Thursday, April 29, 2010

Surprising news on boring day

Yesterday was a really boring day. Awfully boring! The type of days that does not want to end. Wonderful weather outside, but as usual, due to the behaviour of a mole which my boss sometimes adopts, there was no light coming into our office. Funny thing was that today there is a mole on the cover page of the Hamburger Abendblatt. They seem to be the destructive creatures tortureing the gardeners of this nation.

I even got bored yesterday by the news on the luxury industry. Louis Vuitton launches cases for Ipad in 2011. Nothing surprising! They had cases for the IPhone. Surprising is just the fact that they don't react too fast to the market development. But they can afford it. According to another item of news, the world's most valuable luxury brands were ranked, having LV at the leading position ($19.8 billion) followed by Hermes ($8.45bn), Gucci ($7,58bn), Chanel ($5.54bn) and Hennessy ($5.36bn). The study was compiled by reasearch firm Millward Brown Optimor.

The only not borig, but rather surprising news was the named best restaurant in the world. I am talking about S.Pellegrino World's Best 50 Restaurants list. The 47-year-old wonder chef Ferran Adria landed another blow when his restaurant ElBulli went from being first to being second on the list, just after a restaurant from Copenhagen, Denmark!!! I didn't believe it myself. Furthermore, there are NO French restaurants in the top 10 of this top 50 list. Still, in order to decide that, there were 800 international critics, journalists and food expersts on the panel. And they should know their job!

So who was this winner? In a converted 18th century shipping warehouse, 32 year old chef Rene Redzepi serves Nordic specialities in the winning restaurant Noma. His fame grew worldwide for his specific way of using local and seasonal ingredients to create strange dishes such as radishes in edible soil. if time allows me, I will travel soon there in search of this restaurant. Until then, I will be on a gastronomic quest this Saturday, as well as a cultural one. There is an exhibition which just opened on the 29th of April 2010, on Tutankamon. Promise to bring back pictures (if allowed)!
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Two in One

Actually, today was supposed to be a day in I would talk about alcohol. What better moment to pick than this one, when I cannot touch any alcohol as I'm on antibiotics. But there are two topics to discuss.

Grey Goose, the French super-premium vodka which you get to enjoy especially on the French Riviera in clubs (I had it in Monaco), is co-Branding. And not for the taste, no no, but for the bottle. Chopard has designed for them the new bling bottle. The Swiss and French companies decided the magnum should have a glittering globe on which a goose figure is seated. Another way of making it more exclusive. You decide if you like it or not. It will be available until September 2010 in important grocery stores in Paris. The price? 350 Euros! Do the maths to find out how much this will cost in a Cote D'Azur night club.

Still, the second part of this entry is dedicated to a more shocking item of news I read today.
You all have heard about the Birkin bag, the status bag, THE BAG of all bags, THE statement bag. It sounds like the Birkin is my second religion, but how could it not be when I know what all it means. But the news today seemed to bring every stable pilar of this religion down. The bag for which you don't only need to have money, but you need to be accepted and seen as loyal and a good acquirer is said to have no longer waiting lists. WHAT??? So, the bag for which you previously would have invested thousands of dollars in other merchandise from Hermes, you would shop probably weekly at the brand, you would get a chance through a personal shopper to have your name put on a waiting list and would wait 1-2 years for a bag for which you could not even choose the colour, that bag should be now available on the spot to anyone who can pay more than 6500 dollars??? Can this be true? Can it be that even the empire of Hermes is not recession proof anymore? This statement was close to blasphemy in my eyes. I just imagined all the women who had invested in such beauties,...oh yes, you can invest in them just as well as you can in diamonds. But now? The market value would go down... What a hit this news was! The official statement of Hermes was that "yes, there is no more silly waiting list". Nevertheless, there was later a clarification: it can happen that you can find or two bags in a shop and buy them immediately, but there are still lists available for preferences. Ufff......what a relief! I had read once that there are really 1-2 bags available sometimes, also sold through personal shoppers, to special people. The day is saved! Now we can all sleep happily!

My favourite colour of a Birkin

The worst example of what can happen to the Birkin!

And to end this blog entry, here's some news for you: I had alcohol today, even if I should't drink while having antibiotics. But I didn't drink,...there's a better way to "cheat" in this way: a wonderful chicken in an onion-sour cream-white wine sauce. Mmmmmmmmmmmm!!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

I Love Good Food!

