Category Archives: Lifestyle

L’ÉCOLE Van Cleef & Arpels

Van Cleef & Arpels is a french jewelry house known for their whimsical designs from florals to fairies and charming ballerinas.  They are also known for is their jewelry making school called L’ÉCOLE which, until recently, was only offered in Paris. Now, L’ÉCOLE has found a temporary new home in New York offering classes until mid-June for people like me that are interested in how things are created and learning by doing. Tucked elegantly into the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, you can’t help but feel like you are transported to Paris in a classroom wrapped in crown molding and french accented teachers who are skilled jewelers guiding you.

The course I took was Savoir-Faire, a four hour class where skilled instructors walk you through the first six steps of jewelry making. I loved learning how to paint a diamond in gouache, and how a little flat butterfly design becomes something you learn how to cut out, shape, hold and glue diamonds (ok, rhinestones) into as they teach you the jeweler’s gestures.

These classes are very intimate, only 12 students, and run from now through June 18th. Other courses include looking into the world of watchmaking, gemstones, and the art history of jewelry

I’ve always appreciated the beauty of high jewelry but until I actually tried my hand at it, I didn’t understand the intense skill it requires to make the charming pieces I am so lucky to get to wear to events like this past year’s School of American Ballet Winter Ball. I wouldn’t exactly say I learned a new skill yesterday (in fact I learned it takes 10-15 years as an apprentice before you can begin to make high jewelry) but I certainly did gain a new level of understanding into a world that makes life sparkle.   

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The East End

Exploring the hamptons in NYDJ's summer 2015 collection

After our great west coast adventure, NYDJ wanted us to do another travel journal but for the east coast and I thought what a wonderful way to spend a few days out in the Hamptons!  All last year we found ourselves in Amagansett as much as possible where we shared a house with friends, making memories around the fireplace in the winter months and by the pool in the summer ones. There is something about the light out there that is mystical. There is nothing like shooting out here, and some of my favorite stories were made just like that.  I used to lay in the grass on summer afternoons and watch the light dancing in the trees and as the sun set, wrapping it’s beams around objects like frosted glass. I loved exploring this east end of Long Island, home to so many inspiring artists, friends and amazing restaurants.

NYDJ is perfect for quick little summer getaways. The fit and feel of the clothing makes traveling for hours in a car or plane much more comfortable. Not to mention the philosophy of the brand is all about focusing on flattering the figure and natural curves while being effortless and non-fussy. Which means, if you’re like me, you can hop on a bike for a quick afternoon ride and then transition seamlessly into dinner looking put together. 

With a suitcase full of new summer looks, we hoped in our vintage Mercedes convertible and hit the road to visit some of our old favorites haunts I’ve been longing for since the first day of spring…

  Exploring the hamptons in NYDJ's summer 2015 collection

Above- sitting outside Jack’s Coffee in the perfect NYDJ white summer pantGeorgette Sleeveless Henley topBlack Patent Leather Ballerina Ferragamo, and MAIYET gold cuff

Love Jack’s Coffee. It’s such a fun watering hole in both the city and out here in the country.  You always run into people you know in that most charming of small towns kind of way and from time to time you stand in line behind famous people like Giada de Laurentiis or Julianne Moore (happend). 

Exploring the hamptons in NYDJ's summer 2015 collection Exploring the hamptons in NYDJ's summer 2015 collection

Below- Checking into the Surf Lodge with my Ralph Lauren Ricky Drawstring Bag,  NYDJ white Millie pull-on ankle pantGeorgette Sleeveless Henley topBlack Patent Leather Ballerina Ferragamo, and MAIYET gold cuff

Exploring the hamptons in NYDJ's summer 2015 collection

One of the things I’ve always wanted to do was to visit Jackson Pollock’s artist studio in Springs, NY, just up the road from Amagansett. It was an incredible experience to walk into this barn studio that sits quietly on a meadow that drew Jackson here, influencd his work, as well as the work of Lee Krasner, his wife and fellow artist. I couldn’t believe we were able to walk on the floors where splatters of paint that made some of the most important American modern art works were made.  (more…)

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“This is not a Dinner”

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I recently found myself with this incredible opportunity to go to Spain and spend two days “decoding Dom Pérignon“. With the Chef de Cave Richard Geoffroy and culinary mastermind Ferran Adrià, we were to have the gustatory experience of a lifetime joining them as brought back elBulli’s most famous “snacks” that took the global gastronomy world by storm. What Dom Pérignon was hoping to achieve through this solo tasting and minimallistic experience was a study into the four facets of their newly released 2005 vintage which are: Minerality, Intensity, Seamlessness and Harmony. Ferran built the entire menu around these four themes, making the wine the centre or “sun” and the snacks like orbiting planets orbiting around it.

