The Sweet Life: La Burdick Chocolate Cafe

photo 1My love for dessert is no secret. It’s a lifelong love affair that I have no intention of ending, particularly because of days like today. Strolling home from a client’s apartment, paint in my hair and sore muscles from various tasks that fall under “interior designer”, I was ecstatic to stumble onto one of the most charming – and decadent – cafes in New York: La Burdick. The moment you walk through the door, soft French music plays in the background and the seductive scent of melted cocoa convinces you that you have nowhere to be, nowhere to go, pull up a chair and indulge. Don’t mind if I do!

    Leave a Comment

    Ohm Sweet Ohm at Oasis Day Spa

    Day 29 Oasis There are massages that are good. Then, there are massages that transport you to a state of hypnotic bliss and leave you so relaxed you momentarily forget how to walk properly. For those massages, I go to Oasis Day Spa. I’ve been going there for years, enjoying a constant level of transcendental “ohmmmm” that has yet to be equaled.

    So when Oasis invited me to try their new Summer/Fall seasonal aromatherapy massage, I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough!

    Theirs is a true oasis, located at One Park Avenue down a pseudo-secret staircase (outside the main lobby, to the left, look for their golden sign). As you descend, you can already feel a sense of lovely relaxation. Softly scented candles offer aromas that send soothing messages of calm to your achy muscles.

    In no time, I was encased in a cozy robe, sipping cucumber water, and sitting in the large, round waiting area. Almonds and cranberries? Don’t mind if I do (while taking a selfie)

    Day 29 Oasis IISoon, my masseuse, Christina, called for me. I entered the room and settled myself under the crisp, white towel. She began with warm compresses on my back as she worked on my legs and feet. Now, I have no idea what divine anointing flows through her hands, but they literally set me into a state of transcendence. No cares, no thoughts. My entire brain focused on the sensations. Scents of almond oils danced with eucalyptus as she worked the knots in my back and neck. Soft classical music was a nice change from the typical “babbling brook” soundtrack of most spas. All I could do was lay there and breathe, wishing for time to stand still.

    Time didn’t.

    Sadly.

    But you can be sure I’ll indulge in this decadent treatment again.

    And again.

    And again.

    Ohmmmmmmmm

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Oasis Day Spa

    One Park Avenue

    New York, NY 10016

    Tel: 212-254-7722

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Leave a Comment

      Hermès Autumn/Winter 2014 Shoe Collection

      Day 23 HermesNeedless to say, I was thrilled to be invited by Elle Decor to attend the Hermès Preview Party unveiling their Autumn/Winter 2014 shoe collection! Few things in life are more fabulous than sipping champagne and sighing over shoes. This is a fact. So, along with friend and fellow footwear lover Dr. Slade, I set out to find my dream shoe(s) for the upcoming season.

      Day 23 Hermes Shoe CollageFirst stop: the shoe cam! We happily modeled our footwear, mine are Steve Madden stilettos and Dr. Slade rocked a timeless Louboutin heel.  Once our own shoes got proper attention, it was time to dive into the decadent world of Hermès fashionable options for the feet. I really fell in love with so many of them I couldn’t choose a favorite!

      Day 23 Hermes Shoes Fall Collection

      hermes boots

      hermes shoesWant to melt over shoes a little more? Check out the Hermes website for assorted colors and styles or stop by the New York shoe boutique!

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Hermès

      691 Madison Ave, 4th Floor

      New York, NY 10065

      Tel: 212-751-3181

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        Leave a Comment

        Decadence for a Book Lover

        Day 22 - rare books 2Not naming names, but someone asked me this question: “A bookstore? Is that really decadent?”  The look that crossed my face (and later escaped my lips): “um, did you really just ask me that insane question?” Because, really, there are few things more decadent to a book lover than being surrounded by first editions, rare publications, and signed copies by your favorite authors. It’s as close to standing in the same room with them as you can get! Quite magical.

        Day 22 - rare booksSo for this unique day of decadence, I visited Bauman Rare Books on Madison Avenue, which is truly a candy store for literary lovers like me. I gasped way too many times. I ooh’d and ahh’d over everything behind the glass case. I was starry-eyed when the manager actually removed some of my favorite editions from the case so I could see them up close. If someone had put a glass of aged bourbon in my hand, I may never have left!

        Day 22 - rare books2What got me so fluttery? This, for instance: a rebound edition of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s encrusted with diamonds in the cover’s crown and necklace. Ultra chic!

        Day 22 - rare books3Or this treasure: a first edition copy of Stuart Little, signed by author E.B. White and illustrator Garth Williams. Behind it? Oh, just a first edition of Fantasia signed by Walt Disney himself!

