Archive for June, 2013

While walking around the wonderful Gold Coast Art Fair in Chicago yesterday, I stopped to watch a group of young artists recreate a masterpiece on the sidewalk with chalk. The masterpiece they were recreating was Gustave Caillebotte’s Paris Street; Rainy Day – which just so happens to hang in the nearby Art Institute of Chicago.


Hi there everyone – I am posting this from Chicago, where I come every year around this time to enjoy all the diverse offerings of this great American city.

I planned this year’s trip around the Gold Coast Art Fair which is being held today and tomorrow in Chicago’s glorious Grant Park – between the world class museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the picturesque splendor of Lake Michigan. I visited the Art Institute yesterday and am pleased to say it was as wonderful as ever – and I visited my friends, the iconic lions who stand guard at the museum’s Michigan Avenue entrance.

In the coming days I will be sharing details of my trip and all my Chicago “finds” – so stay tuned. Meanwhile, today I will be heading to the Gold Coast Art Fair and Randolph Street Market.

Here’s a little primer of the Art Fair and a couple of Chicago’s street markets…

Gold Coast Art Fair

CGAFAbout the Gold Coast Art Fair: “The Gold Coast Art Fair, the ‘Granddaddy of American Art Festivals’, returns to Grant Park’s Butler Field, at the corner of Monroe and Lake Shore Drive, with more than 350 artists from around the world. Currently rated as one of the top 30 juried art festivals in the country, the Gold Coast Art Fair attracts hundreds of thousands of art enthusiasts annually. Extraordinary artwork of all mediums is offered at the Gold Coast Art Fair with prices ranging $25 to $25,000. Many activities such as artist demonstrations, live music, and fun art projects make the Gold Coast Art Fair a great way to spend the day!”

The 2013 Gold Coast Art Fair will be held June 29 – 30, 10am-6pm in Chicago’s Grant Park.

Randolph Street Market

RSMAbout the Randolph Street Market: “The Randolph Street Market Festival is home to the world-renowned Chicago Antique Market, Indie Designer Market, Modern Vintage Chicago and the Holiday Market. As seen in Travel & Leisure, the NY Times, Lucky Magazine and featured on TV news shows and web casts, the Randolph Street Market Festival is considered “a mecca of cool”, ‘the best hot spot for antiquing’, ‘the best Chicago venue for people watching’, and ‘the Barney’s of Vintage’. Celebrity designer Nate Berkus says, ‘I love this market…the quality is incredible!’ As one of Chicago’s most happening monthly parties, Randolph Street Market has become the summer destination! This European-style, indoor-outdoor urban antique market in the historic West Loop neighborhood features 200 select purveyors of high quality, amazingly priced ‘finds’, offering unlimited creative inspiration and hours of fun. Shoppers can find furnishings, vintage clothing, jewelry, collectibles, etc.”

The Randolph Street Markets are held one weekend a month – check here for a schedule.

Maxwell Street Market – Sundays

Meanwhile, down scale from the high-end annual Art Fair and the hipster cool Randolph Street Market, is the weekly Maxwell Street Market – a Sunday Flea Market that runs the gamut from household goods to vintage items to new arts and crafts. More than just an urban swap meet, the Maxwell Street Market is the legacy of an old world market held in this area for decades and still features produce and tons of food stalls – some touted by real foodies.

Maxwell Street Market runs Sundays 7am-3pm – more info here.


FF: The 90 Minuto foosball table from Bespoke Global

BSGI always wanted a foosball table in my house. However, until now I never saw one that I thought was worthy of the space it would take up… the 90 Minuto foosball table from Bespoke Global is a piece of furniture and a work of art.

About the 90 Minuto foosball table from Bespoke Global: “90 MINUTO is the evolution of B.lab Italia’s Teckell CalccioBalilla Collection defined by the international press as the most beautiful “foosball” tables in the world. A subtle and elegant wooden structure highlights and supports this new magical crystal “football stadium”, inviting the challenge of playing with friends until the 90 Minuto. Engineering and technology is cleverly concealed beneath the elegant forms of this enchanting new entry of the Teckell Collection.”

See The 90 Minuto foosball table from Bespoke Global here.

FF: Robert James Walsh & Company of Quechee, Vermont

FFRJWI have mentioned before that even though New Hampshire (where I am) and Vermont are right next to each other and share a border that runs the length of each state, it is really not easy getting from one to the other. From where I am in eastern central New Hampshire, it is almost impossible to get to Vermont without going way out of your way – with the big lakes, mountains and other natural barriers in between.

