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Assouline's New Book Boutique

Assouline’s New Book Boutique
Roberto Rosa

Who says brick-and-mortar bookstores are obsolete? Assouline, renowned international publisher of luxury books, has opened a new boutique in Venice—a lavish new haven for bookworms and coffee-table-tome displayers alike.

Set within the Art Deco–inspired Bauer Hotel (San Marco, 1459; 39-041/520-7022;, and outfitted with custom wallpaper, walnut bookcases and antique furniture, the well-appointed gem functions like an altar to the form. (The golden beams of light cast on the books from above and below help, of course.)

Like other Assouline boutiques around the world (including Paris, London, Miami, New York and Istanbul), the store will house gorgeously bound books on topics of fashion, art, architecture and design, gastronomy, photography, travel and lifestyle, as well as the handcrafted Ultimate Collection (volumes range between $500 and $7,000) and a selection of Assouline Vintage titles. If that’s not an argument for sitting down with a brand-new hardback, we’re not sure what is. San Marco, 1455; 39-041/240-6876;

The David Bowie Exhibit Comes to Chicago

The David Bowie Exhibit Comes to Chicago
Masayoshi Sukita. © Sukita / The David Bowie Archive 2012.

After a successful run in both London and Toronto, the much-acclaimed exhibit “David Bowie Is” is set to hit Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) this September for the traveling showcase’s sole stop in the United States.

First realized at the Victoria and Albert Museum in March 2013, the show makes its American debut with a chronological perspective on the icon’s evolution, focusing on his creative processes—beginning with his formative years as David Robert Jones in post–World War II London—and his collaborative efforts with other artists and designers. The exhibit as a whole explores how Bowie, as both a pioneering musician and persona, influenced and was influenced by simultaneous movements in the arts.

“His constant reinvention and strategic image management help us understand the popular culture of today,” explains Michael Darling, the museum’s James W. Alsdorf chief curator. “We also feel it is important to look outside the realm of the visual arts for clues to what is important in contemporary culture, and David Bowie’s career is a compelling analogue to what has been happening in other creative fields over the past 40 years.”

More than 300 items will be on display as part of the immersive experience, including costumes, photography, album artwork, handwritten lyrics, original fashions and set designs culled from Bowie’s decades-long career. Some highlights include his Freddie Burretti–designed Ziggy Stardust bodysuits (1972); clips from films and live performances, including his appearance on Saturday Night Live (1979); and previouslyunseen storyboards and tour footage. Tickets go on sale July 31; exhibit runs September 23 through January 4, 2015; 220 E. Chicago Ave.; 312-280-2660;

Handbag to Hold: Kara Ross New York

American Designers Kara Ross New York
Photo courtesy of Jens Mortensen

The jewelry designer launched her handbag line in 2008, modeling the pieces after her signature jewels, but this year Ross revamped the collection to include gemstone-esque resin clutches and dramatic marble shoulder bags. From $995;

An Art-Inspired Pop-Up Dinner Series at Quince

An Art-Inspired Pop-Up Dinner Series at Quince
Coutesy of Quince

Michelin two-star restaurant Quince may be closing its doors temporarily on July 25 for renovations, but that doesn’t mean fans won’t have access to its award-winning cuisine from chef Michael Tusk until its September 19 reopening. In the interim, Quince is launching curATE, a pop-up dinner series at nearby Hedge Gallery ( running July 30 through August 30.

The five-course tasting menu will change every week to reflect the rotating exhibitions displayed on Hedge’s walls, courtesy of five San Francisco galleries—Fraenkel Gallery, Anthony Meier Fine Arts and Jessica Silverman Gallery among them. Consider, for example, Jessica Silverman’s “White Is the Warmest Color” showcase, for which a selection of white-themed works inspire Tusk’s menu of white gazpacho, white-peach salad, Dover sole and other similarly hued dishes (August 13–16).

“Without being too obvious, I wanted to reflect each artist’s vision and theme for his or her respective installation,” says Tusk. “It was really important for me to allow room for interpretation without being too direct. I always enjoy surprises in both art and food!” 501 Pacific Ave.; Wednesday–Saturday evenings; $50 for reception and gallery viewing (6:30 P.M.); $199 for reception and seated dinner (7:30 P.M.); $110 optional wine paring;

Tea Two Ways: New Approaches to a Centuries-Old Drink

Tea Two Ways: New Approaches to a Centuries-Old Drink
Courtesy of Silk Road Teas

Americans are rarely behind the times when it comes to cultural trends, but our relationship with tea has lagged since the very beginning. Fortunately, two stateside enterprises are attempting to change all that, taking wildly different approaches from opposite sides of the country.

