Is social media getting tired?

Thanksgiving is upon us.  A time where people get together, sit around the table and eat and eat and eat.  It is a time to connect.  Sure we will see all the photos of our meals, of our friends, of our tables but I just sense something is changing.

Social media has given us the tools to constantly connect, to share and quite frankly not to have physical conversations but the posting of photos seems to be ebbing and it is now more about the video streams of the day at the same time less seems like more.

Perhaps it is the craziness of the world around us these days which includes the realization that Facebook, Google, and Twitter are collecting mass amounts of data on all of us and the Russians have taken full advantage of manipulating the system.  Perhaps we have reached a peak of a desire to get back to some basics and we fear that robots will take over our lives.  Or that we will never have to leave the house to get anything because Amazon has our back.  Or that seeing people at outings not talking to each other but all looking at their phones have finally upset our moral core.  Or perhaps we have just made the ability to get information seamlessly part of our daily lives.

I am sure it is a multitude of reasons.  Technology has changed the way we live our lives, how we connect with people, how we keep our personal diaries, how we build audiences for products, how we educate ourselves, how we manufacture, how we create and so much more and that is a really amazing thing.  The underlying foundation of technology is amazing yet it feels as if the social pieces are ready for a new cadence.  I am not sure what it is but there are a lot of factors out there that are starting to point to the desire of returning to some order of social simplicity.

Investments in social entrepreneurship should have returns as part of the thesis

I was asked to be on a panel this past week that was put on by Accion.  They asked me because of my connection to female entrepreneurs.  Before the panel, Accion gave this years Claugus Award to Mike Quinn.  The award is in honor of Edward Claugus, a skilled investor who was passionate about social change.  Mike Quinn is the founder of Zoona, an African Fintech business that helps communities in Zambia and Malawi through mobile money transfers, savings accounts, electronic and agent payments.  Essentially giving the poor communities in these two countries the ability to use a bank.  The “bankers” are agents of the Zooma kiosks that allow let’s say the local tomato farmer to take her 30 cents that she made at the end of the day and deposit it into her account and then wire the money to her child’s school at the end of the month.  That is one example but essentially as the kiosks agents succeed they get opportunities to open more kiosks and in turn, these agents become entrepreneurial business owners.  Most of the agents are women, most of the people that agents hire are women and they are all roughly under 25 years old.

The long tail of Zooma is that families see women being business people, people ( mostly men ) can make money in the community so they don’t have to leave to go to the cities for jobs, and the families remain intact and the responsibility of both parents is shared.  What Mike Quinn has built is incredible.  He is changing the country and hopefully, this will bleed into the other countries around Zambia and Malawi.  The downside is that the currencies in these countries are volatile but with cryptocurrencies, the impact could be even larger.  Over $1 billion transactions have now taken place with 1400 agents and an active customer base of 1.5 million consumers.  This customer base never had this opportunity before.

Accion is a non-profit that make investments, like Venture Capitalists, in social entrepreneurs who they believe are making a change, people like Mike.  They operate globally and that means here in the US too.  The other people on the panel were Deborah Drake, who is the VP of the Center for Financial Inclusion that leads the Africa Board Fellowship Program which is dedicated to strengthening governance and strategies for CEO’s and board directors in African financial institutions by teaching best practices.  Also, Kojo Appenteng, who is the Director of Credit Suisse that leaves teams on micro-financing, he also grew up in Ghana but has lived here for 20 years.

There are many stories to Mike including that he had almost zero in his bank account, like most founders do at one point, and got his parents, two teachers, to mortgage their house and send him the capital to forge onward.  His parents raised an incredible human and so they knew that they were making a good bet.  Seriously impressive.  What I like about these investments in social good is that the founders behind them are also Capitalists at heart.  They are building companies in the land of opportunity that will change their country for the better and with success put capital into their own pockets.  I would think that with that success they will give back as others have done before them to continue to support change.  These businesses are not being run as non-profits but profit businesses and that makes all the difference in the world.

 

When You Fall in Love with the Work, Amanda Merrow & Katie Baldwin, Amber Waves Farm, Podcast #43

This week features the Co-Founders and farmers of Amber Waves Farm, Amanda Merrow, and Katie Baldwin. Located in Amagansett, NY, their mission is to bring sustainability, education, and a highly curated food experience to the farm to table market. Amanda & Katie’s story takes us from their first connection during a farming apprenticeship to opening their own, one-of-a-kind, grocery store.

