Victoria Accardi: Ode’s Foodie Spirit Guide
Posted on November 02, 2018 by Kristin Kelly
Victoria Accardi, like her eclairs, is full of wonderful-ness. Once a stylist at Ode, and now a working artist in New York, she traverses a map of creative paths, dancing along the way. But who knew she could also slay in the kitchen? Well, we did...that's why we invited her back to Ode for our Guide to Gatherings Workshop, where she talked (and fed us) charcuterie and chocolate. If you missed the event, don't worry, we'll find a reason to bring her back again soon. And we included her amazing Holiday Relish recipe at the end of this interview, in case you want to impress your Thanksgiving table. Meet Victoria, again:
Describe your perfect gathering:
My perfect gathering would involve food, dancing, and the people I love, in equal parts.
The most delicious bite you’ve ever taken:
The last time I was in Sicily I was in a food market in Palermo with my cousins and they convinced me to taste this traditional Sicilian sandwich called Pani ca Meusa, which is essentially stewed lung and spleen between two pieces of soft bread. Needless to say I was reluctant to put this soggy, gray substance in my mouth, but my cousins (who I might add do not eat this sandwich themselves) insisted that I try it because as a Sicilian I have to experience Pani Ca Meusa at least once. I cannot think of another time in my life when I have spit food out, certainly not in public, but there was no way I was swallowing that once I tasted it. After sprinting to the nearest trash can, I demanded that my cousin immediately go get me a bambolone (Italian brioche-donut) filled with nutella. Fearing my wrath, he dutifully obliged. This delicate bambolone was still warm inside. Soft and sweet, lightly dusted with powdered sugar, it was the antithesis of what I had just eaten and I had never tasted anything more sublime.
What cheese most pleases you?
Fresh sheep’s milk ricotta drizzled with olive oil and cracked black pepper. In the late spring/early summer the sheep have been eating the fresh green grass and their milk is so sweet. It makes the ricotta taste like dessert.
You are a painter, among many things. What food do you most love to paint?
Desserts! So many different textures and reflective surfaces. Cannoli, donuts, cakes.
Who do you invite to your dinner table? What do you serve them?
I invite people who make me laugh. I serve them cheeses, pasta, always desserts (fruit tarts, or cannoli usually). Recently, I have been very into cooking Middle Eastern/Mediterranean style meals. My family is from a very Arab influenced part of Italy so I love to play with those two styles of cuisine. I also always serve Lambrusco or Sicilian red wine, like Nero D’Avola.
Victoria, with Willa Van Nostrand, of Little Bitte Artisanal Cocktails
Your spirit spice?
What do you wear to Thanksgiving dinner?
My Lacausa Santi jumpsuit, so chic, so much room for my pie-baby.
Guilty culinary pleasure?
What flavor do you despise?
What’s on your party playlist?
So much Motown, Sam & Dave, The Crystals, The Ronnettes, Lee Moses. Recently I have been listening to Harumi’s self-titled album, the song Hurry Up Now has been on repeat.
Victoria served this vibrantly-hued relish with stinky cheese and seedy crackers, creating the perfect bite. We can't recommend it enough. Great on the Thanksgiving table, in your yogurt, or even on its own. Enjoy!
Willa Van Nostrand of Little Bitte Cocktails
Posted on November 01, 2018 by Kristin Kelly
We want to have a drink with Willa Van Nostrand, especially if she's the one making it. Mixologist, owner of Little Bitte Artisanal Cocktails, singer/ songwriter, art curator, and infusively charming company, Willa is the total package. Okay, the total dream. We Insta-stalked her beautifully curated and delicious photos (not to mention that topknot of hers) for about a year before calling her up and asking her to host a workshop at Ode. We met up in Quonquont orchard, where we got to play dress up and traipse around with Willa, eating apples whilst sipping her mango margarita. Even listening to her describe a drink will make your mouth water. Here's a little sneak "sip" of what's in store for our "Guide to Gatherings" workshop at Ode, this Thursday, Nov. 8, from 6-8pm, featuring Willa Van Nostrand, with foodie-guru Victoria Accardi. There are a few spots still open, so give us a call or stop by the boutique to sign up! Cheers!
How did you get your start in bartending and mixology?
I grew up on a small herb farm in Massachusetts with my mom, a midwife & herbalist—and my dad, a minister & bartender. I’ve always been pretty obsessed with food, so beverage was a natural extension. I worked in a bunch of bars through my late teens and early 20s, but really found my niche living in Italy for a year when I was working with cordials and Amari like Campari, Aperol, and Fernet Branca. Even when I was working at the family dive bar, I’d bring in my own edible blossom bouquets to garnish cocktails. Folks would start requesting the drinks I made for them, and that’s how the business was born. Before I knew it, I was doing a bunch of parties and weddings and shopping for insurance. Business, how romantic!
