Thursday, May 23, 2013

Palatial Kitsch

"I call it 'palatial kitsch,' I just love it," a caftan-clad  Liberace (Michael Douglas) describes his Las Vegas manse on HBO's upcoming Behind the Candleabra. Premiering this Sunday, May 26th at 9/8 central, the made for cable film tells the story of the eccentric entertainer and his love affair with Scott Thorson who eventually sued him for palimony.

Production designer Howard Cummings and set decorator Barbara Munch Cameron created three of Liberace's homes that included an over the top Las Vegas mansion, a Chinese influenced penthouse in Los Angeles and a Spanish 20s style house known as Casa de Liberace/The Cloisters in Palm Springs. The designers decorated 30 glitz and glam sets in a record five weeks and gilt, pianos and naked David statues were the order of the day. While many of the sets were created on a soundstage, actress Zsa Zsa Gabor's Bel Air home doubled as several of the Las Vegas interiors.

Douglas and Damon 
Perhaps the show-stopper was Lee's (as his friends called him) master bedroom/bath in his Las Vegas home. Complete with a homage to the Sistine Chapel, Liberace had his face painted among the cherubs and piano keys above the Grecian style bathtub. Cummings used archival photographs and reproduced the original designs. In a stroke of luck, he and Cameron located the son of the original tub fabricator (who just happened to have the molds) and even found the original brass bell in an antique shop(seen at the base of the tub) that was most likely used to summon the servants for champagne. For a tour of Liberace's lavish world,  see Architectural Digest here.

An ode to the Sistene Chapel

The real Liberace in his marble tub

Photo Credits: HBO

Sunday, May 19, 2013

It's All Good with Gwyneth

Many call Gwyneth Paltrow the next Martha and given the popularity of her blog Goop (an enormously entertaining blog by the way), the actress turned lifestyle guru is certainly on her way. Her latest entry in making our lives better? Her new cookbook It's All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great (Grand Central Life and Style, 2013). After a bout with anemia and vitamin D deficiency coupled with her father's death to cancer, Paltrow followed her doctor's guidelines and began a healthy regimen of eating. The result is basically a low-carb, dairy and gluten free diet filled with vegan cookies,  Banana ice cream, Salmon Burgers with Pickled Ginger, and Hummus Tartine with Scallion-Mint Pesto as outlined in her book. No coffee, no eggs, no sugar, no wheat, no meat, no soy, nothing processed (and no fun -- fortunately I didn't see Diet Coke mentioned, whew:)). Like all recipe/diet books, there is something for everyone -- just make sure discipline is in  your vocabulary.

Paltrow's kitchen as seen in the pages of  Elle Decor

Grilled Salmon with Grilled Lemon Vinaigrette

4 6 oz. fillets of salmon
2 T extra virgin olive oil
4 fl oz for the vinaigrette
Coarse sea salt
2 lemons, halved
2 T finely chopped flat-leaf parlsey
2 T finely sliced chives
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat. Coat the fish with 2 T of olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Grill until from to the touch and nicely browned, about 4 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness. Be sure to grill the lemons at the same time for the vinaigrette! Grill them alongside the salmon, cut side down, until they're softened and just beginning to char.
Transfer the salmon to a serving platter and let it rest while you prepare the vinaigrette. Squeeze the grilled lemons into a bowl (they should yield about 3 fl. oz. of smoky, slightly sweet juice. Whisk in the 4 fl oz olive oil, stir in the herbs and season to taste with sale and pepper. pout the vinaigrette over the salmon and serve immediately.

Photo Credits: Ditte Isager