Archive for December, 2013

De Bon Goût—Eggplant Moju

  • 26th December 2013

Sri Lanka is really a vegetarian’s paradise.  From beetroot curry to our favorite thus far—Eggplant Moju, the meatless mains are plentiful and deliciously satisfying.

 

 

The vegetable market in Galle has a huge selection of new delights like wild jungle bitter gourd.

The vegetable market in Galle has a huge selection of ‘new-to-us’ delights like wild jungle bitter gourd.

 

This recipe come to us by way of a cooking class at the Amangalla and it combines the flavors of fried shallots, fried cashew nuts, coconut vinegar and treacle.

 

It is a Sri Lankan favorite in homes and restaurants alike—one taste and you will know why!

 

Fried cashews and baby shallots

Fried cashews, green chiles and baby shallots add delicious flavor to the dish.

 

 

 

Eggplant Moju

250 Grams  eggplant cut into 6 cm by 1 cm pieces

30 Grams green chiles sliced and cut in half

100 Grams shallots peeled

150 Grams cashew nuts

1 Tsp mustard powder or paste (mustard paste is made with equal parts ground mustard seeds and butter)

1/4 Cup coconut vinegar

1 1/2  Tbsp.  treacle (similar to honey only sweeter), jaggery or brown sugar

1/2 Tsp black pepper

1/2 Tsp red chili powder

Salt to taste

1/2 + 1/2 Tsp turmeric powder

3-5 Cardamom pods, crushed

10 Grams ginger in a coarse paste

10 Grams garlic in a coarse paste

Cooking oil for frying

 

Cutting the matchsticks

Cutting the matchsticks

 

 

 Step by Step Preparation:

• Toss the eggplant matchsticks with salt and 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric and keep aside for a few minutes

• Deep fry each of the following separately until golden in color; eggplant; green chiles; shallots;

cashew nuts

• In a sauce pan add the coconut vinegar, cardamom, ginger, garlic, 1/2 tsp of turmeric, pepper,

red chili powder, salt and sugar.

• Add the deep fried eggplant, green chili, shallots, and cashew nuts and mix thoroughly on warm heat

• Serve hot or warm with cooked rice and curry

 

 

Colman's  Coconut Toddy Vinegar

Colman’s Coconut Toddy Vinegar

 

 

 

Serve hot and enjoy!

Serve hot and enjoy!

 

 

Christmas Holiday in Galle Fort—Part Deux

  • 24th December 2013

Start your day with Egg Hoppers today made from rice flour and served with spicy dahl and sweet curry.

 

Egg Hoppers come out piping hot

Egg Hoppers come out piping hot

 

 

It's almost like eggs and pancakes!

It’s almost like eggs and pancakes!

 

Having explored the Fort area yesterday, a tour outside in Galle beckons for day two.  Plan a trip to the Handunugoda Tea Plantation.  En route stop at one of the Turtle Hatcheries and release baby sea turtles into the clear ocean.

 

 

Pick them up gently touching their fingers and back.

Pick them up gently touching their fingers and back.

 

 

The Sea Turtle Farm and Hatchery collects the eggs from the beach every night and hatches them in a safe environment improving the turtles chances of survival and keeping them from poachers who also comb the beach.

 

There are 7 types of sea turtles in the world and 5 call this beach their home.

There are 7 types of sea turtles in the world and 5 call this beach their home.

 

 

 

Gently scoop the little guys up from the pool.

Gently scoop the little guys up from the pool.

 

 

The pristine and secluded beach is only a few steps away.

 

 

Heading out slowly but surely

Heading out slowly but surely

 

 

Blazing their own trail

Blazing their own trail

 

 

A lovely experience for youngsters.

A lovely experience for youngsters.

 

 

The road to the tea plantation offers vistas of brilliant green rice fields, white cranes and large iguanas lumbering across the road.

 

Emerald green punctuated only by the great white birds.

Emerald green punctuated only by the great white birds.

 

 

We wait patiently as a huge iguana crosses in front of the car.

We wait patiently as a huge iguana crosses in front of the car.

 

 

Just 25 minutes from the hotel the Handunugoda plantation is the lowest lying tea estate in Sri Lanka which also includes a rubber and cinnamon plantation.

 

Entering the fields with our guide.

Entering the fields with our guide.

 

Sri Lanka produces a unique White Tea said to be imported from China.  The story has it the tea was grown by a Chinese Empress who employed only virgins to pick it using special gloves and tools made of solid gold.    Special caution is used today as well when growing and harvesting this tea which contains antioxidant properties that are off-the-charts.  The tea demands one of the highest prices worldwide.

 

 

The plantations extend on forever.

The plantations extend on forever.

 

 

While walking through the plantation one examines pepper vines, lemongrass and a myriad of fruit and flower trees.  A small rubber plantation coexists within the tea.

 

The rubbery, latex substance is collected in a coconut shell.

The rubbery, latex substance is collected in a coconut shell.

 

 

 

The bark is pulled back.

The bark is pulled back.

 

 

Probably the most interesting part of the tour is seeing the English and Irish machinery, more than 150 years old, used to dry and desiccate the leaves.

 

The leaves are first spread out to dry.

The leaves are first spread out to dry. By days end the whole belt will be filled (there are many more belts)

 

 

 

The leaves make their way to many different drying machines.

