Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kinfolk Dinner

{On The Merits of Whiskey Sours & Meeting Online Frienz}





It's been crazytown this past week with meetings, all-nighters, show prep, and studio visits up the wazoo, but come hell or bespoke artisanal chocolate bar I wasn't going to miss the Kinfolk dinner in Brooklyn on Sunday night.  Nate Williams, the fella behind all the Kinfolk Magazine magic, gave a beautiful toast at the start of the dinner that really stuck with me. I've been thinking about it all week, axamally.

Nate pointed out that a common theme in many articles and features in Kinfolk -and in many of the blogs and magazines we all probably read- seems to feature urbanites escaping from the city to the county to reconnect with nature, reconnect with each other, reconnect with themselves. It's so true that for many of us urban dwellers, the daily grind fantasy lies in the escape to the country. Let's call it Arcadian Escapism. (Guilty as charged.)





And then Nate made the humble argument that we don't actually need to go anywhere to have that kind of experience when we have this incredible community right here in the middle of this gritty, exhausting city. And this doesn't just apply to New York. The few hours spent over a simple table of home-cooked food with friends new and old is what makes life fruitful, wholesome, adventurous, and worthwhile. [Queue emotive earnest youth-empowering Fleet Foxes song.....NOW!]

I'm rolling my eyes at that last sentence but I'm also dead-serious. The Kinfolk dinner proved Nate's point most poetically. Over leek bread pudding and pork loin with port-soaked figs I finally had the pure delight to meet the marvelous real-life flower fairies Amy Merrick and Sarah Winward, as well as hug with all my might the jovial Amanda Jane Jones, who has put up with my 2am edits and ninja yoga moves of deadline-elasticity for this upcoming issue of Kinfolk. And it's been through Kinfolk that I've gotten to know the immensely wonderful Jen Causey, the woman behind the Makers Project. The energy, creativity, wit and humor of these women is truly inspiring.

And about the food, I'll just say the team at Jewels of New York knocked it out of the park. I can't wait to try my hand at this celery root potato pear mash as soon as I have an hour of free time. Also, will someone please have their wedding at the Green Building? It's got the charming kind of Dutch New York industrial warehouse feel without that pesky sweatshop vibe. (Because nothing kills a party like the whiff of 19th century child labor, m'I right?)




I tiptoed out of the party after dessert, and as I rode the subway back to the studio for a late night of work I couldn't help but think back to some of the magical desert dinners P. and I enjoyed with friends and strangers in Joshua Tree. To be honest, when we left the desert I feared we'd never find that same sense of community again, ever, period, end of story. And yet Sunday's dinner in Brooklyn was one of the most magical nights in my adult life, and, for what it's worth, only further proves my hypotheses that any social event in which whiskey sours are served is going to be a wholelotta fun. (Although to be perfectly honest the thought of meeting a bunch of people I only knew via the internet initially made me break out in high school reunion-style social anxiety-induced hives.) It wasn't just a good time; muggles, I was totally blown away and inspired.

And so we end our happy story with a questionnaire. Do you live near a North American city? Do you eat food? Are you a human? If the answer is yes to all three questions, congratulations! A Kinfolk dinner might coming to a city near you. Check for updates here. Or even better yet -and I'm going to take my own advice here- organize a simple dinner party with a few close friends, like, SOON. It doesn't have to be an elaborate affair; a bottle of wine, a thrown-together salad and some candlelight is enough to make the indignities of the workweek evaporate as the company of friends fills us with joy and gratitude.

 Hope you're getting through your week with great aplomb, and here's to many wonderful evenings of good food and friendship wherever you may be. Cheers

48 comments:

  1. Holy wow. That looks incredible.

    I answered yes to all three questions (!!), so I'm really hoping a Kinfolk dinner finds it's way to LA or San Diego. Loved your recap, by the way. Your writing = amazing.

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  2. I can't WAIT until April in SF! Totally driving the two hours for that shindig.

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    1. So excited to see how excited everyone is for these dinners! Hope you can go!

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  3. Arcadian Escapism will be my favourite March expression. And Nate is right. North America or somewhere else, we can have it here and now. Those dinners, we're having them in my studio once a month and they always turn out to be so inspirational. Somehow like a little holiday break!

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    1. Annton, dinner club in the studio is a brilliant idea. (I'd just have to clear out all those toxic cadmiums before setting a table in my studio though...)

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    2. haha, yes. I have developed some kind of storing-away-attitude over the last two years and my studio has two rooms. so it works out fine.

