Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Alcoa Building, Pittsburgh

How I discovered it: I grew up in Pittsburgh and my father worked here.

What they say: "The ALCOA building was built from 1951-1953 as the corporate headquarters for the Aluminum Company of America. It is an internationally known example for a post-World War II International Style corporate tower by the architectural firm of Harrison and Abramovitz. Aluminum is used throughout the skyscraper to promote ALCOA's product." - Library of Congress

What I Say: When I was a kid, it was such a treat to visit my dad at his downtown office! Going downtown meant taking a trolley car from my suburban home - so much fun! I really don't remember thinking much about the building when I was little, other than that it seemed the highest of high skyscrapers (30-story - a tiddler these days!), but now, as an adult (and a fervent retro-modernist!), I absolutely love it!

In 1953 it must have been considered BREATHtakingly modern - particularly that beautiful, sweeping entrance. I love that the building is clad in aluminum - Alcoa's main product (reminds me a bit of the industrial glamour of Rearden Metal in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged).

I'm so pleased that they recently renovated Mellon Square (on which the building sits) and hope they will always preserve this building as a beautiful example of mid-century modern design.

The verdict: Lorelei loves it!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Frozen Herbs

How I discovered it: I’ve seen them in freezer cabinets over the years, but the ones that finally tempted me were in shiny, jewel-like bags, which appealed to the magpie in me. 

What they say: “Frozen within hours for freshness...” 

What I Say: There’s no getting around it. I am lazy. I like cooking, but the less prep I have to do, the better. But for years I bought bunches of fresh coriander, parsley and basil (I’m not that keen on dried herbs), washed it, dried it, chopped it, used a tablespoon in a recipe, then threw the rest away two weeks later when I discovered it all slimy at the back of the fridge. Then I saw these gorgeous foil bags of frozen herbs at Waitrose, and my life was changed! I started with the basics, which for me means coriander, garlic and jalapeno. It was great to just whip herbs out of the freezer and have them ready-chopped. I even use them frozen in salads – they’re chopped so finely, they thaw really quickly. It makes life so easy! I like these from Waitrose, but most supermarkets do them.

At around £1.49 a pack there’s no doubt you’re paying for convenience, but I think it works out a lot cheaper in the long run as there is no waste. Once you try them, I doubt you’ll go back!

The verdict: Lorelei loves it!