The Story of Rocco

Me and Rocco.jpg

Most people look at Rocco and think that he's a scary-looking German Rottweiler but, to me, he's a wonderful person. I love him so much. We got him four years ago when I first moved to the ranch in Three Rivers. For whatever reason, even though I've never had one before, it was in my heart to have a German Rottweiler. I'd read that they were courageous, intelligent and expressive–and also incredible protectors, which was important to me because we were living so remotely. 

The breeder selected him for us based off an interview over the phone. I thought that when we got there we'd get our pick of the litter, but instead we were asked to be seated in the office as they carried him out to us–a little furball with giant paws, awkwardly stumbling around. Unlike your typical hyper and yappy puppy, he was as quiet as a church mouse. We still call him "the Buddha puppy" because he's been nothing but calm, conscious and contemplative ever since that first day. In fact, everyone is always surprised by how quiet he is. You'd almost think he was mute! He began talking only recently and only when he's in the car and knows we're going to the beach. He starts whining, as if to say: "Hurry, Mommy! I want to run around and play!"

The funny thing about Rocco is that he's very ritualistic. Every morning, he signals to our other dog Maya that he's ready to be groomed. She dutifully licks his face and nibbles around his neck–sometimes up to fifteen or twenty minutes! If she finishes too soon, he nudges her with his paw and tells her to continue. Then, he saunters out to the edge of the terrace and takes in the view of Tomales Bay. He just sits there and gazes out quietly. You can tell that he likes having the breeze flutter beneath his floppy ears because he closes his eyes and relishes it. We've even spied on him taking private walks through the garden and smelling the roses. (My boyfriend's sister says he reminds her of the bull in The Story of Ferdinand who would rather smell flowers than partake in bullfights.)

He sincerely believes that he is a human being. If there's a low chair around, he'll sit on that instead of the floor. And if I'm sitting on the floor, he'll sit on my lap. Sometimes he just wants me to hold his hand and give it a squeeze. His inner body clock is amazingly punctual. He always comes to me at six o'clock, on the dot, to let me know that it's dinnertime. Sometimes he appears at 5:55 p.m. to give me friendly reminders. When I take him down to the bay, he gets in the water on his own and paddles around for pleasure. He has a mind of his own but is also an obedient listener when he feels like it–usually when there's a treat involved.

Like an only child, he constantly pines for attention. He'll sit at my feet and blink his eyes until I acknowledge him. If I purposely ignore him, he'll start huffing and stomping around. He watches me cook in the kitchen and asks me to show him what I'm chopping by lightly pushing my leg with his paw. Even if it's a clove of garlic, he wants to have a sniff. He's very observant and engaged. He likes to follow my boyfriend around the property to help with whatever he can. If my boyfriend is digging up something from the ground, Rocco will start digging too. If my boyfriend is pulling up something, Rocco will find something to pull up too.

Rocco's presence is an absolute joy to have around. He makes me laugh so much. I talk to him as I would with any other person and he responds in his own way. I can't imagine my life without him. Sometimes the thought of one day losing him creeps in and I feel a pang in my heart. He's my little darling. I realized I haven't mentioned him yet on this blog and that's just a travesty because he's such a big part of my life! So, now you know about Rocco!

Rocco.jpg

La Gadoue – Jane Birkin

"La Gadoue” is one of my favorites from the album Birkin/Gainsbourg: Le Symphonique, which features orchestral versions of songs from Serge Gainsbourg's early career. Here, they're composed by Nobuyuki Nakajima, performed by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and sung by the iconic Jane Birkin, who–if you're unaware–was at one time Serge's collaborator and former partner. 

I looked up the English translation to this song's lyrics and discovered that it's about two lovers splashing about in the mud. The arrangement sounds magical! You can just imagine all the fun they're having in their rubber boots with the rain pouring down on them. Jane's girlish voice captures the delightful feeling of this moment beautifully. It’s one of those songs that makes you smile and feel nostalgic for a bygone time.

Studio Cim Mahony

Studio Cim Mahony.jpg

STUDIO CIM MAHONY
Bredgade 4, 2 TV
1260 København K
T. +45.31.90.17.54


Since we started making semi-annual trips to Denmark, I've been holding off on all visits to randomly researched hair salons in the States to get my hair properly cut and colored at Studio Cim Mahony. From what I learned following Emily Weiss' Instagram, she trusts her hair with only Cim Mahony himself and will fly from New York to Copenhagen just for an appointment. Now, if that's not a true testament to the man and his salon, I don't know what is!

Because it’s located in an upscale apartment, being a client here is akin to visiting the chicest person you can imagine and then having that person give you VIP service. Everything here is tastefully selected, from the unusual floral arrangements down to the teacup from which you're sipping some exotic tea.  It's Cim's ethos come to life. 

I prefer private hair salons because there's a certain level of attention provided that you can't find at the big-name salons. (In other words, it's not listed on Yelp.) There's a sense of calm and focus in this sort of environment. No crazy commotions. Your one stylist does it all, from greeting you at the door to shampooing to putting on the finishing touches. 

