COOK BEAUTIFUL | STYLE YOUR WINTER TABLE WITH ATHENA CALDERONE

Athena Calderone cooks with internationally acclaimed chefs, hosts stunning dinner parties for luxury publications, and showcases it all on EyeSwoon, an online destination for food, fashion, and design. And in Cook Beautiful, she’s revealing the secrets to preparing and presenting gorgeous meals. Included are 100 seasonal recipes with step-by-step advice on everything from prep to presentation—from artfully layering a peach and burrata salad, to searing a perfect steak. Organised by season, each section ends with a menu for entertaining and ideas for table decor. Following in the tradition of EyeSwoon, this book is where design meets food, where culinary tradition marries food styling, where home chefs become experts. These are beautiful, tasteful dishes to make for friends and family, with advice that will inspire you to create visually stunning, and still wholly delicious, culinary masterpieces.

The following is an extract from Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone (ABRAMS Books)


THE WINTER TABLE

Rather than mourn winter’s waning light, embrace the darkness with lush, moody décor and a warm, cosy vibe. Here, saturated grey linen, rumpled for added texture, serves as the backdrop for simple black ceramics, mismatched brass candlesticks, and a rambling arrangement of delicate flowers and ferns. A handmade touch—no matter how small—is the best way to add warmth to a table. For this meal at home with friends, I made ink-stained paper menu cards, adorning them with fragrant eucalyptus leaves. The overall feel is intimate, refined, and just a little decadent—like the perfect winter meal. 

N o . 1 

O N  T H E  M E N U

There are few things more festive than handwritten menus—even when they’re not actually written by hand. Rather than hiring a calligrapher, select a scrolling script font and pop some pretty paper into your printer. Here, I used watercolour paper, tearing the edges and dabbing on watered-down ink, which bleeds to form a subtle, organic pattern.

N o . 2 

W E L L  S E A S O N E D

During citrus season, I love to flavour sea salt with a blend of zest and herbs. My recipe not only livens up roast fish or poultry, it also serves as a mouth-watering memento of the meal for guests to take home.

N o . 3 

D A R K  M AT T E R

We change our wardrobes with the seasons, so why not our dishes? These days, investing in darker, moodier place settings for winter isn’t particularly pricey. Chic—and cheap!—pieces can be found at stores like West Elm, CB2, and even IKEA.

N o . 4 

L E T  T H E R E  B E  L I G H T S

A matched pair of candlesticks in the middle of your table can feel a little predictable. Instead, add visual interest—and set a casual, modern mood—with an odd-numbered grouping of vintage finds in a variety of heights and styles. Dark-colored tapers are an especially cosy touch on cold nights.

N o . 5 

S P I C E  T H I N G S  U P

Whole spices like nutmeg, allspice, star anise, and cinnamon are too beautiful to keep hidden away in a drawer. And, especially during the holiday season, their sweet, warm scents feel festive without being overpowering. Here, I used the sculptural little gems to decorate a side table, alongside spicy sachets that guests can use at home to simmer mulled wine.

N o . 6 

P R I Z E  R I B B O N S

Words to live by: Never pass up a spool of pretty ribbon. If you keep some on hand, you’ll find many lovely ways to use it, from holding together cutlery to binding bouquets—and, of course, tying up presents. Velvet varieties add elegant texture and subtle sheen to winter décor.

N o . 7 

W R A P  S TA R

Gauzy linen, available at most fabric stores, can serve as a beautiful and unexpected alternative to wrapping paper. Simply cut or tear a large square—leaving the edges unfinished—place a gift in the centre, and form a loose knot on top, tucking in a few green sprigs for a decorative touch.

N o . 8 

C I R C L E  O F  L I F E

Get the look of a handmade wreath without the hassle of starting from scratch by purchasing the simplest evergreen option from your local market or nursery and embellishing it with seed pods, ornamental berries, feathers, sprigs, and other foraged finds.

N o . 9 

S AY  C H E E S E

When artfully composed, a cheese plate can double as table décor. The most inviting platters feel abundant, so fill in vacant areas with fresh or dried fruit. The cheeses themselves should look natural and gooey. Break up any pristine wedges by hacking off a few messy chunks and let soft cheese sit at room temperature until properly runny.


Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone is out now, find out more here.

#OfficeWornStories – Francesca

Today we are continuing our celebration of Emily Spivack’s Worn Stories with a tale of over priced merchandise and underage festivalling from our publicity intern Francessca.

My Worn Story –  A t-shirt from an under-age festival in 2008

What can I say? I was 14, my hair braided so tightly to my scalp that I had lost most of the sensation in my temples and I was going to my first ever festival. Too young for the sex and drugs, I decided it would have to be the rock-and-roll that would see my friend and I through, and I think I may have been right.

I bought this shirt after a lot of umming and ahhing about the price, wondering what my Mum would say when she found out I’d spent £15 (the equivalent of 4 whole magazines and a bottle of diet coke) on a T-shirt, that, she would later claim, “never really fitted anyway”. After scrambling through the crowd, crumpled notes in my hand, I grabbed the nearest one that looked like it might fit, and promptly ducked to avoid the vast array of hands reaching towards the counter. It wasn’t really until later that I actually got to look at it properly.

Every band of the festival was there, splayed across in bright colours and I remember the feeling of wanting to tick everyone off like a list. And I’ll be honest, I nearly did. Florence & The Machine (when they were still doing covers because they hadn’t written enough songs), Glasvegas (who have indeed always looked that hungover), The Gallows (I maintain that no one’s skinny jeans should be quite that skinny, and a thousand names I didn’t get the chance to see. It was an experience made flesh, or cloth rather, and I wore like a badge of pride. It beats the bruises that I seem to wear from other gigs I’ve been to since.

