A Birthday Dinner, Part Real, Part Imagined…

.Slim Paley photo

Hydrangea and lavender from the garden in Majolica and a little porcelain “hydrangea” vase  (front right) I found at a flea market.

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Last week, while flipping through one of the many food worshipping magazines I subscribe to, I came across a tantalizing photograph of a fabulous leg of pork, covered in the most gloriously crispy crackling I’ve seen this side of the Old Country.  I immediately decided it was the perfect birthday dinner choice for my newly “American/British/Canadian” father and my aunt, who is visiting us from Australia.  Unfortunately, though I did have time to snap these few photos of the flowers and apple sauce before we sat down for dinner, the pork took a good 45 minutes longer than expected, negating any further photo op’s.  Although the end result was delicious and looked almost as good as the photograph from “Flickr” below, I realized my auntie’s advice was right- one should start with an extremely hot oven first- as high as it will go, to really draw out the moisture.  And you need to salt the *%#@$% out of the crackling. Basically, you can’t over do it because you simply wipe off the excess salt once the pork is cooked and your crackling has reached optimum cracklization.  In my humble opinion, there aren’t too many Sunday dinners more appealing than a really crisp on the outside, moist on the inside leg or shoulder of pork with lashings of crispy crackling.  I adore my flowers and all the delicate gifts the garden proffers, but I’m no shrinking violet (oh wow- did I really just work ‘violet’ into a purple, chartreuse and white post?!) when it comes to being a card-carrying meat lover.  I’ve yet to meet a marrow bone that didn’t have my name on it 🙂  I know that’s terribly unladylike of me, but there you go.  I’ve added some girlish apres-pork photos to soften the blow.  I ask- Who else gives you Chanel’s latest hot nail polish colour for fall along with tips for perfect crackling??  Enjoy!

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Roast pork with crackling

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Slim Paley photo

Vintage ocean liner stemware,  English Silver apple sauce boat and  votives from Pottery Barn.

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From Simply Recipes

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From My apple tree!

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photo from “Playing with Fire & Water”

I’d like to say I served this asparagus and goat cheese custard to accompany the pork,  but I didn’t.  Does ‘wanting to’ count for anything?

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I almost served this homemade blueberry sorbet too.  But I thought that would be a bit…much

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Picasso Supertunia‘  (via Suzanne Pinckston)

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Slim Paley photo

These are from my friend’s vegetable garden in England.  She planted them with electric orange poppies- so fabulous!

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MAC 2010  “VERY VIOLET” eye shadow


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When I grow up I’m writing down every credit. In the meantime…anybody? I totally need this skirt for fall.

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Daria Werbowy

Come to think of it, I almost looked like this at dinner too.  But then I thought…that would really be a bit much

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Bodum carafe.  Do you ever get stuff from Bodum? It’s great- and they have a sale on now.

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Greece

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Fortnum & Mason Biscuits

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Eugene Reconneaus

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GROHE Showerhead (comes in multiple colours)

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Iris in Ojai

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Something you don’t see in Ojai

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Something I wish I’d see, on my arm

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Clematis (?) growing in the ruins of Ninfa Gardens, Italy

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A favourite vintage bag

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Chanel Fall 2010 “Paradoxal

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A place to sit and reflect on a lovely meal 🙂

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From my garden

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And OK,  Gaj- You’ve got me going now- I predict shades of lavender, violet, plum, and dare I say, PURPLE are going to be very hot/cool for this Fall, both in fashion and interiors…

What does everyone else think?!

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38 Comments

  1. Slim, you sly fox, making me love shades of purple!!!! (you know by now I detest this color except in lavender and morning glories!)
    I am not a meat eater and certainly not pork! but the other offerings were quite delectable as always. Thanks Slim.

  2. I thought I had just visited the most beautiful (albeit, in the South) (well, that was just plain mean of me,,,,) place in the world, but can I come visit you?????? ! I just wanna see all of your gardens. Oh, and I can eat the heck outta some cracklin girl.

    OH,,,,,orange???? I’m SO into that color right now. Paired with everything

  3. Hello,
    What type of white (low growing) flowers are to the left of the stalks of your violet Canterbury Bells?
    (below the biscuit picture)
    Lovely success at staggering/timing your blooms over the seasons – seems your garden is in perpetual bloom/color.
    Thank you.

    • I’d like to say those are in my garden Ali, but I took that photo at a flower stand in Rome and I’m not really sure what they are. Sorry!