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  4. wow, just wow. what a beautiful set up!! amazing. :)

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  5. This looks beautiful and I think the pieces in Kinfolk are lovely and inspiring. My only qualm with it -- and much of the blogging phenomenon that seems to have engendered publications like Kinfolk -- is that things are often a little too "curated" (to pull a word from its lexicon) -- curating breakfast, lunch, dinner, the inside of one's refrigerator, the contents of one's coffee table. I think it's a worthy goal to ensure that we treasure each and every moment, that we give a meal the attention and care that the food we eat and the company we keep deserves -- but the image that is often projected often becomes, dare I say, a little silly/self-important. There are only so many tables that I can see styled into perfectly imperfect tableaus of linen napkins and rustic ceramics. That said -- I think it's a worthy cause to promote the idea of community and living in the present, enjoying the blessings we are so lucky to have (or commiserate misfortunes) with the people that we love and value. And I love your photographs and your adventures.

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    1. Anon, I HEAR YOU, 100%. I also get a bit queasy at the overload of perfectly styled food montages with the cracked black peppercorns scattered just so on the rough-hewn farmhouse table and the Le Creuset casserole dish artfully overflowing with free-range hormone-free cruelty-free rainbow-encrusted unicorn haunch, etc etc etc. BLAH BLAH BLAH. KILL ME KILL ME KILL ME.

      I think what you articulate so beautifully here is that we're all after something that feels human, sincere, and uncontrived in our actual food-making and food-eating lives, but there's a dishonesty, a disconnect with what we're seeing in food photography in many cases. And it ends up feeling pat, tiresome, ordinary- it's become a trope.

      The part that leaves me feeling the ickiest is the weird elitism that figures in...the community Kinfolk has inspired is certainly special and magical and I feel incredibly lucky to have been at that dinner, but my sis made the point that some of the above pictures might as well be titled The Gourmand's Peasant Meal You'll Never Have. 1. Thank god for sisters. 2. I hope that the *spirit* of meals like this is what we connect with, no matter where we live or what kind of craptastic meal we can manage to wrangle up on a Sunday night or whether we even give a flying frisée that Kinfolk dinners like this exists or not. Thanks for your honesty and thoughtfully written comment. YOU SPEAK THE TRUTH!

      One last thing: Brian Ferry wrote about all this over on his food photography blog The Blue Hour, and I think a lot of you might find this post good food for thought:

      http://bferry.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/honesty/

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    2. yes, exactly. i mentioned the food but you sussed out what i was sort of really trying to say -- it goes way beyond our food-making, food-eating lives -- that from this really democratic platform that allows everybody to have a voice, there has emerged this uncomfortable stratification, the message that if things aren't perfectly styled -- our meals, our vacations, our desks -- we aren't quite doing it right. and that's no one's fault - it's kind of human nature, i think. there just exists this new "bloggerati."

      and PS, if you had a studio dinner, i'd totally come. and i'd bring cheetos and a 2-liter bottle of coke.

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    3. I'm glad the subject was raised, here and over at The Blue Hour.

      Blogs can be a two-edged sword: we all know blog life is by nature an edited and condensed version of real life - but it's easy to forget this. That can make one feel like everyone else is living a fabulous life but them. But in the end the blogs I do follow regularly and really enjoy are the ones that teach me new things, give me new ideas, inspire me, make me think and laugh, not the ones that make me feel envious or jealous of someone else's supposedly perfect life or perfect apartment. Especially because we don't actually know what the rest of the picture looks like.

      Posts like this one... Well, on the one hand, no one likes to hear about a party they weren't invited to... On the other hand, looks like every one is invited to the next one! (I won't bring coke and cheetos, but that's because I'm more of a Dr Brown's Black Cherry and doritos kind of gal... :) )

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  6. Hi Lily! From everyone at The Jewels of New York, we're so happy you loved the meal! We also posted all of the recipes from the dinner at www.thejewelsofny.com/kinfolk-dinner/
    Thanks for coming!

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    1. Christine, that celery root hash BLEW my mind. The ENTIRE meal was absolutely delicious, surprising, comforting, and memorable. I'm recommending you guys to everyone that will listen! WELL DONE!!! What a night for you!

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  7. peak life experience, anyone? gorgeous pics and menu by anja mulder (she's so talented!)

    loved your agra pics too. sigh. maybe india again for me in may.

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    1. Anja is immensely talented.
      India in May. DO IT. DO IT. DO IT!!!!! (And I never thought anyone would sigh all lovelorn over Agra, but there you have it;)

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  8. So beautiful, Lils. I'm a teeny bit jealous, but mostly just happy that you got to experience it.

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    1. DUDE, supposubly they're doing one in LA. I mean, that have to do one in LA.

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  9. Oh wow, it looks like such a beautiful event. They're coming to Toronto at the end of June and I really hope I'll be able to go!

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    1. Oh, Toronto at the end of June is going to be absolutely BEAUTIFUL. I can't wait to tag along in the recap pictures!

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  10. well that looks like a fabulously delicious swell time girl.

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  11. Inpsiring on all fronts Madame...despite the craycray week I am now planning a dinner for friends tomorrow night thanks to this little post -supermarket tulips and a big ole salad is exactly what's in store.

