Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sesame Street: Me Lost Me Cookie at the Disco

Okay, as the trend tropic on twitter today was #CookieMonster, I couldn't help but go back in time to one of my favorite tracks of the '80s. Too funny. Particularly appropriate for Thanksgiving me thinks!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

London: Life lessons

It was two days after the whole laptop debacle. In a work-induced stupor I had left my life (otherwise known as my aging PC) in the back seat of a New York taxi, complete with my monthly receipts — bound for an expense report — and all my notes on a new magazine I was working on. The depths of my despair was debilitating to say the least. It's hard to explain but put it this way, it made me seriously ponder how many laptop-left-in-taxi induced suicides there were per year.

The next day I was due to board a plane to London. Would the laptop show?

Very long story short, the answer is yes. Having had the credit card receipt in hand, the taxi depot were able to track down the driver who promptly returned my treasures an hour before I was due to leave for the airport. I'm not sure which was worse, the faint-worthy relief of having found it or the exhausting trauma of the past 24 hours thinking it might never show. Either way the ramifications, both good and bad, were tantamount to a slight case of Post Traumatic Stress syndrome.

In made me realize though — as did others who went home immediately and backed up their computers — that some instances in life, a single moment in time, as trivial as they may seem to others, can be life changing. Realizing for instance that working yourself into an early grave makes time fly by all too fast, carrying thirteen bags at the one time doesn't do you any favors and most importantly, that there is always time, can make you see the world a little more clearly.

Regardless of how busy you are, there is always time to stop and take a breath. There is always time to enjoy the moment. And today's to-do list is only tomorrow's kitty litter.

And so, life goes on. You board the plane to London and soon find yourself sitting in a private box at the Royal Albert Hall listening to the Australian Youth Orchestra, with your own butler providing champagne and bite-sized morsels of tender, tasty treats. And you think, thank goodness you hadn't taken the jumping-off-the Brooklyn Bridge option, I'm going to enjoy each and every moment of this. And then of course, you close your eyes to savor the stunning sounds and fall off the seat having finally succumbed to sleep deprivation. Still, it was worth it.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Movie: Hachiko, A Dog’s Tale

Based on a true story, this feel-good, tear-jerker will have you running for the Kleenex. Produced and starring Richard Gere, this little indie film proved a hit at the inaugural Aruba International Film Festival. Gere was there to introduce the film himself as ambassador of this year’s event and with true, heart felt sincerity gave a humble overview of the film's plot.
The storyline revolves around the disarmingly cute, Hachiko, an Akita puppy found abandoned at the train station by Professor Parker Wilson (played by Richard Gere). After finding no owner, the Wilson family takes the Japanese pure bred into their homes and hearts. Over the years Hachiko and Wilson become inseparable showing the kind of unconditional love only an animal can provide. Without giving away the story’s pivotal moment, it’s needless to say this movie personifies the kind of unconditional love, loyalty and compassion seldom found in mankind.

Whether you're a dog lover or not, Hachiko, A Dog's Tale is well worth a watch. Along the lines of The Notebook my only advice is to be ready to wail.

Despite dignatries, media personalities and celebraties present at the opening night screening, there was not a dry eye in the house. An occasion stiffled snort even managed to escape from the well dressed.

Aruba: Aboard the Mi Dushi

Under the gorgeous Aruban sky, the Mi Dushi set sail for crystal blue waters with a crew of suntanned staff and a ship full of enthusiastic holiday makers on board. The first stop: Antilla Shipwreck.

Admittedly, I'm not the first to dive into open ocean (thanks, to my Australian heritage which includes a healthy respect for things that eat you) however, after much reassurance I dove in and swam out to the decades old shipwreck—a WWII remnant with a rich history, even richer marine life. In rough waters, myself and my crew (fellow journalists Shira Levine and Jessica Herman), stuck together to battle the waves. It was the most exercise I've done in years!

Next stop was much calmer and in fact, I stayed in the water longer than ever, possibly because of the company, possibly because of the little fishies on show in the warm, crystal clear water temperature. From there it was lunch and cocktails as we sailed through the bluest water, Bob Marley playing in the background, the sun warming us from the inside out.

After several other adventurous endevours (I did a tandum, rope swing, back flip into the ocean!) we headed back to shore.

