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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Watch out cupcakes, macarons are on the way to becoming the newest cult dessert. Already swooned over in the foodie blogosphere, macaroons have all the requisites to be the next treat trend. They are adorable, sweet, pastel, perfect for parties, and made in both crowd-pleasing and obscure flavors. The folks at Macaron Parlour have been doing some experimenting: candied bacon and maple cream cheese, black truffle, earl gray and thai chilli. The novelty flavors are fun and great conversation for dinner parties, but I’m happy to report that Macaron Parlour has nailed the classics. Their lemon macaron gives the Laduree cookie a run for its money. So when you can’t make it to Paris, buy Macaron Parlour tasties on etsy or at the Hester Street Fair on Saturdays and Sundays.