Thursday, December 30, 2010

revisited paris: art's, l'art du basic

I bought this one!
I wrote about this lovely shop on one of my favorite streets in the Marais back in June and recently, I had the chance to go back to Art's l'art du basic for some fall/winter shopping.  When I first visited, I thought the shop was called Shouka; it isn't anymore. Now, it goes by the name of the label it carries: Art's L'Art du Basic.  The store is still very simple...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

new york city: beauty & essex

Beauty & Essex is a sleek new girls'-night-out (guys seem to like it, too) spot in the LES.  Soft lighting, plush velvet banquettes, chandeliers, vintage perfume bottles, crystal, mirrors and all of sparkly décor bits that the chicks dig are hidden behind this multi-level restaurant/lounge/bar's pawn shop façade.  The food is good, a lot of it is even better than good (I'm looking at you tomato tartare), the service is friendly, the people are pretty, and the cocktails are delicious. Oh yeah, the best part: Ladies' (complimentary!) Champagne Lounge. I hear it gets crazy down there.  I'll be back.

new haven, ct: frank pepe's pizzeria

The original, coal-burning brick oven pizza is from Frank Pepe’s in New Haven.  Proud inventor of the clam pie, Pepe’s pizza’s are razor thin and loaded with toppings.  No reservations are taken and the wait is always interminable , often the line snakes out the door.  (You really have to visit the Wooster St. location to get the full experience.) But, it’s worth it, even after a grueling two hours on a wobbly Metro-North train...

buenos aires: home hotel

As the Northern parts of the world head into deep freeze, head South, way South.  Lounge-y beats float lazily through the air while fresh fruit cocktails are served by the pool at Home in Buenos Aires’ Palermo Soho hood... 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

update! paris: art's l'art du basic

ARTS l'art du basic website is live! Check it out here:

On the Rue Vielle du Temple there is a bare little shop called Shouka ARTS L'art du basic.  The sparse racks are hung with the most perfect silk basics.  There are about 8 different styles of blouses and dress, each in simple, wearable colors and cut in a chic, loose fit.  I got one in a soft dove gray.  The brand is a bit of a mystery; I can't find anything about the it online.  Does anyone know anything about it?

amsterdam: pancakes! amsterdam

Always packed with a mix of locals and tourists, Pancakes! Amsterdam in the quaint, bustling 9 Streets neighborhood is our go-to for weekend breakfasts in Amsterdam. Here is the money order...

Monday, December 27, 2010

amsterdam: moeders

For hearty, stick-to-your-ribs, Dutch food you can't do much better than Moeders.  With it's mix and match tableware and thousands of pictures of other peoples mothers, it's warms, cozy and maybe a bit claustrophobic. Serving traditional stampot, a mix of mashed root vegetables, sausage and whatever else happens to be available, this is an ideal place to settle in for a homey, filling meal as temperatures drop. While it is canalside with lovely outdoor tables, the heavy cuisine begs to be eaten only in frigid winter months.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

san francisco: yank sing

peking duck
Thanks to helpful recommendation, we ended up at Yank Sing for a proper Dim Sum lunch during a quick trip to San Francisco...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

singapore: waku ghin

On Singapore’s southern shore, past the Fullerton and the Raffles hotels, a massive new casino and shopping complex, the Marina Bay Sands, has been erected. Normally, I am shy of both casino and/or shopping complexes, but in Asia, or at least in Singapore, the mall seems to be king. This Marina Bay Sands is stunning, a modern feat of architecture, so high, so shiny and so new, it doesn’t look real. It looks like a computer generated image, a holograph that you can walk into, where you can buy a pair of Jimmy Choos and have an extraordinary dinner... 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

milan: giacomo bistrot

A cozy, yet undeniably swank restaurant, Giacomo Bistrot is the younger, slightly hipper cousin of the famed Da Giacomo restaurant, one of Milan's fine dining institutions.  Here, there are soaring ceilings,walls lined with leather-bound books and soft lights that illuminate the faces of the pretty people decked out in Milan's latest fashions, dripping in jewels in the way only Italians can make look good. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

bali: the oberoi

In a magical, secluded location (yet a quick taxi to the bars and restaurants of Seminyak) The Oberoi, Bali is a green idyll, draped in flowers- jasmine blossoms covering the paths, hibiscus on the pillows, a host of other gently fragant blooms on every bush...