Septime and Chez La Vielle

These are the two last meals we had.  Septime’s setting is beautiful.  It is warm and inviting.  It is a set meal so whatever the chef is preparing at that time.  Heavy on the vegetables.  I didn’t capture everything but certainly hit some high notes.  It is far from a large meal but a variety of small plates with loads of flavor.

You begin with a whipped fetalike cheese and thin crispy breadsticks.

This is raw scallops in an apple cider vinegar topped with burnt toast and elderflowers.

Next was marinated acorn squash that had been peeled with creme fraiche on the side.  This was the roasted beets covered with a leaf dressing.

I missed a photo of the roasted endive with mushrooms and horseradish.  My favorite dish was the venison.  Venison with bone marrow with green peppercorns and quince puree.

We had a cheese plate (extra) before having the mushroom pannacotta.   This was the second dessert and final dish of chestnuts, goat cheese, and caramelized walnuts.

The following night we went to the bar at Chez La Vielle, Daniel Rose’s restaurant.  The bar is definitely more lively than the seating upstairs.  The man who runs this room and picks all the wines is an ex-pat who has been in Paris for 8 years.  The food here is very French and very rich.  Possibly too rich but oh so good.  We polished off the duck terrine.

The lentils with foie gras on top is so insane.

This veals brains had been slow roasted with vegetables and a very buttery rich sauce served with rice to mop that up on the side.  It was over the top delicious.  We ate it to the last drop.

We could barely get past a few bites of this chocolate tart.  As always, eating our way through Paris is a treat.  The food scene has changed dramatically over the past 5 years.  There are new places continuing to open up whereas years ago it was just the old guard who stressed over the Michelin star.  Not so much anymore.  I get the feeling that the young chefs are having fun and pushing their dishes in new ways.  Many of the trends we see in NYC start here from the natural wines to the small plates.  I can hardly wait to come back.

 

 

 

MOMA at Louis Vuitton Foundation…and of course more food

The current exhibit at the Louis Vuitton Foundation is an installation called Being Modern, MOMA in Paris.  It is really well done.  It features a wide range of art that has been collected by the MOMA since 1929 starting with minimalism to pop art.  Each piece is tagged with the name of the artist, when it was done, why the MOMA collected it and what was happening at that time that made them collect it.  Extremely educational and beautiful at the same time.  We spent almost three hours there.

Edward Hopper.

Gustav Klimt

Piet Mondrian

Rene Magritte

Frida Kahlo

Walt Disney

Mark Rothko

Georgia O’Keefe

Frank Stella

United Nations Headquarters Windows, Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer

Ellsworth Kelly

Andy Warhol, the entire soup collection.

Roy Lichenstein

Jeff Wall

Yayoi Kusama

Gerhard Richter

Roman Onak, Measuring the Universe.  You go into this room and someone measures your height and pens in your name and the date.  Really quite interesting in regards to the average height.

The MOMA began collecting icons.  This is obviously the Google Map location icon.

Kerry James Marshall

Ian Cheng

Mark Bradford

This waterfall outside flows into the pools surrounding the building.  Quite beautiful Frank Gehry building.

 

We were hungry and made our way back to the 6th to have a bite at L’Avant Comptoir.  It was quite packed for the afternoon.  Had been there this past summer and wasn’t as good as last time we were there.  The tuna tartare was my favorite dish of the few we had.

Home for a few before dinner.  Incredible art day.

 

 

Dior Show

I have been to Frenchie’s for dinner a few times but have yet to get to Frenchie’s To Go.  They are located almost next to each other on a small narrow street in the 2nd that has a few shops frequented by chefs for their daily supplies.  The street was just waking up when we got to Frenchie’s To Go for breakfast.

We had yogurt, honey, and granola with fresh squeezed orange juice.

Loved their Instagram count

This is the vegetable store on the street.

and the Butcher.

Had to fuel up for the Christian Dior show at the Musee des Decoratifs.  The show is absolutely incredible.  Whoever curated it did an amazing job.  The history, the pieces and all the designers who were part of the CD label.  The quotes from Christian Dior throughout the show are worth noting.  He came from a wealthy family and his first step into the world of art was opening an art gallery.  His father gave him some cash to begin as long as he did not use the family name.  Dior said of his gallery “We were just a simple group of painters, writers, musicians, and designers, under the aegis of Jean Cocteau and Max Jacob.” Dior’s gallery, like his fashion house, was an absolute success where he represented some of the known artists of that time.  It was the financial crash that forced him to close shop and begin again in the fashion world.

In the exhibition, there was an entire wall of the inside of his gallery including some of the pieces that were sold there.  Whoever hunted them down is genius.

