I promised to tell some more about Frank Visser. I can tell you about how I love his imagination, his styling, his set designs and all his other creations, but the images with his work tell it all. The first image is taken by Josie Sykes, the second and third by Mirjam Bleeker.
Last sunday I organised a spring lunch, to celebrate the new season (amongst other things). I put together a little menu with Marlein, who cooked and filled in the missing links. Marlein cooked, as only she can, so we could all experience what spring tastes like. As an appetiser she made little salty tartlets filled with pea-mint-ricottacream. Then watercress soup with radish-toast, followed by torta verde, salad with grilled haloumi. pink grapefruit and pomme granateseeds, grilled chicken with lavender and lemon. The best part came last, as always. She made the most beautiful and best tasting cake made with almond cake, whipped cream with raspberries, decorated with real roses.
The lunch took place in the perfect setting: Studio IJm. This is the studio of Frank Visser, a Dutch stylist, who creates the perfect dream world, in real life and as a set designer/stylist for interior magazines as Elle and Vogue Interior. Fedor van der Valk, who also works at the studio, makes string gardens, hanging plants, that made the whole spring look complete.
check for more of their work on www.ijm.nl and www.stringgardens.com
Next sunday I’m organising a spring lunch for a few friends. Luckily Marlein Overakker, my favourite food stylist, has time to do the cooking (next year I will do it myself again, promise). Not only because I don’t have time to do the cooking myself this year. But also because she cooks much better and prettier than I do. When we meet we mostly talk about food, and she makes the best tasting and prettiest new combinations in food. She also made some of the cupcakes in our book Happiness is a Cupcake.
Miep Jukkema was the photographer of the images shown. Frank Visser did the styling, more about him later, together with John Biesheuvel.
My friend Celia, who is always full of creative and crazy ideas, had set up a new business: custom made fancy dress suitcases.
That is the best new idea for a christening gift I have heard in ages! (And a nice birhtday gift. If anyone wonders what to give my twin girls for their birthday?) The bespoke suitcases (or flight cases, hat boxes, whatever you like) will be filled with dressing up clothes that fit the style of the parents or the kid, if she (or he, off course) can already speak. The price depends on what is in the suitcase, and the suitcase itself, naturally. Want one? Send her an email: [email protected]
Sometimes design (with a capital D) can take itself too seriously. The blog unhappyhipsters.com shows how designs like that can only make you laugh. If you ever sigh about the mess in you own home (like I sometimes do), just have a look at their blog. You’ll be glad that you spent the day living instead of cleaning.
In a week or two I’ll be starting a new project, a renovation of a house near Amsterdam. The plan is to add a few metres to the house, so the kitchen will be nice and big. The owners also want a restyling of their attic, so their two sons can share a room there. For inspiration I look at magazines and websites, and recently I was directed to a website of two other designers, Ina Matt (www.ina-matt.com). I love their clean way of designing, that brings a lot of light and space to a house.
Another neighbour, and best friend of Gemma’s, is Paula. She lives with her mother Clara and the rest of her family across from Gemma’s. After the harvest of the tomatoes, in august and september, they make tomato sauce. They make a big wood fire under a big steel drum filled with, early in the morning before it gets too hot outside. Then they peel the tomatoes and use a special machine to make it into sauce. They pour the sauce in clean beer bottles, put a cap on in and cook the bottles in the steel drum to sterilse them. The have enough sauce to last them a whole year untill the next harverst, plus some for friends and family. I took some pictures while Giancarlo was helping them, and Mark Niedermann was taking pictures of the process for the book.
Today we stay in Italy a little more, because I want to tell about another book I recently finished: La Cucina d’Abruzzo. It is a book about Gemma Mirabilio & Giancarlo Acciavatti, who run a succesfull catering company Mondo Mediterraneo (www.mondomediterraneo.com). It is around the corner from where I live. Lucky me!
They make beautiful and delicious food, but they are also very warm and lovely people. I asked them two years ago if they would like to make a cook book with me, and that is when our adventure together started.
They took me to their home region, Abruzzo, a part of Italy full of contrasts. Totally different from the Italy that I know from my trips to Tuscany and Milan. The mountains are rough and authentic, with little villages remote from everywhere. It is as if time stood still. But the coast is very lively and stylish, with exclusive beach bars and shops, especially Pescara.
These contrasts you can also find in Gemma, who is from a small farm in a village in the hills, and Giancarlo, who is from Pescara. And you can find these contrasts in the food they prepare. Some recipes are old, authenic family recipes, others are recipes that are inspired by their travels around the world.
My plan first was, besides making the whole concept of the book, doing the styling and making the illustrations, to also write all these stories down. But during the process of the book, I was also preparing something else: two lovely babies! So my very talented friend Jocelyn de Kwant took over the writing of the stories. Plus she finished the production of the book (bravo). Sanne Dirkzwager designed the book. Most of the images are by Swiss photographer Mark Niedermann (www.markniedermann.com), but some of them are mine. I will show some more of my images in a later post.
Yesterday I went to a preview of a new art work by Alberto de Michele. He’s an artist who lives in Amsterdamm but grew up with his Italian father. His recent works focus on the world around his father, who is, as Alberto states is on his website: surrounded by thieves, gangsters and gambling addicts.
In the image you see a still of his last movie, that gives a close look of the world of I Lupe. These robbers live in the north of Italy and only work during the fog season. They know the area by heart so they can easily disappear in the fog. The story in the movie is told by Alberto’s father. The movie is thrilling, but also moving, because it makes you realise in what world Alberto grew up in. check for more work on www.albertodemichele.com