The Secret Ingredient

I do a lot of cooking. And a lot of entertaining. Some of planned a week in advance! But I always need shortcuts, and I’ve found a doozy!

Whether you whip up a quick Manhattan Clam Chowder, a festive salsa, warming batch of chili, or comforting pasta with sausage/pork/beef sauce, you need a good tomato spiked base. I’m always out of canned tomatoes and sauces.


So I splash in some Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix. Or substitute your favourite blend. Patrick Henry’s, Chesapeake Bay, Tabasco….

I figured if I add clam juice for a Clammato, why not add the seafood? With a shellfish base liquid (or chicken broth), some potato, a sprinkle of dill or whatever your recipe call for, you’ve got a lovely and quick seafood soup — bouillabaisse, chowder, what have you. Just add ailol and croutons or oyster crackers, clams, white fish, etc. .

Salsa? Chop up a bunch of fresh bell pepper, onion, cilantro, cumin, a splash of lime. Whatever suits your tastes. Pour a bit of bloody mix in stir and let settle.

Chili? Add instead of plain old tomato paste/sauce. No need to dilute.

Pasta? Just as easy. Brown meat (drain fat and add some olive oil), brown onion, carrots, add a glass of red wine, simmer in some garlic, salt, pepper, sprinkle of red pepper flakes, bloody mix. Simmer until it smells great. Swirl in about two or three tablespoons of cream before plating.

Best Wishes This Festive Season!

Updated Layering: Tech Fabrics

Photo on 12-3-14 at 10.53 AM

When I was in high school, we wore Levi’s jean jackets under our tweed sportscoats. Or LL Bean down vests over our blazers. They were too puffy to do otherwise. But with the advent of these wafer-thin, packable, Nanopuff vests, down shirts, and pull-overs, things have gotten much easier. Highly recommended as they pack down to nothing and fit in their own little sacks. Very easy to stow in the car, in a bag, in a drawer in the event that the day is a trifle more chilly than anticipated. Which is what happened to me as I went to hear my daughter speak in Lower School chapel today.

Add one to your holiday shopping list and stop walking around with cold cockles.


Wintery Weekends Call for Comfortable Sweaters and Silk Scarves

Winter Weekend

By the time the actual winter sets in, I’m not sure how I’ll react. 76ºF yesterday and a high of 42 today. Schizophrenic weather.

I do know that there are some weekends when loafing about requires clothing that is comfortable and warm, without looking like you’re wearing a Snuggie. I love flannel, moleskin, corduroy, merino, cashmere and silk. That scarf under the merino sweater adds lightweight warmth and lends a bit of polish to a hygiene holiday when it feels too cold to leap into that shower first thing.

The polo collar, shawl collar and button-up mock neck sweaters are perfect for the middle ground when you don’t have yard work to do and don’t have any appointments scheduled. Add a few to your wardrobe this year and weather the weekend in style.

Peer Pressure.


I had a client look at himself in the tailor’s mirror and say “If my buddies ever saw me in this stuff, they’d never let me forget it.”

He has an MBA and runs his own successful company. He spends half the year in South Beach, Miami. He has it wired.

But, somehow, the thought of wearing nice clothing (he was being measured for a custom shirt and a sportcoat in a very nice grey plaid), even with jeans and a dress shirt, was a bit off-putting for him. I think he thinks it makes him less approachable than the jeans and t-shirts he was used to wearing in all situations.

I reminded him of our goals: to make his life easier and to improve his potential dating pool. After carefully and ruthlessly editing his wardrobe, anything that he grabs looks good on him. The flip-flops have been replaced with loafers, the hoodies with a couple of sweaters and a blazer. All his dress shirts fit.

He has met his two goals. And yet… .

I thought about him today whilst walking the dog. It’s still chilly and I have yet to dress for the day. Which means I’m in jeans and boots, a flannel shirt and a Barbour quilted jacket. Nothing special. I was worried about running into anyone I know (although, I doubt they’d recognize me… sort of the Clark Kent effect.) As I passed pedestrians and glanced at commuters on their way to work, it occurs to me that very few men like to stand out. Women don’t seem to have that problem if the preponderance of skin tight jeans, tall boots and short jackets can be believed.

I chalk it up to peer pressure. But what I don’t understand is why we’ll press any other advantage we have in competition to win while we ignore one of the easiest to improve — how we make our first impression.

Make it a point to look your best this weekend, even in casual wear.

Like the Polar Vortex: I Have Returned

Thanks for your patience while we get the new site (which shouldn’t be all that different from the old site) up and running.

The temperatures have plunged since yesterday’s high of 76ºF and today feels more like late December here in Central Virginia. Thus begins the season when all clotheshorses rejoice. Choice! Layers! Texture! Where to begin?


One of the more stylish and lasting affectations that I ran across last year is the turtle/polo neck sweater worn over a shirt with the collars upturned. Under a sportcoat it does eliminate the need for a scarf (man, I love scarves….) And here we begin to talk about style.

I’ve had a lot of questions recently about what’s in and out? Let’s all repeat our mantra, shall we?

“We don’t care for trends. Fashion is something so dreadful they have to change it once a season.”

Style, on the other hand, is something to be developed and worn permanently.

One of the questions that springs to mind is whether or not tab collars are still “ok?”.

Are they “in”, no. Are they ok? Yes. Tab collars are a very buttoned up look. If your thing is clean and tight, tab collars will work for you. They’ll even work if you happen to button your collars all the way up without wearing a tie. (Man, I love ties….)

Tabbed, youre it.

Tabbed, you’re it.

So, what are some of your style choices?