The leaves make their way to many different drying machines.

 

 

The aroma in this room is incredible.

The aroma in this room is incredible.

 

 

The end result of multiple passes through many machines is this small amount of pure black tea.

The end result of multiple passes through many machines is this small amount of pure black tea.

 

 

Finally, the tour ends with a tasting of a myriad of teas, crossing the range from white to black.  Take your time and savor the difference.

 

 

All the teas lined up are as beautiful as they are tasty.

All the teas lined up are as beautiful as they are tasty.

 

It is Christmas Eve so if you are going to make any of the many midnight mass ceremonies in Galle, a midday siesta is in order now. This also allows you to skip the hottest part of the day.  Wake up just in time for tea followed by a glorious sunset view from your room of the Dutch Reform Church next door.

 

Sunset over the Dutch Reform Church in Galle.

 

 

Christmas Eve is a lively time in Galle Forte.  The Amangalla is beautifully lit up and guests await carolers from nearby churches.

 

The tree glows in the Zaal at the Amangalla.

The tree glows in the Zaal at the Amangalla.

 

 

The tables are ready for Christmas Eve dinner.

The tables are ready for Christmas Eve dinner.

 

 

Carolers offer traditional music as well as some Sinhalese Christmas favorites.

Carolers offer traditional music as well as some Sinhalese Christmas favorites.

 

 

The tablescape includes traditional Christmas Crackers.

The tablescape includes traditional Christmas Crackers.

 

 

The Christmas Eve Menu at the Amangalla:

Roast pumpkin and sweet potato soup with blue cheese buttermilk

Wild rice, turkey and walnut salad with cranberry dressing

Pomegranate and celery sorbet

Champagne risotto with truffle oil

Pecan and cashewnut pie with gingerbread ice cream and brandy cream sauce

 

Wild rice salad

Wild rice salad

 

 

 

Pomegranate and celery sorbet

Pomegranate and celery sorbet

 

 

 

Champagne risotto with truffles

Champagne risotto with truffles

 

 

Entering your room you are greeted by stockings on all beds with treats and gifts for adults and kids alike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Midnight mass anyone?

 

Christmas Holiday in Galle Fort—Part Un

  • 23rd December 2013

If you are looking for a tropical destination to spend Christmas that provides a wealth of cultural treasures, culinary delights and fantastic shopping, look no farther than Sri Lanka—specifically Galle Fort.

 

The Amangalla lobby dressed up for Christmas

The Amangalla lobby dressed up for Christmas

 

 

Front of the Amangalla

Front of the Amangalla in Galle.

 

The coastal city of Galle, which is 72 miles south of the capital city of Colombo, is beautified by the old Dutch Fort, which remains an icon of national heritage.  A stay at the Amangalla promises serenity, aesthetic inspiration and an abundance of singular cultural opportunities.  Its history springs from the early Dutch colonial period, and is located right in the heart of the preserved Dutch fort, offering guests a memorable and unparalleled stylish stay in absolute architectural splendour.

 

Arrive into Galle on the 23rd morning so that you can appreciate the surroundings prior to your Christmas activities.

 

Wakeup to sunrise over the sea and city life starting to bustle.

Wakeup to the sunrise over the sea and city life starting to bustle.

 

 

Start your day with rich, deeply flavored Sri Lankan coffee

Start your day with rich, deeply flavored coffee imported from Italy.

 

 

Before breakfast amble down the winding city lanes and watch as the town wakes up.  Stop and admire the lovely facades and you might get lucky like we did.  There are many private residences in the middle of the town and the locals are supremely proud of their conservation.  If you are polite, you might be invited in for a tour of a home dating back to the Portuguese in the 1500s, the Dutch in the 1600s or the English in the 1700s.

 

The small town proved to be a real melting pot with Europeans, Chinese, Arabs, Malays, Persians and Indians all converging upon it.  The history in itself is tragic, but it has left behind the most complex fabric to be explored.

 

 

The Anglican Church in Galle

The Anglican Church in Galle

 

 

As you walk from the hotel to the sea you will definitely pass the Anglican All Saints Church built in the late 1800s and designed by Sri Lanka’s most famous architect of the 19th century, James G. Smither.

 

A few blocks further and the Light House is in sight and so to are local doing a morning promenade.

 

Light House morning stroll in Galle

Light House morning stroll in Galle

 

One of our favorite stories about Galle concerns the lighthouse and comes from the book, “Galle Fort, The Heritage City,” by K D Paranavitana.  The lighthouse was connected to the pigeon post service between Galle and Colombo started in the last 1800s.  When letters arrived overseas from America or Europe into the Galle harbour they were carried by pigeons, released from the lighthouse, to the capital city of Colombo.  These swift birds traveled at rates of 95 miles per hour reaching their destination in just 3/4 of an hour.

 

Making your way back to Amangalla stop at the large terrace pavilion for a restful breakfast full of local tastes and activities happening on the street below.

 

The most beautiful place for your first meal the tiles are aglow in the morning sun.

The most beautiful place for your first meal the tiles are aglow in the morning sun.

 

 

Begin your day with a traditional Sinhalese breakfast of String Hopper noodles.  String Hoppers are delicate noodles steamed and served in nests with dahl, coconut sambol and egg curry.  Partner it with sweet juice from a King Coconut and you are all set.

