Mad Men in the Desert: L’Horizon Hotel

If there are two things I like in the same sentence it would be “mid-century modern” and “Palm Springs”. Palm Springs is known for it’s mid-century modern architecture and L’Horizon Hotel is a perfect example of it.

With iconic, mid-century modern architecture and a rich Hollywood history, L’Horizon offers a luxury boutique hotel experience just minutes from downtown Palm Springs. Designed in 1952 by renowned architect William F. Cody, L’Horizon was a favorite celebrity destination spot in the 50s and 60s, and attracted guests from Hollywood’s golden era including Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable as well as several U.S. Presidents.

Architect Steve Hermann purchased the property and completed a multimillion-dollar re-design. The exclusive hotel became Palm Springs’ only luxury boutique hotel.  It opened its doors in June 2015 to much fanfare. L’Horizon boasts twenty-five private bungalows, many with private patios and outdoor showers that overlook the infinity pool and beautifully landscaped 3 acres.

“I designed it as a 25-bedroom house,” Hermann says of his scheme. “No two rooms are the same, and we used residential-grade furnishings, mixing collectible vintage and new modern pieces, then selecting items that are bespoke or from small-batch manufacturers. You end up with a really unique, really artisanal product.”

The rooms—several with fireplaces and all with richly grained, custom-milled tongue-and-groove pine ceilings, lye-treated wood floors, and sweeping walls of glass shielded by motorized curtains—have the flair of a mid-century gentleman’s club. Classic vintage chairs (a Percival Lafer, say, or a George Mulhauser) sit against new pieces by Phase Design, hand-sewn hide-on-hair rugs, lighting by the likes of Brendan Ravenhill, and original artwork.

As for the hotel’s cosseting comforts, Hermann has outfitted every room with Frette robes, towels, slippers, and 600-thread-count bedding, Le Labo bath products, and Dean & DeLuca minibar goodies. There are even complimentary foot and back massages at the pool.

The property is  also home to an innovative restaurant helmed by Michelin Stared Chef, Giacomo Pettinari, who honed his craft at the legendary El Bulli, and went on to helm Valentino in Los Angeles. The restaurant and bar offers an eclectic menu of progressive Southern European and California creations, as well as a predominantly West Coast wine list. Whenever possible, the team is committed to using organic, bio-dynamic and farmer’s produce while sourcing all within a 150 mile radius.

It’s hard to imagine Marilyn and Betty ever would have had it so good.

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Crab Toast with Sriracha Mayonnaise

abc kitchen crab toastIf there is one restaurant that I find my mind wandering to time and time again, it would be Jean-Georges’, ABC Kitchen in New York City. Everything from the interior design, table settings and food are pure perfection.

When I was in the city last, I ordered the crab toast appetizer and I find myself thinking about it whenever I get a pang of hunger. Luckily, Jean-Georges shared his recipe on his website.

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices good sourdough bread
  • 3 tablespoons Sriracha Mayonnaise (recipe follows)
  • 8 ounces picked lump crabmeat, preferably peekytoe, picked over for bits of shell
  • Crushed red chile flakes, optional
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Sriracha Mayonnaise:

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha

For the Sriracha Mayonnaise: Whisk together the yolk, mustard, and salt until well blended. Continue whisking while adding the oil in a slow, steady stream to emulsify the mixture. Whisk in the lemon juice and Sriracha until well blended. The mayonnaise can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Directions:
Toast the bread until golden brown. Cut each slice into 2-inch pieces.
Gently fold the mayonnaise into the crabmeat until well mixed. Spoon the crab mixture into a serving bowl and set inside a larger serving bowl filled with ice to keep cold if desired. Garnish with chile flakes if desired. Serve with the lemon wedges and toasts.

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Don’t Blow It

b&b dont blow itI constantly struggle trying to find the best hair products for my extremely unruly curly hair. Since I bleach it, I try to let it air dry to  cut down on extra damage by heat tools. Oils, mousses, lotions, gels and leave-in’s, I’ve tried them all and usually they leave me feeling frustrated.

I decided to throw caution and a couple bucks to the wind and buy Bumble and Bumble’s “Don’t Blow It”. It’s a smoothing and texturizing styling cream for air-drying all types hair. To truly test its capabilities I let it air dry in both low humidty and high humidity environments. In both cases it worked great.

