Wrought Iron design
Cape House Hunt: Heritage abounds in classic Federal
By KATHY SHARP FRISBEE
Spacious rooms have hosted the lifestyles and comforts of various owners for two centuries, including a deacon, a Massachusetts senator, a shipmaster who sailed to China five times, a bank president and merchant, two judges and a lawyer. Homes that survive time like this one serve as emissaries from the past, deserving of restoration and renovation-minded owners to take them into the future.
Shaded by a chestnut tree and surrounded by rolling acres edged with stone walls and a stream, the home’s slate and bluestone front steps rise to a columned entry. Inside are a wide center hall, three staircases, front parlors, dining room and large bedrooms, all with original pine floors, wide baseboards, horsehair plaster walls, high ceilings, and window and door casings with fluted and roundel moldings.
The south parlor has double crown moldings and a Rumford fireplace with an Elizabethan-style mantel and curved brackets. Adjacent is a library and a south-facing sunroom with pine tongue-and-groove paneling and 14 tall, muntined windows.
Wainscoting in the dining room and front parlors have 28-inch wide pine planks running their full length. The kitchen, which needs updating, began as a summer kitchen and includes a staircase to a second-floor housekeeper’s suite.
The front parlor is warmed by a coal stove with ornate wrought iron and imported green leaf tile detailing. A side hall leads to a bedroom that was once an office, with tall windows and period interior doors with tiger maple panels.
Melissa Gorga’s New Jersey Home
The Real Housewives of New Jersey’s Melissa Gorga has listed the home she shares with her real-estate developer husband, Joe. They built the six-bedroom manse in Montville Township, New Jersey in 2009. It’s now up for sale for $3.8 million.
Gorga’s New Jersey home sprawls over 2.24 acres, and has an English slate roof.
The Italian marble foyer in Gorga’s home has marble staircases with wrought-iron bannisters, and cedar French doors.
Chandeliers, carved bookcases, golden detailing and domed ceilings fill the property.
Two bedrooms belong to Gorga’s three children, including one room with a sports theme.
The other child’s bedroom is all done in girly pink, with soft drapery as a headboard and a chandelier over the bed.
The 13,500-square-foot home also has a home theater with luxe leather seating and wood detailing.
Comedian Chris Hardwick, whose offbeat humour embraces nerdiness, has purchased a house in the Hollywood Hills for $2.05 million.
Out-of-the-ordinary features include an outdoor mosaic tile bath with a 200-year-old faucet and a log cabin art studio. The 4,200-square-foot home, built in 1924 and recently renovated, has wrought-iron balconies, vaulted ceilings, two fireplaces, four bedrooms and four bathrooms. There are terraced gardens and stone walls on the quarter-acre lot.
Hardwick, 41, founded the cross-platform Nerdist entity; hosts Talking Dead (2011-present), a talk show that follows new episodes of The Walking Dead; and voices a lead character on Nickelodeon’s Back at the Barnyard (2007-present).
First Look at Ba Mien Bistro in North Houston
By Joshua Justice
Vietnamese pho shops are nothing new to even the far reaches of Houston — including the North Bammel and Klein areas of Houston, where no shortage of small, family-owned shops dot the strip centers along Veterans Memorial north of Beltway 8. For over 20 years, these small noodle and sandwich stores have enjoyed streaks of success and a constant customer base in the large Southeast Asian communities in and around Klein Forest and Aldine.
The challenge for small restaurant owners just north continues to be attracting the crush of traffic that buzzes up and down FM 1960 (I’m not calling it Cypress Creek Parkway, dammit). Families and lunchtime workers seem content to patronize fast food and fast casual chains while a steady stream of smaller restaurants of all shapes and sizes come and go seemingly unnoticed. Reasons abound for the continued failures, from poor marketing and bad locations to flat-out crummy food.
I’m as much to blame as anyone else. Having worked in and around the area for years, I was content to blindly pass small delis and barbecue joints for a fast meal at a chain down the street. Ba Mien Bistro, however, found a way — or ways, rather — to catch my interest well before they opened.
Driving by on my way to work last month, I noticed a bright stucco exterior along 1960 just East of Champion Forest Drive, a renovation of a former ramshackle barbecue joint. With a wrought iron fence, street lamp-style lights and a simple front awning out front, Ba Mien is a stark contrast from its previous incarnation and stands out from the adjacent strip center, which houses three different strip mall-style houses of worship (is this a new start-up business thing I’m not aware of? DIY church?), a barber shop and a tattoo joint.
Before long, banners hung on the newly-added patio area announced the impending restaurant along with something else that few small restaurants out here seem to bother with: Ba Mien has a dedicated, professional billboard front. Call me a sucker, but when business owners bother with the small yet important and often pricey details that present a complete product, I’m sold. It seems I’m not the only one, either: One week before I even noticed the place, a regular reader tipped off Eating Our Words to Ba Mien’s impending opening as well.