 

 

Spring Hopper noodles

String Hopper noodles

 

 

Spicy Coconut Sambol

Spicy Coconut Sambol

 

 

Mixed with dahl and curry.

Mixed with dahl and curry.

 

There is no denying it is very hot in Galle!  If you want to do any shopping start out by 9:00 am when the stores open to beat the intense mid-day heat.

 

Sri Lanka is known for many things but semiprecious stones: Moonstone specifically; brilliant sapphires; gossamer lace; ebony and tea top the long list.

 

As you head out from the Amangalla you might encounter locals demonstrating how lace is made and stones such as Amethyst and Moonstone are polished.

 

Lace making.  In the picture it is hard to see how her hands are flying.

Lace making. In the picture it is hard to see how her hands are flying.

 

 

Man polishes semi precious stones

Man polishes semi precious stones

 

 

Moonstone and other semi precious stones are ubiquitous in Sri Lanka.

Moonstone and other semi precious stones are ubiquitous in Sri Lanka.

 

 

Just steps away from the hotel is Exotic Roots a store that sells all variations in semi precious stones.  You can purchase look-a-like bracelets and necklaces to designs made by jewelers such as Chan Luu (whom we love) for less than $20.00.

 

Semi Precious stone cuff bracelets and necklaces are abundant and cheap.

Semi Precious stone cuff bracelets and necklaces are abundant and cheap.

 

 

Exotic Roots also offers handmade soaps in every imaginable scent and modern styled sarongs in iridescent overlapping silk fabrics.

 

Exotic Roots storefront at 32 Church Street.

Exotic Roots storefront at 32 Church Street.

 

 

 

 

Handmade soaps are worth it at an exchange rate of $126 Sri Lankan rupees to the dollar.

Handmade soaps are worth it at an exchange rate of $126 Sri Lankan rupees to the dollar.

 

 

Sarong

 

 

A few steps further, also on Church street you will find Barefoot filled with colorful fabrics, handicrafts, art and soft toys.   If you have children in your bunch, or children to shop for, this is your place!

 

During this season, Barefoot also offers a wide variety of Sri Lankan Christmas décor

During this season, Barefoot also offers a wide variety of Sri Lankan Christmas décor

 

 

Some colorful options children will love.

Some colorful options children will love.

 

 

Off of Church Street there are many lanes to turn into and local vendors will be walking around selling lace. They do have an eye for modern styles and many of the dresses have the lacy midriff that we just saw popularized by major fashion houses this spring.  Of course these creations in Galle cost under $20.00.

 

 

White lace and cotton dress.

White lace and cotton dress.

 

 

White lace blouse, perfect to pair with jeans.

White lace blouse, perfect to pair with jeans.

 

 

If you have just arrived in Galle you might want to head back now for a quick nap and after a breakfast of Spring Hoppers skipping lunch (with tea to look forward to) is not a problem.

 

Back at the Amangalla hang up your uniquely beautiful “Do Not Disturb Sign,” snack on their homemade coconut biscuits and salty spicy Muruku and take a rest on any of the gorgeous day beds in your room.

 

 

The most elegant "Do Not Disturb" sign that we have encountered to date!

The most elegant “Do Not Disturb” sign that we have encountered to date!

 

 

Savory Muruku bites are addictive and luckily replenished daily.

Savory Muruku bites are addictive and luckily replenished daily.

 

 

If you are a bit jet-lagged you will probably wake just in time for tea at the Amangalla with their finest Ceylon tea and buttery scones served alongside homemade cream and famed strawberry jam.  There is nowhere better to enjoy high tea than on the carved lounge chairs of this property housed in a 400 year-old Colonial building.  The Amangalla is the only Victorian Hotel that has survived in the area and was originally the Oriental Hotel.

 

Ceylon tea with scones and strawberry jam.

Ceylon tea with scones and strawberry jam.

 

The Zaal is the perfect place to take afternoon tea.

The Zaal is the perfect place to take afternoon tea.

 

 

The Zaal or “Great Hall” as it was known in Dutch Times is the Aman’s lounge, living room and bar all rolled into one.  Off of the Zaal is the Verandah and either are the ideal place for tea.

 

After tea plan your next days adventure by reading about Galle Fort and the surrounding area at the local library down the road. Built in the late 1800s it is definitely worth the trip and will help you make a determination of what to see tomorrow.  From there you can head to the sea and be part of the early evening local “passiagata.”

 

 

The town library is steps away from the Amangalla.

The town library is steps away from the Amangalla.

 

Galle library has a large selection of vintage children's books.

Galle library has a large selection of vintage children’s books.

 

 

This is also a great place to work if you need to catch-up with anything.

This is also a great place to work if you need to catch-up with anything.

 

 

Cap off your day with a traditional Sinhalese dinner of ‘Curry and Rice’ prepared by the Amangalla chef so that you can sample more than five local specialties and determine your favorite.

Steamed Basmati and Red Rice is offered alongside:

Chicken Badum

Tuna in Red Curry

Snake Gourd Mustard Curry

Lotus Root Dry Curry

Pumpkin Black Curry

Plantain Flower Curry (if you are searching for something mild try this first)

Beetroot Curry (delicious and palate refreshing)

Carrot Sambol, Chutneys, Papadum

 

All of the curries are served in tiny tasting bowls.

