Posts filed under Royal Wedding

Berkeley Hotel Tea Honors Talent and Creativity in Both Fashion and Cuisine

The incredible Alexander McQueen Fashion Exhibit “Savage Beauty” at New York City's famed Metropolitan Museum of Art will not close this week to the cheers of any lovers of art and creativity who would have missed it.

Instead this amazing display of one of fashion's best will remain open to the public until August 7th of this year. Fantastic!!!

To say that the show is a tour de force of style and courage hardly captures the experience of walking through the actual galleries. For anyone who seeks to be inspired, it is simply an unforgettable afternoon with the very essence of creativity.

Yet if you cannot attend in the few days left and are in London, there is an equally (though somewhat lighter) experience that also honors fashion at The Berkeley HotelThe Pret-a-Portea Afternoon Tea.

Beginning with the china designed by Paul Smith, everything served is bright, fashionable to say the least and totally enjoyable.

Carefully crafted cookies echo actual designer creations. And if time is short, you can even ask for a box of 10 Prêt-à-Portea cookies/biscuits for $41/£25 and the hotel will be delivered them via a pale pistachio green and pale pink Vespa in a purse-shaped box anywhere in London.

Such style and service should remind every Berkeley tea guest that all creativity has a source, a creator, an origin that should be acknowledge and honored. 

And though McQueen is sadly no longer with us, Sarah Burton and the amazing professional team that he assembled and trained, still carry on his legacy of first mastery and then, and only then, innovation. Witness the Royal Wedding dress.

What chef would not agree? First must come technique, mastery of the medium and an appreciation of both discipline and one's colleagues. Once learned, then the variations and innovations are appropriate and exciting.

In short, craft first, then art  – no matter whether it is fashion or cuisine for the principles are the same, the results - simply and utterly an unforgettable dining experience!  

Post Note on August 3, 2011: As this remarkable show draws to a close, the Metropolitan Museum of Art reports that as of last Friday morning, over 553,000 people had seen the show. Those numbers will surely guarantee this exhibition will rank among the top shows ever staged at the Met. Congratulations to all the Museum's staff who often kept the display open until midnight to accommodate the block-long lines! Well done and many, many thanks!

Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2011

Parisian Pastry House of Laduree Honors Monaco Royal Wedding with Special Sweets

This past weekend all of Monaco celebrated the wedding of their Prince Albert to the lovely Olympic swimmer, Charlene Wittstock of South America.

As the crowds cheered and the assembled 800 celebrity guests enjoyed glasses of Belle Epoque 2002 Perrier-Jouet Champagne, Laduree, Paris’ famous pastry house, has crafted a special sweet commemorative confection to honor their wedding day.

Beginning in 1862, Louis Ernest Laduree founded this remarkabke culinary dynasty that would convert the lowly backstreet bakeries of Paris into elegant cafes sparkling with crystal and catering to the elite and fashionable.

To achieve this transformation, Laduree engaged the services of Jules Cheret in 1871 to decorate his newly opened shop in the chic Madelaleine district of Paris.

No one could have been better suited for the task as he adapted images from the décor of the new opera house, cherubs and all, into his floating airy designs.  

Soon such cafes became a showcase of elegance and style of Paris. The world was changing and women of the upper class wanted to move more freely in society, but in a manner that was still “socially acceptable”.  

It was Laduree’s wife, Jeanne Souchard, the daughter of a well-known Rouen hotelier, who suggested the final touch that forever cemented the fame of Laduree as a must-visit site for all culinairians visiting Paris.

Why not, she suggested, blend the English tradition of tea with the great tradition of French pastries? Ladies could gather in the newly concieved “salon de thé” without fear of dishonor. All was light and polite there.

And then there were the pastries – ah heaven, what delights, especially the Parisian style macarons, first created by Pierre Desfontaines, a second cousin. It was he who first conceived of the idea taking two macaron shells and joining them with a delicious ganache filling.   

Crisp on the outside and soft in the middle, Laduree macarons take two days to craft correctly but they are well worth the wait. Once tasted, they are unforgettable.

Two contemporary gentlemen, Francis Holder and his son David Holder, never forgot their encounter with the delights of Laduree and in 1993 purchased the famous establishment.

Today Laduree sweet treats are available in London’s historic Harrods as well as in modern Tokyo.

Yet at each destination, the style and elegance, that is the hallmark of the firm, is subtly maintained.

Ah such sweets! What pleasures, what delights! What culinary art!

So as everyone cheers in Monaco, let us wish that every marriage be as sweet as Laduree's famed pastries and wedded joy as lasting as the memory of this Paris delight – long may Love and La Maison de Laduree reign supreme!

Post Note, August 25, 2011: This September issue of Town & Country Magazine contains a marvelous article about the history of the House of Laduree, that maker of memorable macarons - oh yes!

If you long to learn all about this legendary sweet so enjoyed by kings and queens, be sure to pick up this month's copy and turn to page 58. The insightful story by Alison Rose, entitled "Sweet Nothings", is a sweet delight in and of itself.  

And now there's a Laduree Shop in New York City. Just go to 864 Madison Avenue beginning August 27th - only be prepared to want to never leave. You can either purchase a charming box or relax and enjoy your sweets on elegant cushioned chairs that seem Paris perfect.  

Either way, you will never forget Laduree! New York City just got oh so much sweeter!

Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2011