We have a lot to be thankful for this year. Family. Friends. Rag & Bone models. Most importantly, though: pumpkin pie. Continue reading for a euphoria-inducing dessert recipe, perfect sweaters to wear to Thanksgiving—and a vision of just how happy the holidays can be.
Food & Drink
Style Profiles. In honor of our twice-a-year Men’s Shop Catalog dropping this month, we decided to profile 6 real men of style and substance. Here, cool-under-pressure chef Shaun McCrain.
Every man should know his way around the kitchen: how to take over the tongs at a friend’s barbecue, pull off your grandma’s family-secret marinara, whip up a chivalrous morning-after omelette…you know—the basics.
Professional chefs like Shaun McCrain, on the other hand, can turn the simple act of eating food into a mind-altering experience. Visit McCrain’s Seattle restaurant, Book Bindery, and although the humble maestro insists his MO is simplicity, the five-way flavor combinations in his modern twists on comfort food are enough to induce a quadruple take—and general feelings of astonished well-being.
We spoke to chef McCrain about paying dues in Paris and New York, design principles as applied to plating, and real-life kitchen tips that every man can use.
FARM TO TABLE. “I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. We lived on a small farm, raised our own meat, had a lot of vegetables. I was always around food without realizing it. My dad doesn’t cook. He was like, ‘I’ll just let Shaun do it, and if he messes up, we have more we can go pick.’”
TRIAL & ERROR. “Book smarts help you understand what you’re doing. Street smarts get your hands and body moving in the right direction. It’s hard to be able to physically do what you’ve read. You’ve gotta burn some things before you figure out how to cook them right.”
AMERICAN IN PARIS. “I sent my résumé to what I thought were the top 20 restaurants in Paris and got four responses. Three of them being, ‘Sorry, we don’t have room,’ and one being, ‘Sure, show up, work for free.’ That was my foot in the door.”
LIVE AND LEARN. “I left Seattle thinking I knew everything. I was 19 or 20 years old. I went to a bigger city, a nicer restaurant, and realized how much I didn’t know. It was very humbling…but I decided that if I really want to progress and learn, that I need to constantly be humbled—so I can learn from the best.”
FIRST IMPRESSIONS. “Plating and presentation are important, because they’re the first thing a person sees. I like to do bright colors, clean lines, something that’s very appealing to the eye. And then, when you do take that first bite—it should taste even better than it looks.”
CONTRAST AND COMPLEMENT. “I think items should complement each other. It’s a lot about textures, so if you have one thing that’s soft, then I want something else that’s gonna bring some crunch…a little burst of pickled onion, or a crispy crouton.”
WHY I LOVE MY JOB. “The craziness of it. Every day is different. You don’t know if the truck carrying your lamb up from Oregon broke down, and you’re scrambling to find a replacement, or your dishwasher breaks, or you have a high-profile guest coming in who you know likes to eat certain things. So it sparks that fuel, that drive of always keeping busy, always trying to stay on top. It’s easy to fall behind in the kitchen unless you have that ‘stay on top of it’ kind of attitude.”
THE BEST THING I EVER ATE. “It was at a Japanese restaurant in New York, called Masa. Simple sushi rice, rolled in shaved Italian white truffle, with just a pinch of fresh-grated yuzu and a little salt. Just simplicity at its best, but the ingredients were prepared perfectly.”
MY MORNING ROUTINE. “A cup of coffee…and maybe a Pop-Tart. Strawberry. Frosted. I spend all day walking around tasting things; it kind of curbs your appetite. [The staff and I] don’t sit down and eat a family meal until about 4:00. So in the morning, I just need to put something in me, whether it’s sugar or coffee or whatnot.”
WHAT TO PACK FOR LUNCH. “When I think of lunch, I always think of sandwiches. They don’t need to be boring. Go to the store, and buy some great charcuterie and good bread. Most of the time, those items are sold in portions that are more than one sandwich worth, so you’ll have enough for a couple days—or a very large sandwich.”
THE SECRET TO A GOOD SANDWICH. “The bread. The crust…whether it’s more of a rustic style with pieces of grain, or if it’s just a nice, crisp baguette that kind of snaps in your mouth when you eat it.”
