in the mood_reviving charm

In the Mood

It’s currently raining at our Seaside Ranch Home. It wasn’t supposed to rain until tomorrow but apparently, Mother Nature had other plans. So did I…and they involved being outdoors. I’m quickly shifting into Plan B which includes sitting in front of the computer (with the pup in my lap) and composing a long overdue post. I was researching some information for another post idea that’s been swirling around in my head when I stumbled across the Italian blog of Antonella Pagliaroli, a full-time Italian food blogger and photographer who lives in the small town of Bracciano located about 20 miles northwest of Rome. The blog is called “Fotogrammi di Zucchero”, which translates to “Frames of Sugar”. It is a beautiful site chock full of captivating photography and recipes that even non-cooks (like myself) can appreciate. The site has a dark, moody quality to it that captures the feeling of this winter day perfectly.

The inspiration for today’s post title, In the Mood, is actually the name of Antonella’s online magazine, which led me to her website. The most current magazine she publishes is from almost a year ago but the 7 issues she has posted are a feast for the eyes and are still relevant today. 

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Reviving Charm blog

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Cool Factor: Compartés Daring Design

Compartés has approximately 500 square feet of space that it is now calling home in Century City. However, it’s not new to the L.A. scene. The history of this chocolatier goes back to the 1950’s that included celebrity fans such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and Frank Sinatra. Compartés has continued to be popular among the Hollywood crowd, corporate clients and high profile events such as The Oscars and The Emmys. Even has included Compartés chocolate truffles on their list of favorite hostess gifts. Compartés chocolate is anything but basic so you wouldn’t expect anything ho-hum when it came time to design their new store. The owner, Jonathan Grahm, took out a loan at the age of 21 to purchase the shop and has turned it into something quite unique and cutting edge. Today, he is combining food, art, and style. I love him for that!

“My philosophy is always to create something that people will remember—from the packaging to the flavors to the shapes of the chocolate to now, this unbelievably gorgeous chocolate store.” — Jonathan Grahm

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Jonathan Grahm collaborated with designer Kelly Wearstler whose modern, edgy signature style is reflected in the new store design. Based on the turquoise patinated copper exterior and graphic sign design you can already sense that this is no ordinary candy shop.

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Wearstler says that the shop was “inspired by the classic European chocolate shops of the early 20th century, with materials that are rooted in tradition.”  The space incorporates brass, patinated copper, Venetian plaster, and marble. These are many of Wearstler’s signature materials. She even collaborated with the owner on packaging for a few of the chocolate bars wrappers. That’s not surprising since she has already ventured into interior design, product and accessory design, as well as fashion design.

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Glass domes resting on marble are used to display chocolate bars. Each dome was custom made so that purposely no two would be alike. They have a somewhat organic quality to them.

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Chocolate bars are displayed like works of art on a wall that can hold over 1,500 chocolate bars.

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Even utilitarian items, such as the frozen hot chocolate machine, were not overlooked when it came to design the space. It was custom dipped in brass blend in effortlessly with the interior.

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Packaging for Compartés chocolate bars is a study in graphic design. Each wrapper has its own creative pattern. Bars are offered in traditional flavors as well as those topped with items like cereal and edible 24-karat gold.

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They also sell truffles that look like mini works of art with their bold colors and graphic patterns.

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Easter is just around the corner and if you are looking for a something special to fill your Easter baskets with then maybe a sweet treat from Compartés might do the trick. This ship worldwide.

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Big Eared Bunny in 24 Karet Gold

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Chocolate Easter Basket
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Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest 

If I didn’t already have a trip to San Francisco scheduled for next month then I would seriously consider buying tickets for the 5th annual Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest that will be taking place March 15-18 in the quaint seaside town of Carmel, California. In a previous post, I discussed how I consider dining an experience and there’s no doubt that this event will be a “foodie extravaganza”. GourmetFest gathers highly celebrated chefs, prestigious wineries, and foodies from around the world to experience the best of gastronomy and wine. I guess I will have to wait for next year, but if you’re interested you can buy tickets here.

