1.22.14 | Here’s a great interview of Matthew Weiner by none other than Allison Hope-Weiner, the Mad Men director’s sister and host of the online show Media Mayhem. The nearly one-hour exchange, taped last summer after the Season Six finale, touches on many things, including Matthew Weiner’s not thinking Don Draper is an anti-hero and, on a personal note, their not being allowed to watch television when they was going up. Movies yes, TV, no. Now, he notes, everyone in the film business is trying to get into TV. He of course played a role in that development.
The two siblings also discuss hotels which, as all Mad Men viewers know, figure in the show as clients and as sets. The first photographs of Season 7 show Don Draper leaving the Algonquin Hotel. The hotel exchange takes towards the end of the interview at about 48:00.
Allison Hope-Weiner: You have a total fascination with hotels.
Matthew Weiner: I am obsessed with hotels. You love hotels!
AMW: I know!
MW: I’m different than you though. I just take the one room that they give me.
AHW: We did have the upgrade wars, where we were trying to see who was the better upgrader.
MW: I defer to the hotel most of the time and I suffer through — I’m usually next to the elevator.
AHW: There have been some great scenes of the show in super luxurious — .
MW: I think it’s part of Manhattan. I think it’s part of these people’s lives. I love the idea of the neutral zone, the neutral space. I love the idea that these men would get kicked out of their homes and would live in a hotel. Roger meets Jane, they’e at the Sherry-Netherland, that’s where he lives when he’s divorced. Don goes to the Roosevelt, which is not as nice, because he’s trying to punish himself.
AHW: Roosevelt, that is a place for self-loathing.
MW: It is. I think it’s really nice now, actually.
AHW: Isn’t that where Dad you used to say.
MW: That. Or the Mayflower. The Roosevelt was a really big ad hotel because it was right down the street.
MW: For me, the other thing, the reality besides my fascination with hotels is it’s a great set. Dan Bishop [Mad Men’s production designer] has found a billion ways – Once I tell him the real hotel he’ll recreate it and you know build a set, you don’t have to find one.
AHW: The Hilton outside of of Rome? That was amazing.
MW: That was amazing.
1.21.14 | One of my New Year’s resolutions this year, in addition to securing a full-time job, winning another trip and mastering the curling iron, is my Sweeps of the Week feature. Each and every week I will select a sweeps that simply sends me, and share it with you all. I’m thinking these posts will be short and sweet, unless I’m finding myself long on both enthusiasm and time.
My inaugural Sweeps of the Week is for a stay at one of @TabletHotels, specifically, at least as I understand it, one of their top 13 hotels of 2013. To enter for a chance to win, vote for your favorite on Facebook HERE. My only quibble is I’m not finding the Official Rules or prize details. I’m not clear what the prize includes (a stay, but for how long?) and when the sweeps closes. They just tweeted that folks have one week to enter, so don’t dillydally and go for it! (I did.)
To enter, click HERE. You’ll be directed to Tablet Hotels Facebook page. You have to like it to enter.
Here’s the High Line Hotel, one of the 13 in the mix. (I love it, I love all of them in fact, but I’m not telling you which one I voted for.)
12.28.13 | On the first night, I fell into the pool. On the second and third days, I swam in the pool.
11.17.13 | Everyone, Mark Bitterman, salt expert, author and merchant extraordinaire, says, has a salt story. I’d just told him mine, about the thrill of seeing the salt marshes in Ile de Re in the mid-1990s, and returning home with an abundance of sel gris, some of which I shared with a chef friend. I used that sel gris sparingly, on things like roasted asparagus or roast chicken or roasted root vegetables, until eventually there was no more, at which point I resorted to a narrow selection of salt, Morton’s and, when a recipe called for it, kosher.
Then, on a trip to Chicago several years ago, I came upon The Spice House, a specialty shop near the North Side / Old Town part of town. This visit expanded my salt horizons to include Hawaiian black lava sea salt and red alaea sea salt. I was over the moon, and took a liking to the red alaea. The baked salmon I make using red alaea sea salt has become a part of my repertoire. (Recipe below.)