Describe the perfect sip:
The perfect sip is clean, sumptuously tart
and leaves you wanting another sip.
The perfect sip is insatiable.
The perfect sip is usually Champagne,
generally a very dry margarita,
and most often: a flute of sparkling rosé.
On friday nights, it’s a dirty martini with fancy queen olives,
in Italy, a spritz,
a voluptuous red wine.
Cognac, forever– aged off the vine.
What’s your spirit cocktail?
If mezcal is my spirit “spirit, ” then The Division Bell is my spirit cocktail (Mezcal, fresh lime, Aperol, maraschino cherry liqueur) for its astringency, appetizing pop of color, light bitterness, and smoke. It reminds me that I’m alive and every breath, sip and bite matters.
On top of being a business owner and expert mixologist, you are a singer in a band. What’s the music/style? Who’s in your band? Where can we see you perform?
Ah, Singing! My first love. I make my own music as Willa Van Nostrand and I’m in a band “The Van Nostrand Sisters” with my Sister Glenna and her partner, Ken Linehan, who’s fabulous. There’s an ever-evolving cast of characters, but it’s most minimally the 3 of us on stage. We make folk music, I write most of the songs and the band gives them life! Lots of harmonies, and our voices do that magic sister thing that sisters can do: very sweet, goofy, upbeat, folky? Dare I say, country? We dance around a lot and wear vintage dresses and costumes. We are working on recording our album and we don’t have any shows booked currently because we’re not letting ourselves play out until we finish the album. We usually play small clubs & venues, folk festivals, friends house shows in the woods, art spaces…. You get the idea. We love playing so if you have something in mind, don’t be a stranger. Record’s almost done!
Hold on, you have an art gallery? Explain!
Yes! I own a small storefront gallery called World’s Fair Gallery at 268 Broadway in Providence. We opened in 2010 as a site-specific gallery, and now we’re at home on Broadway. We curate shows inspired by taste, gustatory and aesthetic. For each show, we pair 2D & 3D artists with folks who make ceramics or handblown glass vessels. For the opening reception of each show, we pop-up and make cocktails that were designed for the artwork and the glassware. This business model works in a way that I can travel and install art pop-ups and bars in galleries and art fairs. I am really excited about World’s Fair and can’t wait to share more artwork, beautiful vessels and beverages with the world.
Best moment from a wedding:
Last summer we worked this insanely gorgeous wedding out near the beach in Tiverton, Rhode Island. The whole thing was romantic and candlelit with colorful lanterns hanging from the trees. After we broke down the bar, we were standing around having a shift drink and we all let our hair down (you know, the ‘Bitte bun’ up-do has to come down sometime). We looked like a group of mermaids on the lawn. The groomsmen called to us from the dance floor á la Romeo up to Juliet’s window: “Angels, sweet women, where have you been? It’s time to dance!”
I melted a little, we giggled a lot, and then got out of there as quickly as we could because we knew better! We had to bail before the midsummer night’s dream enchanted us all.
I also cried last week at a cranberry bog during the bride and groom’s first dance at sunset. Does that count? I end up crying at a lot of the weddings that I work because they’re so beautiful and touching. Once you work with a couple on their wedding for a year, you can get pretty emotionally attached.
Shaken or stirred?
Stirred! It’s traditional to stir a martini. “Stir spirits with vermouth, shake juice!”
But I say, if you’re the one drinking it — do whatever you want!
If you ask me to make you a cosmo, I’ll make you a damn good cosmo.
If you ask me to shake your martini, I’ll shake the living daylights out of it.
That’s what hospitality is about.
If you could have a drink anywhere with any one person, where and with whom would that be?
I’d have a cigar and a glass of Cognac with Gertrude Stein in Paris during her Expat salon years.
What’s the “garden” element of your tagline “craft cocktails from garden to glass in New England”?
All of our edible blossoms and fresh botanicals are organically grown, local or sustainably sourced. For the first 5 years of Little Bitte, my mom and I grew all of our botanicals. Now, we source our blossoms, fruit, and herbs from about 25 local growers.
To high winds and mermaids!
What’s essential for the perfect gathering?
Making your guests feel comfortable. Good lighting, enough food and drink for your guests, and their friends you didn’t know they were bringing along.
And ice! 2-3 pounds per guest to be specific.
