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Filtering by Category: SHOPPING

The Art of Gift Giving for VIE December

Suzanne Pollak

 Three Wise Men at Strassbourg Cathedral, Germany (c. 1940)

Three Wise Men at Strassbourg Cathedral, Germany (c. 1940)

“The Three Wise Men Understand the Art of Gift Giving…”

Suzanne asks three experts — a world-class chef, one renowned jewelry designer, and a stylist to the stars — to share their wisdom on what to get your loved ones (knives, anyone?), when to give it (surprise them!), what to do when you forget (it happens), and how to give the really big one (diamonds, of course.)

Read the full article in the latest issue of Vie Magazine HERE.

Out on the Town in IBU

Suzanne Pollak

The Academy is always up for anything dear pals down the street at IBU throw our way, so when they asked the Dean to model their Holiday best, she (quite literally) jumped at the chance! Hitting the streets with old friend Eddie and new friend Amanda in bespoke finery -- which just happens to be ethically sourced and crafted by women in developing countries -- could not have been more FUN. Read more about our adventures and outfits in their most recent newsletter here.

We are happy to say the holidays are upon us, and there's nothing we'd rather wear to parties or gift to our besties than IBU! 

Easter Magic

Suzanne Pollak

Scrambling to add a last-minute centerpiece to your Easter feast? There are a million ways to make your table uniquely you. Remember, there's help all around, right under your nose. Consider these everyday resources:

1. Your KIDS

Children are little creators by nature. Don't let these Spring Breakers off the hook. Engage your child’s genius & insist they carry their weight this holiday. Kids will appreciate the Easter feast and feel proud of their contribution. Your tip? Do Not Be Bossy. Small children can draw place cards or placemats. Middle-schoolers can really go crazy -- nothing is off the table. They might choose to feature their ant farm, their gold fish swimming in a bowl, a butterfly collection, little league trophies. Who cares? In the long run, it’s not about the elegance of your table. It’s about the value of your child’s contribution.

2. Harris Teeter

...or your local grocery store, a place laden with sui generis centerpieces, many perfect for Easter. Walk in the store with your eyes open for pastel colors. E.g., look for pink breakfast radishes or many-colored round radishes; all delightfully spunky orbs when stuffed in silver cups or crystal goblets. Fill small tureens with spikes of asparagus, for structure, and green onions, for looseness. Give your guests eyes something different than the usual pink tulip centerpiece.

3. Public Parks

Someone has to do the trimming. Why not you? Go under cover before dawn, clippers hidden in your pocket and help yourself to the back branches of azalea bushes (those up against the fence), lurking ferns, stems of palms. Tip: cut long branches.  Fill a tall glass container halfway with water, and arrange the stems loosely. It’s like nature coming to the table, and yields an arrangement perfect for a sideboard, buffet table or at the end of a dining table if no one is sitting there.

4. Objet d'Art

Are you a collector? March your collection down the center of the table. Handmade wooden bowls, antique brass candlesticks, tiny chairs sculpted from the wire surrounding champagne corks -- the Dean doesn’t know what you collect, but if you are a collector then you are a proud owner with a passion. Your passion needs to be displayed! Herend bunnies, Steuben crystal hand holders, painted eggs...you get the picture. It’s not about cost of the objects or the organization on the table, it’s about showcasing your personality.

5. Pastry Shops!

Great pastry shops are actually like jewelry shops with edible gems. You have enough to do this weekend. It’s too late to make a 3-day Coconut Cake, but not too late to pick up a French pear tart, or cherry pistachio tart, or cupcakes, or a lemon layer cake. The point is showstopping beauty that can sit upon a pedestal being the center of attraction. All eyes are awed, reminding guests to save room after the main course.

P.S. Don’t forget chocolate bunnies on top of each place setting as a party favor for your Easter company!

