Saturday, March 19, 2011

The luxury of living, the luxury of space

One of today's problem of mankind is the growth in population while the existence of resources is getting lower. This looks probably like a too broad idea and no very specific, but here is where I'm going: young people have to find their place to live with a greater sense of competition than their parents or grandparents had to do, because offer is less. Add to that what is happening to the job market and the current crisis, which makes young people to do more internships and postpone their growth on the career ladder because there is little or no availability of higher or better paid jobs. Also, the bigger percentage in ageing population, makes countries postpone the age of retirement and lower pensions. This has as an effect that elderly employees stay more on a job and therefore occupy an opportunity for a younger person.

This is why young people move away from home later and have a lower budget to spend on housing, space is little, and they have to cope with that. They have to minimize their living space in order to keep costs affordable and to still have a sense of independence. But how should they live? Should they also give up comfort because of the general economic situation? O is there a way?

Luckily, there are designers who have thought about this. I have stumbled upon a video this week which really made my day. And I think I can relate the topic very well to my blog, as this concept of furniture which is presented revolves around the idea of the luxury of space. I imagine a city such as Tokyo is, where there are millions and millions people living on such a little space, that finding innovative ideas for comfortable living is as important as building safe houses.

The company from the video which presents the furniture from various Italian brands is NY-based and talks about Resource Furniture. I hope you will enjoy this video as much as I did. Have a nice Saturday!

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Monday, March 14, 2011

2011 is strong... colour.
The Pantone Colour Fashion Report 2011 has been released, a 40 pages pdf document which reveals the top 10 colours for the 2011 Spring season. Nevertheless I still believe that they will be equally used throughout fashion in all seasons this year. And I am happy,...because I see colour and colour and colour! This makes me happy to live the age I have and will most likely bring spring again on more elderly women.

But this season is also about being strong: runway presentations show that it's either the nude lips with strong eye make-up or the other way around (hot, passionate lips). Some, such as Christian Dior, even combine them both, or use bold lipstick colours with smokey eye make-up. Smokey is still fashionable this season, just go out there and buy make-up.

I must admit, I am not a frequent user of make-up, as for I still believe in being natural and showing what is beautiful in a natural way before being obliged by age to cover it. Nevertheless, these colours bring joy and play with your fantasies, I have started being bold.

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Gucci SS 2011
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Fendi SS2011
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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy International Women's Day!!!

For all the ladies out there: have a wonderful day, it's your day today...just like every other day!

Enjoy this new ad campaign from Emporio Armani Underwear and Armani Jeans with Rafael Nadal, made for the Spring/Summer 2011 cloting line ad campaign.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

London Series part 3 - Chicago...and all that Jazz...

It's evening and you're in London! This means it's time for some entertainment! This city is really one of the most well known cities for its theatres and musicals. I had already made a list of things I might have wanted to see, and on my list were shows such as Billy Elliott, Mamma Mia, War Horses, The Lion King, We Will Rock You, Les Miserables, Stomp, Shoes and many, many more. Of course you cannot make them in a week unless you have a huge budget and you are lucky.

I had heard about this insider tip of the TKTS ticket selling booth in Leicester Square. They are supposed to have theatre tickets , discounted ones, on the day of the show. Discounts may vary, from 5 pounds to 30 pounds,...but seats are limited and are not always the best you can get. It's last minute buying anyways, you couldn't expect things to happen differently.

Apart from the TKTS, when I got off the tube at Leicester Square Station and walked towards the Leicester Square, there were companies here and there selling discounted tickets, and not just for the shows on that night but als for shows in 2 or 3 days from then. So you really have a choice. I tried to negotiate someting, but it is really hard. They know there are so many offering the same thing, that tourists soon loose their energy and buy their tickets at the next booth.

I didn't quite loose my energy, au contraire, I went back to my friend's place and we decided to go for a walk and then for a dinner (her dinner, because I was still with a full stomach after the Alain Ducasse feist). My friend lives in Covent Garden, really nice location for cultural venues and close to theatres as well. So there we were, in front of a West End theatre which would be playing the show CHICAGO on that night. Spontaneously we decided to go in and bought the tickets for the show which was going to take place in two hours from then. We got a half price ticket and seats in the third row,...not bad at all!

