Archive for February, 2020

It’s a real shame that it took me this long to find the fine folks at Burlap & Barrel – but now that I have, I am going crazy stocking up on their awesome selection of fine spices and related items. Seriously, if you use those cheap supermarket spices and have never splurged on quality spices – do yourself a favor, visit Burlap & Barrel and try some, say, turmeric.

About Burlap & Barrel:

“Burlap & Barrel sources unique, beautiful spices for professional chefs and home cooks. As a Public Benefit Corporation, we partner directly with smallholder farmers to source spices that have never been available in the US before and help improve the livelihoods of our partner farmers. Welcome to a world of incredible flavor.”

Learn more and see all the fine products available from Burlap & Barrel here.

When I go out I order soda water with lime. Sometime people say tonic water – but soda water and tonic water are two very different things which I will not describe now. However, there are some really great soda waters out there which make for great mixers for cocktails, like the Classic London Tonic I found from London Essence Co.

About the Classic London Tonic from London Essence Co.:

“Our Classic London Tonic features our signature distilled juniper essence, and delivers a premium offering that is designed to perfectly enhance the main feature of the drink, the spirit. By steeping juniper berries for up to a week prior to distillation, this method allows us to capture the full range of the juniper aromatics into an essence.”

Find the Classic London Tonic from London Essence Co here.

I have read many books over the years about the reign and exploits of Queen Elizabeth I and that whole era in history. Most of these books have been nonfiction and I am always saying to myself how the real story is as dramatic and interesting as any fiction. That said, the Elizabethan Era is prime for historical fiction, which provides the potential to marry the real drama of the period with great storytelling. This potential has been realized with the wonderful novel The King at the Edge of the World by Arthur Phillips, which imagines an all too believable story set in a time of religious turmoil that illuminates the real history of the time.

About The King at the Edge of the World by Arthur Phillips:

“The year is 1601. Queen Elizabeth I is dying, childless. Her nervous kingdom has no heir. It is a capital crime even to think that Elizabeth will ever die. Potential successors secretly maneuver to be in position when the inevitable occurs. The leading candidate is King James VI of Scotland, but there is a problem. The queen’s spymasters—hardened veterans of a long war on terror and religious extremism—fear that James is not what he appears. He has every reason to claim to be a Protestant, but if he secretly shares his family’s Catholicism, then forty years of religious war will have been for nothing, and a bloodbath will ensue. With time running out, London confronts a seemingly impossible question: What does James truly believe?”

The King at the Edge of the World by Arthur Phillips is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers everywhere.


If my calendar and a double check with Alexa are correct, tomorrow marks the first day of Lent, which means today is Fat Tuesday. My brother, who is a huge fan of coconut, traditionally gives up the tropical treat for Lent every year. Which means today’s find will have to wait another 40 days before being enjoyed by him: the Coconut Truffles I found from the fine folks at Charbonnel et Walker.

About the Coconut Truffles from Charbonnel et Walker:

“Escape to an Island of Paradise! Let this exceptional milk chocolate truffle with a creamy coconut centre, hand finished in rich milk chocolate with desiccated coconut take your taste buds to an out of this world destination!”

Yes, that means I will be sending him a box for Easter.

Find the Coconut Truffles from Charbonnel et Walker here.

Visit Charbonnel et Walker online here.

I’ve been a big fan of Hackett, a British purveyor of fine men’s clothing and accessories, for a long time. Had I all the money in the world I would go there for a Pretty Woman-style shopping spree for a totally new wardrobe. But alas, I will have to settle for dreaming about what it would be like to have cool things from Hackett, like their Travel Day Bag.

About the Travel Day Bag from Hackett:

“Perfectly proportioned for everyday use, this bag is made from technical fabric with pebbled leather trims and subtle logo branding to the front. Style it with casual looks on the weekend.”

Find the Travel Day Bag from Hackett here.

Visit Hackett online here.