All of the curries are served in tiny tasting bowls.

 

 

 

Up close, from left:  Snake Gourd Mustard Curry, Pumpkin Black Curry, Beetroot Curry and Lotus Root Dry Curry.

Up close, from left: Snake Gourd Mustard Curry, Pumpkin Black Curry, Beetroot Curry and Lotus Root Dry Curry.

 

 

Upon returning for the night enjoy the complimentary turn-down gifts the Amangalla provides all made by local artisans using local resources with a brief history card and details.

 

Bookmark made from lontar an ancient form of paper penciled with Sinhalese script.

Bookmark made from lontar an ancient form of paper penciled with Sinhalese script.

 

 

Handmade wooden tuk tuks are placed on daybeds and in cribs for little guests.

Handmade wooden tuk tuks are placed on daybeds and in cribs for little guests.

 

 

Suba Raat-riyak (Good Night)!

 

 

Revisiting a Los Angeles Favorite—Campanile’s Spaghetti & Meatballs

  • 13th December 2013

The renowned restaurant may have sadly closed its doors, but the holidays are the perfect time to revisit this classic Italian Christmas season dish…given special hidden touches by chef Mark Peel.  The meatballs are especially soft thanks to chunks of bread, and popping with flavor courtesy of cracked fennel, dry white wine and diced mushrooms.

 

 

Campanile's Spaghetti and Meatballs in Red Sauce

Photo Courtesy of: Sunset.com and Myrecipes.com

 

 

If you are looking for a crowd-pleasing holiday meal that can be made ahead, this is one to flag!

This delicious recipe comes to us by way of Sunset.com and Myrecipes.com

 

 

 

Sauce and meatballs in the pot simmering.

Red sauce & meatballs simmering in the pot.

 

 

 

Cracked Fennel in Mortar and Pestle

Crack the fennel in a mortar and pestle.

 

 

Ingredients:

Sauce

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 large garlic cloves, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 cans (28 oz. each) diced tomatoes (we prefer crushed tomatoes from San Marzano)
  • About 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • About 3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large fresh basil sprigs, plus 1/2 cup leaves
  • WE ADD—one box of baby spinach leaves and this dish easily becomes a complete meal.  The spinach cooks down and just blends right in with the basil…..even your littlest and fussiest eaters will never know.  

 

Meatballs

  • About 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 ounces white or cremini mushrooms, chopped  (we prefer these diced small)
  • 2 teaspoons cracked fennel seeds (you can use a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • About 2/3 cup cold dry white wine, divided
  • 4 ounces country bread such as pain au levain, crusts removed, cut into 1-in. cubes
  • 3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 3/4 pound cold ground pork
  • 3/4 pound cold ground turkey (dark meat is more flavorful, but you can substitute breast, or ground chicken)
  • 3/4 pound cold ground beef chuck
  • 2 tablespoons flour  (this is optional…the meatballs are delicious even without this step)

 

Spaghetti

  • 1 1/2 pounds spaghetti
  • About 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese  (optional)

 

Preparation:

 

1. Make sauce: In a 5- to 6-qt. pan, cook oil and garlic over medium-low heat until garlic softens, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cover, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until thick, 45 minutes to 1 hour. If needed, crush tomatoes with a spoon to break up. Stir in basil sprigs. Turn off heat; keep warm.

 

 

Mushrooms and garlic getting diced and crushed.

 

 

2. Meanwhile, make meatballs: Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add mushrooms, fennel, salt, and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are tender, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup wine and the bread until liquid is absorbed.

 

3. Transfer mixture to a food processor and pulse to finely chop. Scrape into bowl of a stand mixer and let cool. Add parsley, meats, and 1/3 cup wine and beat on low speed until well blended, 1 to 2 minutes.

 

The meatball mixture ready to shape.

The meatball mixture ready to shape.

 

 

4. Using wet hands, shape meat into 1 1/2-in. balls. Heat 2 large frying pans over medium heat with 1 tbsp. oil each. Brown about a third of meatballs in each pan, turning once and adding oil if needed, 6 to 8 minutes per batch. With a slotted spatula, transfer meatballs to a platter. Repeat with remaining meatballs and oil.

 

Campanile meatballs frying.

Meatballs frying.

 

 

5. Scrape all the drippings into 1 pan. Whisk in flour, then cook over medium heat until bubbling, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in 2 cups sauce to loosen browned bits. Scrape into pan with rest of sauce and stir.

 

 

6. Return sauce to a simmer. Gently stir in meatballs; simmer, covered, until flavors are blended, about 20 minutes. Discard basil sprigs. Cut remaining basil leaves into fine slivers and stir into sauce. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti as package directs.

 

7. Drain pasta and transfer to a large shallow bowl. Ladle all the meatballs and about half the sauce on top, and toss to coat. Serve with cheese and extra sauce.

 

 

Campanile Spaghetti and meatballs ready to eat .

Ready to eat!!

 

 

 

 

Looks to Love from 2013…

  • 11th December 2013

As 2013 winds to a close, we recap some of our favorites from the year that did not necessarily fit into a tidily packaged post, but never-the-less deserve a moment in the spotlight.