Erin McNally of Tiny Anvil
Posted on September 04, 2018 by Kristin Kelly
There's an ocean about Erin: a depth and fathomless calm, a wild beauty, a quiet wisdom and a spirit that inspires wonder. She's someone with whom you'd want to travel, garden, sip tea on a porch swing. A friend and artist at Ode since we opened our doors 8 years ago, Erin McNally started out making sculptural leather earrings and has since grown her Tiny Anvil collection into something more intricately expansive: architectural and etched brass and stone pieces inspired by the natural world. What we love about Erin's jewelry is that each design is so unique, and yet so wearable. There's a simplicity to each piece that makes her pieces so universally beloved. Join us for a night with Erin, where she'll be featuring one-of-a-kind, handmade pieces. Friday, September 14th, 6-8pm, at Ode.
What inspires you and your designs?
I am inspired by the enduring solid designs of old simple tools. I am also inspired by natural formations and symmetries. My vision for the jewelry I design spans beyond aesthetic and adornment. I strive to create pieces that are beautiful but, in some cases, I am more interested in making pieces that the wearer can imbue with their own meaning, connecting their sense of identity to the object, and even deriving a sense of power and protection from the piece. I have always been interested in self expression as a form of empowerment. I am drawn to jewelry that is linked to cultural and social expressions of power and emotion- talismans, ritual adornments, signifiers of commitment, faith, loss, etc. I am interested in the ability jewelry has to wordlessly express so much about who we are. I make my jewelry with the hope that it can become the wearers everyday piece, keeping them anchored to themselves, and giving them a way to express themselves to the world around them without words.
Is there a “Tiny Anvil” in your collection of tools?
You are a bit of a fish. Talk to us about the importance of water to you. Where’s your favorite place to swim?
I am a pisces so water is in my stars. I get a deep sense of peace when I am in an expansive spaces so the ocean is incredibly comforting for me to look at and swim in. One of my favorite places to swim is at Flamenco Beach on Culebra, Puerto Rico. There is a stretch where the waves are big and the break is shallow and, if you duck under at just the right time, you can propel up out of the crest of the wave. When it crashes water rains back on you in a gentle sprinkle and often creates a momentary rainbow. Its unbelievably fun. Around here in Western MA I love a swimming hole in Conway.
What’s your spirit stone?
I am drawn to the stones that contain light like labradorite and opal. I think they are magical.
A wandering spirit and adventurer, you have traveled to and lived in many different places. Where is your “heart spot”? I learned a lot about knowing people from the heart more than from the head living in Culebra, PR so I’d say that is a “heart spot”. But I also have been gardening at the Northampton Community Gardens on Burts Pit Rd for 10 years and my heart is always nourished by that space.
If you could describe your aesthetic in one sentence, what would it be?
Simple grounded enduring and functional design with balanced embellishment.
What famous or influential person would you love to adorn with Tiny Anvil?
Departed: Frida Kahlo
From your early leather earrings to your current intricate metalwork, your collection has really transformed through the years. How has your art and your philosophy evolved?
A lot of the evolution of my style has coincided with the progression of my skills as a metalsmith. Initially, as I was self-teaching, I was very experimental with materials. Eventually, as I started to dig in to more traditional bench work, I was able to build my aesthetic around more simplicity. The knowledge I gained helped me to achieve impact with less detail/embellishment. Now, as I continue to advance my skills, I am able to bring in more detail while maintaining solidity and integrity. I think there is a common thread that links my aesthetic throughout its evolution and now, having established an extensive line of work, I feel I am able to branch out again into experimenting with materials and drawing in bolder elements like the stones I am incorporating. I have consistently wanted to have my jewelry be a part of individual empowerment through self expression, and to make pieces that feel grounding and anchoring, so my philosophical views for jewelry have only become better articulated as I acquire more skill.
What grows in your garden?
Currently tomato, tomatillo, husk cherry, delicata squash, zucchini, jalepeno and anaheim peppers, watermelon, eggplant, kale, cucamelons, raspberries, sunflowers, tons of herbs, echinacea, weeds- lots of weeds. Also marigolds, I’m hoping to have enough to make a garland.
Three years from today, where are you and what are you making or doing?
I’ll be living close to the ocean, at least part of the year and I will be making jewelry out of a space that will have a small showroom/shop where I can feature other makers from my community.
LADY JANE: Esperanza Friel
Posted on July 10, 2018 by Kristin Kelly
When Jocie Adams of the band Arc Iris wrote to us and said, "Do you know Lady Jane? We played a show with her recently. She is from Nothampton and is great!", we had our mission: find this woman, and ask her to play at Ode. And so it came to be. Esperanza Friel, aka "Lady Jane", will be performing at Ode this Friday, and we couldn't be more ready for some good local music on a hot summer night. See you soon!
