I know, sweet pea… I wish we were back lounging by the pool. But we’ve got a cookbook to write!
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I know, sweet pea… I wish we were back lounging by the pool. But we’ve got a cookbook to write!
My shrimp and orzo salad is one of those cool, simple dishes destined for a day at the pool or an afternoon at the beach. Because I’m from the Gulf Coast (and vacationing at the beach right-this-very-minute), I’m always looking for any excuse to cook up our gorgeous, mild-yet-sweet Gulf shrimp. I toss them with every woman’s favorite salad cheese-feta-and add color with easy-to-chop or defrost ingredients like bell pepper and little French peas. Everything comes together with the simplest of vinaigrettes–lemon juice and olive oil.
(My niece, Shelby, and baby Parker enjoying pool time over the weekend in their matching ‘kinis.)
Ok, rewind… Let’s talk about my ideal beach experience…
There’s sugar-white sand, cool emerald-green waters, interesting friends and conversation… and kick butt cocktails and nibbles to round out the day. Easy to find, right? Wrong.
A day at the Gulf with my *girlfriends and my **husband usually includes tibbling luke-warm pinot grigio from red Solo cups, picking through a bag of Baked Lays and maybe rounding out the day with a dozen raw oysters, a dozen baked. We flip through US Weekly and InStyle–in between slathering on Clarins sunscreen–and call it a day. (Note-My hilarious *girlfriends do make up for the lack of interesting activities. **Jamie, on the other hand, inevitably finds another sportif husband on the beach and does some sort of physical activity that requires diving in the sand, getting needlessly dirty.)
But now we have Studio B, the brainchild of Colleen Duffley, serving up a big ol’ side-dish of class, culture and fantastic food, at Alys Beach. According to Garden & Gun magazine, Studio B “pairs some of the South’s most creative and talented people with small groups of students” all in the unforgettable setting of Florida’s most beautiful beaches.
Studio B is a creative venue that brings together the best of the best and the up and coming in the fields of photography, art, design, literature, food and wine. It’s the mixing and intermingling of all creative mediums.
To teach, they’ve enlisted the likes of Emeril, Donna Hay, style guru India Hicks (Prince Charles’ goddaughter)… and me and Jamie!
We’re slated as the husband and wife team who will teach you how to cook up simple, elegant dishes and house cocktails, all the while enjoying yourself in the kitchen. Our class, debuting on July 24th, and menu are deeeee-licious. So pack that Calypso bag and come come join us!
(Pictured: Alys Beach pool, the venue where we’ll enjoy the fruits of our cooking class labor!)
“Brooke Elizabeth Parkhurst and James Joseph Briscione
are delighted to announce
that they were married
two thousand and eight
in a small chapel at sunset
Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina”
As I sit in my apartment, frozen to the core, warming my hands by the fire (read: stove) like a Dickens street urchin–the second day of no heat or hot water in my building stretching into its third–I’m fantasizing about Palmetto Bluff and light, lowcountry breezes…
Exactly this time tomorrow, hubby-to-be and I will be touching down at the Auberge resort, Palmetto Bluff, in Bluffton, South Carolina. Our cooking demonstrataion alonside the likes of Tyler Florence will be paired with a reading and signing of “Belle.” A mini vaca of warm, wonderful meals (planned–and kept a surprise– by Jamie and Chef Chris Blobaum), couples massage, bike rides and coffee on the dock with the dolphins at sunrise will follow…
Let me tell you unwed ladies—the dress is just the beginning. Apparently the white frock and all of its accoutrements account for THE MOST IMPORTANT ENSEMBLE YOU WILL EVER WEAR. Well, that’s what bridal stores, magazines, websites and Southern lore tell you. After that day, a brown paper bag is more than acceptable for all occasions. Just don’t screw up that blinding white (or charming ivory, in my case) confection!
After locating the desirable life-long partner and loving mate with the head of thick, brown hair and hazel eyes (#1 priority!) and the dress (a close second), you search for the veil. Please tell me you’ve skimped on the “Girls’ Nights Out” and haven’t taken a tropical vacation in the past 5 years because this simple scrap of net and lace will cost you somewhere between $1,000 and $5,000. If seed pearls and pricey embellishments are your thing, you should have a cool $10,000 stashed in your freezer (no need to embarrass yourself in front of the snooty shopgirls come check-out time).
I asked Jamie if he had any greenbacks collecting freezer burn in his Union Square apartment. After all—what’s a more practical purchase in the months leading up to your wedding than a diamond and seed pearl veil?? With great sadness, Jamie told me that the only thing in his freezer were “off parts” of the pig (snouts, trotters, entrails), pear-infused vodka and the odd ice pack or two to help his skateboard injuries (yes, Jamie is 28 years-old and skateboards to work up 5th Avenue).
BUT THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PARTY ENSEMBLE OF MY LIFE! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?
My mother saves the day…
At the tender age of 22, Mom packed her hatboxes and steamer trunks and moved to Madrid. That year in Spain (during Franco’s regime, mind you) and in Western Europe would be her “sentimental education,” her “grand tour”—the time she would establish herself and her platinum locks far from the Deep South. My grandparents were thrilled for their first-born and all the opportunities that awaited her.
They weren’t so enamored of the idea of a “Continental Suzanne,” however, that they actually wanted her to marry a hot-blooded bullfighter or a Camembert-sniffing Pierre. My grandmother’s first trip to Spain included a purposeful stroll down the Gran Via and Calle Serrano to shop for a “mantilla” (mahn-TEE-ya), or a Spanish wedding veil. Purchasing this lace shroud—the finely woven piece of net, silk and lace that would fall over my mother’s eager, innocent face on her wedding day—was a sign that she was expected to return after 12 months time and marry a good, Southern boy.
This story—and that veil—suit me. Don’t they? I’ve always said that it took traveling around the world and up to New York City before I found my love—the man who shared a hometown with me, always living just miles away.
So, on my wedding day, I will wear the same piece of Spanish lace. Mom wore it over a pillbox hat, my sister fashioned it as a shawl, draped around her shoulders, and I will let the piece of lace hang from my loose chignon. No money spent and a wonderful tradition upheld.
(The artist certainly gave me a voluptuous bottom and shapely calves in the newspaper picture…)
“Book tour feels a lot like running from the law. A dozen cities, disinterested faces and dark, quiet nights make my life and Mom’s (she’s my partner-in-crime, you see) feel like a scene out of ‘Thelma & Louise…’”
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