This dress is the one that Richard Avedon shot in front of elephants in 1955.

Galliano 1999 evening gown when he headed up CD.

There is a section done by color.  Each section has everything from shoes to small renderings of clothes that span decades.  It was overwhelming.  Dior said, “Color may be used in touches if you wish to change the look of your clothes.  An emerald scarf…one brilliant red rose…a sunshine yellow stole…royal blue gloves.”

Loved this.  He said “Paris is couture. Couture is Paris.”

Flowers and color are key.  This is by Maria Grazia Chiuri, 2017, who runs the house today.  He said, “After women, flowers are the most divine of creations.”

John Galliano 2010.

“Perfume is the finishing touch to any dress”.  Dior understood that fashion was not simply the dress but the shoes, the perfumes, the bags and the brand.  He was a pioneer.

When you are finished with one side, you walk across to the other and enter this room.  Each of these pieces is from designers who at one time or another were part of Christian Dior.

Then you go through a series of rooms with pieces from designers who led Dior for years.  This is YSL.

Galliano

Raf Simmons

Maria Grazia Chiuri.

This room is the Ateliers.  There is even a woman with a sewing machine in one corner

A long corridor with some classic pieces.  Love this hat.

This last room is over the top.  Filled with pieces from the years.  Each designer who had led the house has been true to the brand.  That is what is so incredible.  You can see the influences of his early work on each of them.  Nobody went off on their own but kept to the core of what makes Dior, Dior and all of the designers went on to create their own successful brands. This quote certainly defined the room, ” My dresses make a princess of every woman.”

We spent almost 3 hours there.  It was breathtaking but also full of information.  Lunch was certainly in order.  Close to the museum is an area that is filled with Asian restaurants from Japanese to Vietnamese.  We went to Chez Miki.  Everything was so good but the top of the charts was the foie gras sushi.

There are two different rooms that are not connected.  One is more of a bar and the other is the restaurant.  We went to the bar because the restaurant was full.  When we went to pay our bill I noticed that this is an all women owned and operated restaurant.  I mentioned it to the chef and the manager, they smiled and said: “So cool, right?”.

We left the 2nd and went over to the 10th to the Du Pain et des Idees.  I loved this guy in front who had set up shop as there is always a line at this bakery, selling his meats.

I have been to this bakery before and it is well worth going  This soft yet crusty brioche was made with marrons.  Never had anything quite like it.  We got a few other things that they are known for but this was calling out our name.  It was warm when we got it and we had what was left of it the next morning for breakfast.  Divine.  Keep in mind the bakery is closed on the weekends  We continued through the neighborhood before heading back for just a short rest pre-dinner.

 

 

Paris Photo Show and more

 

Three years ago I went to the Paris Photo Show for the first time.  I have wanted to return since.  I hope to go again next year too.  It is one of the best art shows that I have gone too.  I went with my daughter Emily and between the two of us, we were on the go constantly and probably could have done more.  She summed up what makes the show so unique, the galleries only show one medium at this show so in many ways it is more interesting and easier to take in.   Also, taking place at the Grand Palais certainly adds to the atmosphere.

Here are some of the highlights.  I am drawn to birds these days.  These are Birds of New England by CIG Harvey from Robert Klein Gallery in Boston.

Sunset Blvd by Matthew Porter at Xippas Gallery in Paris

We own a large and very small James Casabere, this is his new work which we talked about for days.  An ode to Luis Barragan, the Mexican architect at Templon Gallery in Paris.

There is mostly new work at this show but I’d say about 20% is older work.  Thought this was perfect for these times although it was done in 1964 by Dennis Hopper at Galerie Johannes Faber.

The Silk Road Gallery from Teheran had this from Jalal Sepehr of his Red Zone Series.

Morning Rain by Wolfgang Tillmans is so simple and beautiful at the Galeria Juana de Aizpuru.

Daniel Blaufuks at Jean Kenta Gauthier.

Have seen this before and still love it.  Abelardo Morell at Edwynn Houk Gallery.

Sory Sanle at Yossi Milo.

Loved this vintage group at Bruce Wasserstein Gallery from Aaron Siskind.

Christiane Feser at Galerie Anita Beckers

Sharon Core at Yancey Richardson.

After we left the show, we headed over to Collette, who will have made their mark in retail history creating one of the first concept shops.  They will be closing on December 1, at the top of their game, even though so many more have entered this picture.  I will be insanely sad to see the doors close  There is not a trip to Paris where I do not stop by Collette to see what the two women behind it (mother and daughter) have done.  They added this blue burger to the menu at the Water Bar downstairs to say goodbye.