What’s the origin story of “Lady Jane”?
The origin story of Lady Jane is a long and winding one, but essentially it boils down to that one song by the stones called "Lady Jane" and how one night at an open mic I had no idea what to put down on the list other than my own name, and out of the blue I started to hum that tune and wrote down Lady Jane on the list.
What inspires you to write a song?
I get inspired at the strangest moments. When I'm grocery shopping or making dinner or out with friends sometimes a melody will pop into my head, and I'll excuse myself to go record it on my voice memos on my phone. My heart and all that anchors it give me most of my material, but sometimes I'll write songs and I have no idea where they came from.
Last time you laughed:
The last time I laughed was with my boyfriend on the beach today. He always makes me laugh—no matter the mood I'm in, he always finds a way to make me smile, and he's the funniest person I know.
BBQ potato chips.
Go-to summer album/song:
My go-to album this summer has been Super Trouper by ABBA. It's bouncy and joyful and just sounds like summer to me. Honorable mention goes to Caroline Rose's album, Loner, which has also been on constant repeat.
What are your favorite summer spots in Western Mass?
Favorite swim spots are the Chesterfield Gorge and Chapel Falls.
What do you wear when you want to look and feel powerful?
To feel and look powerful I wear my vintage Levi mom jeans, a white t shirt, my Blundstone boots, and all of my jewelry, which consists of the four rings I wear everyday and two necklaces that I made with small charms that mean the world to me.
Three years from today, where do you want to be and what will you be doing?
In three years I hope to have graduated from the MSW program at Smith (where I am currently a student this summer) and still making music. Doing both this summer has been a struggle, but it's proof to me that this is how I want my life to always be. Full and vibrant and busy and full of love. And if nothing happens the way I want it to, than at least I hope I am happy whatever I am doing and wherever I am.
Who are your music icons?
My music icons are Stevie Nicks and Joni Mitchell. After my first heartbreak in high school, Blue was the album I turned to. I named my first car Stevie Nicks. I listen to so much Fleetwood Mac it's insane.
What/whom do you sing for?
I sing for a lot of people. People I've been and people I've known and people I know right now at this moment in time. Music is kind of like that for me. Timeless and nostalgic and full of everything all at once.
Happy Planting w/ Alison Annes
Posted on June 09, 2018 by Kristin Kelly
Alison Annes is her own bouquet: a dynamic arrangement of all forms of beauty, adding flourishes of color to the day. Florist by trade, life-enthusiast by nature, and an expert in "what looks good together", her expertise keeps plants and customers alike happy (and artfully arranged) at Ode. Everyone has been long awaiting this Ode art workshop! Choose from succulents and plants Alison has personally selected, and learn how to properly plant and care for your creations. And Alison will be there in all her glory (and wisdom), which means you will get to bask in in! We've reserved two nights for the workshop: June 13th and 14th, 6-8PM. There are still a few openings, so call or stop by Ode to sign-up!
What’s your first memory of learning how to grow something?
In the garden with my Mum growing her prize winning roses, using her secret recipe fertilizer.
Best smelling flower?
It's so cliché, but a beautiful lavender rose called Ocean Song.
Other than working at Ode, what have been some of your favorite jobs?
Working at Adobe Flowers, where I learned so much from my mentor, Miss Nikki. Owning my own
flowers shops was a great accomplishment! My best job ever though was working on a horse
farm every summer as a child, payment was a ride at the end of a long day!
Top three rules of green-thumb?
Select plants that will do well in your home's environment.
Don’t be scared! Plants tend to intimidate us, don’t let them!!
Set a watering schedule, most plant problems stem from watering too much or too little.
What makes you blossom?
My grandson, watching him devour life with such enthusiasm. Oh, to be 7.
Favorite plant to cook/eat? How do you prepare it?
I love fresh herbs! Have to say Cilantro in homemade salsa, it’s such a sassy herb!
Where do you go to picnic, and what’s in your basket?
My favorite place is by a river, and my basket must have roast ham, salad, cheese, pickled
onions and sausage rolls...and a good bottle wine!
What’s your go-to gardening song?
Landslide. I yell along to it, forget my worries, and get lost in the dirt!
How does nature speak to you?
It calms me. If I close my eyes all my fond memories come from the sea, carpets of bluebells in
the woods, picking wild blackberries with my granddad.
Reserve your spot for Alison's Happy Planting Workshop by stopping by or calling Ode: 413-727-8026!
Photos by Chattman Photography