It had to happen to me as well...eventually...I guess. I am down with the flue. Or so I think. The doctor here was never really clear about what I have. Probably she doesn't know. Went to her on Thursday and she prescribed homeopatic treatment. I am not really a fan of it, but took it, and things got worse and worse over the weekend. Hence the repeated break in writing.

But the topic has been on my mind since Friday night. Didn't know if I would have the power to go on the field for some fresh documentation, but Saturday I was already feeling better. So I dressed well and went to look for what I love most to shop for: food! I had the target set to the Alsterhaus, a department store belonging, just like the KaDeWe in Berlin and the Oberpollinger in Munich, to the Karstadt Premium Group. The Alsterhaus is open since 1911. It has a long history, for the city, for the group, and for myself and my family. I think that even my grandmother stepped through this store. There have been many changes for sure, even I saw it before and after the latest renovation. But there is a certain atmosphere which seems to rest between these walls on the Jungfernstieg.

After a 30-40 minutes relaxed Saturday ride in order to get there, I get off at U Jungfernstieg and 1 minute later I am entering this must-see place for shopping in Hamburg. Ground floor walking to the escalators and memories of my mother come up. Not just today, but every time I come here. I think it's normal since here are the perfumes and cosmetics. It was funny how I used to be her tester years ago. Of course there were testing papers available, but you all know that the scent develops differently on skin. And since she likes to change a perfume according to season, but more according to mood, she tested a lot. Probably that is why I am so loyal to a scent...and only one!

My feet take me to the 4th floor and when you see the picture below you might anticipate just a tiny bit of what gastronomic treasures lie there for the customer to discover.

The 4th floor is the delicacy department. The best place to be (at least for me). On the right you can already see my favourite bubbly drink: Champagne. Just whatever brand you like. There's even a Champagne-bar, where they serve - you've guessed it - Champagne at the ideal temperature.

There is also a wine collection. And you can choose from a huge range of cheese to go with the wine. Or maybe you want to sit at the caviar bar? There's a big collection of soft drinks from all over the world. Kusmi Tea is also available there, yet there is also another teastore. Food from around the world is also easy to find, they even have a Japanese store with fresh ingredients for the Japanese cuisine. There's also a "house" of the truffle. And you can eat there fresh dishes including the tasty ingredient. A wonderful place I could spend hours in. Chose some colours of food and spices for you to see:

After several rounds and the time I would never spend in a hypermarket while doing a week's purchase, I leave this empire of good taste (literally) and start my way back home. I take 2 more pictures (the weather is a bit warmer - 10 degrees - for mid April - so that's why there are a lot of people outside) and stop for a while to see the swans which are back.

Once arrived home I open my little purchase and, before taking a nap, I already dream of the lovely dinner:
Truffle tagliolini in butter with freshly grated Parmesan and a tea spoon of sour cream. Lovely!!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Luxury for your Taste Buds

They are known and enjoyed especially in Europe and outside the old continent, especially in cosmopolitan cities. New York, Hong Kong, Sydney, Toronto, Tokyo...all love it and buy it! But the one we know today originates from Paris (altough historians still fight about its origin).

Traced back to 1533, they were served 1830 two by to next to jam, liqueurs or spices. But the Macarons as we know them today came from Pierre Desfontaines creation. At that time he was working in the French patisserie Laduree. They were composed of two meringue disks with a layer of buttercream, jam or ganache filling. Making the little flavour miracles takes a lot of discipline, exactitude, technique and a top equipment. It is hence a difficult recipe to master and well trained patissiers can have succes.

I remember sitting on a bench in Monaco and enjoying them like a small kid who had just discovered some misteries of life. They are crunchy on the outside but when you get to the cream inside, that just melts on your tongue into an explosion for the taste buds, an explosion of flavour. And they are also attractive for the eye. They lure you with those fresh colours until you go home with a packet (if you manage to get till home and don't eat them already on the way).

The Laduree Macarons are the ideal balance between flavour and texture. For them to be ready, they have to "age" 48hours before being sold and eaten. Apparently it takes that much time for the flavour to develop to that heavenly taste.

Each season there is a new flavour which comes out (parfum). The novelty is based on the existing perfumes and colour palette. It seems that they consider the colour the essential to seduction.

And they do seduce. Here a few examples:
Italian luxury brand Marni teems up with Laduree for a limited edition of Macarons.

Louboutin brand partners with Laduree for a series of cobranded boxes.

Boucheron creates mouth-watering jewelery.

