LJ'S THING OF THE WEEK: The Decadence
Last week, I went to London. London, England! The greatest place in the world, or rather, the place in the world that is most like how I need for things to be. I had a lot of "excellent adventures" while I was on my trip (I put "excellent adventures" in quotes to clarify that do I mean it in a Bill & Ted's way), but I've got some more involved writing about my London trip coming up on SFW soon, so I'm not going to blow my blogging-about-my-London-trip load now. I am purposely writing this blog post in a laundromat to prevent myself from getting too London-digressy.
I went to Harrods on my first day in London. I was deliriously exhausted. Harrods is a good place to go when you're deliriously exhausted: it's both visually-stimulating and warm. It feels like you're hanging out in the grown-up version of Santa's Workshop the way you imagined it as a kid.
I mostly hung out in the food section, where I bought the Harrods-brand version of both my favorite foods: champagne and strawberry jam. I didn't get to taste the strawberry jam until I got home last Sunday. I was totally ready to have it be mostly average but still pretend that it was the best strawberry jam I've ever tasted because I wanted it to be. But as it turned out, it really was the best strawberry jam I've ever tasted! This morning I ate it on an English muffin with dark chocolate almond butter, and then I died. I instinctively died. My brain was like, "Well, I guess that was the point!" and then it shut off. Bye, guys.
The other thing I got at Harrods was a copy of the Harrods Christmas catalogue, which was free. It's the fanciest free thing I've ever had. It's called "Hampers & Gifts 2013," and it showcases all the different hampers (I guess "hamper" is British for "very intense gift basket") Harrods offers in descending order by price. The hampers all have cool names like "The Opulence," "The Grosvenor," "The Harrodian," and "The Decadence." The Decadence is the most expensive Christmas-hamper in the catalogue. It costs twenty thousand pounds.
Here is what The Decadence is made up of: one bottle of cognac, one bottle of 30-year-old single malt Scotch, two bottles of champagne, twenty-one bottles of wine, a "top tier tea gift box," some coffee (boring), 8 kg of iberico ham, five other types of fancy cured meats, chorizo, four types of cheese, in addition to another cheese offering named "cheese selection," smoked salmon, duck foie gras with truffle, goose foie gras with truffle, beluga caviar, oscietra caviar, a seasonal fruit selection (boring), a Christmas cake, a Christmas pudding (in a ceramic bowl), marmalade made with gold leaf, some olive oil, 30-year-old balsamic vinegar, a selection of mince pies, three types of biscuits (one is "dark chocolate and violet-coated), two types of jam, brandy butter, honey with lavender blossom, another kind of honey, three types of crackers, blackberry balsamic vinegar, mustard, chutney, a selection of chocolate mints, cocoa-dusted almonds, Christmas crackers, a cheese slate, cheese board, a cheese knife set, a glass dome, and (last but not least) a ham knife.
Don't you wish you had a Decadence? Who do you think buys the Decadence? The only people I can think of that I am certain buy the Decadence are the Royal Family and Richard Branson. And I suspect that Sting, Mick Jagger, and/or Sir Anthony Hopkins may have bought a Decadence or two in their time. But Paul McCartney has never bought a Decadence, because of the foie.
Finding out that The Decadence exists has greatly enriched the arena of my life dedicated to fantasizing about extreme wealth. I'd really like to get myself to a place where in about ten years or so I can buy my boyfriend a Decadence for Christmas, but not even as his main Christmas present. It would be more like, "Oh, should we buy a couple of Decadences this year?" "Yeah, sure, they're always nice to have around." And then I'll remember what it felt like to be myself right now, just some poor little sucker writing a blog post about gold leaf marmalade, and I'll glance around the room, taking in the gilt and splendor of all my worldly possessions and wonder if maybe if things were better back when I was young and hungry, full of hopes and dreams. And then the Ghost of Christmas Past arrives, and says something about money being a cruel mistress. Gosh. It's gonna be a real doozy, this life of mine.
LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Harissa Toast & Richard Hell
On Monday my friends and I went to half-off-oyster night at Hungry Cat in Hollywood. The joke of the evening was "Hey guys remember when we went to half-off-oyster night and ended up spending about eight million dollars?" (Amirah made this joke), due to the fact that we all ate and drank our faces off for hours. My first drink was a greyhound, which came with a svelte piece of candied grapefruit that was like some super-glamorous version of the candied grapefruit at the Sweet Factory at Glendale Galleria. We ordered many oysters and they were exciting and overwhelming in exactly the way you want oysters to be, but my favorite part of that was the shiny-jagged shells all piled up on the plate afterward: having a course end with a tiny mountain of empty seashells makes me feel like some sort of sea-folk royalty, like if Ariel liked to really hog out every now and then - which she probably doesn't, but oh well.
For dinner I drank a thing of red wine and ate a giant bowl of lamb sausage, clams, garbanzo beans, and charred broccoli, all topped off by two pieces of toast just drowned in harissa aioli. We were sitting outside (at a table behind Dita Von Teese!) and it was dark and I couldn't see a damn thing, so every time I dug my fork into the bowl I had no idea what I'd end up pulling out. It was a cool game, and the lamb was smoky and wonderful, but the toast...OH MY GOD THE TOAST. That harissa aioli was a revelation, like Sydney Fife says about Peter Klaven's sun-dried tomato aioli in I Love You, Man - only there's no way the sun-dried tomato aioli was even one-zillionth as revelatory as my harissa aioli, and not just because sun-dried tomatoes are bullshit. My harissa aioli was creamy-rich but zingy and fiery and wildly garlicky, and the toast was just perf, all crusty and crackly but spongy and so good at soaking up the harissa-aioli perfection. It's kind of insane how much of the sauce they ladled on there - whoever prepped that dish is a generous angel. The dish, by the name, was named Lamb & Clams, which is pretty cute. My supper was poetry and piggy heaven.
The only thing I love more than harissa toast right now is Richard Hell, whose autobiography I finished on Wednesday and it's a fine read. Also on Wednesday I watched the movie Smithereens, which stars Richard Hell, the My So-Called Life English teacher/yearbook-committee advisor with the depressing bra strap, and Chris Noth, who plays a teenage prostitute with too much eye makeup. Richard Hell plays this caddish punk-singer guy whose apartment walls are plastered with pictures of himself and who is often singing Richard Hell songs under his breath. We're not supposed to like him but I loved him, because Richard Hell has bright, rascally eyes and a cool, easy grace to the way he talks and the way he moves around. There's one part where he's hanging out with a girl in a bar and she gets up from the table and he shakes some of his Budweiser out of the bottle and into his palms and then uses it to style his hair. I really hope that move was improvised on Richard Hell's part, and I'm sure it was. Richard Hell is an elegant genius; I'd share my harissa toast with him anytime.
JEN'S THING OF THE WEEK: Salem, MA
I made my annual sojourn to Salem, MA this week with fellow Scorpios Joan & Caitlin. Regina is currently living in a cabin in the middle of Canada so she couldn't make it. We all love Salem with our entire souls. I think maybe it casts a spell on us. We're really totally obsessed by it.
Something you will learn in Salem is that all houses should be purple or black.
You'll also learn that Hag Stones are things that exist and that your can call your nightmares Night Hags! This name change makes me feel infinitely better about that night hag I had a few months ago where I felt like I needed to cut off my own feet.
I thought I would buy a crystal ball on this trip but they're kind of overpriced. I took this picture and bought a book called Meditation & Astrology, a pink salt candle holder, incense matches, incense, candles, crystals, a moon phase calendar, a map of Salem and a Salem mug instead.
We ate this perfect meal of a delicious split pea soup Caitlin loves with drizzled za-taar oil, a salad, and super thinly sliced roasted turnips and pumpkin beers. Clearly the 3 beautiful candles represent our friendship and our undying love of Salem.