For someone who has become so blaze about the tropics this was, in all honesty, the most fun I've had in years. If you head to Aruba, jump on board the Mi Dushi, you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Aruba: It all started with lunch...

It was several months ago that I first met Aruba’s Minister of Tourism, Otmar E. Oduber. Over a delicious lunch of scrumptious seafood and farm fresh salads, I experienced first hand the newly appointed Ministers passion and boundless energy for transforming Aruba.

A plan that included showcasing everything this Island paradise had to offer; the friendly locals, the laid back lifestyle and the tropical climate mixed with cultural and culinary events that would see visitors return year after year. Through his formal speech and more interestingly, over an informal meal I was able to catch a glimpse of the innovative and ambitious initiatives he had envisaged for the island he so loves.

Apart from world class music festivals, the first Aruba International Film Festival was an event he was proud to announce at that day’s luncheon. As I said a tentative yes to attending, it was somewhat surreal to find myself among the palm trees seated with other international journalists to see the many days, months and years of planning come to fruition with great success.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Montreal: Ateliers et Saveurs

"I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made." Yes, James Bond. I agree.

One of the first things you notice when you enter Ateliers & Savuers are the light fixtures. Specially designed and created by lighting artist François Legault of UNIK Sculptural Lighting you realize immediately that this is no ordinary culinary school.

A spiral chandelier featuring 260 spoons shines above, in the wine tasting room a 7 foot-long pendant lamp of 476 spoons and 21 Champagne flutes draws your near, on the walls espresso cups act as sconces.

"We designed them especially," says Parisian-born sommelier and co-owner Arnaud Ferrand. And indeed no expense has been spared in this half a million dollar restoration. Housed in a heritage building in Old Montreal, Ateliers et Saveurs is unique to this metropolitan city offering cooking, cocktail and wine classes to locals and tourists alike.

With so much to take in — attractive, young clientele, gorgeous decor — it was hard to know where to look as we waited our turn for our Friday night cocktail class after all, if the food you lovingly cook is more delicious, than surely the cocktail you shake is far superior - and possibly more toxic!

Armed with nothing but our enthusiasm (part of the allure of going to elsewhere to make cocktails) the four of us girls waited patiently for our turn at the bar, props at the ready. The class was sold out and so two rotations of budding bar tenders took it in turns to turn mere ingredients into the nectar of the Gods - or at least die trying.

The first cocktail was a classic Margarita.

As the ingredients were poured and the instructions translated for us English speakers, the music got pumping and all involved shook and shimmied like there was no tomorrow. The result, a perfect Margarita worthy of the best Manhattan watering hole.

We created three cocktails in all with special shot pouring classes topping off the night. As you can imagine the atmosphere was quite festive by then, strangers becoming friends, work foes becoming allies. Thankfully, a delicious array of h'ordeuvres were also served to help soak up all that fun!

All in all, I couldn't recommend it highly enough. The price you pay for three or four hours of fun is less than it would cost to purchase the drinks and definitely less than it would cost for the ingredients alone. Even better, you could put this down as an educational experience - much more socially acceptable than a mere night on the town (of course, this is a great prelude to that too, if you so wish).

Montreal: La Buvette Chez Simone

As in Europe, dinner in Montreal is best served family-style, with delectable portions of amazing goodies arranged so that you can enjoy the food (and the company) at leisure. La Buvette Chez Simone on Park Avenue in Place des Arts, has this sort of dining down to an art form. Hip yet unpretentious, this neighborhood institution brings together locals, dates and diners to enjoy an array of tapas-style dishes arranged with a stylist's eye, as delicious as five star dining. This is the sort of place where time flies and lifetime friendships are cemented.

Buvette Chez Simone
4869, avenue du Parc
Rés.: 514 750-6577

OPUS MONTREAL: Stylish digs for the hip

Ah, Montréal. I forgot everyone speaks French here. It seems as if I have been politely ignoring the entire population over the last fews month as I find myself in foreign countries with no idea what anyone is saying. Add to my confusion that the first thing I hear upon entering my gorgeous room in the Opus Hotel is Kylie Minogue’s “Locomotion.” Being an Australian/New Yorker in French/English speaking Montreal this can get a little confusing.