How to Hibernate: 5 Wine Collecting Tips from Femi Oyediran

Suzanne Pollak

The annual Charleston Wine + Food Festival is finally less than a week away! No better time to add a few choice labels to your cellar than when you're popping bottles left and right like a regular Bacchanal. Keep your eyes on the prize. Whether you collect wine for personal enjoyment or a long-term investment, our favorite Visiting Professor Femi Oyediran has a few tips to put you on the right track:


1. Trust your taste.

Invest in classics from the regions you already know you enjoy -- i.e. if you love Chianti, try an age-worthy wine such like Fontodi's Vigna del Sorbo, or another great Sangiovese-based wine from Brunello del Montalcino.


2. Research your Investment.

In order to build a cellar that will grow as an investment, stay on top of the labels garnering attention from critics and magazines and/or doing well at auctions. Look to reputable sources for deals on both new and older vintage wines. Pay attention to up-and-coming winemakers; hold onto those wines and watch your investment grow.


3. Create a strong collection.

Buy at least three bottles of the same wine at a time, in different vintages when possible.


4. Store properly.

Get a wine fridge! This will give you control over the environment you keep your wine in. Otherwise, store your wine in cool pockets of rooms in your house (55 degrees F.) where there is little light. Keep bottles on their side, not upright, to prevent cork spoilage.


5. Embrace technology.

Every wine ages differently. Pay attention to apps on your phone like Delectable to see how others are doing with vintages you own. If you don't plan on selling the wines, invest in a Coravin device, which allows you to taste the wines in your cellar without actually opening the bottle.

 

Thank You Ibu

Suzanne Pollak

 Image courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.

Image courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.

We savor every word of Susan Hull Walker's letters the moment an Ibu newsletter hits our inbox. We were especially delighted to find a WSJ photo of the much beloved Academy sofa, complete with pillows from the fantastic little shop on lower King Street. Read the newsletter here...

Party Face: Q&A with Tim Quinn

A. K. Lister

 Ava Gardner & the very chic-est of compacts.  [Photograph by Ida Von Dee.]

Ava Gardner & the very chic-est of compacts.  [Photograph by Ida Von Dee.]

Have we mentioned it's party season? And somehow it always seems that while that may be true of the whole Western world, it's at a real fever pitch here in Charleston. We always manage to find an excuse to gussy up, go out, share a cocktail, and make merry with our neighbors. 

In all the commotion, we can hardly see straight, let alone focus on the mirror long enough to put on our faces. So we turned to our friend Tim Quinn, Celebrity Face Designer at Giorgio Armani, with all of our burning "party-ready" queries. He was so gracious to oblige.

Q. How should I prepare my face for a party?

For a party, I usually recommend a hydrating mask first and foremost.  I love the Luminessence Mask, which totally infuses your skin with hydration and brightness.  If you haven't had enough rest, you need lots of moisturizer, then a lightweight light-reflecting foundation.

Q. How does it differ from daily makeup?

Typically for daily makeup, start with a tinted moisturizer to make sure that your skin is even...

Q. If you don’t wear much makeup, what do you simply have to do before going out? 

Perhaps just terrific eyeliner, a flush of color on the cheeks and pop up the lip.  You don't need to go overboard if you're not used to a lot of make up.

Q. Eyes and lips? Or just one?

Try a smokey eye.  Play up the lip a little bit if you're just doing a classic holiday look.

Q. Is there a way to avoid lipstick on the wine glass?

Use a straw with your champagne!

Q. Is it okay to apply lipstick at the table?

It's OK to apply lipstick at the table if you have a chic compact.  I think there's actually quite at an art of seduction to a woman using her lipstick and applying at the table with a a beautiful compact and perhaps even a lip brush.

Q. What do you think about glitter on the face? Should it stay on the tree?

Glitter should stay away from your face.  Shimmer is fine, glitter is not.

Q. What are your views on getting work done in your 20s? In your 50s? (Asking for a friend. : )

I've seen this new trend in Hollywood: people getting worked on at younger ages.  While I'm starting to think that the face God gave us was just a suggestion, we should keep it to a minimum.  Little tweaks at a maturing age, I'm all for...but starting too young leads to disaster.

Many Thanks to Tim Quinn!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GIFT GUIDE: Zen Kitchen

A. K. Lister

Consider a candy-colored stand mixer (Kitchenaid or bust), source of all homemade goodness and a spot of brightness in any kitchen...