Then, in the most expansive salt experience of all, there was an event in D.C., hosted by Visit Portland, which featured a dinner menu designed by the aforementioned Mark Bitterman, who spoke after our meal. (Interestingly, he didn’t plug his store, The Market.) I wish I’d saved that menu. I remember halen mon gold smoked sea salt paired with a subtle ice cream or maybe it was crème caramel. Either way, it was heaven on earth, this salt of the earth at every course and turn. At the end of the evening, we each got a bottle of Garibaldi salt and a copy of his book, Salted: A Manifesto.
Lucky for me, my friends now know I’m a salt enthusiast, and generously ply me with gifts of salt they pick up on their travels. My friend Marie-Elise brought me back an organic applewood smoked salt she’d bought at the Ithaca Coffee Company (along with two packets of peppercorn) this summer. (I inquired by phone this afternoon, and they don’t sell their salt online, they only sell it in bulk at their store.) My friend Tracey gave me a stash of Jacobson Salt she got on a trip to Portland in September. Just this week, and what inspired this post, is my friend Maria giving me a jar of natural sea salt from Eggemoggin Salt Works, which is collected near her family’s house in Deer Hill, Maine. Delightful!
I will never want for salt with friends like these.
I’m especially partial to smoked salts. Besides the halen mon I tasted at the Visit Portland dinner, and the one my friend brought back from Ithaca, I’ve taken to a Northwest alderwood smoked sea salt I discovered in a store while I was traveling last summer, to visit family in Connecticut. It’s intoxicating.
Now, what’s a blog post without some links?
GQ: Chocolate and Salt Tasting with the Portlandia crew and The Meadow’s Mark Bitterman | September 2013 (With Fred Armisen!)
A Pinch of Salt Has Never Tasted So American | Smithsonian | 9.13.13
Lessons from Mark Bitterman | Food & Wine | August 2012
The Super Power of Salt | The History Channel (Bryan Cranston narrates!)
BB’s Salmon With Red Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt and Pepper and Orange Juice
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
I make this in a Pyrex dish. I coat the dish with olive oil, then coat the salmon with olive oil and place is skin down in the dish. Then I pour the orange juice over the salmon. I add pepper and salt to taste. Getting the salt right is tricky, it’s easy to under- and overdo it. I suppose the best way to describe the right amount for me is it looks like dotted Swiss. Bake until done.
11.16.13 | I’ve lived on the same block for nearly 20 years, the longest time I’ve lived in any one location, including my childhood home. In the years between college and settling into my charming, two-bedroom, pre-war abode, I moved every two years. (The upside there was every move inspired a major edit, a purge of the first order. How we accumulate when we stay in one spot!) So, I know the neighborhood like, as folks like to say, the back of my hand. I share the block with another large apartment building, two restaurants, a copy shop (they take passport photos, send faxes, that kind of thing) and a corner store that saves my arse when I don’t want to deal with the long lines at the Safeway one block over. One of the restaurants is Chief Ike’s, and in the past year or so, it’s become a home away from home, a place I hang, and drink and dine, about once a week. Tracey, the chef, makes the best pizza, as well as fab chiles, soups, burgers. I love her cooking. Rob the bartender is a sweetie, too. Here’s to my local pub!
11.10.13 | It’s been awhile. I don’t post here much these days. Busy, busy. I’ve got an on-site assignment that involves a commute. My car radio was on the fritz when I started the assignment back in mid-July. It gets some error code I can’t decipher. I was going to get it fixed but then, after several days of driving into the sun in both directions, for as little as three and as many as five hours a day, I realized the silence in the car might be preferable to airwave blather. It’s quite relaxing, this contemplative driving, especially in the morning. I highly recommend it.
I love this stamp. I’ve got a quiet summer ahead. I’m going to scoot up to Connecticut to visit family and that’s about it as far as travel plans go.
— Barbara Benham (@TravelSweeps)
5.8.13 | Banjo Boy’s headed to San Sebastian this weekend, for his last independent travel. Three weeks from today, he will be home, and my nine-month stretch of transatlantic parenting will be but a memory. Like so many things parenting, some days were harder than others. On the days I missed him so much I thought my heart would burst, I reminded myself that his experience was worth every longing.