Basically, we have been on the road all spring, finding inspiration and beauty everywhere we go. Nothing, however, tops young Charlotte here. Our newest grandchild, and look, at just seven months, already a lady who does lunch!We started out in April in North Carolina at the High Point Spring Furniture Market where thousands of furniture manufacturers from all over the globe presented their wares to retail buyers–also from all over the globe. One of the many highlights was at Hickory White, the company that makes most of our custom upholstery. (Don’t worry; Keith is only looking so glum because he has just figured out exactly how much we spent there!)
Although I always say never paint your walls dark blue, this Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore really was stunning. The rug is from Fiezy, all wool and surprisingly affordable. See how it ties the whole room together and softens the intensity of the wall color? We did not buy the rug (only because it was not for sale), but we did buy this fabulous ecru velvet Chesterfield sofa along with the two coordinating armchairs. Classic, elegant, vintage, but with a smattering of modernity, that is our British Cottage story.
But I digress, back to little Charlotte. After High Point we flew to Omaha to visit with the littlest Nelsons; we’re up to three now! Naturally, we had to check out the local furniture scene. Which was easy because there is basically only one player in town–maybe even the state–and that is the Nebraska Furniture Mart. Owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, it is a colossal 420,000 square feet on a 77-acre site. It’s huge.
Sadly, big was not better. I think Warren needs to hire me. While I get that a store of this magnitude has to appeal to a variety of tastes and budgets, I refuse to believe that the Midwest really deserves furniture this, I hesitate to say ugly, let’s go with design challenged–and it wasn’t inexpensive! After walking one million miles at the High Point Spring Furniture Market I can personally attest there is no shortage of well-made, attractive, and affordable furniture. Looking at this vignette, you have to wonder; is this really the best a billion dollar company can do? Crank it up. Go get those Fiezy rugs and a coffee table that doesn’t clash with everything. While you’re at it, rethink your artwork. And accessories. Come on Warren, it’s definitely time to up your game; hire some new buyers, and show Nebraska some style.
But time to move on. Next stop was Seattle to visit with our daughter, and of course, we had to go to University Village to see the latest Restoration Hardware extravaganza. Hopefully, they had a billion dollars because that is what this four story, 60,000 square foot structure must have cost.It was architecturally awesome; I loved the polished concrete floors, the M.C. Esher-esque seemingly never-ending series of arched doorways, symmetrical room settings, and the high-reaching ceilings. Sadly the products were every bit as lacking, in their own way, as the items at Warren’s Nebraska Furniture Mart. Not that they were ugly or poorly designed but, after you’ve seen one crystal chandelier, one upholstered linen chair, and one low-slung couch, there’s fifty more to look at. Enough already!
In the RH world, we all live in grey hued palazzos, with fragmented light, dispelled by 1000 watt crystal chandeliers that look like their last home was Versailles. We spend our days lolling on oversized sofas and dining like lords on massive plank topped tables. It’s all too Brobdingnagian and blah for my taste, even with all that bling.But we had other fish to fry:
Sights to see:
Peter Morse’s Gorgonzola and Pecan Salad
No matter where you are, or what is on the menu, you can never go wrong with Peter’s Salad. When you were married, like Peter was, to a fabulous chef, it is not easy to get some play at the table. Yet with this salad, rest assured, he got game.
I always made sure when inviting the Morse family over to dine, that Peter would be in charge of the salad. Invariably he would arrive laden down with supplies, including several heads of romaine lettuce, and start rummaging around the kitchen for my non-existent salad spinner. He was ever hopeful, but it never appeared, so he would sigh and then, finally get down to washing, then hand drying, all that lettuce.
Next up was the dressing. In a large wooden salad bowl, he would take a fork and smush up a nice hunk of gorgonzola cheese. (Peter always measured precisely but I just toss in chunks depending on how many I am serving–figure about a quarter of a pound per head of lettuce.) What does really matter is the quality of the cheese–don’t use supermarket brand or pre-crumbled in a plastic container cheese. And don’t use blue cheese either. Spend the money and get some decent gorgonzola and your guests will love it–and you.
After smushing the cheese, add enough olive oil to turn it into a soft paste. Figure 4 or 5 tablespoons or so per quarter pound of cheese. You want it to be almost like peanut butter in consistency. Then add a tablespoon (or two–you will have to do this to taste) of red wine vinegar to make it more liquid, but make sure not too liquid; this is a pretty thick dressing.
Next, add about 1/2 cup of pecans–chopped finely. (And you can substitute walnuts or other nuts but really pecans taste the best). Stir into your mixture and let sit until you are ready to dine. Then just tear up your lettuce leaves into a bit larger than bite size pieces, add to the bowl, toss and serve.
There are lots of ways to enhance this recipe. You can toast or caramelize the nuts; add some ripe pear, or toss in a few cranberries. But I like Peter’s way best; it’s simple and delicious and that always works for me.