Monthly Archives: February 2017

Discovering the Power of Kérastase’s Aura Botanica in Morocco

Kerastase_Morocco__000 Traveling to Morocco is always a special treat. The coastal African country is rich in traditions of simple daily life with beautiful scents, inspiring riads, amazing tagines, the BEST mint tea and of course, exotic markets. But it’s also known for something else… something you can only find here deep in the dry forests of the Moroccan countryside: Argan Oil. It was this highly effective moisturizing oil that Kérastase sent us to discover for ourselves.

With my travel companions Samantha from California, Yoshiko from Japan, and Marie-Laure from France we landed together in Agadir and began our journey to the Argan forest along the rocky cliffside of the African coast. The farther we ventured from Agadir, the more mountainous and wild the landscape became until the goats were in the trees and acres and acres of Argan trees were all we could see.

We arrived to a co-op run by all women. It is here Kérastase has empowered these women to help them source and produce the highest quality Argan oil for the new Kérastase Aura Botanica haircare range. The process is anything but simple and is quite time consuming. First, women collect the fallen Argan nuts off the ground then leave them in piles to dry for months in the sun. The outer shell is then removed and hand sorted. The nuts move from each group of women to the next, generations mixed from young to old, and on joyous afternoons the women will chant traditional Moroccan songs while they work in harmony.

The next stage is the hardest, I would know because they made me try it! I ended up smashing my fingers more than cracking the hard shell of the Argan nut. With precision and centuries old technique, the women using a rock and a stone, smash the hard outer shell revealing a very delicate, white, almost almond-like nut in the core. Sorted again by hand, the best nuts make it to the pressing phase where the Argan oil that is so powerful for hair, skin and nails is extracted and filtered. This oil, from these photos below, are what make up the key natural ingredient of Kérastase’s Aura Botanica.

“The new Aura Botanica range is made for the woman who believes that responsibility is a must, performance a right and glowing, healthy hair is the essence of self-expression.” -Kérastase

(more…)

This entry was posted in Beauty and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Drinking Wine in Provence

Wine_in_Provence_002

I remember when I first moved to New York in 2003 the sticker shock I had over the cost of food and drinks. A poor college student, underage, I didn’t drink back then and even if I did, I wouldn’t have been able to afford it. It took a long time in my late twenties to finally accept the fact that cocktails can cost $18 apiece and a good bottle of wine at dinner will be half of the bill if not more. When I cooked at home, on average, the cost of wine for dinner was between $20 to $30 a bottle.

Then I moved to France.

I’ll never forget the first time I walked into the wine shop here and looked at the prices. The average cost for a locally produced bottle of wine was under $10. And we are talking very good wine. Standing there confused I was having the inverted sticker shock sensation I once felt in New York. I must have looked completely bewildered, staring at the shelves of bottles motionless. One of the shop keepers asked me if I needed help and after fumbling shyly through in French “I’m sorry I don’t speak French, do you speak English?” we started a dialog which has continued to this day to enrich my knowledge slowing unlocking the French wine regions one bottle at a time.

We started first with what I was making for dinner, honey and herb roasted pork loin. You do not have to know anything about wine but you do have to know what you’re eating. The French are experts on pairing wines to flavors and I find this to be the best way to start a conversation and begin to make sense of a wine region.

It’s very funny being in a place so different from home. In Provence, and one of the reasons I love it so much here, there is a matter of fact approach to wine making. It’s not overly glamorized, commercialized, hyped, locked away behind gilded gates and sold to you in an expensive package. The goal is not to get rich, the goal is to make good wine for your community.

Wine is treated as a right, not a privilege. We all have the right to good wine.

Driving from village to village in the Luberon is a beautiful tango between small winding roads and blankets of vineyards tangled with life. In a word, it’s breathtaking. It’s a symbolic view of the cycle of life. If Napa Valley is a beautiful woman with her coiffed hair and makeup dripping in diamonds and high heels, Provence is her tomboy sister with striking natural beauty, long wild hair barefoot in the dirt draped in a linen dress. The locals here talk about the region’s vineyards and what years yielded the best wines. I visited one vineyard at the footsteps of Bonnieux on a recommendation to buy a bottle of theirs from a specific year. The French woman who helped me was quite unapologetic while she informed me they were sold out. That’s just the way it is. There will be more good years.

Perhaps my favorite moment from last autumn’s harvest was the sight of an old farmer happily bobbing along driving his tractor through the middle of town pulling a large bed overflowing with grape clusters. I assume he was en route to our town’s CSA winery where the local farmers can bring their grapes to be mixed together and made into wine. It is here where you can buy bottles of wine for around $3! An American I had met some years ago that once lived in Provence told me “they pump wine like gas down there” which at the time I thought was a metaphor but found, it is actually true! It is here at the CSA where you can watch people come in with their large empty plastic jugs and just like a gas pump, fill-er-up. No fills, just good table wine made from the community. (I’ve snapchatted / Instagram storied this)

It’s been a fun and interesting experience and I can tell you one thing… it’s going to be very hard to go back to New York prices after this.

Wearing in portrait above:

Monogrammed (check cuff!) “Husband Shirt” by Misha Nonoo, vintage vest from my favorite vintage store on earth Melet Merchantile, linen scarf from Merci-Merci Paris, leather boots by Lucchese Boots, IWC Portofino Watch, “The Perfect Vintage Jean” by Madewell and red lips are a mix of Nars Cruella and a top swipe of MAC’s Lady Danger.

This entry was posted in Lifestyle and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Hotel Mont Blanc

Hotel_Mont_Blanc_Chamonix_002

Originally built in 1849, Hotel Mont Blanc was one of the first of four hotels in the small french ski town of Chamonix nestled in the valley of the majestic Mont Blanc. Over 150 years later and after a recent extensive renovation, this boutique luxury hotel is the perfect balance of classical French design and modern flare. 

We arrived late in the night under a blanket of darkness. It was one of those moonless nights where you could only see what was illuminated by the car headlights. I’ve traveled to some winter wonderlands before but nothing prepared me for the breathtaking view that emerged in that blue tinted early morning light outside our suite’s window as the blanket of darkness drew back behind the mountains. A complete vertical wall of forested, snow covered, mountains wrapped around us jetting out of the ground with magnificent force. In the valley around us, a condensed ski village with plumes of white chimney smoke smudging away the differences between man and nature.

Setting out on an adventure we took the Aiguille du Midi cable cars with their 20 minute sheer vertical climb to the top of Aiguilles de Chamonix where you stand breathless with views of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. It’s the highest point in the world that can be accessed by cable car. The air was thin and very very cold, and each step was dizzying and had an unnatural feeling to it as if, for a moment, you could experience what it must be like to be a bird looking down on all the world. Of course the skiing is amazing, and though we didn’t have time, the glacier views I hear are also not to be missed.

After setting out each day it was always a warm welcome coming back to the Hotel Mont Blanc. It’s really the kind of hotel I prefer: boutique in size, historic importance to the location, modern renovations for comfort and exceptional food. If you find yourself in Chamonix, even if you don’t stay here, you must eat at the Le Matafan. Wonderful.

Hotel_Mont_Blanc_Chamonix_003 Hotel_Mont_Blanc_Chamonix_004 (more…)



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

This entry was posted in Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.