Thursday, August 28, 2014

our london shopping sojourn

Robert and I just spent a few days in London sorting out some wedding-related things, shopping, and taking some much needed time away from Denmark.

Robert had the final fittings of his bespoke wedding suit while we were there.  Way back in 1985, when Dress You Up was my dance recital song, I never in a million years dreamed that I'd be fancy enough to marry a guy whose suits (and shirts) are actually custom made in London ;-) He looks hot and I joke that it's his insurance policy that I'll actually say "I do" next month in Gibraltar!

A bespoke suit demands an amazing tie, so our tailor sent us to Drake's.  Robert is a professor and while he's very stylish, he can also be a bit on the conservative side, and he likes what he likes, so picking a tie was no easy feat.  Thankfully, shopkeeper Tracy had the patience of a saint and turned out to be a kindred spirit, so while Robert shot down tie after tie, she and I bonded as fellow vegetarians, animal lovers, and vintage aficionados.  She called me "glamorous" and he eventually picked the tie I wanted him to pick... and a cashmere jumper I may need to steal.

The bespoke hottie suit is of the slim european style that practically demands ankle boots.   I love a man in a slim fit suit and ankle boots, but what a goose chase! We couldn't have swung a dead cat without hitting five pairs of Chelsea boots, but side-zip boots were a whole different story.  We went everywhere... Oxford Street, Regent Street, New Bond Street, Liberty, Selfridges, but no dice.

While I'm on the subject of Selfridges, all I can say is, "what a freaking disaster!"  Anyone who watches Mr. Selfridge and who is lamenting the fact that they may never get to see Selfridges in person, I can tell you that you aren't missing a thing!  The store has taken the shop in shop concept to a ridiculous extreme.  Each label has its own fixtures and little block of space which has ruined the historical integrity of the building and made a rat's nest of the shopping experience.  It's impossible to shop for a single type of item, e.g boots, without having to visit a couple dozen shop in shop concessions.  To make matters worse, because space is at such a premium, each concession only has a tiny part of the current season's collection, so several times, the salespeople referred us to their brand store somewhere else in London.  So, if you must see it, Selfridges is an ok tourist attraction from the outside, but prepare to be disappointed by the inside, and don't plan on shopping there.  Why shop a Louis Vuitton concession, when there's a flagship store a ten minute walk away?

Liberty of London however is small-scale version of what I expected Selfridges to be.  It maximizes the heritage of its beautiful historic building and is worth visiting, if only to ogle the vintage handbag department... Chanel and Hermès fans will not be disappointed

One thing I love about London is how helpful everyone is! Almost every shop we went into tried to suggest another shop where we might be able to find the perfect pair of boots.  Eventually, someone's suggestion landed us on Jermyn Street where we finally found a beautiful pair of boots from English shoemaker Joseph Cheaney & Sons. Handmade English boots to go with a bespoke English suit... jolly good!

Our final order of business was to finalize Robert's wedding ring, which was made by our London jeweller, purveyor of Little Edie and Jackie. While we were there, I started up a little bespoke project of my own that will make Little Edie look positively modest... can't wait to show you!

Hey look kids, there's Big Ben ;-)
Despite all of that shopping, we also had time to meet up with Robert's parents, which was wonderful because I haven't seen them since last November.  We went to see the ceramic poppies WWI commemoration installation at the Tower of London, and they were lucky enough to be able to join us on the triumphant part of our search for the perfect boots, and on one of my many trips to the jeweller ;-)  We went to Carnaby Street (they hung out there in the 60's!), walked around the West End, and had dinner together.

Robert and I finally found time to see some touristy stuff... Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, St. James's Palace, the London Eye, Whitehall, Downing Street, Westminster Abbey. 

We visited the Marks & Spencer wine department and had our traditional hotel picnics... me stuffing myself with Branston Pickle and sharp cheddar sandwiches, and Mr. Kipling's cakes in various persuasions; Robert doing the same with pork pies as I looked the other way.

If a city could be someone's soulmate, London would be mine.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

second-time bride: little black dresses

It's definitely not a traditional choice, but why not get married in a fabulous LBD?  Aside from the fact that we're getting married at one o'clock in the afternoon, I can't think of any good reason to not go for classic Audrey Hepburn style Breakfast at Tiffany's retro glam!

Here are my top little black wedding dress contenders, nearly all of them lack designer pedigree, but does the perfect little black dress need a pedigree?

Little Black Wedding Dress
This dress screams, "Holly Golightly..."  I might even need a tiara for this one!

Little Black Wedding Dress
Another no-name dress... doesn't it just ooze 50's glamour?

Little Black Wedding Dress 
A classic, no-name LBD...

Valentino Wedding Dress 
It's a Valentino!

Little Black Wedding Dress
I saved my favorite for last...  a classic bombshell dress by Ermanno Scervino.

This is my final dress post.  We're headed to London tomorrow to visit our jeweller, to buy my wedding lingerie, and to have the dress fitted.  I won't tell you which dress I've chosen, but I will tell you it's one that I've posted, though not necessarily in this post :)

Friday, August 15, 2014

easy cheesecake

Robert asked for panini and cheesecake for his birthday dinner and since he took me to Lake Como, gave me a vintage diamond and sapphire ring, and asked me to be his wife for my birthday, I figured I should indulge him ;-)

I can do panini backwards in 140mm Louboutin stiletto heels, but I hadn't made a cheesecake in years.

Luckily I had made lots of cheesecakes once upon a time, so after I dealt with the fact that you can't get graham crackers in Denmark, I was pretty much in business.

I'm not a fan of fussy recipes.  I don't like cheesecake recipes that call for a complicated filling, a waterbath bake, or fancy sour cream topping.  I like simple cheesecake... a butter, sugar and graham cracker crust filled with cream cheese, eggs, sugar, and vanilla.

the crust
1 1/4 cups crushed digestive biscuits
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter

When I lived in the States, like most people, I used a crushed graham cracker crust. But I've never seen graham crackers in Denmark and I wasn't motivated to try to make my own, so I used digestive biscuits, which are the American expat go-to substitute in pretty much all graham cracker situations.

The crust is very straightforward... mix together the crushed biscuits and sugar, add the butter, stir to combine, then press the mixture into the bottom of a greased spring-form pan... I suggest also lining the bottom of the pan with parchment.

I pre-bake my crust at 175 degrees (350 fahrenheit).  If you're short on time, it's ok to skip this step, but it helps to prevent a soggy crust.

the filling
600g cream cheese
(approx. 24 oz)
3/4 cup sugar
1 t vanilla
3 eggs

It's best to start with room temperature ingredients. On the lowest possible speed, cream together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla.  If you whip too much air into the filling, it will crack during baking/cooling.  Add the eggs and mix just until it's all combined, then spread it into the cooled crust.

Bake it at 175 degrees (350 fahrenheit) for about 40 minutes.  It's done baking when there's a 2-3 inch bit in the middle that's unset.  At that point, turn off the oven, open the door and leave the cheesecake to cool in the open oven.  Cooling it gradually will make it less likely to crack or sink.

I've always made my cheesecake a day ahead of time so it can chill overnight for the best texture.  I take it out of the fridge 15 minutes or so before serving, and top it with macerated strawberries.
Loved by Robert, and enthusiastically Oik Approved :)
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