Monday, November 15, 2010

capri, italy: la parisienne

Purveyors of the classic Capri pant, favorite of Jackie Onassis and Audrey Hepburn, La Parisienne now stocks a jumble of other items.  The store feels a bit disorganized, but ask and you’ll receive enthusiastic help.  Of course, like most shopping on the island, it’s over-priced, but where else in the world should you buy Capri pants?  They look great with my handmade sandals and they really are the most flattering pants, perfect for cool Capri nights.  Here are mine, in classic navy...

Friday, November 12, 2010

amsterdam: vinkeles at the dylan hotel

Recently two of our favorite foodie friends visited us in Amsterdam.  It was the perfect occasion to try out a few of the city’s best dining establishments.  The Michelin-starred Vinkeles in The Dylan hotel did not disappoint... 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

capri, italy: calzoleria vincenzo faiello

image: Francesco Lagnese
Signore Faiella works away in the window of this sandal shop, tucked away on the less-travelled Via Le Botteghe.  In 20 minutes he whipped up a pair gold leather flats for me at a very reasonable price... 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

capri, italy: j.k. place

The J.K. Place Capri exemplifies what a small hotel should be. The stylish décor earned a recent profile in Lonny magazine, but what those gorgeous pictures can’t convey is the luscious scent of ocean breeze, native lemons and Mediteraneo from Carthusia wafting through the lobby...

warsaw: u fukiera

On a chilly day wandering around Warsaw's Old Town, I decided to treat myself to a meal at U Fukiera, one of the city's most famed destinations for authentic Polish food. Not surprisingly given the location, it doesn't get a lot of lunch traffic, so this was my dining companion...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

ravello, italy: profumi della costiera

Tucked in off of a less-travelled footpath in Ravello, Profumi della Costiera is a limoncello factory producing the sun-colored Italian liquor using only the best organic Amalfi lemons, sweetened on the vine by the ocean breezes.  This stuff is seriously tasty- not too sweet and not to tart.  We finished every meal with an ice cold glass.  A few shots from the factory and store after the jump...

singapore: aoba hokkaido ramen

In Singapore I spent a long afternoon lost in the Ion luxury shopping mall (or rather "multi-sensory experiential shopping and lifestyle mall") on Orchard Road. Confused and hungry in the 660,000 sq meter maze of Chanel, Prada, Shiseido, I somehow made my way to the foodcourt and was happily rewarded. There were vendors selling all kinds of dumplings, noodles, pastries, sweets, etc...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

london: fordham soho

London is expensive.  Outrageously, prohibitively, cringe-inducingly expensive.  So it was a nice relief to my wallet to discover Claire at Fordham Soho, thanks to a recommendation from one of the founders of Wahanda... 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

amalfi coast, italy

Here are a few tips if you plan on travelling to Italy's Amalfi coast:

a small thing in warsaw

a small thing is in Warsaw for the next few days, and I'm surprised to really be liking it. Architecturally, the Polish capital is a fascinating mix of devastated beauty (bullet and shell marks on almost every building that survived WWII), ugly soviet modernism and meticulous reconstruction.  Warsaw is romantic in the saddest way; it forces you to think of the city as it once was and simultaneously of all of the terrible things it has endured. On a more superficial note, I've been tremendously impressed by the food. More posts about Warszawa to come...

new york city: le bernardin

Don’t bother, unless you’ve got tickets to a Broadway show nearby.  The food at the famed mid-town French restaurant is perfectly adequate, if awfully expensive.  The adroit staff serves up fresh and even occasionally inventive seafood, but you’ll be dining in a soulless corporate cave.

Friday, October 22, 2010

singapore: fish pedicure

Singapore is a country rife with rules and regulations. You need a prescription to buy chewing gum! I’m sure the city-state has some of Asia’s highest health, hygiene and safety standards, so I figured that Orchard Road, the high-end shopping district, was the best place to try the infamous Fish Pedicure...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

singapore: newton circus hawker center

The Newton Circus hawker center is not far distance-wise from the shiny hotels and luxury malls on Orchard Road, but under the bright lights, surrounded by the smells of seafood, curry and chili, bombarded by the calls of local merchants, it feels as though you're worlds away...

reading: t style milan issue

After a recent visit, Milan has leapfrogged to the top of the list of my favorite cities on earth.  I'll be posting more about the northern Italian metropolis later; in the meantime check out T magazine's 2010 Milan issue online.

reading: fantastic man and the gentlewoman

Good reading: interesting interviews with relevant people, beautiful photographs, weighty paper stock.  The Gentlewoman and Fantastic Man exemplify the lasting appeal of print publications.

