One of the last American swans, Deeda Blair is revered for her philanthropy, enduring beauty, exquisite eye for fashion, and impossibly chic yet easy elegance. A style icon and preeminent hostess, Blair embodies a sense of decorum and elegant living of bygone days, serving as a muse to a younger generation of creative women who want to emulate her joie de vivre.
Until now, an invitation to her New York home has been a rare privilege reserved for the fortunate few. In her highly anticipated book, Deeda Blair: Food, Flowers & Fantasy, released this month by Rizzoli, Blair opens her doors and invites readers in. She shares her coveted recipes and ideas for entertaining and setting tables honed over the course of an illustrious and glamorous life as the wife of a U.S. ambassador under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.
Deeda Blair: Food, Flowers & Fantasy reveals how readers can develop their own taste and unique personal style through anecdotes and examples gleaned from friends like decorator Billy Baldwin, designer Hubert de Givenchy and collector Jayne Wrightsman. Central to the narrative are six “fantasy meals,” that include menus, recipes, table settings, and floral arrangements inspired by the people and places that have contributed to the evolution of Blair’s own style and experience as a hostess.
Blair’s dishes stand outside any culinary trends. Her gorgeous green grape mold with white wine and custard sauce and her Homemade Potato Chips with Crème Fraîche and Caviar, feel both of another era and completely of the moment. And we cannot wait to try her Coronation Chicken Salad based on a recipe originally created by Constance Spry for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation lunch. As with her own style in dressing and decorating, Blair’s food is timeless and classic, while also being elegant, practical, often surprising, and usually quite different from most home cooking in its unsurpassed beauty. “Some of these recipes dated back to my grandmother,” she told Vogue. “I mean, have you had an aspic recently?”
Accompanying 80 of Blair’s all-time favorite recipes are personal instructions and serving suggestions. Blair even opens her private “black book” of long-held sources to signature style secrets such as affordable domestic caviar (the best is available by mail order from Tennessee), the men’s handkerchiefs she uses as napkins (from a venerable tailoring shop in Paris), and the trim for her tablecloths (an old emporium in NYC’s garment district).
Blair dedicates the book both to her late son, who succumbed to his battle with anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder in 2004; and to her husband, who died in 2015. Proceeds will be donated to medical grants overseen by the Deeda Blair Research Initiative for Disorders of the Brain.
A true classic, and of that era, one ofthe best hostesses.