The Innovator: PressTea (New York)
Coffee’s had its third wave, so why not tea? This year-old café from Taiwanese founders (and cousins) George Kuan and siblings Richard and Patty Chen is leading the charge with espresso-style drinks made of proprietary blends of black, green and Rooibos teas sourced in Taiwan, China and India. Using an entirely new mechanism that resembles an espresso machine, these young experts are turning out clever riffs on hot and cold coffee classics. Consider a black “teapuccino,” with rose simple syrup; a Formosa macchiato; a Rooibos latte or an iced-coffee-style Mont Blanc chai, each made from a thick, concentrated shot that uses seven to ten times more tea than the average sachet. The result is a delicious, wholesome concoction that any third-wave barista would appreciate. New for the summer is a collection of FizTeas (carbonated iced tea), including green-tea lemonade, pineapple chai and mango Rooibos. Their tea-infused pastries, also made in-house, shouldn’t be missed. 167 Seventh Ave. S.; 212-888-6666;

The Traditionalist: Silk Road Teas (San Rafael, California)
Don’t mistake “traditional” for “conventional”—this outfit is anything but. Founded 22 years ago by a traveler in search of the very best teas, Silk Road—now owned and run by husband-and-wife team Ned and Catherine Heagerty—sells the finest-grade tea available in the United States. Their rare and artisan offerings are all small-lot (limited quantity), domestic grade (highest quality), unblended (from a single plant) fresh teas (minimally processed according to local custom), picked every year at the end of March (the time of the coveted first pluck) and sourced directly from China’s remotest farmers. Their inventory, as a result, is entirely unique, the flavor profiles complex and nuanced, vibrant and unadulterated. It takes only one pot of their very rare (and very expensive) Snow Dragon or Drum Mountain Clouds & Mist ($380 a pound) to taste the difference. 415-458-8624;

Bottega Veneta Photographs Culture in Shanghai

Bottega Veneta Photographs Culture in Shanghai
Photo courtesy of Bottega Veneta

Bottega Veneta may be best known for its sumptuous woven leather goods, but the Italian label is quickly establishing itself among art connoisseurs. Five art exhibitions have already been produced by the brand out of the second-floor gallery space of its Yifeng Galleria boutique in Shanghai, and earlier this summer it unveiled its sixth: A collection of photography by seven artists entitled “Pleasures of the Imagination.”

“I’m delighted with the latest exhibition and hope our clients find it inspiring,” says Bottega Veneta creative director Tomas Maier. “Photography is one of my passions, so I’m particularly pleased with how well these exhibitions have been received by everyone who has visited.”

Following shows that have examined the art of the portrait, objects of everyday life and China’s heritage, “Pleasures of the Imagination” investigates how the seven participating artists interpret modern Chinese life and culture. And while Bottega Veneta ultimately hopes to foster the next generation of artists, it also seems to be strategically differentiating itself from its contemporaries. The shopping experience offered in Shanghai, coupled with a chance to peruse a culturally relevant compilation of esteemed local talent, demonstrates the brand’s understanding of a discerning customer that appreciates quality, craftsmanship and creativity in art as well as fashion.

“Our clients have high expectations and our goal is not to just meet those expectations, but to surpass them,” says president and CEO Marco Bizzarri. “I think we have managed to give them something they truly do not get anywhere else, but most importantly, something they appreciate on a personal level.”

While we’re hoping plans for stateside shows are in the works, it’s hard not to be excited by this thoughtfully holistic interpretation of luxury shopping. Through September; 86-21/5306-7650;

Six Senses Launches Yoga Programs Worldwide

Six Senses Launches Yoga Programs Worldwide
Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas

While it might seem as though everyone is in a yoga class at this point, doing it and truly feeling connected to it are two very different things. Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, which recently launched yogic programs at its properties worldwide, prefers the latter approach.

“We wanted to be able to deliver not only general yoga but targeted programs, as yoga has so much more depth to it,” says Anna Bjurstam, vice president of spa and wellness.

Offered at Six Senses properties including Zighy Bay in Oman and at its spas in hotels like Soneva Fushi in the Maldives and Puntacana Resort & Club in the Dominican Republic, the lineups are geared toward all levels. Mark Sands, area director for Asia and formerly with the Ayurveda resort Ananda in the Himalayas, created the program, pulling in yoga expert Dorelal Singh, Six Senses corporate yoga teacher, for further development. Instructors must have a solid background in hatha yoga and are rigorously assessed to assure high performance.

Yoga’s benefits—from improving mood to lowering stress to upping brain function—are kept top of mind. Discover Yoga is for the newbie, focusing on private sessions that illustrate basic principles and how to engage the body in a variety of poses. Hatha instruction is built around an easy flow of asanas (postures), and Yogic Detox speaks to the experienced yogi.

Going a step further, and piggybacking on the relaxation and calm that yoga can bring, Yogic Sleep (expected to launch later this year) will introduce guests to nidra, a practice that puts the body on the road to a deeply meditative state. Combined with breathing techniques and spa treatments, its goal is to improve sleep. We have a feeling the benefits won’t stop there.

Harrods Comes to Heathrow

Harrods Comes to Heathrow

Chef-driven restaurants, in-terminal spas, quality shopping and blue-chip architecture and design are just a few of the ways airports have stepped up their game to become more than bland boxes of limbo—or, even worse, interminable entrapment.