capri, italy: carthusia

With a limited production of perfumes made in the tradition of 12th century Carthusian monks, Carthusia stocks a small line of fresh, island scents.  My favorite, Mediteraneo, is a heavenly blend of lemon leaves and green tea.  It’s the scent of the J.K. Place Capri; Italian sunshine in a bottle!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

reading: graham greene

I had no idea that Graham Greene lived and worked in Capri. The novelist's moody accounts of the oppressiveness of morality and religion, Catholicism in particular, hardly seem to emanate from the sunbathed, care-free Italian coast. Serendipitously, I happened to be reading Graham Greene now (just finished The End of the Affair, working on The Heart of the Matter) and will be visiting Capri tomorrow! The New York Times has a nice summation here of Graham's relationship with the island.

italy: j.k. place capri

The new Lonny is out.  It's Lonny's one year anniversary so it's an especially awesome issue, full of inspiring interiors.  And I'm loving this issue in particular because it features the J.K. Place resorts.  We're off to J.K. Place Capri tomorrow and I couldn't be more excited!  
Check out more of the photos here...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

shopping: penchant dressmakers

I am dying to have a dress made here!  Why, WHY has no one done this (or rather, done this stylishly) in New York City before now?!? Penchant Dressmakers offers women custom-made dresses in stylish, timeless cuts in a wide range of fabrics, including suedes and leathers!  You can pick and choose necklines, zipper options and lining colors.  As a present to myself, I'm scheduling a fitting right before Christmas.  Who wants to join me?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

shopping: zara

Zara is killing it lately.  All through Spring/Summer there were great things in the European Zara shops- muted silk blouses, snake-skin kitten heels, chic over-sized blazers- and now the October lookbook is chock full of the colder season's must-haves: neutral knits, minimalist wool coats,  flattering pants and cozy cashmere. Check it out here.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Here is the obligatory absence-related apology: for my few faithful readers, I'm sorry I haven't posted in such a long time.  For the past month or so I've been travelling like mad (Cinque Terre, Milan, a brief pit-stop in Amsterdam, Singapore, Bali, London, New York City, Boulder, San Francisco) and haven't spent much time online.  But, fear not!  I'll be back at my computer blogging away by this time next week.

Monday, September 20, 2010

reading: nancy mitford

These newly designed Nancy Mitford re-issues are candy in the form of books!  They are addictive, eccentric and frivolous, with unexpectedly tart bits of humor.  Read them to clear the palate after something more serious.

Monday, September 6, 2010

fabulous dead people

Bubbles Rothermere
Fabulous Dead People, by Christopher Petkanas, is one of the best regular columns on the New York Times' T Magazine website.  This collection of witty, lightly acerbic essays is screaming to be published as a book, sort of a Cultural Amnesia for the Tatler readership.  Mr. Petkanas chronicles the foibles of the (deceased) rich and famous in a snarkily refined and politely salacious tone, similar to the much-missed Vanity Fair writer Dominick Dunne. Fabulous Dead People is a drôle reminder that today's tabloid fodder pales in comparison to the scandals, eccentricities and personalities of yesteryear. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

summer vacation starts in september

image: Vanity Fair

Why take vacation in July or August? Everyone else is, so enjoy the downtime at work, then take off in September! Full article here.
The weather is still perfect, great restaurants never have a long wait, traffic clears from all the scenic roads, and even the wind cooperates by blowing with a measured consistency that makes for perfect sailing.
(Often, the rates are better, too!)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

copenhagen: scandic front hotel

We planned a short trip to Copenhagen with one main objective: to eat well.  (We did)  So, our accommodations didn't have to be fancy, just comfortable and conveniently located.   Copenhagen was packed on the weekend we visited- Fashion Week, Copenhagen Triathlon, 500th Anniversary of the Royal Danish Navy- so we lucked out in getting a reservation at the Scandic Front Hotel. From our room, we could see the harbor and we were just a short walking distance to great shopping and the quaint cobblestones of Nyhavn. The stylish, but no-frills hotel was a hub of activity the weekend we stayed there.  Every sleekly-furnished room was booked, the lobby was ground zero for hoards of fashionistas and athletes, and the hotel hosted the weekend's big D&G party.  It was a fun, if slightly chaotic place and a great introduction the energy of Copenhagen.   If you go, make sure to book a non-smoking room with a water view.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

copenhagen: restaurant herman

Somewhere between Alain Ducasse at the Hotel Plaza Athenee and Momofuku Ko, there is  Restaurant Herman, a phenomenal culinary experience at the Nimb hotel in Copenhagen.  With its open kitchen and spare decor, the visual interest is in the view of Tivoli Gardens from the floor-to-ceiling windows and, of course, in the food.  Our waiter, who told us he was studying to become Copenhagen's first Master Sommelier, guided us through the adventurous Danish-influenced courses...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

