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    goop mag #12

    I've just touched down in Paris where I shall hope to eat at Frenchie or Septime again, two of the most deliciously deconstructed tasting menu experiences available in this new world of accessible gourmet food. We have eaten our way through, and rounded up the best of the best of this new ecumenical phenomenon: the under $100 tasting menu.

    When I read through Art as Therapy, paintings that I had long admired suddenly became new when seen through the filter of self awareness and exploration. Really a gem of a book.

    Also we were asked by Paperless Post to design a line of cards, and we are thrilled to launch them today, it was a sweet and whimsical process.

    Love,

    gp

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    Tasting Menus: $100 or less

    Tasting menus, once reserved for formal occasions and expense accounts, have now been deconstructed and deformalized to become a way for young, ambitious chefs to showcase their artistry in a very accessible way. By keeping the dining room experience casual, they are able to keep their prices reasonable - white tablecloths have been swapped for bare countertops, chandeliers for exposed bulbs and French-trained chefs for self-taught innovators who’d rather forage for ramps than bargain for truffles. Below are our picks from the new tasting menu generation, all under $100.

    LA

    Orsa & Winston

    Downtown | 122 W 4th St. | 213.687.0300

    Photo: Dylan + Jeni

    Josef Centeno's (Bäco Mercat and Bar Amá) latest venture offers Italian/Japanese inspired tasting menus, including the much-lauded 'super-omakase'. However, if you’re looking to keep it cheap(ish), the five-course tasting menu at just $60 a person is a deal, as is the family-style four-course menu at $50. Below, Chef Centeno lends us a vegetable recipe he's made recently.

    Sugar Snap Peas, Burrata, Bottarga &
    Meyer Lemon

    ingredients

    • 2-3 oz. burrata cheese
    • 10 -12 sugar snap peas, cleaned and quickly blanched
    • 1 teaspoon shallots, minced
    • peel of 1 meyer lemon (with pith – fleshy white part), chopped
    • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • extra virgin olive oil
    • aged balsamic vinegar
    • sea salt
    • freshly cracked black pepper
    • 3 grates of bottarga (cured mullet roe), optional

    preparation

    1.

    Place burrata on plate and season with sea salt and pepper.

    2.

    In a sauté pan over high heat, add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Once hot, add snap peas and sauté until slightly browned (1-1 ½ minutes). Turn off heat, add shallots and toss to combine.

    3.

    Place cooked snap peas on plate with burrata.

    4.

    Using the same sauté pan as before, add the chopped meyer lemon peel, sugar and water. Cook on medium heat until it forms a light syrup.

    5.

    Spoon some of the cooked lemon mixture over burrata and snap peas. Finish with a drizzle of aged balsamic and extra virgin olive oil and 3 grates of bottarga (optional).

    Trois Mec

    West Hollywood | 716 N. Highland Ave

    Ludo Lefebvre, the man behind the Ludobites pop-up, together with the Son of a Gun and Animal team opened Trois Mec earlier this year to great reception. This brick and mortar venture brings fine dining to a laid-back space (it's in a strip mall, which isn't weird by LA standards). You buy tickets online (at $75 per person) for the set five-course dinner menu, which offers no choices or substitution.

    San Francisco

    Commonwealth

    Mission | 2224 Mission St. | 415.355.1500

    Commonwealth embodies the revolutionary spirit of the contemporary, high-end tasting menu experience. Located in a stark and understated space that looks like a former garage, the décor begins and ends with a hanging disco ball found in the attic during renovation. The food is serious, particularly the innovation with seafood and veggies and even though it’s a substantial tasting, it feels healthy and light. Six courses for $75 ($10 of which is donated to a local charity). Shout out to our rad waiter A.J. whose band, Yassou Benedict, is about to go on their first tour.

    NYC

    P.S. It was only after we chose our three that we realized they were all in Brooklyn...

    Chez Jose

    Williamsburg | 254 South 2nd St.

