PaperCity Magazine

June 2016 - Houston

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Luxury PROPERTIES. Utmo DISCRETION. M E C O M P R O P E R T I E S . C O M | 7 13 . 5 5 8 . 3 3 18 Michael May is known in culinary circles as half of the brother-sister duo that founded Candelari Sausage Company and the pizzeria of the same name. (Full disclosure: I cooked with May back in the day when we both worked in the lauded kitchens of Tony's under chef Mark Cox.) Bringing his love for all fare Italian — just across the street from his first restaurant on Bissonnet in Bellaire — May and co-owners Barry Gomel and Michael Chodrow enlisted Italian-born chef Roberto Crescini to man the range at their new Enoteca Rossa. Crescini, who hails from Brescia in Northern Italy, brings both an authentic touch of his homeland and modernity to the menu. His wood-fired pizzas stay true to the Napoli principles of pizza making; the crusts have a soft pull countered by crispness and traditional toppings — in our case San Daniele prosciutto, tomato, mozzarella and fresh arugula ($16). His inventive panzanella alla Toscana, however, is a refreshing revamp of an old favorite: The deconstructed assemblage starts with a thin, toasted layer of house-made semolina bread, layered with classic ingredients — tomato, basil, red onion and cucumber, accompanied by pitted, oil-cured olives ($8). His pastas are all made in-house (save for the gluten-free one) and include don't-miss fettuccine with braised Texas lamb, a complex dish with great depth of flavor, smartly sized not to overwhelm ($16). Pastry chef Valerie Stanley's desserts (most priced at $8) include panna cotta with a fragrant layer of vanilla bean drizzled with a red wine reduction and fresh berries and lavender-scented crème brûlée. Enoteca Rossa, 4566 Bissonnet, Bellaire, 326.204.4403, Laurann Claridge A Taste of ITALY Tiramisu Enoteca Rossa T he days of the power player being chauffeured around in a Rolls-Royce are fading, as reminiscent of another era as the transatlantic cruise. A reshuffled Rolls-Royce now focuses on making cars owners want to drive themselves. The white-glove service of tomorrow centers around gadgets James Bond would love. The model of the moment is Dawn, with a retractable hood ornament (because sometimes you want everyone to know you're driving a Rolls … and sometimes you don't) and a soft top that folds or unfolds at the push of a button in a 22-second "silent ballet." The new coupe toured select Texas showrooms in the spring in anticipation of its release, but that's just a tease. All 200 Dawns to be produced in 2016 are already pre-sold — for $400,000 a pop. Why? This is the sharpest-looking car produced by Rolls-Royce since BMW took ownership of the brand in 1998. The sexiness of this convertible goes beyond the impressive raw numbers of a 5,644-pound beast capable of zooming from zero to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. The average age of Rolls-Royce owners dropped from 55 in 2009 to 45 today, with the company embracing Instagram (where it boasts more than one million followers), Twitter and YouTube with a zeal that shames many hipper brands. Dawn itself is a social car, with four full seats — a rarity for a luxury convertible segment that often regards back seats as little more than picnic-basket holders. The name invokes the 1950s Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn, a romanticized legend that came out as England emerged from World War II, but this new Rolls is anything but old school. Your grandfather's chauffeur would barely recognize it. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Houston, 1530 W. Loop South, 713.297.2837, Chris Baldwin SEXY BEAST: Rolls-Royce Embraces the Twitter Age T helma Smith does not hold impressive academic honors or boast a high-profile history of curatorial accomplishments or museum directorships. Nonetheless, her role in the Texas art world and the American museum realm is significant: This pleasant, intelligent woman oversees the front desk of one of the world's most vaunted private museums, The Menil Collection. Over coffee and a subsequent email conversation, we queried Miz Smith about her journey to be the Menil's most visible person — its official greeter — and sought insider tales about its legendary founder, Dominique de Menil. North Carolina-born Smith and her husband, sculptor George Smith, moved to Houston in 1981 when he was offered a teaching professorship at Rice. The mom of three (including artist Kaneem Smith) attended colleges and universities in North Carolina, New York and Houston; she modestly describes herself as a "perpetual student." Her entry into the Menil culture began after a stint as secretary to the head of the Houston Public Library system. "I first worked at the Menil at the Houston publication office for the Image of the Black in Western Art for about a year while the museum was being built across the street," she says. "Next I worked at Rothko Chapel from about 1986 to 1998. When the chapel closed for renovations in 1998, I began working at the Menil as a gallery attendant, which was the only position available at the time. I began at the front desk about a year after Winfrey Purington retired [2006]." With the official title of visitor/ membership associate, she has been one of the museum's longest-serving presences at the understated entrance, ready with a calm word of encouragement or as a Sherpa to the galleries and rotating exhibitions. She first met Mrs. de Menil in 1981, when George began his tenure at Rice; the couple was invited to a reception at the patroness' home for noted photojournalist Gordon Parks. Of her former boss, the museum's namesake founder, she says, "I had never met anyone like her. Such a special person who exemplified grace, dignity and respect for others. I was impressed by what seemed to me her belief that the world could be a better place, and she actually did her part in that pursuit." She shares her favorite Mrs. de Menil anecdote: "One day I was working in the chapel when Mrs. de Menil entered. A young man was lying down on one of the benches inside, and I quickly went over to the bench and began to ask him to get up. By that time, Mrs. D. was walking through the entrance, and realizing what I was doing, she shook her head "no." I understood immediately that she did not want me to disturb him on her behalf. I also remember once she, Mrs. Nabila Drooby [board member], and Suna Umari [attendant and later historian] walked into the chapel when a woman was sitting on the center cushion. They began a conversation. As they continued their conversation, the woman turned around and went, "Shh." Mrs. D. quietly got up from the bench where she was sitting, and they all went outside. Just a couple of examples of the respect she had for others." Most memorable visitor? Smith refuses to single out one, drop a celebrity name or mention art-world luminati; instead, she is impressed by those who make a pilgrimage from parts of the world as far-flung as Tasmania and return more than once. "So many people who visit the Menil are memorable," Smith says. "I especially appreciate those who come back to the desk to tell me how much they enjoyed their visit, using words like 'amazing,' 'beautiful,' 'special.' I graciously accept all these accolades in honor of Mrs. de Menil." About her job, Smith says, "Behind these walls are some of the most beautiful, most important, most amazing works of art in art history. Yet, the museum is not unapproachable, nor exhausting. You visit the Menil, and you are refreshed." Catherine D. Anspon MISTRESS OF THE MENIL Meet Mrs. Smith Rolls-Royce Dawn A 22-second silent ballet soft top Thelma Smith mans the front desk of The Menil Collection JACK THOMPSON

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