 Stand Mixer by Kitchenaid

Stand Mixer by Kitchenaid

...or simple equipment, brilliantly designed to last a lifetime: a Peugeot Pepper Mill, a miniature Cuisinart, or an Alessi teapot...

 "Mignognette" Pepper Mill by Peugeot

"Mignognette" Pepper Mill by Peugeot

 Mini Processor by Cuisinart

Mini Processor by Cuisinart

 Teapot by Alessi

Teapot by Alessi

...(or any of these other handy kitchen tools spotted whilst browsing the Alessi Shop)...

 Mortar & Pestle,

Mortar & Pestle,

 Grater,

Grater,

 Colander, all in AlessiShop

Colander, all in AlessiShop

...or a well-made knife (perhaps a set of 3) and an invincible cutting board...

 Trio of Knives by Messermeister 

Trio of Knives by Messermeister 

 Cutting Board by John Boos & Co.

Cutting Board by John Boos & Co.

...or even just the most luxurious candle in the world, to calm a holiday-harried cook. 

 Candle by Taffin

Candle by Taffin

May all your kitchens be Zen this season.  

XO, the Academy

Diner en Blanc

A. K. Lister

We're going to Diner en Blanc -- an elegant flash mob dinner to convene outdoors at a previously undisclosed location in downtown Charleston on October 15th.  The event originated in Paris but is now held all over the world.  The idea is for everyone to wear white and to conduct themselves with utmost decorum and grace, despite the innate spontaneity of the occasion and casual nature of a picnic.

We can't wait!  Here are just a few things the Dean and company will be sure to include in our picnic basket : 

  • Grapes & Soft Cheese
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Gougeres -- stuffed with chicken salad or just plain.
  • Salmon Canapes
  • Cold-Fried Chicken.  The Dean loves homemade fried chicken but shout-out to Publix for their not-too-shabby stand-in when we are en route to the dock, the beach, or a super-secret picnic location like DeB.
  • Most importantly..these truly genius Sandwiches from goat.sheep.cow!  The first-rate cheese shop, owned by dynamic duo Patti & Trudy, is located ever-so-conveniently right around the corner from us.  The sandwiches are a trade secret (we eat them on a weekly basis) but the crew comes to the Academy in early November for a cocktail-hour class on pairing cheese with champagne, cider, and Madeira.  Look for it on our Calendar soon.

The Dean holds that the blankets and pillows are equally important as the food at a picnic.  Be sure they go with the setting and that there is enough room for everyone to lounge comfortably, Luncheon on the Grass-style.

FYI -- it's not too late to join us at Diner en Blanc -- purchase your tickets HERE.

XOXO, the Academy

 

SALAD DAYS & SALAD NIGHTS

Suzanne Pollak

Salads are a life staple, so that means salad accoutrements are too.

Dean Pollak has lived long enough to know she has constructed over 25,000 salads. We will not divulge how we arrived at that number -- math is not our strong suit -- but it is absolutely accurate and means you should pay attention.

There are many reasons we insist that you take note of your salad bowls, salad servers, pepper grinders and salt cellars. Foremost, all the paraphernalia is essential in making salads addictive, beautiful, fun to construct, and will get your family on the daily salad wagon without rebuttal. Health concerns are the least of the reasons our lunchroom serves a big bowl everyday. We like fattening salads. We like thinning salads. We like beautiful salads. We like bread salads, also known as panzanella. But we like playing with wooden bowls, like the ones at The-Commons, around the corner on Broad Street, most of all!

Who doesn’t long to fill a gorgeous handmade bowl? Even kids do and will. A big wooden bowl is a thing of beauty. In fact, the only thing more beautiful is several wooden bowls nesting in each other, letting you choose how many people will eat your salad.

Collections are fun to start. We suggest that if you haven’t collected anything yet, you begin with salad bowls. Let us be your guides. As with any collection, done carefully over years, a collection swells and takes up real estate, so the objects might as well be useful to use and beautiful to look at. Handmade bowls will make your kitchen feel more grounded, your knowledge of wood expand, your waistline shrink, your menu decisions easier. Plus, the number of guests eating salad can start at one or grow to twenty -- three full 18-inch bowls will easily feed a crowd.