        Day 22 - rare books4How about a Bible dating back to 1727? Or a first edition, bound copy of Madame Bovery? Or perhaps a book specifically created for French royalty: “1772 Royal Almanac, bound for Louis XVI dauphin two years before he would inherit the throne of France, in a lovely binding designed by the royal bookbinder.”

        photo 2

        hemingwayHemingway fan? You will melt over this signed photograph and a first edition Farewell to Arms.

        Day 22 - rare books 9 autographThis is where I had one of my larger “lose my composure” moments: as someone with a life-long obsession with Everest, it’s surreal to find a copy of The Ascent of Everest by Sir John Hunt that is signed (signed! signed! signed!!!) by Sir Edmund Hillary (among many others)! No amount of exclamation points can convey my excitement.

        Day 22 - rare books 10Walt Whitman once said, “simplicity is the glory of expression” and I believe he would approve of this elegant display of his highly-coveted autograph.

        Day 22 - rare books5My only regret: I forgot to ask about Fitzgerald!! Damn! I’m certain they’ve got Fitz in their collection, so I suppose that means I’ll get to pop by for another round! I’m already looking forward to it, too, since this exquisite shop is like heaven for literature lovers, history buffs, and collectors. It’s also a very welcoming space with charming staff, so anyone can indulge in this particular decadence.

        And yes, it does, most certainly, count as “decadent”, doesn’t it, my darling book lovers!

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        Bauman Rare Books

        535 Madison Avenue | New York City
        (Between 54th & 55th Streets)
        New York, NY 10022
        Open Mon to Sat 10am to 6pm
        Phone: (212) 751-0011

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          Leave a Comment

          Decadence on the Seas: The Starfire SuperYacht

          7 Main Deck Aft (8)The word “superyacht” often conjures up images of wealth, beauty, decadence and elegance that moves with grace – the majestic Starfire superyacht is no exception. Designing the interior of a superyacht is something that needs to be done with care and precision. Small spaces out on the open water need to be light, airy and doused in comfort to make elite guests feel at home and to dabble in every luxury they need. The glorious superyacht Starfire was launched in 1998 but has been refitted and refurbed several times over to ensure it stays at the top of it’s class when it comes to cool, collected sophistication. The italian build of Benetti bound with the artistic inspiration of designer Francois Zurreti makes for a remarkable finish. The Art Deco style blends deep polished wood with white linens, clean lines and even a glimpse of gold. The result is awe inspiring and has just the right balance of nautical delights making the Starfire a place to inspire restful sleep, fine dining, sun worshipping and so much more.

          Exterior Profile (2)The Sun Deck

          Out on the open waters when the gleaming sun is rippling off the water this is the place you will spend many an afternoon. Sipping cocktails, relaxing in the hot tub, enjoying a massage or simply watching the white caps pass by, the sun deck is the heart of the superyacht. The Starfire yacht offers beautiful wicker, rustic inspired wood,white canopies and navy blue cushions that offset the nautical air with comfort and charm. The bubbling hot tub always looks welcoming, the creamy canopies deliver the perfect slice of shade and curling up on the plump cushions offers spectacular ocean views to die for.

          3 Sun Deck Aft (1)The Upper Deck

          Simplicity is the key when it comes to the upper deck that marks the Starfire. Curved art decor seating surrounds the breakfast table and geometric aztec inspired patterns and wood provide a cool floor beneath your feet. This is the place to linger over flaky morning pastries and fresh squeezed mimosas as you watch the islands fade away.

          5 Upper Deck Frw

          6 Upper Deck AftThe Main Deck

          Step back in time to sheer 1920′s Gatsby delight in the main deck. The golden lights flicker off the polished wood and the centre piece dining table with blue and white striped chairs brings together the feel of old school seaside charm with daring new world beauty. Marble and wood floors and a curved rich bar make this room the very epicenter of socializing and soirees with only the finest company.

          The Bedrooms
          Slipping into a dreamy sleep has never been easier then when resting on the sublime Starfire. The bedrooms bring zen like calm and lavish luxury into harmony. Crisp white linens, plush creamy couches, curved wooden furnishings and soft spotlighting make your quarters on deck fit for a king. Modern Art Deco pieces adorn the walls and the bathrooms are godly with fluffy towels, mirrors and marble surfaces at every turn.
          12 Sundeck Massage and Sauna (4)
          16 Main Deck Master (20)
          16 Main Deck Master Bath (21)
          16 Main Deck Master Study (23)
          17 Main Deck Lobby and Head (4)
          18 Main Deck Dining (23)
          19 Main Deck Saloon (7)
          21 Lower Deck Guest Frw Twins (2)
          22 Lower Deck Guest Aft Queens
          Yes, darlings, I think I could happily spend a day (or a a lifetime!) on this decadent superyacht. Captain, could you steer us to St. Barth’s next? I have a brunch date with Leonardo. Thanks.
            Leave a Comment

            Luscious Laduree

            Day 15 - LadureeI asked for the most decadent summer dessert available. “Something beautiful,” I told the waiter, who was eager to make my experience just right. “I have just the thing,” he responded. “Do you like raspberries?”