After originally opening in 1979 at the Cambridge Theatre, the smash hit musical CHICAGO is back there, with an award-winning, all-singing, all-dancing show. It is a great way of entertainment, the actors are superbly chosen, with both great voices and bodies playing to the wonderful music with the on-stage-band and to the superbe choreography.

I am sure you all know the stories of Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, and if you don't, you still get an urge to sing and dance during and after the show. My friend and other theatre visitors went outside during the break and it looked like the dancing was continuing there. It was so much fun. Even days after was my friend singing songs from the play.It had made an impact on her.

And it will make one on you, if you decide to see any of the musicals playing in London. Just buy your ticket and start to sing.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

London Series part 2 - Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester

Two days ago I watched several documentaries on the French cuisine. As you all might know, the French Meal has been taken into the UNESCO heritage chest along with other treasures humanity has created, and therefore the French Meal has become something one must protect. I have watched closely and what all the documentaries were trying to say was that it is not necessarily about the food, although this makes a great part of the meal, but it is about the ingredients chosen, the way of presenting the food, the stages of a French Meal, the combination with wines and other alcoholic drinks which are not regarded as drinks but rather as integral part of the meal, the art de table, meaning the decor, the way you put your cutlery on the table etc.

All of this inspired me to write you about my best gastronomic experience of a French London. His name is Alain Ducasse and I have been his fan ever since I stepped on Monegasque soil some years ago. Born French, in 1956, Alain Ducasse learned the pleasures of real taste on the farm in the Landes region where he grew up. He worked with Michel Guerard, the inventor of the nouvelle cuisine, then near Cannes under Roger Verge where he learned the more traditional approach. But the greatest influence he considers was the cooking style of his mentor Alain Chapel, which showed him that cooking was not about mixing but rather about highlighting aromas. At the age of 25 he took the command of a restaurant, receiving in 1982 his first two Michelin stars. Tragically, the career was brought to a halt by a jet crash of which Ducasse was the only survivor and after approximately 3 years he was fully recovered, changing his character: becoming stronger and more rigorous. In 1987 he became the head chef of the Louis XV in Monaco and received 3 Michelin stars, at the age of 33, becoming the youngest chef ever to achieve this status. He then ventured into other restaurants, such as the Plaza Athenee in Paris or the Beige in Tokyo. Every restaurant is newer and different from the others. Each concept varies and has to fit in the place they are in: the Louis XV in Monaco is very traditional, very baroque, while the restaurant in the Dorchester is minimalistic and shows a society which is very vibrant and on the move. Nevertheless, the comfort is present in all of Alain Ducasse restaurants.

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The 15th of February was a special day for me. I had a lunch reservation at the Alain Ducasse restaurant at the Dorchester. Being in the industry and knowing what to expect, both from the Dorchester and from the restaurant, I was still curious of how this typically French environment would exist in the heart of London. I must say, there was nothing, from my arrival till my departure, which I could complain about.

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I was greeted by the concierge of the Dorchester, who kindly took my winter coat to the cloakroom, and walked with me to the entrance of the restaurant. There my name was checked on the reservation list and I was accompanied to my table. Yes, a table just for me. I had previously asked two of my friends who live in London if they would want to join, but unfortunately they were caught up with some business. This way I was even more treated like a princess, having 6-7 people moving around my table and offering me diffrent things.

One of the first things they offered was a newspaper. I skimmed through it but I didn't really have the time to read any full article as I was too busy analyzing the decor. Everything around me was so minimalistic, so straight, I could even say, so German. But the design of Patrick Jouin was really amazing, if one looked at some details such as a wall or a ceiling in different parts of the dining room. They go so perfectly with what Alain Ducasse is trying to transmit, meaning the closeness to nature. Each table even had an unique porcelain made decor piece, resembling various vegetables or spices. Some had asparagus, others cauliflower, others cabbage, and I had garlic (ironical or not....). There were two things which were contrasting with the simplicity of the place: a large showcase carrying dozens and dozens of luxurious crystal glasses and vessels, and the plate in front of me, which had a pinkish baroque drawing on it. Still, I didn't think they were out of place at all.

