It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to pull off wearing a hat–an amount that typically hovers above the (mostly hatless) heads of most Bostonians. Hats say: Look at me, damn it. Now. And: That’s right, bitch. I’m someone to be reckoned with. If not even sometimes: You know you wish you had guts enough to wear this. None of which are sentiments most New Englanders are exactly comfy with. The ubiquitousRed Sox cap notwithstanding, hats just aren’t our thing.
I’d reckon that was all changed last Monday night. The Boston Fashion Week show of Marie Galvin, milliner and longtime Boston fixture who for years has struggled with a local aversion to flamboyance, had just that kind of impact.
That’s largely because Galvin made two very smart decisions for the show: First, she went for wearability. Gone were her outrageous sculptural creations that may look beautiful behind glass, but would all but eclipse their wearer. (And have, in the past, emitted squawks of, “Where on earth would I wear that?“) No, she kept things earthly, unpretentious, and simply pretty with intricate fascinators festooned with netting and feathers; pom-pom topped wool caps; ’20s, ’30s, and ’60s-inspired numbers topped with petite poofs of feathers. The only hints at architectural derring-do–a fascinator of silk multi-curls here, a gorgeous, asymmetrical black meringue for the finale–were still sized well enough that they stayed proportionate to the models’ heads. Meaning they came off as daring rather than overwhelming or silly.
Her second smart move was tapping CONTRA to style the show, all the clothing and accessories pulled from Neiman Marcus with an eye toward elegance and streamlined refinement that still nodded to the runway. Gauzy blouses, python-patterned pencil skirts, silk shift dresses, and fur-collared coats–all of it a mostly neutral palette, and all of it as ladylike as it was edgy. They were the perfect foil for the hats–and arguably the most convincing argument for the hats themselves.
Together, Galvin and Contra showed Bostonians that not only are hats wearable every day; they showed them how to wear them–as an improvement to an already spectacular outfit. That’s the kind of equation capable of proving to the hatless public that style statements are nothing to be afraid of. And that, even as vintage-inspired as many of Galvin’s creations may be, is an idea that’s time has finally come.
1. Martini Popsicle Truck: Gin, vodka, dirty, extra dry, whatever. I want little more than a full menu of boozy frozen treats on a stick, preferably either olive-, lemon-infused, to roll up my street right about 5 p.m. every day.
2. Nutella-Grand Marnier-Banana Crepes Truck: A heady creation, so overwrought with disparate flavors, they actually taste a little like bubble gum taken altogether. But the combination, while disgusting on paper, is one of the world’s most glorious street foods. Regular orders kept me alive in Paris. And would give me one big reason to live now.
3. Fat-tastic Truck: Dutch chocolate beignets, duck rillettes, Awful Awfuls, triple crème cheese. If it’s jacked up with saturated fat, it’d be peddled off this diet-destroying rig. Healthy? Hardly. Will it all be positively dripping with flavor? You bet your fat ass.
4. Vampire Mobile: A fix for Sooki Stackhouse addicts between Sundays. Think True Bloody Marys, garlicky crostini, red velvet cupcakes. Okay, so it’s a pretty thin concept. But get Alexander Skarsgård to serve it all shirtless, and you’ve got yourself a slam-dunk of a biz.
5. Mean, Lean, Green Machine: Any putz can get a prescription for legal marijuana and fire it up. But to clarify it in butter perfectly and roll it out into beautifully rich chocolate chip cookies takes a special kind of pastry chef. Or, more specifically, a special kind of baker.
This may be the summer of food trucks, but last Friday, something else entirely rolled up to my front doorstep: a gleaming maroon motorcycle complete with a World War II-era sidecar that had been painstakingly converted to a freezer compartment-cum-delivery vehicle. And it was full of—uhm, what else?—brownie/marshmallow/ice cream pizzas. Duh.
It was all the handiwork of Bob Rook, owner of Emack & Bolios—the original ‘70s-born bohemian ice cream operation (yes, precursor to Ben & Jerry’s) that’s still churning out hormone-free, insane flavors like “Caramel Moose Prints” (butterscotch ice cream blended with caramel and chocolate peanut butter cups) and, apparently now, an equally insane riff on frozen pizza.