Having finally come to grips with it all, I did my initial room inspection and found all the amenities I so love; a coffee machine, nice sized bathroom, L’Occitane products, modern décor and fabulous bar awaiting us downstairs. The only slightly misleading amenity being the complimentary wireless which, like many hotels these days, is only in the common areas.

One of the only Canadian hotel chains, Opus has four hotels within Canada. The Montreal addition is two years old and has quickly made a name for itself as the place-to-be on weekends — possibly the reason for the ear plugs next to the bed. Situated on the corner of Saint Laurent, one of Montreal's trendiest streets, it's perfectly situated for a weekend getaway.

Settling down for a quick nap pre-meet and greet, I flicked through the hotel’s encyclopaedia of amenities and found a great addition: “The Tips” sheet listing the most happening events for the month. Using fictional lifestyle muses; Billy, the enlightened rockstar, Susan, the fashion exec, Pierre, the food critic, Dede, the film actress and Mike, the doctor it outlines five off the must-see hip happenings around town. Written by Zink Canada editor, Simona Rabinovitch it gives you an insiders guide to the city of Montreal something all of us need on a trip away.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

St Louis: Cielo

Our final night in St. Louis and Cielo Restaurant, in the newly opened Four Seasons Hotel, played host to an amazing four-course dinner, perfectly portioned and expertly paired with a wide variety of wines from the hotel's resident somelier. Conversation was barely audible over the plethora of diners gathering for the much sought after sights, sounds, tastes and delights of Cielo.

Floor-to-ceiling glass panels showcase the illuminated skyline in the restaurant's beautifully designed dining room. Beyond the rectangular swimming pool, hot tub and cabana area, the St. Louis arch is visible in all its glory- a definite highlight for July 4th celebrations.
Spring ramps risotto with roasted quail breast and pearl tomatoes kicked off a magnificent offering by Chef, Marc Kusche, paired with a 2007 Viogneir from Mt. Harlan.

The main event of pan seared halibut with diver scallop, cauliflower puree and red wine reduction was cooked to perfection and served with a stylists' eye. Paired with a tasty Santa Maria Pinot Noir it was exactly what the doctor ordered after days of gluttony in the name of culinary research.

Clean, tasty and fresh, an intermediate dish, designed to cleanse the palette and add a further dimension to the evenings courses was served by way of calamansi lime sorbetto with amaretti and dried plum sauce.

Finally, dessert of an organic chamomile panna cotta with Kumquat semifreddo cielo mint syrup and apricot sorbetto was served up thanks to Pastry Chef, Christopher Jordan. Paired with a Riesling Ice Wine from Mission Hills, Five Vineyards, Canada it was perhaps a fitting segue to my next adventure to Montreal.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Casino Secrets: Crimes against interior design

Have you ever wondered why the carpet in casinos — worldwide — looks like someone vomitted in hypercolor then doodled aimlessly in every direction? "It's pyschological warfare," says one trusted insider. "The idea is to keep the guests' eyes up, looking towards the gaming area."

When on the floor of one such casino it would seem the technique works. Overwhelmed by the many zig zags, patterns and colors all colliding without rhyme or reason, your eyes can't help but seek refuge ahead.

So next time you'd like to draw attention away from your flooring and onto your new framed travel photos you may want to employ this technique. You can use last night's left overs or simply use party string for that extra something special. Food for thought...

St. Louis: Curiosities from the zoo

Mm... an artistic replica of a dead deer in the tree.
No I did not put it there!

There is something not quite right about this statue...

These might just be the world's ugliest camels

(but I'm sure they have great personalities!).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

St. Louis Zoo: Adventures with my driver

A black SUV was waiting to transport me to the St. Louis Zoo. The others in my group had predictably chosen grown-up options, such as the brewery tour and a trip to the arches, I was niether ashamed nor envious about my somewhat childish choice. In fact, I was frickin excited.

My request for clear, blue skies had been denied by the St. Louis weather department however, nothing could dampen my spirits. Like an annoying eight year old, I peppered my driver with questions about the zoo; What animals do they have? Is it big? How big? Do they have elephants? What about tigers?

I had worn my sneakers as it was going to be a quick tour but I was determined to see as much as possible in my short amount of time. So much so that I almost flew out of the black-tinted windowed car as soon as we stopped.