You can never go wrong serving a salad, whether it's a simple green one or a confetti of colors and surprises. They always delight.

A few suggested themes:

  • Color, e.g. Yellow - yellow beets (roasted early in the day or even a day before, sliced thickly or cubed), wedges of yellow heirloom tomatoes, croutons count as yellow, slices of pear.
  • Simple Green – sliced endive and watercress tossed with blue cheese.
  • Seasonal, e.g. Fall - roasted root vegetables tossed with escarole, radicchio, red cabbage, topped with rare cold steak.

Ancient Wisdom: Get your kids on the job of helping in the kitchen and a green leaf just might make it past their lips.

  • Toddlers can toss the salad. The utensils pictured above are especially easy and fun for little kids to use.
  • Elementary school-aged children can become proficient in washing lettuce in a salad spinner.
  • Middle schoolers can try their hand with knives -- chopping, peeling, and slicing.
  • High schoolers can and should be in charge of dinner at least once a week. Let them dream up their own salad...even if it ends up being popcorn salad, do not judge!

Finally, here are a few Academy salads from the vault...

Happy Healthy!

September 2015 DEAN'S LIST

Suzanne Pollak

These are a few of our favorite things...

Clockwise from 11 O'clock:

  • Ostrich Kelly Handbag - Hermes (25 years ago!)
  • Wooden Bowl, filled with limes for Muchas Margaritas - from a fallen tree on our lot at the Ford Plantation in Richmond Hill, Georgia. 
  • Candle - Taffin
  • A Curious Invitation
  • Petrified Wood Coasters - found while shopping in NYC
  • Embroidered "Cocktail" Napkins - vintage, but our favorites are from Leron.
  • Silk Scarf - Ibu
  • Olive Bowl Set - vintage Steuben
  • Bronze Bowl with almonds - from a friend/ceramicist in NYC
  • Gold Serving Tray - Moss (sadly, no longer in business.)
  • Printed Brass Tray - Somalia
  • Cocktail Glass - vintage Steuben, "Tortoise" pattern
  • Bourbon - Pappy : )

What are your favorite things?  To nominate a product of you own for appearance on an upcoming Dean's List, contact us!

First World Problems

Suzanne Pollak

 Image courtesy of  Black Tap Coffee

Image courtesy of Black Tap Coffee

Has it happened to you too? We bet it has. Starts out innocently enough just meeting a friend for a cup of coffee at that chic new coffee shop and then later swinging in by yourself for a quick pick me up midmorning and without you even noticing, and sooner than even seems possible, you are addicted. Your Mr. Coffee and Brunn drip machine sit on your countertop forlorn and completely confused as to what they did wrong to cause you to abandon them. First it was Starbucks but now it's Couture coffee made with a Hario pour over for which we all line up obediently and happily pay up to five dollars for the privilege of a cup of this valuable black gold.

Are we insane? No, we are not! We just can no longer be satisfied with dark dishwater or bitter home brew. Some of our friends have capitulated and bought expensive coffee machines and diligently recreate these masterpieces in their own homes. The Deans don't fool themselves. Part of what we like is the ritual of communing with people and meeting up with friends. And let's face it, it wouldn't really do for the Deans to become bar flies, so consider us coffee shop flies. 

The Deans List:

(Our favorite coffee shops in Charleston)

 

If Mr. Coffee weeps too loudly for you to ignore at least be sure your coffee is the caliber of La Colombe, Stump Town, or Blue Bottle. 

The Bedrock of Entertaining

Suzanne Pollak

Dinner parties are the bedrock of entertaining.  There is no better way to get to know someone than by having them over and cooking for them. A thousand nights in restaurants will never create the same amount of intimacy.  By allowing someone into your house, you are showing them your sense of style, letting them see the books you like to read, the food you like to cook: in short, who you really are.  A little bit of luxury goes a long way at home. An Old Fashioned, a few oysters in a pan roast and a spoonful of chocolate mousse set the mood for an evening to remember.  And you created it all yourself!

 The Dean’s Cheat Sheet

7 is the perfect dinner party number. One conversation shared by the whole group and enjoyed with maximum conviviality.  