HOW TO IMPRESS A DINNER DATE. “First, find out what they like. Nowadays, there are so many dietary restrictions, food allergies. Subtly figure out. Ask questions. Have an idea, rather than going in like, ‘Hey, I like steak, so I’m gonna cook steak’—and then finding out she’s pescatarian. That’s a date that’s not gonna end well.”
AND IF YOU BLOW IT… “Part of learning and growing with someone is making those mistakes. It could be the best meal they’ve ever had, or it could be terrible—but the whole experience of going through the process of doing something for someone is what it should be about.”
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[Food photos courtesy of bookbinderyrestaurant.com.]
Just in time for tomorrow’s Fourth of July festivities, our very own Nordstrom Restaurant team came through with some sophisticated flavor sensations—both of which can be prepped with ease on your trusty backyard grill. (For more amazing recipes by our own in-house chefs, pick up a copy of the Nordstrom Family Table Cookbook.)
As far as beverages go, our friends at GQ have a backyard BBQ article of their own out currently (with some great recipes—grilled banana split? yes please), in which they recommend Jarritos and Tecate as beverages of choice. We can certainly appreciate south-of-the-border refreshments on a hot day—especially with killer salsa, see past recipe here—but we asked our resident brew expert, Rail buyer Dan Drewes, for his favorite Fourth of July thirst quenchers:
“I always appreciate Budweiser’s flag-emblazoned holiday boxes and cans—but I think that in Seattle [home of Nordstrom HQ], Rainier seems like the all-American thing to drink. (On days that start with a mimosa or two, it’s all low-gravity beers for the rest of the day. Save the strong stuff for days you’re having less than three or four.)”
And remember—unless you’re the ‘designated detonator’ (aka, sticking to tamarind Jarritos), keep the DIY explosives low-key. Case in point, the only firework that’s legal inside Seattle city limits:
Better safe than sorry, right? No? Well, there’s always Boom City.
Happy Fourth, from Men’s Shop Daily.
[Food photos by Noel Barnhurst. Beer photos via #budweiser and #rainierbeer on Instagram.]
Here’s another great recipe from our friends on the Nordstrom Restaurant team. For the long weekend ahead, we wanted a next-level flavor sensation for all you outdoor grillers out there, whose sophisticated palates are ready to transcend standard-issue frozen dogs and hockey-puck patties. Introducing Char Siu Pork Chops.
So stock up on oyster sauce, five-spice and fresh chops on the way home from work—and prepare to knock your friends’ star-spangled Vans off with your BBQ prowess this weekend. (Oh, and don’t forget ice for your Igloo and plenty of thirst-quenching beverages. We’re thinking this meal would go equally well with Bud Light, Tsingtao, or your favorite high-brow canned brew.)
Nordstrom cookbooks are available
upon request at Nordstrom Restaurant locations.
[Excerpted from the Nordstrom Family Table Cookbook. Photo by Noel Barnhurst.]
Husbands, sons, and devoted baby-dads: You’ve already got your Mother’s Day gifts in the bag, right? RIGHT?!? The big day is this Sunday, but don’t worry if you’re behind schedule. Get an idea of last-minute gifts you can pick up at your nearest Nordstrom store here: Gifts for Mom; and you can always have a Nordstrom e-Gift Card zapped to your inbox in a matter of hours. (Within four hours, to be exact. Keep that one in mind for birthday and anniversary emergencies, too.)
Material gestures aside, that thing they say is true: It’s the thought that counts. With that in mind, we tapped our very own Nordstrom Restaurant team for a breakfast-in-bed recipe guaranteed to impress.
Bonus tips: Sneak out of bed early (set that alarm, sir), accentuate your gourmet griddle-action with black coffee and stiff mimosas, add a sappy card hand-made by you and the kiddos—and you’re sure to be remembered as the best husband in history.
For more great recipes, shop: Nordstrom Family Table Cookbook
Our Nordstrom Flavors Cookbook, which includes the recipe above,
is also available upon request at Nordstrom Restaurant locations.
[Photo by Noel Barnhurst.]
