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A ONGOING LOOK AT THE PEOPLE, PLACES AND PRODUCTS WHICH INSPIRE AND INTRIGUE US.
 
  • Let's Chat with April Gargiulo - Creator of Cult Skincare Sensation Vitner's Daughter

    While researching her ever more complicated skincare regimen, winery owner, April Gargiulo realized that almost all of her highly touted skincare products contained high levels of ineffective, toxic fillers. As she researched more and discovered the cumulative damage these chemicals have on our systems, April sought out toxin free alternatives—trying everything from cult beauty oils to coconut butter.

    What she found was that many all-natural products ceded activity and results for a smell-good formula. Committed to creating the most active, luxurious serum possible, April began a 2 year-long research and formulation process. Drawing from her experience in fine winemaking, April, alongside natural skincare veterans set out to create a “hero” formulation that would address all of her skincare needs—everything from fine lines and wrinkles to acne to elasticity and general radiance. Much like the fine winemaking process, Vintner’s Daughter begins by sourcing the world’s finest raw ingredients and honors these ingredients through an exacting and time-honored formulation process. The result is Active Botanical Serum, a powerful, multi-correctional serum for face that has earned a cult status the world over.

    Let's learn more about April and her product.

    Q: Can you tell us something about yourself? What are the things that interest you?

    A: I love design, especially modern French and Scandinavian design. I love music and shopping for records. The place I like to be most is with my husband and daughters near some form of water; ocean, lake, or river.

    Q: How did Vintner’s Daughter start?

    A: Vintner’s Daughter started because I was appalled at how cheap and toxic the beauty industry was. Even so-called luxury, cult creams were filled with non-active synthetic junk. I don’t eat food filled with cheap fillers and chemicals or even clean my house with it, why would I put it on my face. It was this realization that led to the creation of Vintner’s Daughter. I wanted a product that was 100% active, multi-corrective and made from the finest organic and wild-crafted ingredients in the world.

    Q. How did winemaking influence the processes you follow?

    A: It has been everything. At my family winery, Gargiulo Vineyards, we are solely focused on producing the finest wine sin the world. In order to do this, you must focus on the finest quality at every step. Short cuts are not tolerated. We go at the speed of quality. Vintner’s Daughter shares that philosophy and passion to make one of the finest products in the world.

    Q: Can you tell us more about your “Hero” product?

    A: Active Botanical Serum was formulated to be my desert island product, the one item I would never leave home without because it does everything. It is highly multi-correctional, nourishing and balancing and delivers the optimal amounts of skin beautifying vitamins, minerals, essential oils and fatty acids. It is made from the same nutritive building blocks as your skin and profoundly effects skin’s texture, clarity, tone and elasticity.

    Q: Of the toxin-free beauty alternatives that you are using, which one stands out for you?

    A: I love Agent Nateur deodorant and In Fiore lip balm.

    Q: What do you think are the characteristics that make Vintner's Daughter unique from other natural beauty products?

    A: Most beauty is sold or marketed based on a single active ingredient or result. Active Botanical Serum is not about any single ingredient or result. Quite the contrary, it is made from 22 of world’ most nutrient dense botanicals and delivers serious multi-correctional results. Everyone’s skin can benefit from it. Acne sufferers, hormonal skin, rosacea, dry, imbalanced skin. All see profound results. It’s a gamechanger product.

    Q: As a mother and a business owner at the same time, days can get stressful. How do you manage to maintain balance?

    A: Ha!! That is always the struggle. I never evaluate balance over the course of one day because it’s an impossible feat, but over the course of a week I work hard to find balance. It’s my number one priority, so I make it happen.

    Q: How would you describe your beauty routine?

    A: Simple, luxurious and seriously effective.

    Q: What would you recommend for your customers to harness the maximum effects of your active botanical serum?

    A: Keep it simple. Along with paying attention to nutrition, movement, spirituality, sleep, I recommend a simple but effective routine. Cleanse, tone (this is important and I prefer a gentle acid type toner) and then apply Active Botanical Serum using Push / Press. Begin with it only at night and then work it into your daytime routine. As with any active product, sunscreen is important.

    Q: Are there other beauty and wellness tips that you can share for other busy women?

    A: Beauty is truly a light from within. Let it shine.