Winter is waning, or at least the calendar is getting to the end of meteorological winter, which means the sap will be running in Vermont soon. But why wait? The fine people at Mount Mansfield Maple Products have plenty great maple syrups in stock, like their Organic Pure Vermont Maple Syrup.

About the Organic Pure Vermont Maple Syrup from Mount Mansfield Maple Products:

“Our pure Vermont maple syrup is thick, smooth and silky and available in all grades from the lightly colored golden delicate with a sweet and modest maple flavor to the strong hearty full-bodied dark robust.  For pancakes and ice-cream we recommend the lighter two grades, and for those who prefer a stronger flavor or have culinary motives dark robust will be best.  Essentially, the darker the maple syrup, the stronger the maple flavor. All pure Vermont maple syrup is naturally organic.”

Find the Organic Pure Vermont Maple Syrup from Mount Mansfield Maple Products here.

See all the syrups from Mansfield Maple Products here.

Visit Mansfield Maple online here.

The roller bag in all its forms has taken over the luggage trade in recent decades. But I miss the old suitcase – the kind you see in old movies – the kind with the handle and latches, often adorned with travel stickers from all over the world. Thing of the case old man Gower bought for George Bailey. Anyway, I was thinking of all this when I came across the Sapphire Blue Trolley Case from the fine folks at Globe-Trotter – the perfect blend of modern convenience and old school class.

About the Sapphire Blue Trolley Case from Globe-Trotter:

“Globe-Trotter is introducing a new Sapphire Blue colourway to its Deluxe collection, available for a limited time until next year. Each case boasts a high-gloss, metallic exterior and a plush interior lining. Inspired by the dazzling colours of the sapphire gemstone, the collection is available in a wide range, from the handbag-sized London Square Case to the wheeled 33″ Extra Deep Suitcase, suited to travels of a week and beyond. Handcrafted in Hertfordshire, the cases come complete with leather corners and straps in a luxurious navy shade, making this the perfect collection to accompany you on a first-class voyage.”

Find the Sapphire Blue Trolley Case from Globe-Trotter here.

Visit Globe-Trotter online here.

It turns out the iconic multi-genre artist Patti Smith is an amazing and prolific memoirist. This is not news to me, her 2011 book, Just Kids, reviewed on these very pages, is one of the best memoirs I have ever read. Thankfully, Ms. Smith has more to tell and she is continuing to write engrossing and interesting stories of her life, like in her latest, Year of the Monkey.

About Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith:

“Following a run of New Year’s concerts at San Francisco’s legendary Fillmore, Patti Smith finds herself tramping the coast of Santa Cruz, about to embark on a year of solitary wandering. Unfettered by logic or time, she draws us into her private wonderland with no design, yet heeding signs–including a talking sign that looms above her, prodding and sparring like the Cheshire Cat. In February, a surreal lunar year begins, bringing with it unexpected turns, heightened mischief, and inescapable sorrow. In a stranger’s words, ‘Anything is possible: after all, it’s the Year of the Monkey.’ For Smith–inveterately curious, always exploring, tracking thoughts, writing–the year evolves as one of reckoning with the changes in life’s gyre: with loss, aging, and a dramatic shift in the political landscape of America.”

Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.

If there is one piece of advice I could pass along to every young person setting up their first household – it would be: invest in good knives. Seriously. If you have good knives and take care of them they will last you for years. You can’t beat the quality, or the value, of the Trio Knife Set I found from the fine folks at Material.

About the Trio Knife Set from Material:

The Almost 4” Knife, The Serrated 6” Knife, and The 8” Knife—who needs a 12-piece set when you’ve got the holy trinity? All three offer the same superior strength, resilience to corrosion, and razor sharp performance that practically does all the cutting, slicing, and dicing for you.”

Hey, the Trio Knife Set from Material make a great housewarming gift for anyone.

Find the Trio Knife Set from Material here.

Visit Material online here.