The only idea worse than bacon-flavored mouthwash to come out of this year’s online April-Fool’s-Day antics? Borrowing your girlfriend’s jeans:
You can thank the merry pranksters—and in reality, certified pants experts—at Bonobos for that one. Luckily it was, in fact, a joke. (Letting your girlfriend borrow your clothes, on the other hand, is a whole different story.)
We dug up the vintage pub signs above on Ye Olde Internette, but whether you’re here in our hometown of Seattle or residing in the Mother Country, we’re betting your plans include a favorite Irish pub for this Sunday’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Avoid getting pinched by winsome lasses at the bar (or don’t—whatever you’re into) with our favorite green gear from the Nordstrom Men’s Shop. Click each item to shop:
One of our Men’s buyers, Dan Drewes, took a moment to suggest some recreational activities for the holiday. Here’s how to branch out from the standard-issue stout, if you’re so inclined:
4. Across the Pond. “Boddingtons is a good English ‘pub ale’ or pale ale to sip on if you’re not looking for something as dark as a Guinness—and is popular for the holiday despite its non-Irish roots.”
5. Irish Americans. “Plenty of American craft-brewers have tried their hands at Irish beers, too—like Victory ‘Donnybrook Stout’ out East and Moylan’s ‘Danny’s Irish Style Red Ale’ for us West-Coasters.”
Our social-media team was in Austin, Texas, this week for the ‘Interactive Festival’ that precedes the boozy, bluesy music-fest portion of SXSW you’re probably more familiar with. Featuring “five days of compelling presentations from the brightest minds in emerging technology” (yes, the nerds are officially taking over), our team clearly had to stay satiated with brain-friendly dietary fats. And you’ll need to, too, if you plan to fully absorb the high levels of audio goodness set to occur at SXSW in the days to come. Below are a few finger-licking highlights from our own Lily Wyckoff.
1. Torchy’s Tacos — “Breakfast tacos are an Austin staple, and Torchy’s is unreal. I’m very pro any institution that encourages the consumption of tortilla chips before 10am. I think they should have a satellite truck in Seattle.”
2. The Salt Lick — “This place is the holy grail of BBQ. Cash only, byob, and about 20 miles outside of town—you gotta want it. I went for The Rancher: A sample platter of brisket, pork ribs, sausage and turkey, with a side of potato salad, coleslaw, beans, bread, and pickles. I left The Salt Lick in a meat-filled state of Levi’s-stretched-to-the-max euphoria.”
3. Banger’s — “If a country-music lovin’, exotic-meat aficionado and a beer snob had a baby, that baby would LOVE Banger’s. I had a BBQ shrimp sausage. A SHRIMP sausage! On a bed of white cheddar grits. Unreal. Unfortunately, I ate it before I had a chance to take a photo (bad guest blogger!)…But here are the delicious cheese fries.”
4. 24 Diner — “I reached a point in the trip where I needed veggies. Bad. At 24 Diner, I went for the veggie/egg-white frittata, and my coworker balanced my health concerns with chicken and waffles, which he described as a ‘total delight.’ I caved and ended up eating about half of his. Whatever.”
5. Gourdough’s — “I missed this excursion, but pictured are the ‘Sin-A-Bomb’ and the ‘Hipster’ (granola and banana on top of a warm Gourdough classic doughnut. The banana makes it a health food, right?).”
Lily, our eyes (and taste buds) in Austin, has purportedly sworn off meat for a
month following the trip. Do bacon-garnished Bloody Marys count?
[Photos by Lily and other members of our social media team, some via our women's @Nordstrom Instagram feed, except trailer shot via the Austin Chronicle.]
Naked & Famous Denim sources its fabrics only in Japan, at prestigious mills steeped in heritage and renowned for craftsmanship—and manufactures its jeans only in the brand’s homeland of Canada, on high-quality machinery run by well-trained staff.
The result is top-shelf, no-nonsense jeans, at a great price, for veteran denim-heads and newcomers alike. (Plus some freaky denim experiments—more on that later.)
The other result is that, after countless trips from Canada to Japan and back, Naked & Famous founder Brandon Svarc and team have become connoisseurs of both nations’ cultures. Below are Svarc’s travel tips (warnings?) for the next time you’re up North—or far East.
