Red Rocks of Sedona
Next month, I'm scheduled to travel to Arizona for the very first time and I'm thrilled! One of the places I'll be staying is the world famous L'Auberge de Sedona. Several friends have told me what a beautiful and spiritual place Sedona is - vibrant red rocks, breathtaking sunsets, and a surreal sense of peace.
Creekside Dining at L'Auberge de Sedona
L’Auberge de Sedona is an intimate creekside luxury inn surrounded by the stunning Red Rocks of central Arizona. The inn is situated on 11 acres of lush forested grounds and the accommodations include private cottages and lodge style guest rooms. In 2012, readers of Travel + Leisure named L’Auberge de Sedona among the World’s Best Top 20 Resorts in the United States and the property was also listed on Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List as one of the World’s Best Places to Stay. Guests of L’Auberge enjoy a variety of onsite activities including yoga classes, duck pond feedings, guided astronomy sessions, and sommelier led wine classes.
Al fresco massage at L'Auberge de Sedona
The Spa at L'Auberge de Sedona is also highly regarded and was recently ranked #13 Hotel Spa in the U.S. on Condé Nast Traveler’s top spas list. The 5,000 sq. ft. spa has recently refreshed their interior and the redesigned Spa at L’Auberge is comprised of four indoor treatment rooms and separate men’s & women’s steam showers. Treatments can also be enjoyed creekside in a private cabana or in the privacy of the guest suites. The new spa menu introduces treatments featuring Scientific Organics by Emergin C and an array of all-natural treatments that cater to all the body's senses. For example, the Sedona Dreams treatment relieves fatigued muscles with a combination of hot stones, replenishing scrub and a scalp ritual massage and the Organic Facial utilizes the latest scientific breakthroughs to refine and refresh skin. The Spa at L'Auberge de Sedona also offers highly-personalized healing practices and energy treatments, including the Cranial Sacral experience that uses a combination of light touch body work to facilitate a deep state of balance and relaxation. Just thinking about it makes me feel better!
Vista Cottage at L'Auberge de Sedona
I promise to share more about L'Auberge after my visit. Until then, you can learn more at the L'Auberge de Sedona website.
I've never seriously pondered trading in my little black dresses for chef's whites but the new Spanish Culinary Arts Curriculum at the International Culinary Center has me thinking that todo es posible!
The first-of-its-kind Spanish program will launch in February 2013 at the International Culinary Center's New York City campus. It was developed in collaboration with their recently-appointed Dean of Spanish Studies José Andrés - renowned Spanish culinary innovator, James Beard award-winning chef, and the owner of ThinkFoodGroup which operates multiple restaurants across America - including Jaleo, Zaytinya, and The Bazaar by José Andrés at The SLS Hotels in Beverly Hills and South Beach. Colman Andrews, author of Catalan Cuisine, co-founder of Saveur and editorial director of www.thedailymeal.com also assisted in the development of the program.
dream of educating future generations of chefs in authentic, traditional
and modern Spanish cuisine is finally coming true with the official
launch of the Spanish Culinary Arts program at The International
Culinary Center. With
its intense passion and revolutionary avant-garde spirit, Spain is
taking the food industry in America by storm, in a way I could only have
imagined. This program will provide aspiring chefs with an incredible
opportunity to receive a formal Spanish culinary education and I’m
thrilled to take the first class to Spain, where they will be able to
personally experience everything that Spanish cuisine and culture has to
During the 11-week course, students will be trained in culinary techniques, learn about the food of Spain beginning with traditional cuisine and progressing to contemporary and avant-garde. In addition to receiving world-class training in traditional and modern Spanish cuisine, students will learn Spanish culture, history, geography and culinary terminology - making ICC's curriculum the most authentic and comprehensive Spanish culinary program in the country. And, the inaugural class will conclude with a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Spain with José Andrés! How amazing is that?
If you enroll, let me know so that I can live vicariously through you! Classes begin February 5 and end April 12, 2013. Classes meet 5 times a week for 11 weeks. The tuition is $26,500.
For more infomation, visit the International Culinary Center website.
I've spent several glorious weeks working my way through the autumn issues of my favorite fashion, food, wine and travel magazines. Now that I've been thoroughly seduced by their offerings, I'm ready to shop up a storm. However, until I get my hands on a winning Mega Millions ticket, I won't be able to secure all of the luxuries on my wish list. But darlings, a tight budget is no reason to abstain from life's pleasures. Check out my luxe for less finds!
