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In Musings, Uncategorized on
March 1, 2018

Romanoff’s: The Hollywood Hotspot of Yesteryear

romanoffs-beverly-hills

Glamour, gossip and golden Oscars! I imagine I’m not alone in thinking wistfully of Academy Awards past and with the Oscars being presented this Sunday evening, it’s fitting to take a look back. In the glittering heyday of Hollywood, the stars would congregate at Romanoff’s in Beverly Hills to celebrate wins while wining and dining. As it turns out, this restaurant’s history is as captivating as the silver screen celebrities it hosted.

Cary Grant and actress Constance Moore, 1939. Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.

In a town where playing make believe was a coveted livelihood, expert imposter Michael Romanoff found the perfect place to reinvent himself and become a successful restauranteur. Harry F. Gerguson (born Hershel Geguzin), a tailor from Brooklyn, tried on a Russian royalty persona for size, opened Romanoff’s restaurant in 1939 and made it the place to see and be seen. Some knew him as Count Gladstone, others as Prince Michael Dimitri Alexandrovich Obolensky-Romanoff and most were hip to his deceptive identity. This, however, intrigued Tinseltown’s biggest names and made Romanoff’s a hotspot for the likes of the original brat pack, Katharine Hepburn, Lauren Bacall and many more.

marilyn-monroe-romanoffs-beverly-hills

Marilyn was a big fan of Romanoff’s signature chocolate souffle.

For 20 years Romanoff’s played host to movie premiere parties such as Marilyn Monroe’s The Seven Year Itch, Natalie Woods’ surprise 21st birthday party and the annual Academy Awards after-party. Set on tony Rodeo Drive, the restaurant served up steakhouse staples such as Lobster Thermidor and Filet Mignon with Bordelaise delivered by smartly uniformed waiters to cushy corner booths reserved for their most dazzling clientele. Romanoff preferred to break bread with his two bulldogs at lunch but in making the rounds would glean plenty of hearsay from his clients which he compiled in a weekly gossip column in his menu called Romanoff’s Round Up.

romanoffs-beverly-hills-menu

a luncheon menu is accompanied by the latest gossip!

 

Anything goes in La La Land…

From Grace Kelly celebrating her The Country Girl Best Actress trophy to Myrna Loy and her husband toasting to their divorce and Jayne Mansfield having that infamous wardrobe malfunction in front of Sophia Loren, the booths at Romanoff’s had seen many a Hollywood insider moment. Julia Child is said to have frequented the L.A. haunt for her fix of Strawberries Romanoff and Bogart would order the same three drinks with lunch every day; two scotch and sodas and one coffee with brandy. While entertaining his glitziest patrons, Michael made sure to give the same white glove treatment to his disgraced friends such as Walter Wanger who was in prison for shooting his wife’s lover. A silver tray with Wanger’s favorite Romanoff’s dishes was served to him everyday in jail, courtesy of the restauranteur.

Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield (Woah, Jayne! A little mystery goes a long way).

The Zanuck family at the receiving line of their dinner dance for the Marlborough School graduating class of 1951. Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.

Like most trendy establishments, the once hopping restaurant saw its A-list clientele dwindling and threw one last hoorah on New Years Eve 1962. Slim Aarons was there to capture every star-studded moment as the bon vivant proprietor charmed his guests well past midnight. As the selfstyled prince put it, “For years I have been supplying adventure, by proxy, to those who have desired it. I have given more enjoyment, I think, than I have received.” Cin cin to that! Will we look back on this 2018 awards season with such fondness years from now? I have a feeling all the assault scandals, talk of who arrived in a fuel efficient car and more political commentary than C-SPAN will overshadow any such admiration! Perhaps we can hope for a few lovely red carpet looks?

The dining room at Romanoff’s. Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.

PS Have you all seen any Best Picture nominees? I had high hopes for Lady Bird but found it less dazzling than Mistress America, an independent film by the same director. All the Money in the World and I, Tonya are on my to-watch list!

First image courtesy of Beverly Hills: The First 100 Years by Robert S. Anderson

 

In Musings on
November 16, 2017

Friday Fancies

Happy weekend dears! Autumn leaves are falling, there is finally a slight chill in the air and Thanksgiving is fast approaching; what a time to be alive! Here are some fancies to usher you into the festive week ahead.