Japan: Baseball. “We attended a Climax Series (that’s what they call Playoffs) in Tokyo on our last visit, and it was so much fun. The cheering is orderly and organized—it’s highly different from North-American fans. At the 7th-inning stretch, everyone simultaneously launches blue balloons in the air! It’s quite a sight.”
Canada: Hockey. “Not shockingly, we love hockey. We love to play on ice, roller and floor. Funny enough, we actually once made denim-and-leather baseball mitts, so I guess the next sports creation from our brand should be denim-covered hockey gauntlets.”
Japan: Udon. “Okayama is where we buy our denim fabric, and there are many famous Udon restaurants that we hit up each time we visit. I prefer hot Udon with shrimp tempura. Mmm.”
Canada: Poutine. “If you ever visit Montreal, you are not allowed to leave before eating poutine! It’s french fries with squeaky cheese curds and gravy poured on top! Also mmm.”
Japan: Habushu. “It’s this crazy alcohol from Okinawa, Japan, that contains a venomous cobra inside the bottle! We have three bottles in our office. The Japanese say it makes your bamboo stiff.”
Canada: Ice Wine. “To be honest, this isn’t our personal favorite to drink, but it is our favorite gift to bring each time we visit Japan. It’s made in Canada, and creating a wine out of frozen grapes makes a great story to tell.”
IV. ADULT ENTERTAINMENT
Japan: Hostess Clubs. “Japanese adult clubs aren’t what you might think. In fact, there is no nudity allowed. Fabric suppliers love taking us to these places where cute Japanese girls sit and pour your drinks and talk to you about life, and anything really. You pay by the hour, but it’s all-you-can-drink.”
Canada: Danse Contact. “Montreal is quite famous for its gentleman’s clubs. It’s said that we have more than Vegas! Personally, we only attend these places if one of our friends is having a bachelor party, but the veterans know that the best clubs to visit are the ones that say ‘Danse Contact’ in the window, which means it’s 100% legal to…” [Ed. note: The rest of this sentence omitted for the sake of decency.]
Japan: Kojima Hotel View. “We always stay at the same hotel in Kojima, Japan, which is a beautiful city in the countryside near Okayama, where there are many fabric mills and denim companies. There is a stunning view of the Great Seto Bridge, which is the longest two-tiered bridge system in the world.”
Canada: Whistler Blackcomb. “While in Whistler, BC, a few years ago, I ventured to the top of the giant Blackcomb mountain glacier. It took like three or four chairlifts and two buses to get there! But once at the top, it was one of the most spectacular views I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life.”
Coming Soon from Naked & Famous. Here’s the brand’s founder Brandon Svarc talking up the styles we’ll carry at the Nordstrom Men’s Shop this coming spring.
Advanced Color-Change Technology. Did he say ‘thermo-chromic’? Here they are in action.
The Everest of Denim. Those freaky denim experiments we mentioned earlier? Here’s one from previous seasons: jeans so thick, they can stand up on their own. Watch to hear the method behind Svarc’s madness.
[Top grid of photos courtesy of the official Naked & Famous Denim Instagram feed: @NFDenim. Videos courtesy of the brand's official YouTube channel, and the Montreal Gazette. Additional photos via Wikipedia, except as noted here: Japanese baseball fans via; Demi Moore from Striptease movie poster courtesy of Castle Rock Entertainment, Lobell/Bergman Productions, Columbia Pictures; Great Seto Bridge via; Whistler Blackcomb via. Individuals pictured do not endorse Nordstrom.]
There’s nothing like the last minute. Many of us perform best under pressure—which is why we’re still here feeding you Valentine’s Day tips the day before the big event. (IT’S TOMORROW, GUYS.) The moral of today’s story is that a little thought goes a long way: Something as simple as jotting down an inside joke, or renting her favorite movie on your way home from work, can score you more points than fancy-pants reservations made months in advance.
In another example of brains over brawn (see our notes on Serge Gainsbourg from the other day), esteemed playwright Arthur Miller won over Marilyn Monroe. Their romance may have been tumultuous, to put it lightly—but just imagine the kind of profound Valentine’s Day cards that guy probably wrote. No pressure or anything. Your wife or girlfriend will appreciate whatever you do—so long as you do it with feeling. Read on for more ideas from Norma Jeans here at Nordstrom HQ.