Candlelight only, please. The less you can see the better everyone looks.  It is by far the most flattering of all the lights.  

Use your whole house i.e. drinks in one room, dinner at the table and coffee and cordials while lounging sofa side in your living room or den or even outside if the weather permits.

You only need one go-to menu.  It’s the Dean’s job to pair you with the right one.

Keep to a schedule.  If the cocktail hour is actually 2 hours, then someone may have a breakdown - and a drunken one, too - on the living  room floor.

Outsourcing some of the meal is brilliant.  It relieves stress and may make the party happen as opposed to being just a fantasy. No one turns down a bowl of Haagen Dazs or a dessert from from the local bakery and very few guests mind bringing a single cheese with a column of crackers.


Here are a few of our favorite local spots for outsourcing fabulous courses.

Christophe'sgreat for those last minute sweets needed for any party.

Goat. Sheep. Cow. - the perfect place to shop for specialty cheeses, wines and meats to bring as a hostess gift or to supply as an appetizer.

The Wine Shop of Charleston - the place to buy super size bottles of wine to woo even the most jaded palate

The Beer Exchange - for the speciality beers which is a must have in every hipster's frig.  



Our Daily Fix

Suzanne Pollak

We are almost afraid to post this because we may never see our favorite sandwich again.  On one of Charleston’s most charming streets, Church, and below Broad no less (outside private kitchens, the only food below Broad) sits a dainty little shop called Goat. Sheep. Cow.  Inside they sell a fragrant dizzying spectacle of cheeses from every corner of the globe and cured meats to match, as well as a comprehensive selection of affordable wines.  But that’s not all!  We are going to let you in on the secret.

              Owners, Trudi Wagner and Patty Floersheimer

             Owners, Trudi Wagner and Patty Floersheimer

They ALSO sell a daily sandwich! The store uses Charleston’s best bread (from EVO bakery) down to the millimeter of the right depth for a sandwich.  The bread is highlighted but is not the whole story. You don’t end up with a mouthful of bread unable to taste anything else, which is lucky, because ‘anything else’ changes daily but is always delicious.  They pluck from right out of the case thinly sliced cured meats, aromatic cheeses and layer with fresh or pickled vegetables or fruit preserves.

                                                                                                                   Image courtesy of Goat.Sheep.Cow

                                                                                                                  Image courtesy of Goat.Sheep.Cow

Part of the thrill is wondering if you are even going to get the sandwich because it sells out the minute the store opens at 11 a.m.  By the time you realize that nothing but a Goat. Sheep. Cow. sandwich will do, they very well might be sold out. Lucky for the Deans that we are always hungry for lunch by eleven.

Since this sandwich comes wrapped in sleek white butcher paper you don’t know what the sandwich will be until you disrobe it.  High drama Academy style!

What we take away from these lunch experiences is that a little surprise can add a lot to a home cooked daily dinner. Stop asking your unresponsive family members what they want for dinner and go out on some tangent you have been thinking you want to explore.

If you don't live in Charleston don't despair. The owners of Goat. Sheep. Cow. have given us the fundamentals of their mini masterpieces. 

Sandwich Combinations:

  • Proscuitto Cotto, Triple Cream Brie, Fig Jam with Orange, Butter Lettuce or Arugula.
  • Italian Sweet and Dry Salame, Fresh Bufala Mozzarella, Roasted Marinated Tomatoes, Arugula, and either Pesto or Balsamic Vinegar.
  • Speck, Raclette, Plum Jam, Olive Oil, and Arugula.
  • Proscuitto Cotto, Big John's Cajun Cheddar, Lusty Monk Whole Grain Mustard, Vermont Creamery Butter, and Cucumber Slices.
  • Finocchiona, Marinated Feta (aka Crack Cheese), Marinated Roasted Tomatoes, and Arugula.
  • Lonza, Promontory Cheddar, Dijon Mustard, Mayo, Roasted Peppers and Arugula. 
  • Proscuitto Cotto, Pt. Reyes Tomma, Bacon Jam, Roasted Marinated Tomatoes, and Avocado Slices.