Things I Loved/Hated This Week #31


Retina Displays:


Never again will I willingly use a computer, tablet, or phone without a retina display. To use technology without them is to feel as though you regressed ten years into that sad time when we used dial up Internet and thought chat rooms were cool. Now, all of my Apple devices have a retina display and I couldn’t be more impressed. For those of you not in the know, a retina display is a screen that is so pixel dense that you cannot actually see the pixels unless you’ve got your nose to the screen. While it doesn’t sound all that great, it is truly revolutionary. You might not notice pixels now, but when you become accustomed to not seeing them, you can’t help but be annoyed at their constant presence. I am now disgusted when I use my cell phone — the only non-retina device I own at the moment — when I suffer through the low quality. Somebody get me an iPhone pronto! Did you hear that US Cellular is finally getting them? I actually wept. I have been waiting for an iPhone since 2007. I still have to wait until the later portion of the year, but it’s finally happening! Anyway, I was editing pictures from my Chicago trip last night on my beloved MacBook Pro and could not get over how nice they looked on the screen. They are just the best. Upgrade, reader!

Ralph Lauren Restaurant:


When it comes to fine dining, I am incredibly particular and can usually find some fault with my experience. I have very few restaurants that are on my list of places I consider perfect: Alfredo’s in New York City, Django in Des Moines, Iolanda in Paris, and now the Ralph Lauren Restaurant in Chicago. When I was in town on Saturday, I stumbled upon it after I escaped a trying time in the ghetto. I was starving and in the mood for gourmet cuisine. The outdoor area was packed, so I decided to keep looking and went to the restaurant at a nice hotel, but, I wasn’t impressed by the menu, so I returned to Ralph Lauren. I recalled a review I had read saying that it was more of an experience restaurant than a good restaurant. I assumed this would be true, but I was hungry, the waiters reminded me of the staff at Parisian bistros, and the clientele were dressed nicely. I was given a seat immediately and was delighted by the decor, it looks as if the place were ripped straight out of the library of an English estate. I ordered a Negroni cocktail to drink, which is one of my favorites. Very good. For my meal, I had a goat cheese and caramelized onion tart that was served with a beet and mesclun salad. The tart was perfect with a crisp shell and amazingly tender onions. The salad was also delicious and I could have eaten more and more and more! There were these lovely sesame and parmesan crackers to nibble on and I had the nicest time. Espresso and a sorbet trio for dessert. The lemon sorbet was rich and creamy and one of the best I’ve ever had, same goes for the blood orange sorbet. The vanilla sorbet was good, but vanilla sorbet is never all that exciting. The presentation of all these dishes was excellent and I was obsessed with the chinaware. My waiter was also very thoughtful and gave me lots of suggestions of things I shouldn’t miss while I was in town. I had a marvelous time and heartily recommend this restaurant to you. Go.

Lavazza Espresso:

Espresso is one of my favorite things, but it’s a very particular beverage. I have tried many brands, but I always return to Lavazza as it has a flavor that appeals very much to me. Coffee snobs seem to prefer Illy, but that’s just silly, I think, their coffee always seems far too bitter to me. Espresso should never be bitter. Strong, yes, but not bitter. When I was at Whole Foods the other day, I saw an expensive can of espresso was on sale, so I decided to try it. What a horrible mistake! It tastes alright, but it does strange things to my espresso machine. Where before the shot would stream elegantly into my demitasse cup, it now dribbles and the machine sounds as if it’s using a terrible amount of energy. I can’t wait until I’m done with this brand and then return to my happy golden can of Lavazza.

Successful Mushroom Hunting:


Finally, after a long unending winter, that horrid season has finally left us and spring is rushing to catch up. It seems that the grass grows inches each day and the trees have burst into bloom with little warning. I only wish that I could spend hours out there, reading beneath the gently swaying branches of the apple tree or tending to my salad garden. I nibbled on a piece of micro arugula last night and was so happy that it tasted so marvelous. After the rains and surprise snows, some greens need to be replanted, but that should not prove to be an issue. This weekend, I suppose, but there is so much to do! With the warm weather, the mushrooms have finally emerged, and I could not have been happier. We haven’t found many of my favorite yellow ones, but we have found a goodly portion and I was every so amused. Last night, I whipped up a late dinner of sautéed morels in a little sauce of garlic, shallot, butter, and vegetable stock. Tossed with pasta, it was absolutely heavenly. I don’t know how much longer the season will last, but I still need to make an omelette and a pizza. I have enough for an omelette right now — perhaps a late dinner?

Casual Clothes:


I adore fancy dress. You all know that. If I could wear a custom suit every day, I would, and I would change around lunch into something new and gorgeous — perhaps with a statement tie and jaunty vest? But, then somedays, I am just not in the mood. I wake up after a few hours of sleep and grumble my way past the cats and into the shower. I look miserably into my unreasonably vast wardrobe and think everything makes me look fat. I’m really a whiny bitch, you know? So, the other day I was just not feeling it and wore a sweatshirt. One of those grey athletic ones with a zipper. It was all very simple, and yet, for some reason, I felt very well dressed. In fact, a student told me that I had amazing style based solely on that basic outfit. What a delight! It turns it I don’t have to always dress like I’m getting ready for the MET Gala or a day at the Vogue offices, I can dress like all you peasants and still outshine you. What a wonderful thing to realize!