Over the course of four days guests indulged in over 18 events including a strolling welcome party, five wine tastings, two rarities events, two cooking demos, four lunches and dinners, two off-site tours and lunches, VIP parties and a closing event. Each event provides a unique blend of amazing chefs and impressive wine offering experiences not easily replicated.

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I consider dining out more than just a reason to satisfy my stomach. I consider dining an “experience” because a meal has everything to do with not just great food and drink, but the atmosphere and design of the surroundings and the company of others. If I think back at some of my favorite meals, they’ve incorporated each one of these aspects.

I’m sure restaurants will see a spike in sales volume this week but going out on Valentine’s Day is a ritual that Mr. B and I don’t subscribe to. But if we were in Paris we would be willing to make an exception in order to visit Cafe Pouchkine that just opened a new location near the Place de la Madeleine. It’s everything you would expect from a quintessential Parisian interior: parquet flooring, painted mirrors, carved wood, gold detailing, and beautiful fireplaces. But believe it or not, everything in the cafe is brand new. It took 6 months of work by Russian craftsmen and millions of dollars to transform an old coffee shop into this jewel box of a space. Mr. B owes me a trip back to Paris and after seeing these pictures I’m thinking he needs to make good on that promise very, soon! Talk about the potential for a wonderful dining experience…

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Celebrating My Birthday Marchesi Style

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A table at Patisserie Marchesi.

Happy Birthday to me!  Mr. B and I will be celebrating my birthday today in Milan, Italy. Mr. B has a very special dinner planned for us but I can’t help but want to celebrate the entire day! As part of the festivities, I plan on buying myself some birthday gifts and stopping into Patisserie Marchesi to enjoy a piece of birthday cake.

Marchesi Pasticceria is one of the oldest bakeries in Milan, Italy. They are not only known for their fine pastries but also their stylish decor. Marchesi was first established in 1824, but in 2014 an 80% share of the company was purchased by the Italian luxury brand Prada. Even though the company has gone corporate, the Marchesi family is still very much involved in its operation. There is now a total of three locations in Milan, with the newest locations opening as recent as September 2015 and September 2016. I’ve been to the original location so this time I plan to visit the newest location in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. This particular location is actually situated on the mezzanine level over the Prada boutique. Based on the picture below, I can already tell that this will not only be a great place for a fine pastry but a perfect location for great people watching. And while I am at it, I plan to pick up some of their pastel-colored boxes for sweet treats to bring back home as souvenirs. Pasticceria-Marchesi-Galleria-Vittorio-Emanuele- Reviving charm 3Pasticceria-Marchesi-Galleria-Vittorio-Emanuele- Reviving charm 6Pasticceria-Marchesi-Galleria-Vittorio-Emanuele- Reviving charm 5Pasticceria-Marchesi-Galleria-Vittorio-Emanuele- Reviving charmmarchesi milan 4marchesi milan 1marchesi milan 2marchesi milan 3

Photos via Pasticceria Marchesi.

Weekend Getaway: La Jolla, California

Our recent weekend getaway to La Jolla and San Diego over the 4th of July weekend reminded me that the Mr. and I must take long weekend vacations more often! Today’s post is a quick recap to touch upon some of the highlights of La Jolla, California. We stayed at La Estancia, which you may remember from a previous post. I spent a good amount of time getting some R&R, as well as spending time at the spa to indulge in an 80-minute massage and 50-minute facial. One of the highlights of my spa experience was when my therapist remarked that I must not wear any makeup because my skin looked so good. Coming from a professional, that is quite the compliment. It’s good to know that my fairly involved skin care regimen is working. I also took long naps to catch up on some much-needed sleep. The atmosphere of La Estancia fits the bill for a nice relaxing getaway. If you choose to book your own vacation at La Estancia just be sure to reserve a room on the third (top) floor of the hotel so you won’t get any noise from upstairs guests.