1. EGGS & ART (PREFERABLY HOMEMADE)
Courtesy of Danielle B. – Visual Merchandising Graphic Design Manager
GO: “Hmm, my favorite Valentine’s Day date destination…Not out, no no. Too many love birds frolicking around, cooing, staring into each others eyes. I’m not above staring at a boy with googly-eyes, but I’d rather do it in the comfort of my own home (or his—if it’s clean). So, my ideal date destination would be dinner at home. Wine and dine me, please. My favorite meal is breakfast for dinner—somewhat fail-proof and always delicious.”
WEAR: “Well, Date, you’d better look cute. Since it’s pretty clear that I prefer a more casual V-Day, here’s what my imaginary date would be wearing: Well-fitting jeans, a nice button-up and maybe a shawl-collar sweater—like this one from Obey, because I’d like to steal it. Since we’ll be dining indoors, we’ll skip the shoes—but nice socks are important. Some Happy Socks; no Goldtoes, boys.”
GIVE: “Something handmade, not purchased. A silly drawing or card would do.”
[Ed. note: Above left is a drawing by one of Danielle's favorite illustrators, Marc Johns, and the saliva-inducing over-easy up top is courtesy of Danielle's best bud/food photographer Yossi Arefi. Check out Danielle's own work at her website: BDR-Studio.]
2. CHOCOLATES & CHICK FLICKS
Courtesy of Nupoora R. – Cosmetics Marketing Manager
GO: “My favorite V-Day date would be cuddling up on the couch with a good movie, a home-cooked meal, a bottle of wine, and a plush blanket. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be an expensive extravaganza; with my crazy schedule, time spent together is priceless in itself!” [Ed. note: Nupoora is a rare gem who named Independence Day as one of her favorite movies. Some of her other faves—like Amelie, Love Actually, and Shawshank Redemption, might be better received by your own date.]
WEAR: “I love guys in casual, fitted, button-down shirts and soft crewneck sweaters. But, if it’s a stay-at-home kind of a night, nothing beats a soft T-shirt and sweats! I also have to admit that I’m a big fan of Brooks Brothers and Lacoste men’s cologne—I’m a sucker for these scents!”
GIVE: “Chocolates! They are the way to my heart. Nordstrom Makers Chocolates would be perfect—dark chocolate, please.”
3. THANKSGIVING IN PARADISE
Courtesy of Molly B. – Women’s Site Merchandising
GO: “Anguilla in the Caribbean. I went there shortly after Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago, and there’s something pretty romantic about being in paradise with no one around. Get blissed out! If not on the beach, I like a good, dark, speakeasy-like, hole-in-the-wall restaurant or bar.”
WEAR: “No matter where we are, wear clothes that fit! A great patterned button-down shirt that fits you well, and jeans that accentuate…ahem…your assets are instantly hot and will make you feel good, which makes you feel confident, which is oh so sexy. A little flair, like a leather jacket or some statement-making kicks add instant style/confidence as well. Is it cheesy to say that a genuine, happy-to-see-you smile is also a must?“
GIVE: “The best gift I’ve gotten was Thanksgiving dinner! It’s my favorite, and getting it on Valentine’s Day was rad. It showed he cared and knew me pretty damn well.”
4. LIVE MUSIC & A SYMBOL OF LOVE
Courtesy of Jodi T. – E-Commerce Stylist
GO: “My favorite Valentine’s destination would be one that’s connected to my date’s personality and interests. It could be cooking a meal or going out to a favorite restauraunt or a great show, as long as you make it special. As far as shows, at home in Seattle I like smaller venues like The Moore—and I love the burlesque show at The Pink Door. I recently saw Poliça at Brooklyn Bowl [pictured above], which was an excellent show. I’m also trying to go see Sleep No More (an interactive theatre experience) while I’m here in New York currently.”
WEAR: “Dress appropriately for the destination, but choose something you really feel good in, and it will bring out your natural confidence and charm. I would also encourage attention to detail—the right pair of shoes and the right grooming make all the difference!”
GIVE: “The best gift is sharing time together, so no matter how big or little the gift is, remember it’s all about the love that it symbolizes. If I were to suggest a gift of jewelry from Nordstrom, I’d suggest Lana or Dogeared.”