Alex galantly escorted me through the entire zoo, complete with his three piece suit, dress shoes and umbrella over my head to shield me from the weather. Although I would have been happy to see it by myself it was much more fun with someone else in tow.

My favorite was his commentary. Upon seeing an enclosure and no animal, I would ask, "what's supposed to be in here?" searching for the animal hidden away trying to live with dignity. He would reply, "It's probably dead." in his great Russian accent. This became a running gag, that and his eagerness to wake every animal from their slumber for my amusement. At one point he offered to take a duckling for me as a gift, I had to stop him from chasing the poor little thing down the road and into the pond. Overall, awesome zoo. Great driver. Thanks Alex!

Monday, May 24, 2010

St. Louis: 1904 Beerhouse

You've heard of wine pairings but have you ever signed up for a beer pairing? Not to be outdone, the 1904 Beerhouse, within the walls of the new Riverside Casino in St. Louis, provides everything a beer novice — or connoisseur for that matter — may enjoy. With over 100 beers available (32 on tap) this restaurant has become a destination in itself.

I strongly suggest the mini beer tasting (below) where you can choose a selection of tempting delights in mini sizes. Executive Chef William Gideon (who has cooked for numerous presidents, culinary masters and even the lovely Julia Childs) creates exquisite meals of the highest quality to live up to your culinary ideals.

If you're unable to get to St. Louis right away here is a taste of what's on offer with Gideon's recipe for a restaurant favorite.

Wisconsin Native's Beer Cheese Soup

The recipe is the foundation to the 1904 Beerhouse’s Beer & Cheese Soup

•1 1/2 cups diced carrots
•1 1/2 cups diced onion
•1 1/2 cups diced celery
•2 cloves garlic, minced
•1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
•1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1/4 teaspoon black pepper
•3 cups chicken broth
•2 cups beer
•1/ 3 cup butter
•1/3 cup flour
•4 cups milk or half and half
•6 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
•1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
•2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
•1 teaspoon dry mustard
•popped popcorn, for garnish (optional)
In a large saucepan over medium heat, stir together carrots, onion, celery, and garlic. Stir in hot pepper sauce, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Pour in chicken broth and beer; simmer until vegetables are tender, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, heat butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Stir in flour with a wire whisk; cook, stirring until the flour is light brown, about 3 or 4 minutes. Gradually stir in milk, whisking to prevent scorching, until thickened. Remove from heat, and gradually stir in cheese. Keep warm.

Stir beer mixture into cheese mixture. Stir in Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and dry mustard. Adjust for hot pepper sauce. Bring to a simmer, and cook 10 minutes.

St. Louis: House of Savoy

After cocktails in the Cascade lobby at HoteLumière, dinner was served at the New Age Italian Tuscan Grill, House of Savoy. Despite being gluten-free this restaurant had more than enough options to keep everyone happy.

A tasting menu that tested the boundaries of culinary gluttony, it was difficult to leave even a morsel on our plates after dish after dish of tasty Italian fare was served. Chicago reporter Lisa Davis and Recommend's Adria Valdes were also on hand to try it out.

Our own private sommelier joined us with an exquisite selection of wines to accompany each course while Executive Chef Mark French was on hand for any culinary queries. Some standouts in the appetizer department included the beef carpaccio with mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, capers and shaved parmigiano, the savoy raw bar of fresh shucked oysters and jumbo chilled shrimp, and tasty antipasto plate with imported cheeses, Italian cured meats, roasted peppers and olives.

For the main course, options ranging from seafood risotto to dry aged porterhouse keep even the pickiest eaters happy. Competitively priced, with a relaxed atmosphere and great service, it's well worth a try.

St. Louis: Four Seasons Style

A sports bag was awaiting me when I checked into my room at The Four Seasons St. Louis. At first glance it looked like someone had accidently left it there. Housekeeping? A forgetful sports player? I looked around the spotless room, obviously it was already made up, so one would assume the bag was meant for me but as my Dad likes to say, "to ass-u-me makes an ass out of u and me."

Ever curious, I approached with caution. Surely the contents would be the deciding factor. I peered in to find a set of golf balls, a photo frame and a number of other objects. I made a note to ask my contact when we met later that evening and dared not pry anymore just in case... Instead I went to take a quick tour of my room.