While Cim's services are privy only to an exclusive set, his team of highly trained and experienced experts are available to "everyone else". And they all seem to have the same mission: to create healthy and effortless hair that's meant to suit your face and lifestyle. I've seen a couple of different stylists in the salon before but was particularly happy with my recent experience with Sarah Kjærsgaard Sørensen. She has an anti-trendy philosophy in regards to hair, which is common amongst Danish hairdressers in general, but what I really appreciated was that she took her time to get to know my hair history and understood the difficulties I encountered in the past. European women, she explained, don't style their hair with heated tools as is done the U.S. so it's crucial to get the right cut where the mane of hair lays correctly on its own.

I'd banned myself from any trims or salon visits the past seven months, so my ends were raggedy and my old highlights looked brassy. When I came in, I had about five inches of black roots showing, but my color now looks like someone flipped the light switch on from within. Sarah started by weaving in babylights (super thin highlights) throughout my hair and lifted the color two shades up from its natural base for a subtle and soft effect. Then, she gave it a blunt, one-length cut all around so that it has more of a swingy-ness to it. The whole appointment took a surprising four hours from start to finish–and, yes, it was expensive–but, considering the amount of bad haircuts I've suffered in my life, the time and financial investment is totally worth it.

Here's a little Before/After pic:

  *I added the waves myself with ghd's Creative Curl Wand.

*I added the waves myself with ghd's Creative Curl Wand.

 

 

 

 

Taverna Tony

TAVERNA TONY
23410 Civic Center Way
Malibu, CA 90265
T. 310.317.9667


A couple of years ago, after silently lamenting that I lacked a sense of adventure, I decided to drive to Malibu on my own from the ranch. Driving long distances was still new to me at the time and I had no idea that the canyon roads were going to be curvy the entire way. It felt death-defying–you might as well have asked me to go bungee-jumping! My palms were sweaty, my stomach was in knots, and I cursed myself for not driving straight into L.A. like I normally did.

Taking the road less travelled, though, has its perks because that's when I stumbled across Taverna Tony, a romantic, bougainvillea-shaded veranda enclosed by a traditional white stucco wall. With its terracotta tiles and bright cerulean blue touches, it looked as though this entire restaurant had been transplanted from a vibrant coastal town in the Mediterranean. Feeling proud that I had completed my mission safely and soundly, I confidently strode into the bar and ordered myself a glass of crisp white wine.

I can't resist a Greek menu, but the best things here aren't actually on the menu at all. Tony's highly addictive "house dip" is graciously sent out with a basket of a warm loaf of bread once you sit down. Apparently, the dip's main ingredients are avocado, red caviar, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. The rest is a secret that's kept under lock and key. Every time I've returned since, I keep asking for the recipe, hoping one of the waiters will crack. But this is all in vain, which is wise because, instead of recreating it at home, I have no choice but to come back for more.

Of course, the crisp, bountiful salads and simply grilled seafood dishes are major draws, but my other favorites here include the avgolemono soup (a homemade chicken and orzo soup bolstered with egg yolks and lemon juice), the tender and smoky grilled baby octopus with spring onions, and the psarasoupa (a tomato-based fish and seafood soup). It's so hard not to fall in love with Greek food. If you make a day out of hanging out in Malibu, you must stop here!

Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Octopus, Sea Urchin and Breadcrumbs

CECCONI'S
8764 Melrose Avenue
310.432.2000


Sea urchin pasta is easily one of my top picks as a fantasy last supper but, I have to admit, it's not exactly an original idea of my own. It was an idea I picked up from lounging around at Italian art dealer's loft in West Chelsea years ago (when I still lived in New York). Most of those random nights in the city were a blur, but this one in particular stood out because of the fantasy last supper conversation. 

The whole thing began when I shared that I'd recently read an interview with Eric Ripert in which he revealed that his fantasy last supper would be something like meditating under a banyan tree and then eating a dozen oysters. What a Zen answer, Eric Ripert. Anyway, that somehow evolved into everyone taking turns sharing what their fantasy last supper would be.

While I can't remember what I said–or what anyone else said that night–I do remember what the hostess said:

"I'd be on a boat in the Mediterranean Sea with my best friends. We'd all go diving for sea urchins, swim back to the boat and open them up. I'd cook spaghetti with garlic and olive oil, and then we'd dump our catch into the pasta!" she said, while waving her cigarette around. "And, of course, there would be very good wine."

With that, she conjured up a timeless image of la dolce vita; a life of leisure, nature, and friends. 

Since then, from time to time, I'll have an insatiable craving for sea urchin pasta and nothing else will do. Cecconi's rendition uses spaghetti alla chitarra tossed in a silky sea urchin sauce with slices of grilled octopus. It's an oceanic splendor that whisks me away to the turquoise waters of the Italian coast by the forkful... In other words, give me sea urchin pasta and then give me death!