Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Wonderful Time with Slim Aarons' Beautiful People and The Colony's Eggs in Artichoke Hearts

Slim Aaron’s 1958 photo of Truman Capote at home in Brooklyn

While slaving away at the film factory this summer, I came across this photo of Truman Capote from an exhibition of the work of the late society photographer Slim Aarons.  While Aarons was known for shooting “attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places’ –– this was so much more.

The 1958 photo made the rounds of the art department and the opinion was universal –– it’s remarkable. The styling was so divinely odd –– the then-adorable Capote surrounded by curious cat porcelains, Japanese textiles draped and pillowed and hung in very idiosyncratic ways and the lone scraggly potted lemon tree like a poor relation at his elbow. In the midst of it all Truman –– looking like a little lost boy about to receive the Mad Hatter for tea.

Slim Aarons loved capturing the rich being rich in a slightly odd, tongue-in-cheek way. Aaron’s charm was so potent that the subjects seemingly didn’t recognize they were being sent up a bit – there’s the teeniest touch of Diane Arbus in some of the portraits.

Mr. John, 57th Street celebrity ‘hatter’, 1960

Even the mortals who serve the rich were not spared from the insouciant eye of Mr, Aarons.

Clark Gable, Van Heflin, Gary Cooper & James Stewart, 1957 New Years

He did iconic candid portraits of the stars, capturing them at ease with him and his camera (it was said Stewart’s Rear Window apartment was based on Aaron’s NYC apartment and Stewart often told people who thought they recognized him that he was Slim Aarons, not Jimmy Stewart).

Marilyn Monroe with fan mail, 1952

He could also change gears and do ravishing glamour shots of Monroe in her prime and decidedly un-candid.

Joan Collins with a pink poodle, 1955

There are quite a few of Aaron’s books on the market like Slim Aarons: Once Upon A Time or, if you don’t feel like hauling a hard copy around, enjoy the many wonderful online articles on Slim's work and life on your device –– a zillion more fun photographs to peruse for a delicious escape from the steamy summer  into a never-neverland that is gone forever.

Aaron’s 1974 book

Early in his career, Truman Capote supplied some trenchant dialogue for John Huston’s film Beat the Devil, "Time, time, what is time? The Swiss manufacture it. The French hoard it. The Italians squander it. The Americans say it is money. Hindus say it does not exist. You know what I say? I say time is a crook." Capote would grow old, as would all the beautiful people in Aarons’ richly upholstered world –– no matter how much they struggled against it –– but within the pages of Aarons books, his beautiful people never age. It’s fun to visit them in their native habitats ––  forever rich and beautiful.

Renata Boeck at the Regency Hotel in NYC

What to eat? Gosh, I haven’t written that in months, have I? I wanted something that would have appealed to Capote, Aarons and their crowd and returned to my little Colony Restaurant book (I wrote about the Colony playground HERE). Since I found myself with so many lovely eggs from my farm supplier, I just had to make an egg dish since the Colony was known for their egg dishes –– perfect for the late-to-bed-late-to-rise crowd, sometimes delivered to them in their Park Avenue palaces! Hells bells, I wanted something to pamper me after a grueling few months! This one is simple and divine –– poached egg on an artichoke heart with Parmesan-glazed artichoke puree on top. It takes a few minutes to scrape the artichoke leaves but is so worth it. They are just coming into season and are so good. Put on your monocle, pick up your pink poodle and enjoy your Oeufs au Fonds d’Artichauts Colony in your beautiful boudoir.

Oeufs au Fonds d’Artichauts Colony (original recipe)

After boiling the artichokes remove the leaves and the chokes, leaving only the fonds. Scrape the edible part of the leaves with a silver knife, and make into a paste with butter, pepper and salt.

Poach as many eggs as are required, and very carefully lay each egg on a fond of artichoke.

Lay the paste already prepared on the eggs, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, put a tiny piece of butter on each, and serve very hot.

Eggs in Artichoke Hearts Colony for 4 (easy to make for 1 as well)

4 artichokes
salt and pepper to taste
4 poached eggs
3-5 T butter (or less if you want to hold the calories)
1T + 2 t lemon juice plus lemon halves for steaming
3 - 4 T Parmesan

Steam the artichokes in salted water with lemon halves (left from squeezing juice) for about 25-30 minutes (or until the leaves pull out easily). Let cool a bit then pull out the leaves and scoop out the choke. Cover the hearts while you scrape the pulp from the leaves. This takes a bit of time but can be done beforehand. Do not scrape the fibrous dark part. Put the pulp in a blender with butter and puree with 1 T lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can put it through a sieve if you want to get rid of any extra fibers.  I had 1/4 of puree from a large artichoke.

Poach your eggs to taste (I like mine with a runny center) and heat the broiler. Steam the hearts till warmed through. Sprinkle a bit of lemon on the artichoke heart and spread a bit of puree on the bottom. Put under the broiler for a minute or two to warm.

Take out of the broiler and place an egg on each heart and top with the puree. Then sprinkle with Parmesan. Run under the broiler for a few minutes till hot and serve on its own or on toast.

Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.
Truman Capote

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La Table De Nana said...

I was just yesterday wondering how you were!
Fun photos to see and your dish is lovely.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

So glad to have you back! This is fabulous.......and a well cooked egg is probably the most delicious thing known to man, no?
I think the little lemon tree in the Truman Capote picture is tole, don't you? It fits in with all his victoriana -it just looks a little too 'pert' to be real!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...


Deana, this was a delish read, for I love Truman Capote, his audacity, and this era of slick and iconic Hollywood stars. You rock in your perception of cuisine through culture and history. I was so happy to see your comment just now, and to learn you are back in the KITCHEN to write and WOW us once again! I so wish you could engage in the link party, because I know you would inspire and add a dash and a pinch of something European!

Big hugs to you and I wish you relaxation as you unravel yourself from so much work! I'd love to see what you've been up to!


Barbara said...

Welcome back! (And I trust Dr. Longpast has recovered nicely. Have thought of you both often.)
Fun post and what a job of work to scrape the artichoke leaves...usually done with ones teeth. :) Guess it wouldn't take that much longer, but lots of patience and the temptation to eat it as you go along.
The Aarons photos are marvelous...nothing minimilist about them..although the all white of Collins is interesting.
Great read.

Marjie said...

I do hope this means that Dr. Lostpast is recovering. I've thought of you often.

This looks like a wonderful meal, and so easy! Welcome back, Deana.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

What a fascinating series of portraits and some of them really echo today's obsession with rich celebrities. It's just that the subjects themselves have changed!

Painting the hamptons said...

Just wonderful!

lindaraxa said...

This is probably just as good today as it was then. Welcome back. I too may be taking a little break soon!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Great to 'see' and read you again, Deana! I hope you had fun doing what you do.

What a lovely post. I really enjoyed the photos and especially the one with Truman Capote. Of course, the first thing I thought it how I'd like to crotchet that pillow or throw on the far left :) It is an odd but wonderful photo.

You've combined two of my favorite things in this dish - artichokes and poached eggs. I'd love to give this a try!

Frank said...

is it me, or have you not been missing in action lately? Anyway, I'm glad to see you back! And amused to see the young Truman Capote. Boy what time can do to a body...

Rhodesia said...

Another great post, it was worth the wait and I just love artichokes. Have a good weekend Diane

Rhodesia said...

Another great post, it was worth the wait and I just love artichokes. Have a good weekend. Hope the Dr is on the mend. Diane

Sarah said...

It has been so long since I have been reading my favourite blogs. As always, a creative and delicious recipe. I hope all is well with you and yours.