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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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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It’s the season of festivity and food. I don’t cook but I have been known to bake on rare occasion. Very rare occasion. Even though I don’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen I am always on the lookout for recipes, particularly for cookies and dessert, “just in case” I ever need to whip up a few batches of sweet treats. If you plan on gifting cookies to friends and family this holiday season or plan to attend any cookie exchange parties, Williams-Sonoma has you covered. This year they collaborated with 30 bakers and bloggers to come up with 30 holiday cookie recipes and all of the recipes are currently shared on their website. Try one or try them all. There’s nothing better than baking on a cold day with the oven to warm the house and having the smell of freshly baked cookies permeating through the air. Print the recipes even if you don’t plan to bake this holiday season because they can easily be adapted for anytime of the year. And if you need any baking supplies, be sure to take advantage of the free shipping they are currently offering. And don’t forget, you can also save money by signing up for The Key (read this post). Don’t these look yummy?

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A balanced diet is having a cookie in both hands.  –Paula Deen

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Matcha Gingerbread Cookies

Olive Oil Sugar Cookies with Pistachio Glaze

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Cinnamon Logs

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Dipped & Crisp Peanut Butter Cookies

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Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Christmas Truffles

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.