Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The 2016 Bergdorf Goodman Holiday Windows

Once the holidays start approaching here in the city there's the excitement of so many things such as the Rockefeller Christmas tree, holiday markets, ice skating and even department store windows. New York City is probably the most popular place for holiday windows - though Paris and Chicago are definitely close - from Macy's to Barneys, but the most famous display of all is Bergdorf Goodman, to the point that they made a documentary about it. Taking the title from a 1990 Victoria Roberts cartoon that was featured in the New Yorker, Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's covers the history of the luxury goods department store while following David Hoey, Senior Director of Visual Presentation, and Linda Fargo, ‎SVP Fashion and Store Presentation Director, as they plan and execute the 2011 holiday window displays for the iconic store.

Covering everything from when Herman Bergdorf started a tailor shop in downtown Manhattan to Linda meeting with Ally Hilfiger (daughter of designer Tommy Hilfiger and one half of the iconic Rich Girls), about her latest clothing line to interviews with the store's most successful personal shopper, Betty Halbreich; the film covers a lot. Almost too much. It's all very interesting but there doesn't seem to be any cohesion and because everything is just touched upon, you want more and unfortunately, the film doesn't deliver.

For this year's display, David says he took inspiration from Henri Rousseau and trips to the American Museum of Natural History, that they are to be looked at as magical realist versions of natural history museum dioramas. I took a trip down to Bergdorf's on a cold December night and took a few pictures. If you're in the city, they will be available to view through January 2, 2017 and at the bottom of this post I included a list of companion books to check out.

Pleasure Trip

The Thrill of the Chase

The Only Way to Fly

The Bird's Eye View

The Hitchhiker

Winging It

The Scenic Route

The Book Club

(love the details on this)

This one didn't have a title but I had to include it

Books to check out*:

*Breakfast with the Uncultured is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Bottle Shock + Wine tasting

A few weeks ago I went to a screening at the Metrograph of Big Night which was introduced by the one and only Alton Brown and afterwards he did a little Q&A. When asked if he thought any other good American "food" films have been made since Big Night, he quickly said no, but mentioned that Americans are great at making wine films such as Sideways and Bottle Shock. I was honestly surprised he mentioned Bottle Shock since I attempted to watch it a while ago but got bored and never finished it. I figure I'd give it another shot so I invited my fellow wine and film lover friend over for a little wine tasting while we watched the movie (a streaming version is currently available with Amazon Prime).

Bottle Shock is somewhat* based on the true story of the blind Paris wine tasting of 1976 that has come to be known as "Judgment of Paris". Alan Rickman plays Steven Spurrier, a expat Englishman and wine shop owner, living in Paris who decides to hold a blind tasting to not only try and save his shop but to introduce the French to wines from other parts of the world. He travels to Napa Valley where he meets Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman), owner of Chateau Montelena. Jim has no interest in being in the competition as he believes it's a set up to be laughed at by the French but his hippie son, Bo (Chris Pine), slips a few Chardonnay bottles to Spurrier and (spoiler alert!) they win the Chardonnay part of the competition. After the competition is mentioned in Time, requests for the Chateau Montelena wine grows and Napa Valley has been recognized.

The story itself is an interesting one yet the filmmakers didn't delve too much into details of the actual competition and its characters but instead introduced unnecessary (and most likely made up) sub plots such as a dull love triangle, and though Gustavo Brambila (played by Freddy Rodriguez) is a real person and did work at Chateau Montelena, it wasn't until after the events shown in the film.

Going back to the idea of "food"films, what makes a lot of those films interesting and fun is the actual food. Spanglish, as God awful as it was, was worth watching for the infamous sandwich scene, and Big Night's unveiling of the food and the guest's reactions are both mouthwatering and entertaining. There are so many films dedicated to food but not so wine and the filmmakers missed an opportunity to not just show the hard work that goes into wine making, the characters loving wine. The closest we get is a few short scenes with Dennis Farina's character visiting Spurrier's shop as he tries what the shop has to offer. The big competition scene itself seemed to only last a few minutes and was ladled with shots of snooty reactions from the judges as they try to guess which wine is from California rather than showing the judging process and close ups of the color and body of the wines against the sun. Oh the prettiness that could have been.

*After reading the screenplay, Spurrier criticized it's inaccuracies and considered it insulting.

Bagged and numbered

This photo is a bit out of focus but I will always take the opportunity to show off the Wisconsin shaped cutting board a friend gifted me. It also seemed appropriate since Dennis Farina's character is from Milwaukee

"palette cleansers" between wines aka any excuse to eat cheese and olives and pickled vegetables

We went with Savignon Blanc splits except one Chardonnay, which of course stood out like a sore thumb (neither of us are Chardonnay fans), but surprisingly, it scored about the same as the others. In the end #4, a Savignon Blanc from Rapa Nui winery won by one single point.

I made the handy dandy "wine mats," which are legal size and available to download here and we used this to help us score/rate each wine.

I think my next tasting will be beer while taking in a viewing of Drinking Buddies.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Getting Crafty // Movie Poster Coasters

This is a simple and quick DIY project that you can gift or make for yourself. In this instance, I'm making these for a friend's birthday as she liked the ones I made for myself so I asked her her six favorite movies and printed out their movie posters.

What will you need?*

Step One: Trace the tile onto the cork and cut out. Trim the edges a bit so they are slightly smaller than the tile

Step Two: Outline the non cork side with glue and firmly press it on the back of the tile


 Step Three: Flip the tile over and cover the area that you will placing your print out with Mod Podge

Step Four: Place the print out on the tile and cover the entire thing with Mod Podge. Don't worry about streaks, it'll dry clear. 