Have you seen enough? Hungry? Or should I say, greedy?
Here are the flavours Laduree offers:

The New 2010 Collection
Cherry Macaron
Apple Macaron
The Collection of Macarons:
Permanent perfumes
Chocolate - Bitter Chocolate - Vanilla - Coffee - Rose Petals - Pistachio - R
aspberry - Violet Blackcurrant - Caramel with salted butter - Red Fruit - Orange Blossom - Licorice - Lemon
Summer Scents: Coconut - Icy Mint - Almonds - Citron
The scents of winter: Spices & soft fruits - Chestnuts - Praline - The macaron Fig and Dates

P.S. This Blog entry has been written for and is dedicated to the most wonderful reader of my blog, my mother!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

These shoes are made for walking!

It's time for an entry which is more women-targeted then the previous. And here is the news: Jimmy Choo is launching its trainers' collection, the first one.

These shoes have come to my attention, and must I say, not at all positively, during a fashion show last year in Monaco. Of course the design was great and appealing, but it seemed that those stilettos I was seeing there had been made to be showpieces for a museum. Or as torture instruments! Fact was, the poor girls were not able to walk in those shoes. With evry step they were taking I thought that those articulations and legs had seen their last helathy minutes.

So, it seems just wonderful when you get an item of news such as this one: they make trainers! Here you can see them:

The snake-skin sneakers are so wanted that there is even a waiting list for them. Their prices range from 350€ to 475€.

Which one is your favourite? Here are some detail pictures of my favourite one:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A fascinating world

I have been thinking of what to write again and there were two things which had really caught my attention in the last 2 weeks: a watch and a man behind a watch. So which one to choose? Should I write two entries? But then one entry would get less attention maybe... so then I decided: both are worth our attention.

So, sorry ladies, but I am again talking again about watches for men, but I guess in this industry segment, just like for cars (or more even than for cars) it is a man's world!

Working surounded by watches has some advantages, one of them being that I get the press from all over the world and I can skim through the pages in search for our products, while still seeing the novelties from other brands. So one day I came across the Chopard L.U.C. Louis Ulysse The Tribute. For me it's simply a fantastic watch to celebrate 150 years of manufacture. It might be a bit big and heavy at a case diameter of 49,6mm made of 18k white gold, but it can fit into today's world easily. (Even if it's a total contrast to the ultrathin concept). It's a bridge between tradition and contemporary, not oly because it is an anniversary watch, but also because it can look like a watch worn ages ago: a pocket watch. Look closely: Indeed, this is a pocket watch which can be used as a wristwatch, a great tribute to Karl Scheufele, through a reinterpretation of his invention. The watch is limited to 150 pieces and a price has not been made official yet...

Moving on to the person behind the watch, Baume & Mercier chose a new brand ambassador for its charity campaign called Baume & Mercier & Me. The company with a philantropic legacy has started this campaign in 2005 and now it is my favourite actor's turn to be frontman of this "show": Andy Garcia. In Bucharest I passed by Helvetansa's window and had to turn back because this is really a man who can make you stop and admire. And its his inner values which fit with B&M's views: "The choice of Andy Garcia as Baume & Mercier ambassador is fully justified by the many points in common between the actor and the Geneva based company. Like Baume & Mercier, Andy Garcia embodies a classic elegance, an authentic personality and a charisma imbued with natural and timeless sophistication. His humanism and generosity make him an ideal ambassador for the Baume & Mercier & Moi campaign. The roles he plays and the films he makes attest very often to the importance he attaches to historical heritage, particularly in his film The Lost City, but also to family values. Andy Garcia has been married for 27 years and is the father of four children." (Federation of Swiss Watch Industry

So how does the campaing work? Well, Mr. Andy Garcia is offering B&M to make use of his image and reputation for a year. In return, all the royalties he should have got (and the phoographer as well) are transferred to several organizations of his choice. The money will be donated to cancer research, child education, for helping underprivileged women and the struggle against poverty – causes which Baume & Mercier has been actively supporting for some time now.

Isn't the world of watches just fascinating?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A good way to sleep...

I bet each and any one of you has once dreamt of not being where you were (university, library, workplace, meetings etc.), but being instead in a bed and taking a good rest. A great sleep. Well, yes, it happened to me as well.