    Photo: Emilie Lucie B

    This semi-weekly pop-up in Williamsburg's Lake Trout space makes produce the focus of its ambitious 8-10-course prix fixe (think confit carrots and dehydration). The coolest part is that they are a two-person show (boyfriend and girlfriend) and do everything themselves. At the end of the meal they pop open a bottle of wine and join their guests. The $55 price tag is very reasonable and it's BYO. Check them out on Thursdays and Fridays between 7 - 11pm.

    Aska

    Williamsburg | 90 Wythe Ave. | 718.388.2969

    Photos: Evan Sung + Tuukka Koski

    Located inside exhibition space Kinfolk Studios, the multi-course Scandanavian-inflicted menu feels natural and woodsy. $79 for 7 courses Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday ($125 for 10 courses Friday and Saturday). It's an experience.

    Battersby

    Cobble Hill | 255 Smith St. | 718.852.8321

    The restaurant was built by hand by the owners who are also the executive chefs, boasting experience at Blue Hill and Gramercy Tavern before starting this tiny restaurant on Smith Street. The menu is au courant – seasonal, eclectic and thoughtful – and while the dishes are available a la carte, the tasting menus are really worth coming for. Five courses for $75, seven for $95.

    We're psyched to have collaborated with Paperless Post. We love their stationery and, as part of our partnership, we’re excited to be launching our very own collection with them.

    We gave them our inspiration gathered far and wide...

    They sketched, and sketched, and sketched... And now, we present a line of twenty holiday greetings, photo cards, invitations and personal stationery designs that are available to send online or on paper - just in time for the holidays. These designs feature some of our favorite things: chinoiserie, lavish wallpapers, line drawings, modern art and more.

    Paris

    Septime

    10th | 80, rue de Charonne | +33 1 43 67 38 29

    Septime serves excellent French cuisine in a cool, bare bones space on the newly re-vamped rue de Charonne. The prix fixe menus offer multiple courses of innovatively-prepared dishes made with the freshest ingredients. The lunch menu is a steal at €28, but if you are willing to splurge, go for the menu 'surprise' - you won't regret it.

    Frenchie

    2nd | 5-6, rue du Nil | +33 1 40 39 96 19

    The succinct set menu (at around €45 per person) offers a multi-course experience of inventive, ingredient-based French cuisine that does not disappoint. It's hard to get a seat, so book early.

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    London

    Dabbous

    Fitzrovia | 39 Whitfield St. | +44 20 7323 1544

    It can still be difficult to get a table at Dabbous (perhaps the most-talked about London restaurant of 2012) and for good reason. The food is inventive and modern yet light and clean (think olive oil ganache and sheep’s milk ice cream). The dining room is industrial rustic, with exposed air ducts and minimal wood tables, a look which gets a bit warmer in the den-like bar downstairs. The best part is the price point - £59 for their multi-course tasting menu and just £28 for the four-course lunch.

    Restaurant Story

    Bermondsey | 201 Tooley St. | +44 20 7183 2117

    26-year-old chef Tom Sellars, who studied under Tom Aikens at just 16 and more recently with René Redzepi at Noma, opens Restaurant Story in an old Bermondsey square with remarkable views of the Shard. The vibe here is youthful with a playful menu (the first course of the tasting menu was a beef candle that was lit for you to catch the drippings with your bread). As the name suggests, each dish comes with a story about its provenance, ingredients and inspiration. Sellars creates a really unique dining experience with his tasting menus, which go for £55 for 6 courses and £75 for 10.

    The Clove Club

    Shoreditch | Shoreditch Town Hall | +44 20 7729 6496

    The Clove Club serves a short but exciting set menu in the historic Shoreditch Town Hall. The meals are beautifully prepared and presented, but the most impressive aspect is the quality of each ingredient: from Zerbinati melons to pine salt and the freshest heritage tomatoes. It's a set menu (£35 for lunch and £47 for dinner) with a choice for each course, and a bit quieter at lunchtime.