The Dress: Define Your Shape Dress by Avon ($39.99)
I have been coveting a Stella McCartney hourglass illusion dress ever since they started appearing on curvy celebs like Kate Winslet. However, the $800+ price tag is a bit steep so I was thrilled to learn that Avon (yes Avon!) has created a gorgeous define your shape dress at a fraction of the price. Avon was kind enough to send me a dress to review and I have to say it looks great - this is a figure flaunting frock! The color-blocking with a curvy inset creates an instant hourglass. Not only is the Avon dress a curve enhancer but the matte fabric and dark color give it a very elegant look - no one will know that it was so inexpensive. And, the dress is very travel friendly - the cotton/polyester/spandex blend is washable. This slinky Avon dress is an affordable and fashionable wardrobe essential.
Maximo Tempranillo (under $10)
Don't let the low price fool you - this luscious velvety red wine from the La Mancha region of Spain is muy impressive. Made from 100% Tempranillo grapes that are aged for 6 months in a combination of French and American oak barrels, Maximo is a fruit-forward wine with a subtle hint of spice that is a pleasure to sip and easy on the wallet. Wine Enthusiast selected Maximo Tempranillo as a "Top 10 Under $10" for 3 years in a row. This versatile vino pairs well with tapas, paella, and red meat.
The Destination: Find an amazing deal on Budget Travel
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Budget Travel is one of my favorite publications - they do a great job of rounding up real deals for travelers who don't want to spend a fortune but still desire a great trip. Current deals on the Budget Travel website include a package to Argentina (air, 6 nights hotel & wine tasting from $1,658), New Orleans (air & 4 nights hotel from $519), Hawaii (air and 5 nights hotel from $905), and many more!
New York City is one of the world's most visited tourist destinations and I feel blessed to call this crazy, creative, and chic city my home. If you are planning a visit to Manhattan, here are a few wonderful things that have recently caught my eye and tempted my tastebuds.
I was strolling along Park Avenue and suddenly these gorgeous, curvy, vibrant sculptures appeared - absolute joy! You can see The Three Graces in all their larger-than-life glory until November 15th at Park Avenue and 53rd Street. This exuberant work of art was created by the late Niki de Saint Phalle and more of her sculptures appear on the Park Avenue Mall from 52nd-60th Streets. Visit Art in the Parks for additional information.
I spotted this wacky blue shoe car zipping down Lexington Avenue last week. Apparently, it was a promotional vehicle for the discount retailer Marshalls to promote their shoe department. Will it appear again? Who knows - but that's the magic of Manhattan - you never know what amazing sight will appear, if only for a fleeting moment.
I've had some pretty great culinary moments recently. Last week, I was invited to help judge chocolates at the International Chocolate Awards. It was pretty intense but very delicious! The winners will be announced soon.
Whole Roasted Suckling Pig at The Breslin
Thanks to my friends at Frederick Wildman & Sons (wine & spirits importers) and Pig's Nose Scotch Whisky, I finally experienced the chef's table at one of my favorite restaurants - The Breslin. Our guest of honor was a whole roasted suckling pig - juicy meat + crispy skin = hog heaven!
I've been dining at Kellari Taverna for years and I always recommend it when people ask for dining suggestions near Broadway theatres, Times Square, and Grand Central Station. Kellari Taverna serves authentic Greek cuisine and the seafood is amazingly fresh and expertly prepared. I had lunch there yesterday and it was marvelous - I've never had a bad meal at Kellari Taverna.
A friend treated me to a very ooh la la evening of drinks and dinner at The Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges. The creative & classic cocktails, superb food and elegant ambiance get high marks from moi. And, I must commend the lighting that makes everyone look like a movie star!
Whether you are traveling across the pond or commuting to work, autumn is the ideal time to rev up your look. An edgy black leather dress, a bold black cherry lip, glowing skin, and a stand-out bag will put you in the spotlight this season!
Alexander Wang Leather Trim Wrap Dress made with imported Italian fabric
$765 at SAKS
Thanks to the recent Arts & Tannery show I've become obsessed with getting a leather dress this season. Arts & Tannery featured luxurious samples of supple Italian leather in every conceivable color and pattern. I'm still not sure why Italian leather is so buttery soft - are the cows massaged with extra virgin olive oil while they are serenaded with Puccini? Whatever the reason, Italian leather IS super luxurious and a favorite material of top designers from around the world. I would love to add this gorgeous Alexander Wang dress to my wardrobe. The leather bodice adds some sassy edge to this classic silhouette.
