As I sat down to curate my favorite things this year, I noticed a theme: brands with unmatched quality that have lasted for generations. I like to think we at Good Gracious! know a thing or two about first-class quality, having been in business for nearly 40 years, a milestone that makes me quite proud.
Anyways, here are 10 items I LOVE that have always been fabulous. I hope you enjoy!
The Montblanc Fountain Pen was a recent gift I received from my husband Dennis, incredibly thoughtful as I was signing copies of my new memoir-meets-cookbook, My Culinary Love Story. I LOVE the flow of the ink and chose the bold nib as it suited my personality. It even came in a luxurious leather pouch. I was brought up using ink wells and fountain pens in England, so I am no stranger to how to use one. The brilliant thing about today’s fountain pens is that there is no blotting paper needed! Needless to say, this pen is in my purse at all times ready for the next person who asks for a signature in my book.
Cast iron skillets are a great way to sear and evenly cook meats and such. You have to be respectful with them, read the instructions and know when to season them. (It is simple, but there is an art to it.) Smithey Ironware was founded by Isaac Morton while tinkering with ironwork in his back shed. He found himself admiring the smooth surfaces and became an expert in restoring old cookware.
The company is based in North Charleston, South Carolina, where I actually bought my first Smithey on a recent trip to Fancy Gap. It is beautiful, lovely to cook with and might I recommend leaving it out on your stove top for all to admire! It is a timeless gift, and if cared for properly can become a modern heirloom, passed down for generations.
Riedel Glassware was the first company to recognize that the taste and aroma of wine is affected by the shape of the vessel from which it is consumed. The Riedel Amadeo Decanter was launched in 2006 to celebrate the brand’s 250th anniversary. You might be wondering where the name Amadeo came from. Well, they chose the name Amadeo after composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose 250th birthday was also celebrated in 2006. The decanter is shaped like a lyre and pours like a dream. And wine experts agree.
We bought ours 15 years ago when we were at Firestone Vineyard in Los Olivos. Right away, I fell in love with its beauty. It may look fragile, but Riedel’s glassware is built to last. We use ours on a regular basis and still have it in one piece to this day.
Shortbread is a signature staple at Good Gracious! Events. I initially struggled to find the right recipe for a classic shortbread, but it was on a visit from England that my mother-in-law, Elizabeth Parry, shared her family recipe that had been passed down for several generations. Good Gracious! uses the same recipe to this day.
One day, I was feeling creative and decided to work on a topping for this classic shortbread and came up with a caramelized walnut rendition. These two shortbreads have become signature items, and my team never leaves the kitchen in December without a box of our infamous shortbread to spread holiday cheer.
The artistry and quality of Hermès scarves go without saying. They are exquisitely fabulous and luxurious. I LOVE the gigantic size and all the various ways you fashion it. These scarves always enhance any subdued outfit and are heirlooms that are handed down through generations. Simply put, an Hermès scarf is a wonderful classic to have in your closet to cherish and, of course, to enjoy.
Dr. Martens are a new LOVE of mine. Of course, I have known about these boots FOREVER, but I never actually owned a pair, until now. Apparently, the original Dr. Martens boots were born and launched on Jan. 4, 1960, hence the name of their signature design: 1460 Smooth Leather Lace Up Boots. I am being a bit conservative at this time with a black pair, but they do come in many different colors, and I have my eye on the dark red, too!
Chanel No. 5 is a class perfume anyone will LOVE. I recently learned Marilyn Monroe became an early ambassador of the perfume when in 1952 she told Life Magazine she wore “five drops of Chanel No. 5” and nothing else to bed. This story makes me love Marilyn and the iconic Chanel scent even more. I LOVE wearing this perfume as it always gives the wearer a sense of occasion and feel of sophistication.
Ancient Peaks has been one of my favorites since I discovered the brand about eight years ago. The winery is steeped in Mission-era history and Wild West mythology. Located in Santa Margarita Ranch and owned by three longtime wine growing and ranching families, it provides a taste of early California rancho hospitality. Not only is the winery located in a beautiful area, but they have a great tasting room as well. If you visit, their One Stone Cabernet Sauvignon is not to be missed. It serves as a tribute to all women who move mountains, one stone at a time. For those who are feeling adventurous, you can even zipline over the vines.
My favorite of their offerings is the Pearl Cabernet Sauvignon. A portion of each bottle sold is donated to Dream Big Darling, a non-profit mentorship program for the next generation of leaders in the wine industry.
They say Brits are partial to wearing pearls, and I suppose I am no exception to this rule. Kokichi Mikimoto created the world’s first cultured pearls at the end of the 18th century. With his new discovery, he built an empire of creating the most beautiful pearl jewelry. They say the most important things to look for in a pearl is luster. Typically, the thicker the nacre the finer the luster will be on the pearl. I have been fortunate to be gifted some earrings and a necklace that are very precious to me. No doubt these pieces will be passed along to the next generation. After all, Mikimoto pearls are timeless!
Dennis and I LOVED our recent stay at The Culver Hotel. Built in 1924, it is a luxury hotel located in the heart of Culver City that has been recently refurbished. We found ourselves having a staycation while HBO filmed Barry at our house. For Barry lovers, our home is the home for Henry Winkler’s character in the series–go figure.
The Culver Hotel proved to be the excellent “staycation” spot with a vintage-inspired room, exciting cocktails and hip vibe. Not to mention, their service and hospitality was so enjoyable. The bluesy and jazzy music in the lobby was also a nice touch. The Culver Hotel is a destination not to be missed.
That’s it for this year! Have a joyful holiday and I’ll see you in 2023!