MARVELOUS MURDER

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Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

On the Orient Express, that is. My husband and I went to see this star-packed delight last Friday and I thoroughly enjoyed it. From the cinematography, period costumes and nostalgia of a great Agatha Christie tale, Murder on the Orient Express is the perfect movie to take in with the whole family next week. No covering Grandmother’s eyes or ears, this flick is clean as a whistle!

SHOWHOUSE SPLENDOR

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Image by Heidi Face.

If you live in or around Atlanta, this year’s Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Home for the Holidays Designer Showhouse looks sublime. It is open through December 10th for touring and they have plenty of fabulous events to attend as well. I’m partial to the ethereal swan and blush adorned powder room by Clary Bosbyshell of Margaux Interiors Ltd. and can’t wait to see the rest of the home!

DECADENT DESSERT

While everyone enjoys a lovely pie, I veered from tradition last Thanksgiving and made a pumpkin bread pudding and accompanying Grand Marnier caramel sauce. I don’t have photographic evidence of it so you’ll have to take my word, it was absolutely delicious and a big hit. Ready to wow with your culinary prowess on Turkey Day? Here’s how to make it:

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

via Taste Love Nourish

1 pound challah or brioche bread

2 large eggs

2 1/4 cups milk

15 ounces pumpkin puree

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons butter, diced into small cubes

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

  • Preheat oven to 350, grease a 9 inch baking dish.
  • Cube the bread into 1 inch pieces, place them in the baking dish.
  • Whisk eggs in a bowl, add milk, pumpkin, sugar, spices and salt. Mix all the ingredients to combine then pour mixture over bread.
  • Dot the top of the bread with butter and walnuts.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes or until set. Allow to cool, serve warm! (Can be made ahead of time and refrigerated, win win.)

Grand Marnier Caramel Sauce

via Averie Cooks

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon light-colored corn syrup

1/2 cup whipping or heavy cream

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (or a little more!)

1 teaspoon salt if you prefer salted caramel

  • Making this is always a bit intimidating for me! In a large saucepan add sugar, water, corn syrup and bring to a boil over high heat, whisking until sugar has dissolved.
  • Allow mixture to boil for 5-12 minutes or until it turns caramel colored. Stir it occasionally, making sure the sugar mix doesn’t get on the sides of the saucepan too much to prevent crystallization.  It will most likely be smoking a little, keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn! Once the perfect caramel color has been achieved, reduce the heat to low.
  • Ever so slowly, add in the cream which will bubble vigorously so watch out!
  • Add the Grand Marnier and salt very slowly as it will bubble again then whisk until sauce is smooth. Boil it for an additional minute so it becomes thicker.
  • Store in a glass heat-safe container uncovered until it reaches room temperature. Put a lid on it and it will keep for at least two weeks!

TABLE TOPIC

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Image courtesy of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Need a headline to get the Thanksgiving table conversation off of football and on to how culturally informed you are? Vincent van Gogh’s 1889 “Olive Trees” is a cautionary tale of how plein air painting conditions can go awry. It has just been discovered that there is actually a very old grasshopper stuck amongst the thick layers of paint in this work along with some flies. van Gogh was a master at his easel and an unsuspecting entomologist too! For the full story, go here.

OH BABY!

Our daughter is due to arrive any day now and I’ve finally finished her nursery in the nick of time. Above is a little sneak peek of the room, I promise to share more soon! I’m also looking forward to having some down time, or as much of that as you can have with a newborn, to work on some interesting art history and decorating posts (my favorite kind!) so stay tuned.

Wishing you all a fabulous Thanksgiving!

 

 

In Musings on
July 13, 2017

Friday Fancies

stuffy-muffy-westie

Bonjour, dears! After the extra long Fourth of July weekend it’s been nice getting back into the groove of things. This week I ventured down to the Atlanta Market and all the creativity buzzing about, from splendid new decor to insightful events, was invigorating. It was a wonderful reminder that staying inspired is the key to continuing creativity and had me recalling an incredible bit of advice on the subject which takes us to our first fancy!