We were seated at a mirrored table in a dark room, no utensils. Waiters dressed in black delivered the first wave of snacks based around Minerality. The experience would be broken up into four chapters based on the characteristics of the champagne. With each snack would come instructions, “eat this all in one bite.”, “eat this in two bites and drink this in-between.” It was insane. Things were surprisingly sweet when it looked salty, weightless when it looked dense. Everything you think you know about food you had to throw out the window.

I had parmesan ice cream, deconstructed olives, crunchy raviolis made form a seaweed shell with a lemon filling. This was not at all what I would think of when I think of ravioli but that’s precisely what Ferran loves to ask: What makes ravioli, ravioli? Because it’s made of pasta or because it’s a pocket filled? 

After the first chapter was completed the room (or, what I thought was a room) changed suddenly as the walls began to move and open up towards the sky high ceiling, revealing the other tables of guests. The lighting changed from a sharp contrast to a warm soft glow following a change in music changing the entire mood for the participates. Then, just as with Farran’s approach to food, my whole experience changed. 

The experience went well beyond the the thrill of being one of the first people to try a new Dom Pérignon Vintage. It taught me to think about creativity in a different way than just what is. How can you take something we all know and try to understand it more? How can you think one way and then teach yourself to think it again totally differently. The slogan for the elBulli Foundation is “Feed Creativity”… he did that and I can’t wait to see what they do next. 

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Minerality

-Mimetic peanuts

-Hibiscus and peanut palet

-Walnut catanias

-Yoghurt pistachulines

-Beetroot and yoghurt meringue / profiterole

-Mango croquant leaf and marigold

Dom_Pérignon_elBulli_dinner_Vintage_2005_005 (more…)

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Decoding Dom Pérignon

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Visiting the El Bulli Foundation is like visiting an alternate reality where utopias of learning and discovery exist and are the highest forms of human achievement. The objective is discovery, understanding the nature of food, how it is prepared and experienced. Ferran Adrià has a passion for this discovery and, after 25 years as head chef at El Bulli, he is devoting himself and his team to cataloging haute cuisine and creative expression in general.

The foundation’s walls are the inside of Adrià’s mind come to life – rooms with drawings and research pinned to foam board, books on all subjects, and a staff of artists and researchers delving into all of it. Ferran asks us questions meant to twist our expectations of food – is champagne still a drink if it’s served in a bowl and you eat it with a spoon? His mind and career has been keenly pursuing these questions for a quarter century.

Dom Perignon‘s Chef de Cave Richard Geoffroy was at the foundation as well, discussing a new three year partnership between the esteemed wine makers and the El Bulli foundation with the hopes to “decode champagne”. We visited the new Dom Pérignon wing within the foundation and discussed their process of blending that yields a vintage to meet their standards. For them, tasting and decoding is a constant task, as they are tracking the changing characteristics of their wine and, in a macro sense, they look at the similarities and differences between many releases of Dom Pérignon, dating back to 1921. On a wall in one room of the foundation we see colored strings connecting Dom Pérignon releases, creating a stunning visual way to trace the complex flavors of their champagne expressions over time.

When I asked Richard what Dom Pérignon hoped to achieve by having one of the greatest creative minds decode their champagne over the course of three years, he said it was impossible to know on this journey of discovery…

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I had no creative personality before I was working in the kitchen. I think this is a good example for how important it is to do what you really like to be able to be creative. 

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I’m here for a reason. It is the same reason I was in the restaurant for. To look for the limits. But there are no limits. Life isn’t long enough. It can take years and years and our brains aren’t clever enough to understand it all… However clever you are, there will always be something you don’t understand.

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