Ferraro’s (Westfield, NJ)

ferraro's (Photo from Yelp)

Ferraro’s is the mainstay Italian restaurant in Westfield, NJ. It’s family-owned, and has been in business since 1969. It has a second floor that seats 60-70 people and a bar/lounge that you can rent out for private parties. They have a huge wine rack and an extensive gluten-free menu. They were playing Frank Sinatra on the radio.

It’s pretty good. The bread has a hard crust and a soft inside, and they give you high-quality pepper and olive oil for dipping. While you wait for your food, you can make your own dipping sauce (my own idea here) by pouring a dollop of olive oil onto your plate and some vinegar into it. Then put some cracked pepper on top. It’s a good mix of tastes.

I got a Caesar salad for an appetizer, as usual. The croutons were crisp and the dressing had an excellent kick to it. They used more of the lettuce stem than I’d like though. But they aren’t at all stingy with their Parmesan cheese.

My gnocchi was decent as well, in well-spiced tomato sauce. My dad ordered a dish called Anna’s Homemade Sausage Lasagna. They used Andouille sausage- smoked pork sausage, and spiced it perfectly. The house coffee was good, and they give you heavy cream, not half-and-half.

The only thing I really didn’t like was the vanilla bean crème brulee. I like vanilla bean anything, so it was a huge disappointment when I cracked through the caramel crust to encounter what looked and tasted exactly like scrambled eggs. The cannoli, though, my dad informed me, was out of this world.

My Rating: 7.5
Recommended Dish: Cannoli
Atmosphere: Big and classic, meant to bring in traffic
Price Range: $25-45 per person, not counting wine
Clientele: Everyone

Ferraro’s of Westfield
14 Elm Street, Westfield, NJ 07090
908-232-1105

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Sparky’s Ice Cream (Columbia, Missouri)

sparkysurbanspoon (from urbanspoon)

When an ice cream says it tastes like green tea, it rarely actually tastes like green tea. It tastes like an artists’ rendition of green tea, or like green tea’s rendition of arty food. Either way, you know that there can’t be THAT much green tea in the ice cream or else you’d have a closer approximation.

Enter Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream. You know they pack a high content of the title ingredient because you have to be 21 to order the White Russian. Other unusual flavors include pineapple upside-down cake, salted chocolate, mango, and lavender honey. Lavender honey is my favorite because it’s soothing. It smells like lavender, and tastes like honey. The raspberry and blueberry ice cream are better than the blueberries themselves. You also might want to try the traditional flavors like chocolate: Sparky’s chocolate is like traditional chocolate ice cream in the same way the Enola Gay is like a paper airplane.

My Rating: 9
Recommended Dish: Lavender Honey
Atmosphere: Usually a line, but you can look at the art on the walls
Price Range: $4-7
Clientele: Students and parents with kids

21 S 9th St Columbia, MO 65201
(573) 443-7400

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What I’m Wearing: Vince Hunter Green Jumpsuit

I wore this silk jumpsuit last weekend to Sniffapalooza. I took the picture in the dressing room at Bergdorf’s. To anyone who’s wondering, I got the jumpsuit from Shopbop.

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I also wore a cotton hat by La Coppola Storta (they used to have a store in Soho, but now they’re just in Europe.) Shoes by John Fluevog. The costume necklace was my aunt Joan’s.

I’ve been too busy to post anything whatsoever, but I’m soon going to review Hot Topic’s new perfume line Bitty Betty’s and a lovely perfume called NY Steel Flowers. NY Steel Flowers is the brainchild of the idiosyncratic new perfume house Arts and Scents. Stay tuned!

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Hamsa Perfume

11632324-hamsa-perfume (picture from prlog.org)

Hamsa Perfume is designed to be a healing fragrance. It’s based on the hamsa, a symbol depicting the open palm of the right hand. Hamsa was originally spelled “khamsa,” an Arabic word that means “five.” The hamsa has also been called the Hand of Fatima, in honor of the Prophet Mohammed’s daughter. The hamsa was believed to ward off the evil eye. (Evil eye= an envious stare that is believed to cause misfortune in Islamic doctrine and folklore.) The hamsa was frequently made into a talisman to protect its wearer against it. (Wikipedia)

Celine Leora dedicated Hamsa Perfume to her mother. It reminded her of how her mother smelled and the hamsa symbols around their home in Morocco.

The note list is white lotus, frankincense, black currant, and coffee. Each note has been used for healing properties: white lotus to improve concentration and immunity; frankincense to boost your mood; black currant to increase the senses, and coffee to make you more alert. (I’ll attest to the last one, but only if it’s espresso.)

If you like white lotus, you’ll like Hamsa Perfume. It opens with a vague, airy, somewhat antiseptic lotus flower that brings pond lilies to mind. It’s like looking at an austere screensaver or one of those serene inspirational quotes on Facebook. It does get a little muskier and more like a skin scent (the frankincense) at times, especially towards the end. I don’t notice the black currant. I do get a hint of coffee, which gives it some zip.

But it’s basically a one-note, no, a one-objective wonder. Hamsa Perfumes is what you wear to yoga class. Its what you scent the den with when you’re having your friends over to knit potholders. Not my thing, but it does the job.