 

KEEP IT CREATIVE

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of hearing blogger, author and all-around innovator Justina Blakeney speak on creativity. She recommended fitting what she referred to as “creative warm-ups” into your daily schedule every morning. This means setting aside 15-30 minutes to draw, paint or do whatever it is that makes your maker mind tick. At first it sounds like something frivolous to slide in between carpool, your workout or actually getting to work. However, I’ve found that it helps with my writing, problem solving and, every once in awhile, leads to a great, out-of-the-box idea. So if you’re in a creative rut, try putting practicality at bay with creative warm-ups. They just might lead to something sublime like Justina’s did!

justina-blakeney-face-the-foliage

#FaceTheFoilage, Justina’s open creative project born from her own creative warm-ups.

POSH PROTEIN

Late last year I chose to cut out gluten and dairy from my diet (don’t you just love to hear about other people’s diets?!) and Square Organic Bars were a total savior. I’ve since happily jumped back on the baguette and brie train but still keep a jar of these little protein powerhouses in my pantry. The chocolate mint variety is quite delectable and keeps me satisfied in a pinch. They’re low on sugar, really high in protein and are best enjoyed on the go. I always order mine here or you can purchase them directly from Square Bar.

square-organics-chocolate-mint-bar

Trust moi, they are delish!

LOCAL LOVE

Luck be Atlanta! Waiting on Martha Home has opened a permanent brick and mortar in Vinings Jubilee and it is exquisite. Think original gifts for everyone on your list, pretty decor and ethereal Britt Bass art on the walls. The store design alone is an eye candy confection; head on over if you’re in town!

waiting-on-martha-home

A little taste of what you’ll find at Waiting on Martha Home.

OH BABY

The top picture of our Westie Wally is him basking in his only child-ness, a fleeting state! I’m so thrilled to announce that we will be welcoming a little lady in November. From nursery planning to picking baby gear and reading lots of books on the subject, this is the funnest stage of pregnancy yet. Speaking of bébé accoutrements, are there any you can’t or couldn’t live without? Would so appreciate any advice!

stuffy-muffy-its-a-girl

…and baby makes four!

 

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend, have a cocktail (or two) for me!

In Musings on
June 22, 2017

Friday Fancies

blue-and-white-porcelain-peonies-stuffy-muffy

Hello dears and happy, happy Friday. I’m thrilled to debut a new Stuffy Muffy series that will be serving up my favorite fancies of the week. Whether it be a restaurant recommendation, a great new documentary or an accoutrement I can’t live without, I’ll be posting them here. I enjoy sharing fabulous finds and I welcome any and all that you have as well!

Without further ado….

EAR CANDY

Working from home can be, well, quiet. Podcasts have become my preferred audible entertainment. I can’t get enough of them! For all things Bravo I tune into Bitch Sesh: a Real Housewives Breakdown which makes me feel better about my disappointing choices in television. I just recently breezed through Missing Richard Simmons; it was intriguing, sad, hilarious and mysterious all at once. James Swan at Million Dollar Decorating has the voice of a sophisticated angel, a must-listen for the design inclined. As you can see, I prefer my podcasts light and fluffy! Please leave recommendations if you have any, I’m all ears…

MONOGRAM MAVENS

I just recently had these pretty little Peacock Alley guest towels personalized at South of Hampton here in Atlanta and oh my heavens am I pleased! The ladies at SoH have the chicest monogram selections and the turnaround time is always extra quick.

pagoda-monogram-stuffy-muffy

Pretty pagodas! Lucite towel rack is from Lux Hold Ups.

LIP SERVICE

This isn’t a new find for me, but it is an essential one. I keep a Mongo Kiss lip balm in every room of the house! It’s organic, practices social responsibility and it is a smidge thicker than the average chapstick which makes a nice difference. I pick up Mongo Kiss goodies at my local Whole Foods.

HEART THIS ART

I spotted one of Karen Smidth’s paintings on Pinterest this week and just had to see more. Her gorgeous pieces are available at Anne Irwin Fine Art here in Atlanta, at Blue Print in Dallas and through Serena & Lily.

karen-smidth-artist

“Wild Green Spring” by Karen Smidth, available at Anne Irwin Fine Art.

PIE TIME

Do you love coffee ice cream? Chocolate? Well I’ve just discovered a culinary wonder at Trader Joe’s called the Mudd Pie. It’s not dairy-free or gluten-free and it most certainly has lots and lots of calories but it’s delicious and it’s summer so indulge in a slice or four! Find it in the frozen section by all the macarons and other tempting treats.

Bon week-end, dahlings!