  • Chapter One - California Cafe Cuisine

    post by Lance Lawson

     

    With the busy holiday season behind us, Jim and I decided to opt for a break in the sun and a holiday out West in Southern California. It seems there has been so much buzz of late about what is going on in Los Angeles. We have read and heard of many new stores and fresh dining spots taking hold in the city. (I mean how many copies of Everything I Want to Eat: SQIRL and The New California Cooking and Gjelina: Cooking from Venice California did we sell last year? A lot.) And we even lost one of our favorite employees when she headed to grad school at UCLA and traded in Logan Square for Silver Lake. So in anticipation of a new project launching later in 2017 we wanted to head West for inspiration and see for ourselves what was going on.

    This week we'll look at experiences exploring the Casual California Cafe food scene. In the coming weeks look for additional posts on stores and new products we found.


    Stop one on the trip - literally - was Gjelina (pictured above) tucked onto an inconspicuous corner on Abbot Kinney in Venice. Within a hour of touchdown we were on the list. Reservations are available online beginning 30 days out - but the pleasant hostess was able to make a late walk-in lunch at the communal table work. Even with all the hype - Gjelina did not disappoint. Although the decor seemed a bit Anthropolgie 2013 the food was solidly on point. Jim began with the most refreshing cocktail composed of Honey, Lemon and Pale Ale. The Swiss Chard Salad was super fresh and creatively composed with Squash and Pumpkin Seeds and the lightly charred Gjencallie Pizza was sublime. And I'm still dreaming of the Smokey Pork Meatballs served with a well grilled slice of their signature bread. The trip was off to a delicious start. Right next door is their take away spot that looked fantastic. The sidewalk outside the restaurant was littered with people eating slices of the most delicious looking pizza.

     

    The next morning we followed it up with a visit to their sister bakery concept Gjusta a few miles down the road near Venice Beach. This was the first of three visits there - including a frantic final one on the way to LAX where I left with a loaf of Seeded Wheat Sourdough Bread tucked into my carry-on. (I sometimes have issues with food). The spot is in an old warehouse and is unmarked (of course).  About Gjusta Bon Apetit quipped "It's a juice bar-bakery-deli-pizzeria-coffee shop-smokehouse—you get the idea. Is there anything this ambitious, do-everything spot doesn't do well?" Based on my experience - not really. It was all exceptional - from the friendly guys behind the counter to the perfectly yolky Baked Eggs (pictured above) swimming in a spicy red sauce. Jim loved the Biscuit Breakfast Sandwich and we both adored the spot on East Coast Style Bagels served toasted and served with a generous schmear of housemade cream cheese. Our Cafe Con Leches were punctuated with a frothy heart and we too were in love. After you order you have to scout seating at the marble lunch counter or on the back patio and your food is brought to you - but we never ran into any issues. We didn't make it past breakfast this round - leaving lunches and dinners for a future trip.

    Our neighbor friends also recommended another fresh breakfast - lunch - bakery spot located in Venice. It's called Superba Food + Bread and it was also terrific. Here it is sit down service and the bright and happy room is just what you would expect - stylish with a modern easy California vibe. From the Everything Croissant (their take on the seeded Bagel and Cream Cheese Staple) to the Sweet Corn Cookies the baked good were creative and delicious. The Marbled Eggs (pictured) satisfied - spiced and baked topped with torn bread and avocado. Jim's Breakfast Burrito was uber fresh and very California with the addition of Quinoa and Kale. Superba is such a sunny happy spot it makes you wish you lived in the neighborhood. Ironically it is not named for the quality of it's offerings, but instead after a street nearby. A second location is also open in El Segundo.

    Next up a visit to SQIRL in the much hyped hipster mecca of Silver Lake. There we also found a lot of creativity in flavor combinations. Even though we got there just a bit after they opened at 8 the line was already well out the door. Here you wait in line, place your order and scout for seating. The customer to seat ratio is not proportionate - so this is somewhat stressful. We ended up sitting on tiny stools along a miniature counter lining the restaurant's wall. While I get this is their concept it is somewhat obnoxious considering breakfast for three was almost $100 once toast, coffee and tips factored in. But perhaps I am showing my age. The food was solid. Their signature Brioche Toast with house made Jam was comforting. Our breakfast sandwiches were satisfying, But my friend had the most interesting dish - an Asian influenced long cooked Chicken and Rice Porridge with a Poached Egg on top. I think if I had it to do over I would stick to the Toast Menu and Coffee for breakfast and head back to check out the lunch menu. 