If you printed on regular paper (like I did), it may start to bubble up, just smooth it out with your finger (if you're ok with getting a little messy) and add more Mod Podge. 

Step Five: Once the Mod Podge is dry (should only take a few minutes), spray with two thin layers of the shellac, waiting about an hour between layers. 

The reason why I add the shellac is because Mod Podge is not hot beverage friendly. I learned that the hard way when my mug full of hot coffee heated the Mod Podge and the coaster stuck to it, but not long enough and it fell to the floor and broke. 

Now use and enjoy!

*Breakfast with the Uncultured is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Apartment Envy // Last Night

Last Night is one of those films that I can watch at any time, no matter how I'm feeling. Written and directed by Massy Tadjedin, a married couple, Joanna and Michael, (Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington, respectively), spend the night apart and both are tempted to stray by equally attractive counterparts (Guillaume Canet and Eva Mendes).

It's a visually pretty film, with pretty music and pretty people walking around pretty settings (New York City and a little bit of Philadelphia) but the prettiest of all is Joanna and Michael's apartment in New York City. The space is open and large, which makes it the most appealing, and the neutral shade of the decor gives it a cozy feeling. It's the little things that make it as well - the various lamps, including two different ones on the nightstands, the "Berlin Wall of friggin' magazines," records and more. Some people dream of one day living in a mansion, I want this.

If you like this, check out:
Broken English. Without making it sound like a romantic comedy, Parker Posey plays Nora, a perpetually single New York woman unlucky in love, who has a chance encounter with a Frenchman (played by Melvil Poupaud who left me in a fit of giggles the one time I met him because he so Goddamn handsome).

Vanilla Sky. It's more fantasy (maybe even sci-fi?), but visually, the two films are very similar. Plus it's got a great soundtrack (yes, I rock out to Julie Gianni's I Fall Apart on the regular).

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Edgar Allan Poe Cottage

Some time ago I received an email about an Edgar Allan Poe festival here in New York City but wasn't able to make it but it led me to finding out that Poe actually spent his last years living in New York City, more specifically, the Bronx, AND that the cottage he lived in still exists and is open for tours (there's also a small gift shop). 

While living in Philadelphia his wife, Virginia, she started showing signs of consumption (also known as tuberculosis), so he decided to relocate to New York with her and his mother-in-law, as he believed the fresh air and nature would be better for her health (keep in mind this was the mid-1800s when most of "the city" was still considered rural). They first moved to Turtle Bay before settling in the Bronx. The small cottage was originally located on Kingsbridge Road to the east of its intersection with Valentine Avenue before it was moved for preservation to its current spot in 1913. 

Virginia eventually succumbed to tuberculosis in the cottage's first floor bedroom (she originally stayed in the second floor bedroom with Poe but heat was not available up there so they moved her to the first floor) in 1847. Simply put, Poe was a mess after his wife's death; his drinking increased and he began to act erratic. Just a couple of years after his wife, Poe was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore, "in great distress, and... in need of immediate assistance", according to Joseph W. Walker who had found him. A few days later he passed away on October 7th, 1849. 

The cause of his death is still a mystery, particularly because they didn't keep medical records for more than just a few years during that time, but also because he never really became fully coherent again in those last few days to explain why his healthy was in such poor condition. Some speculated that he may have also contracted tuberculosis or another illness such a cholera or syphilis. He also had a few enemies so some think he may have been poisoned by a fellow writer or someone he owed a debt to. Another theory is that he may have even had a brain tumor (this theory comes for the odd shape of his head). There have been many essays and books looking into his death, but sadly we will never know the truth. 

Though the cottage isn't located in the original location, it was still a weird thing to be standing in the same house as Poe, seeing the original bed his wife died in. I also learned after Virginia's death he had a habit of walking back and forth on the (then) newly constructed High Bridge that goes over the Harlem River. Built in 1848, it was closed to traffic from the 1970s until just last year. I have yet to go to the bridge, but I hope to soon before the snow gets here. It's another weird, almost eerie thing, to know that you're walking along the same path as Poe did just a couple of centuries ago. 

Now onto some pictures:

[Glenn, the very enthusiastic and informational tour guide, in the front entrance of Poe Cottage]

The main living area. There are three original pieces of the cottage and the first is the gold framed mirror in the right corner. I know I took a closer picture but it seems to have disappeared...hm...

The second of three original cottage items: the rocking chair

The kitchen

A photograph of the Brooklyn Museum's 1959 exhibit of a room furnished according to Poe's "The Philosophy of Furniture"

Though not part of the original cottage, the Bronx Historical Society put up a hanging bookcase, one of the items listed in Poe's The Philosophy of Furniture

This was Virginia's death bed, located on the first floor and also the third of three original cottage pieces 

Glenn (tour guide) commented that this painting of Poe looks like if Bill Murray portrayed him. I have to agree

At the end of the tour you are welcome to sit and watch a short film about Poe and the cottage and luckily it is up on YouTube. (the painting mentioned at 10:33 is rather interesting)

One last thing: I decided to carve my pumpkin this year as Edgar. I printed out this stencil to help me out. Unlit, it doesn't look like much, but once you put in a candle and turn off the lights, it does eerily look like him...

Tour Information
2640 Grand Concourse at East Kingsbridge Road
The Bronx, NY 10458

Thursday and Friday: 10am-3pm
Saturday: 10am-4pm
Sunday: 1pm-5pm

Adults: $5
Students, Children, and Seniors: $3