One thing that drives me out of my mind is all the lint that clings to my clothes. No matter what I do and no matter how many times I roll my outfits, it seems that there is always another clump of lint or cat hair that has magically appeared from fashion hell. It makes no sense to me. My clothes are literally locked in a closet where animals and dust aren’t allowed to be. How do they get all over? Today, I’m wearing all black and nearly passed out when I was in the car and took a look at my shirt. It was all over! Why???? So, I rolled and rolled and rolled and rolled again until it was gone. It was so stressful. Someday, I would hope an invention comes along that you spray your clothes with that makes them unable to cling to lint and hair. I don’t know what that would be. I have tried static spray to no avail, it’s just my tragic curse.

Other People’s Baking:


Since I am a professionally trained pastry chef (*brushes shoulders*), people often want my opinion on their creations. I hate doing this because I am so picky when it comes to what I eat and I don’t want to crush anybody’s feelings. If something is good, I will have no trouble letting you know, but if it’s not, I’d rather just not say a thing. I’m kind of like a literary agency. If I don’t care for it, I’ll just forget about it and not let you know my opinion. Thankfully, many of the things I try are surprisingly good, but on occasion there will be a terrifying dessert given to me and I need to eat it in front of the creator. Oh, there is nothing worse than this. When I try things, I oftentimes go all Gordon Ramsay and that is not the kindest reaction to somebody’s food. Last week, I had a scary brownie. I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to try anything again for some time. Sorry about it.

Where is Paris Hilton’s New Music? (Seriously!):

I’m not kidding about this one at all. Paris has been teasing her second album since before I graduated. I have been impatiently waiting all this time and I can’t do it anymore — where is the music? Where are the music videos? They weren’t going to win any Grammy’s, but she knows this, we all know it. Her first album was actually pretty great and I am not ashamed to admit that I still listen to it with regularity. Have your heard “Jealousy.” Totes about the Nicole Richie feud! Do you guys remember that? I wept when their friendship came to a crash and then the Simple Life fizzled out. There were rumors that they were going to do an around the world version. Do you know how amazing that would have been? I still get goosebumps at the thought. Anyway, when I was scrolling through iTunes, I found a bunch of Paris’ sample tracks that I had bought back in 2008 when she was lampooning the presidential campaign with her own bid for painting the White House pink and forming a fashion police to fix the national employment crisis. She should have won! The music is fun and yet we have nothing. All that we’ve gotten lately is that amazing talk song, “Drunk Text.” I was out in the club…you know…to dance with my bitches. Heaven, I tell you, heaven!

Spotify Removing Music:


I love Spotify. I could write essays on my adoration for the service, but recently something very annoying has happened that makes me trust and appreciate them a bit less. Like all music lovers and fans of pop culture, I have been looking forward to the release of The Great Gatsby soundtrack and was very happy to have it on my iPad and my phone and my computer for my listening pleasure. I enjoyed it for several days, but then my amusement ceased. When I was in the train this weekend, inadvertently making my way towards the ghetto, I discovered that Spotify had removed half the tracks from the playlist I had saved. I was beyond annoyed. I don’t pay them to take music away from me, I pay them because I believe in the quality of their services. This transgression on their part has seriously irked me and I wouldn’t mind looking for an alternative service should there prove to be one. Besides, their app looks ridiculous on the retina screens and they show no interest in fixing this glaring issue. It’s more than a cosmetic issue, the program is difficult to use when the words look like little blurs. I hope that whatever licensing issue they must be having is worked out soon, because I need my Beyoncé to sing Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” again. Or else.

Constant Real Estate Failure:


I love real estate. I love bricks. I love the British tradition of naming their homes. I think it’s charming, but nobody in America tends to do it. I do, but that’s certainly not surprising because in my head I’m a British man who grew up in Paris and somehow landed in the middle of Iowa with limited access to escape. Sad. I have been in talks to purchase several properties, all brick, all crumbling, all gorgeous, and all have fallen through. I am crushed under a figurative brick house of real estate failure. I named them all. The Palazzo was sold while I was securing funds. My attempt to buy The Penthouse was undermined by somebody close to me. The Portico was listed under false pretenses. And so, none of these gorgeous properties with their wavy glass and century-old moulding are mine to have. It’s a constant sadness, really, and until I get something of my own, I’ll always feel a little dead inside. I was supposed to inherit a property called, by me, the Summer Cottage, but sadly it had to be sold. This Wednesday was the last day I could ever be in it and the experience was trying for me. I grew up with that house and always assumed that I could continue my ever expanding decorating whims there and move in. I used the house as a trial area for my interior decorating endeavors and created what I consider to be one of the most beautiful kitchens in the county, if not the state, but now strangers own it and it’s not mine and I have to go back to my house and shuffle all the things that once called that house home. Tonight, I’ll start trying to arrange these possessions, but it’ll be hard — there’s nowhere to put it all. I’m really in no mood. I just want a brick house all of my own. That’s all. Well, that and a Burberry coat.

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