That said, finding places like Robert James Walsh & Company (specializing in “Antiques – Art – Modernism – Appraisals – Design”) in Quechee, Vermont makes me want to scale those mountains to make the trip. Robert James Walsh & Company’s collection of toys soldiers is reason enough to go.

Check out Robert James Walsh & Company here.

FF: The 25 Year-Old Single Barrel Bourbon of Michter’s

ff8This week’s bourbon is the awesome Single Barrel Bourbon of Michter’s.

About the 25 Year-Old Single Barrel Bourbon of Michter’s: “With a tradition and quality standards dating back two decades before the Declaration of Independence was signed, a long line of Master Distillers at Michter’s has produced some truly exceptional whiskeys. We believe that our Michter’s 25 Year-Old Single Barrel Bourbon is as fine as any bourbon we have ever released. This exceptionally flavorful bourbon was distilled from a proprietary mashbill that is primarily corn-based, then matured to perfection for over a quarter of a century in specially chosen, new charred American white oak barrels. We continue to strive to make the best bourbon possible regardless of production cost, and we hope you enjoy our Michter’s 25 Year-Old Single Barrel release.”

Discover more about the Bourbons of Michter’s here.

cc2I know, I know, you have all been wondering how I was making out so far this season with my container garden. My apologies, I have been busy over the past few weeks and have not had a chance to snap pictures and write an update until now.

That all said… my container garden is doing quite well. My tomato plants in particular have experienced great growth and from the number of bright yellow blooms I have seen, I think I am going to have a nice crop of tomatoes in a few weeks.

Meanwhile, my basil plants are doing very well also. Now only if I could figure out how to make that fresh mozzarella cheese and I would have everything I need for my favorite summer meal.

The only think I have to worry about now is how my plant will fare over the coming days while I am away in Chicago. I am hoping there will be a few rain showers here and there to keep the soil moist. I’ll let you know how the plants make out.

Above right: a tomato plant; Below: one of my healthy basil plants:


candsWe are well into June which means that barbecue season is well underway and to help make sure we make the most of it, innovative chef Adam Perry Lang has released a new book, Charred & Scruffed, which offers us new ways to think about the way we cook on the open flame.

About Charred and Scruffed by Adam Perry Lang: “With Charred & Scruffed, bestselling cookbook author and acclaimed chef Adam Perry Lang employs his extensive culinary background to refine and concentrate the flavors and textures of barbecue and reimagine its possibilities. Adam’s new techniques, from roughing up meat and vegetables (‘scruffing’) to cooking directly on hot coals (‘clinching’) to constantly turning and moving the meat while cooking (‘hot potato’), produce crust formation and layers of flavor, while his board dressings and finishing salts build upon delicious meat juices, and his ‘fork finishers’—like cranberry, hatch chile, and mango ‘spackles’—provide an intensely flavorful, concentrated end note. Meanwhile, side dishes such as Creamed Spinach with Steeped and Smoked Garlic Confit, Scruffed Carbonara Potatoes, and Charred Radicchio with Sweet-and-Sticky Balsamic and Bacon, far from afterthoughts, provide exciting contrast and synergy with the ‘mains.’”

In Charred & Scruffed, Adam Perry Lang challenges many of the traditional ways we barbecue and some of his ideas are things I am excited to try. More than anything, I love someone who encourages us to experiment and be bold in our cooking and this book does just that.

Charred and Scruffed by Adam Perry Lang is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.

tandw1A couple of weekends ago when I attended Arts Fest Beverly, my booth was fortunate to be located next to the booth of Twitch and Whiskers and its owner, Mei-Ling. While setting up our tents Mei-Ling and I became instant fair friends as we quickly established our common fondness for taking castaway vintage items and turning them into art – me with my assemblages and she with her awesome “upcycled” jewelry.

About Mei-Ling of Twitch and Whiskers: “My name is Mei-Ling and I’m an elementary school teacher and a jewelry designer. After years of hunting and gathering treasures, the light bulb flashed on and I found a fun use for all my goodies. I design jewelry out of cast away vintage gems and inspiring items from the recycling bin. I always create with reuse and color in mind. I love giving new life to old objects with a twist of whimsy and humor. In my Etsy shop you will find upcycled one-of-a-kind pieces, thimbilism necklaces, and REcap bracelets. Everything is lovingly made by hand.”