The milky white cream melts to a liquid-y consistency when you rub it between your fingertips, making it easy to evenly run through hair without any goopy product deposits. Apply this stuff to towel-dried hair post-shower and hair remains soft and smooth, without a hint of coated stickiness, once dry. It has a subtle and pleasant clean scent. The lightweight styling cream manages to smooth all those pesky flyaways that typically frizz up when hair dries naturally, and it does so without weighing hair down and leaving it coated and stiff. If you have waves or curls, scrunch or twist hair after you apply the product, and you’ll be left with pretty, tousled texture that’s supersoft with zero stickiness.

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Good Reads: Brain on Fire

Brain-on-FireI recently finished reading one of the most captivating books I’ve read in a long time; Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan.

The New York Times review of the book is below. I highly suggest reading it. It offers a terrifying look into a woman’s struggle with a rare, mostly unknown disease and how unequipped most of the medical community is on handling such cases.

In the vast and growing literature of ­affliction there is essentially one ­story: how the writer and her loved ones made it through. From a literary point of view, everything depends on the sensibility of the narrator, her comportment both as the teller and as the main character in her own tale. The reader’s resistance to these stories can be strong. Severe illness, by its nature, narrows the focus; the palette of experience both intensifies and shrinks; we crawl into the bush, figuratively speaking, and wait out our fate, fighting to survive. There is little suspense: the existence of the memoir is testament to the fact that the author has lived to tell the tale. But what hard-won nugget of wisdom has she brought back from her brief descent into a hell that most of us, for now, have been lucky enough to avoid? Can she give her ordeal meaning beyond the brute fact of the thing itself?

One thing you don’t want to be to your doctor is “an interesting case.” Susannah Cahalan had the bad luck of being a unique and baffling one: profoundly sick, deteriorating with dangerous speed, yet her MRIs, brain scans and blood tests were normal. “My diagnosis had been discussed in almost every major medical journal,” she tells us with an air of pride and exhausted wonder, “including the New England Journal of Medicine, and The New York Times.”

Brain on Fire” is at its most captivating when describing the torturous process of how doctors arrived at that diagnosis — an extremely rare autoimmune disease almost undocumented in medical literature. The illness presented itself in malevolent fashion, with symptoms of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, which are often indistinguishable from each other in their early stages: grandiosity, paranoia, bouts of irrational rage, incomprehensible utterances and flat catatonic-like affect. There were also seizures, with “blood and foam” spurting out of Cahalan’s mouth, that suggested not mental illness but a neurological disorder.

Cahalan has the narrative advantage of having no memory of what happened to her, except for unreliable, almost hallucinatory flashes, like being strapped to her hospital bed as a “flight risk.” This temporary outage gives her an opportunity to ponder the mystery of her self, and how quickly our assumed knowledge of who we are can be radically altered. Cahalan employs her journalistic skills (she works as a reporter at The New York Post) to explain the fascinating medical intricacies of her illness and how it compromises NMDA receptors in the brain, “vital to learning, memory, and behavior.”

 Looking at hospital videos, she is shocked to see a young woman she can barely recognize as herself, cowering in bed and uttering repeatedly, and with difficulty, the word “please,” as if begging for help. Reading her own disjointed diary entries of the time “is like peering into a stranger’s stream of consciousness.”

Salvation came in the form of a gifted neurologist, profoundly attuned to her symptoms, and the decisive diagnostic tool turned out to be a piece of paper and pen: Cahalan’s skewed drawing of a clock revealed more about what was going on in her brain than the battery of expensive tests she underwent. Her treatment cost about a million dollars.

At its best, Cahalan’s prose carries a sharp, unsparing, tabloid punch in the tradition of Pete Hamill and Jimmy ­Breslin. But when the acute period of her illness passes and she chronicles the slow process of her recovery, the writing falls flat. Here was the chance to make good on her ambition to inquire into the “deepest part of the self — personality, memory, identity — in an attempt to pick up and understand the pieces left behind.” Instead, Cahalan is locked in the dull passage of those weeks, dutifully informing us of her 15-minute walks, her decision to take spin class, her forays out to family gatherings and parties.

Finally, and bravely, she crawls back to her old vivacious self. “However, when I look at photographs taken of me ‘post,’ versus pictures of me ‘pre,’ there is something altered, something lost — or gained, I can’t tell — when I look into my eyes.”

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