Price Range: Moderate
Recommended Occasion: Casual
Release Year: 2011
My Rating: 6

Read Carrie Meredith’s review at Eyeliner On A Cat

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Papatzul (New York City)

papatzul (Photo from Yelp)

Papatzul was recommended by New York Magazine, so I decided to give it a try. The first thing I should note is that it’s colorful and conveniently located in SoHo near Osswald. They have a big, cheap happy hour during which you can order good drinks for $5. If that doesn’t cheer you up, you can look at the intricate metalwork on the walls. The one my dad and I were sitting under features birds in a tree.

They have interesting sodas, Jarritos natural soda. I ordered one made of tamarind. (A tamarind is a pod fruit that comes out of the tamarind tree. Tamarind is popular in Mexico, though indigenous to Africa.) The guacamole was mild, but good. I wasn’t a fan of the dry, makeshift coleslaw.

For an entrée I ordered Torta de Aguacate y Queso Panela: an avocado and panela cheese sandwich with beans, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and thick cream. It was decent, very fresh. The yucca fries were oversized and also very fresh. My dad ordered the Alambre de Res: soft tacos with seared hangar steak, sautéed onions, peppers, and cheese. He said it was fantastic and deserved 10 stars.

My favorite dish was the Flan de Naranja: flan with orange glaze. It was creamy, good, and had strawberries and mango pieces on the side. I wouldn’t call Papatzul’s offerings the best Mexican food, but it’s okay.

My Rating: 7
Chef: Thierry Amezcua
Recommended Dish: Flan de Naranja
Atmosphere: Cheerful, colorful, trendy. It will make your day.
Clientele: Parties, the happy-hour crowd
Price Range: $15-40 per person

Papatzul
55 Grand St
(between Broadway & Wooster St)
New York, NY 10013
(212) 274-8225

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Shopbop’s Born Free Collection Debuts Today!

Celine_BORNF3000510917 Celine bag from Shopbop’s Born Free collection.

Hey activists! Shopbop is debuting an exclusive collection today in collaboration with Born Free, an organization devoted to eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Now you can both buy clothes and save lives: Born Free will use 100% of profits to support its cause.

The collection is based on prints by Wangechi Mutu, a Kenyan print artist who makes collages of women using all kinds of sculpted material and found objects. Here’s a few of her pieces:

46 Your Story, My Curse 2006

2012 The Storm Has Finally Made It Out Of Me Alhamdulilla, 2012 (both from africaisdonesuffering.com)

And here’s a quote from her to think about (I wish it were on my brainyquote sidebar!) “Females carry the marks, language and nuance of their culture more than the male. Anything that is desired or despised is always placed in the female body.”

Many of the designers are mothers themselves and know how it feels to want nothing more than your child’s good health. The collection includes some pretty awesome mother/child matching clothes, like these skirts by Prada:

Prada_BORNF3004010917

Prada_Child_BORNF3000910917

Everything is limited edition and mostly under $250. Don’t wait too long, because once a piece sells out it won’t be sold again!

Born Free’s objective is to end mother-to-child transmission of HIV by December 31, 2015. Medicine has improved so much over the past 30 years that a pregnant woman only has to take one pill a day to prevent her unborn child from becoming infected. Says Diane von Furstenberg: “We already have the solution, we just need to scream it. It’s the very beginning of the end of HIV.”

Contributing designers include Victoria Beckham, Gisele Bundchen, Tory Burch, Sarah Burton (Alexander McQueen), Consuelo Castiglioni (Marni), Alberta Ferretti, Diane von Furstenberg, Carolina Herrera, Donna Karan (DKNY and Urban Zen), Liya Kebede, Clare Waight Keller (Chloe), Jenna Lyons (J Crew), Isabel Marant, Marchesa, Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo (Celine), Miuccia Prada, Rachel Roy, Ivanka Trump, Donatella Versace and Vera Wang.

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Happy Easter!

vintage-easter-12_nocrop_w1800_h1330

Here’s a picture of a lady dressed up for Easter in 1943. It’s from The Cut. Hope you like it!

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Karaoke Outfit: Silk Halter, Mesh Pants, & Narwhals

So we went to go sing some karaoke. I’ll show you what I wore:

March-April 2014 122

There I am in the subway. The top is a silk halter from Express:

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and the pants are Kelly Wearstler. They have mesh inserts and these hot pants things to wear under them. I got them on Shopbop. They’re called Narwhal Pants. Look and you’ll see the narwhal horn.

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Tangent: the narwhal is a medium-sized whale with a giant spiral tusk that protrudes from its mouth: actually a canine tooth. It lives in the Atlantic and Arctic Ocean. Sadly the narwhal is an endangered species. There’s only 75,000 of them left.

narwhalpod(from savethenarwhals.org)

Granted, whales are killed by pollution and Naval sonar equipment, but the narwhal has been a target for over a millennium. Its tusk looks just like a unicorn horn. There’s a narwhal horn on a circa 1750 German wood sign.

tumblr_l9slxp6NSK1qdfa5lo1_500(from effyeaharthistory.tumblr.com)

People used to sell it claiming it was a unicorn horn, the same way they’d sell pebbles and say they were the teeth of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the poor whale’s been paying for it. I hope you enjoyed your history lesson.