And then....I ordered: Hereford snails with wild mushrooms and a veloute and crispy chicken with bread croutons as a starter.

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Before receiving my order, I was treated to other, wonderful hors-d'oeuvre. First one to arrive was the grugere (see picture above). It is something like a cheese croquette, being crunchy on the outside, but really foamy and full of air on the inside,...disappearing in your mouth in seconds. It clearly melts in your mouth, combining the Parmesan and pepper and paprika tastes and making this a wonderful snack. I had to be careful not to eat to much of them in order to leave place for the meals I had ordered. The grugere was also nicely presented on a tableware which fitted the ceramic decor, meaning on a ceramic leaf. As for what I mentioned above, about the French meal, Alain Ducasse has his tableware designed especially for him and his restaurant, making it an integral part of the meal itself.

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Then I was offered the bread. Oh, I just love fresh bread, I could just eat that. It is true that bread does make a big difference at a table, and it can make it or break it, in my opinion. But what I chose really made it! It was an olive bread, which was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and when I opened it, there were not the usual dried olives which you get to see in such breads, but fresh ones, with a such intensive flavour that I was just a big, big smile. The surprise in the olive bread was the rosemary flavour. Indeed, fresh rosemary had been integrated in that wonderful bread and the taste made me think of the Mediterranean and the summer, which were both so far away in time but so close in flavour.

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Along with the bread came the butter and the cheese cream. The butter was my favourite: salted butter. If anyone has seen the movie Julie and Julia, you know what they say when they refer to the secret of life: it is the butter. Indeed, I can't imagine my life without it, be it on my bread or in my cooking or baking. The cheese cream was extremely light, a combination of cheese and cream, whipped together in this one mind blowing product.

After I enjoyed that, there was a small cup brought in front of me, containing bits of roasted nuts, a cheese cream, very salty and creamy, something between spread cheese and sour cream, with 1mm slices of apple, on top of which an orange fruit veloute was poured over, probably containing mango. All that was just like a small cappuccino cup, but the carnival of flavours in my mouth was amazing. There were salt and pepper on the table, but I never touched them. Everything was perfectly seasoned.

Finally I received my starter of the meal: the Hereford snails. They were on top of a brown-grey mousse-foam-sauce of mushrooms, with a green herbal sauce which tasted like spinach, surrounded my nicely cooked mushrooms and chicken strips which I have never eaten like that in my life. They were succulent on the inside and very crispy on the outside, the peel looking as if it had been caramelized, although it hadn't! I must say, I eat mushrooms only raw, I don't enjoy them otherwise. Nevertheless, the way these mushrooms were prepared made me eat every bit of my plate. I suppose good food lies in the way it is prepared afterall. Next to the chicken strips there were also croutons, the size of an 1 Euro coin, but thinner cut. What a delight!

The sommelier, who was absolutely wonderful and chose for both dishes white wines, as I had asked of him, offered me a very nice 2009 Riesling, with a large bouquet, a bit fruity. I cannot count all the flavours I was perceiving at the same time, but they showed me what the 3 Michelin stars stand for.

For the main dish I chose a roasted salmon cooked dark pinkish inside, on a bed of baby spinach with a sort of barbecue sauce, accompanied by oven potatoes on top of which there was a lobster ragout and a transparent crunchy cheese leaf. Everything was delicious. Every time I was asked if everything would be OK, I would smile because my mouth was too busy with those aromas in order to talk. It was a wonderful choice of mine, going from the earthy aroma of the starter to the fishy environment and to that lightness. The recommendation of the sommelier was a 2008 Limoux Toques et Clochers Chardonnay, from the South West of France. The wine was vapid at first, almost tasteless, with the flavour becoming more and more stronger afterwards, a corky and a bit bitterly flavour, which was exactly what I needed to accompany the salmon. I was contemplating the layers of taste in the wine and was happy about my time spent in the south of France, where wine is not just a drink, but a reason to live.

While my table was cleaned of crumbs, I had already made my choice for the dessert. In any restaurant, if there is a chocolate fondant on the menu, I don't continue reading the rest. I was "warned" that it would take up to 15 minutes to prepare the Guanaja Chocolate Fondant & Sorbet, but I didn't expect my table to get filled with other dessert. There was enough on my table to feed an army!