Situated on the eighteenth floor in the gorgeous Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis, my room overlooked the towering St. Louis Arches. A home-away-from-home for the rich and famous, the hotel is situated minutes from the CBD, a part of the Lumière Place entertanment complex. With all the amenities one would expect from the Four Seasons it was the perfect place to rest my weary head. A gigantic bathroom with a bath tub made for soaking away the aches and pains of the travel weary, I quickly hung a few things on my silk padded hangers and headed out for dinner at the House of Savoy.

St Louis: Rediscovering America

A funny thing occurred to me on the way to the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis—traveling by yourself in a limo isn't very fun. Another interesting revelation hit me while contemplating the first—nobody answers their cell phone anymore. In a recent newspaper article, the number of cell phones has risen dramatically, the number of minutes used talking has declined. This I would experience first hand on route to my destination. Fortunately, this relative silence gave way to some sight seeing and a quick catch up on the history of St. Louis as we traveled to the banks of the Mississippi river.

In my travels, overseas destinations often trump those within the U.S. so why St Louis? With volcanic smoke and long delays, security nightmares and interrogating customs it would seem this is the best time to rediscover America and a place such as St. Louis seemed like the perfect place to start.

Before European settlement, St. Louis was home to the Mississippians(this word should definitely be a spelling bee tie breaker) a mighty Indian civilization of more than 20 000 who used the fertile river valley to settle. When that culture disappeared during Europe's Middle Ages only their huge, mysterious earthen structures were left, earning St. Louis one of its earliest nicknames, "Mound City." Since then, it was been owned by both the French and the Spanish with Napoleon selling St. Louis to President Thomas Jefferson (whose home in Virginia is worth a visit) in 1803.

The "gateway to the west," boats still travel the great Mississippi with cargo bound for places near and far.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Poland: Dinner in the sky

If you're afraid of heights then this might not be for you. Suspended high above in Manufaktura diners are strapped into their seats for the Legendary Dinner in the sky®. Now in 35 countries, the Polish version in Lodz opened during fashion week, take a look for yourself.

Poland: They won't let me buy bananas

It's somewhat of a ritual for me. Exploring grocery stores may seem mundane for some, for me it's like heading to culinary Disneyland. There are other worlds out there with produce so weird and wonderful that a trip overseas would not be complete without purchasing at least a few goodies. My motto: see what the locals eat, do what the locals do and try with all your might to fit in. This has proven to work for and against me.

Each country undoubtedly has its own grocery shopping protocol. As I headed to "Real" mega-market in Lodz I catiously entered, prepared to battle the inevitable language barrier, flamboyant packaging and foreign food goods, if of course I could find them. There were washing machines and blenders, socks and stockings, makeup and medicine. As I wandered the aisles I feared I might never find the food.

There were cabbages on sale, kiwi fruit on offer. Endless amounts of cheese and meats, fresh fish and diary. I played it safe and grabbed a couple of bananas and other snacks. I hate to admit it, but I actually found a giant packet of Cheetos which found their way into my basket as well.

I checked my watch. I had only minutes before my driver would transport me to fashion week. I lined up and waited to battle the final frontier, the checkout.

The cashier, much like grocery cashiers the world over, was not overly pleasant and scanned my goods with an unenthusiastic vibe. Cheese, check. Salami, check. Nuts, check. Mega packet of Cheetos, check. Bananas, stop.

She held up the bananas and said something to me in Polish. From her tone, I'd obviously done something wrong.
When I explained I can't speak Polish she proceeded to confiscate my bananas. Shaking them at me first to bring hom her point - whatever that was.
I acquiesced and let her have my bananas. But why? Was I not allowed to break off two bananas? Did I need to put them in a bag? Was it because she thought I was American? Are Americans not allowed to buy bananas in Poland? All of these questions and more popped into my head as I paid and waited for a plastic bag to pack my groceries.

And waited...

Turns out there are no plastic bags in Poland. So I gathered my cheese, salami, cheetos, water and nuts and stuffed them into my $500 Ro Bag. Still none the wiser why my bananas had been confiscated. I actually really wanted them.
Turns out, you have to weigh them yourself before getting to the cashier. A handy note to us all. Write it down in your travel journal for the next time you grocery shop in Poland!

