Kailua, on Oahu’s particularly picturesque windward side, is already a great spot for shave ice and macadamia nut shortbread. At the town’s newly opened Mother Bake Shop, though, you’ll find the sort of trendy pastries you might see in Paris or San Francisco, but with classic Hawaiian fruit flavors. That means cruffins — flaky hybrids of a croissant and a muffin — filled with lilikoi jam, almond-studded black-sesame-and-pineapple Danishes, ulu (breadfruit) cinnamon rolls, haupia (coconut pudding) pie and zesty lime malassadas, which are Portuguese-style doughnuts. There’s also a rotating assortment of what the shop describes as “galactic” brownies, sprinkled with edible stars, and s’mores-flavored cupcakes, as well as charred scallion and caramelized onion flatbreads and the bakery’s signature Mother sourdough loaf, a local favorite (a Mother bread truck is scheduled to start cruising the island this fall). It’s an impressive offering, especially considering that everything is made on the 900-square-foot premises by just a handful of bakers, among them the shop’s married co-owners, Kristina Swenson-Stewart and Josh Stewart. Except for flour (Hawaii is too hot and humid to grow wheat), all of their ingredients are sourced locally: The edible flowers that top the custom cakes (including a toasted coconut, lychee-filled option) come from Ahiki Acres, a farm in Waimanalo, and the cocoa powder comes from nearby Manoa Chocolate. “We wanted it to be part of the community of people who actually live here,” says Stewart, who, along with Swenson-Stewart, spent two years perfecting the bakery’s dairy-free butter, made from a blend of coconut oil, cashew, cocoa butter and responsibly sourced palm oil. And so while the pastries at Mother are technically vegan, Stewart says that’s beside the point — the point being that they are delicious. motherbakeshop.com.
A New Show by the Artist Toyin Ojih Odutola
In “A Countervailing Theory,” the Nigerian-American artist Toyin Ojih Odutola’s site-specific exhibition at the Barbican in London, a mythical civilization’s origin story unfolds along the nearly 300-foot-long space of the winding Curve gallery. Across 40 gray-scale drawings in pastel, charcoal and chalk — accompanied by text by Zadie Smith and a soundscape by Peter Adjaye — Ojih Odutola crafts a narrative inspired in part by her research into the Jos Plateau in central Nigeria. “Seeing the diverse landscapes, the famous rock formations found there, the pictographic markings on some of the million-year-old slabs of black shale, I realized there’s a story here,” she says. “And immediately the questions came to me: What if there was an ancient civilization that existed here — what stories would they tell themselves? What mythology can be conjured from this land which might have been forgotten and possibly needs mining?” These are the ideas with which she asks the audience to engage, allowing viewers to make narrative leaps between each of the drawings, which show figures moving confidently through a prehistoric rocky landscape — some resting in contemplation, others embracing, their eyes shimmering as if they hold whole universes within. The artist’s capacious imagination brings to reality a vibrant, peaceful world that centers Black people in the establishment of a civilization. “I’d spent years working within a figurative tradition heavily influenced by an Occidental, Eurocentric view of image-making,” Ojih Odutola says. “The pictures I created — working within a monochromatic palette — formed a countervailing language, and by extension a history, so protean, intimate and contrasting, I knew what I was seeing was mine, not of a colonized mind.” “A Countervailing Theory” will be on view from Aug. 11, 2020, through Jan. 21, 2021, at the Barbican, Silk Street, London, barbican.org.uk.