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My favorite dining experience was finally getting to try the French restaurant, Bistro Du Marche. I was able to get my fix of escargot as well as try some other wonderful dishes. My dessert, Tarte à la Banane, was a delicious banana tart with toasted hazelnuts, brûléed bananas, caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. It was the perfect end to a wonderful meal. I even had a nice drink, the Twisted Negroni, comprised of Aperol, sweet vermouth, and sparkling wine. There is a quote on their website from John Walters that I couldn’t agree with more: “The only thing I like better than talking about Food is eating.” Amen!
La Jolla dining Reviving CharmNo trip would be complete without a little shopping. Luckily, I have a great husband who enjoys shopping just as much as I do….although sometimes that can become dangerous! We went through a few vintage and antique shops, even visiting those I mentioned in this post. However, I was a little disappointed to learn that my favorite antique shop, Etcetera’s, is now closed. I only brought home one souvenir, which is the straw clutch purse that I mentioned in yesterday’s post. I should have bought the vintage silverware shown below for appetizers. I’m still kicking myself…

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So there you have it…a quick recap in pictures of how we spent a couple of days in La Jolla. In an upcoming post I will be highlighting one of the unique shops in La Jolla that I paid a visit to. I will also be sharing a bit about the remainder of the trip spent in San Diego. I am excited to share a new discovery with you. Stay tuned…

Kalabasa Elevates Dessert into an Artform

I have never had a desire to learn to cook primarily because I think it’s too stressful. For some reason, the responsibility of prepping and timing an entire meal gives me pure and utter anxiety. However, that doesn’t automatically mean that I’ve always wanted to stay out of the kitchen because I would actually love to spend more time baking. Focusing on just one item is something I can handle and making that one thing beautiful, unique and delicious is something I would strive for.
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I’ve seen and heard about the latest craze of “brushstroke cakes”, particularly those seen here from the Russian bakery, “Kalabasa”. The bakery creates chocolate “brushstrokes” by airbrushing on color to create a more artistic look. If you feel like attempting this yourself you can try using colored chocolate. It’s inexpensive but very poor quality chocolate. However, if all you care about is capturing the look and feel of the Kalabasa cake then the cheap stuff should get the job done. Just note that you won’t get the same depth of colors as the airbrush technique. With the airbrush technique, you can tell that color is layered on and blended subtly, as real painting often is. kalabasa bakery feather brushstroke case

I first learned of Kalabasa after stumbling onto their Instagram account and I would describe Kalabasa as a bakery that has elevated dessert into an artform. Their cakes are so creatively distinctive and look just too amazing to eat. I think I would feel guilty taking that first bite!
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I never got into the whole cupcake craze that was going on a while back, but if I ever do need to make cupcakes then this is something I would try myself. Kalabasa via Reviving Charm 1

While the brushstroke cake has elevated Kalabasa in the baking world, we can’t overlook their other beautifully executed baked goods. Maybe they will inspire you to put your baker’s cap on. I know they have definitely inspired me. Their use of florals, sugar coating, airbrush techniques and use of gold dust are baking techniques worth testing out in my own kitchen.

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Southern California experienced severe storms all weekend long. The downpours were so bad in our community that streets were flooded and many roads blocked. Flash flood alerts seemed to be issued nonstop. I saw a guy float down the street on an intertube (really?) and another guy on a surfboard. Crazy, huh! This is in vast contrast to what Mr. B and I experienced last weekend while on vacation in Santa Barbara and Montecito where the weather was in the high 60’s with intermittent sunshine. I want to share a little bit of that sunshine with you today by posting pictures taken at Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club and Tydes Restaurant in Santa Barbara.

Before mentioning anything about the restaurant I must first tell you a little bit about the Club. It’s a place of historical significance and has maintained its exclusivity since it opened its doors in 1937. An article I read from a few years back reported initiation fees in the neighborhood of $300,000 and that’s in addition to the annual dues. Membership is limited to a maximum number of people and not just anyone with the means can enlist. However, for the price of a hotel room at the lovely Biltmore Four Seasons Hotel across the street, you are entitled to use of many of the Club’s facilities. Something in hindsight that I wish we took advantage of when Mr. B and I stayed at the hotel many years ago. I guess we’ll just have to plan another getaway!