Poland Fashion Week: Eymeric Francois

French designer Eymeric Francois closed day two of Poland Fashion Week as one of several international guests invited to show this season. His "Fashion Until Death" collection embraced gothic chic (particulalry fitting in our vampire obsessed world).

Black lipstck with severe up dos accompanied figure hugging evening wear in deep purple, black and white, an ode to 50s style showing throughout.

As with previous collections, the corset was a keystone in Francois' creations. Broken up into four sections, Francois used lace, velvet and fetish leather to create conversation-starting numbers.

Love them or hate them you can't deny Francois' craftsmenship, fashioning an entire dress out of white zippers, another out of belts.

Interesting, evocative and destined for the pages of fashion editorials around the world, Francois delivers fantasy meets extravagance.

Text: Angela Gilltrap

Courtesy of

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Poland: The ghost factories of Lodz

In the late 19th century, Lodz was the hub of the textile industry. A booming town of industrial growth, factories housing thousands of workers made up the towering landscape of this sprawling town. The collapse of the textile industry however, quickly turned it into a ghost town with workers swarming to Warsaw, two hours away to find work. What is left is the most amazing array of abandoned factories, some pegged for renovation, others for demolition.

Before this one becomes a mall myself and a lucky few, got a sneak preview into the eery history of Lodz's past.

Poland Fashion Week: Agatha Ruiz de la Prada

One could never accuse Agatha Ruiz de la Prada of creating mournful collections in depressing colors. The larger-than-life Spanish designer was a guest at Poland Fashion Week this season gracefully showing her latest collection. Vivid colors in lamé and felt strutted down the catwalk to Olivia Newton John's '80s classic "Zanadu" — a fitting tribute for these flashbacks-to-big-shoulder fashion.

Hearts were everywhere — heart framed sunglass, metallic hearts on pink skirts — in the background, in the foreground, it would seem love was all around.

Inspired by artists such as Picasso, Warhol and Chillida, Agatha Ruiz de la Prada's signature tunic and legging combos abounded with ruffled skirts and textured dresses. The piece de resistance... a muffin-type tiered dress in pinks and blue. Not exactly work wear, but who says fashion always has to be serious?

Text: Angela Gilltrap

Courtesy of

Monday, May 17, 2010

Poland Fashion Week: Joanna Paradecka

Day one. Show one. Joanna Paradecka sent a Dr. Suess inspired collection of kooky yet wearable ready-to-wear women's down the catwalk in front of a small, yet enthusiastic, home crowd from Lotdz, Poland. Burnt orange shift dresses with geometric cuts kept the designs fresh and flighty with heavier Fall fabrics in taupe and tans mixing with lighter chiffons to provide a practical yet feminine asethetic.

Exaggerated shoulder lines, mid-thigh hems and a myriad of stripes in stockings, clothing and accessories were signature looks in this Warsaw-made collection. Perfect for the fashionista with attitude, each piece is made from 95% recycled fabrics creating an authentic retro-vibe. A particular stand out, was Paradecka's take on men's dress shirts. Manipulating a gray mid-thigh length shirt to produce a comfortable understated chic with an alluring and unexpected plunging back.

The last women's wear collection for this seasoned designer this endearing offering marks the end of an era as Paradecka embarks on yet another project, creating an entirely new brand out of her workshop in Zabkowska Street, Warsaw. Keep an eye on this designer.

Poland: Fashion Week

This season marked the second edition of Poland Fashion Week. Created by Jacek Kłak and Irmina Kubiak this international event drew designers and press from around Europe. This year designers and fashion celebrities Kenzo, Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, Nuno Gama and Patrizia Gucci – granddaughter of Aldo Gucci, headed to the Polish tents in Lodz for a week of fabulous designs and memorable events.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Andels Hotel: Lodz

Arriving somewhat dishevelled my fabulous new Polish assistant Agnieszka was ready and waiting. The scenic route had stolen my nap time however, I was more than pleased to be staying at the Andels Hotel in Lodz.

Situated in a former textile Mill of Izrael Poznański it was redesigned by British architects Jestico + Whiles, maintaining the old world charm while adding a unique modern touch. The rooms featured high ceilings, colorful decor and gorgeous little window seats to rest one's weary head - if indeed rest was anywhere on my itinerary.