The Skin-Care Line Monastery’s New Noe Valley Spa
When the San Francisco-based aesthetician Athena Hewett was imagining a new space for her spa, home to her skin-care line, Monastery — she thought of Greece. Hewett grew up visiting her grandmother, an herbalist, on the island of Paros every summer, and their relationship spurred Hewett’s interest in natural perfumery and subsequent study of aromacology. While pursuing both and working as an aesthetician, Hewett began searching for an Ayurvedic approach to fixing her own skin, which was plagued by dermatitis, jawline acne and product overload. The result was Monastery, a botanical line known for its gentle, oil-based formulations, which anchored her first Noe Valley spa — a small cottage from which she worked for 10 years. There, she became known for her small-batch products like Rose Cleansing Oil, Gold Oil Serum and Flora Cream Serum — whose high-quality, anti-inflammatory ingredients are a boon for complexions that are touch-and-go. Her new brick-and-mortar location in Noe Valley — opened just before California’s stay-at-home order and reopening this month — features three treatment rooms and supports a new menu that includes services with microcurrent, CBD and gua sha. The white-painted floors and whitewashed walls, reminiscent of architecture in the Greek Cyclades, were designed by the New York-based architect Jacqueline Sullivan, who created a front retail space with lacquered furniture from Shin Okuda’s line Waka Waka as well. There are also lighting fixtures from Rich Brilliant Willing and In Common With, dried floral sculptures and sentimental belongings from Hewett’s grandmother’s house, including a hand mirror, books, various vessels and an old Greek tile. “When I would say the word ‘monastery,’ I would think of something serene and peaceful,” explains Hewett. “I would think of a ritual; and I would always think of Greece.” 4175 24th Street, San Francisco, Calif., monasterymade.com.
Waris Ahluwalia’s Complex Herbal Teas
“We’re not doing tea, we’re doing plants,” says the 45-year-old actor and designer Waris Ahluwalia. About five years ago, living in New York City, he regularly felt tired and stressed out. So he decided to create a line of botanical infusions that he hoped might help him and others, with blends informed as much by the hot beverages he drank during his upbringing in an Indian household as by the traditions of Ayurveda, Chinese medicine and holistic health that he learned about as an adult. Last fall, he opened a tiny storefront, just 150 square feet in Chelsea, where he sold tins of his first three House of Waris Botanicals products: Love Conquers All (with the libido-enhancing adaptogen damiana), Sweet Clarity (with tulsi for focus) and Night of Nights (with jujube seed to encourage sleep). Then the pandemic hit, and the shop had to temporarily shut its doors, but in a spate of serendipitous timing, Ahluwalia had been fine-tuning his latest offering, Immunity One, an earthy, heady mix of elderberry — which he took as a child when he was sick — lemon, ginger, Cordyceps mushroom and several other vegan ingredients that are meant to aid circulation, support the respiratory system and reduce inflammation. Since the quarantine began in March, I’ve been brewing up sachets several days each week, satisfied that Ahluwalia’s products taste bolder, fresher and more complex than other herbal teas. And even if a cup isn’t literally keeping sickness at bay, it still feels healthy in times of crisis to develop one’s own calming, delicious, plant-based rituals. Starting at $28 for 12 sachets, houseofwaris.com.
A New Eclectic West Village Boutique
Brick-and-mortar retail was on the rocks even pre-pandemic, but that didn’t stop the former social-media consultant Telsha Anderson from opening up her eclectically curated boutique, T.A. The 27-year-old owner is something of a romantic when it comes to buying clothes. Anderson believes a lot of consumers still crave the experience of in-store shopping, where they can have human interaction, try things on and feel the texture of the clothes. Located in the West Village, her space is filled with a compilation of independent fashion designers, from Ellery to Priscavera, that Anderson has found mostly online through Tumblr and Instagram. She also strives to amplify the work of forward-thinking Black designers such as Wesley Harriott, who has dressed artists like Lady Gaga, Solange Knowles and Rosalía and who is known to use deconstruction to enhance the female form. “It was part of my mission that it be a creative space that appreciates the work from these overlooked brands,” she said. Other emerging labels at her shop include Barragán, Mozh Mozh, Ottolinger and William Okpo. With stores slowly reopening in New York City, shoppers can now go in to T.A. five at a time with masks on, or those who feel safer shopping one-on-one can book an individual appointment online. 332 West 13th Street, New York, 10014, shop-ta.com.