This is how a company came to my attention: Hästens. The mid 19th century saw the beginning of this company, and like big companies in the luxury industry, they also started as saddlery. it seems that a saddlery at that time was also doing mattresses. The first Hästens mattress is supposed to have been done around 1852. Words such as good craftsmanship and high quality have been regarded as holy and lead the philosophy of their doing. These two words should also be today the basis of a good luxury product or service.

The Hästens beds are even today manually produced by using high quality natural materials, such as horse hair, cotton, wool a.o., it has to be materials which "breathe", so that you get a perfect rest and are surrounded by all comfort. The best thing is that there is also a 25 years guarantee, including spring and frame breakage. What else would you want?

I clicked myself through their website and you can also do a test according to your features and preferences which will reveal what Hästens bed is ideal for you. I got this one:

It's the "interior" or "detail" view of the 2000T II. More technical details you can gather from their website. Still, I just like to add what they say about this small miracle: Hästens 2000T II is one of Hästens’ most exclusive beds, featuring exquisite detail and unique design. The fact that it is also the bed of your dreams goes without saying.

Hope you guys sleep well tonight and dream of this baby!!!

What money should buy...

I know, it has been a while, but I am back to work, and it is really hard to still find the time to search for a nice topic. Still, I will make up for it, I promise.

The other day I saw someone writing on someone else, that the second person would love the most to have money. I myself believe that money doesn't bring hapiness, but it really sustains it. Still, a wise buyer with less money will have more in the future than someone who just spends it in a bling-bling kind of way. I was reading an article on Birkin Bags also a few days back,...which is for sure an investment. Bt it is also an investment to get there. Nevertheless, the Birkin might be a topic for the future entries.

Today I want to shortly discuss a tendency with I have noticed in 2010 collections of watches but also at auctions for timepieces: the wise luxury buyer loves to "acheter utile" as they say and turn their heads more and more towards classical and timeless pieces. Mainly Hour-Minute function, some with second or small second function as well.This is the 2010 launch from Piaget, the new Automatic Altiplano Ultrathin 50th anniversary LE. It owns the world's thinnest self-winding movement currently on the market with a thinkness of just 2.35mm. Amazing!

These two were 2010 SIHH Presentations of Ultrathin from Vacheron Constantin. These are the Historique Ultra-fine 1955 (round case) and the Historique Ultra-fine 1968 (square case)., which were added to the HISTORIQUE collection.

Another SIHH 2010 presentation comes from Zenith: Elite 681 Ultrathin, with a selfwinding movement.

Last but not least I am adding a JaegerLeCoultre watch from 2009, the Master Grande Ultra-Thin.

The Classic simple designs are bringing back traditional feelings. They are not considered watches with complications, but the movements have to be of highest precision in while being so thin...and this is the art of watchmaking. It just depends on the buyer if he purchases wisely!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

An Education... or translation from the Romanian translation: a lesson for life

Went yesterday out and I landed in front of a movie theatre, bought tickets to An Education, a movie I had wanted to see for months. And it is indeed a movie worth seeing.

I am not going to talk about the actors or the charm the film creates, but of what is and what is not related to luxury. I think this movie is a sweet way of criticizing even the society nowadays. We have all become too materialistic. We label people by the labels they are wearing. If you wear Chanel you are like this, if you wear Guess you are like that, if you wear LV you are in another way...but this judgem,ent is wrong. It is merely a description of what we own and not of what we are and what we were or would like to be.

"What, are going to read English BOOKS??? You can read magazines...and you surely learn more from them!"
Unfortunately this is an attitude I have noticed to become more and more frequent in the people which surround us. Even some elder relatives of mine consider that being on TV is far more cool and more intelligent than having taken two university degrees.
"Knowing a famous author is better than becoming one. It shows you're connected." That's Jack's attitude, and after being so harsh on his daughter who would make a great Oxford candidate, he is ready to drop all for some shortcuts. I guess most of us would tend to do that: fast success, fast money, fast glamour. Why make it "hard and boring" like education and honesty?
I guess the answer is also given in the movie, altough Jenny, the main character, throws this line in another context:"If you never do anything, you never become anyone."

So what is the lesson we should remember? Let me just tell you another thing: last year, as a guest speaker to a entrepreneurial contest, Sir Stelios from EasyJet told the crowd that for making it like him you need a rich father. Yes, to make it that fast, maybe. Everybody looks up to Mr Trump, but didn't he also have someone guard his back?

Fact: movie worth seeing. Another fact: education is worth more than posession, as noone can ever take it away from you. Noone can change who you really are, no matter what you have or don't have.
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