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London Borough of Jam

London was finally granted a few consecutive days of sunshine, and I celebrated with a bowl of yogurt from East Sussex topped with granola from Bermondsey and a spoonful of the Pink Gooseberry & Elderflower preserve from London Borough of Jam (L.B.J.). Crafted by Lillie O’Brien, the exceptional jam has a flavor combination that “capture[s] the British summer.” O’Brien, a former pastry chef at East London institution St. John Bread and Wine, started L.B.J. in 2011 as a one-woman operation. Prepared in small batches with a generously high fruit content (60 percent fruit to 40 percent sugar), her top-shelf offerings are made with unexpected yet enhancing adjunct ingredients that she calls “friends of jam.” Fig & Earl Grey and Rhubarb & Cardamom are transcendently good. ($8, —Spike Carter


Sale e Pepe

Dining in Knightsbridge can be a fraught proposition, especially during the summer and winter holidays, when the neighborhood restaurants become a tourist-thronged hellscape and taking refuge in a bar can be dicey, as most are overpriced and of poor quality. But Sale e Pepe, the tried-and-true Italian restaurant on Pavilion Road (equidistant from Harvey Nichols and Harrods), has been reliable since restaurateur Toni Corricelli welcomed its first guests, in 1974. Recently under new ownership, it has also been given a complete makeover. The dining room was redesigned to resemble a Milanese town house, and the menu—which still hews strictly to the classics—is equally elegant. We can vouch for the perfectly al dente bucatini cacio e pepe, the delicate salt-baked branzino, and the burrata and vitello tonnato. Every dish can be enjoyed from a comfortable perch at the wood-paneled bar. ( —Ashley Baker


Dries Van Noten

Dries-lovers, the time is now. As designer Dries Van Noten’s retirement approaches after 38 years at the helm of his Antwerp-based brand, collectors are making moves. And if the deep-pocketed-art-teacher look is your thing (and, yes, it is often ours), there’s a lot to love from the spring collection, especially the shoes. These square-toed velvet sandals have sculptural heels that make it very clear that even if your dress is early-aughts Phoebe Philo, your shoes are of the 2024 vintage. They’ll instantly update an outfit, and provide that sense of newness that we tend to crave during springtime. At long last, it’s pedicure season. Why not optimize? ($645, —Ashley Baker


Skies of Thunder

During World War II, it was imperative that the Allies ferry supplies to China to keep Chiang Kai-shek’s forces on their side, since Japan’s Pacific blockade gave them no alternative but to use the air route from India. The problem: the planes had to fly over the Himalayas, where navigational beacons were of no use, and the weather was unpredictable and atrocious. Today, along the heavily forested ground of that flight route lie the remains of about 600 planes that never reached their destinations. Caroline Alexander, the best-selling author who told Antarctic adventurer Sir Ernest Shackelton’s story in The Endurance, brings her keen eye and narrative skill to Skies of Thunder. A chronicle of waging war by flying over the Hump: those mountain ridges that make up the border of Burma and China and turned into a theater of both disasters and triumphs. ($32, —Jim Kelly


Porta x Object & Thing

How can Porta make their Brooklyn storefront, showcasing elegant tableware and furnishings sourced locally and globally, even more appealing? A partnership with Abby Bangser, of Object & Thing, naturally. The collaboration brought out a collection that can be both admired and acquired and that elevates everyday gatherings with inspired design and functionality. Think wooden coasters, garden baskets, glass candlesticks, and cake stands. Pieces made from natural botanical dyes and handmade silver help transform your dining space from ordinary to sublime, and who couldn’t use more of that this spring? ( —Jen Noyes


What Makes Sammy Jr. Run?

Ezra Pound said, “Literature is news that stays news.” In editor Alex Belth’s scintillating collection What Makes Sammy Jr. Run?, headline-making profiles from the 60s and 70s retain their freshness and excitement. In a salute to the last freewheeling era of American culture and magazines, reporters Rex Reed and Brad Darrach gain unsupervised access to an unbuttoned Ava Gardner and Robert Mitchum. Thomas B. Morgan, Brock Brower, Sara Davidson, and Nora Ephron, who would go on to write fiction, and Robert Ward, a novelist already, deliver 360-degree portraits of Sammy Davis Jr., Mary McCarthy, Jacqueline Susann, Helen Gurley Brown, and Reggie Jackson (respectively). Albert Goldman, years before his Lenny Bruce biography, hits the journalistic bull’s-eye as spiritual brother to his subject, Philip Roth. Even Pound might have called the best pieces here “literature.” ($22.50, —Michael Sragow

Issue No. 253
May 18, 2024
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Issue No. 253
May 18, 2024