  4. As always – your photos take my breath away! Ever thought of publishing all them in a book?

  5. I think your blog is awesome! Today’s post in particular is an absolute feast for the eyes… Curious though, where exactly you WOULD see those purple legs?

  6. I adore purple and green together, and with rusty brown also. I agree….hot hot hot for fall.
    Black and purple are classic of course, but all I can think of when I see it is Prince in the ’80’s.
    I want Clematis everywhere….winding its way around the fence pastures, and up the
    mailbox post. I just found out how well it would grow here, so must get started planting!
    What a gorgeous table setting, and of course, the pork roast was no doubt delicious! As
    Emeril always says…pork fat RULES! I would be picking off the crispy, salty cracklings and
    dipping it in the velvety applesauce! Fabulous photos, as usual….thanks for all the inspiration!
    xoxo

  7. Not my favorite design color, but hydrangeas, lavender, morning glories, my lavender Fortuny pillows that sold immediately…….yes, I do love this color. Used carefully, it can be a neutral. Super post–your table setting is divine. Sundays are for special dinners running over with family and great food made with love. Have an awe-filled week.

  8. It’s time for us all to place a bit of decadence in our lives! Go ahead & embrace that royal aubergine!

  9. I agree that there is nothing better for a sunday dinner than pork with crackling .. salty salty crackling. Yum. Off to buy some shades of purple for my wardrobe!! Perhaps if I am good someone will pick up that Dior watch for me .. and I dont even wear watches!!

  10. Pork AND purple Chanel polish? No one but Slim could pull it off! You know I adore your lovely photos and covet your gorgeous garden. It does make a girl want to leave NY. Almost. And happy birthday to your newly American dad. (Glad he “came over” – we can use a few good men! 🙂

  11. Lovely!! Just gorgeous!

    Divine skirt!

    Thanks so much for those fantastic pictures!!!

    Penelope

  12. Firstly and most importantly, Happy Birthday Grandad Slim!!
    Best wishes to you from the clan up here in Vancouver. xox

    I think we’re in for a dark smokey lavender, violet and eggplant fall. What could be prettier? Oh yes, throw in some grey, ivory and black.

    Helloooo Eugene Reconneaus!!! Holy !$%^&*(#!
    Where have you been all my life? Those purple and white suede ankle boots are out of this world. [They also make a lovely desktop background.]

    Don’t even get me started on the Dior watch. Sigh … at least I can spring for the Paradoxal polish.

    The purple van noten skirt will look perfect on you.

    LC

  13. PS~

    What a great applesauce recipe with the lemon and brown sugar.
    I whip up a batch for the freezer every fall and find it freezes brilliantly in smallish ziplocks.

    I try not to go overboard with the cinnamon but I do because sometimes more is more.

  14. One easy way I read about (after many overcooked dried out pork trying to crisp up crackling experiences), that also does not require salting (unless you want to of course), is just cook the pork to your liking, then while it rests, remove and microwave the cracking separately. May sound sacrilegious – sorry! – but in my house of crazed crackling lovers the end definitely justifies the means.

    • Wow- I think I’d be too afraid to even try that with my precious crackling. I don’t have much luck with microwaves.
      PS. My son and I took the leftover parts of un-crisped crackling and roasted them to perfection the next night, accompanied by French Onion soup- yum!

  15. How appropriate that Monty Don’s The Ivington Diaries arrived (bound in purple) just after reading your post! I can’t wait to dive in. Thank you for another perfect gem.

  16. I have new apple trees! I needed a good applesauce recipe. I will try yours. AS for color, purple is one of the only ones I can wear and not feel like I stand out too much. I bought an Alberta Ferretti chiffon gown in that purple which I am still waiting to wear this summer. uh oh…tmi??Maybe I can wear it while making applesauce…

  17. My mother used to buy just the pork skin and make crackling as a snack. I have since become a vegetarian, but that is one of the things I miss. Your photo of that pork roast is almost enough to convert me back to meat eating!

  18. hi slim,

    i adore this post, well barring the pork thing. i adore your home and any pictures of it are such a treat. i could look at them all day. love that little purse too. adorable.

    ~janet

  19. Wonderful pictures. And great collection of items grouped in such an inspiring way! Thanks!

  20. I must admit after this post you have me liking purple. Even that Dior watch is to die for.
    Your photos are superb, as always, and I think you should seriously think of publishing them. You have so much talent and creativity.

    BTW your aunt is right, hot oven and lots of salt (sea salt is great) will get you a crispy skin every time!

Would love to hear from you!