Mei-Ling takes vintage items like old buttons, game pieces and thimbles and turns them into modern works of art meant to be admired as much as they are made to be worn.

tandwIn addition to the many fairs Mei-Ling attends, she maintains an Etsy store where you can see all of her great designs, like the Lone Starlet – Upcycled Tin Locket Necklace:

“Say howdy to a one-of-a-kind gem. Upcycled out of a vintage tin embellished with brass cowboy boots, this clever necklace is two-in-one. You can wear it with the lid open or closed for two distinct looks. The inside hides a layering of vintage black and white buttons with a brass horse on top. Underneath the tin is a pressed brass star with rhinestones. A gold tone curb chain connects in the back with a lobster clasp.”

Visit Mei-Ling’s Twitch and Whiskers blog here.

Visit Twitch and Whiskers’ Etsy Shop here.

STGI took a lot of heat (pun intended) for featuring a soup recipe last week. I stand by my endorsement of eating hot soup in the summer, but I thought today I would present a more traditional summer-themed recipe: this recipe for Sweet Tea Granita I found in Garden & Gun magazine.

Garden & Gun’s Sweet Tea Granita recipe is from Atlanta chef Andrea Litvin, who adapts her family recipe for traditional southern sweet tea into an icy, lemony, summer treat.

According to the magazine, the recipe is “ridiculously easy” and: “The only challenge is tending to it while it’s in the freezer. Once it just starts to harden, you need to run a fork through the ice crystals every fifteen or twenty minutes. After an hour or two, you’ve got a fluffy cooler that Litvin likes to pair with shortbread made from cornmeal or cookies sweetened with white chocolate.”

Find the recipe for Sweet Tea Granita from Garden & Gun magazine here.

See more from Garden & Gun magazine here.

NEBFIf you are free on Saturday, June 29, like beer, and are in northern New England, then the 9th Annual New England Brewfest may be just the ticket for you. The Brewfest, in Lincoln, NH in the gorgeous White Mountains region, is an opportunity to sample beers from all over New England and just have a good old time.

About New England Brewfest: “Breweries from across New England will gather on Saturday, June 29th to tap into their exceptional brews at the 9th annual New England Brewfest! Join us at the Lincoln Village Shops in the heart of the White Mountains, Lincoln, NH to sample and learn about these delicious craft brews. While you’re tasting, enjoy live entertainment, craft beer education programs, great food and exhibits offering brew paraphernalia and souvenirs. Think you know good beer? Prove it! With 30 breweries and over 100 beers on tap, we can all but guarantee you’ll try something new at the 9th annual New England Brewfest. Along with great beers to try, there will be vendors selling all things beer-related (ever heard of jelly made with beer?), a homebrewing demonstration, a variety of food for purchase, and live music.”

Learn more about New England Brewfest here.

SMITHThere is always a reason to visit our nation’s capital, and one of the best reasons to visit DC is the never ending bounty of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution.

Currently, the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum is hosting an exhibition celebration my favorite artistic medium – the assemblage: Over, Under, Next: Experiments in Mixed Media, 1913 to the Present.

About Over, Under, Next: Experiments in Mixed Media, 1913 to the Present: “Approximately 100 examples of collage and assemblage, primarily drawn from the Hirshhorn’s collection, reveal the myriad ways that modern and contemporary artists have made use of the fragments and detritus in the world around them to challenge traditional art media. Butterfly wings, glass shards, doll parts, crumpled automotive metal, jigsaw puzzle pieces, clothing, straight pins, furniture, and colored sand are some of the materials used. Featured artworks include Joseph Stella’s tiny photomechanical reproduction and cut paper composition, Ann Hamilton’s installation palimpsest (1989), and Bruce Connor’s groundbreaking film Report (1967). These works demonstrate the incredible diversity of collage and assemblage from artists around the world and how they evolved over the last century.”

I have been inspired by the great assemblage works of artists old and new, and this exhibition not only celebrates the medium, but validates the choices of artist like me.

Over, Under, Next: Experiments in Mixed Media, 1913 to the Present continues as the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum through September 8, 2013.

Learn more about all the museums and resources of the Smithsonian Institution here.

Today, June 21 is the day of the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere.  As such, today is the longest day of the year and the official first day of the summer season.

Here in New Hampshire we know that summer is fleeting and we try to make the most of every second of it.  However, I have to say I was a little sad to find a sure sign that autumn will be here all too soon.  The picture below was taken on my bike ride in Sandwich, NH yesterday afternoon. 

Is today the first day of summer or the turning point in the inevitable march to winter?