 

Call it what you want, tusk, horn, shark tooth—its cool factor cannot be denied:

 

Givenchy Shark Tooth Earring

Givenchy Shark Tooth Earring. Photo Courtesy of Vogue.de

Givenchy Shark Tooth Earring

 

 

Givenchy Large Shark Tooth Earring in Plexiglass
Givenchy Shark Tooth Brass Earring in Pale Gold

 

 

 

Givenchy Large Shark Earring in Stone and Plexiglass, net-a-porter.com, $710.00

Givenchy Star Shark Tooth Brass Earring in Pale Gold, forwardforward.com, $400.00

 

 

Aurelie Bidermann Caftan Moon gold-plated faux horn necklace

 

 

Caftan Moon Horn Necklace, aureliebidermann.com, 775 €

 

 

Aurelie Bidermann Caftan Moon gold-plated faux horn necklace

 

 

 

 

 

If you were not already inspired to look for the perfect “little black jumpsuit,” here is your inspiration:

 

Cannes, Carey Mulligan and Balenciaga.  Photo Courtesy of: Vogue Japan

Cannes, Carey Mulligan and Balenciaga. Photo Courtesy of: Vogue Japan

Photo Courtesy of: Vogue Collections Paris

Photo Courtesy of: Vogue Collections Paris

 

 

 

Just when you thought you had seen it all in design….along comes Celine:

 

Celine's all enveloping coat—like a never-ending hug!

Celine’s all enveloping dress—like a never-ending hug!

 

 

The cuff grabbed hold of us in 2013 and is here to stay:

 

Chanel Cuff, Photo Courtesy of: Vogue Japan.

Chanel Cuff, Photo Courtesy of: Vogue Japan.

 

 

 

Embellished sneakers elevated the art of “working out:”

 

Chanel tweed and sequin tennis shoe

Chanel tweed and sequin trainer

 

 

 

Cheeky purses and clutches popped-up everywhere:

 

Charlotte Olympia Lights Camera Action Clutch Bag

Charlotte Olympia Lights Camera Action Clutch Bag. Photo Courtesy of: Vogue Japan

 

 

 

Chanel, Lanvin and Derek Lam showcased interchangeable belts/necklaces/chokers:

 

Derek Lam buckle choker

Derek Lam buckle choker

 

 

With mid-riffs spotted all over town, these gorgeous jeans from Chloé perfectly frame a toned tummy:

 

 

Chloé Jeans.  Photo Courtesy of:  Elle.fr

Chloé Jeans. Photo Courtesy of: Elle.fr

 

 

Chloé Jeans.  Photo Courtesy of:  Elle.fr

Chloé Jeans. Photo Courtesy of: Elle.fr

 

 

Ferragamo enhanced the already trendy and flattering cut-out boot by adding the lace-up :

 

Ferragamo Cut-out Lace-up Leather Boot

Salvatore Ferragamo

Ferragamo Lace-up, Cut-out Boots

Ferragamo, photo courtesy of: Vogue Collections Paris

 

Hippie style got beautifully elevated:

 

Ermanno Scervino Dress, Photo Courtesy of: Bazaar UK

Ermanno Scervino Dress, Photo Courtesy of: Bazaar UK

Frye Boots

Frye Boots

 

 

Lanvin Oversized Word Necklaces:

 

Literally the perfect accompaniment to any outfit, they can lend flirty flippancy to a formal outfit and just as easily dress-up and aggrandize a simple jeans and t-shirt look.

 

 

Lanvin LOVE belt and Happy Necklace

Photo Courtesy of: Vogue Japan

 

 

Lanvin Love Collier

 

 

 

Lanvin Cool Necklace

Photo Courtesy of: Neiman Marcus

 

 

Lanvin Love You Necklace

 

 

If you are reticent to wear these statements as a necklace, try them as a ring:

 

Lanvin Love Ring

Photo Courtesy of: Vogue.de

Lanvin Love Ring

Photo Courtesy of: Vogue.de

 

Fingerless gloves were not just for bikers:

 

Our favorites are the Chanel Camellia Fingerless gloves in tartan from the Edinburgh Fall 2013 Collection

 

Chanel Tartan Camellia Fingerless Gloves

Chanel Tartan Camellia Fingerless Gloves

 

 

 

Chains adorned everything:

 

 givenchy riccardo tisci chain sandals in elle.fr

These Givenchy Riccardo Tisci Chain Sandals are one-of-a-kind. Photo Courtesy of: Elle.fr

 

 

Givenchy Curb Chain Ankle Boot

Givenchy Curb Chain Ankle Boot. Photo Courtesy of: Vogue.de

 

 

 

Givenchy Curb Chain Ankle Boot
Givenchy Curb Chain Ankle Boot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Givenchy Curb Chain Ankle Boot, barneys.com, $1550.00 (available on pre-order)

 

 

 

Baked Risotto with Fines Herbes and Lemon

  • 9th December 2013

Herby risotto is Italian comfort food at its finest. This holiday season as you prepare to entertain, keep this recipe in your back pocket.  It’s very hard to mess-up, deliciously rich and savory and comes to us by way of Martha Stewart Magazine.