    I am in love with the forsythia, the garlands, and all the candles of different heights. What an incredible space- i love the simple picnic tables too.

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    1. The eucalyptus garlands were made on Amy Merrick's kitchen floor with the help of Sarah Winward. All 150 feet of 'em. AMAZING.

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  12. I love what you have written, Lily. And these photos are amazing. You have truly captured the evening. I am glad I was a part of it.

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  13. I will do everything in my power to attend the Toronto Kinfolk dinner. Your words, photographs and general reflections are inviting and inspiring. Thank for providing us such a wonderful insight into this magical evening!

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  14. really lovely, lily. i made it there just for the whiskey sour at the end of it all, and still was captivated. wouldn't mind a healthy dose or two of evenings like that more often.

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    1. Oh Erin I'm so bummed I missed you! I've been reading your blog since you lived in Providence, (which is my birthplace)! xo

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  15. I'm trying to cut down on my comments on other blogs that basically get across the point of how ridiculously jealous I am, but I can't hold it back here, I AM SO JEALOUS. Also, I heard that you picked Amy up and spun her around and I AM SO JEALOUS. I reaaaaaally hope they do a dinner in LA, a little bird told me it's trying to happen. Fingers crossed!

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    1. I think that birdy is RIGHT. Just you wait, ladypantz. xo

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  16. i could maybe work up the nerve to meet internet friends if i knew there would be whiskey sours involved.


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    1. An alternative is to wear roller skates to the party, you know, for a quick getaway is things get awkward.

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  17. Wow that sounds awesome. I'm so glad you were able to get out and go! It's always a little intimidating heading into something like that, but usually I'm glad when I push myself to leave my house. And this made me LOL IRL: "come hell or bespoke artisanal chocolate bar". ;)

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  18. Very inpspiring, I love feeling that sense of community. Wishing you many more magical evenings.

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  19. ok, totally jealous. and hoping i manage to get into the toronto one! especially in summer, sigh. i can only imagine where it will be held...!

    i know what you mean about the hives-and-internet-peeps, because i follow a lot of the bloggers you mentioned and would be so excited and honoured to participate in something like this, but would assume that i wasn't cool enough by half compared to super-cool-artsy-amazing-people-who-make-shit-HAPPEN. i've had a pretty tough time connecting with people in this city (toronto) and the idea of a meal with friends is something i've been wanting to do for a while, because i do cherish those who have stuck around in my life. i will, in all fairness, probably do this after i quit my job, since then i will have way more time to get creative with celery. ;)

    anyway, thanks for letting me live vicariously through you!

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  20. Lovely. We make it a habit around here to have a potluck with friends and neighbors almost weekly. It's especially wonderful during the long dark winter...fellowship and human connection is my lifeblood, I've learned. I could never be a hermit. :)

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  21. Sigh I was supposed to go back to Toronto around that time (My hometown!) but sadly I wont be making it to Canadia any time soon. May I suggest Boston or Portland (Maine) :)

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  22. FUCCCCCCKKKKKKKKK. Why don't I live in Brooklyn again? Grappling, grappling, grappling over here.

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  23. Wow, this looks incredible! So beautiful, I would have loved to be there

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  24. looks like such a wonderful evening! i love the bit from Nathan's opening you included.. really something to think about. I think alot of good comments are being raised from all the 'kinfolk-ness' too. and I also really enjoyed reading Brian's post on food photography. all very interesting.

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  25. It sounds and definitely looks like an inspiring magical night filled with good food and liquor! (and in one of the most amazing buildings!!)

    I'm glad you were encouraged and inspired by this experience. You can't ask for more than that!

    xo
    cortnie

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  26. This lack of community has been one of the hardest things about being an ex-pat. We try, but it's very slow. We're living in a country not known for being friendly, and our fellow ex-pats are nice enough but from quite different spheres than us. I think a lot about what it takes to build a community, and as somebody who moves a lot, what it would take to do it more quickly.

    I'm glad you had such a nice night, it does sound lovely.

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  27. so can you stay in sf until the kinfolk dinner here? or at least return for it so i can finally meet you, the amazing artist and wordsmith with a kickass skill of keeping it all real?

    i've started back {at least twice monthly} the gathering of friends and more around our table. nothing fancy, nothing over-the-top, just laughter, good slow-cooked food, and of course excellent wine since we do live in the heart of the nectar gods' valley. it's good times, and i should remember to snap photos of the wine stained tablecloth, the hearty-from-the-belly laughter faces that surround our table, and the empty dishes. all signs of a good gathering.

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  29. It looks like a great evening. Thanks a ton for sharing reviews here. Food is really looking delicious. We will attend a dinner party soon at one of popular food venue NYC on my niece’s birthday. It’s really great to attend family parties.

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