            Very soon, this little slice of heaven was presented to me on a silver platter. It’s called the Ispahan: rose flavored macarons containing a rose pedal cream, raspberries, and lychee slices. This, my darlings, is what decadence tastes like. Raspberry roses. Le sigh.

            Day 15 - Laduree 1I slowly nibbled this piece of perfection in Ladurée SoHo‘s garden terrace, taking advantage of the gorgeous July afternoon. Coffee and cream in little silver pitchers accompanied my snack. I would divulge details, but really, all I could do was take a bite. Sigh. And sip. My mind shut off. My senses were fully engaged. All I could comprehend was the power of this little dessert.

            When I’d finally finished (sad moment) I sauntered inside to take a few photos. Unfortunately, a photoshoot was already in progress, so I snuck a few shots as incognito as possible. Not my best photographic work, but you still get the idea of how decadent this restaurant truly is.

            Day 15 - Laduree 2

            Day 15 - Laduree 3

            Day 15 - Laduree 5

            Day 15 - Laduree 8

            Day 15 - Laduree 10

            Day 15 - Laduree 6With four distinct dining areas, including the lovely outdoor space, Laduree SoHo is the perfect place for a first date, business lunch, brunch with with the girls, or any other experience you could imagine. I suspect you’ll find me here quite often. And if not here, I’ll be at the gym, burning it all off.

            Worth it!

            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            Ladurée SoHo

            398 W. Broadway

            New York, NY 10012

            Tel: (646) 392-7868

            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

              Leave a Comment

              Cappuccino and the NoMad Hotel

              Day 13 - Nomad4Monday requires caffeine. Lots of it. That’s just a rule of life. On most days, I opt for a quick, cheap cup of joe wherever I can find one – usually hitting up a corner coffee cart or a questionable deli. But today called for a little infusion of decadence, so I strolled over to the gorgeous NoMad Hotel, settled into the Library Bar, and happily ordered one of their delicious cappuccinos.

              Day 13 - Nomad5My cappuccino was pure perfection, as was the location I brilliantly chose (if I do say so myself). The Library Bar is one of many stunning dining areas at the NoMad designed by French architect Jacques Garcia, featuring a 2-story library stocked with used books that beg to be browsed. Bonus: (I LOVE this part!) you can choose one to read while you lounge. Literal. Library. It’s genius! Plush seating, antique rugs, and moody lighting complete the scene for a truly relaxing place to sip.

              Note: the Library Bar is only open to non-hotel guests until 4:00pm.

              Day 13 - Nomad2The main dining room is exquisite, too. Guys, take a first date here and she’ll be yours forever!

              Day 13 - Nomad

              The NoMad Hotel

              1170 Broadway & 28th Street

              New York, NY 10001

              Tel: 212-796-1500

              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                Leave a Comment

                Sketching at the Frick Collection Museum

                Day 12 - Frick Sketching 1Ok, I’m not exactly an “ar-teest” but I like to draw. I’m definitely not one of those people you stand behind to watch a masterpiece unfold. Oh, no, no, no. If anything, you may stand behind me and wonder why I bother. But, like I said, I like to draw. And “decadence” is all about indulging in the things that give us true pleasure!

                As a kid, I enjoyed sketching but never seem to have enough time as an adult. So when I discovered the Sunday Sketch event at the Frick Collection, my creative side begged me (beggggggggged me!) to attend.

                The Frick Collection, a stunning private-home-turned-museum on 70th Street just east of Central Park, is home to some of the world’s premier examples of Old Master paintings, European sculpture, and decorative arts. In the center courtyard, a babbling fountain and reflection pool provide the perfect atmosphere for serenity…and sketching.

                Fellow sketchers lined up for materials which, I’m happy to report, are provided free of charge (including paper, lap boards, pencils, charcoal pencils, erasers, and even chairs!). I hear all the starving artists applauding now. Helpful instructors float around the large atrium to offer instruction as needed, but mostly, it’s all just about you and your blank canvas. So, there I sat, inspired by all the masterful works hung on the walls around me. We’re all here together. Beginners and masters, past and present, all simply indulging in our desire to create. Rather magical!

                Day 12 - Frick 5Before or after a foray into your creative mind, be sure to make time to explore the museum’s many rooms. Sadly,  no photos are allowed. So if your “creative self” is a photographer? Your outta luck.

                Day 12 - Frick 4Ok, I snuck this photo of the grand staircase so you, my darling readers, could see it! It’s rather blurry because, as I was positioning my camera, one of the many eagle-eyed security guards caught me. Oops!!

