Sunday, December 31, 2006
My 2007 Coral Gables Seal of Approval List
After a semester living downtown in Coral Gables, here are my favorite local places:
- Books & Books: Why can't every city have a bookstore like this?
- Bugatti: This isn't the best Italian restaurant I've been to, but I like it. Try the pizza. Or the risotto, even though it's a pasta place.
- Cacao: It looks like a nightclub, but the food is good, the people are nice, and they have a sommelier who knows all about the South American wines I don't know at all.
- Graziano's Market: An upscale South American market, with all sorts of imported wine and foods I've never seen.
- Harmont & Blaine: Italian tailoring, with a dachshund logo.
- Le Boudoir: Why would anyone go to Starbucks?
- Pascal's on Ponce: Try it, you'll like it.
- Sasha's Café: Good, if you can find it.
- The Biltmore: A wonderful building, and a wonderful swimming pool — the biggest in America, they say (and is there a bigger one somewhere else?). Strangely enough, there's one of the world's great public pools a few blocks away.
- Wolfe's Wine Shoppe: In 2003, Food & Wine magazine called Wolfe's the best new wine store in America. They specialize in small vineyards at the front of the Slow Wine movement. You can't buy a bad bottle of wine here.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Thursday, December 28, 2006
The Secret of Life
The practice [of making the daily meal for the kitchen staff] seemed to illustrate a principle I was always hearing referred to as "cooking with love." A dish was a failure because it hadn't been cooked with love. A dish was a success because the love was so obvious. If you're cooking with love, every plate is a unique event—you never allow yourself to forget that a person is waiting to eat it: your food, made with your hands, arranged with your fingers, tasted with your tongue.
One Saturday, when neither Andy nor Elisa was around, Memo took me aside again. "Let me show you how to cook with love." He suddenly wanted to make an impromptu family supper. He'd found some beef tongues in the walk-in... It bore no resemblance to any taco I'd seen before... but it remains the best taco I've eaten.
You can't really cook like this when you're in a busy kitchen, but somehow everyone, at some point, made the time to prepare something intimate. It seemed to be at the heart of why you were a cook.
It's the same for architecture.
Business & My Generation (Where's the love?)
COMCAST cut me off this morning (at a particularly bad time). This is one of the problems of my generation: we've thought it was good business to cut back on service and treat customers like deadbeats. Buy a business with credit, pay over book value, and use software to eliminate half the customer service. That's one of the formulas.
Comcast could have used software to send me an e-mail reminding me to pay. They could have used software to let me store my credit card info online. They preferred to treat me like someone who wouldn't pay, and consequently caused me quite a bit of trouble. They're like the companies, run by my boomer / yuppie friends, that quickly send collection problems to collection agencies. And then my generation turned the credit reporting companies like Experian, into disreputable pyramid schemes. More on this later.
One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind
The campaign to stop Thomas Gordon Smith's appointment to the position of Chief Architect of the General Services Administration, in charge of all Federal building, partially succeeded: Smith will not be Chief Architect, but he will be involved in the selection of architects for Federal buildings.
An interview in Architectural Record with the new Chief Architect, Thomas Shepherd, included these questions and answers:
There were rumors that Thomas Gordon Smith, who’s considered an advocate of classical architecture, was going to be appointed chief architect, which led to speculation that the GSA is moving away from Modernist architecture. Is there truth to that?
We’re looking for the program to include a full spectrum of designers, both Modernists and traditionalists. There are appropriate buildings for every place we build. Some of our newest peers are traditionalists, and we’ll use those peers to select the appropriate architect for the appropriate project.
Mr. Smith was awarded a fellowship. How will he work with the agency?
He and I and Tom Grooms, the director of Design Excellence, are just working that out, but we’re in the early stages of planning a symposium in the next few months to talk through those issues in a public forum. Thomas is going to be a great resource for us. It’ll be great to have Thomas look over the body of work and make sure that we are doing a full spectrum, and that we have a balanced approach in the way we deliver the program.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Scenes from “The Architect”
Tagline: “Sometimes you have to tear things down to build things up.”
The Greek Way
Unfortunately, I haven't seen the film Bobby, but I was interested to hear that it says Edith Hamilton's The Greek Way was one of Bobby Kennedy's favorite books, because it's one of my favorite books.
The Greek Way was written before the adolescent-like angst of Modermism caused some 20th century historians to write like misanthropes suspicious of all human achievement. The ancient Greece of The Greek Way illustrates the shining beacon that has illuminated western civilization ever since.
Google Knows Everything: Here's a link to a recording of a speech by Robert Kennedy, in which he quotes his favorite poet, Aeschylus, as translated by Hamilton. Here's an explanation of how Kennedy got it wrong, perhaps improving on the original.