Food and Fashion

Fashion, Food & Drink September 13th, 2011

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This week on Fetch, we’re introducing a new monthly feature called Fetch Table, in which I’ll choose a recipe from one of the many wonderful cookbooks on Taigan, shop for the ingredients, and walk (or talk) through how to make the dish. We think it will be a fun way to showcase the many excellent food purveyors on the site, and it’s pretty much how I fill up my spare time anyway (cookbooks have always been my preferred bedtime reading). Occasionally, we’ll have a special guest choose the recipe, and we’ll always have one of our wine experts choose a wine to go with whatever happens to be on offer. I’m looking forward to it and I hope you are too.

It might seem a tad counter-intuitive to unveil a feature that centers on food in the middle of New York’s fashion week, but the underfed runway models of recent years aside, there has always been a nexus of food and truly fashionable people.  My old friend Bill Blass, for example, was a great gourmand. The first time I had lunch with him, in the 80s at Manhattan’s Four Seasons (the landmark Philip Johnson-designed restaurant, not the hotel), he insisted that we both start with the chef’s sublime homemade fettuccine with loads of butter and a flurry of shaved white truffles (and then, of course, he jollied the waiter into shaving off even more). His great friend and client Pat Buckley may have been rail thin, but she once told me she couldn’t imagine eating less than two desserts a day, and her standard ladies luncheon menu was either sole or soft shell crab meuniere swimming in brown butter. “I don’t serve them salads,” she told me. “I like to think of myself as a purveyor of good food.”

Buckley’s own great friend Nan Kempner was so famously thin she was the model for Tom Wolfe’s “Social X-rays” in Bonfire of the Vanities. Kempner was well known as a devoted customer of couture—and could usually save several thousand dollars per dress by buying the always tiny sample. But she was equally famous for the Sunday night spaghetti dinners she held for decades in the 16-room Park Avenue duplex she shared with her husband Tommy, and just before she died, she wrote a very good cookbook called R.S.V.P, Menus for Entertaining from People who Really Know How. Full of recipes from the ultra rich and the ultra chic, it was reminiscent of Maxime de la Falaise’s Food in Vogue, a collection published a few decades earlier. (Maxime herself was an insanely stylish ex-Schiaparelli model who reinvented herself as Vogue’s food editor, and her daughter Loulou was the longtime muse to and collaborator of Yves St. Laurent.) Not surprisingly, my favorite recipe in Kempner’s book is for  Blass’s sour cream soufflé. It is astonishingly good with smoked salmon, which is how he usually served it.

Fetch Table will return again in October. In the meantime, I am going to make a batch of the Lee Brothers’ ham relish sandwiches that kick off the series today, and toast my old friend Bill with a glass of the recommended sherry. At our last lunch together before he died, we were at his perfect house in Connecticut and there was big platter of Black Forest ham sandwiches on the table along with his favorite watermelon pickles. The Lee Brothers ham relish would have been right up his alley.

About Julia Reed

Julia Reed is a columnist at Garden & Gun magazine and a contributing editor at Elle Décor. She also contributes to The Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, and The New York Times, and makes frequent appearances on MSNBC. She is the author of five books, including But Mama Always Put Vodka in the Sangria, Adventures in Eating, Drinking and Making Merry and One Man’s Folly, The Exceptional Houses of Furlow Gatewood.

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