 

 

Baked Risotto with Fine Herbs Martha Stewart Magazine

Photo Courtesy of Martha Stewart Magazine

 

 

Ingredients:

 

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more for baking dish
  • 1 large leek (white and pale green parts only), finely chopped (about 3/4 cup) and washed well
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 2/3 cups)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
  • 1 1/4 cups dry white wine (try to choose a better quality wine)
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups chicken broth, warmed, divided
  • 1 1/4 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons finely sliced fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

 

 

 

Ingredients chopped and ready to go

Ingredients chopped and ready to go

 

 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly butter a 2-quart oval baking dish. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add leek, onion, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 10 minutes. (Do not let brown)

  2. Add rice and stir to thoroughly coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until you hear the rice toasting (it sizzles and pops), about 2 minutes. Add wine and increase heat to medium-high. Simmer until pot is almost dry, about 3 minutes. Add 3 cups broth, bring to a simmer, and transfer to baking dish. Bake risotto 5 minutes and stir. Bake another 5 minutes and stir again, then bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is just tender, about 5 more minutes.

  3. Remove risotto from oven and stir in remaining tablespoon butter, Parmesan, herbs, and lemon zest. Gradually add 1/2 cup warm broth, stirring, until rice is creamy. (For creamier rice, add more broth, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches desired consistency.) Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately. If risotto thickens upon sitting, add more broth to loosen as desired.

 

 

Ready to serve and eat!

Ready to serve and eat!

Pop Art Abounds—Part Deux

  • 7th December 2013

Our first look at Pop Art for Spring 2014 shone a spotlight on Prada.  Today we take-in the whole array of whimsical and splashy, modern and comical.

 

 

Jimmy Choo pop art clutch, photo courtesy of Harper's Bazaar UK

Jimmy Choo pop art clutch, photo courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar UK

 

 

 

Stella McCartney’s Match Jeweled Embellishments:

 

Stella McCartney Match Jeweled Clutch with Embellishments, available at Saks.

Stella McCartney Match Jeweled Clutch with Embellishments, available at Saks.

The Stella McCartney Match Jeweled Cruise Collection.  Photo Courtesy of:  Vogue Russia

The Stella McCartney Match Jeweled Cruise Collection. Photo Courtesy of: Vogue Russia

 

Stella McCartney White Embellished Mini Skirt Saks
White Embellished Stella McCartney Mini Skirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Embellished Mini Skirt Stella McCartney, saksfifthavenue.com, $1460

 

 

Kerry Washington wears Stella McCartney Match Jeweled Shift Dress

Kerry Washington wears Stella McCartney Match Jeweled Shift Dress

Stella McCartney Match Jeweled Shift Dress at Neiman Marcus

 

Stella McCartney Match Jeweled Shift Dress, neimanmarcus.com, $2955.00

 

 

 

More artful ideas:

 

Christian Dior Andy Warhol Shoe Pink Leather Purse

Christian Dior Andy Warhol Shoe Pink Leather Purse

 

 

 

Fendi Eyes Clutch

Fendi Eyes Clutch

 

 

 

Kate Spade Wise Owl Clutch

Kate Spade Wise Owl Clutch

 

 

Kate Spade Wise Owl Clutch, katespade.com, $378.00

 

 

 

Chiara Ferragni Lipstick Glitter Loafers at Luisaviaroma.com

Chiara Ferragni Lipstick Glitter Loafers at Luisaviaroma.com

 

 

Chiara Ferragni Lipstick Glitter Loafers, luisaviaroma.com, $211.00

 

 

Miu Miu Cat Print Leather Mary Jane Ballet Flats

 

 

Miu Miu Patent Leather Cat-Print Mary Jane Ballet Flats, saks.com, $750.00

 

 

 

Charlotte Olympia Kiss Me Betsy Ankle Bootie in Black&Red

 

 

Charlotte Olympia Kiss Me Betsy Ankle Bootie in Black&Red, bergdorfgoodman.com, $1,195.00

 

 

Dior Bird of Paradise and Tropical Florals Coat.  Photo Courtesy of:  Elle HK

Dior Bird of Paradise and Tropical Florals Coat. Photo Courtesy of: Elle HK

 

 

 

Brush Stroke Eyelids in bright yellow paired with Stella McCartney Cruise 2014. Photo Courtesy of:  Vogue Russia

Brush Stroke Eyelids in bright yellow paired with Stella McCartney Cruise 2014. Photo Courtesy of: Vogue Russia

 

 

 

Taking Cues from Comic Strips, We Love the Nail Art that Surfaced in the Holiday Saks Fifth Avenue Look Book (Here’s a Peek!)

 

 

 

Pop Art Super Hero Nails

Pop Art Super Hero Nails. Photo Courtesy of: Saks Fifth Avenue

 

 

nailssaks3

 

 

The Total Effect in a Jumpsuit:

 

Theory Romper available at Bergdorf Goodman

Theory Silk Jumpsuit available at Bergdorf Goodman

 

 

Theory Hendrina Printed Silk Jumpsuit, bergdorfgoodman.com, $415.00

 

 

This Case Will Always Pop Out at You:

 

Heys Britto "A New Day" 30" Spinner Case

 

 

Heys Britto “A New Day” 30″ Spinner Case, bloomingdales.com, $350.00

 

 

One of our Favorite Dresses of the 2014 Resort Season—Pop Art Meets Safari:

 

Diane von Furstenberg Resort 2014 'Lion' Safari Print Dress

Diane von Furstenberg Resort 2014

 

 

Pop Art takes the common and ordinary and elevates it through playful interpretation.  Miu Miu brings a song to your every step….