    It might be a stretch to categorize my final food highlight as Cafe Cuisine. But it was certainly very California and we did eat it outside. After we were turned away from the very trendy Farmshop at The Brentwood Country Mart (the very impressed with himself host told me that the list was so long that I needn't bother putting my name down) we ventured to the darling shopping mecca's Central Courtyard and had the BEST Burgers and Fries from Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers. Here you order at the window - making your own combination from the extensive list of options - and find a seat at a picnic table. We scored a great one by the fire pit. And my Cheeseburger was perfection - with all my California inspired touches (Monterrey Jack, Avocado, and Grilled Fresh Jalapenos). One taste and my FOMO with Farmshop evaporated. And honestly I think I had maybe had enough high touch baked goods for any one trip anyway.

    That's all for now - check back next week for Installment Two with our take on the LA Retail Scene.

     

     

     

  • Dispatch from Paris Fashion Week

    While fashion is certainly the main draw during Paris buying trips - it seems that the food is all anyone wants to talk about when we return. Perhaps it is because I am so meticulous about every morsel that goes into my mouth over there - hoping not even a crumb will be for naught. This trip we hit our regular faves, a few new places and also stumbled upon a wonderful bakery. 

    ChateaubriandAu Moulin A Vent: Every Saturday night we spend in Paris includes dinner at this not to be missed spot in the Latin Quarter. Opened in the 1940s, little has changed in the classic neighborhood gem. The crusty waiter's apron's are well starched and the menu is full of all the classics which brought you Paris in the first place. And as you are tucked shoulder to shoulder into one of their long banquettes it's fairly certain that someone beside you will be Parisian - a welcome endorsement. This trip it was a chic mother celebrating her 50th birthday with her husband and three twenty-something daughters. However do not fret - the restaurant also has a healthy population of in-the-know tourists and English is freely spoken here. Classics like Escargot in Garlic Butter and Salad Lyonnaise are a great place to start. But it is the restaurant's signature Chateaubriand which is not to be missed. Served with your choice of sauces (I love the Brandy Mustard version in the picture) and to-die-for fried cubed potatoes (I'm still dreaming of them) it is a plat-de-force. Wine is affordable and if you're lucky the Maître D' will send you on your way with an apple brandy "for your warmth."  Reservations Required.

    Allard: We have been coming here on and off for the past ten years - it was first recommended by an ex-pat friend who lived around the corner in Saint Germain de Pres. Recently Alain Ducasse took the helm of this 80 year French Neighborhood Gourmet Bistro - tuning it up without ruining any of it's cozy charm. Also drawing a mix of tourists and locals alike,  Allard is all about french comfort food - with a menu which began with a mother's family recipes later passed down to her daughter in-law. The spot also holds a tradition of female head chefs which continues to this day. The Duck with Green Olives is a stand-out - as is the Roasted Chicken - both of which are served for two in copper roasting pans. I am particularly obsessed with the bread service where hardy slices are served up from a cart with mounds of room temp butter. Also the seasonal vegetable starters are a great bet - this last visit it was perfectly trimmed Asparagus served with Bernaise. The prices on the wine list seem out of step with the well-priced menu. Don't be steered into a $100+ bottle - instead opt for a lesser priced Bordeaux and you can't miss. Reservations can me made via their web site.

    Kunitoraya Bistro Udon: Sunday nights can be hard in Paris as most restaurants are closed - many of them on Saturdays as well. Also after a few days of eating rich French Classics, by day four we are ready for a pallet change. This is why after finishing up a long day of buying appointments we happily cue up for a casual Japanese meal at Kunitoraya. Some might scoff at eating Asian food in Paris - but then they are missing the point. All food is taken very seriously by Parisians - including that found in small ethnic enclaves like the Japanese area adjacent to the Palais-Royalle. At this spot the Udon is made by hand daily and dropped into a silky smooth stock which simmers for days. But the stand out here is the Shrimp Tempura. While waiting in line for a table you can observe the magic of the Japanese chefs tenderly filleting shrimp, lightly battering them, and then frying just so. Get an order, served with seasonal tempura veggies, as a starter. It is not to be missed. Kirin draft is the way to go here - service is brisk and effective. For sure ask for an English Menu and point - as the servers here only speak Japanese and French and it is easy to get confused (i.e. all the soups can be ordered hot or chilled). We try to get there before the line forms for the 7:00 pm dinner opening. But even if the cue is long, don't be deterred - it moves quickly. It was in fact the line which initially attracted me to this place. Lines are generally terrific casual restaurant barometers. No reservations - open for lunch and dinner.