                Day 12 - Frick 2Photos of the grounds are allowed, thankfully.

                Day 12 - Frick 3

                The Frick Collection

                1 East 70th Street (between Madison and 5th Aves)

                New York, NY 10021

                Tel: 212-288-0700

                Helpful Hint: Sundays between 11am-1pm, as the “pay as you like” entrance fee is in effect, rather than the normal $20 ticket price.

                  Leave a Comment

                  Architecture Tour of Tudor City

                  Tudor City via The Decadence Project 11Who else finds “architecture stalking” decadent? Delicious afternoons when you simply grab a camera on a hunt down gorgeous details as though on an urban safari…absolutely divine!

                  Today, I decided to do just that in Tudor City, the historic Midtown East neighborhood perched above 42nd Street and overlooking the United Nations building. This hidden gem was built during the jazz age, completed in the 1920′s by real estate developer Fred F. French. The concept? Turn a tenement-dominated slum, which was the state of the area through the 19th-Century, into a lovely enclave to attract middle-class New Yorkers. Apartment buildings, all with unique neo-Gothic architectural details, began sprouting up and, as a visionary should, Mr. French also installed private parks and charming storefronts.

                  Tudor City via The Decadence ProjectThroughout the neighborhood, which now spans from East 40th to 43rd Streets between 1st to 2nd Aves, stunning details seem inspired by the great Gothic Cathedrals: pointed arches, quatrefoil, and pseudo-vaulted ceilings. These are combined with more classical elements, like stained glass windows, scrolling detail, and quoin architecture.

                  Tudor City via The Decadence Project 12

                  Tudor City via The Decadence Project 10Tudor City Greens still remain within the lovely enclave, consisting of two little parks that offer a lovely respite from the bustling city life.

                  Tudor City via The Decadence Project 9

                  Tudor City via The Decadence Project 1Shops line the street, including a deli, bike shop, pet store, and florist.

                  Tudor City via The Decadence Project 7Tudor City overpasses offer unique views of the city, including this one, looking East toward the UN Building and beyond, toward Long Island City.

                  Tudor City via The Decadence Project 13Is it a church? Nope! It’s an apartment building lobby! Truth!! Just one of the many charming secrets of Tudor City!

                  Tudor City via The Decadence Project 5Even the lighting in this neighborhood is worth paying attention to, ranging from unique lanterns to Parisian streetlamps.

                  Tudor City via The Decadence Project 2The contrast of old and new is captivating, with the old-world Tudor City buildings keeping watch over the modernist UN Building just across 1st Avenue.

                  Tudor City via The Decadence Project 8From 1st Avenue, between 43rd and 44th Streets, there is a winding staircase leading up to Tudor City. And etched into the rounded wall, a prayer for peace. Fitting for the peaceful little haven in the middle of Manhattan streets.

                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                  Getting There

                  From Grand Central Station, walk East on 42nd Street past 2nd Avenue. To see the winding staircase, walk down East 44th street to 1st Avenue, take a right, and you’ll find the stairs about half-a-block South.

                    Leave a Comment

                    Chasing Dorothy Parker to the Algonquin Hotel

                    Day 7 - Algonquin HotelOhhhhh, Dorothy Parker – that salty little minx – is one of my favorite poets of all time.  She was brassy, sassy, and unafraid to use her sharp wit to convey her thoughts, especially in the company of her tight literary circle of pals known as the Algonquin Round Table. Meeting daily for lunch at the iconic Algonquin Hotel near Grand Central Station, they sipped cocktails and unleashed the brilliant one-liners that eventually made their group famous.

                    Lucky for us, the hotel – originally opened in 1902 – still stands. And not only does it stand, it’s simply fabulous!

                    Day 7 - algonquin-hotelI decided that for today’s Day of Decadence, I wanted to chase Dorothy Parker to her favorite haunt, grabbing her collection of poems and settling into a cozy (omg, sooooooo cozy) armchair to read. And sip: a gin basil martini was quite appropriate – no, necessary! – to complete the experience. Because, as Dearest Dorothy proclaimed:

                    “I like to have a martini,

                    Two at the very most.

                    After three I’m under the table,

                    After four, I’m under my host.”

                    Day 7 - martiniFor the record: I only had ONE. Anyway, the vintage-luxury atmosphere of the Algonquin is absolutely delicious. The plush seating, elegant lighting, and jazz music playing softly in the background truly transported me back in time. I lost myself in Dorothy’s whimsical words, wondering if some of them were uttered in the very room in which I sat.

                    Probably.

                    Which made the experience magical.

                    Algonquin1

                    The Algonquin Hotel, Times Square

                    59 West 44th Street

                    New York, NY  10036

                    Tel: (212) 840-6800

                    Website:  www.algonquinhotel.com

                    Day 7 - quote

                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                      Leave a Comment