Carlita’s 2012 Favorites…….

Sculpture complex, Glass House

Good art, significant art, great art is firmly rooted in the past as much as it projects into the future.  2012 was a year of exploring new edges of old boundaries.  Here are some of my favorites from the last 12 months.

Books:

Two new cookbook indulgences:  Faviken, by Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson and SPQR by Shelley Lindgren and Matthew Accarrino of San Francisco’s A16 and SPQR.  The food photography and graphics are stunning while the food and techniques are rooted in tradition, challenging and reinventing along the way.  These books will consume me over the next year.Sweetbreads and Swiss Chard - Faviken

Faviken is a restaurant in the remote Swedish countryside that looks backwards and backwoods to sourcing most ingredients locally.  Chef Magnus Nielsson grew up hunting and gathering, and worked in some of the finest French culinary temples before returning to his roots to start Faviken.  His mad scientist approach to butchering, aging meat, coaxing flavor out of autumn leaves, pickling etc. are ancient and modern at the same time.  Opening a 12 seat restaurant in the outback of Sweden using only local ingredients (this is Viking country) is a far fetched dream and I’m glad he followed his.

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SPQR is a stunning book with amazing photography and excellent descriptions of technique.   The two chefs from San Francisco travel the old roman roads to explore Italy’s regional culinary traditions and then do their own riff on updating them.  Each chapter covers a region with recipes and local wines and obscure indigenous grapes.   This book is definitely for a more experienced cook or chef and incorporates sous vide among other cutting edge techniques.

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Adam Gopnik, The Table Comes First:  France, Family and the Meaning of Food.  Each chapter is rich and dense with food history, tradition and modern day reverie on our most base urge to gather and feast.  It took me a while to get through this and I savored every chapter like a salt caramel.

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Charles Pohlmann Sketchbook

Places:

Istanbul is the place to be right now.  A strong economy is driving the growing art scene along with an emerging wine and established food culture.  Check out the Taxsim area in Beyoglu for cool boutique hotels, vintage shopping and art galleries.IMG_1066

Philip Johnson’s Glass House, near New Canaan Connecticut.  Imagine a mad men style cocktail party in a glass house outfitted with mid-century everything and replace the ad men with artists, dancers and architects.  Besides it’s inclusion in art history books, the glass house and compound served as martini central for New York’s artist and literati who were just a train ride away from this country paradise.

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Restaurants:

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Adelina’s Fraschetta Romana, in Greenpoint Brooklyn, takes it’s inspiration from the blue-collar wine bars of Rome.  The house specialty is Pizza Fritta Montanara of Naples origin, a deep-fried pizza crust, finished in the oven with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil and various toppings.  Owner Toby Buggiani, a Roman/American worked on his crust IMG_1448recipe for years and makes his mozzarella in house.  In addition to the stellar pizza, Adelina’s serves an award winning brunch, Italian soul food, pastas, sides and salads.  All the wines and a few local beers are on tap.  Prices and portions are generous along with daily specials and a killer house salad.  If I lived in Greenpoint, this place would be my home away from my own kitchen.   Toby’s father Paolo, a street and performance artist of renown from the Art Povera movement, lent his talent to the walls, and has just completed a new light painting.   In addition Toby’s wife, decorator Alexandra Abuza coordinated the décor, apparently it’s all in the family, Nonna would be proud!

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The Bishops Arts District seems to grow every time I return to Dallas.  Driftwood, a fish/seafood restaurant in heart of the district looks like a transplanted seafood diner ala 1970’s Santa Cruz.  IMG_2045Wooden blinds, driftwood art and mid century fixtures create a fun relaxing vibe. The family loved it, food took a while but everything was cooked to perfection with layers of flavor and A plus presentation.

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Visual Arts:

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Leonardo Drew show at Sikkema Jenkins, in the art world bigger is not always better but this show was a giant.

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Louis Belcourt at Jeff Bailey, formal abstraction, landscape, architecture, color and light, chopped up and re-configured.  Some of this work was damaged in Chelsea during hurricane Sandy.  Oil paintings are tough and I’m sure the conservators will work their magic restoring them.

Wines:

These are two favorites of mine this year that won’t break the bank.  Versatile with food or on their own, they are well made wines that your guests will love, available for under $16 at Premier Cru

Giribaldi Dolcetto, Shaya-Verdejo

Red:  Giribaldi Dolcetto 2010, Piedmont, Italy.  Everything a dolcetto should be, light, bright and bitter.

White: Shaya,old vine verdejo from Rueda Spain 2011,a luscious full body satin texture, starts with a wallop of guava and orange flower and ends with a hint of white pepper and mineral.

Happy 2013!

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