, this space has more aspects that I found personally appealing than most other kitchens I’ve drooled over in the past. It’s no secret that I love/crave/want an Aga but I’ve never seen a peachy toffee tone one with a Caribbean ocean blue tile back-splash before. Simply gorgeous!

Really, this kitchen is rather simple, but the vintage cabinets and details makes it float my boat, these are the precise reasons why I love it:

Science cabinets
– The lower cabinets with the big hand pulls remind me of the my secondary school science lab. That retro connection adds an air of nostalgia to this space so appeals emotionally as well as aesthetically, it also, for me is a nice nod to my love of most things sci-fi.

Long narrow floor to ceiling cabinets – I have a thing about lining things up and putting things in boxes, some call it OCD, I call it the way things should be. The long cabinets to the right have their handle in the middle, making me think that these are large shelves that roll out rather than just cupboards. I love larder shelves that roll out as they allow you to get a 180 view of the contents and eliminate the pesky ‘things stuck in the back of the cupboard’ syndrome.

Brick floor – I love me a brick wall – not for its rustic charm but for it’s NY City apartment feel. A brick floor is a nice way to incorporate that texture in the space without making the space blatantly scream ‘city’.

Hearth effect – The hearth stove is beautiful yes what with the Aga and the colourful tile back splash, but the shelf above the stove and the protruding hearth emulate architectural features common to the living room. I can imagine a nice huge art piece above the stove on the hearth to bring some extra colour into the space as well as an interesting visual reference.

Huge Island – An island serves many purposes. Extra counter work space, extra storage space or just a place from which to serve drinks or treats for a dinner party. By adding the vintage stools during the day this island also functions as a spot from which to eat breakfast and read the paper – pure morning bliss.

image via house to home

Etsy T-T-T-Tuesday: I was lost but now i’m found(vintage)

It’s that time again, a little bit of etsy-ness to fire up your dreary Tues. This week I came across a lovely store called Found Vintage Style. All of their stuff looks in great condition and suitably vintage. These offerings were some of my favourite housewares Found Vintage had on offer:

found vintage style

1. Luthje Denmark Cheese Board with Lid and Knife– I have SUCH a thing for vintage mod-ish kitchenwares from Denmark..The craftsmanship and wood tone is spot on. This board is $50 and is a complete set with knife and glass cover.

2. Rosti Mepal Egg Holders Set of Four – I don’t come across egg cups in the USA so much. Don’t know why…soft boiled eggs and toy soilders were such a staple when I was a kid. And this set has a nice rim to hold a pinch of salt…ahh memories. Only $24 for four!

3. Waechtersbach Large Bowl, Creamer and Sugar Bowl Red with Hearts and Dots – WOW, the fire engine red is what caught my eye here. A lovely creamer and sugar bowl with a large bowl for treats is so cute and kitsch! From Germany no less and only $50.

4. Red Enamel Pot with Stand, 2 Small Bowls and Sauce Pot Japan – This totally appeals to my vintage fondue kit searchin’ self. The complete set would be a bonus! It’s from Japan – what an international store eh?! and is priced at $48.

5. Two Large Ceramic Shakers/ Gaytime/Lord Nelson Potteries – Made in England in the sixties these ceramic salt and pepper shakers are so colourful and peace n lovin’ sixties that it would brighten up any kitchen or table..J’adore! $25 for the set!

Be sure to check out the other items in Found Vintage Style’s store..such a treat of international vintage goods that in the very least will make you smile if not move you to buy!


all images via foundvintagestyle

Stylin’ picnic’ing in Vogue { almost }

vogue 2007 outtake

I came across the above 2007 Vogue outtake picture of a rather stylin’ picnic on model Coco Rocha’s blog. The shot is a perfectly heady mix of costume, eclecticism, beauty and charm { I love the little French Bulldogs! }.

It seems like last year every blog I read and person I met was determined to do one thing and one thing only before the summer was over: picnic. I blame it on the assault of a horrid winter that made us all just want to grab a blanket, some of our favourite nibbles and head for the outdoors. I picnic’ed twice, Central Park at night, and on the rocks of Brooklyn Bridge Park on a balmy afternoon. Both were so mentally and edibly refreshing.

I like to think that picnic’ing/eating outdoors is yet another way the human family is united. It doesn’t discriminate against budget, race or background – and depending on what you bring, you can make of it what you will. Goodness, I love picnics! Coming off the tail end of our fifth that’s right FIFTH blizzard you can be certain that I will be having many a picnic once this weather becomes fair!


image by steven meisel via oh so coco

Craven Maven guest post on Cellar Door Magazine Blog

cellar door guest post

Check out my guest post on the blog of stylin’ UK magazine Cellar Door. I correlate three gorgeous RTW outfits from the Spring 2011 runways with three equally mouth watering dishes. A veritable starter, mains and dessert!

Many thanks to the lovely ladies of Cellar Door for featuring my article!

screengrab via cellardoor

Gruyere Thyme Gougeres by Tartine

gruyere gougeres

Speaking of Tartine..the lovely bakery have released a cookbook of their treats. I stumbled across the above gruyere gougeres by Tartine on the lovey blog Oishii Eats – follow her step by step instructions if you want to make the choux pastry treats for yourself this weekend!


image via oishii eats