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That Time the Coveteur asked me to write about the Berkshires

I love when worlds collide. I write a column for the fashion/beauty website The Coveteur and it’s usually about some gripe or peccadillo that’s been on my mind, but when Katie Becker, its beauty director (and a former work colleague) asked me to write about how the Berkshires influence my beauty and fashion life up here, I was thrilled. You can read it, complete with a product slide show in the link above, but I thought I’d repurpose it here, with a few local visuals. I’ll add a recipe at the bottom for good measure. It’s 6 a.m. and the cacophony of caws, chirps and squawks from the birds outside has stirred me awake. I silently motion to our dog to join me and we slip downstairs. I let her out to pee; she somehow innately knows it is too early for barking, so, by the time I pour my coffee, there she is, at the door, waiting to be let in. I slather some turmeric and cumin ghee over a piece of toasted farmer’s bread, then we …

Cool Hand Lark (Get it???)

When it’s so hot that you can’t bear sleeping upstairs in your bedroom, the last thing you want to do is heat up the kitchen. And yet, that’s exactly what I did. But it was worth it. For three days now, it’s been in the Nineties up in the Berkshires. Hotter up here than in Manhattan, apparently, which is downright odd. So, yeah, we slept in the living room, I took Remy on a hike that was as close to nature’s version of a water park as I could find, and I’m doing laundry all day just so I can spend more time in the cold and damp basement. I’d considered sleeping down there if it wasn’t so creepy. B’s been recovering from a little shoulder surgery, so, however minor it is, he’s taking it easy, settled on the sofa in the moderately cool living room and binge-watching Babylon Berlin.  As I do that aforementioned laundry, thoughts, of course, lead to dinner. Unlike Bertrand, who arrived last night, I’ve been up here all week and, with the exception …

Hello, Mrs. Chips

Last week, we were invited to our friend James’ birthday dinner. I wracked my brain trying to come up with the perfect gift, which gets trickier the older we get, so let’s just say that landing on an idea for James’ gift was tricky. Heh heh heh… Clothes? Too personal. A book? Nah. A beauty product? Too obviously re-gifted. Finally, knowing how much he loves to bake, I decided on a cake dish. Easier said than done. A cake dish is something of an anachronism, but, perhaps thanks to all the bake-off shows, it seems they’re slowly starting to come back. Not fast enough for James’ birthday, though. The few I found were either really tacky or really expensive (sorry, James.), or ones that I knew he already was in possession of,  so, we settled on three lovely hand-carved wooden spoons from Aubry Wood , which we discovered at our favorite store (and James’ favorite, too), One Mercantile in Great Barrington.   James and his husband William divide their meal duties pretty clearly: Williams makes dinner; James makes the …

An Argument for Radicchio Soup

“Two words you don’t hear much together are ‘radicchio’ and ‘soup.’” That’s what Bertrand said when he saw that I decided to throw caution to the wind and add the leftover sauteed radicchio in with the (also leftover) caramelized onions, chopped carrots and celery, now all sizzling in the Staub. I’ve always had a soft spot for radicchio. Ever since I first tasted it, fresh from the oven with sizzling melted cheese splayed over it, I was hooked. This happened at Bice, the swanky Italian restaurant in midtown Manhattan, which was a popular lunch spot for the publishing world back in the late Eighties. I remember the chagrin I felt when my beloved Grilled Radicchio and Smoked Mozzarella was dropped from the menu. Like Danny DeVito’s character in the original “Get Shorty,” I would request it, anyway. Sometimes my wish was granted; other times, not. Never knew whether it was their uppity chef or an annoyed waiter. That dish was one of my first attempted re-creations, which I’d tinker with long before I began to give …

A New Low

Every morning over the holiday break, I’d wake up and reach for the phone to check the temperature. We started our Berkshires break at a rather reasonable 21, but by Tuesday, it was edging perilously close to single digits. By Wednesday, we hit zero, on Thursday, four below and, finally, on Saturday, we kicked down all the way down to negative seven. After checking the weather, I’d move on to Instagram Stories where, as reliable as clockwork, Danielle, the early bird who had already been up for a good hour, would post the temperature in her village. Monterey is only about ten miles northeast of us, but she always won. Or lost, if you hate the cold. On Saturday, she posted: Minus NINE.   These numbers didn’t stop us from heading out every day for a hike, which Remy adored even as she shivered in the snow, constantly stopping to bite the frozen ice marbles that had burrowed into her poor paws. We’d return to the house, grab a coffee or bowl of soup and plop down …

Unexpected Guests

I first noticed the smell two weeks ago. I walked into the parlor and EW!!! A seriously funky odor that could only indicate that something had died. Shit like this happens when you live in an old house in the country. I remember visiting our friends Geri and Stephen at their house in Northern Westchester County.  I walked into my guest room greeted by a standing fan, going full blast, facing the wall. This was in November, mind you, so I looked at Geri for an explanation of the fan, but before she could answer, the explanation hit me right between my cheeks. “Ugh. A mouse died in the walls,” she explained. “There’s no way to reach it, so we’re trying to get rid of the smell.” This was right around the time I first met Bertrand. As a matter of fact, our second date was in Pound Ridge. He had been hanging with the kids a half hour away in Larchmont, so he drove up and took me out to dinner. I remember the date like …

A lighter, quieter holiday season

We arrived at Bertrand’s Aunt Bella’s early for Christmas Eve dinner, as we’d said we would since we brought most of the meal, which had to be heated or stirred or grated into, and amidst various stages and temperatures. As we unpacked in her kitchen, I heard myself say, “Let’s open the wine!” This was a bit odd: it wasn’t even 5:30, but, more significantly, I’m not a big drinker.  And yet, I craved a drink. In immediate retrospect, I chalked it up to a few minor anxieties, ranging from how Astrid’s fiance Eli would enjoy his first Christmas with us, to whether my mother-in-law would balk at an all-vegetarian menu, to concern about getting back to the Berkshires in time to beat the snow since the snow tires hadn’t been put on yet. But the real reason hit me about an hour later, when everyone had arrived and I sat on the sofa catching up with Astrid. After hearing about her and Eli’s wedding plans and their Bay Area real estate search, when she …