Asheville + Cisthene :: When Beautiful Places and Beautiful Things Collide

I've been ready to return to Asheville, a cozy, cultured town tucked away in the mountains of North Carolina, since, oh...about 24 hours since returning from my first trip there last October.  It's no wonder the town has gotten such incredible press in recent years - an incredible food scene, a thriving art community, breathtaking moutainous scenery, some of the best antiquing I've ever laid eyes on, the Biltmore house, and a pretty phenomenal standard of living.  Oh, and one very exceptional kindred spirit, my good friend and creative goddess Jen Altman - and her wonderful family, including 3 gorgeous girls who could whip you into shape and wrap you around their fingers all at once.  So when Jen's photography was recently featured in Martha Stewart Living magazine, I couldn't help but be transplanted back to the calm, rustic beauty that's Asheville.  Helps that the spread highlighted various Asheville hot spots, no doubt a collective of Jen's favorites, many of which I've been to or heard of thanks to her.  Thankfully I have good reason to return to Asheville in the next month or so.  

Until then, magazine clippings and memories will have to suffice.  And some serious oogling over Jen's recently launched drop-dead amazing site, Cisthene, a jewelry and apothecary fiend's mecca.  One look at Jen's glittering arms and hands, and it's clear her affections lie with beautiful, unique pieces - her personal jewelry box is unreal, and overflowing.  She's turned her excellent artistic eye into a site that might just heal, inspire, or make you simply shine.  Have at it, it's always a good time to gift something special to yourself...or someone else.   www.cisthene.com

delights from Curate & White Duck Taco
above, a lovely fall salad from The Admiral

may I present Cisthene

beautious bits and bobbles

Photos by Jen Altman and via Cisthene

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TAGS: travel, autumn, asheville

posted: 10.10.12

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Quinoa Pilaf with Dates, Pistachios & Caramelized Onions

Fall seems to be flying by at light speed.  I'm not quite sure where the past few weeks have gone, but they've been beyond hectic.  For good reason thankfully. More details to come in the next week or so....a little suspense builder for you.  Being busy has kept me physically from posting, but mentally, I've got at least half a dozen posts ready to go.  Sometimes I wish a little magic elf could jump into my brain and whip up a smashing blog post in a matter of minutes.  Alas, I'm attempting to catch up a bit on a gray autumn afternoon.  A good, long bike ride and a trip out to the Brooklyn Flea will have to wait until tomorrow or until better weather.  Instead, here's the quinoa recipe I've been wanting to post for over a week now.  I was pleasantly suprised having put it together without much thought - really just poking around my spice cabinet.  Bold flavors that make me feel like I'm off somewhere exotic and foreign, Marrakesh or Beirut come to mind.  Now to just pack my passport for real...   

Quinoa Pilaf :: with Dates, Pistachios and Caramelized Onions

Serves :: 4-6


1 cup black, red or golden quinoa
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
3 cardamom pods
½ teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
white or black pepper and kosher salt to taste
2 cups waters or low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
¼ cup toasted, crushed pistachios
4 dates, chopped (or 3 tablespoons golden raisins)

*caramelized onions
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil


Toast quinoa in a dry saute pan or pot for 3-4 minutes. Add in olive oil along with garlic, spices and salt and pepper.  Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add 2 cups of water or broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover.  Simmer about 20-25 minutes until water/broth has been fully absorbed.  Turn off heat, fluff with a fork and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Mix in pistachios, dates and caramelized onions.*


*For onions, saute on low heat in a separate small saute pan until golden brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes. 

TAGS: fall, quinoa, whole grains

posted: 10.06.12

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