    In Print

    We’re very proud to have put our stamp on the UK’s Red magazine - both publication's first guest edit ever. Our special Holiday edition is on stands now. Click below for a peek behind the scenes.

    Art as Therapy at Home

    Author and founder of The School of Life Alain de Botton has recently published Art as Therapy with philosopher and art theorist John Armstrong, showing us how to look at and understand art in a completely novel way. Perhaps art can help us see values that make us strive for more in our family, love and work lives. Perhaps it can help us with our anxiety issues. In 2014, they will be guest curating both at the Art Gallery of Ontario and at Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum according to this new framework. And below, Alain shows us how, in an ideal world, he might curate the walls of a home. Fascinating stuff that makes us re-think how we might approach hanging art in our own surroundings.

    Alain de Botton on Art in the Home

    “Why does it matter what's on the walls of our homes? Our sensitivity to our surroundings can be traced back to a troubling feature of human psychology: to the way we harbor within us many different selves, not all of which feel equally like ‘us’, so much so that in certain moods, we can complain of having come adrift from what we judge to be our true selves - in part, because the walls look wrong...

    Unfortunately, the self we miss at such moments, the elusively authentic, creative and spontaneous side of our character, is not ours to summon at will. Our access to it is, to a humbling extent, determined by the places we happen to be in, by the color of the bricks, the height of the ceilings and the art on the wall. In a house strangled by three motorways, or with drab wallpaper or in a wasteland of rundown tower blocks, our optimism and sense of purpose are liable to drain away, like water from a punctured container. We may start to forget that we ever had ambitions or reasons to feel spirited and hopeful.

    We depend on the art in our surroundings obliquely to embody the moods and ideas we respect and then to remind us of them. We look to our art to hold us, like a kind of psychological mould, to a helpful vision of ourselves. We arrange around us material forms which communicate to us what we need – but are at constant risk of forgetting we need – within.

    Art can help us in many ways; I've identified a number of ways and suggest some works that are particularly good in these areas, along with places one might hang them.”

    Hope in the Kitchen

    Henri Matisse, Dance (II), 1909; State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

    “Matisse shows us an ideal image of women dancing in solidarity and joy. The French painter was not in denial of the troubles of this planet. But he wished to encourage us in an attitude of optimism, which he knew it can be hard for us to nurture and hold on to.

    We should be able to enjoy an ideal image without regarding it as a false picture of how things usually are. A beautiful, though partial, vision can be all the more precious to us because we are so aware of how rarely life goes as we would like it to. We should be able to enjoy Matisse's dancers without fearing that we are thereby colluding with a subterfuge played on a gullible public. The ideal it stands for is genuinely noble.

    If the world were a kinder place than it is, perhaps we would be less impressed by, and in need of, pretty works of art. One of the strangest features of experiencing art is its power, occasionally, to move us to tears, not when we are presented with a harrowing or terrifying image, but when we see a work of particular grace and loveliness which can be, for a moment, heartbreaking. Matisse's dancers might do this to us. What is happening to us at these special times of intense responsiveness to beauty? We are recognising an ideal to which we are deeply attached, but from which we are too often alienated. The work of art helps us to see how much is missing and how deeply we would like things to be nicer than they are.

    None of this is sentimental. Strategic exaggerations of what is beautiful and good can perform the critical function of distilling and concentrating the hope that we require to chart a path through the difficulties of existence.”

    Rebalancing in the Dining Room

    Hiroshi Sugimoto, North Atlantic Ocean, Cliffs of Moher, 1989; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York picture © Hiroshi Sugimoto, courtesy Pace Gallery

    “In Sugimoto's photograph of the North Atlantic, we are in an undefined still vastness made up of only sea and sky.

    We should encourage our eyes to wander over the vast grey swell of the sea, and immerse ourselves in the attitude of serene indifference it invites. There is no definite horizon in the photograph, just a gentle zone of transition where the sea merges with the sky. The black at the bottom becomes the white at the top through a multitude of tiny stages. This has a tranquilizing effect which has a chance to enter into our own being and adjust how we respond to challenges and anxiety.