 

 

Music Note Print Patent Leather Pumps Miu Miu

Music Note Print Patent Leather Pumps Miu Miu

 

 

Miu Miu Music Note Print Patent Leather Pumps, saksfifthavenue.com, $675.00

 

 

The Paint-Splattered Cuff:

 

Chanel Paint-Splattered Cuffs

 

 

 

Last Look: Cozy & Chic

 

Alice + Olivia Face Cardigan

Alice + Olivia Face Cardigan

BCBG Bulldog Knit Sweater

BCBG Bulldog Knit Sweater

 

 

 

 Alice + Olivia Face Patterned Cardigan, saksfifthavenue.com, $275.00

BCBG Studded Bulldog Intarsia Sweater, saksfifthavenue.com, $268.00

 

 

Thanksgiving Weekend at the Amangiri Part Trois

  • 4th December 2013

For your last day at the Aman, we recommend visiting another nation—Navajo Nation.

 

 

The luminous orange of the sand in Monument Valley contrasted with the desert plants is beautiful.

The luminous orange of the sand in Monument Valley contrasted with the desert plants is beautiful.

 

 

The Navajo Nation extends into the states of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, covering over 27,000 square miles of unparalleled beauty.   The Aman can assist you in a private tour of Monument Valley or a private hike down to the cliff dwellings at Betatakin.  Both are about a 2.5 hr drive from the resort and offer the opportunity for near-solitude during your visit.  At either Betatakin or the back-country tour of Monument Valley you have a chance to see petroglyphs that date back by more than 1,000 years.

 

 

Betatakin Cliff Dwellings at the Navajo National Monument.

Betatakin Cliff Dwellings at the Navajo National Monument.

 

 

At Betatakin prehistoric Puebloan peoples built Tsegi Phase villages within the natural sandstone arches in the canyons. These villages, which date from AD 1250 to 1300, thrill all who visit with their original architectural elements such as roof beams, masonary walls, rock art, and hand and foot holds.

 

 

Betatakin hike must be completed with a registered guide, drops quickly in elevation and can be strenuous.

The Betatakin hike must be completed with a registered guide, drops quickly in elevation and can be strenuous.

 

 

The hike down to Betatakin is quite strenuous with a very steep drop in elevation (which means that you have to climb back up eventually!).  You can choose from a 3-mile very strenuous hike to a 5-mile just ‘strenuous’ hike.  But, don’t shy away, it is absolutely worth it.  Instead come armed with some delicious complimentary snacks from the Aman like jerky, dried fruits and dark chocolate bars from Dean & Deluca.

 

 

Grand archways give way to ancient cliff dwellings at Betatakin.

Grand archways give way to ancient cliff dwellings constructed of sandstone, mud, mortar and wood at Betatakin.

 

You can only visit the site with a registered guide, making the experience even more private and informative.  Please reserve well in advance as there are limited numbers of guided hikes available during the day as well as restraints on visitor numbers.  Having gone at the very very tail end of the season we enjoyed complete solitude.

 

 

Even on the cloudiest of days the colors and buttes are magnificent.

Even on the cloudiest of days the colors and buttes of Monument Valley are magnificent.

 

 

Monument Valley on the Colorado Plateau offers clusters of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft above the valley floor.

The totem pole in Monument Valley en route to some private arches.

The totem pole in Monument Valley en route to some private arches.

The totem pole is one of the most famous sites and is en route to some private arches which house petroglyphs.  No hiking is necessary to see these remote regions of Monument Valley.

A Navajo guide takes in an elevated view of the valley floor in Monument Valley.

A Navajo guide takes in an elevated view of the valley floor in Monument Valley.

 

 

 

Petroglyphs painted on sandstone were often of Hopi Deer, Fire, Flute and Waterclan symbols.

 

 

Petroglyphs are more than 1,000 years old and can be seen in Monument Valley and Betatakin.

Petroglyphs are more than 1,000 years old and can be seen in Monument Valley and Betatakin.

 

Our last stop in the remote, back-country, at the Sun Arch, reveals petroglyphs that are more than 1,000 years old.

 

Once back at the Amangiri, relax with a long swim in their renowned pool which wraps around a surrounding rock and is heated bathtub warm for winter weather.

 

 

Steam rising out of the pool at the Amangiri on a cloudy day.

Steam rising out of the pool at the Amangiri on a cloudy day.

 

 

On a sunnier day the pool is like reflective glass.

On a sunnier day the pool is like reflective glass.

 

 

Aman pool lit up.

Aman pool lit up.

 

 

Enjoy their rich, comforting and renowned onion soup for dinner.  The slow cooked onion broth is puréed with cream and tangy soft cheese and then topped with toasted hominy.

 

 

 

Creamy onion soup with toasted hominy.

Creamy onion soup with toasted hominy.