purchases: rose water

Eye makeup remover, a healthy splash of cool water, and rose water = my evening facial cleansing routine.  (Taking a cue from the French, I'm now skipping harsh cleansers.)  Rose water functions as a very mild natural toner and astringent, it has antibacterial and antiseptic properties, and the scent is wonderful.  My skin has been very happy since I started using it. You can find it at any Middle Eastern grocer or order it online for a few dollars a bottle.  Just make sure you buy the pure rose water- no additives.  I douse a stack of facial cotton pads and store them in an apothecary jar for convenience. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

istanbul: swissôtel the bosphorus

In Istanbul we stayed at the Swissôtel the  Bosphorus.  Overall it's an average large hotel - impersonal but comfortable rooms, a big staff, several adequate restaurants.  It does have stunning views of the cobalt blue Bosphorus, particularly in the lobby, and service was always responsive.  But what really makes the Swissôtel worth a stay is the hammam at the Amrita Spa.  It is gorgeous!  I could have spent an entire day circulating between the salt steam room, the sauna, the color-therapy and the ice-cold footbaths.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

purchases: graphic image ticket holder wallet

While hunting for the perfect wallet I discovered Graphic Image's chic, understated leather accessories.  I generally think of the brand as a good source for datebooks and journals (which it is) so I guess it shouldn't have been a surprise to find such a variety of simple, stylish, high-quality leather wallets, passport holders, envelopes and coin purses.  I picked up a sleek black crocodile-embossed ticket holder wallet, perfect for stashing boarding passes, passports, currency and credit cards.  My favorite part: no visible branding but your own.  Luxe gold stamped monograms can be added to most items.


Shelterpop, one of my new favorite sites and the place for design and interiors info, gave me a shout out thanks to my post about French market baskets! Thanks, Shelterpop! Check it out here.

Monday, August 9, 2010

london: portobello hotel

Since our regular accommodations were fully booked we checked into the Portobello Hotel in West London. Staying at the Portobello is like being welcomed into an eccentric relative's Notting Hill row home.  The staff are friendly, the decor is warm and feels lived in. Many of the rooms have freestanding claw-foot tubs and unique period details.  We loved room 22 overlooking the garden with it's four poster bed, impressive marble Cleo bath suite and Molton Brown toiletries.  The Moroccan room is also charming, if a bit small.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

amsterdam: sissy boy

To a native English speaker Sissy Boy is a an unfortunate name for a shop. This Dutch chain retailer sells home goods as well as clothes for the whole family- wholesome, boring basics à la the Gap. The apparel never tempts me but the housewares department is a treasure trove: Diptyque candles,  luxe pillows, house label notebooks, cozy throws, Savon de Marseille soaps and lotions, etc.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

new york city: kelvin natural slush co.

Ahhhh the humble slushie: a suburban gas station staple, tooth-meltingly, artificially sweet and most often, a color not found in nature.  Not anymore. It seems like every food once considered junk- the cupcake, the whoopee pie, the hotdog, the burger (the original trashy to classy food)- is getting an organic, farm-to-table makeover.  And now it’s happened for the slushie.  Kelvin Natural Slush Co, the brainchild of yet another corporate refugee turned foodie entrepreneur, sells organic slurpees out of a truck.   Don’t expect to find Apu behind the counter, the staff at Kelvin know their slush and are happy to recommend unique flavor combinations. I sampled Kelvin’s frozen drinks streetside in the West Village and they were delicious.  Icy and bracingly refreshing on muggy summer day, I tried the citrus/fresh mint and the ginger/guava. Next time the temperature soars, forget about 7/11 and find Kelvin (here)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

new york city: luke's lobster

  (image: lee clower for the new york times)
Farm-to-table is the hottest catchphrase in the restaurant world these days.  Luke’s Lobster is the happy result of this trend.  Luke’s dad, a real Maine lobsterman drives down fresh lobster daily to this tiny East Village storefront where Luke and his staff serve up my favorite lobster rolls- mayo optional, a touch of celery salt, a buttery bun and GOBS of fresh lobster claw meat.  And at $14, the sandwich is a bargain compared to most New York City lobster roll purveyors.  I've been frequenting the 7th Street location since it opened in 2009 and now, according to New York Magazine, Luke recently opened a second outpost on the Upper East Side.


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