We enjoyed a lovely stroll around the grounds of the historic Biltmore Four Seasons before walking across the street to the art deco designed Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club. In the pictures above and below, the hotel’s lush landscaping is seen in the foreground with the Club and its landmark beacon in the background.

There are two entrances to the building: one for members and one for those choosing to dine at the Club’s restaurant: Tydes Restaurant. Naturally, we chose to use the member’s entrance. We aren’t members of the Club but we proceeded past the guy tending the reception desk as if we knew exactly where we were going. We weren’t stopped and entered without being confronted. Given that many of the Club’s facilities can be used by guests of the Four Seasons, I’m going to go out on a limb here by saying that they aren’t particularly strict about people poking around. Or were we just lucky?



Once you pass the reception desk, you immediately walk through a set of doors that lead you to the oceanfront Olympic-sized saltwater swimming pool. It has been the venue for fashion shows and events since the Club’s opening. Isn’t the location just stunning?

This picture of a seagull flying in the distance is turning out to be one of my favorites! He’s actually much farther than he appears.

The building overlooks Butterfly Beach and even provides direct access to the sand.tydes-restaurant-santa-barbara-via-revivingcharm

Our purpose for actually visiting the Club was to have a casual lunch at Tydes Restaurant. We wanted to take advantage of the gorgeous California weather and beautiful scenery by eating somewhere that offered oceanfront dining.

Tydes Restaurant is located on the second floor of the building. Instead of taking the elevator we decided to walk up the circular staircase. This transitional space serves as somewhat of a lobby for the restaurant. It has a very Califonia cool vibe, doesn’t it? coral-casino-santa-barbara-tydes-restaurant-via-reviving-charm

There is a lot of history that surrounds the Club so you will find many historical photographs throughout the facility. Many of them include various celebrities, which is not surprising since Santa Barbara is a short drive from Los Angeles. This particular picture shows a procession of debutantes parading the latest in fashion poolside circa 1951.

The views of Butterfly Beach and the Pacific Ocean are a perfect backdrop for a good meal.


I couldn’t remember the last time I had a hamburger so I decided on the “Members’ Burger”. It came on a potato bun with tomato, bacon, bacon marmalade, sharp white cheddar cheese, baby gem lettuce, pickles, garlic aioli, and avocado. I ordered a quinoa salad as a side. And yes… it really was as delicious as it looks. The burger was a happy indulgence!



breakfast-in-bed-via-revivingcharm_combreakfast-in-bed-inspiration-quote-via-revivingcharm_comFall is almost officially here and it is time to start thinking about cozy ways to enjoy the morning. Why not surprise a loved one with the simple pleasure of having breakfast in bed? “Just because” is always a great excuse to pamper someone and since breakfast is the most important meal of the day there’s no reason that it shouldn’t be done in style. I will leave the menu up to you but here are a few images to inspire. I am particularly fond of the mini pancake stacks since easy to handle food without the use of a knife is always a good idea for meals eaten in bed. While I recuperate I am hoping I might be able to enjoy a few freshly made mini stacks of my own. breakfast-in-bed-via-revivingcharm_com


Life is short. Buy the shoes. Drink the wine. Order the dessert.


Happy Friday! It is Memorial Day weekend. What are your plans? Mr. B and I usually try to take advantage of a long weekend and head out of town. A graduation dinner is keeping us home which means we might get to take advantage of some fun things to do locally. This weekend I will also be getting my hair colored just in time for the graduation dinner.  I am trying a new colorist and am keeping my fingers crossed that all goes well. I also hope to sit down and plan out a few upcoming blog posts, as well as do something creative. What that is, I’m not quite sure yet. At some point this weekend Mr. B and I hope to take advantage of the lovely Southern California weather by enjoying a barbeque for two. I am sure there will also be at least a couple of dinners out since we typically go out for dinner on the weekend. And in case you are wondering…I definitely won’t hesitate to order the dessert. I hope you do too. Happy weekend… xoxo, V.

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This chocolate tart was a culinary architectural work of art that features Mexican chocolate, almond crust and garnished with a ball of sour cream sorbet, espresso anglaise and caramelized orange. It was delicious! Original photo by Reviving Charm.