We soldiered on for drinks before dinner at Buvette in the 11th.  Another pioneer but here in the natural wine world.  A small bar with tiny plates that you must order a few if you want to sit with wines galore.  Woman owner who is quite the badass.  We had two delicious glasses of wine and a plate of white beans with lemon zest and another of andouille sausage.  These white beans are up there on one of the better dishes of the year.

After we walked down the street to Servan.  Both of us have eaten there before and I am sure both of us will eat there again. The black pudding fried wontons with spicy chili sauce is so damn good and the spicy cockles and roasted cauliflower with sesame is high up there too.

Ending in a Paris Brest is a nice way to end a meal in Paris.  A full day for sure but there is always tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

Paris with Emily

Emily arrived and we went directly to lunch at Mokonuts.  Mokonuts is a tiny adorable bakery/cafe with insanely good food run by an ex-Pat who went to NYU and landed in Paris years ago.  She couldn’t be nicer.  We got there around 130 and here is the kitchen after the constant of the day.

Started with this hot lemon honey thyme drink that her Grandmother used to make to cure all ills.  Might make this one at home.

The white fish crudo with olive oil and sumac was the perfect starter.  Sumac changes the entire taste of the dish.

Labneh with small pieces of black olive on top to lather on bread.

We also had lamb chops with greens.  The dishes are small which is another thing I love about Paris.  The portion size is what it should be.

Chocolate chip and sesame cookie (I need to figure out how to make this cookie) and ricotta cheesecake for dessert.

And then we walked.  Alain Ducasse started his own chocolate shops a few years ago so he could make his own chocolates for his restaurants.  This store is where they make the chocolates.  I do wish I could capture the aroma of this store.  We knew we were coming upon it before it was there.  The smell of pure chocolate bliss is wafting out of this place.

We passed this seriously old-school barbershop.  This photo does not really capture the scene as tucked behind is the gentlemen having his haircuts wife, watching patiently.

Went to a few stores around the Marais.  One of the main streets, Rue de Bretagne, had multiple singular food shops from a charcuterie to a bakery to even one that sells basically smoked fish and foie gras.

Aperol Spritz was the drink of the summer so seeing it bottled was great.  Picked up a few for drinks later.

We had dinner at Huiteries Regis, where they take no reservations, so we could stop in, have dinner and get to bed early.  One of my favorite spots in Paris.

 

 

On the road

I spent the last 10 days traveling starting with someone’s birthday weekend in Harbor Island, located in the Bahamas.  Never been a huge fan of the island vacations and we have gone on a few but this two day weekend couldn’t have been better.  We stayed at Ocean View Hotel and between the staff, the food (off the charts), the accommodations, the ocean and the sand, it was like heaven on earth.  I am a big fan of celebrating mitzvahs, and to be able to have all your closest friends with you for a weekend to celebrate your birthday is pretty sweet especially when most of us have met each other over the years.  It was the perfect kick-off to a week of travel.

I landed at JFK, made the bag hand-off with my beyond trusty assistant, and headed to Paris.  I just love Paris.  Next, to NYC, it is my favorite city.  I came for two reasons.  One to work on a few projects and most important to go to the Paris Photo Show.  All of it was a huge success especially spending four days with my daughter doing the show and hitting up our some of our favorite activities; food, art and shopping.

Before she arrived I went to one of my standby restaurants in the 6th.  Wajda, where I will return again and again.  The place is owned by a family and the vibe is local.  This mushroom soup with shavings of cheese on top was delicious.

This Dover sole tasted as good as it looks.

Cheese with quince paste for dessert

But also a lemon tart.

The next day was activities at some of the shops in the 6th.  One of my favorite affordable galleries in Paris is Galerie Geraldine Banier.  Geraldine is wonderful and I have purchased more than a few things there.  Here is one of the latest pieces she had.

Stopped into Muriel Grateau where I have been going for almost 20 years.

Picked up this painting of Jean Cocteau.

I got a lot done.  Love a productive two days particularly in Paris working with someone who I enjoy and trust.  Can’t beat that.  Walking home and just seeing this magnificent building is what makes Paris, Paris.

 

The Payoff that Comes with Starting Small, Jessica Banks, RockPaperRobot, Podcast #42

Jessica Banks has a career path that did not go the way she thought it would — after having to abandon her dreams of becoming an astronaut, it took this Founder & CEO of RockPaperRobot awhile to find the right place to put her feet on the ground. But once she did, she took off. Jessica’s plan of honing in on one product before expanding her business has paid off big-time and is definitely an idea we can all find use from.