    A tranquil state of mind is supremely valuable in connection with many of the lesser troubles of life. Our capacity to get infuriated (and hence, usually, make matters worse by flying off the handle) is often driven by a refusal to accept how things are. Another person simply isn’t very interested in what we think; the world is not going to re-organise itself in sensible ways; the traffic just will be maddeningly slow, the train over-crowded. At times, we should know how to close down our hopes and give ourselves over to the contemplation of all that we will never be able to alter, here symbolized by the even, pure tones of an eternal horizon.

    Sugimoto hasn't just photographed the sea. He has provided us with a work that captures an attitude of mind to be summoned up at times of trial.”

    Appreciation on the Landing

    Sydney Strickland Tully, The Twilight of Life, 1894; Bequest of S. Strickland Tully, 1911 © Art Gallery of Ontario

    “In Tully's portrait, an elderly woman sits stooped and thoughtful against a stark background. She used to be strong and decisive. She had lovers once; she put her make-up on carefully and set out with a quiet thrill in the evening. Now, she’s hard to love and maybe she knows this. She gets irritated, she withdraws. But she needs other people to care for her. Anyone can end up in her position. And there are moments when a lot of people - at whatever stage of life - are a bit hard to admire or like. Love is often linked to admiration: we love because we find another person exciting and sweet. But there’s another aspect to love in which we are moved by the need of the other, by generosity.

    The artist Sydney Tully is generous to her. She looks with great care into her face and wonders who she really is.”

    Long-term Relationships in the Bedroom

    Édouard Manet, Bunch of Asparagus, 1880; Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne

    “There are lessons for long-term relationships in the way that Manet approached asparagus.

    Other than as an ingredient and a marketable crop, the asparagus held little interest for the average French citizen of the nineteenth century; that is until 1880, when Édouard Manet painted a tender portrait of a few stems and drew the eyes of the world to the quiet charms of this flowering perennial. For all of his delicacy with the brush, Manet was not flattering the vegetable; he was not using art to endow it with qualities it does not really possess. Rather, what he did was reveal its pre-existing but generally ignored merits. Where we would just see a plain stalk, Manet noted and recorded subtle individuality, the particular hue and tonal variation of each frond. By so doing, he redeemed this humble vegetable, so that today, before his picture, one might see a plate of asparagus as emblematic of an ideal of the good and decent life. To rescue a long-term relationship from complacency, we might learn to effect on our spouse much the same imaginative transformation that Manet used in his vegetables. We should try to locate the good and the beautiful beneath the layers of habit and routine. We may so often have seen our partners pushing a buggy, crossly berating the electricity company or returning home defeated from the workplace that we have forgotten the dimension in him or her that remains adventurous, impetuous, cheeky, intelligent and, above all else, worthy of love.”

    Sorrow in the Bathroom

    Diego Velázquez, Christ Crucified, 1632; Museo Nacional Del Prado

    “In Velazquez's Crucifixion, the son of God, the King of Kings, lies bleeding like an ordinary stricken man on the cross. He will be dead in a few moments.

    Christianity is upfront about the idea that our lives can be burdened by suffering. It takes the view that loss, self-reproach, failure, regret, sickness and sadness will always find ways of entering life. Our troubles need practical help, of course. But Christianity identifies another need as well: for our suffering to have some honour or dignity.

    This picture of the Crucifixion gives dignity to suffering. It shows a good - indeed perfect - man being humiliated, injured and ultimately killed. It is tenderly sympathetic to sorrow without being hysterical or vengeful.

    It invites us to contemplate the centrality of suffering in the achievement of all valuable goals. Rather than concentrate on the moment of fulfilment - when one feels the joy of success - it directs our attention to the times of hardship and sacrifice and says they are the most important, the most deserving of admiration.

    It strengthens us a little - and offers consolation - for the hard tasks of our lives.”

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