I visited Ba Mien a few days ago during their second full week of business to see what they had to offer. I was pleased to find that he attention to detail and upscale touches seen outside continue inside as well.
The husband and wife team — along with help from their children — have fully renovated the interior. A pristine marble counter complete with pastry case and small menu board greets you as you enter. The walls and trim have all been painted a glossy gray, offering an austere match to the stripped raw concrete floors. An arrangement of small gold frames softens the metal seating in the main dining room. The hard-meets-soft aesthetic is welcoming and light in its simplicity, something often missing in even professionally designed dining rooms at multi-million dollar restaurants — much less at a mom-and-pop pho shop.
Despite being a lifelong Houstonian, I won’t claim to be a banh mi expert and I’m not versed in the top 100 pho spots in Bellaire. I have, however, been eating the stuff since I was a teenager, so I do know what I like. Simple, fresh and well-seasoned are my keys to Vietnamese casual and Ba Mien is spot-on across the board. The vermicelli, served with two excellent egg rolls, was plenty for lunch (while probably small in comparision to some of the monster sized plates I’ve seen around town), leaving me to take my bánh patê sô to go.
Knowing I wouldn’t be back in the area for sometime, and having enjoyed my French patê pastry at home the night before, I visited Ba Mien again the next day to grab a quick banh mi. I found the sandwich every bit as enjoyable as the previous day’s lunch, served on a large, fresh, crusty French roll with massive hunks of chargrilled pork. My added fried egg was overeasy, its yolk streaming perfectly throughout my sandwich.
“Keep it simple, stupid” reigns supreme when dealing with banh mi sandwiches and this one was a textbook example of a genre in which “textbook” is a high compliment.
All in all, it’s a clever little cafe looking to spread away from the dozens of other shops just down the road. Clever touches on the outside hint at the care and attention to detail in the food. It’s nothing new, but it’s certainly something different.
‘Philippine Style: Design and Architecture’ book now out
“Philippine Style: Design and Architecture,” a new book that delves into the roots of traditional Filipino buildings and describes the varied influences that have resulted in the ever-inventive Philippine Style. Written by Luca Tettoni and Elizabeth V. Reyes, the book features houses, interiors, and furniture; and also, explores main themes: ancestral houses, interiors and furniture that date from the period of Spanish colonization; and modern-day homes and designs that retained traditional designs.
For the first time, the unique architectural history of the Philippines is explored in full color and full detail: from the native nipa hut called the bahay kubo, through the Spanish colonial period of the bahay na bato or “house of stone,” to modern-day homes that take influences, motifs, and materials from these earlier prototypes.
Architect Dominic Galicia writes in the introduction, “This book aims to highlight the continuum of the Filipino design process: how, through history, the varied peoples of the archipelago have always strived to consult with Kahn’s Nature – and how a type of unique Filipino identity has thereby emerged.”
The traditional houses, in this book, shared the same responses to climatic conditions and shared expressions of cultural realities. Some of the traditional houses featured in the book are Villa Angela in Vigan, Pastor house in Batangas, and Casa Villavicencio in Taal Batangas.
Villa Angela, built in 1859 by Vigan’s gobernadorcillo Agapito Florendo y Bonifacio, boasts of its grand sala an elegant room with wood-and-cane furniture, Victorian wrought-iron hanging lamps. The Acosta-Pastor ancestral home, built in 1883 by gobernadorcillo Alejo Acosta, features a furnished traditional style wood-and-cane sala sets. Casa Villavicencio, meanwhile, contains an informal antesala at the top of its stairs; this is where the homeowner entertained tradesmen or casual visitors. The heavy molave trunk by the stairs holds up the main floor of the 1840s bahay na bato.
Contemporary houses explored in “The Philippine Style” show past architectural styles and modern influences from foreign countries. An example of a contemporary abode is the Filipinana Farmhouse of Elizalde, with “a ceramic tub, cradled in a rustic rattan basket, with Victorian-style taps.” Another example is the Riverine Hideaway by Cesar Gaupo of Shanghai Tang. In Gaupo’s primitive modern home, is a cement feature wall and matching raised table to add modernity.
Luca and Reyes wrote the architectural book “The Filipino Style” (1997), which was published by Periplus. Their new book “The Philippine Style: Design & Architecture” contains more information on Philippine Architecture. The book has detailed sections on antique furniture and organic materials, as well as chapters on the work of modern-day designers and architects. It also features assessments of homes, home interiors, the ever-versatile Filipinos continue to innovate, and create, both at home and abroad. This book is only available in National Book Store, Powerbooks, and Bestellers.