Transitioning your skincare regimen from summer to fall can be tricky and one of the biggest challenges is erasing hyperpigmentation caused by sun exposure and blemish scars. And, if your skin is sensitive like mine, you have to be extra cautious about what you apply to fade dark spots. I've been using Osmotics Cosmeceuticals Lighten FX Serious Brightening Solution ($62) for about 10 days and really love the results. Non-oily, it absorbs quickly, gently fades dark spots and leaves my skin with a healthy glow. And, unlike other brightening products I've tried, Osmotics does not cause breakouts - yay! The triple action formula features a new patented molecule to visibly lighten the skin and prevent UV damage, Niacinamide to brighten, moisturize and smooth and Alpha Arbutin to target melanin production and prevent future discoloration. Use it on your face, hands, or body. This has definitely earned a space in my Ziplock bag on my next trip!
I love a bold lip in the fall and one of my favorite shades is Espionage Full Finish Lipstick by Benefit ($18) - I always get compliments in this shade and something about it brings out the flirt in me! It is a bold black cherry red that will compliment many skin tones from alabaster to mahogany.
Of course, every jetsetter needs an amazing bag. Look no further than this regal purple Piper Tote ($478) by the Italian luxury brand Furla - simple, roomy, and so very chic!
New York City is one of the most creative cities in the world and I was recently reminded that presenting great art isn't the exclusive domain of large museums and galleries. If you're in the Big Apple, I highly recommend Contaminate NYC's current exhibition Never Ending Story - it will be on display until October 15th at the Kristin Hanson Gallery (by appointment only, call 646 248 3679). Contaminate NYC is a social platform for immersive art
experiences that challenges traditional boundaries by redefining
artistic happenings and contaminating art forms, ideas, cultures, and
aesthetics on a global level.
Created by London based textile artist and knitwear designer Chia-Shan Lee, the Never Ending Story installation won the environmental track of Contaminate NYC's 100 Hundred Days international contest for emerging artists. Inspired by both the concept of information overload in contemporary society and the waste of resources associated with the production of newspapers, Never Ending Story narrates a contemporary fairy-tale employing newspaper yarns as story-telling material.
I was amazed at how Chia-Shan created complex pieces of clothing and sculptures from the newspaper yarn. The garments have an earthy, organic and dream-like quality but are actually wearable pieces of clothing. In fact, the opening night of Never Ending Story featured dancers performing in the dresses and the fabrics conveyed both fragility and strength as the extremely agile dancers moved.
A dancer on the move in a Chia-Shan Lee design
An elaborate yet streamlined design from the Never Ending Story exhibition.
Founders of Contaminate NYC Elena Avesani (far left) and Alessandro Spreafico (far right) with artist Chia-Shan Lee (in black) with dancers wearing her creations.
Never Ending Story can be viewed until October 15, 2012 at the Kristin Hanson Gallery at 60 Reade Street in Tribeca by appointment only. Call 646-248-3679 to schedule a viewing. The dancers won't be there but imagine them bringing the designs to life as you view the pieces!
Sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone can start with a single sip. While I adore wine, whisky has always intimidated me - it just seemed too aggressive. So, when I was invited to have lunch with the maker of Pig's Nose Scotch Whisky, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to learn more about this complex spirit.
Pig's Nose Whisky ($33) is produced by Spencerfield Spirit Company in Scotland at their 16th century farmhouse surrounded by rolling fields of wheat and barley. A 5 year old blended whisky, Pig's Nose gets its quirky name from an old farming saying - "it's soft and smooth as a Pig's Nose." Made in small batches, Pig's Nose is crafted by Richard Paterson - Scotland's only third generation master blender.