It happened that my four- and six-year-olds were home. It happened they were in the mood for ice cream, which is essentially their permanent state of being. And of course, it happened they went absolutely ape-shit over the delivery. They dove almost literally headfirst into the pie—a brownie-crusted creation, loaded up with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, an epic ooze of marshmallow, and chocolate hearts, stars, and peace signs. Needless to say, sugar rushes ensued. As did requests for more—and for motorcycles as future birthday gifts.
I’d offer you a snapshot of the Cosmic Cruiser, but you really need to see it for yourself:
Serves 10-12 adults or 14-16 kids. $24.95 (plus a $3 delivery fee). emackandbolios.com.
We aren’t halfway through our (spectacular) lobster-brioche sliders at Russell House Tavern when we realize we’ve been lied to. As G.M. Ian Grossman sets down a slab of wood set with morsels beautiful enough to warrant of a national food rag cover, we dive immediately in, and it’s achingly obvious: Russell House is no “Tavern.” Hell, with charcuterie this delicate and meticulous, it barely even qualifies as a gastropub–even the new brand of relatively elevated gastropub. No, there’s full-on, serious, take-no-prisoners kitchen wizardry afoot here: We’re talking smoked, diced lamb belly with velvety harissa and marcona almonds on garlicky grilled bread. Bluefish pate like I haven’t tasted since stepping off a schooner on Nantucket. And the kicker? A glistening terrine of foie gras zapped with Laphroig, then scattered with smoked almonds, black pepper syrup, and subtly tart cherry gelee. It’s got to be one of the most gorgeously balanced foie renditions I’ve wolfed downed in years.
I’m a little partial, of course, to that last dish. Anything that good, which also takes one of my favorite single malts as a key flavor note, only makes me shudder with pure jealousy. The cookbook I’m currently writing, “The Drunkard’s Cookbook: Tasty Booze-based Recipes and Other Excuses to Drink in the Kitchen” could damn well use an entry that genius. And I just wish I’d come up with it. Never mind that exec chef Michael Scelfo’s skill wouldn’t be out of place at a fine dining spot; RHT’s ultra-chill atmosphere (especially this time of year, on the sun-speckled patio), its chatty and funny servers, and the dining crowd’s swirl of joviality–they all conspire to camouflage just how ambitious the food actually is.
That’s because, whether we’ve got the recession to primarily thank (probably), the public’s exhaustion with stiff, pretentious restaurants (just as probably), or the fresh-off-the-farm craze (definitely), RHT is the latest and most extreme example of nigh-fine dining recontextualized in order to put diners at ease enough (mentally and financially) to make regulars out of them. Ten years ago we were stacking imported status ingredients on a bone-china plate next to candlelight and damask-covered banquettes, and hoping diners didn’t mind overpaying for it on special occasions or date nights. Now we’re luring diners back once or twice a week with lower prices (which means they’re still spending about as much as they were before, ultimately) and easygoing atmospheres, and food that seems unfussy but has, in fact, a stupendous epicurean soul. Because no matter what else has changed in our collective unconscious, now that we’ve all had a taste of incredible food over the last decade, there ain’t no going back. No matter how it’s dressed up. Or in this case, down.
Speaking of which, I’m getting Scelfo’s foie recipe if it kills me. Just watch.
It was a long weekend, from which I am admittedly still recovering, so in the spirit of recreational holidays I’ll spare you my long-winded, hyperpretentious blathering, and get right to the point. ALEX HALL IS JOINING THE SB BLOG AS OUR FOOD WRITER. [And yes, for you nitwits who would inquire, I was screaming that last bit which, incidentally, shows both my commitment to my craft (HELLO ENTHUSIASM) and my stupidity, as I now have a migraine. ]
If you don’t know who Alex Hall is, I’d like to introduce you to this amazing 20th-century invention called GOOGLE. In lieu of trolling her CV: she went to Le Cordon Bleu, and she’s been published in more publications than my drunken noggin can recall. Oh yeah, and there’s that whole Executive Editor thing. She’s done that a few times, too.
In short, I HAVE NO IDEA WHY SHE WANTS TO WRITE WITH ME. (Again, with the screaming). But I’m happy she’ll be contributing. Happier than I will (sappily) admit.
Keep an eye out for her first post. I can guarantee her column will bring the lolz.
Until next week -
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