The hotel is next to a Palace and in front of Manufaktura, one of the biggest shopping, arts and entertainment centers. Talk about location! It provided easy access to just about everything, particularly convenient for me as I needed to pick up some groceries.

Lodz, Poland

It was Lodz (pronounced wooodz) rather than Warsaw that proved to be my final destination in Poland. After arriving at the airport I was met by my driver who gathered the four of us (from Milan, Madrid, Berlin and New York) into the waiting mini-van. I calculated my schedule: approximately 20 minutes to the hotel, a 40 minute nap, rehydrate, shower, dress, hit the first fashion show at 3pm, a struggle but doable. Little did I know Lodz was 2 hours away!

Once the shining star of Poland's textile industry this Polish version of Williamsburg houses an amazing array of old abandoned factories now turned into amazing hotels, loft apartments and a venue for fashion week.

Driving through the countryside however, I was glad for the chance to be a tourist, even if it meant giving up sleep for yet another day.

After passing McDonalds, Burger King and KFC (while listening to a Madonna mega-mix on the radio) I was glad to finally get to the Polish countryside complete with tractors, old ladies on pushies and acres of farming land.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Pretty Please? Gallery Bar NYC

If you could ask for a change, a new beginning, a second chance, or a way out, what would it be? How far would you be willing to go to start anew? Would it be physical, emotional, spiritual, or maybe even supernatural?

This is the premise behind the Gallery Bar's latest exhibition featuring eight amazing artists: Maggie Brophy, George Harbeson, Dan-Ah Kim, Devin McGrath, Andres Rivera, Shinyung Schwartz and Fiona Struengmann. Coordinated by the fabulous Soo Cha it's a must see. On for two weeks only.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

LuShae Jewelry: The best in online shopping

When it comes to jewelry, the rings have it. Although I own a hefty selection of earrings and necklaces, it's the rings that capture my attention and the one that has been getting the most compliments of late, is from little known online store, otherwise known as LuShae Jewelry.

Buying jewelry online can be tricky. Will it look the same as the picture? What if it's the wrong size? What if the quality is second rate? And I have to say, when it comes to reputable online stores, LuShae Jewelry delivers. Each product has a one-two paragraph description with bullet point, easy-to-read lists of information from weight and size, down to clasp specifics (for pendants). There is a good range of prices, mostly under $100, with pendants, rings, earings and bracelets on offer.

Even though the price can be heavily discounted, don't think that wholesale price equals sloppy service. The delivery at LuShae is lightening speed and the packaging is five star. It's one of those places where you can easily place an order to ship directly to the birthday guy or gal in your life, and know that you'll come out a winner—without ever having to step a foot inside the post office.
If your looking to spoil yourself, then here is the place to do it, without breaking the bank. The only problem you'll have, is that someone beat you to it. Products go fast here, so get in early.

The LuShae Jewelry website also includes an informative ring size guide (I have never known my ring size until now!) as well as information on gemstones, metals and how to store and clean your jewelry. Browse, shop, enjoy!

Pictured: Jet Black Eyes Ring (top left), Summer Bouquet Pendant (bottom right).

Metromint: Running to Rio

For those of you who've read "Sunshine on Sugar Hill," you'll know that one of my life aims is to have a driver. On Tuesday morning, that came to fruition thanks to the good people at Metromint. However, heading down the freeway enroute to meet creator Rio Miura, I had to face facts. Being chaffeured makes me car sick. Oh the irony!

By the time I arrived at the London Hotel—enroute to the penthouse—I was in pretty bad shape. Thankfully one of the best remedies for a troubled tummy is peppermint and for that, I'd come to the right place.

The brainchild of Rio Miura and Scott Lowe, Metromint is unlike other flavored waters in that it has no artificial sweetners and uses real mint to flavor each bottle.
Born in Japan, Miura, a former jewelry designer is passionate about all things minty having trialed endless varieties and finally deciding with business partner, Lowe, to purchase their own manufacturing plant to ensure the quality of production. Created in 2004, the pair continue to create new flavors, the next a Berrymint concoction hitting shelves soon.
Reminising about my school-girl Japanese lessons, Miura and I had more in common than you would think—mostly a hankering for great sushi. My new favorite person, I'm happy to say Metromint has become my new favorite drink. It's nice to have an alternative to water that isn't going to rot your teeth.