 

 

 

For dessert you can use the resort balcony with stunning views, or your room’s own private balcony, to roast marshmallows and make mouth-watering s’mores.  Grab the complimentary Dean & Deluca chocolate bars from the in-room fridge to elevate your s’mores to gourmet status.

 

 

The Amangiri balcony with panoramic desert views.  Available to guests for classes like astronomy and Native American dancing as well as s'mores!

The Amangiri balcony with panoramic desert views. Available to guests for classes like astronomy and Native American dancing as well as marshmallow roasting!

 

 

 

Views from the balcony and fire-pit for roasting.

Views from the balcony and fire-pit for roasting.

 

 

 

Roasting marshmallows on a private balcony at the Amangiri.

Roasting marshmallows on a private balcony at the Amangiri.

 

 

Before you leave the resort and head back home, make sure you drop into the Amangiri Gallery to find the perfect Four Corners remembrance.

 

 

Gorgeous indigenous pottery designs.

Gorgeous indigenous pottery designs.

 

 

Vintage Navajo rugs from the mid-1900s.

Vintage Navajo rugs from the mid-1900s.

 

 

Thanksgiving Weekend at the Amangiri Part Deux….

  • 1st December 2013

After starting your day with any of our favorite breakfast treats from strawberry filled french toast with vanilla cream to dulche de leche belgian waffles to chef prepared pastries, you can explore any of the numerous trails surrounding the Aman’s property.

 

 

Sunrise at the Amangiri

Sunrise at the Amangiri

 

 

Amangiri hotel

Amangiri hotel

 

The sunrise trail affords views of the mesa illuminated in all hues of pink and orange.  There are also daily complimentary hikes led by Navajo guides to nearby attractions and rock-climbing and repelling for the more adventurous.

 

 

Trails around the property are dotted with bursts of colorful desert flowers.

Trails around the property are dotted with bursts of colorful desert flowers.

Sheer rock surfaces beckon to the more adventurous.

Sheer rock surfaces beckon to the more adventurous.

 

 

On your second day at the resort, the nearby slot canyons call you.  Wind and water, at work for millions of years have created these spectacular canyons about a 30 minute drive from the property.

 

 

Antelope Canyon private tour amangiri.

Antelope Canyon

 

 

Whether you are a guest of the property or not, you must take a guide to enter Antelope Canyon.  However, as a guest of the Amangiri you are afforded the opportunity to tour two other slot canyons in the same region which are only otherwise open to professional photographers.

 

 

Natural light changes minute-by-minute within the canyon creating shadows and shapes such as this 'heart of the canyon.''

Natural light changes minute-by-minute within the canyon creating shadows and shapes such as this ‘heart of the canyon.”

 

 

The slot canyons were discovered in the early 1900s by Navajo women while grazing sheep.  We actually visited on a very overcast day and the colors were still spectacular.

 

 

The very private Rattlesnake Canyon does require some climbing and getting through tight squeezes.

The very private Rattlesnake Canyon does require some climbing and getting through tight squeezes.

 

 

Rounding each corner is more beautiful than the last.

 

The tight twists and turns of Rattlesnake Canyon

The tight twists and turns of Rattlesnake Canyon

 

 

In nearby Owl Canyon a dilemma awaits.  Guides caution that you should be very quiet so as not to disturb the Great Horn Owls that rest in small holes in the rock.  However, because the canyon is so remote about halfway through the canyon you are advised to begin conversing in a loud voice to scare away mountain lions that might be lurking at the end of the canyon.

 

 

Great Horned Owls are some of the biggest in North America.

Great Horned Owls are some of the biggest in North America.

 

 

Again, this is one of the few places that you can experience the natural beauty of this area without being rushed through or busily trying to circumvent everyone else’s photograph.

 

 

This is our guide's car...these two slot canyons are yours to soak in alone.

This is our guide’s car…these two slot canyons are yours to soak in alone.

 

 

Returning back to the Amangiri relax while contemplating how the desert colors have been seamlessly integrated into the décor surrounding you.

 

 

The soothing green of the bathroom tiles mirror the natural sage desert plants.

 

 

 

colors
green

 

 

 

 

 

Shower tiles in the Amangiri

Shower tiles in the Amangiri

 

 

 

Reflective pools around the property take on the hues of brilliant sunsets:

 

Sunset over the desert at the Amangiri

Sunset over the desert at the Amangiri

Colorful pools are illuminated around the property.

Colorful pools are illuminated around the property.

 

 

Streaks of rust pierce sandy walls mimicking exactly the desert landscape.

 

Desert landscape

Desert landscape

Walkways take exact cues from the surrounding landscape.

Walkways take exact cues from the surrounding landscape.

 

 

 

Before dinner, you can take in any of the complimentary classes and activities offered to guests including: professional landscape photography, wildlife experts, Native American traditions and music, astronomy, etc.

 

 

A bearded dragon takes a rest on the Amangiri couch.

A bearded dragon takes a rest on the Amangiri couch.

 

 

Guests can choose to hold a scorpion.

Guests can choose to hold a scorpion.

 

 

End your intense day with chef-prepared wild game such as an elk chop cooked sous-vide alongside a ‘modern baked potato,’ which has been cooked sous vide and infused with (rather than topped with) butter, sour cream and heavy delicious ingredients.

 

Elk Chop

Elk Chop

The modern baked potato

The modern baked potato

 

 

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