Heathrow’s Terminal 2 in London has just upped the ante with the Harrods Fine Watch Room, which is curated by the iconic store’s fine-watch buying team and features more than 30 brands, including Montblanc, Longines, Rado, Baume & Mercier, Tag Heuer, Zenith, Maurice Lacroix, Frédérique Constant, Omega, Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC, Chanel, Hublot, Chopard and Tudor (launching in September).

Though it may be the first time Harrods has taken its timepiece department outside its Knightsbridge flagship, it has managed to translate all the key components of the experience to the 1,700-square-foot airport space. Outfitted with leather furniture, crystal chandeliers and limestone-mosaic, black-granite and gold-metallic details, it is an excellent way to help get you where you’re going on time—and in style. 44-20/8976-7755;

Spirit to Sip: Monkey 47 Dry Gin

Spirit to Sip: Monkey 47 Dry Gin
Sidney Frank Importing

Ask Alexander Stein, founder of Black Forest Distillers, why he chose to make Monkey 47—a dry gin named in honor of the number of handpicked ingredients used to make it—and he’ll tell you it’s because he thought he could do the spirit better. After years of testing 130 different distillations in a minimalist facility in Schwarzwald, Germany, Stein and his master distiller, Christoph Keller, have done just that.

While the European market has been lucky enough to enjoy the award-winning spirit since 2010, Monkey 47 only began arriving stateside this summer. The charming, 375-milliliter apothecary-style bottles are flying off the shelves at specialty liquor stores, and bartenders are hoarding their own stocks. It’s garnered such a dedicated following, in fact, that some consumers are collecting the metal rings around the small cork stopper as a clubby, in-the-know keepsake.

Why has it struck a chord? The distinctive use of regional Black Forest botanicals like lingonberries, spruce tips and acacia certainly contributes. But there’s also the pure molasses-alcohol backbone, sweeter than the typical neutral-grain spirit used in most gins; a unique percolation process, in which a basket of secret botanicals is suspended in the still during distillation; a mandatory maturation period of at least three months in traditional German earthenware containers; and a coarse-filtration process, which maintains the spirit’s prominently floral, peppery flavor and fragrance.

Given all that, we suggest drinking Monkey 47 as unadulterated as possible, like in a gin and tonic or a martini—or, for the truest fans, entirely neat.

Restaurant Opening: Obicà Mozzarella Bar

Restaurant Opening: Obicà Mozzarella Bar
Photo courtesy of Evan Sung

When the Roman mozzarella-bar chain Obicà opened a café in 2008 in Midtown Manhattan (590 Madison Ave.), the crowds came quickly and have stayed ever since. While the atrium setting serves the eatery’s four signature varieties (classic bufala, smoked, burrata, burrata with black truffle), flown in twice a week from a small farm in Italy’s Campania region, the fast-dining-and-takeout format doesn’t lend itself to lingering.

That will change when the brand’s first New York restaurant (its 20th location worldwide) opens July 24 in the Flatiron District (928 Broadway; The 120-seat outpost celebrates Obicà’s ten-year anniversary, with its star cheese highlighting dishes like thin-crust pizza topped with spicy sausage and oozing burrata or baked pasta binded with bufala. Umbrian executive chef Enzo Nero also offers cheese-free creations, such as a bone-in breaded veal cutlet with wild arugula and black cod with rosemary chickpea puree. 

Whatever the renditions, the real surprise might be the garlic-and-onion-free kitchen. Managing partner Raimondo Boggia, who oversees the cooking, talks here about his vision for the new space and why he serves Italian sans its two most prominent ingredients.

Q: What is the concept of the new restaurant?
It’s contemporary Italian cuisine that’s simple. We want to stay away from overwhelming diners with too many flavors and we want to showcase the best ingredients, both local and from Italy. The produce is mostly organic and comes from farmers in the area, and everything else like the salami, olive oil, sea salt and pine nuts comes from Italy. We pride ourselves on making everything in-house, including the breads, pastas and gelatos.

Q: The café serves a small selection of wine. How does alcohol figure in here?
It’s definitely something we are emphasizing more. We have 190 wines by the bottle and 16 by the glass from all the regions in Italy. They are from small, hard-to-find producers. There is also an extensive selection of cocktails.

Q: To the real question: What do you have against garlic and onions?
The food is meant to be light and fresh and we want to let our superb ingredients shine. When we cook with garlic and onions, which do taste fantastic, there is a tendency to abuse them and use them to mask other flavors. They can weigh down dishes. Our goal was to let all of our other superb ingredients shine.

Q: But aren’t they essential to Italian cooking?
Absolutely not. Italy has a variety of flavors that does not include garlic and onions. The country is like an artist who loves painting with two colors. That doesn’t mean he can’t have a picture without them.

Q: It’s hard to find a recipe for a basic tomato sauce without garlic. How do you make yours?
Fresh Roma tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh organic basil and sea salt. It’s delicious—as good as my grandmother’s back in Italy.

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