I once read a study indicating that people were more apt to purchase a cookbook with a recipe for tarte tatin than apple pie. Will order the torte over the tart, and the tarte over the tart. Will favor themselves a bit of fancy, even if it’s only a perception. It’s why menus insist eggs are “farm-fresh,” bacon is “thick-sliced,” and sandwiches are “Homemade,” as if a sandwich could be anything but. The fact is, we feel by proximity.

We order the tarte tatin and feel that much more refined ourselves. Dine at a restaurant where the linens are pressed and have a sheen only produced by the finest of cotton, and we find our postures are slightly straighter, our elbows off the table.

Last I was at my mother’s home in Jupiter, Fl, we took a boat ride on the inter-coastal, along Jupiter Island, past the homes of google-worthy celebrities: Tiger (the golfer, not the anxious jumping thing who’s a friend of Pooh), Celine (the one married to her manager, not the handbag), Burt (the one with the ‘stache not the unibrow). Seeing the outdoor kitchens and billowing linen drapes, I didn’t feel jealous; I felt lovely. It felt like an enchanting evening. All I needed was a shower, a white sweater set, and a crisp glass of white, with a hint of honeysuckle and melon. Perhaps an orchid pinned behind my ear. It felt like vacation, like a necklace made of white shells, a tie-dyed sarong.

Mere proximity to the majestic landscaping delivered a windswept evening of winsome smiles. I could almost hear Ella Fitzgerald croon. I’m not delusional. There’s just something about proximity, as if spotting a celebrity makes you feel more (or less depending on his/her behavior) connected in some way. It’s why we read magazines with full-bleed images, dog ear the pages of gourmet magazines where the shopping alone would take all Twelve Days of Christmas–never mind the actual preparation. It’s why we all love to watch Nigella. We want her casual breezy way, her oozy love for life in our own lives.

It’s why when I’m out at a restaurant I’m enjoying, I ask the waitress if I can have a copy of the cocktail menu… to go. That is, when I’m home, I want to recreate the magic. To bring salt-swept streets and gin-soaked nights through the doors of our home. In fig-infused Jim Beam Black, with navan vanilla liqueur, orange bitters, and grilled grapefruit juice (El Guillermo at La Condesa). Knowing the beans are upstairs asleep, we can open our porch doors, turn the dial on the stereo up, and toast to life, and drink to us.

A YEAR AGO: Peek-a-Boob
5 YEARS AGO: Milquetoast



  1. That is exactly the feeling I strive for every day. In reality, I'm working hard, supporting teenagers, caring for aging parents, keeping up a house, yard, etc. But when I go to bed and envision the days yet to come of strolling on the white beach, in a white sarong, with a big floppy white hat with a purple orchid – sipping crisp white – running my fingertips over a dustless, simple piece of furniture on the balcony overlooking the ocean – picturing so clearly in my mind's eye that chaise lounge that no one else has sat in, with the perfectly sized table next to it, graced with a vase of peonies and a stack of juicy books…well…let's just say, it leads to sweet dreams.

  2. I always read and rarely comment, but this touched me. Perhaps because it is such a "suck the marrow" post or because you write so elegantly about elegance. Or because I too imagine a fabric or outfit or smell or taste that goes with an emotion.

    Well done (not that you need me to say so).

  3. both of those are totally delish cocktails, so don't forget them. use heavy cream for the ramos–it makes a wonderful difference!

  4. Posts like this make me think you would like Edith Wharton. You should read _The House of Mirth_ if you haven't already

  5. Last summer, while passing through Antigua (Guatemala), I indulged in a lovely feast at Hector's, a hole in the wall eatery with four tables and delectable cuisine. While enjoying our appetizers, Hector presented us with small cups of lobster bisque to critique the flavors. When we said we were too full for dessert, he insisted on placing a warmed lemon tart topped with cracked pepper and lined with chocolate in front of us. Divine. And when we left, I leaned toward the kitchen and asked if he would mind sparing a menu. He gasped with delight and formally presented me with one. By far one of the best experiences of my life.

  6. "not the anxious jumping thing who's a friend of Pooh"

    That would be TIGGER, not Tiger ;)

    I, too, have relatives in Jupiter. There is a slow, relaxed, privileged feel on the Island. And not that it's any of my business, but do you take your beans to visit with your mother?

  7. Watching Paula Deen now. And always. And forever. It should really be song lyrics. I love her and love you even more for how much you love her too. Makes you all the more precious, darling.

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