    le servanLe Servan: This trip we visited this spot in the mostly residential Voltaire. It was our first time there after seeing it show up on many top Paris Foodie lists. I always love to go where the locals go and we were for sure the only Americans in the lively dining room that night. The restaurant is a co-creation of two sisters - Tatiana (chef from L'Arpege & L'Astrance) and Katia (sommelier and hostess) Levha. The menu is farm to table French with light Asian influences. We enjoyed a delicious starter salad featuring Jerusalem Artichokes and another with a perfect soft boiled Scotch Egg. Our shared entree was a Whole Sole which was masterfully cooked, presented to us, and then filleted in the kitchen and finished with small golden potatoes and a light lemon butter sauce. The freshness the ingredients was readily apparent in every bite. Desserts were also well executed - especially memorable a Salted Camel Custard Tart. The wine list is all organic. The friendly co-proprietor steered us to a crisp Appellation Savennieres which was perfectly suited for the meal. As we crawled into the uber back to hotel we for sure felt like we'd had a terrifically authentic Parisian night-out. Reservations Recommended - Counter/Bar Seats Available.

    Du Pain et Des Idees: As often is magically the case in Paris - in a hungry moment you stumble upon a tiny neighborhood gem. It's one of life's wonderful cliches. This time we were famished - exiting a trade show late in the afternoon. And then, miraculously in front of us - almost like a hunger induced mirage, was this Bakery. The outside looked like it had been created by Walt Disney for a 1920s movie set. And inside it was just as charming. As we waited in the line we chose the sweet and savory baked goods which would compose our lunch. Sadly, places like this make you yearn to be a Parisian so you could buy bread there every day. The huge loaves all stacked in bins by the register. But as tourists we were happy to settle for still warm Yeast Rolls filled with Cheddar and Bacon or Fresh Herbs and Goat Cheese. A bright green Pistachio Croissant was also a part of the mix - every ingredient in perfect proportion.  As was the case with the "Escargot" or snail shaped pastry filled with sweet cheese. There is no spot to dine in - but happily there is a large communal picnic table outside for those who can't quite make it all the way home. Since coming back to the states I have learned that the bakery uses only organic flour. And that the perfect mise-en-scene is likely the result of the fact that the founding baker is a former fashion executive. Trust me - this place is well worth a trip up near The Republic. If you need a tide me over until your visit be sure to check out their web site - where the soundtrack is a feed of people being helped at the counter. And note well - they are closed on the Weekend.

  • Plant Planet Installation at SPACE 519

    Upon a recent scouting trip to Brooklyn we came across the work of Los Angeles based artist Claire Nereim. When we first spotted her work we found ourselves instantly drawn to the calculated simplicity and bold color contrast of her botanical prints. This is especially apparent in the Poison print - with its dark pallet and ironic beauty.

    An acclaimed fine artist, Claire lives and works in Los Angeles. Born in Chicago in 1981, she received her BA from Oberlin College and her MFA from CalArts in 2011. In her work she investigates conventions of making meaning, and the relationship between art, design, and the body. Plant Planet is her way of delivering art in an affordable and accessible manner.

    We also love the fact that Claire makes all of the prints by hand in a small screen-printing studio in her apartment. And they are all printed on recycled paper with non-toxic inks. However the "green-ness" of her process in no way diminishes the final output. The color in the prints is striking and the paper feels gorgeous. 
    These works of art are priced to be an affordable gift. Wouldn't you love to receive these flowers as a host present?. The prints work equally well in many different design settings. Their abstract nature makes them feel very modern. Yet the colors and subject matter  lend themselves to a traditional settings as well. What a great way to perk up a kitchen wall or integrate some joy into the decor of your lake house.
     Swing by the shop and see all the prints in the installation. They are all in stock and  range from $45 to $195. The prints are also available in a framed and matted version for an additional cost.
  • Alasdair Fall 2016 Now In-Store

    Alasdair Fall 2016

    Preview the new Fall lineup from Alasdair here. In store now!

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