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Margaux by Tocca Fashion Illustration

I’ve had a bottle of TOCCA’s Margaux forever, sent to me by Lexamedia. I’ve been meaning to review it, but I thought it was better expressed with this image.

Margaux Fashion Illustration

TOCCA makes delicate, hippie-esque clothes and sells perfumes that each represent a girl. Margaux, according to the press material, has found her one true love. Not much else is said about her.

The note list is as follows:
Top Notes: blood orange, bergamot blossom, cassis, green gardenia
Middle Notes: black jasmine, ambery violet, cashmere woods
Bottom Notes: warm musk, benzoin, vanilla, heliotrope

I think she’s this girl. She has a bit more attitude than some of TOCCA’s other fragrances, like Liliana. When you first put Margaux on she has a bergamot/green gardenia/orange blossom trifecta that isn’t a blast, but it’s assertive. I put her in that sassy pose and orange and green colors to reflect the notes. It’s a refreshing opening. I wish it lasted longer.

The heart is a slightly smoky/woody/berry effect. It’s decent, especially when sprayed on fabric, but after that it stops happening for me. I do get the warm cashmere effect but not a whole lot of jasmine or violet. The drydown is a hot, musky vanilla that seems to be TOCCA’s fragrance trademark. Their Cleopatra is better at that hot summer night effect though.

The outfit is all silk to reflect the romanticism that Margaux wishes to convey. The pants are a heavier silk though. There’s lace at the bottom and a graphic flower print under the green ombre. Look closely: it’s both evergreen and dark evergreen. The top is a dolman-sleeve ombre blouse with graphic black lines to cut the schmaltz. She’s wearing espadrilles, a leather belt, and gold jewelry.

It’s a good concept. (TOCCA’s I mean. My outfit, well that’s up to you to decide.)

Price Range: Moderate
Release Year: 2013
Recommended Occasion: Any
My Rating: 4.5

Posted in Amber, Bergamot, Berry, Gardenia, Green, Musk, Orange Blossom, Smoky, Vanilla, Woody | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Philosykos by Diptyque

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Diptyque is a high-quality, old-school perfume house started by three fabric designers, Christiane Gautrot, Desmond Knox-Leet, and Yves Coueslant. They started making candles in 1963 and expanded into fragrances in 1968. I like going into their store on Mott Street and smelling every candle I see. Philosykos stands out as both a candle and a fragrance.

The main note here is fig. I’ve wanted to like fig fragrances ever since I read this quote in Margot Berwin’s Scent of Darkness:

“He has the scent of someone who gives it their all but does not succeed. It bursts into bloom with all its vigor, and it tries so hard to hang on, but it dies as soon as it leaves the vine. He’ll try to hang on but he won’t make it. A rush, maybe of insight, and then a swift death. One of the sweetest scents on earth, the fig.”

Such a true statement about the feelings perfume and art are supposed to evoke in general, and dear God I hope that isn’t me. In reality though, I usually can’t get over that oppressive sweetness of fig perfumes. I feel the same about figs as food: they smell good but there’s something off-putting about that dry shriveled texture that becomes incongruently slimy when you open them up.

Philosykos avoids this by replicating the scent of the entire tree. As the copy on the website says, “Philosykos, which in Greek means ‘friend of the fig tree,’ is an ode to the entire tree: the green, pungent freshness of the leaves, the wood warmed in the sun, the milky flavor of the fruit.”

Fig wasn’t the first thing I thought of when I smelled Philosykos though. It’s sharp, herbal, and unusual. I’d go so far as to call it metallic. The fig is a little more abstract. Everything a fig should be, Philosykos is: both overripe and dry with woody accents and a little bit of powderiness. But this fragrance is more about the whole than its parts.

The opening smells a bit citrusy, like bergamot, in the beginning although Lucky Scent’s note list only names fig tree leaves, wood, and white cedar. Towards the heart it starts to flesh out. I swear I can smell a bit of carnation or some other kind of spicy wildflower. There is something really cool about this fragrance, for lack of a more specific word. The sharp plus plush effect would appeal to every Fluevog-wearing hipster in Soho.

Olivia Giacobetti’s work can pack a distinct punch while remaining technically subtle (see Dzing! and Sexy Angelic). This is one of her stronger scents, but it still doesn’t go for the jugular like, say, Carnal Flower. She evidently likes figs, since she did L’Artisan’s Premier Figuier too. PF is well-blended and pretty, but it’s too technical for me. Philosykos is the meaning of the fig. So you get a unique fragrance and a side of zen-esque philosophy to boot.

resting_place_under_the_fig_tree (Fig tree from www.woollygreen.com)

Perfumer: Olivia Giacobetti
Price Range: Moderately Expensive
Recommended Occasion: Casual
Release Year: Any
My Rating: 8

Posted in Figs, White Cedar, Woody | Tagged , , | 2 Comments