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The macarons were of three flavours: roses, oranges and cocoa. Their taste was at least so good as the original Laduree ones, but these were made in-house. They were accompanied by nougat with pistachio, dried fruit or nuts. There were also walnuts covered in a dark chocolate crust and pralines and dark chocolate ganache...ah....heaven!

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And then, there it was, the Fondant, which was so creamy insie and so perfect on the outside, accompanied by a chocolate sorbet. A play now, not only between flavours, but also between temperatures and forms of the same thing: chocolate. One could really feel like in the movie.

My tea arrived, of course, an Earl Grey, and the friend I was supposed to meet after my lunch, Aline, joined at the end of my dessert, having coffee and confessing that she likes the atmosphere there better than in the Louis XV in Monaco. She was referring to the service of course, as I had previously said, there were around 6-7 people dealing with me, nevertheless, I did not feel my space invaded, au contraire, I think they kept the correct distance for me to enjoy both high quality service and privacy.

If you ever go to London, make a reservation for The Lunch Hour at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester. You will have a fantastic culinary experience, maybe one of the best, enjoy a 3 Michelin star chef cooking, and have very good value for money. Food is relatively expensive in London, comparatively to other European cities, but this place is worth every penny!!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

Dear all,

yesterday I received an e-mail which made my day. It was telling me that I had been awarded the Stylish Blogger Award, which you can nicely admire on the right-hand-side of my blog now. Furthermore, there is a link behind it, letting you know that this award has been given to me by the wonderful Ada from

Here's a quote from the e-mail: "According to the rules, you have to tell 7 things about yourself, link your post to the person who's given you the award, pick 10 blogs you love, pass the award onto them and let these bloggers know that they have received a stylish blogger award."

So here it goes:
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1. First thing about me is that I am surprised about this award. Not that I don't think that my style/blog etc isn't stylish enough, but rather because my blog has been more of a niche one and has less contact to fashion in general than all the other blogs I am reading or my readers are reading. Nor have I put many pictures of me posing in various clothes or pictures of my latest acquisitions. I find that all that is less relevant for me and that I want to know and share more on how beautiful, unique things are done and what their history/tradition is. Plus, I think that Coco Chanel was perfectly right when saying that fashion fades while style remains the same.

2. I love food. I love good food. And most of the time I prefer saying that we live to eat and not that we eat to live. Gastronommy is one of the finest arts for me...if well done. More on this subject soon on a London-Series episode.

3. If I could choose to have only one alcoholic drink in my fridge, it would be Champagne. It goes with almost everything!

4. One of my very strong connection to the big luxury houses is because I love doing equestrian sports. Most of the companies, such as Hermes, Louis Vuitton, A.Dunhill started from making harnesses and their craftsmanship into this field made them create reliable and durable leather goods. Hermes still creates saddles nowadays.

5. I love the summer and prefer te seaside, even in winter!

6. I love Greek music. I think it is so simple in the lyrics while the melody touches your inner chordes and even the most insensitive person could melt to these songs. I like them because they show that life is never easy nor is it as we would like it to be,...but we can sing our grief or sorrow and then still move on with a smile upon our faces,...because there are new horizons ready to be discovered.

7. I'm not someone who respects traditions by the book, but there are some small traditions which remind me of home. One of them is the offering of the "Martisor", and I know that being away from home and not getting it is sometimes a reason for sadness and thinking of home. Well, my girls abroad, this one goes out to you girls!

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So now I must award this Stylish Blogger Award to ten other bloggers, which is a bit difficult for me, as most of the blogs I follow are on gastronomy.
So there it goes:
- Ada for , because, even if you awarded me this prize, I still adore your blog and find you should do carry on the work you're doing now!
- Arina from - because I like your work especially
- Ioana from - because we all like your blog and work
- - because style is not dependent on money
- - because style begins with breakfast
- Dana from - beacause even if she says she's a fashion addict, she's a style addict for sure

I know it's not ten, but as I said, I follow more gastronomy blogs and luxury blogs where there is a whole team behind the project, not just one stylish blogger.

It's the beginning of spring (altough it doesn't really look like it), so think happy thoughts! I will be back soon with some more on the London Series.
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