Now it seems to only be brought out as pyjamas or when I have done washing in a while, but it still holds the feeling of standing in a field, surrounded by people, music blaring so hard I could taste my heartbeat, and feeling like the coolest person in the entire world.

– Francesca

Share Yours! @AbramsChronicle #WornStories

Worn Stories by Emily Spivack -PAPress – OUT NOW!

#OfficeWornStories – Maddy

We are celebrating the release of Emily Spivack’s Worn Stories with some of our own tales!

Read on for a story of how one pair of shoes travelled the world!

Madeleine Hall – A&CB’s Digital Whiz & on pair of, I swear they used to be white, Converse.

It all started when I was studying for my A-levels; a burning desire to travel the world settled itself in my brain. Partly as a chance to prove that despite being small in size, at a towering 5ft and ½ an inch, I was independent, brave & at least a little bit interesting. With some reluctance from my father, despite my mother’s willingness to send me out the door with a kiss on the head & a ten pound note for luck, I decided to travel, on my own, around Australasia before heading off to University.

I worked all the hours I could at my local supermarket, to save for my trip & with my final pay cheque I invested in a pair of shoes to take with me. The sensible purchase would have been a sturdy pair of walking shoes, at a push some well fitted running trainers. But limited space & my fashion conscious, by then 18 year old, brain, meant I chose a pair of white Converse high-tops.

Oh but the places those white converse would take me!

I remember the way they squeaked as I walked away from my parents, wondering if this really was the smartest idea, through Heathrow security. I remember running up some stairs at LAX where I had left my book with my passport stuffed in it in the toilet. I remember jumping off the world’s second highest bungee jump with them on. I remember straddling two Australian states at the point they met. I remember horse riding through New Zealand wearing them, humming tunes from Lord of the Rings. I remember the day they turned peach as I trekked through a jungle in Fiji…I remember arriving home with the same shoes on my feet as I had left in, and how they carried me out the door a few weeks later to the sunny Brighton coast for university.

Those Converse, bought out of vanity, became my most trusted pair of shoes, I never travelled without them. Including the trip I christened them; the soles of that ill-advised purchase have trod on the soil of 10 countries and 4 continents. They have literally taken my feet on an adventure. It was a heartbreaking day when those well travelled shoes finally gave up the give. RIP white Converse, may your replacements take me as far as you did.

Worn Stories by Emily Spivack -PAPRESS – OUT NOW!

Worn Stories – Piper Kerman

You know they say a picture is worth a 1000 words, well Emily Spivack has proven that an old item of clothing is worth even more.

In her book Worn Stories, Emily has collected tales from cultural figures & talented storytellers. These narratives, or more accurately mini memoirs, are inspiring & a beautiful account of everyday life. By turns poignietn, tragic and funny Worn Stories is a little tapestry of the everyday, sewn together by old items of well worn clothing.

Keep reading for Piper Kerman‘s (author of the memoir Orange is the New Black) contribution!

Piper Kerman:

I have loved vintage clothing since I was in high school, thrifting the racks or raiding my grandparents’ attics and closets. I attended a lot of morning college classes clad in old men’s pajamas. Skinny-lapeled men’s suit jackets over miniskirts were a favorite in my twenties. I’ve worn crepe dresses from the thirties and forties to friends’ weddings, and when I was getting married I found my fiancé the white silk suit of a dead Chinese diplomat to wear on the big day (I got one of the diplomat’s wife’s cheongsams for me).


In my professional life I’m less inclined to wear vintage. When I was caught in a criminal case in federal court in Chicago in my late twenties I wore my most sober gray and brown pantsuits to court arraignments and plea negotiations, because when you’re appearing on the docket, believe me, you wish you could disappear into the woodwork of the courtroom.

However, when I went to Chicago for what I thought was my final court appearance, my sentencing, camouflage was not an option. I had taken a plea deal—95 percent of criminal defendants do. As your case wends through the system, you barely speak in court; the prosecutor and defense attorney do most of the talking. Unlike 80 percent of criminal defendants, I could afford to hire a lawyer, and I was lucky that he was a very good and experienced one. He had advocated long and hard with the prosecutor on my behalf, and then the day came where his work and my case would be decided by the judge, a Reagan appointee to the federal bench.


Most criminal defendants wear whatever they are given by their attorney or family to their sentencing; a lot of people are too poor to afford bail, and so they have been wearing jailhouse orange for many months before ever getting their day in court. I was much more fortunate; when I flew to Chicago to be sentenced to prison, I had three choices of court attire in my suitcase. A cadet-blue pantsuit, a very severe navy coatdress, and a wild card I had packed at the last minute: a vintage fifties pencil-skirt suit I had bought on eBay, in a coffee and cream tweed with a subtle sky blue check. It looked like something a Hitchcock heroine would have worn.

“That’s the one,” said my lawyer, pointing to the skirt suit. “We want the judge to be reminded of his own daughter or niece or neighbor when he looks at you.” For someone standing for judgment, the importance of being seen as a complete human being, someone who is more than just the contents of the file folders that rest on the bench in front of His or Her Honor, cannot be overstated. To enter the courtroom ready for whatever would happen, I wanted to be dressed to represent me, which was much more than a few months of my life ten years past. The eBay suit worked as a counterbalance to my decade-old neck tattoo (which would serve me so well months later in prison), two visual signals on the opposite sides of the scales of justice on that day.

Piper Kerman is the author of the memoir Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, which was adapted into an original television series for Netflix-Official.

Photo ©Ally Lindsay
Extract from Worn Stories by Emily Spivack, pp79, published by papress, September 2014.