I'm happy to report that Pig's Nose lives up its promise of smoothness. Gliding over the tongue like liquid silk, Pig's Nose surprised me with how easy it is to sip - no burn, just layers of beautiful flavors. Aged in fresh oak barrels, it has lovely round notes of spice, citrus, a subtle sweetness, and a touch of creaminess. The color is clear and bright and Pig's Nose comes by its golden-sandy hue naturally. Alex Nicol, the founder of Spencerfield Spirits, explained to me that unlike many mass produced whisky brands, the color of Pig's Nose is not enhanced by adding caramel. Pig's Nose threw my preconceived notions about whisky out the window - far from abrasive, a quality whisky like Pig's Nose is smooth, luscious, and very sophisticated. Try it neat, on the rocks, or in a cocktail. And, if a gentleman ever tells your that your skin is as soft as a pig's nose take it as a high compliment!
Are you ready to stock up on some beauty products for your next getaway? Sign up for a free Coterie membership by noon (EST) on Monday, September 17th, and you can save $25 off your first purchase now or in the future. Coterie is a much buzzed about new online beauty shopping destination designed for the ultra-busy and socially savvy modern woman. The site makes it easy to discover and purchase from an incredible selection of new and best products from coveted brands such as Bobbi Brown, butter LONDON, Kevyn Aucoin, Demeter, and more. Coterie will also be providing behind-the-scenes beauty looks, tricks of the trade and respected advice from the most sought out forces in the beauty industry- hair stylists, makeup artists, dermatologists, and manicurists.
To redeem the special offer:
Go to: http://www.coterie.com/preview
Access code: OBSESSED-VIP
Use code: VIPMEMBER at checkout
There are several words in Spanish that get me quite excited -
Antonio Banderas, más vino, and paella! My love affair with paella, Spain's signature rice dish, began when I was a student in Barcelona and it
has yet to wane. I'm always searching for the best paella in New York
City and thanks to the organizers of the 4th Annual El Coto de Rioja Paella Parade, I don't have to look far. Produced by Frederick
Wildman & Sons (wine & spirits importers), this savory celebration showcases some of the best paella making restaurants around town. The paella interpretations range from classic to modern and are served with the wonderful wines of El Coto de Rioja -
the leading brand in Spain. The outdoor preparation of the paella in
traditional pans really enhances the authenticity of the celebration. I've attended El Coto de Rioja Paella Parade twice before and it is
one of my favorite food events.
El Coto de Rioja Paella Parade is scheduled for Monday, October 1st from 6-9pm at Beekman Beer Garden (North Side of Pier 17 at South Street Seaport). The price is $50 per person and $90 for two and includes generous sample portions of all paellas and wines from El Coto de Rioja. Participating restaurants include Lizarran, El Paso Restaurant, Solera, Sala 19, Pampano, Chelsea Market and more. Click here to order tickets. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Action Against Hunger and New York City College of Technology, Department of Hospitality Management.
PS. I could not resist including this delicious photo of Antonio Banderas preparing paella. He won't be at El Coto de Rioja Paella Parade but a chica can dream!
French Master Baker Eric Kayser wants to know when was the last time you really listened to your bread? Have you paused to hear the music of a baguette crunching as your eager hands ripped it apart? Did you ponder the airy holes within? Did you whiff the fragrant aroma before you took that first bite? With a lesser bread, you would surely be disappointed by the feeble crunch, subpar scent, and concrete interior but a visit to Maison Kayser will remind you how special bread made with love, precision, and quality ingredients can be.
A fourth generation French baker, Eric Kayser was raised in the kitchen and learned to count by preparing eggs and measuring sugar. He dreamed of opening his own bakery and sharing his passion for fine bread with people around the world. In 1996 he opened his flagship bakery in Paris on Rue Monge and he now has 20 locations in France and more than 80 locations scattered throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Finally, Maison Kayser has opened their first American location in New York City on 74th Street and Third Avenue and it is already a favorite destination for locals and tourists who want to partake of Kayser's exquisite baked goods. The NYC location is helmed by Yann Ledouz (Executive Master Baker) and Stéphane Jimenez (Executive Pastry Chef) - both were trained by Kayser and follow his techniques to perfection.
Eric Kayser's exuberance and passion for the art of baking is contagious. When Monsieur Kayser, in his charmingly accented English, asks you to sniff a croissant you do it without hesitation. "Do you smell the butter?", he asked me with a boyish smile. He then proceeded to dissect the croissant and I am captivated as the crumbs cascade and give way to thin layers of soft and buttery dough. After sampling an array of Kayser's croissants, cookies, and savory loaves, I am officially a member of his fan club and completely understand why his name is often preceded by the words "world's best breadmaker." No carbs were counted - I savored every bite.